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CONTACT 13: How to choose the best credit card for you

Posted at 11:00 PM, Nov 10, 2016
and last updated 2018-11-21 17:35:03-05
Most of us have a credit card or two in our wallet. But how many of us carry the right card? Good credit or bad, anyone can profit from plastic. Contact 13 looks at your options.
Some people know exactly what they want from their credit card.
"I like cash back offers. Definitely," says credit card holder, Melody.
And others don't even know where to start.
"I asked my mom. She said Chase and a couple of other ones. I just went with Chase," says credit card holder, Scott.
But the bottom line is, you should be getting the most for your money. And credit cards offer plenty of benefits for anyone. It's just a matter of picking the plastic that fits your financial situation or lifestyle. 
"You have to look at what you're trying to achieve," says financial author, Ken Himmler.
He says do some research before filling out an application. Start by checking your credit. The better your score, the better your choices.
Then decide: Do you need a card that will improve your credit? Save you money on interest? Or a card that earns rewards? 
Let's break it down. If you want to build or rebuild your credit: consider a student or secured credit card. These types of cards are easier to qualify for. Student cards are meant for college students with no credit. Secured cards require a security deposit.
"You throw in $300 to $500 and then you start making charges. And I would suggest making the charges in small increments and pay that card at least every 2 weeks, because that can boost your credit," says Himmler.
The good news is, you get that deposit back when your account is upgraded or closed in good standing. Now if you want to save on interest: then you want a low-interest, zero percent APR or balance transfer card. These cards are typically for someone with good credit. But beware.
What are the pitfalls of balance transfers for the consumer?
"Well typically it's the fee that you have to pay right up front," says Himmler.
But balance transfer cards can definitely help pay off high interest debt. Just make sure with any of these cards, you understand whether you're getting a fixed rate, or introductory rate that jumps up after a certain amount of time.
Finally, if you want to earn extra perks just for using your credit card: then get a rewards or cash back card.
"You can get anything you want. There's catalogs. There's travel. You can get tires changed. You can get gasoline. There's all kinds of different things," says Himmler.
Just make sure you understand how quickly you'll earn those rewards. And keep in mind, these cards usually have higher APRs. 
In the end, whatever card you pick, pay your bill in full every month, before you build up too much debt.
"It's real easy to spend, and just pay $50, instead of the $500 to pay it off," says credit card holder, Michael.
There are countless credit cards to choose from once you've decided what kind works best for you. To help, personal finance site NerdWallet has a list of the Best Credit Cards of 2016. They even narrow down the list by categories.