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How to select the right credit card

May 14, 2009 12:10 IST
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Today it is difficult to come across a person who doesn't own a credit card. With the rise in standard of living, banks are coming out with increasing number of cards offering number of innovative features.

While it increases the number of options open to the customers, this innovation can also confuse the person looking to own his first credit card. As a result, it is very important for you to choose the right credit card so that you can get the best out of credit card.

We answer some of your questions on how to select the right credit card for your needs.

What card is ideal for me?

As the features offered by each credit card varies, it is essential for you to understand which features will benefit you a lot. If you are shopping regularly at a particular store, go for a credit card that offers your reward points or cash back or discount when you shop at that store.

Don't select a card that offers you free air miles on usage, if you are not a regular flier. Do you use the credit card to pay your utility bills? Then choose a card that provides you benefits for paying your bills. Besides rewards, also take a look at the interest charged.

If you intend to carry outstanding balances each month, then it is advisable to choose a card offering a low interest rate. But if you can manage to pay off the balance in full at the end of each month, it is advisable for you to go for a card with high interest rate but with low or nil joining and annual fees.

If you are traveler, check out if the card has widespread acceptance.

What are the important features my card should have?

Though cards contain many important features, some are the more important than others. While we all like to be rewarded for using the card, it should not be the sole criterion affecting your decision. Instead here are some essential features to look at when choosing a card.

  • Annual/joining fee: While most banks offer entry level credit cards for free, these fees are still levied on the high end credit cards meant for businessmen. If you happen to pay your card balance each month, then these fees will make it expensive for you to use the card. In this case, it makes more sense to opt for the card that doesn't charge any such fees.
  • Credit limit: If you are a heavy shopper, always select the card offering you the highest credit limit. It will prevent your card from being rejected due to insufficient credit limit.
  • Cash limit: Do you always swipe your card to withdraw cash in case of emergencies? If yes, then you must always take a look at the cash withdrawal limit available on the card.
  • Interest rate: Do you always like to carry unpaid balance each month? If yes, then always select a card charging lowest interest rate, as high interest can very easily land you in debt.
  • Acceptability: Is your card accepted across wide range of establishments? Is it accepted internationally? While Visa and MasterCard are universally accepted, Diners and American Express have limited acceptability.
  • Other charges and penalties: Besides fees and interest, remember the bank also charges you various other fees like late payment fees, cheque bouncing fees, over limit fees etc. Watch out for these fees, as they are very high.
  • Quality of service: Not all banks provide the same level of customer service. Check out if the bank offers 24x7 customer service for its credit card customers. This is helpful if you have to report stolen card, check your credit limit or want to discuss any billing problem with the customer service.

How do I compare these features?

While you can visit the websites of various banks, and go through the details of their various card products, it can be time consuming and inconvenient. Instead you can use the credit card comparison web sites like which offer you a snapshot of the various features of different credit cards. It makes your task easy and helps you in taking a faster decision.

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