Home > Credit Cards > Which Kind of Credit Card Should You Have in Your Wallet?

Comments 0 Comments

Some credit card users rely on a single card, while others have dozens. Thankfully, its easy to find a middle ground where you have a few cards that meet their essential needs, but not so many as to be difficult to manage.

If you are striving to carry just the cards that you truly need, and are looking to avoid the bulk, cost and complexity of carrying unnecessary cards, then here’s how to make sure the cards you have are the right fit for you.

1. If You Travel Internationally

If you travel internationally, you will want to have a card that has no foreign transaction fees and EMV chip compatibility. Thankfully, most credit cards are now offered with EMV chips, as this standard is being widely adopted in the United States later this year. In addition, there’s an increasing number of cards that are being offered without foreign transaction fees, particularly those that are marketed to international travelers. Nevertheless, there are still many credit cards that charge a 3% fee on all purchases processed outside of the United States. Other features that can be important to international travelers include access to airport business lounges, a travel assistance hotline and robust travel insurance policies.

2. If You Travel Domestically

Frequent domestic travelers will want to have a card affiliated with the airline that they use the most. These airline cards will offer benefits like priority check-in and boarding, as well as free checked baggage. Other perks can include discounts on in-flight food, beverage, and entertainment. And as you look toward the more expensive cards, these can even offer access to business lounges as well as elite qualifying miles to help you reach the next level of status, and become eligible for first-class upgrades.

3. If You Have Debt

People who are struggling with credit card debt may want to look for a card with 0% APR promotional balance transfer offer. Currently, these offers extend for as long as 21 months, but by law they have to apply for a minimum of six months. Opening an account with one of these offers allows you to take a break from interest charges, and pay down your debt even sooner (this calculator can help you figure out how long it will take to pay off). Unlike other financing offers, 0% APR credit cards will not impose interest charges, even when you are unable to pay off your entire balance before the promotional financing period ends.

4. If You Pay Your Credit Cards in Full Every Month

Those who avoid interest charges by paying their entire statement balance in full each month should be leveraging their good habits to earn the most valuable rewards available including points, miles, or cash back. There are even competitive cash back reward credit cards with no annual fee, so you don’t have to make any tradeoffs.

5. If You Are Rebuilding Your Credit

If your credit is poor, then it can be challenging to qualify for a new account that will help you to rebuild it. The big exceptions are for secured cards, which accept nearly all applicants, but require you to submit a refundable deposit when you open an account. Once opened, these accounts work the same way as standard credit cards. You will have to make a minimum payment each month, and you will be charged interest if you carry a balance. Secured card issuers will also notify the major credit reporting agencies of your payment history, and as you make on-time payments over a period of time and improve your credit, that may allow you to receive your deposit back and upgrade to a non-secured card in as little as one year.

6. If You Are a Student

Students and other young adults have a limited credit history, and will need to use a credit card cautiously in order to create a record of on-time payments and increase their credit score. One of the easier ways to start is with a student credit card. These cards tend to have slightly less favorable terms than similar cards, such as higher interest rates, fewer promotional financing offers or a smaller sign-up bonus. But in exchange, these products offer students the chance to open an account in their own name and build their own credit history. Just remember that the CARD Act requires that applicants under 21 show their own ability to make the payments.

Before you begin your search for a credit card, it helps to know where you stand credit-wise so you can target your search to cards with requirements you’re more likely to meet. You can get your credit scores for free on Credit.com, along with a personalized plan with suggestions on how you can improve your credit.

More Money-Saving Reads:

Image: iStock

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Credit.com receives compensation for the financial products and services advertised on this site if our users apply for and sign up for any of them.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team