If used correctly, a credit card can be a financial tool that can help you make big purchases or get you out of emergency situations. However, not all credit cards are the same. What should you look for when shopping for a new card?

What’s the Interest Rate?

Most cards come with an introductory rate of 0 percent for up to 21 months. After that period, your interest rate could range from 10 percent to 29.99 percent depending on your credit score and other factors. Ideally, you will look past the introductory rate and carefully scrutinize how much it will cost to use the card in the long run.

Are There Any Good Perks?

Most cards come with cash back, the ability to earn airline miles or the ability to save money at certain retailers. In addition to looking for perks, make sure that there aren’t blackout dates or other restrictions as to how you can use them. If you are looking to pay down your balance faster, it may be worthwhile to apply your cash back directly to your monthly bill.

Is There a Late Payment Fee or Penalty Rate?

If you miss a payment, you may be subject to a late fee or have your interest rate increased for a several months or longer. The good news is that not all credit cards have such fees, which means it is in your best interest to find a card that offers some flexibility when it comes to your payment.

Is It Designed For Your Credit Range?

Before applying for a card, you need to check that you meet the credit requirements to have your application approved. Those who have not missed a payment in the last 12 months and have a credit score over 700 are considered to have above average credit. Scores between 640 and 700 indicate average to good credit while anything under 640 is below average or subprime.

Is the Card Accepted Globally?

Credit cards with the Visa and MasterCard logo will be accepted almost anywhere in the world. Therefore, they are perfect for those who want to travel overseas and don’t want to have their card declined unexpectedly. Using these cards may also offer protection against fraud and other suspicious activity on your account.

Almost everyone has at least one credit card these days. While credit can help you obtain financial flexibility, they can also cause financial harm if used incorrectly. Therefore, make sure that you pay attention to the card’s interest rate and other fees to ensure that you keep your borrowing costs in check.