Finding the right credit card: here's what you should look out for
Many people have them in their wallets: credit cards. There are countless types of cards. What criteria does a "good" credit card actually have to meet, and what should consumers look out for?
1.Is free equal to free?
Many banks advertise free credit card offers. But consumers should take a closer look here. Because often hidden in the fine print behind supposedly free offers fees. An absolutely free credit card comes without an annual fee. In addition, the cardholder does not have to pay any fees when withdrawing money or making payments at home or abroad. These completely free credit cards are becoming increasingly rare, because the banks are turning the fee screw due to the ongoing low-interest phase.
Tip: To filter out the free offers, it is worth comparing credit cards on the Internet. Here, consumers can quickly and easily compare the conditions of the providers.
Consumers should pay attention to the following fees:
- Annual fee of the credit card - Cash fees for withdrawals at ATMs (domestic and foreign) - Foreign currency fees when withdrawing and paying foreign currencies - Fees for a second/partner card
2.Where and how can I use my credit card?
Credit cards are a popular means of payment worldwide and are used for payments in stores, restaurants and the like as well as for cash withdrawals at ATMs. In addition, credit cards are often used when shopping online, as most merchants offer this payment method. Many cardholders even prefer to pay by credit card because the bill is settled immediately. The money is usually not debited from the checking account until the end of the month - along with all credit card payments for the month. In this way, the customer remains liquid throughout the month.
But not every provider accepts every card. Smaller merchants, in particular, often do not have the technical requirements to be able to scan their customers' credit cards. They shy away from the interchange fees, i.e. the charges they have to pay to the banks for every transaction.The two best-known brands MasterCard and Visa, however, have millions of acceptance points worldwide - over 29 million and 24 million respectively. Other brands, such as Diners Club and American Express, have far fewer points of acceptance - but they are still in the millions.
Tip: Before deciding on a credit card, consumers should check how many acceptance points and ATMs are available for the respective credit card.
3. the most important credit card types
There are not only many credit card providers, but also many card types and billing models. The main ones are as follows:
- Charge credit card: this type of credit card is most commonly used in the US and includes a time-limited, interest-free credit. The transactions made within a month are added up and debited from the customer's account by direct debit after 30 days.
- Revolving credit card: With this type of credit card, the customer can pay the invoice amount in one sum or agree to repayment in installments, for which, however, high interest rates are charged.
- Debit credit card: With this type of credit card, the invoice amount is charged to the account immediately, similar to a giro card. Cashless payment is nevertheless possible worldwide with the card.
- Prepaid credit card: This is a credit card on a credit basis. The credit limit can be determined by the cardholder and can be topped up by bank transfer or at an ATM.
Tip: Consumers should base their choice of credit card type on their preferred billing method. Those who have their spending and payment behavior well under control can choose the charge variant. The prepaid variant is particularly suitable for young people. Parents can then also keep a relatively tight rein on spending if their offspring ever need flexible money while traveling.
4. additional services: Useful or not?
Whether additional services are useful or not depends on usage behavior. Consumers who use their credit card only rarely or mainly as a means of payment will be satisfied with a simple, free credit card without additional services. Frequent users, on the other hand, may benefit from extra services such as travel health and baggage insurance, residual credit insurance, accident insurance or even bonus and discount points when shopping. But even then it is worth checking: For example, are all benefits included in the travel health insurance or is a separate insurance not cheaper and better?
Tip: When choosing the right credit card, every consumer should first think carefully about the purpose for which they need the card. Test whether the additional packages are really worth paying an extra premium.
5. always keep an eye on spending
Despite the numerous advantages that credit cards offer, they can also lead to the debt trap. For example, if you use your credit card to get money from an account that is not covered, you will quickly get into debt. This is because the short-term liquidity offered by credit cards can be expensive. For example, high overdraft fees are incurred as soon as the credit card bill is due and the account is not covered. The situation is similar with credit cards where the balance can be paid off in installments. Here, too, many banks charge a high interest rate for the installment payment.
Tip: Every cardholder should regularly check their statements and adjust their consumption behavior or spending accordingly.