How to Pick a Credit Card When You Have Many Options

Credit.com

As Americans look forward to a large Thanksgiving meal, our eyes can grow larger than our stomachs. Likewise, there are some credit cards users who have great credit, and can have their pick of any credit card on the market. Think of this as a credit feast.

Who Earns a Credit Feast?

First off, not everyone can expect a credit feast. An applicant must have a spotless credit history and a fantastic credit score (usually a FICO score of at least 740) to qualify for the most attractive offers. Next, cardholders should also have a long track record of paying off their entire statement balances each month. This is especially important if you’re looking for a rewards card, which many credit feasters are since it gives them the option of getting rewarded for their good credit. These cards do not have the lowest rates around, and you shouldn’t get one unless you pay your entire balance off every month.

It is also important that rewards credit card users be able to earn enough points, miles or cash back to justify any annual fee. Finally, the ideal credit card user should be immune from making unnecessary expenditures, just to earn rewards.

Others can use their credit card feast to earn interest free financing on the past, or future purchases.  Many credit cards offer 0% APR promotional financing on both new purchases and balance transfers.

Seeing that there is something for everyone, where should we start?

A Large Sign-Up Bonus as an Appetizer

Those who have great credit can skip the less competitive cards and apply for only the best offers. Credit feasters can enjoy the perk of hunting for a big sign-up bonus on a rewards credit card.

For example, Chase is once again offering 100,000 Avios points for its British Airways Visa card, which is one of several cards that regularly offer big sign-up bonuses. This time around, new cardholders need to make $2,000 in purchases within the first three months of account opening an account to earn the first 50,000 points, $10,000 in purchases within the first year of account opening to earn another 25,000. An additional 25,000 bonus Avios points are earned after cardholders spend $10,000 within the first year of account opening. That’s a lot of  hoops to jump through, but those points can be worth thousands of dollars when used for a business class ticket to Europe, or several domestic coach tickets on its partner, American Airlines.

Likewise, those who have great credit, but an existing balance they are trying to pay down might prefer their sign-up bonus in form of a 0% financing offer. The Chase Slate is currently the only card on the market that features 0% APR balance transfer with no balance transfer fees. Most other cards charge a 3% balance transfer fee. The Slate card features 15 months of promotional financing on both new purchases and balance transfers, and has no annual fee.

How to Chow Down on Credit Cards for Travel

If you are a responsible credit card user who has been subsisting on a basic credit card, it may be time to broaden your appetite. Travel cards are a great place to start as cardholders can earn rewards in the form of premium class airline tickets or luxury hotel stays. At the same time, just holding the right travel reward card can allow anyone to experience the perks and benefits normally reserved for the most frequent travelers.

For example, travelers who carry an airline credit card such as the Citi Executive/American Airlines AAdvantage, the United Club card or the Delta SkyMiles Reserve card can receive free checked bags, priority service and access to business lounges.  Or, travelers could splurge on the American Express Platinum card, which offers a buffet of travel benefits including elite status in hotel and rental car programs, reimbursement for airline fees, and access to several airline lounge programs.

Once at your destination, the right credit card will get travelers VIP treatment at their favorite hotels. For instance, the Hyatt credit card from Chase grants cardholders instant Platinum status in the Gold Passport program. This entitles them to room upgrades, late checkouts, and free Internet service. Similarly, the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve card offers instant Gold status to cardholders, which includes free Internet service and breakfast. Diamond status can be reached when cardholders spend $40,000 on their cards each year. Finally, both of these cards feature EMV smart chips and no foreign transaction fees, which are great for international trips.

Indulge in the Best Cards for Shopping

Travel rewards aren’t everything, and those who want to enjoy credit card benefits at home might look for a credit cards that offer perks to shoppers. For instance, shoppers can choose from one of several premium credit cards that offer concierge services and purchase protection policies. Take Citi’s ThankYou Prestige card, which features purchase protection, purchase security and extended warranty policies, as well as a global concierge service. Likewise, the Visa Black from Barclaycard comes with a 24-hour concierge service and offers cardholders free luxury gifts from some of the world’s top brands. In fact, the card is even made of stainless steel.

Your Dessert: A Specialized Credit Card

After a meal of the most essential cards that offer travel, financing, and shopping benefits, it might be time to just have some fun for dessert.

Do you feel like taking in a football game this fall? Barclaycard offers its NFL Extra Points card with rewards including two tickets to any regular season NFL game, pre-game sideline passes, and even tickets to the Super Bowl.

Or, you can set your sites on a new car, by earning unlimited rewards toward a new vehicle purchase with Capital One’s new GM card.

So if you are a responsible credit card user, and have great credit, there is a credit card out there that likely caters to your tastes.

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.


More from Credit.com

Rates

View Comments (0)