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Finding the best credit card is part art, part science.
No single credit card is better than all others in all categories — or for all people. But by understanding your options and asking the right questions, you can find the card that's the best fit for your spending habits and credit situation.
Follow these four steps to .
Find out what credit card offers you might be eligible for by checking your . The better your score, the greater your chance of being approved for cards with better perks. Among ways to check your score:
If the number isn’t what you expected, check your credit reports to see what's causing the problem. You can then start figuring out ways to improve it, from changing your spending habits to on your reports, if you need to. Federal law entitles you to from each of the three major bureaus every 12 months. Get your free reports at , a federally authorized site.
There are three general types of credit cards:
The best card for you is one with features designed to meet your specific needs. If you don't travel much, for example, then the best travel card in the world isn't going to do you a lot of good.
, unsecured cards meant for college students who are new to credit, are easier to qualify for than other types of credit cards. So are , which generally require a security deposit of $200 or more. Your deposit is returned to you when the account is upgraded or closed in good standing.
A card with an introductory could be a good match for you if you plan to use your credit card in case of emergencies, or if you have an irregular income and carry a balance from time to time. A could help you pay off a high-interest debt interest-free. Keep in mind that these offers may be harder to find if you have average or poor credit.
» MORE: Find the best low-interest or 0% APR credit card with
A is a good match for you if you pay off your balance in full every month and never incur interest. These cards typically have higher APRs, but offer larger sign-up bonuses and give you points, miles or on every dollar you spend.
» MORE: Find the best rewards credit card with
Visit and search for the type of credit card you're looking for, filtering results according to your credit score and monthly spending. As you go through the top picks, consider these questions.
Narrowing your choices is the easy part, but deciding between two or three similar cards can be quite difficult. If you've already found a clear winner after Step 3, go with that one. If not, it’s time for a tiebreaker round.
Look closely for differences. All other values being equal, here are some factors that might set a card apart:
When you finally pick a card, keep in mind that, on the application, you can include all income you have reasonable access to, not just your personal income. For students, that can include money from grants and scholarships, or allowances from parents. For others, it may include a partner or spouse's income.
Choosing the best credit card is an important decision, but don’t stop there. Use your card the right way to get the most for your money. If you’re trying to establish credit, pay your bill in full every month and don’t use too much of your available credit. Stick to your debt payoff plan if you snagged a 0% APR deal. And if you’re trying to rack up rewards, use your card for everyday purchases and pay your bill in full every month.
The credit card you choose should help you achieve your financial goals in the most affordable, efficient way possible, whether you’re trying to build credit, borrow money or earn rewards. Don’t settle for less. Find your here.