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5 things to pay attention to when shopping for a credit card

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This story is sponsored by First National Bank. Learn more about First National Bank.

Most adults would agree that having a credit card is a necessity. Credit cards expand purchasing power and can serve as a safety net when emergencies arise. When used wisely, credit cards can be an effective tool in helping you manage your finances successfully.

With all of the credit card options out there, how do you choose one that best fits your needs? Many banks and credit unions run enticing promotions that promise rewards and flexible terms but beware of jumping at the first offer that you see! If you don’t do your due diligence, you may end up as a credit card captive! Here are 5 things to pay attention to when shopping around for a credit card.

1. Interest rate

Interest can be considered the price you pay for using a credit card. If you only make the minimum payment every month, your interest will steadily build up and you may find yourself paying double what the original purchase amount was.

According to CreditCards.com, national interest rates are currently hovering around 15 percent. By shopping around, you can easily find options that are below the national average.

2. Annual fees

Some credit cards don’t come cheap. Annual fees may be easy to miss because they are often disclosed in the fine print. According to ThePointsGuy.com, some annual fees for popular rewards cards total to over $400! Ask your banker upfront what the annual fee on a card is so you don’t find yourself in shock when you look at your annual statement.

3. Transaction fees

If you are a world traveler or plan to use your card on the next family vacation, pay attention to transaction fees. While most banks don’t charge for purchases made within the US, many will have foreign transaction fees in place. You don’t even have to travel to another country to be charged this type of fee; online purchases from a foreign company may also qualify.

4. Penalty fees

While we all have a goal to be financially responsible people and to make our payments on time, sometimes life happens! When those unplanned moments occur and you miss a payment, how much will you be charged? Some banks charge a flat fee while others have a penalty interest rate. Are you aware of what your bank charges?

5. Reward options

Not all reward programs are created equally! While some programs are advertised as “the best rewards for your dollar spent”, they may require you to spend double what other banks do before you will receive the reward.

Doing your research and shopping around for a credit card will help you find the best card that suits your needs. By paying attention to these five things, you can use credit to your advantage instead of becoming a credit captive.