Should I change my credit card?

Summary: This article is aimed at those considering changing their credit card provided, either to transfer a balance or to get a better rate for purchases. It also provides tips when applying.

It is very common for individuals to remain with their credit card provider as it is more convenient than going through the hassle of applying for a new one. But there can be benefits to changing, provided it is not too often.

Make savings on interest payments.

For those who owe money on a credit card, it may worth considering getting a new card offering 0% interest for a fixed period of time on balance transfers. In fact, at the moment, providers are offering some of the longest interest free periods yet seen with one card offering up to 27 months interest free. However, it is important to check the balance transfer fee that will be applied to ensure that it is not more expensive to transfer a balance than continue paying interest.

Benefit from special offers and cash back

Provided the bill is repaid each month, using a credit card for day to day shopping can be worthwhile, especially for big ticket items such as electrical goods, due to the additional protection provided by the credit card provider. Furthermore, some credit cards offer cash back or store vouchers which can all mount up over time. Competitions fierce in the credit card market at the moment, so there could be some very good offers out there.

Things to consider when applying for a new credit card

There are a number of considerations to make wheat plying for credit cards:

Always read the small print before applying. Some cards stipulate conditions which may affect the likelihood of the applicant being accepted, a minimum salary for example. If the applicant doesn't meet e criteria, then they will be declined, and every time a credit card is declined, it is logged on the credit record and can reduce the credit rating. An application should not be made if the criteria are not met.

Don't apply for multiple credit cards at the same time if declined. Every time an application is made for a credit card, it is logged on the credit record. Even if an application is accepted but not completed by the applicant, it can have an impact. Research the cards available, and pick one or two to apply for. If neither are accepted, it may be worth leaving it a month or so before trying again for a different card.

Use an online 'soft credit check'. Many of the credit card comparison sites will have a facility to check an individual for the likelihood of acceptance before an application is actually made, thus reducing the risk of affecting the credit rating. Often a list of suitable credit card will be offered by the sites, such as moneysupermarket.com.

Request a credit report. For those struggling to be accepted for a credit card, or for those wishing to check their credit record prior to applying, it may be worthwhile requesting a report from one of the report agencies, such as Experian and Equifax. There may be a fee associated but often the offer a free trial. Another option is www.noodle.co.uk which offers a free service, but the information may differ from that found in reports from other companies. If there are any concerns with information on the credit report it is important to contact the credit reference agency to discuss further.