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  1. 5 Things To Look For When Selecting A Credit Card?
  2. Credit Card Transfers Will Save You Money If You're Careful
  3. Safety Tips For Using Your Credit Card To Shop Online

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1. 5 Things To Look For When Selecting A Credit Card?

The market is full of credit cards. There are hundreds, even thousands of offers out there. Did you know that according to several mail monitoring services that there were over six billion credit card applications sent out through the mail in just one year? That is a whole lot of different opportunities. But, are they good opportunities or bad? Do you know how to tell if there is a better credit card among those that you are considering or you do simply send in the offer thatís mailed to you?

When it comes to looking for a credit card that is worth the money you are spending, there is more to the process then just signing on the dotted line and sending the reply card back. You should do your homework, spend some time learning about the options that are out there and select the card that fits your lifestyle the very best. The good news is that there are 5 main things that youíll need to look for in a credit card and those are listed here.

#1: The Interest Rate

There is nothing more important in a credit card then the amount of money it will cost you to actually use that credit card. With so many people finding out all too late just how costly 22% or higher is on their loans, it is very important for you to shop around. You should spend some time determining the best possible rate for you. Donít assume that youíre getting it, either. The main thing that plays a role in the interest rate you are qualifying for is your credit score. If your credit score is good, then you deserve a low interest rate. After all, it is the price tag attached to your credit.

#2: The Fees

It can be a wonderful thing to accept a credit card that offers no annual fees. But, then, there are some that charge annual fees, one time only account set up fees, additional card fees, and then there are membership fees, too. Fees are expensive. It is not uncommon for some that have less than perfect credit to receive a credit card with a $300 credit line of which $240 of it is already applied in just fees for the first year. The lower the fees are, the better the card.

#3: Rewards?

Letís face it. Credit card companies are earning a pretty penny and can often afford to give something back right? If you have good or better credit, then you can apply for reward credit cards. These give you back something in return for doing business with them. It may be in air travel, in gas, or even in cash back. But, there is something to know about reward cards. They arenít simply going to give you something in return. Most rewards credit cards actually have a bit higher interest rate than others without them. But, you can get around this if you apply for your credit card and pay off the balance each month. That way, you wonít be charged any interest charges and still get something back in return. When applying for these credit cards, realize that they are all different with different percentages of pay back. Look for those that offer you the best possible rate of return.

#4: Introductory Periods

To lure you into the credit card application, credit card companies like to offer what is called an introductory period. During this time, there are discounts applied to your card. You may not have to pay as much interest during this time. These are outstanding credit cards to consider as long as you know what youíre doing. First, make sure you know how long the intro period is. Second, know what the interest rate is on what youíll use the card for. For example, cash advances may not qualify or the introductory rate may only apply to purchases or to balance transfers. Finally, make sure you find a credit card that offers an interest rate after the intro period that is comparable to other cards you currently have or better.

#5: Customer Service

While it may not make much sense to consider this to some, to others it is a goldmine. For example, if you like to do your bill paying online, select a credit card that offers this feature. Not all of them do. If you need to make a cash advance, youíll want to be able to take money out at the type of ATMS that are near you. You want to know the details of how the company works so that you can be sure that you are getting something of what you really want, not a company that will change its terms in the first 30 days on you.

Understanding these factors will help you to make the most out of the credit card choice that you make. Spend a few extra minutes on this, and get something back in return: your money.

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2. Credit Card Transfers Will Save You Money If You're Careful

Credit card transfers are wonderful benefits, sometimes.  If you have received a credit card offer that is boasting being able to provide you with a very low introductory rate if you open a credit card and transfer the balance from another card to this one, look it over carefully.  There is no doubt that there are some real benefits here.  In fact, you may find that this is the perfect way to save yourself some money.  But, only when you read the facts will this become evident.

What Is It?

The first thing people want to know is just what is it.  Whatís a balance transfer in the first place?  During a balance transfer, you will transfer the balance of one credit card to a new credit card.  Often, the new line of credit is offering a very low fee, interest payments or even zero percent interest during the first few months.  Their goal, of course, is to get you to pay interest over the course of the balance after that period. 

When you use a balance transfer, say from credit card A to credit card B, you are moving funds that may be under a hefty amount of fees or even those that are late, over the limit or offer a very large interest rate.  By doing this it can help you to come up for some air.

How To Save Money

But, moving money from one place to the next isnít the best way to save money, is it?  With a balance transfer, you should consider several key things:

  • How long does the introductory interest rate being offered to you actually last?
  • Are there any balance transfer fees?
  • What is the new credit cardsí annual percentage rate after that introductory rate expires?  If it is higher than your currently paying, be careful.
  • Will cash advances, balance transfers and new purchases work with the introductory rate or is it limited?
  • How do other fees stack up to those that you are currently paying such as your annual fee, over the limit fees and late fees?

