The credit card market is very competitive and constantly changing. Lately, it means new cards that offer more choices to consumers. As this trend continues into 2022, credit card buyers will need to know what to look for. What does a good credit card look like these days?
Annual fees, sign-up bonuses, reward rates, and 0% interest offers have long been fundamental standards for evaluating and comparing cards. And they still are.
But recently, some issuers have started to offer niche cards with rewards specially adapted for people who love cryptocurrencies, wine or video games. Others let cardholders choose the categories that pay the richest rewards.
Here are four newer, broader, or more useful features to look out for when buying a credit card in 2022.
1. Personalized rewards
Credit cards have long offered multiple ways to redeem rewards: cash back, statement credits, merchandise, gift cards, and point transfers to airlines or hotels.
But card issuers have traditionally dictated how you to earn rewards in the first place. For example, your card would earn 3 points per dollar at petrol stations. If you don’t spend a lot of gas, the card doesn’t do much for you.
This changes as more and more cards allow you to customize rewards based on your spending. With these cards, you can control which categories earn the richest rewards. For example, if you like dining out, you would choose restaurants as a bonus category.
Overall, personalized rewards are a win for consumers, especially if the card automatically adjusts the bonus category based on your spending. But some have a notable downside – you have to actively and regularly choose your bonus categories, which means trying to anticipate where you’ll be spending the most money. That’s more effort than some consumers are willing to put into it.
Also, since the bonus rewards can be very lucrative, many are capped. For example, you can earn 5% cash back in a high spend category, but that rate can apply to just $ 500 per month of spending before it drops to 1%.
2. Buy now, pay later
More and more retailers are offering customers the option of paying for their purchases in a series of fixed, sometimes interest-free payments. These installment plans, managed by third-party services like Affirm, Afterpay and Klarna, offer an alternative to using credit cards.
Credit card companies are fighting back by introducing similar programs or promoting plans they already offer.
The idea of paying over time without paying interest, such as layaways, is not new, even to credit cards. If you pay off your credit card in full each month, credit cards have a long history of allowing you to “buy now, pay later” because you have a Grace period weeks before you have to pay your credit card bill.
Today, credit cards aggressively promote programs like those offered by retailers, although most charge interest. The programs have names like My Chase Plan, Citi Flex Pay, and American Express Plan It.
3. Flexible lines of credit
It’s good to have a big line of credit on a card. But historically, a credit card was not a good option for getting cash fast, as the only way to do it was through a cash advance.
Now, credit card issuers are offering more innovative and affordable ways to tap your credit card line for a hassle-free short term installment loan. Examples are My Chase Loan and Citi Flex Loan, available on a variety of cards from these issuers.
Typically, you will have a set amount of time to repay the money in fixed monthly installments, such as a car loan. Interest is built into these payments, potentially at a lower rate than your usual credit card interest rate.
Unlike a traditional personal loan, you don’t have to qualify because you’ve already been approved for the line of credit. This means that there is no formal loan application, no additional accounts to manage, and no firm credit check.
4. Balance transfer offers
As the pandemic took hold in 2020, balance transfer offers became really hard to find. Now, They are back. Card issuers largely offer interest-free periods to transfer debt to your credit card from another location, usually from a card with higher interest.
A good balance transfer offer basically says, “Move your debt from another card and we won’t charge you interest for a year or more.” Ideally, the money you save on interest can be used to pay off that debt more quickly. The average APR on credit card accounts that were charged with interest exceeded 17% in 2021, according to the Federal Reserve, so a long run of 0% could translate into hundreds or even thousands of dollars. interest savings.
You generally need good to excellent credit to qualify for a balance transfer card, which means a FICO score of at least 690.
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Gregory Karp writes for NerdWallet. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @spendingsmart.
The article Best Credit Cards of 2022: 4 Features to Look For originally appeared on NerdWallet.
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