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How to choose a Credit Card
by Jennifer Tarzian
There are literally thousands of credit cards out there to choose from. You receive offers in the mail, in your email, over the phone, and on the websites you surf to on the Internet. We are inundated with credit offers, but are all credit card offer
There are literally thousands of credit cards out there to choose from. You receive offers in the mail, in your email, over the phone, and on the websites you surf to on the Internet. We are inundated with credit offers, but are all credit card offers worth taking? The answer is a definite no. There are many things about accepting the offer of a credit card you need to know.

How do I know which credit card offers to accept and which ones I should stay away from? Is one of the most common questions we get at , says Jennifer Tarzian. People want to know how to choose a credit card wisely.

If there is one thing consumer advocates and the banking industry do agree on, it is that the abundance of convenient credit gets a lot of people in trouble because they are financially uninformed. Financial education is not subsidized by the credit card industry, but is included in a the most recent version of the Bankruptcy Reform Act.

That bill, which has been stalled for years, would make it much harder for consumers to shed their unsecured credit card debt when they go into bankruptcy. It would also require both credit counseling prior to filing for bankruptcy, and post-bankruptcy instructional courses on personal financial management as a condition to discharge debt.

So the only financial education available comes way too late, since youre already in trouble when they offer it. All this means we have to be even more careful when choosing which credit cards to sign up for.

Credit card issuers are often accused of tempting consumers into carrying more debt than their income justifies. Then, when the customer is drowning in debt -- stumbling to make even the minimum payment -- they will pile on late fees, jack up interest rates and begin what often becomes a crescendo of collection calls.

How do I avoid that? Choosing which credit cards you accept is just as important as how you use the credit cards you do accept. The rest of this article will focus on choosing credit cards wisely. To find out more about how to keep your credit score high and use credit cards wisely, go to , where Jennifer Tarzian can help you.

Do You Know What You Can Afford?

Credit card mailings can be tempting, offering teaser rates, rebates, and rewards. Its up to you to figure out whether you are financially stable enough to accept them. According to Tamara Draut, Director of the Economic Opportunity Program at the nonpartisan public policy organization Demos. "When consumers are extended credit, they think it's because the banks see them as being capable of borrowing, while it very well may be that they are not financially prepared to take on additional debt."

"People say, if I can't afford it, why was I offered credit," says Jim Tehan, spokesman for Myvesta, a nonprofit consumer education organization. Tehan says that credit card issuers target consumers based on data-mining technology that can only give one part of the picture. "They don't know what consumers can afford -- only a consumer can say what they can truly afford."

But banking industry veteran Walter Wriston, former CEO of Citigroup/Citibank, argues that credit card issuers shouldn't be the ones deciding who can afford what. "Should we say to somebody, say, you're 21 years old: 'You can carry a rifle and fight our war. You can vote in a presidential election. But, unfortunately, you're not smart enough to know how much money to borrow?'"

That means, its up to you. You decide whether or not you can afford to have more credit or not. Look at the credit cards and loans you now have. What is your total credit limit including all of your credit cards, loans, and accounts? What is your total debt owed to those credit cards, loans, and accounts? These are all things you should think over before you fill out that credit card application.

Comparing Credit Card Offers;

Many people still carry credit cards with annual percentage rates (APRs) of 13% or higher. After all, there's a whole industry of card issuers out there devoted to using hidden fees and interest rate gymnastics to gouge you as best they can. Consider this: According to Gerri Detweiler, author of The Ultimate Credit Handbook, some credit card companies are actually trying to get rid of card holders who pay off their balances each month. "The card issuer might try to move you to a card with an annual fee or a debit card," she says.

The key to getting a better credit card deal is figuring out how much a given card really costs you. You've probably gotten a stack of card offers in the mail over the past week, each sounding cheaper than the next. Just plug in a few numbers, and our analyzer will calculate the true cost or net interest rate of each one so you can compare them side by side.

And if you're looking for a specific type of card one that, say, gives you airline mileage or no annual fee check out our credit card rate center and pick out those that best fit your needs. Go to and use the calculator there. Compare the offers you get in the mail to all credit cards.

I hope you find this tool and the information we provided here useful. Our goal at is to provide young parents and others how to choose credit cards wisely, how to reduce credit card debt, how to improve their credit score, and how to stay financially healthy in general.

The site is not responsible for any content in it. E-mail: alldir[at]gmx[dot]com
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