Now's the time for a new credit card

November 14, 2011 7:06:55 AM PST
If you're thinking about getting a new credit card, this could be a good time. According to a just-released Consumer Reports survey - fewer credit card applications are being turned down. But you need to choose a new card carefully.

If you don't like your credit card, you're not alone.

Greg Daughterty from Consumer Reports tells us, "One out of three people we surveyed said they had a problem in the past year with things like a new annual fee, higher interest rates, or fewer rewards."

Meanwhile, the sheer volume of credit card offers is up, with enticing low initial-interest rates and attractive cash-back offers. But Consumer Reports says before you jump at an offer, check out the fine print.

"If you carry a balance on your card, the key features to look for in a new card are low balance-transfer fees and low interest rates. And make sure you know how long that new interest rate will last," says Daughterty.

Consumer Reports checked out a variety of cards and found three good deals for people who want to transfer a balance and don't plan to pay it off right away. Iberia Bank Visa Classic charges a two percent balance-transfer fee and just 1.99-percent interest for six months on balances transferred.

Simmons First Visa Platinum has no balance-transfer fee, and charges a 7.25 variable interest rate on transfers and any new purchases.

The PenFed Promise Visa has no fees of any kind and a low 4.99-percent interest on balance transfers for 24 months.

Daugherty explains, "With this card, you do need to join the PenFed credit union. Membership is free for members of the military and employees of the U.S. government, but anyone else can join for just a few dollars."

Cards that offer rewards can look enticing, but Consumer Reports says they generally have higher interest rates. If you don't pay off your balances every month, the interest could easily wipe out any rewards you might earn.

And beware, terms for credit cards can change frequently so the rates for the cards we mentioned won't be good forever.

Web links:

Iberia Bank Visa Classic

Simmons First Visa Platinum

PenFed Promise

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