5 Signs You Are Carrying the Wrong Credit Card

Stephanie Miller
September 02, 2018
Wrong Credit Card

If you’ve been swiping the same credit card for a few years now, you may be comfortable with everything it offers. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right card for your wallet. But how do you really know if you need to look into another (possibly better) card product?

By shopping around, and even signing up for a new credit card, you can ensure that you are taking advantage of all of the great features that today’s cards offer. And if you pick the right card, you can even earn some significant cash each year in the process.

Here are five signs that you may very well be using the wrong credit card. If any of these resonate with you, it may be time to start looking for some new plastic to add to your wallet.

You Aren’t Earning Rewards

There are people who make it their daily mission to earn as many credit card rewards as possible, and they tend to be pretty successful at it. And while you don’t necessarily need to be one of those people, there’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t be earning some cash back on your everyday credit card purchases.

The market is absolutely full of cash back credit cards today, which is fantastic news for consumers. Whether you’re looking to only earn money every time you get groceries or fill your gas tank, or want to get a little bit back on all of the things you buy, the right rewards card can make it happen. And if you strategize your card use with your typical spending, you can easily turn this into hundreds of dollars a year in free money.

You’re Paying for Nothing

An annual fee on a credit card isn’t, in and of itself, a deal-breaker. In fact, some of the most lucrative cards on the market charge a fee, and it’s well worth the expense. However, that’s the caveat: you shouldn’t be paying to use a card that doesn’t earn you at least its fee back (and hopefully, then some).

Take a look at your annual fee-charging cards to see if they’re worth the expense. Are you earning at least that much back in fees? Do they offer you enviable perks like airport lounge access, travel credits, or discounts on purchases?

If the answer is no, then you’re essentially paying an annual fee for nothing. Reevaluate, and make some changes – whether that’s downgrading to a fee-free card product or closing the account altogether.

You Get Punished for Your Lifestyle

If you frequently travel out of the country, for business or pleasure, you need a travel card. Not only do these cards typically offer things like free checked bags, complimentary TSA-PreCheck enrollment, and travel protection, but you can spend as usual without penalty. That is, travel cards usually waive foreign transaction fees.

Every time you swipe your card in another country – even if you choose to pay in USD – you’ll be subject to these fees. While the cost ranges from card-to-card, the industry average is about 3 percent. If you’re a frequent traveler or spend a fair amount of money when you venture far from home, this could add us significantly.

Choose a card that meets your needs, and doesn’t punish you for your lifestyle.

You Could Get a Hefty Sign-Up Bonus Elsewhere

When you signed up for your go-to card, did you get an introductory bonus? If not (or if it’s been a long time since you did), you may want to start at least browsing around for other cards. Sign-up bonuses – which are at an all-time high right now -- can mean hundreds of dollars in free money, just for adding a new card to your wallet.

You should be judicious in which, and how many, cards you apply for, but some of them are worth signing up just to snag the bonus. You’ll probably need to meet a minimum spend requirement, but if you, it can often mean a few hundred dollars or tens of thousands of points in your account.

You Are Paying a High Interest Rate

Ideally, you’ll never carry a balance and thus, never have to pay an interest fee. However, if you’re currently trying to pay down a balance or think there’s a chance you’ll carry one in the future, you need to have the lowest credit card rate possible.

The APR offered when you get a new card is contingent on both the product and your own personal credit history. However, secured cards, retail cards, and many less-desirable card products can all charge hefty and above-average interest rates. It’s not uncommon to see an APR of over 30% with many of these products!

Instead, find a card that offers you a low APR, even if you think the chances are low that you’ll ever pay interest. If you currently have a balance you’re working to pay off, look for introductory 0% balance transfer options. These will make it easy to pay off your debt faster and without any additional fees.

It can be tricky to find the perfect credit card for you and your spending; for many, it might take a couple different cards in order to meet all of your unique financial needs. However, it’s much easier to identify the cards that AREN’T right for you.

If your wallet is carrying plastic that meets one or more of these requirements, it might be time for a change. Doing so can save you money, earn you lucrative rewards, and make spending easier.

If you’ve been swiping the same credit card for a few years now, you may be comfortable with everything it offers. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right card for your wallet.

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