How to Choose the Correct Credit Card for You

Choosing the best credit card for your lifestyle can have a considerable impact on your overall financial health.

In an Ohio Credit Union League 2018 consumer survey, 73 percent of respondents stated they use at least one or two credit cards every month. Of those who regularly utilized credit cards, 39 percent carried up to $1,000 in credit card debt. Another 30 percent owed between $1,000 and $5,000. According to the Ohio Credit Union League’s Quarterly Performance Summary (2nd Quarter, 2018), the average credit card balance held at Ohio credit unions was $2,142.

Ohioans are right in line with national trends as 71 percent of Americans have at least one credit card, according to The Motley Fool. About 18 percent of Americans have three or four credit cards in their wallet, and those cards tend to carry debt.

With the possibility that their credit cards could carry significant debt, it’s not surprising consumers want to shop around before choosing a card.

The majority of respondents in the Ohio Credit Union League consumer survey, about 44 percent, said they look for the best interest rates and lowest fees in their credit cards. According to Experian, most Americans shop for credit cards with a similar mindset; 54 percent seek out a card with no annual fee, while 40 percent look for a low-interest rate. It’s not all business, though. Another 45 percent of Americans and 32 percent of Ohioans said perks, including points for travel, discounts, and other rewards, could influence them to apply for a card.

Americans might have clear motivations for seeking credit cards, but that doesn’t mean they’re easily finding the cards that suit their needs. Although consumers know they should shop for the best deals, according to the Experian survey, 69 percent of Americans said they feel researching the correct card is too time-consuming. Another 61 percent said they become overwhelmed by the number of options available, and 57 percent said it’s too difficult to tell which card would work best for them.

Still, the majority of respondents in the Experian survey, 64 percent, said they believe their perfect credit card is out there, they just haven’t found it, yet.

Don’t let stress over choosing the best credit card deter you from using plastic to pay. Here are tips for finding the perfect credit card:

  • Check your credit. Higher credit scores are more likely to be approved for credit cards with better perks, while those with lower scores may need to shop around more. It’s best to begin the research process knowing your score, rather than being declined for the credit card you want after searching. Federal law entitles you to a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus every year: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. AnnualCreditReport.com is a federal- authorized site where you can find your score.

  • Figure out what type of credit card you need. Consumers can choose between cards that help improve limited or damaged credit, cards that save money on interest, and cards that earn rewards. Additionally, some consumers choose cards to transfer a balance from an existing credit card. Be sure you’re choosing the card most beneficial to your current situation. Check out the credit cards offered at DoverPhila Federal Credit Union.

  • Decide how likely you are to carry a balance. If you know your credit card will carry debt you won’t be able to pay off right away, you should search for cards with low annual percentage rates. Otherwise, you could end up with card payments that don’t fit into your budget and that drag out longer than expected. Make sure you know how much you can realistically afford to pay in finance charges each month and shop around accordingly.

  • Read all the fine print. Thoroughly research and understand how your potential credit card will fit into your budget. You may be attracted to a card because of its 0 percent APR introductory offer, but make sure you understand how long that offer lasts and what you’ll be paying in finance charges once that rate changes. Some cards also include annual fees, late fees, and foreign transaction fees you should be aware of before you apply. Be sure you understand everything about your new card so you can use it as wisely as possible.

  • Look to a credit union. DoverPhila Federal Credit Union offers competitive rates on credit cards that are tailored to your spending habits, along with reward programs.

Learn more about how DoverPhila Federal Credit Union can help you make a savvy credit card choice. Visit any DoverPhila location or call 330-364-8874 to speak with a credit union member service representative.

How Do Merchant Data Breaches Affect Your Identity?

Every year millions of Americans become victims of fraud due to merchant data breaches. And, with the recent Equifax breach, which affected 145.5 million people, chances are your information has been compromised. 

Although most consumers have probably only heard about a few breaches, more than 1,100 data security breaches have occurred thus far this year exposing more than 171 million data records, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center. Many credit unions are working hard to implement debit and credit card chip technology, but they do not prevent online merchant transaction fraud. As cybersecurity threats continue to evolve in both sophistication and scale, the need to safeguard your data has never been more critical.

Credit unions work hard to protect their members' data security including blocking and re-issuing cards as needed. When fraud occurs, they work with members to remove the fraudulent charges and help members keep their hard-earned money. When the merchants cause a data breach, they pass along the costs of their poor security to credit unions and banks. Expenses like this are making it harder for credit unions to offer credit cards with low interest rates and free debit cards with checking accounts. With more and more merchant data breaches occurring each year consumer identity fraud will only continue to increase, placing your private information into the hands of criminals.

So, what do you do if your identity is compromised? Here are some tips and resources to help:

  • Verify fraud. If unauthorized account transactions occur, contact your financial institution or company where fraud has occurred to report unknown charges.
  • Update your passwords. Once fraud is confirmed, change account logins and passwords. Passwords should be robust with multiple types of characters (upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols).
  • Take control. To avoid additional compromises place an initial fraud alert by calling one of the three national credit reporting companies (Equifax: 800-525-6285; Experian: 888-397-3742; TransUnion: 800-680-7289).
  • Report theft. To begin an identity recovery plan report your theft to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) online at IdentityTheft.gov or by phone at 1-877-438-4338.

To learn more about how merchant data breaches are affecting your credit union visit www.stopthedatabreaches.com.