How to Choose a Credit Card, the Right Way (Step by Step)

Credit card issuers often extend credit line increases to account holders who keep their card usage low and make monthly payments consistently.
Did you get approved? Congratulations! Be sure to take care of your new account by keeping your usage no more than 30% of your credit limit — if you do that, you may qualify for a line increase down the road.

1. See Where Your Credit Score Stands

With secured cards, you pay for credit. You put up a security deposit, usually at least 0, and then a credit card issuer extends you the same amount in credit. This route lets you prove you’re worthy of more credit, and the lender has nothing to lose if you don’t pay your bill.
Your score doesn’t have to be perfect to land a good credit card. But you’ll at least need a score in the good range to qualify for the top credit cards with the most sought-after perks.

Don’t Stop at Checking Your Score

It’s another possible tiebreaker. Welcome offers are perks you get just for signing up. It could be a statement credit worth hundreds or dollars, or enough miles to pay for a domestic flight. Read through your options.
If you aren’t approved, you should receive a written explanation in an email within a few business days or by mail, within a couple of weeks.
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Don’t Be Discouraged by a Poor Score

Use balance-transfer credit cards to pay off other credit card debt faster or to pay off a big purchase before the card’s normal balance-transfer rates and other fees kick in.
In case you ever need to get your hands on some cash in a hurry, and you don’t have enough on hand, you’ll need to know how much your credit card will charge you for borrowing cash. These are usually comparable to ATM fees, but some can be much more expensive.
The interest rates may be higher than average, and the credit lines may be modest, but cards intended to help build credit give account holders the opportunity to prove their creditworthiness.

2. Determine the Type of Card You Want

You can earn miles to pay for airfare when you use airline rewards credit cards. You can get cash back on dining out with a dining card, or on gas with a gas card, and so on. You’ll need a score that’s at least in the fair-to-good range to qualify for this type of card.

Credit-Building Cards

This maintenance fee is charged every 12 months on many credit cards, but not every credit card will have one. They can range from about to well over 0. However, you’ll come across many card offers that don’t include an annual fee for a set amount of time or include no fee at all.
Don’t abandon the idea of a credit card if your score is fair or even poor. A secured credit card could serve as the bridge needed to get you from being denied to approved.
Like to travel? Want peace of mind when you do? Be sure to review any potential card’s foreign transaction fee. It’s sort of like a cash-advance fee or ATM charge for making purchases in another country, and they can quickly pile up if you aren’t careful.

Low-Interest Cards

After you’ve learned how to choose a credit card, reviewed your credit report and selected a few finalists, it’s time to apply for a credit card.
Keep in mind: applying for credit cards requires a hard inquiry into your credit report, which could cause your credit rating to take a mild or moderate temporary hit.

Balance-Transfer Cards

There are credit cards for every type of financial situation. While the number of credit cards out there may seem overwhelming and hard to count, they all broadly fall into five categories: credit-building, low-interest, balance-transfer, rewards and business.
Once you’ve figured out which type of credit card you want, and you know what you might qualify for, it’s time to compare your top choices head-to-head. And to do that, you’ll need to compare these key credit card features:

Rewards Cards

These cards offer low-interest rates and may not charge you an annual fee, but only for an introductory period that’s usually 12 to 48 months long.
Source: thepennyhoarder.com

3. Compare the Best Matches

Who doesn’t love to rack up loyalty points or earn cash rewards? A rewards credit card can help you do just that.

Annual percentage rate (APR)

Use a reputable site like Credit Sesame to review options and apply, or go to the credit card on the company’s website. If you’re approved, you should get a response in a few minutes to a few hours.

Balance-Transfer Fees

Typically requiring a credit score in the good-to-excellent range, low-interest cards are great for the long haul.

Late Fees

Check your credit history to see what accounts are impacting your score — and to make sure there are no errors hurting your credit profile. If there is a mistake, you can dispute it and potentially have your score corrected.

