How to Choose a Credit Card

You probably want a new credit card for a specific purpose: the convenience of not carrying cash, the desire to earn rewards for everyday purchases, the need to establish credit or because of a specific life event like a trip or going off to college. If you are already sure of what kind of card you want, use our "Best of" articles in the "Card Reviews" section to see highly rated credit cards that fit your needs. However, if you want to dig further into the details and analyze all facets of what different cards have to offer then there are several important pieces of information to consider:

What is your credit score?

True to their name, credit cards quite literally grant you access to a line of credit. In exchange for your promise to pay them back in the future, banks allow you to charge purchases to a credit card. The banks that issue cards (Barclays, Capital One, Bank of America and Chase to name a few) determine what lines of credit they're willing to offer you based on several pieces of information but most prominent among them are (typically) your credit score and your current income. If you already know your credit score then you can use the following table as a rough guide to see the credit group you fall into. Our search tools can then tell you what cards are available at your credit level:

Credit Score
Excellent: 750-850
Good: 700-749
Average: 650-699
Below Average: 600-649
Poor: 300-600

If you want to understand your credit better or if you wish to find out your credit score right now then visit our "Your Credit" page for more information.

If you have poor or no credit and are looking to get access to a credit card and build your credit history then you will want to consider a secured credit card. Otherwise please continue to page 2 to read about rewards programs and other card benefits.

Next Article: Rewards Programs
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