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30 Questions to Ask Before Getting a Credit Card

As a credit card customer, you have an absolute ton of options. In fact, there are so many options out there that it can be kind of difficult to know which one offer is the best one for you. Every credit card issuer offers its own perks, rewards, and value propositions, not to mention their own fees and interest rates.

By the same token, every credit card user has their own priorities, spending needs, and credit history. Each credit card customer has a unique plan for how to use this credit card. 

So how do these factors come together to determine the very best credit card option for you?

Well, there is no one size fits all answer. The right credit card for one person may not make sense for another. Of course, that’s why there are so many options out there. 

Credit Card issuers will compete aggressively with one another for your attention and enrollment, which means that you have the advantage as the consumer. Whether you’re looking for a secured credit card to begin building credit for the first time or you have a strong credit history and you need a higher credit limit; whether you travel a lot and you need to avoid foreign transaction fees or you’re looking to pay down your credit debt using strategic balance transfers–there is likely a credit card offer out there that makes perfect sense for your needs.

You just have to know what you’re looking for. So what’s the best way to do that? Well, it starts by asking all the right questions.

If you’re just getting started on your credit building journey and you’re not sure where to begin, check out our look at the best credit cards for college students.

Otherwise read on for a look at the questions you should be asking before selecting the offer that’s right for you.

30 Questions You Need to Ask Before Choosing a Credit Card

When it comes to choosing a credit card, you may have a lot of options to pick from. This is especially true if you are a borrower with a solid credit rating and a good payment history. On the other hand, you may only have a few select choices that make sense for your situation. This is often the case for borrowers with limited or no credit history, as well as those with negative marks on their credit report. Wherever you fall on the spectrum, the best way to match up with the right offer for you is to ask as many questions as you can right up front.

Some of these questions may be posed to a potential credit card issuer, others to a financial advisor, and others still, simply to yourself. Consider the first step in choosing a credit card to be a fact finding mission. To help you along on that mission, we’ve divided the most important questions into five categories: Credit History; Spending Needs; Fees and Charges; Rewards and Benefits; and Customer Service.

Your Credit History

Your access to a credit card will depend on your credit history and your current credit scores. And items in your credit reports will contribute to the offers that are available to you, as well as the terms under which you can access these offers. So the first series of questions you need to ask yourself will concern your own credit, payment and spending history.

1. Am I just getting started on my credit journey?

First and foremost, how long is your credit history? If this is your first credit card, you may have some limitations. That’s because credit card issuers want to see a good payment history before agreeing to lend you money. Feels like a bit of a Catch-22, doesn’t it? Well, it’s true that for many first time applicants, terms may not be ideal. You may not yet have access to credit cards with fewer fees, lower APRs and more generous rewards. Instead, your focus will be on building credit by using the options available to you. For many first time borrowers, the secured credit card can be a good option. With secured credit cards, the borrower deposits funds upfront to secure the card. The benefit of this approach is that the borrower can begin to create a credit history by using this card, and may also be able to access certain cash-back benefits. The point is, if you are just getting started on your credit card journey, this will have a major impact on your options. As you’ll find over time though, the longer your credit history, the better.

2. What are my credit scores?

Of course, that logic only applies if that history is a good one. If you have a credit history with evidence of late or missed payments, accounts that have been sent to collection agencies, or just a generally low score as a consequence of numerous intersecting factors, this will also limit your eligibility for favorable credit terms. You may find that you are eligible for a number of offers, but that these offers aren’t necessarily ideal. If your credit scores are below “excellent”, you may only qualify for a low credit limit. Or you may only be able to receive credit card offers with high interest rates on repayment. In many cases, lower credit scores will also prevent you from receiving premium card offers such as those without annual fees or those with generous rewards programs. On the other hand, a high credit score may open the door to all kinds of cool offers and options. In other words, it helps to know where your credit score stands either way. This will give you a better sense of your options, as well as the wherewithal to choose from the best of them. If you’re not sure what your credit scores are with the three major credit bureaus–Equifax, Experian and Transunion–now is a great time to sign up for credit monitoring services like Credit Karma or Free Credit Report.

