There are thousands of credit cards available today, and each differ in many aspects, formats, and what they offer to the cardholder.
However, there are many features that most credit cards share. Understanding the main features of a credit card can help you understand how they work and what the best card for you is.
This articles shares a breakdown of some of the basic features credit cards have. This guide can help you discern which features are important to you and your financial needs.
Most people see and hear of the term APR, but they don’t really know what it means. APR stands for Annual Percentage Rate. This is the annual interest rate that your card carries after your interest grace period each month (more on this grace period below). This interest is charged on purchases and balance transfers alike.
APR comes in two ways, variable and fixed. A variable APR changes from time to time depending on a number of factors, the major of which is the financial market. A fixed APR is fixed to a solitary rate. That being said, it too can change under certain circumstances. However, the issuer has to inform you before they change anything when it comes to APR.
If you’ve ever taken out a loan, you know there’s a grace period you’re given before you start paying off your loan. When it comes to credit cards, the idea is the same.
When you’re in your grace period, you can pay off your balance without any interest charges being applied. After this period elapses, or if you’re carrying a balance from the previous month, you will be charged interest. The grace period is usually indicated on your application form or on your monthly statements.
Most of the credit cards in the market today have a credit limit. This is the total amount, or balance, you can carry on your card. It includes cash advances, purchases, balance transfers, and fees. In other words, it’s the maximum amount you can spend on the card without making any payments.
Fees and Penalties
All credit cards have fees and penalties. Fees and penalties are typically incurred when you make transactions using the card outside of regular purchases, such as balance transfers or cash advances. They are also charges if you don’t honor the terms of your creditor.
Common fees you may already know about include annual fees, cash advance fees, and foreign currency transaction fees. Common penalties include late payment fees and over-limit fees.
Some of the credit card fees aren’t advertised well, so always make sure to check the terms and conditions that come with the card you’re interested in or inquire for more details from the card issuer.
Most credit cards today offer rewards to cardholders. They range from travel rewards, better known as miles, to discounts and even cash back. Other cards go as far as offering complimentary insurance when you use the card to fully pay for your trips. Each card has its own set of rewards that they offer.
Contactless payment is seen as the future of payment. In the years to come, everything will all be tap and pay and lines will move along quickly.
This is also becoming an essential feature of credit cards today as it is a much more efficient payment method. It is also safer, as digital wallets allow people to use their phone to make payments now through NFC technology.
The most important feature of any credit card is the one that matters to you and your financial situation the most. For some, that means a low APR, while for others it means being able to earn rewards on their every day purchases.