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How to Choose Your Best Credit Card for 2013

Stocks in this article: AXP C COF DFS JPM MA V

Simmons First Visa Platinum (V)
An APR of 7.25%, but you have to have outstanding credit to be approved. No transaction fee for balance transfers.

When shopping for a low-interest credit card, consider your credit union and local bank. The interest rates may be slightly lower when compared with national banks. Here are examples of low rates from credit unions:

The rate is 6.9% to 18%. The credit union is open to residents of Washington state and Boeing (BA) employees. There is a $25 annual participation fee.

First Command Bank Platinum and Classic Visa
The Platinum rate is 6.25%, the Classic rate is 10.25% and there is no fee for balance transfers. The bank is in Fort Worth, Texas, currently accepting account applications only from existing clients of First Command Bank or First Command Financial Services.

Platinum Premier Visa from First Tennessee Bank
The rate is 5.15% to 13.15% based on creditworthiness, but is available only to First Tennessee banking customers.

Balance transfers
If your interest rate is above 14% and you have a good credit score, this may be a good time to try to secure a lower rate on your credit card. Start with a call to your credit card issuer and ask for a lower rate, telling them you are considering transferring your balance to a card with a lower rate. They may lower your APR just to keep you as a customer. If they don't, transfer your debt onto another card offering an attractive interest rate and you may be able to save a significant amount of money on interest charges. Many issuers are offering 0% interest rates on balance transfers for an extended period. The two important considerations for consumers are to make sure they can pay off this transferred balance during that 0% introductory period and that the interest penalties you save are more than the fee you will pay to transfer the balance from one issuer to another.

When comparing cards for a balance transfer, look also at the ongoing interest rates. If you can't pay off the balance before the introductory period ends, you will eventually be paying that ongoing interest rate. Another consideration is that the credit card issuer may accept only a portion of the amount you want to transfer, so the remaining balance may be charged the ongoing interest rate.

The best offers will typically be given to applicants with a credit score in the mid-700s. If you have a score less than this, you may get a shorter introductory period, or your application may be declined.

Citi Simplicity (C)
This card gives you a 0% interest rate for 18 months on balance transfers and new purchases. That gives a year and a half without paying interest on your transferred balance. The balance transfer fee is 3%. The ongoing APR is 12.99 to 21.99%.

Discover More (DFS)
There is a Discover More card that offers 0% interest on balance transfers for 18 months. Consumers also get 0% on purchases for six months. The balance transfer fee is 3% and the ongoing APR is 10.99 to 20.99%.

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