Rewards

While you should always aim to pay your credit card bill on time, it’s still important to know how much dirt you’ll get shoveled with if you fall behind on payments. Beware, and don’t get buried in debt.

Sign-Up Bonuses

They offer highly competitive interest rates, potentially saving you hundreds or even thousands of dollars when compared to cards with higher interest rates.

Annual Fees

These include the secured credit card mentioned above, as well as those intended for students and individuals who, for better or worse, haven’t established their credit yet.

Cash-Advance Fees

This is the amount of interest you’ll pay on any balance on your card. The average APR in 2021 is around 16%, though rates could be as low as half of that figure or double (as high as 36%), depending on your credit profile.

Reporting

Not every credit card will report your on-time payment to the three major credit bureaus.

Foreign-Transaction Fees

With enough on-time payments, you could get a credit limit and eventually be pre-approved for standard credit cards (more on secured credit cards in the next section).

4. Apply for Your New Credit Card

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Even if there are no mistakes on your report, you may find opportunities to improve your credit score with a service like Credit Sesame.
When choosing a credit card, you want one that suits your needs.
It’s a good idea for everyone to see what’s on their credit report. If your score isn’t in the excellent range, you’ll certainly need to make sure it’s accurate. <!–

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It can feel overwhelming at first, but it gets easier once you take a look at your credit profile to get a bird’s-eye view of your current financial situation.  Here, we’ll help you learn how to choose a credit card — we’ll highlight the key features to look out for, so you can find a credit card that feels like it was tailored to you.

Barclays Launches ‘Priceline VIP Rewards Visa Card’

Barclays has launched the new Barclays Priceline VIP Rewards Visa Card. Card has the following benefits:

  • 10,000 bonus points after $1,000 in spend within 90 days of account opening
  • No annual fee
  • Card earns at the following rate:
    • 5X points for every $1 spent on Priceline bookings
    • 2X points on gas and restaurant purchases including delivery services
    • 1X points on all other purchases
  • Automatically receive VIP gold status
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening
  • Up to $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit
  • Points are worth 1¢ each.

Seems similar to the regular Priceline card but with a worse sign up bonus and a few extra benefits (gold status and $100 Global Entry credit).

Source: doctorofcredit.com

Credit score needed for the Citi Double Cash Card

The Citi® Double Cash Card is one of today’s top cash back credit cards – and for good reason. The card offers 1% cash back on every purchase, plus another 1% cash back when you pay off your purchases.

“As a busy dog mom with a job and too many hobbies, I love that I can use my card anywhere without having to stop and plan how to get the best rewards rate,” personal finance writer Meredith Hoffman says, explaining why the Citi Double Cash card is the best card in her wallet. “In my first year with the Double Cash card, I earned $187 in cash back on everything from hair appointments to grocery shopping and gas.”

If you’re thinking about applying for the Citi Double Cash card, you’re probably wondering what credit score is needed for your card application to be successful. In most cases, having a good credit score means taking the time to build good or excellent credit before applying – although even people with excellent credit can have their applications denied, depending on how they’ve used credit in the past and how much new credit they’ve applied for recently.

Want to take advantage of all the benefits the Citi Double Cash Card has to offer? Here’s what you need to know before applying.

What credit score do I need to get the Citi Double Cash?

While there’s no credit score range that guarantees your chances for approval, our research indicates that you’ll be most likely to be approved for the Citi Double Cash card if your credit score is good, very good or excellent.

What does it mean to have good or excellent credit? If you’re using the FICO credit scoring model, you’re going to want a credit score between 670 and 850. If you’re using the VantageScore model, your credit score should be between 700 and 850. Here’s a quick rundown of how each credit scoring model tracks credit ranges:

Credit Score Ranges FICO VantageScore
Credit rating Score range Credit rating Score range
Exceptional 800–850 Excellent 781–850
Very good 740–799 Good 661–780
Good 670–739 Fair 601–660
Fair 580–669 Poor 500–600
Very poor 300–579 Very poor 300–499

How can I improve my score to get this card?

