Why a Credit Card’s Looks Aren’t Everything

When it comes to finding the best credit card for you, brand recognition isn't as important as you think.
Sara RathnerMay 14, 2021

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The credit card you pluck out of your wallet can make as much of a statement as the purse or pants you keep your wallet in. With cards touting , luxury perks and loyalty program status upgrades, simply carrying a flashy card can make you look like the kind of person who has access to whatever it is they hide behind velvet ropes.

Brand recognition is big, and credit card companies benefit from loyalty and familiarity (sometimes , too — more on that later). Depending on what you need out of a credit card, though, the option that looks impressive may actually leave you wanting more. It can pay to be practical and even consider a card you may not have heard of before, or carry multiple cards at once for different types of purchases.

I’ve carried high-end cards with pricey annual fees and fancy benefits, and no-fee cards with few extras beyond rewards on my spending. Sometimes I needed the 24/7 concierge service when booking travel, and other times I just needed to earn cash back on pet food. Here’s how I look at credit cards when I’m deciding which to apply for and which to use on a purchase.

Forget the surface-level stuff. You should be able to squeeze a lot of value out of every card you carry, especially if those cards charge a premium-level annual fee. Keep these factors in mind:

Sticking to one bank or loyalty program can help you keep things simple, especially if you prefer to manage all your accounts in one place. You can more easily optimize rewards this way by transferring them to one central account or to a card with better perks or redemption rates. Here are times to stay loyal to a brand, plus one instance where you won’t be able to:

This article was written by NerdWallet and was originally published by The Associated Press. 

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