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The Idiot’s Guide to Selecting a Credit Card – Part II

The Idiot’s Guide to Selecting a Credit Card – Part II

There are literally hundreds – possibly thousands – of credit card offers available to consumers these days. And these days there are more things to compare than just interest rates and fees. Now, credit card holders can be rewarded for their using credit cards. Or, if you’re a business owner, you might find extra features and perks with a business credit card. In this article we’ll go over the basics of some of these above-and-beyond features of credit cards. Whenever you’re thinking of applying for a credit card, it’s always best to compare all of their features so you get the best credit card that matches your financial lifestyle.

Rewards Programs

Probably one of the most attractive features of credit cards these days is the rewards programs that they sometimes offer. Credit card companies will often reward their cardholders for making purchases with the cards. Rewards can range from airline tickets to cash back to hotel discounts, depending on which credit card you apply for. The rewards are usually based on a point system – with each dollar you spend using your credit card, you are rewarded a certain number of points that are collected in your account. When you have a certain number of points, you are able to redeem them for the reward that your credit card offers.

How can you use these types of cards to your best advantage? Think about what you do the most – do you travel? Do you drive a lot and use a lot of gasoline? Do you shop at a particular store a lot? Consumers usually choose rewards credit cards that match their spending habits the best. If you travel a lot, it would be best to get a credit card that offers airline rewards. If you’re on the road a lot, try finding an offer that gives you a discount on gasoline, or cash back for gasoline purchases. One thing to remember when selecting a rewards program – make sure that once you choose it, it fits your needs exactly. For instance, if you fly frequently but usually fly on Midwest Express, make sure your credit card offers rewards for Midwest Express and not American Airlines. If you’re a big driver, make sure you’re getting rewarded for using the gasoline that’s most available to you – BP, Amoco, etc. There are some rewards cards that allow you a choice, but it’s always important to make sure you’re going to get what you expect!

Business Features

If you are a business owner, using a business credit card can help you with things like payroll, managing expenses, and managing employee spending. Business credit cards now offer features like:

• Detailed expense reporting – allowing you to see very clearly where your hard earned business dollars are being spent.
• Online account management – allowing you to view and manage your credit accounts via the internet for added convenience
• Customized cards and employee cards – allowing you as the business owner to receive cards for your employees
• Increased credit limits- allowing you to make the business purchases you need to keep your business running.
• Rewards – either travel, cash back, or other discounts, rewards allow you to enjoy a little bit of what you’re spending

Make sure when you’re applying for a business credit card that you compare these types of features and make sure your business card will meet the needs of you, your business, and your employees.

Online Access

It’s not news anymore – online access to bank accounts and credit accounts is just about standard these days. If you’re a high powered geek, though, you might want to check out the interface and features of the online access that your credit card allows you. Online access offers you 24×7 access to your statements, transactions, customer support and billing – making it much easier for you to monitor your credit expenses and pay your bills.

Security & Protection

Another feature of credit cards that is just about standard these days is the protection that credit card issuers offer you for things like identity theft and fraudulent use of your credit card. Unfortunately, there are still people out there who can acquire your credit card numbers – usually by finding a receipt with your credit card number on it, getting the number through hacking online, etc.
Consumers should always keep credit card receipts in a safe place, shred them, or at the very least make sure that the credit card number and expiration date is not shown on the receipt before you throw it out. The good news is that if you notice a fraudulent charge on your credit card, it’s usually as easy as calling up your credit card company and reporting it. 9 times out of 10, it’s easy enough to prove that you didn’t make the charge, and your credit card company will remove that charge from your account. With some of the higher end cards – platinum cards, etc. – the credit card companies actively monitor your account and will personally call you if they notice unusual activity on your credit card. In some cases, they do not authorize payments until they get approval from the card holder. These types of features add safety and security for consumers.

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