3. How will getting this credit card impact my credit score?

Applying for a new credit card may have a temporarily negative impact on your credit scores, even when you are approved. According to an article from Capital One, this is because “Applying for a new credit card can trigger a hard inquiry, which involves a lender looking at your credit reports. According to credit-scoring company FICO®, hard inquiries can cause a slight drop in your credit scores. Keep in mind that hard inquiries usually stay on your credit reports for two years. However, they may not have an effect on your scores for that long. For example, credit-scoring companies may only consider hard inquiries for up to 12 months.” Not only that, but as long as you use your card responsibly, it will likely improve your credit rating over that same amount of time. For one thing, building a quick pattern of usage and repayment can quickly improve your credit score. For another thing, adding a new line of credit to your existing credit limit without adding more debt will improve your credit utilization ratio. This is a significant factor when it comes to determining your credit score and borrowing power.

4. What is my credit utilization ratio?

Speaking of the credit utilization ratio, it’s a good idea to know what yours is before you shop around for a new credit card. As noted above, your credit utilization ratio is the measure of how much credit you have access to versus how much you are using. The more of your credit that you use, the higher your utilization ratio. This is seen as an indication that you may be carrying a large amount of debt and are therefore considered to be a higher borrowing risk. This can consequently result in less favorable credit card offers with higher interest rates, lower credit limits, and fewer rewards. Financial advisors suggest keeping a utilization rate of 30% or lower. If you plan to take out a new credit card but your current utilization is high, try paying off some of your outstanding debts first. If you can get that usage rate below 30%, it could improve the borrowing conditions that you can consider on your next card. Once again, you can use a credit monitoring service to find out what your credit utilization ratio is. This will allow you to take steps to improve this ratio if necessary before you apply for a credit card.

5. Is there anything in my credit report that I need to worry about?

That all-important credit report comes with a ton of information. There’s more than just a set of credit scores in there. You can also see if there are any red flags for unpaid bills in your history, accounts in collections that you never knew about, and even suspicious activity through accounts that you don’t recognize. All of these things may be hurting your credit scores and limiting your borrowing power. But you may not find out about them until you get rejected for a card–which can hurt your credit even further. Credit monitoring can bring all of these irregularities to your attention and give you an avenue through which to address them. Indeed, the other benefit to credit monitoring is that you can dispute anything in your report that you don’t believe is accurate. This can help you begin to repair credit damage caused by erroneous or fraudulent activities. And if you are responsible for the negative marks on your report, it may at least prepare you for the likeliest outcomes when you do shop for credit card offers. To the point, an article from BHG Money notes, “For those with lower credit scores, you may not get the same features and benefits as someone who has built their credit history over many years. By looking at what perks matter to you, from cash back to travel points, as well as what cards you may be approved for based on your score, you can have a better idea of whether a credit card may meet your needs.” In other words, the better a handle you have on your credit report, the more able you will be to get the optimal card for your situation.

6. How can credit card usage improve my financial outlook?

Whether you have less than stellar credit, a shorter credit history, or no credit history at all, you may find that there are limits on your borrowing power. For instance, if you fall into any of these categories, you may not yet qualify for an auto loan, a mortgage, or a small business loan. On the other hand, you may be able to qualify for a credit card with a modest spending limit. This could be a great starting point as you build credit toward those bigger goals. According to an article from BHG Money, “paying your credit card on time each month can help you build your credit to secure future financing. This is because card providers typically record your payments so that the information is accessible by the credit bureaus.” If you’ve got bigger borrowing plans in the future, consider your credit card a proving ground. If you manage this responsibly, it may help you eventually qualify for a bigger loan.

Your Spending Needs

Once you’ve taken a closer look at your credit history, it’s time to think about your intended use for this credit card. How you plan to spend on this card, your ability to maintain a low or zero balance, and any intended balance transfers should all inform your decision. The questions in this section will help you hone in on your exact needs from a credit card.

7. Do I need this credit card?

Before you can get specific about what your credit spending needs are, it’s a good idea to start by truly evaluating whether or not a credit card is the best solution for these needs. The right credit card offer for the right person at the right time can make for smart consumer behavior. But the wrong match can create unneeded costs and financial challenges. As an article from Wisebread points out, “Getting a credit card offer in the mail doesn’t mean you have to complete the offer. Consider whether you need another credit card. Will the new credit card offer you additional perks and benefits, or save you money by offering cash back? Is there a card with an enticing sign up offer? Then again, if you can’t keep up with your current monthly payments, or if your current credit cards are maxed out, adding a new card may further complicate your finances.” Critically assess whether a credit card makes sense for your situation and financial outlook, and even consider alternatives if you aren’t sure. 

