Every time I visit the local supermarket/hypermarket to buy the monthly grocery supplies, there are a few credit card agents waiting at the exit who promptly approach me and check how much my bill was. And if it happens to be a reasonable sum, they are quick to offer an on the spot credit card with minimum documentation and a lot of offers – free shopping vouchers at the supermarket, low interest rate, free balance transfer , high credit limit etc. And, you don’t really need to put a lot of effort except sign the form and produce whatever documents you are carrying at the moment. But before you succumb to the agents’ marketing skills and buy a card, understand and keep these things in mind-
- Don’t get flattered by the high credit limit being offered
The credit card agent will probably try and make you feel good by saying things like since your shopping bills exceeds a particular amount, you qualify for a high end card like gold, platinum with a high credit limit. The credit card company is just banking on the fact that going by your shopping history, you are likely to have huge outstanding on your credit card which increases their chances of earning more as interest and charges.
- Avoid getting lured by freebies
The credit card marketers tend to offer free discount/shopping vouchers usually en cashable at the same store or supermarket. But these are one time, valid for short term and a limited amount. This should not be one of the criteria for applying for a credit card which you could be using for years.
- Beware of “teaser” rates
In order to attract more clients, many credit card companies offer a very low interest rate or even interest free credit cards , or waive off the annual fee initially. But these rates are usually valid only for a limited time, after which they go back to the standard industry rates.
- Know the various fees and charges
Make sure you are aware of the various recurring fees and charges like the annual fee, late payment fee and any other kind of service charges applicable on the card.
- Always read the fine print!
- Don’t give in to aggressive marketing
Sometimes, the credit card agents get very aggressive and even suggest things like one can use the card for the limited period till there are no charges and fees, and then discard it. After all, they are contract employees who are really not concerned either with the long term prospects of the company or your benefit. Their sole aim is to somehow meet their current sales targets by pushing you to take the card. Do not give into such sales tactics.
- Apply for the card only if you really need one
If you already have one or more credit cards, it is advisable not to apply for more, however attractive the offer may be. Multiple credit cards are not only difficult to track and manage, one is also prone to overspend on credit.