If you don’t have a good enough credit score for the Citi Double Cash card, here are some tips to help you improve your credit score quickly:

Make on-time payments, every time

The single best way to boost your credit score is by making on-time payments – every time – on existing credit lines.

Payment history makes up 35% of your FICO credit score, making it the most important factor in your credit file. If you have missed payments on your record, it’s time to change your bill-paying habits to ensure that all future payments go out on time.

Some people use credit card autopay to keep them from missing payments. Other people set up mobile alerts to remind them when their credit card bill is due.

If you want to improve your credit, you need to build a history of on-time payments. Even if you can only make the minimum payment, make sure it goes out on time.

Pay down old debt

Ready for a second step to help you get the credit score needed for the Citi Double Cash card? Pay off any existing credit card debt.

Under the FICO scoring model, your credit utilization ratio makes up 30% of your credit score, making it the second-most important credit scoring factor after your payment history.

Your credit utilization ratio is determined by comparing your available credit to your current debt. The best way to lower your credit utilization ratio and improve your credit score is by paying off your credit card balances.

However, you can also lower your credit utilization ratio by opening a new credit card and increasing the total amount of credit available to you. Some people use balance transfer credit cards as a way to take advantage of both credit-boosting opportunities at the same time, increasing their available credit and paying off old balances simultaneously.

Check your credit report

Here’s one more way to improve your credit score for the Citi Double Cash card: Check your credit report for errors. Many people don’t realize that mistakes on their credit report can lower their credit score – and that taking a few minutes to review your credit report and dispute any errors is an easy way to improve your credit score quickly.

What can I do if Citi declines my application?

If Citi declines your application for the Citi Double Cash credit card, you have a few options. First, you can build your credit score and re-apply for the Citi Double Cash card once you have established good or excellent credit.

You may also want to consider applying for a different Citi credit card, especially if you want to take advantage of Citi credit card benefits like the ability to earn ThankYou points on every purchase.

If you’re thinking about using a balance transfer credit card to pay off old debt and boost your credit score, the Citi Simplicity® Card offers 12 months of 0% intro APR on purchases and 21 months of 0% intro APR on balance transfers completed within the first four months (after intro period, regular 14.74% to 24.74% variable APR applies). This gives you over a year to pay off transferred balances before they start to accrue interest – and plenty of time to work on building your credit score.

What if you’ve already built the credit score needed for the Citi Double Cash and Citi still declines your application? Believe it or not, you can be denied for a credit card even with excellent credit – and in many cases, it has to do with other application factors such as income level, current credit card balances and the number of credit cards you’ve opened in the past.

Credit card issuers are less likely to approve people who churn new accounts for their sign-up bonuses, for example – and Citi, like many credit issuers, has application restrictions designed to prevent people from taking out too many new credit cards at once. If you’re turned down for these reasons, you may just need to give it some time before successfully applying for a new card.

Final thoughts

What credit score is needed for the Citi Double Cash Card? In most cases, having a good or excellent credit score will make you a prime candidate for approval.

If you want to test your approval odds before applying, try using a service like CardMatch™ to check for prequalified credit card matches and personalized offers. Otherwise, try building your credit until you have a FICO credit score between 670 and 850 – because our research indicates that’s the best credit score range for the Citi Double Cash Card.

Source: creditcards.com

What Credit Score Do You Need to Buy a Car in 2021?

Because a credit score is an important indicator for determining a consumer’s creditworthiness when buying a car, those with excellent credit histories tend to have an easier time borrowing money on favorable terms compared to those with lower credit scores. However, industry data shows that high-risk borrowers remain viable candidates for auto loans. In other words, there is no universally defined credit score needed to buy a car.

Read on to learn how your credit score can affect buying a car, plus some tips for purchasing a car with a lower credit score.

What FICO® Score Do Car Dealers Use?