8. Will I be using this credit card to make major purchases?

Once you’ve determined that getting a credit card is the right move for you, it’s time to think about what your actual plans are for this card. The way you plan to spend on your credit card should be a major factor in determining the type of offer you seek out. For instance, if your goal is to use this credit card to finance a major purchase like a new appliance, a home renovation, or a new piece of furniture, you will want to find a credit card that is built to accommodate this intended usage. For one thing, financing a major purchase means that you will likely carry a balance forward for the first several months. If this is the plan, you should prioritize a credit card that comes with a promotional introductory rate. Some credit card issuers will provide you with a temporary 0% APR–usually for between 6 and 12 months. This can give you the freedom to repay the cost of this big ticket purchase without accumulating interest charges. Some credit card offers also come with a sign up bonus for those who spend and repay a certain sum in the first several months of usage. This bonus will usually come in the form of a few hundred dollars in cash back, and may be available to you with the right card. If you are planning to make a big purchase with your credit card right away, see if you can find an offer that includes this type of bonus.

9. Will I regularly carry a balance on my credit card?

While we really don’t advise carrying a balance forward on your credit card in the long term, we understand that sometimes financial conditions may simply require you to do so. If this describes your situation, and you expect that you will use your credit card in ways that require you to carry a balance, your top goal should be to find a credit card with the lowest possible APR. Indeed, if this is your situation, you may even consider sacrificing certain perks and rewards in favor of an offer with a lower interest rate on repayment. With all of that said, we must also strongly recommend that you make efforts to lower and eliminate this balance as soon as possible. Even with a favorable interest rate, carrying a balance on your credit card will cost you more money.

10. Do I expect to use this credit card for balance transfers?

If you are struggling with a credit card balance and you’re not sure how to chip away at it–especially in the face of your continually accruing of interest rates–a balance transfer credit card might be a good option for you. Balance transfers may not eliminate your debt, but they can improve the terms under which you repay that debt. According to an article from Mountain American Credit Union (MACU), “If you’re consistently carrying a balance from month to month on your credit card, a balance transfer credit card may be the best fit. This type of offer allows you to move your high-interest balance from one card to another with a lower interest rate—maybe even as low as 0%! Most of these rates will go up after a specific amount of time, so before you commit, make sure you understand what that time frame is and that you have a plan to pay off your balance before it ends.” So if you are dealing with a heavy balance and costly interest rates, look for an offer with a 0% promotional period, transfer your balance, and begin paying it off aggressively during that promotional period.

11. Do I plan to use this card for travel?

Before you choose your new credit card offer, consider whether or not you’ll plan to use it for travel, and if so, what kind? Do you travel for business on a regular basis? Are you a frequent flier or are you more likely to rent a car? Will you use your own vehicle for business travel? Do you travel internationally with any degree of regularity? Or are you simply preparing for a big family trip with a bunch of anticipated lodging and travel expenses? There are tons of credit card offers out there designed specifically for travel. But how you answer the questions above will help you to determine which is the best card for you. Some issuers offer generous points programs for frequent flyers while others provide cash back when you pay for gas. Some travel cards will come with discounts when used at participating lodging destinations, car rental services, restaurants, chain stores, and more. Ask yourself what type of travel you will likely use your card for. This will be an important consideration as you shop for cards with travel rewards.

12. Do I own a small business or will I use this credit card for work expenses?

Are you self-employed, freelance, or the owner of your own small business? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, you will probably need a small business credit card. First of all, it’s always a good idea to separate your personal finances from your business expenditures. And designating a credit card for business purposes can make it a lot easier to draw that line and keep track of your spending. But there’s more to it than that. The right business credit card can come with all kinds of benefits specific to your needs. For instance, you might be able to find a credit card offer that provides cash back and other benefits when used to pay for business phone lines, internet, and other service providers. Or if you frequently take work lunches with business partners and clients, your business credit card may offer elevated cash back bonuses for dining out. If you expect to use your credit card regularly for business purposes, make sure you find an offer that maximizes the benefits you get in return.

