Whether consumers are looking to get to grips with mounting debts, fund a major purchase or simply want something that can ensure them quick access to money in times of need, a credit card can prove to be an effective tool to have in one's arsenal of personal finance products.
Indeed, while being in possession of a credit card can help borrowers to meet various monetary goals, selecting the right product can also see people gain financially. Certain cards come with a cashback facility, allowing users to 'earn' money each time they use their plastic. Some can accrue air miles and other points on other loyalty programmes that can be redeemed to pay for goods and services at a later point, while features such as complementary travel and home insurance are available on others.
However, not all credit cards come with such incentives - indeed, there are several which do not. As such, those keen on getting a plastic product that comes loaded with attractive features and will help them to make the most of their money may be well advised to ensure that they compare the wide range of cards available to get the product that is suitable for them.
Getting the right product
But how do those keen on getting a competitive credit card deal go about achieving this and what features should they look for? Perhaps one of the most important things to consider is the rate of interest that is attached to it. Indeed, those scouring the market for products are much more likely to be keen on obtaining offers which charge 16.9 per cent interest than ones which impose 24.9 per cent or an even higher rate.
However, whether consumers are looking for UK credit by browsing the internet or looking at deals in newspapers or on the high street, they should be aware the headline rate of interest advertised with products may not actually turn out to be the one that they receive.
Indeed, a November 2009 poll from MoneySavingExpert reveals one in four people claim to have received a higher rate on credit products than they applied for on "many occasions" during the last three years, while 34 per cent state that this happened to them a few times.
People may want to be aware that such rates are often typical ones offered and that actual interest charges depend on lenders' assessment of applicants' capacity to repay their debts as well as the individual's credit report. With this record setting out consumers' previous financial commitments and their overall ability to manage money, prospective borrowers keen on getting the best product within their means may do well to give this document careful consideration.
By taking the time to check their financial file prior to making an application to borrow money, people could uncover any discrepancies that could potentially harm their chances of obtaining credit and take steps to repair them.
Upon analysing their report people may well find that a number of transactions and applications for financial products have fraudulently been made in their name, something that could act as a barrier when they make a genuine request for UK credit cards. In the event of this happening, it could be possible that people have been a victim to identity theft criminals. However, the discovery of this before applying for credit could allow them to challenge this - as well as information which is incorrect or out of date - and eventually repair their report.
Be honest in your application
Brits keen on securing the best credit card deals should also ensure they are entirely honest when making a request for finance. Those who look to be creative with the truth, no matter how small, in a bid to appear a more attractive prospect to lenders will find themselves found out. Whether it is a lie about existing financial commitments or stating their household income is greater than is actually the case, such fibs will be discovered.
In the event of this happening, credit providers could mark such deception as fraud, which could not only impact upon consumers' current application to borrow but also make any future applications for other financial products a more difficult process.
Given that they have been truthful in their application, borrowers in possession for a credit card could well find they are given the resources to get to grips with their finances. Of course there are the incentives such as travel insurance and air miles that come with certain products which are likely to be attractive.
However, the fact credit cards allow consumers to make purchases that can be paid off at a later date will probably be the most popular feature attached to them. Indeed, this form of borrowing could be particularly useful for those looking to fund major one-off spending - for instance if they wish to buy a large domestic appliance - or want to prepare their finances for a period where they have to manage numerous monetary commitments.
Seeking out a credit card that comes with a 0% balance transfer could also be helpful for those looking to repay existing debts.
Whatever purpose people have in mind when it comes to using plastic, getting a copy of their financial history and taking the time to compare cards can ensure people get the deal that is right for their specific circumstances. Of course, consumers should remember to keep up with repayments in order to avoid running into money difficulties.
- associate article