There are a few different scoring models that car dealers may use for determining a customer’s credit score. They may use the FICO Auto Score 10 , an industry-specific model featuring a score range from 250 to 900. The auto industry also may use VantageScore 3.0 or the newer VantageScore 4.0 model, which has a score range from 300 to 850.

No matter which scoring model is used, a bad credit score falls on the lower end of the range and a good credit score sits on the higher end of the range.

What Is the Minimum Credit Score To Buy A Car?

There may not necessarily be a minimum credit score required to buy a car. Consumers with deep subprime credit scores from 300 to 500 have obtained financing for new and used vehicles in the second quarter of 2021, according to the credit bureau Experian’s State of the Automotive Finance Market report for that period. Although the percentage of borrowers in this category is very low, this indicates that even those with the lowest credit scores still may have access to auto financing.

Average APR by Credit Score Ranges

Consumers from all credit score categories have obtained auto loans in 2021, but car buyers with excellent credit histories tended to secure the lowest annual percentage rate (APR) financing, according to Experian’s Q2 report. When assessing what is a good credit score to buy a car, Experian’s data confirms that consumers in the super prime and prime categories obtain the lowest interest rates on average for financing.

Quarterly financing data on new vehicle purchases in the second quarter of 2021 shows the following average APRs by credit score ranges:

•  Deep subprime (300-500): 14.59%

•  Subprime (501-600): 11.03%

•  Near prime (601-660): 6.61%

•  Prime (661-780): 3.48%

•  Super prime (781-850): 2.34%

How to Buy a Car With a Lower Credit Score

Obtaining a loan to purchase a new or used vehicle when you don’t have great credit can be cumbersome, but it’s not impossible. Here are some ways a consumer with poor credit may be able to obtain auto financing:

Make a Large Down Payment

Offering a large down payment on a vehicle purchase may allow car buyers to obtain more reasonable rates and better terms for financing, resulting in more affordable monthly loan payments. By putting more money down at the time of purchase, lenders also may view the loan as less risky, thus increasing your odds of approval.

Get Cosigner Assistance

Buying a car with the assistance of a cosigner is another way to potentially bolster your chance of securing favorable financing. A cosigner agrees to share the responsibility of repaying the loan, effectively promising the lender that if you don’t make the payments they will. If the cosigner is creditworthy, it puts the buyer in a much better position to obtain financing than going it solo.

Consider a Less Expensive Car

Especially if you are buying a car with bad credit, it is important to know how much you can realistically afford to spend — and then stick to that budget, even if the dealer tries to upsell you. Additionally, finding a less costly car will reduce the amount you need to borrow, and it may be easier to get approved for a smaller loan amount than a larger one.

Benefits of Good Credit When Buying a Car

The benefit of a good credit score when buying a vehicle is that you may secure lower interest rates compared to consumers with poor credit. Unless a consumer buys a vehicle outright with cash or receives 0% APR financing, the consumer will eventually face monthly principal and interest payments until they’ve paid off the loan balance in full. Auto financing terms may vary in length, with some maturing at 60 months, 72 months or 84 months.

Car loans with a high APR may cause consumers to pay a long-term premium above and beyond the actual sales price of the vehicle.

How to Monitor and Keep Track of Credit Scores

There are a number of ways you can check your credit score, including through your credit company or another financial institution where you have an account, as well as through a credit service or credit scoring website. Contrary to what you may expect, your credit report does not include your credit score, though it does provide valuable information about your credit history and debts, which is why it can still be helpful to read over your credit report before making a major purchase like a car.

Credit scores can fluctuate over time depending upon financial circumstances, and credit score updates occur at least every 45 days. That’s why it’s important to take a look at where your score stands right before you begin the process of car shopping.

Also keep in mind that it’s common for credit inquiries to occur when you’re shopping around to see what auto loan terms you qualify for. While soft inquiries don’t affect your credit score, hard inquiries, such as those that happen when you’re comparing rates for an auto loan, can ding your score. However, most major credit scores will count multiple car loan inquiries made within a certain period of time — typically 14 days — as one inquiry.