Fees and Charges

Once you know what you need out of a credit card, it’s time to take a closer look at what credit card issuers are asking in exchange. Every offer comes with its own fees, charges, and repayment structure. This is where you need to do the math. These questions should help you determine what you’re paying for and whether or not it’s worth it.

13. What is the APR for the credit card offer?

Now that we’ve taken a closer look at your intended card usage, let’s dig a little deeper on the offer itself. There are all kinds of fees and charges that can come with credit card enrollment and usage. It’s important to know what they are so you can choose the best possible offer for you and so that you can find ways to maximize those benefits once you do. That starts with the Annual Percentage Rate (APR), which is the interest rate that your credit card issuer will charge on any balance that you carry forward. This can have a consequential impact on what it costs for you to borrow. According to an article from Wisebread, “If you’ll carry a balance from month to month, make sure you know the card’s annual percentage rate (APR). This rate lets you know how much you’ll pay in interest if you don’t pay off the card in full every month. Interest rates vary and depend on your credit score. Ideally, you want the lowest rate so that you pay the least amount in finance fees.” In short, the higher your APR, the more it will cost you to carry a balance. So when you’re shopping for credit card offers, the point is to seek out the very lowest APR you can find and qualify for. Those with truly excellent credit may pay as low as 12%, but these days, interest rates are generally high. So those with good credit can expect an APR somewhere in the range of 20% while those with bad credit should plan to pay closer to 30% or more.

14. Are there annual fees that I’ll have to pay?

Some, but not all, credit cards come with an annual fee. In most cases, this fee will show up once a year on your credit card bill. While it may be as low as $30 to $50, some more exclusive credit cards may charge an annual fee as high as $500. The average annual fee will probably fall closer to $90-$120 for most offers. Some credit cards may have no annual fee at all, while others will offset this fee with generous rewards and rebates. It really depends on what you’re looking for in a credit card. According to an article from Capital One, “Not every credit card charges an annual fee. But based on your needs, you may find those that do are worth it, thanks to the benefits and rewards offered. As you compare credit cards, determine whether they charge an annual fee that matches your spending habits and lifestyle.” If you believe it will be more beneficial to find a card with no annual fees, you will have some options to choose from, but the rewards may be modest. On the other hand, you may find that, with the right credit card offer, those annual fees pay for themselves tenfold by providing access to valuable rewards.

15. What are the late fees for missed payments?

Naturally, the goal is to make on time payments, and to avoid carrying forward a balance. But accidents happen. Sometimes, it may slip your mind. On other occasions, you may be struggling to make ends meet. Whatever the reasons, you should be prepared with a full understanding of the penalties for late payment. Will the fee for late payment be large or nominal? And how flexible is your provider regarding late fees? Some credit card issuers offer a grace period of 24 to 48 before identifying a delayed payment as late and issuing a penalty. Others may be willing to credit a late fee as a courtesy. Find out everything you can about the policy and penalties surrounding late payment. While the hope is that you never have to deal with these penalties firsthand, they’re good to know about…just in case.

16. Is there a balance transfer fee?

If you’re planning to use this new account to transfer an existing balance, it’s good to know what that will cost you upfront. As we mentioned earlier in this article, you should do your best to seek out a card with a 0% promotional APR if balance transfer is your top priority. But you’ll also want to include any balance transfer fees in your calculations. This fee could be a nominal one-time charge, or it could be based on a percentage of the overall balance. If it’s the latter, this fee could become somewhat costly depending on the size of your balance. Ultimately, the goal is to determine which combination of factors will result in the best savings. To do so, find out if there is a balance transfer fee and how this fee is structured.

17. Is there a cash advance fee?

Many credit card issuers offer cash advances that can be procured at any ATM, which can be a great option if you find yourself in a financial pinch. But before you choose your credit card, find out what the terms are for taking out a cash advance. In most cases, your cash advance will come with higher costs and more onerous conditions than basic credit card spending. For one thing, you will likely pay a pretty hefty fee at the ATM just for the withdrawal. In addition, there will likely be a limit on how much money you can procure through a cash advance. And finally–and most importantly–many cash advances will come with higher APRs than the rate you’ll pay for the balance on your credit card. All of these conditions can make the cash advance option more costly than it’s worth. So before you choose a credit card offer, take these fees and conditions into consideration. While you may not plan on taking out a cash advance, you never know what could happen. If you do find yourself in an emergency situation where you must take out a cash advance, make sure you have selected a credit card offer with the best possible terms.