Now, consider how to make the most out of using balance transfer credit cards.  Your first order of business is to find out if in fact the potentially new credit card is one that offers you an interest rate that is lower than what you are currently paying.  Donít look just at what you are paying during that intro period, but the actual annual percentage you will pay after that expires.  If that rate is lower, youíll save money straight away.  If it is higher, youíll have to make some consideration.

One thing to consider is how likely you are to pay off your debt within the introductory period.  Donít exaggerate here, but be honest with yourself.  If you canít pay it off, you will end up paying more for it in the long term.  If you can, then you are really going to save yourself money. 

Paying off your credit card debt while it is in a lower introductory rate or even a zero percent introductory rate period will definitely help you to save money as you wonít be paying any interest on the loan.  Working hard to do this can actually save you quite a bit of money.

But, Beware!

Not all credit card companies offering balance transfers are as honest and upfront as they could be.  Here are a few things you have to check out before considering.

  • Are there balance transfer fees, acceptance fees or other fees that will add to the cost?  Some banks will charge up to four percent in fees.
  • Is the introductory rate being offered the rate that you qualify for?  Some lenders approach you with the lowest rate they can offer, but this may not be the rate that you wind up getting, as you may not qualify for it.
  • What if you miss a payment or you do something that will cause your credit score to go up, will your interest rates jump, then, too?

When all of these things check out, you will find that balance transfer credit cards are a solid investment well worth tapping into.  If you are looking for a way to actual save money on your credit card payments, it is through this method, especially when you have the potential of paying off the credit line in the time of the introductory interest rate.

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3. Safety Tips For Using Your Credit Card To Shop Online

Today, people are going to the internet for all of their needs.  From gifts for the holidays to the replacement dish they need for their microwave.  No matter what you are looking to purchase, youíll likely find it offered online.  But, can shopping online be safe?  Can you really trust using a credit card online?  Isnít this where identity theft happens the most often?  There are many reasons why shopping online may be safer than shopping locally.  Nevertheless, you need to know how to be safe when you do just that.

Whyís It Safer?

A misconception is that shopping online is like giving the world your credit card number.  That is simply not the case.  While problems can happen, it is rare that they do so easily.  In fact, if you trust the waiter that youíve never met before to walk away for five minutes with your credit card in hand, then you should be just fine with shopping online.  Yet, if you want to be safe, youíll have to follow some rules.

Keeping Yourself Safe

One of the first things you should do is consider what you know about the company that you are buying from.  The safest bets are those companies that you have heard about.  Shopping at these websites is often much less worrisome because you know the company is trustworthy.  Its an easy choice, then, right?

But, what if you want to purchase something unique and different that youíve found but you donít know about the company thatís selling it?  Donít worry, you can purchase from them too.  But, before you do, its important for you to invest a few minutes in learning more about the person or company that you plan to do business with.  First off, they should be easily contactable.  You should have a phone number to call and verify that the company is legit.  If they only have an email address, avoid them. 

Another thing to consider is just what you are getting.  If you think youíre going to get these great autographed sneakers for just $20 bucks, youíre probably in the wrong place.  Either they are anything but what you thought they would be or the person selling them is really after just what you are going to give them, your personal information.  In other words, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is just that.

Be Smart And Know Your Sites

There are other things you can do to make sure that you are protected when you are shopping online. 

  • Look at the URL of the page that you are on.  Does it start with http or https?  The ďSĒ at the end is something you are looking for when you reach a page that requires you to log in or to input your credit card information.  Never enter your credit card information into a website without this.
  • Is there a closed padlock on the page someplace?  You should see this or a key on the page someplace.  This too signals that the site is secure for you to enter your information.
  • If the URL starts with a bunch of numbers, leave the site.  These are generally scamming websites and should be avoided.

These things will help you to know if the website that you are on is using a safe website so that others canít get in.  But, remember, this does not mean that the company itself is trustworthy.  A tip to learn this is to find that phone number of the company and give them a call.  When you get a real person on the line, someone that claims to own the business or is an authority there, ask them what their privacy policy is regarding credit cards.  If they canít answer you, shop elsewhere.

Consider The Virtual Option

There are several credit card companies, such as Citi and Discover Card that actually provide their customers with a virtual credit card number.  It is a virtual credit card account in which there can not be any identity theft or fraud taking place.

Making Sure It Makes Sense

Finally, when you are considering paying with a credit card over the internet you should use common sense.  There is never a reason to provide your date of birth to a merchant online.  You also never should have to provide your social security number.  These things coupled with your credit card number are a prime way they can steal your identity. 

When it comes to purchasing online, make sure that you use a credit card over anything else as it is the most protected product you can use.  Be smart about whom you are buying from and you are sure to have no problems.

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Credit card companies rely on information obtained from credit reporting agencies. Most credit reports contain some incorrect or outdated information. Check your credit report often for errors and dispute any problems that are found with the reporting credit bureau.

A recent amendment to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act requires each of the 3 consumer credit reporting agencies to provide you with a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months. The only online source authorized to do so is annualcreditreport.com. Find out more from the Federal Trade Commission.