How to Select a Credit Card

How to Select a Credit Card

This is a step by step guide on how to select a credit card online. This section of our website is not intended to provide financial advice, rather, it is meant more for a reference point to help you identify the type of credit card that you are looking for and then take you through the process of how to make sure that you are applying for that offer over a secure server for your protection. We recommend that if you are unfamiliar with some of the terms used in this “how to guide” that you reference our credit card glossary so that you may clearly understand the terminology and ultimately, the process.

Selecting a Credit Card in Six Easy Steps

Identify A Card Type

The first step in both the online and offline credit card selection process is to determine what the primary use of your new credit card will be. Do you need to transfer a balance? Are you looking for a rewards card to earn points or cash back on purchases? Do you need a new small business credit card? Perhaps you are just trying to explore your options and are looking around to see what’s available. Whatever your reason, it’s always a good idea to think about what attributes you want in a credit card as it makes the selection process much easier. It’s also good to know ahead of time how you may viewed from a lender’s standpoint so that you don’t apply for a credit card that you more than likely won’t get approved for. An extension of this is that if you do know that you have excellent credit you have many more options. For example, you may want to apply for an offer with rewards, a low interest rate and a 0% intro APR.

Search For A Card

The second step would be to visit a consumer comparison website full of rich information like our site, Credit Card Education. This is the preferred method of the savviest of consumers as you have the opportunity to compare offers by multiple issuers and apply for the one that’s the best deal based on the attributes that you identified in the prior step. We’ll use our website as an example. A good credit card comparison website is organized in the same fashion as ours. Take a quick glance at the menus to the left. You can search by feature, issuer, credit rating, or take a look at the top credit cards selected by the editorial team of the site.

View Card Terms

You’ll notice that the cards are typically presented with the name of the offer and the art (the way the card looks). There also should be a summary that gives a general overview of the offer that highlights its perks and benefits. Please take a look at the image below for an example with the arrows in red. Note that the card below is used for educational purposes only and the terms and conditions for this offer may have changed.

Check Website Security

Checking website security is very important. Because you will be potentially filling out an application containing personally identifiable information such as your DOB, social security number, address, etc., you want to make sure that you are protected. The way to do this is to look at the url where you are redirected. Identify a padlock and make sure that the url starts with https instead of http. This signifies that the site is secure and is shown below in red. You will also be able to identify clearly on the page that in fact the page is secure as it’s required by law. Note, these two things as well:

Check the Terms Again

Once you’ve verified that the site is secure it’s always wise to check the terms and conditions on the issuer’s website one more time before you apply. With all respectable credit card comparison websites, the rate information and pricing should be on a feed -- provided by the issuer. However, even though every effort is maintained to provide accurate information, server drops and other unseen circumstances may arise and as a precautionary measure it’s always a good idea to double-check the pricing just so you are sure that the card is as advertised. You don’t want to be in a situation where you think that you’re applying for a 0% APR credit card and it turns out that the terms have changed and the 0% rate is no longer being offered.

Again, this isn’t something that should really be worried about as most sites now are on a feed, but you can never be too sure and it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Fill Out The Application

Now you’re ready to fill out the application. For those of you planning on transferring a balance to your new card, if the bank accepts online balance transfers there will be a step in the application process where you will need your existing account information for the balances to be transferred. Once you have completely filled out the application and submitted it you are all done. If approved, you will typically receive your new credit card in the mail within 7-10 business days.