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Stack of various credit cards

So you're looking for a new credit card, but there are a lot of options out there and you're not sure how to begin your search. Well you've come to the right place. Shopping for a new card isn't an easy task. There's so much to consider from fees to flexible rewards. In the next few paragraphs, I'll outline some of the main areas you should think about when looking for new plastic (or metal).

Determine your payment capability

There are plenty of good reasons to be getting a new credit card. Maybe you're thinking about making a large purchase such as a vacation or furniture. Maybe the winter holidays are coming up and you've got a lot of gifts to buy. Or maybe you just want it around for emergency purposes. Whatever the reason may be, ensure that you have a good idea of how you can pay it back. If purchases on the new card are limited and you know you can likely pay back in full each month, then the interest rate is unimportant. If you are going to carry a balance, then you want to look for the lowest possible interest rates or maybe cards with a 0% introductory period. If it's going to be for emergencies, then simply choose a no-fee card with the best interest rate.

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Which issuer is currently offering the biggest bonus?

Credit card issuers are constantly adjusting their bonus offers and creating new promotions. They offer these incentives in different ways, the most common of which are lump sum cash back (typically around $500) and tens of thousands of miles/hotel points. Usually, you'll be required to meet a spending amount in the first 3 months (commonly between $2,000 - $5,000). So determine what kind of reward bonus you'd like and then look for a card with a limited time heightened intro offer. For example, the Chase Ink Business Cash card is currently offering $500 cash back when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months and The Platinum Card® from American Express is offering 60,000 Membership Rewards® points when you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months.

Our favorite card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

With its sign-up bonus having just jumped to 60,000 points when you spend $4,000 in the first three months, now's the time to add the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card to your wallet. Even better, future travel and dining purchases earn 2x points per dollar spent and it includes valuable travel benefits like primary car rental insurance. All of these extras make its $95 annual fee easy to justify.

Align your spending habits with your card's earning accelerators

Today's cards typically allow you to earn a base of 1 point or 1 cent per dollar spent. However, many of these cards also allow you to earn a higher multiple of 2x, 3x, even 5x the number of points or cents per dollar on certain categories of spend. Make sure your types of purchases align with your card's increased multiples. For example, if you spend a lot on flights, you should highly consider the The Platinum Card® from American Express as it offers 5x points on airlines. Or if you enjoy traveling but also frequently use public transportation and Uber rides, consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card which gets you 2x points on a range of travel purchases.

Don't forget ongoing benefits

Frequently, credit cards provide a range of other ongoing perks that can create a lot of value in the long run. Travel cards often include some type of lounge access. For example, the United Explorer card offers two one-time passes to the United Club per year. Other cards offer varying degrees of travel or purchase insurance. Still others offer 0% APR and balance transfers for the first twelve months or so. Finally, one of the perks that I appreciate most is an automatic status bump. For instance, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card automatically gets you Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status, which provides perks such as 25% point bonuses, priority late checkouts, welcome gifts, and much more.

Whatever your spending habits or tastes are, there's likely a card for you out there. Keep in mind these four main areas to ensure that you get the most out of your next credit card.

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