Tips For Choosing The Best Credit CardTips For Choosing The Best Credit Card

Most consumers today do not suffer from a lack of credit card offers, and even the newly bankrupt are reporting that their mailboxes are nearly bursting with competing credit card offers, all claiming to offer the greatest benefit and the best terms. All this available credit can be quite temping, and a recent survey found that a high percentage of American consumers hold five or more different credit cards.

Financial experts, of course, recommend trimming those credit card holdings, but it can be difficult to determine which credit cards truly represent the best value. Between all the airline credit cards, the merchant affiliated credit cards and the ever popular cash back credit cards, it can be hard to know which one is truly the best value.

The key thing is to look at what kind of spender you are, and the most important consideration is whether or not you consistently pay your bill in full each month. Those who pay their credit card bill in full have a great many more options when it comes to choosing the right credit card.

What kind of consumer are you? Assuming that you are one of those smart consumers who pays the credit card bill on time each month, the next thing to look at is how much you spend each month. That is because many of the rewards on credit cards, especially on cash back credit cards, are tiered, with the high spenders getting the highest percentage of cash back.

While the 5% cash back advertised on the outside of the envelope may look great, it will do you no good if you never charge enough on the card to reach the highest level. It is important to look at the fine print, calculate what your true percentage of cash back is likely to be, and make the comparisons based on that number.

What is important to me?

The next thing to look at is whether the cash back you can get will be more valuable than the airline miles, gift certificates and other perks offered by competing cards. Unlike the cash back cards, the earning formula on airline credit cards and gift certificate credit cards is usually a straightforward, non-tiered formula. Airlines for instance typically offer one mile for every dollar spent, with a bonus sometimes offered for purchases of airline tickets and travel related items.

Most merchant affiliate credit cards use the same formula, offering a single point for each dollar spent at other merchants, with a higher earning formula for purchases at the affiliated merchant. These kinds of non-tiered cards can be a good choice for those who spend enough to take advantage of the benefits, but not enough to take advantage of the highest cash back credit cards.

by Brooke Sikula
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Brooke Sikula is a freelance writer based in Ventura, CA and writes on a wide range of topics from home improvement to credit repair and everything in between. She is a regular contributor to and For more information and advice on credit issues, check out

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