18. Will I have to pay foreign transaction fees when traveling out of the country?

As we noted in a section above, you’ll want to do your due diligence on researching a credit card if you plan to use it for travel. But this goes beyond the access that some travel cards provide to great rewards. You may also want to find a card that minimizes the various expenses that come with spending on the road. Many credit cards will apply foreign transaction fees for expenditures made while traveling abroad. These fees–sometimes just a few cents or dollars per transaction–can really add up when you’re on the road. If you plan to use your credit card for international travel, it’s a really good idea to find an offer that eliminates these foreign transaction fees. This is a perk that many travel rewards cards do include. Read the fine print to see if the offers you’re considering extend this potentially valuable benefit.

Rewards and Benefits

Now that you know what the costs are to access a credit card, let’s take a closer look at the rewards and benefits that you’ll get in exchange for the money. You’ll find that benefits and rewards come in an extremely wide variety of forms, and that some rewards programs are far more generous than others. Then again, some credit card companies charge far higher annual fees than others. These questions should help you weigh the balance between the costs and the benefits.

19. Is there a promotional introductory rate, and if so, what are interest rates after the promotional period ends?

Speaking of benefits, credit card rewards can come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. It’s all about what you plan to use the card for. One benefit you might want to look for is the promotional introductory rate. Some cards will actually start you out at a 0% interest rate for a set period of time–often 6 to 12 months. You can expect the rate to go up to a normal rate after this introductory period, but it may be a great option if you’re planning to use the card to finance a big purchase and pay it off in the first 6 to 12 months. On the other hand, this may not be the best card for you if you’re looking to use the account for regular everyday purchases in the long term. Indeed, according to an article from Navy Federal “You probably don’t want to choose a credit card based on an interest rate that’s only going to last 6 months. The rate you’ll pay when the promotional rate expires is far more important. If you’re shifting over from another card, make sure to include any balance transfer fee in your evaluation.” And in general, make sure you learn everything you can about the nature of your promotional period. How long will the promotional rate last and what will your interest rates be when it’s over? It may be possible to find a card that offers the best of both worlds–an excellent promotional offer and a competitive long-term APR. As in most cases, your credit score and payment history will factor into the types of options that are available to you.

20. Does the card come with cash back rewards?

One of the biggest benefits of using a credit card to spend on both everyday and special purchases is the availability of cash back. Many credit cards will provide a percentage of cash back based on the purchases you make using said card. This cash back feature may apply to all spending with the card, or may fall into a number of specific categories. Credit card issuers often have a variety of strategies for delivering these benefits. You may be able to accumulate points on purchases toward certain rewards or discounts. In other cases, you might accrue a credit balance that can be used either toward repaying your bill, making direct purchases or requesting a cash out. Before you choose the right card for you, find out how your cash back rewards program is structured. Ideally, you will find an offer that provides the most flexibility. The more options you have for receiving your cash back rewards, the better.

21. Are there benefits for using the card for a particular type of purchase?

This question ties directly into the question about how you plan to use your credit card. There are all kinds of different offers that reward customers for spending in specific areas. And in some cases, a card may even be designed to magnify the benefits for those who make certain purchases. If you’re going to go through the trouble of getting a new credit card, it only makes sense to find one that maximizes rewards for the types of purchases you actually make. According to an article from Forbes, “Rewards credit cards come in many forms, making it more challenging to determine how they compare. They earn at different rates and reward you in different currencies, not to mention the rules that may come with earning or redemptions. But failing to choose one of the best rewards credit cards might mean leaving benefits—and even cold, hard cash—on the table.” If you plan to use your credit card for your business commute, make sure you find one that offers bonus points for spending on gas and coffee. If you expect to use your credit card for travel, find an offer that maximizes points or cash back for spending on flights and lodging. If you plan to use your card for everyday items, identify an offer that provides additional cash back for spending at grocery stores and other everyday retail outlets. There’s a special offer for just about everything you can think of so shop around and find the rewards card that matches your lifestyle and spending goals. You should also bear in mind that most rewards cards come with higher annual fees as well as a higher credit score threshold for qualified applicants. So before you choose the right offer, make sure that the benefits will offer a net gain when measured against the annual fee.

