When it comes to choosing a credit card, there are many different elements to consider. Whether cash back, point-based, secured, or another, what is best for you will come down to your unique goals and needs. Before deciding which card is best for you, take some time to assess your lifestyle so that you understand what will complement your life the best. That way, the card is working for you and not the other way around!
Here are a few things to look for when it comes to deciding whether a cash back credit card is for you:
1. Will the Rewards Benefit You?
While cash back rewards sound enticing in general, it’s important to ask whether they are right for your lifestyle and spending.
If you opt for a travel cash back card that only provides cash back on hotel and airline purchases, but you only travel once a year, is that the best option? Probably not. Instead, something that you spend more frequently in, such as gas or restaurants, might be a better choice.
2. Is the Annual Fee Worth It?
Some cash back cards will come with a high annual fee. When choosing a cash back card, ask yourself if the rewards you plan to receive will outweigh the annual fee. For example, if you are only charging $1,000 to a rewards card a year with 1% cash back for a total of $10, that will not outweigh the $50 annual fee and thus may not be worthwhile.
If an annual fee is a concern, prioritize looking for a cash back card with no annual fee.
3. Will You Carry a Balance?
Carrying a balance means high-interest accumulation month to month, which will outshine any rewards earned. A card with the best benefits may not also have the lowest APR or a great intro APR offer.
If you’re not planning to pay off your balance every month, you may want to consider a lower interest card rather than a rewards card to best accommodate your lifestyle. Ideally, you may be able to strike a balance between the two.
4. Are You Transferring a Balance?
If you’re hoping to open a new cash back credit card to take advantage of lower introductory interest rates, keep in mind that transferring a balance will usually not be applicable for cash back.
That means that opting for a cash back card may not be the best use of a balance transfer because you’re not accruing rewards anyway with a transferred balance. You may be better off opting for a better transfer card that solely focuses on helping with debt management in the meantime and opting for a rewards-heavy card in the future.
5. Will You Be Approved?
Cash back credit cards offered by banks may be selective on who they choose to accept because they earn such competitive rewards.
Before applying for a cash back credit card and before getting your hopes up, be sure to check your credit score and weigh any prior debt against your income to understand the likelihood of being accepted. Most places will post their card details online, including the minimum requirements for being accepted, such as a good or an excellent credit score. The last thing you want to do is to apply for a selective cash back card only to be denied and take another ding to your credit report.