Credit Cards: Understand Your Needs Questions to Ask About a Checking Account

Questions to Ask Before Getting a Credit Card

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1. How do I expect to pay my credit card bill? If you plan to pay your bill in full at the end of the month, look for a card with no annual fee or a low annual fee and a generous grace period (see below). If you don't plan to pay in full every month, the important considerations are the interest rate and how it may change, and the grace period.

2. What is the Annual Percentage Rate (APR) for the different ways I may use the credit card? What can cause my interest rate to increase? Ask whether the advertised APR is good for the foreseeable future or if it's a short-term "teaser" rate that is likely to go up in just a few months. Note that many credit cards have different interest rates for different balances.

3. Is there a grace period? If so, how long is it? The grace period describes the number of days you have to pay the balance on your card before incurring a finance charge (interest or fees). If you plan to avoid interest charges by paying your balance in full most months, make sure your card has that grace period.

4. What are the fees? Is there an annual fee? What about late payments, returned checks, cash advances, balance transfers or charges when you exceed your credit limit? When is a payment considered "late".

5. What are the potential rewards or benefits I'd get with this card? Examples may include cash back on purchases, bonus points toward airline travel or the purchase of a car, extended warranties on purchases, and insurance for car rentals and other travel-related coverage.