22. Will my card come with promotional discounts for use with certain partners?

In addition to benefits like cash back, many of the financial institutions offering credit cards will maintain partnerships with well known brands. This might include big box retail stores, national restaurant chains, gas station chains, airlines, hotel chains, and much more. These partnerships often provide access to direct and immediate discounts on the price of purchase. See if your credit card offer comes with access to these friendly business partnerships. And of course, look for a list of partnerships that includes retail and service brands you would actually frequent or employ. If you match up with the right card, this can be a great benefit, one where you enjoy immediate savings, by contrast to the delayed gratification of cash back rewards.

23. Can I begin using my card right away?

Speaking of getting things immediately, are you applying for a credit card because you need a spending line now? If the nature of your intended purchase is time sensitive, you’ll likely be looking for a credit card account that you can tap right away. This may not always be an option though, especially when you apply for a credit card online. Sometimes you’ll have to wait to receive your card before you can use your account. But there are plenty of offers that allow you to start shopping right away, even if you have to wait a week to get your actual plastic in the mail. According to the article from The Points Guy, “some credit cards let eligible cardmembers whose identities can be quickly authenticated begin making purchases immediately upon approval. The few major issuers that offer this feature typically only do it on a limited number of their credit cards. But American Express makes this feature available on most consumer card products. This includes the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express as well as the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express.” If you need access to your credit in relatively short order, this is a benefit you’ll want to ask about right up front.

24. What are some of the unique perks that come with my credit card offer?

While many of the benefits that we’ve identified here above fall into a few pretty standard categories–travel rewards, cash back, discount with participating partners–credit cards often come with all kinds of cool and quirky benefits. If you’re starting to feel like all the rewards offered out there are kind of similar, you might be able to use these unique perks as a tiebreaker. Dig a little deeper to find out what kinds of special benefits might tilt the scales for you. Free museum entry, wine tastings, exclusive event attendance? With the right credit card offer, any of these may well be part of your rewards package. As an article from Forbes notes, “Credit cards come with all sorts of benefits, some of which are overlooked and underutilized. These extra perks can add extra value to your card’s total package and give you an excuse to try something new without spending a bundle.” Credit cards often come with these opportunities, though they may not be as widely advertised. It’s up to you to inquire about, and make the most of, these benefits.

Customer Service

There are certain things that every credit card company does, from security and fraud prevention to price protection and purchase protection. But that doesn’t mean that every credit card provider does these things equally well, or according to your personal needs. These questions should help you determine which credit card issuers provide the level of customer service that you require.

25. Does the credit card offer convenient online account management?

Never take for granted the value of a clear, functional, and user friendly online interface. For many customers, this can be a make or break experience. As an article from Navy Federal points out, “Being able to check your balance, make a payment, set travel notifications, track and redeem rewards, and activate your credit card with your mobile device can be very handy. It’s especially important to stay current on your account if you’re trying to build credit, since missed or late payments will hurt your credit report. Check to see if the credit card issuer offers a mobile app that can help you manage your credit card account.” Nobody wants to use a website with slow load time or navigate a confusing account dashboard, or have to search to find information that should be readily available. And with so many options out there, you really don’t have to settle for any of those inconveniences. So before you choose a credit card offer, you’ll want to explore the site where you will be managing everything from checking your balance and paying your bills to redeeming your benefits and requesting a raise of your credit limit. If the site is clunky and unresponsive, you may want to look elsewhere.

