Types of Credit Cards and Their Differences

The simplest option is to get a normal credit card straight from a company like MasterCard or Visa.

  • These cards usually are straight forward and have minimal hidden text
  • May have lower APR rates than more specialized cards
  • Good for those who only need to use them every once in a while

Cash Back or General Rewards Cards

These cards allow you to make a percentage of the money you spend in extra bonus like getting points for purchases or a percentage of the cash you spend back. However, they may come with an extra catch

  • Good for people who shop a lot with their credit cards. Points can add up.
  • Better for those who pay off their balance in full every single month. These cards may have higher APR rates.
  • Watch the fine print for catches like an annual fee. If you do a little math then you can figure out if these cards are worth it.

Airline Miles Cards

A specific type of rewards card for customers who like to travel. These cards tend to give you bonuses by flying with airlines so if you need to travel a lot for business or for leisure, then it’s possible these cards could be worth it for you. They may have the same downsides as a typical rewards card though.

Secured Credit Cards

When you fail to make credit card payments and go into default, your credit rating may take the plunge. Ideally you want to avoid that but if you do get yourself into some trouble, you may still be able to get a secured credit card. These cards may require that you put something up as collateral and have low credit limits, but they can help to rebuild your credit rating over time.

Prepaid Cards

They look and work about the same as a debit card with a limited balance rather than a credit card. You can’t generally charge more money to these cards than you put up front to purchase them. These are very useful when you don’t have a credit or debit card but an online purchase requires one since they can be used in place of a regular credit card.

Business Credit Cards

Businesses can also get their own credit cards that tie into the company account. It’s important to not mix business and personal finances if you are anything above an independent freelancer. These cards make it convenient to make business purposes while keeping personal finances seperate.

Student Credit Cards

While stricter limits were put into law about marketing credit cards to people under 21, one way that they have made it into the hands of college students is through their student Ids. Some universities make their student Ids also dual function as a credit card by partnering with one of the major card companies.

Some schools prefer to make and receive payments for courses, books, and other on campus items using these cards. It is convenient as a college student to have more aspects of your life merged with your college life but it could also be dangerous as a freshman if you don’t fully grasp all the responsibilities of holding these cards. If you’re in this situation, then do yourself a favor and treat the card with respect and not as an excuse to throw a huge party.

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