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Browsing credit card options can be overwhelming, especially if you have good credit and can qualify for a wide variety of products. One way to start your search could be to look at what your bank offers. Because customer experience can make a huge difference in how much you like or use a credit card, working with a bank you already know (and presumably have no issues with, if you’re still a customer) could be a good choice.
There are some great advantages to brand loyalty, but that doesn’t mean your bank is going to be the best option for all your financial needs. Here are some things to consider when deciding where to apply for your next credit card.
1. Ask About Extra Perks for Loyalty
If you’re looking for a credit card, you can ask the bank where you have your checking or savings account if they have any special rewards for loyal customers. After all, if they want your business, they should give you a reason to stay, right?
For example, Bank of America has programs that allow credit cardholders who also have other Bank of America accounts to earn more rewards or redeem more cash back than cardholders without other accounts. In their Cash Rewards program, Bank of America offers cardholders who also have a BofA checking account an additional 25% to 75% on bonus points or cash-back redemptions. (Where you fall on that 25%-to-75% spectrum depends on your account balances.) So you could have earned enough for $100 cash back, by standard card terms, but you’ll get $125 to $175 for being a Cash Rewards member with a BofA account. For people who use rewards credit cards, having the potential to earn more without spending more can be very valuable.
“That is a key benefit of building a strong relationship with the bank,” said Betty Riess, a Bank of America spokeswoman. “If somebody is shopping for a credit card, it always makes sense to talk to your financial institution.”
Wells Fargo has a similar program, where checking and savings account holders can get relationship bonuses with Wells Fargo credit cards. In its Propel credit card suite, accountholders can earn 10% bonus on rewards points, depending on the kind of “qualifying deposit account” they have, said Natalie M. Brown, vice president of consumer lending communications at Wells Fargo, in an email to Credit.com.
To find out if your bank has similar perks, just ask.
2. Are There Better Deals Elsewhere?
Bonus rewards just to stay loyal to your bank may sound appealing, but if those aren’t high on your priority list, it makes sense to look around. You should also compare all sorts of credit cards to find the one that suits you best, because some cards are better for one type of consumer, and you might not fit that profile. For instance, if you’re in debt and looking for a balance transfer credit card or a card with a low interest rate, a rewards card (and extra rewards for bank loyalty) might not be the best fit. That’s not to say you shouldn’t get a card at your bank. Instead, you can identify what you want, and find a card that meets those priorities.
3. Check Your Credit
One thing you have to do before applying for a credit card is see where you stand. Whether you have good credit, bad credit or excellent credit, there are credit card options for you — you simply have to know what you should look for. You generally want to avoid applying for credit cards you’re not likely to qualify for, since each application generates a hard inquiry on your credit report and could subsequently ding your score. You can check your credit (and get a better idea of what factors are driving it) by viewing your free credit report summary, updated each month, on Credit.com.
Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.
More on Credit Cards:
- Credit.com’s Expert Credit Card Shopping Tips
- How to Get a Credit Card With Bad Credit
- An Expert Guide to Credit Cards With Rewards
Image: Ingram Publishing