Choosing your first credit card can be a tough decision to make. There are literally hundreds of different credit card brands and thousands of different credit card types available. Credit card issuers and banks are constantly competing for your business. In order to make the best decision, it's important to first understand all the basics about each credit card.
One: If you live in Chicago, you probably know about the Chicago Card Exchange, or the Web Designer Express. The Card Exchange is a popular web site that allows consumers to compare hundreds of different credit cards from all kinds of issuers. For example, if you are a student who wants a card from the Big Ten soccer team, you would go to the Web Designer Express and compare soccer cards from the Big Ten, including the MetroCard and the MasterCard. You can also search by the card type (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or Cash) or just browse by issuer. The Web Designer Express is a great resource for anyone looking for a card from an established credit card issuer.
Two: If you don't live in Chicago but like to shop online at Amazon or Target, you may have heard of Shopper Cards from American Express. These cards can be used anywhere that accepts Visa or MasterCard, but they are strictly for online purchases. If you need a credit card for a specific, real-world product (like a camera), you would go to one of the many card issuers and banks with credit card machines. These issuers and banks are: Capital One, Chase, Discover, JCB Financial, and PC Financial.
Three: If you are a teenager or young adult just starting out, your first card may come from a local gas station, or car washer. You can apply for a low interest credit card right at the station. Most gas stations will issue cards to potential customers with an ID and vehicle registration. The cards usually have zero dollars per point, which is great if you want some extra spending power. You may also be able to use your card to pay for purchases you make inside the station. Some card programs also let you pay your bill online.
Four: Credit cards are great for college students, as well as anyone with good credit. For these people, a good student credit card might be offered by a local bank after you have lived at home for a while. A lot of banks offer multiple cards for students, and you can combine them for a cheaper interest rate. The banks issuing credit cards are: Bank of America, Citibank, Discover Card, HSBC Bank, JP Morgan Chase Bank, MBNA America Bank, and U.S. Bank. You can also find other banks with credit cards online and applying online can save you a lot of time.
Five: There are credit cards specially designed for people who have no credit history or any history at all. These cards usually have a higher than normal interest rate and you'll pay a substantial annual fee. These cards are usually issued by the card issuers themselves or by prepaid-miles networks like prepaid Mastercard and Visa. You can find a variety of cards including gas cards, airline miles cards, store cards, and theme park cards.
Six: If you're starting with five different cards, you'll have many ways to choose from. You should start with a card that lets you get to most of what you need and gives you rewards that you can use. It's important to try and get as many of the different types of rewards as you can, to maximize the benefits that you get. There are basically five different types of rewards programs, reward categories, or cards.
Seven: People sometimes have seven different credit cards, each one offering something different in rewards. You can split these up into seven different categories, such as airline miles, cash back, and gas credit cards, and hotel rewards cards. You may want to look into all seven types to see which will give you the most benefits.
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