What’s Expected in 2022?

Based on the trends outlined in Experian’s Q2 report for 2021, prime borrowers with good credit in 2022 may continue shifting away from used vehicles in favor of new vehicles. Experian’s research also shows that subprime financing remains at near-record lows, with just a fraction of car loans in 2021 going to consumers in the deep subprime risk category. These trends could continue into 2022.

The Takeaway

While it is possible to buy a vehicle with bad credit in 2021, consumers in the subprime or deep subprime risk categories may want to explore ways of improving their credit scores to help secure financing with more favorable terms. As far as what credit score you need to buy a car, any score is potentially sufficient for obtaining financing.

If you want to check your credit or work to improve your score before buying a car, SoFi Relay is a user-friendly app that allows you to easily monitor and keep track of your credit score.

Stay on top of your credit score with weekly updates.

Photo credit: iStock/tolgart


Checking Your Rates: To check the rates and terms you may qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. A hard credit pull, which may impact your credit score, is required if you apply for a SoFi product after being pre-qualified.
Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’swebsite .
External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
SoFi’s Relay tool offers users the ability to connect both in-house accounts and external accounts using Plaid, Inc’s service. When you use the service to connect an account, you authorize SoFi to obtain account information from any external accounts as set forth in SoFi’s Terms of Use. SoFi assumes no responsibility for the timeliness, accuracy, deletion, non-delivery or failure to store any user data, loss of user data, communications, or personalization settings. You shall confirm the accuracy of Plaid data through sources independent of SoFi. The credit score provided to you is a Vantage Score® based on TransUnion™ (the “Processing Agent”) data.
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Buying a Car With a Personal Loan

Buying a car, whether used or new, is a significant financial commitment. And most people probably don’t just happen to have $25,000 to $45,000 — the average prices of used and new cars in 2021 — in cash lying around. That means you’ll likely need to take out a loan to buy your car. Deciding which car to buy and understanding how to determine a car’s value and how that value depreciates over time are all considerations when making an informed decision about a car purchase.

Another important consideration is how to pay for the car. Do you specifically need a car loan to buy a car, or can you buy a car with a personal loan?

The short answer to this question is “yes,” but there are a few things to take into consideration when thinking about buying a car with a personal loan or a car loan.

If you’re buying a new car from a dealership, the benefits of using dealer financing might outweigh the drawbacks. Automakers offer financing on cars purchased through their dealerships, with low or sometimes even 0% APRs for well-qualified buyers, in an effort to compete with banks and other financial institutions.

Banks or other financial institutions may offer different interest rates, terms, and eligibility criteria than dealerships. According to consumer credit information compiled by the Federal Reserve , the average APR on a 48-month new car loan from a commercial bank in the second quarter of 2021 was 5.28%. For a 60-month new car loan from a commercial bank during the same period, the APR was 5.05%.

Lending money for a used car might be seen as a higher risk by a bank, and their interest rates typically reflect that notion. Older model vehicles are generally seen as a higher lending risk by banks than a new model because they might be less reliable and have a greater chance of failure as they age.

Is the Seller an Individual or a Car Dealer?

An individual who is selling a used car is not likely to offer financing, so a car buyer in that situation would likely need to find their own source of funds.

As mentioned above, banks do sometimes offer car loans on used cars, but the interest rate is dependent on multiple factors. In addition to looking at the applicant’s creditworthiness, which is typical of any loan application, the make, model, and age of the car are also taken into account.

When considering a personal loan to purchase a used car, details about the car aren’t considered during the application process. As the name implies, a personal loan can be taken out for any number of personal expenses — home improvements or a vacation, for example — whereas a car loan can only be taken out to pay for a car.

Differences Between Car Loans and Personal Loans

In essence, a car loan works much like a mortgage. It is paid for in monthly installments and the asset isn’t fully yours until the final payment is made. The car is the asset that secures the loan, which means if you default on payments, the lender could seize your car. The car’s title typically remains with the lender until the loan is paid in full.

