Shopping for a credit card? It’s more important than ever to do your homework
Shopping for a credit card is a lot more complicated than it used to be. That might be a tough pill to swallow if you’re itching to take your business elsewhere. You may find other banks aren’t clamoring to steal you away. That said, banks still want the best customers, and even those with spotty credit histories have options. But do your homework before rashly closing an account or trying to open a new one.
Your report won’t give your actual score, however; you need to pay $10 or more for that. Or you can go to myFico.com and pay $15.95, which also gets you access to a calculator that lets you see how actions, such as paying off a debt, would improve your score.
Getting a new card shouldn’t be a problem for anyone with excellent credit. If your credit is fair to good, your interest rate might be as much as 8 percentage points higher than someone with excellent credit. You can probably get a card with a poor score. But expect a slew of fees that might not make it worthwhile.
“Particularly for a mortgage, every single point is going to count,’’ said Greg McBride, an analyst with Bankrate.com.
For the same reasons, be careful about closing old accounts once you get a new one.
If you’re trying to budget, you might want to avoid rewards cards. They tend to have higher interest rates, and you might be inclined to spend more under the premise that you’re earning points.
If you pay off your bill every month, interest rates have no bearing on you and the world of rewards opens up.
Candice Choi is a personal finance writer for the Associated Press.