Stupid CC Question

I know people get like a bajillion Credit Card offers a day but I’m a guy who only has a debit card and a Penny’s charge card. How do I go about applying? Do I sit at home and wait? Call them up? What’s with the millions of varieties of Visa/MC’s??? Is there a site that compares all offers and lets you see who has the best deals? I’m a rookie at this whole newfangled credit thang:wally

Do you have a bank account? Your bank is probably a credit card issuer. Call them up and ask them about their credit card offerings and they will fall all over themselves to send you an application. Actually, you can do this at any major bank, you don’t have to be an account holder. But your own bank is the easiest place to start.

A lot of restaurants and hotels place a stack of applications in a convenient location also.

MCs and Visas are issued through banks, so each bank has their own variety. Each one will have different interest rates, limits, specials deals, and so on. If you have little or no credit, you will likely be able to get a card with a low limit and a rather sucky interest rate. Use it sparingly, and pay off the full balance every month. You will soon get credit offers for better cards with much lower interest, for which it will be somewhat less painful to carry a balance once in a while, if you need to.

If you don’t have an offer already, simply walk into your local bank and ask them if they offer a low limit Visa or MC. They will be happy to provide you with an application.

Two things to look for, and which you should be able to get: no annual fee, and a grace period to pay off purchases (i.e., there are no interest charges as long as you pay off the entire balance by the due date).

And don’t let yourself be seduced by the low “minimum payment:” that’s how people end up with mountains of credit card debt that they can’t seem to dig their way out of!

Clark Howard has some good info, including links to sites such as CardWeb.

Click on “Find a card.” and select what type of card you are looking for. Then double check back with Clark on any double talk in the conditions.

TNSTAAFL. Almost everything is a gimmick that sounds a lot better than it really is. Buyer beware.