Funds from a personal loan can be much more flexible, and can be used not just for purchasing a car, but for the other costs of owning a car as well. Personal loans can be secured or unsecured, with either fixed or variable interest rates. An unsecured personal loan is not tied directly to an asset, i.e., collateral, as a secured personal loan is, so there is no asset for a lender to seize in the case of default. Transferring a car’s title from one owner to another differs from state to state and is generally handled by each state’s department of motor vehicles.

While a car loan from a dealership might be able to be finalized quickly in some cases, car buyers who have a personal loan approval in hand before they go to the dealership can take a step out of the negotiation process.

Refinancing a car loan with a personal loan might be an option in some cases. Perhaps you’ve improved your financial situation since taking out your car loan and you can now qualify for a lower interest rate. Or you’d rather have a shorter-term loan than you currently have, and refinancing with a personal loan might accomplish that.

Determining the Value of a Car

Whether the car you’re considering is new or just new to you, there are a number of well-respected pricing guides to consult for an appropriate price range once you narrow down your car choices.

•   Edmunds offers a True Market Value guide.

•   Kelley Blue Book has suggested price ranges for various cars (particularly useful for used cars).

•   The National Automobile Dealers Association’s guide offers information about new and used cars, including classic cars.

•   Consumer Reports provides detailed reviews and reports about specific makes and models.

These resources simply provide a price range for the car you want. Calling car dealers for price quotes or estimates and looking for any purchase incentives or dealer financing offers are good ways to be prepared before you walk into a dealership.

Negotiating the Car Purchase

Once you know which car you want and what you can afford, how do you pay for it?

For most of us, the negotiation part of buying a new car is the most daunting. This is why you want to go in understanding the price range for your desired car — ideally, you’ll also be equipped with a few comparable quotes from other dealers.

When speaking with a car salesperson it’s a good idea to ask for the actual sales price, which can include taxes, fees, and other charges that may vary depending on the state and the dealership where the car is purchased.

Some car salespeople might talk in terms of monthly payments instead of total purchase price. But talking about monthly payments and payment periods can make it difficult to keep track of the overall price of the car.

Test-driving, negotiating, and finishing paperwork will take some time, and that’s okay. Take your time with all that goes into a car purchase and don’t let an enthusiastic salesperson rush you into making a decision that’s not a good one for you.

What Are the Costs of Car Ownership?

The sticker price, or even the possibly lower negotiated price, doesn’t reflect the true cost of car ownership. AAA’s annual “Your Driving Costs” study found the average cost of owning and operating a new car in 2021 is nearly $10,000 annually. The three biggest expenses of car ownership are depreciation, fuel, and maintenance and repairs. The study found that small sedans were the cheapest to operate, while half-ton pickup trucks were the most expensive.

Depreciation is the decline in value of an asset over time, and it tops the list of largest annual expenses of car ownership. A new car begins to depreciate as soon as it’s new owner drives it off the lot, and the depreciation continues to increase over time. Depending on the make and model of the car, how many miles it’s driven annually, and other factors, a new car could depreciate

•   10% in the first month.

•   20% in the first year.

•   40% after five years.

Another factor when considering the true cost of your car is the potential increasing maintenance costs over five or 10 years. Proper maintenance of a vehicle can go a long way toward not only keeping it in good condition, but can make it safer for the driver and passengers, as well as other drivers on the road.

The Takeaway

The biggest ongoing cost of the car, though, is the cost of the car itself. Choosing what type of loan — car loan or personal loan — generally corresponds to what type of car you’re buying, what interest rate and terms you might qualify for, and what works best for your specific financial situation. Getting pre-qualified for a personal loan before you begin shopping for a used car may help direct your car search toward vehicles that are affordable and fit your lifestyle.

SoFi Personal Loans have low rates and can be used for a variety of purposes, including purchasing a car.

Check your rate on a SoFi Personal Loan.


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