Following several years of the worst economic downturn in recent history, economists, commentators and financial experts have recently been heartened about prospects for economic growth and recovery this year as industries increasingly report better profits and the additions of new jobs. Yet, as the economy emerges from the doldrums, consumers understandably remain skiddish—avoiding non-essential expenditures in lieu of financial introspection. In fact, if history is any guide, Americans are likely to spend (no pun intended) the next several years trying to reduce their debt.
But what about those people who want to spend, but spend more wisely?
For them, it might be finding the right credit card for these tough financial times. Unfortunately, a recent online report from msnbc saw a rise in all types of credit card offers in the first quarter of 2010 alone tells the tale, as banks sent out 481.3 million card offers, according to Synovate Mail Monitor.
With so many options, how should you choose?
As the song goes, “if you’re gonna do it, do it right.” And according to a recent report from The Huffington Post by consumer educator and advocate Curtis Arnold, there are some safer options out there for people who can’t go without credit. These cards, by category, include:
Best Airline Credit Card:
Citi Premier® Pass/Expedia.com Card
If flight is your fancy, Arnold recommends this credit card with a terrific travel rebate program. “Start off with a $100 statement credit with your first eligible purchase. You get awards roughly equivalent to 1% of purchases as credit toward future flights on partner airlines. You also earn one point per dollar spent on the card and one point for every three miles flown. Expedia runs the rewards redemption program, allowing customers to track low fares using points instead of dollars. Earn up to 100,000 points per calendar year with no annual fee.”
Best Travel Credit Card:
PenFed Premium Travel Rewards American Express® Card
If you’re on the go and need a card that can travel with you, Arnold gives the thumbs up to another great travel rewards credit card for members of the Pentagon Federal Credit Union. “PenFed rewards its cardholders with special deals on hotel upgrades and discounted access to airport executive lounges worldwide. Aside from the fabulous rewards, you also get the excellent customer service that credit unions are known for. Enrollment in the National Military Family Association qualifies any American to join this credit union, not just veterans.”
Best Low Interest Rate Credit Card: Simmons Visa® PlatinumR
While many banks hiked card interest rates following the reforms of 2009’s Credit CARD Act, Simmons kept their rates low. So, for those with excellent credit, the Arkansas bank offers excellent customer service along with a regular 7.25% APR.
Best Low Introductory Interest Rate Credit Card:
Citi® Platinum Select® MasterCard®
For many, balance transfer is a delicate game of cat and mouse, often leaving the debtor with multiple cards and high interest payoff. Not so says Arnold of this Citi Card with its introductory 0% APR on balance transfers and purchases for 18, 12, or 7 months, depending on your credit history. “There's a 3% balance transfer fee, but it's still a great way to transfer a balance and pay no interest for up to 18 months. Once the introductory period is over, you still get a great rate. The regular variable APR is 9.99 - 19.99%.”
Best Cash-back Credit Card: Chase Freedom (SM) Card
Another card for those with excellent credit is this good cash-back credit option. As Arnold writes, “You get 5% cash back in rotating categories such as groceries, gas, and home improvement, and 1% cash back on all other purchases. Another great feature of this card is that you can get 20% cash back when you shop online from selected merchants. And if all that isn't enough, you don't have to worry about your cash back rewards expiring or about reaching the spending tiers that some cards have.”
Best Reward Points Card: Citi Forward® Card
If, for you, spending on credit is all about the rewards, Citi’s “Forward,” fits the bill. “Sign up for paperless statements and spend $250 in purchases during the first three months after opening your account and earn up to 8,500 points. Do you enjoy dining out? Get five ThankYou points for every $1 you spend on restaurants and entertainment. And you still get one reward point for every dollar spent on other purchases.” Not a bad way to be green while you’re spending it.
As with all new credit cards, it’s still vitally important to read the entire card agreement before committing, keeping in mind the best offer for your next piece of plastic may come from diligent online research rather than snail mail solicitations.
And, as everyone now knows at this point, there’s normally a heavy price to pay for playing with plastic. If you too have been effected by the economy and are wondering how to reduce your credit card debt and get back on track, knowing a qualified bankruptcy attorney can also help you to conquer your creditors and face your financial fears, yielding the right kinds of support, information and insights—at a low cost— for a viable and secure future beyond our own “Great Recession.” The bankruptcy experts at the Law Offices of John T. Orcutt offer a totally FREE debt consultation and now, more than ever, it’s time to take them up on their offer. Just call toll free to 1-888-234-4181, or during the off hours, you can make your own appointment right online at www.billsbills.com. Simply click on the yellow “FREE Consultation Now” button.