High interest rates, no rewards and expensive fees? Time for a new credit card.
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Choosing the wrong credit card can cost you money. You might not read the fine print before you use it and get hit for unanticipated charges. You might not have appreciated how much your credit card APR matters as you watch your balance skyrocket. Even if you’re happy with your card’s customer service, there could be a card out there with a rewards or terms structure that better fits your financial lifestyle.
No matter the reason, realizing you need a new credit card is the first step to actually getting one. Here are some commons signs it’s time for you to get a new credit card:
1. Your Credit Card Doesn’t Offer Rewards
While there’s nothing wrong with a workhorse card from a bank you trust, regular credit card users should get some incentives. This is especially so for users who are frequent travelers and business owners who make sizeable credit card purchases frequently. Doing this without a rewards credit card is just a waste of money.
Whether you’re spending on your business, travel or just day-to-day purchases, credit card rewards are a great addition to any credit card. Many rewards credit cards come with no annual fee as well, allowing you to earn hundreds back each year. Other types of rewards credit cards offer points or cash back for purchases in rotating categories, like gas or dining, at a higher rate.
2. Your Interest Rate Is High
A high-interest credit card can make what seems like a handful of purchases balloon into a large balance in little time. Sometimes a high-interest rate can’t be helped, such as if you have bad credit. But much of the time, high credit card APRs can be avoided.
If you’re carrying a large balance and need some more time to pay it down, you might not have to pay all that extra interest expense. With a decent credit score, you can get a balance transfer card with a 0% APR introductory offer on transfers. This enables you pay down the balance over time — typically 12 to 18 months — depending on the new card terms, without paying any interest. Though you will be charged a balance transfer fee, which could be worth it if the fee amounts to less than the interest you’d pay. There are tons of great low-interest credit cards, plus ones with 0% APR introductory in addition to a low rate overall.
3. You’re Charged Foreign Transaction Fees
Some banks charge 3 to 5 percent in foreign transaction fees for using your credit card abroad. That means a $100 charge really costs you $103 or $105 depending on the rate. If you get a hotel room, for example, in Cancun and it cost $2,000 for the week, you will pay up to $100 in foreign transaction fees. It might seem small, but if you travel a lot, it can add up.
When you apply for a credit card, look for one with no foreign transaction fees. Fortunately, there are several of these types of credit cards available from all the major credit card providers. Many of these credit cards are catered to people like travelers, students and businesses who have purchases to make in another country. These can often come with travel rewards and rewards points as well.
4. Your Current Credit Rewards Don’t Fit Your Lifestyle
Credit card rewards are only worth it if you make them useful. If you have a travel rewards card or airline miles card but are no longer the traveler you used to be, they may no longer be worth it. In another case, the type of rewards could be a mismatch. For instance, many customers spend hundreds of dollars a month on gas. If you have a basic rewards credit card, with just 1 point for every purchase, you’re missing out compared to a gas rewards card that rewards you for purchases on gas at a higher rate. If you’re not putting your credit card rewards through a good workout each year, consider looking for another card with options that are more beneficial to you.
5. You Don’t Actually Use Your Credit Card Rewards
Credit card perks can be affected by lifestyle changes, too. But they can also fail to live up to your expectations when you actually use them. Access to a concierge service and entertainment events might be totally oversold, but at the same time, you may be paying an annual fee for these benefits. As with rewards, make sure your credit card’s supposed perks really are perks that you’ll actually use. The more perks truly fit and assist your lifestyle — airport lounge access for a frequent traveler, for example — the more the credit card is worth its cost.
6. You’re Charged High Annual Fees
Many rewards cards come with an annual fee. The most luxurious cards, the ones that get you huge discounts on airfare and into all the best airport lounges, can have fairly high annual fees. If you’re using those cards right, the fees are well outweighed by the value of the perks. However, if you’re paying a fee and not getting that value, it’s probably time to change cards.
If you’re paying an annual fee and the card doesn’t even come with valuable perks or incentives to offset it, it’s definitely time for a change. Fortunately, there are plenty of credit cards with no annual fee, and not just standard cards, but also rewards and cash-back credit cards.
7. You Qualify for Better Credit Card Offers
Credit card offers are constantly being modified and updated with new promotions, APRs and perks. There’s always a good chance there’s a better credit card offer available as each credit card company and bank compete with each other. If you find a credit card that beats your current APR or offers rewards, make the switch.
8. You Have a Credit Card With Deferred Interest
Deferred interest is a particularly annoying credit card feature. It typically occurs with store credit cards but can occur with other credit cards. In this case, the credit card comes with a promotional introductory period with no interest. This can be very appealing, but there are some snags. If you don’t pay the deferred interest balance in full by the end of the promotional period, you have to pay interest on all your purchases, not only the remaining balance. On top of this, the credit cards that have deferred interest features tend to have higher APRs. Needless to say, if you’ve encountered this with your current credit card, you might want to shop around for a new one.
The Bottom Line
Before you start filling out a new credit card application, evaluate your current credit cards to make sure you want to make the switch. Write down what fees you pay, such as annual fees, balance transfer fees, foreign transaction fees and other common ones. Use this information, along with your current credit card interest rate and rewards structure, to determine if the new credit card is really worth it.