Credit Card Basics
The Credit card is the most divisive financial tool available. If you talk about the history of Credit cards, they started out as Simple and Standard. Each Card issuer had one card with same set of features. Today credit cards come in multiple ranges with varying features, interest rates, annual fees etc. It is really important an individual knows which Card will suit his/her lifestyle and financial situation.
A brief description of various kinds of credit cards is as follows:
Standard Credit Cards: These are the most common kind of credit cards. They do not require a security deposit to prove that the loan can be repaid. The way the Annual Percentage Rate (APR) is offered or calculated on a standard credit card may vary. For instance:
- Balance transfer Credit cards: Balance transfer credit cards allow consumers to transfer a high interest credit card balance onto a credit card with a low interest rate.
- Low interest Credit cards: Low interest credit cards offer either a low introductory APR that jumps to a higher rate after a certain period, or a single low fixed-rate APR.
Reward Cards: A rewards card can be beneficial for the right kind of user. You can earn free airline tickets, hotel stays, cash back, gift cards and even novelty vacations, etc.
Before choosing any reward card, however, one needs to consider his Credit card spending tendencies. Ask yourself are you someone who regularly pays the full monthly balance, or do you carry a balance from month-to-month? The interest rate with a rewards card is quite higher when compared to typical Credit cards. If you occasionally carry a balance, it is advised to not go for a rewards card. High interest rates coupled with late fee penalties will mean you will end up losing heavy money while chasing petty rewards.
Different types of reward cards
Cash Back: This type of credit card allows you to earn cash rewards for making purchases. The more the card is used, the more cash rewards you receive. Most cash back cards earn users around 1% of total purchases. I.e. you typically earn cash back worth Rs 100 on purchases of Rs 10,000. Some cards offer a higher cash back percentage with increased usage; others offer a higher cash back percentage at select merchants or for particular types of purchases.
Examples: Citibank Cash Back Credit Card, Shopping Rewards Card.
General Reward Point Credit Cards: In Reward points Cards, cardholders can accumulate points towards a reward structure, which is based on usage of card over the period. E.g. Cardholder is awarded 1 reward point for each rupee he/she spends. There are certain Bonus spend rewards as well for certain annual spending such as:
| Annual Spends
|| Bonus Reward Point
| Rs. 2 Lakh
| Rs. 3 Lakh
| Rs. 4 Lakh
| Rs. 5 Lakh
SBI signature contactless card bonus reward points
Hotel/Travel Point Credit cards: This is a genre of credit cards specific to hotels and travel. Some cards are co-branded with hotels. These credit cards allow you to earn points for all purchases, in addition to bonus points for dollars spent on stays at the respective hotel chain. You can redeem your points for free nights and upgrade at the hotel chain your card is co-branded with. Then there are broader hotel and travel cards with which points can be redeemed for travel, theme park admission, stays at major hotel chains and more.
Examples of such Cards are "Yatra SBI Card" and American Express makemytrip Card.
Gas Cards: Gas Cards with points or rebate have a high reward structure for Fuel purchases/Car maintenance. If you drive a lot, consider a gas card for more points on gasoline purchases. Gas cards come in two types: general and brand-specific. A general gas rebate card, for example, may give you 1% cash back for general purchases but rewards you with 5% back for buying gas or having auto maintenance done at any company such as Indian Oil Citibank Platinum Credit Card saves over 5% on your fuel bills.
Airline Miles/ Frequent flier credit cards: There is a subset of reward cards specifically for air travel. This type of card allows consumers to earn airline mile credits whenever they make purchases. Some cards are co-branded with a specific airline, while some are generic and can be redeemed for tickets with a variety of airlines. Points can be redeemed for airline travel, much like frequent flier miles.
Airline Specific Credit Cards: JetPrivilege HDFC Bank World Credit Card
Generic Airline Miles Cards: Complimentary Citibank PremierMiles Credit Card
Secured Credit Cards: Secured credit cards require a security deposit for approval. These cards are useful in reestablishing the credit score. The cards have an annual fee and higher annual interest rates. Most often, these cards are used to reestablish credit. A person can use the card to make small purchases that they can easily repay.
Specialty Credit Cards: These types of cards are for consumers with unique needs for their credit usage, such as business professionals and students. These credit card programs are designed specifically to meet the needs of those individuals.
- Business Credit Card: These cards are available for business owners and executives and have many of the same features as traditional credit cards. Some of these bonuses include: Business expenses kept separate from personal expenses; special business rewards and savings; expense management reports; additional cards for employees; and higher credit limits. Example: SBI Platinum Corporate Card
- Student Credit Cards: Student credit cards are specifically designed for those enrolled in accredited four-year colleges and universities to help them build a credit history from the ground up. Compared to consumer credit cards, student credit cards are often scaled back somewhat in terms of reward features and other benefits. Example: SBI ADVANTAGE Plus card.