Often times, you will be approached by credit card companies to apply for a card (either by mail, telephone, or in person at stores, banks, and other places.) Different credit cards will offer you different benefits and have different requirements for application, so it is important to get the credit card company's information in writing and take the time to review it. Don't feel rushed to apply for a card over the phone or if someone is asking you in person. You should always ask to see the offer in writing and take your time to review it and decide. No offer is "too good to pass up" -- credit card companies offer special promotions all the time.
Most places accept at least one brand-name card like American Express, Visa, and MasterCard. Fewer accept cards like Discover or Diner's Card (although these can still be used at most large stores and restaurants.) Most store credit cards, like Sears, JC Penny's, or The Limited are only accepted by the store that issues them.
Some credit cards charge an annual fee (usually as little as $20 a year), but other companies will waive (not charge you) the fee because they want your business.
Like high interest rates, credit card companies also earn money by charging you high fees for late payments. Be sure to call your credit card company if your statement has been lost in the mail or if you will be going out of town to avoid late payment fees.
If you have never had a credit card before, many companies will start you with a lower credit line (usually between $100 - $500.) However, if you stay in good credit with the company (pay off your balance on time each month), they will often raise your credit line once or twice a year.
Ask about extra benefits like travel or life insurance, if purchases made on the card are protected, and if you receive discounts or coupons from special retailers.
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