26. Can I choose my payment due date?

Before you sign up for any credit card offer, you need to be realistic about your ability to meet your repayment obligations. Responsible credit card usage includes a repayment strategy and reliable stream of income with which to make payments. But a little flexibility can help. For instance, wouldn’t it be better if your credit card payments weren’t due on the same day you pay your rent or mortgage? Wouldn’t it be better if you could coordinate your due date with your biweekly pay day? In most cases, you actually can. When shopping for an offer, you should be sure that your credit card issuer allows you to choose your only monthly due date. According to an article from NerdWallet, “One of the best ways to ensure you pay on time while managing your cash flow is to choose the date your payment is due each month. When you can pick your own due date, you can set it for a time when money isn’t as tight. All major card issuers allow you to choose your own due date; some even let you do it online.” Make sure you inquire about changing your due date to something that works with your own pay schedule. Knowing that you have that flexibility can help to reduce your risk of late payment.

27. Is it possible to lower my interest rates over time?

This is something you’ll want to ask upfront. Find out if the credit card issuer is receptive to lowering interest charges for good long-term customers. If the answer is yes, remember to revisit the question once you have already established yourself as just such a customer. An article from Nerdwallet advises that you may be able to negotiate a lower APR as you become a more attractive borrower to other lenders. According to Nerdwallet, “If you’ve been a good customer and you’re carrying a balance, consider asking your issuer to lower your interest rate.” Nerdwallet goes on to point out that there’s usually a pretty good signal that you have the edge in this negotiation. The article advises that “If you start getting offers in the mail for premier cards, it means your score has probably gone up. You can call your issuer and tell them the offers you’re getting, and leverage that to see if they can match it.” It may not move the needle, but you don’t know until you ask.

28. Does the credit card issuer provide complete fraud protection?

It’s extremely important to know that your private information and your credit card accounts are in safe and secure hands. While every credit card issuer and financial institution is legally required to comply with a certain level of security when it comes to managing your money and your data, there are those that go above and beyond to ensure that you are both protected from, and compensated in the event of, fraud, identity theft, and other security breaches. Make sure you read the fine print when it comes to the security and fraud measures taken by your financial institution. Look for those credit card offers where you are fully protected from both damage and responsibility when breaches do occur. According to an article from Navy Federal, “Federal regulations limit your liability for unauthorized credit card charges to $50, but many issuers have zero liability policies. That means you aren’t responsible for any fraudulent charges, provided you follow a few rules.” Find out what each credit card issuer’s policy is regarding fraud. Don’t settle for anything less than the most comprehensive protection, security, and insulation against liability. These features could make a big difference in both ensuring that your account remains secure and making your life as easy as possible in the event that an unfortunate security lapse does occur.

29. Can I get purchase protection with my credit card?

Another important customer service feature that is common but not universal is purchase protection. If you plan to use your credit card for retail purchases, you will absolutely want to ensure that you have purchase protection. This is especially true if you expect to make a big ticket purchase with your card. As an article from the Lending Tree explains “Purchase protection is a common credit card benefit that allows consumers to file a claim with their issuer to receive replacement, repair or reimbursement for any eligible stolen or damaged items. Major credit card networks, such as Mastercard and Visa, have different policies for purchase protection. Consumers should understand their network’s policy to ensure that their products are covered in the case of an incident — especially when purchasing expensive electronics or furniture. Generally, claims for purchase protection can be filed online or by phone for all major credit card networks.” This is an extremely valuable safeguard against the unexpected–whether the unexpected is an unruly toddler who can’t be trusted around electronics or a burglar with fine taste in jewelry. If you expect to use your credit card for shopping, ask about purchase protection. And again, this is an area where you’ll want to read the fine print. Make sure this purchase protection is expansive enough to cover the full scope of your intended purchases for all relevant risks.

30. Can I get price protection with my credit card?

Often paired with purchase protection is a customer service benefit called price protection. Once again, this is a great feature for those who intend to use their credit cards for retail shopping and big ticket items. This is actually a form of consumer protection that works retroactively…and is far more readily available than you might assume. According to an article from Investopedia, “Price protection is a little-known but common feature offered by most credit card companies that allow cardholders to receive a refund if an item bought with that credit card drops in price within a specified period. This period is usually within 30 or 60 days though some cards allow claims to be filed within 90 days.” If you’re comparing credit card offers, you’ll want to know if price protection is available, and if so, for you how long after the initial purchase. This could save you a fortune over time. 


Now that you know which questions to ask when shopping for a credit card, it might also be valuable to know what not to do. Check out our list of 10 credit card mistakes that you don’t want to make.