Credit cards are an alternative method of payment to cash that gives you flexibility and convenience in managing your personal finances. These cards are issued by various private companies and financial institutions such as Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover. Essentially, the credit card issuers provide you a line of credit and lend you money each time you use your card. This allows you to carry over a monthly balance, at the cost of having interest charged but yield the risk of building credit debt.
In contrast, charge cards require the balance to be paid in full each month. Credit cards are also known as revolving credit and have become an integral component of the American landscape. Americans use credit cards for many conveniences, from purchases to emergencies. It is important to remember that credit card usage involves eventual repayment of incurred charges.
If you use credit cards wisely, you can build a good credit history. However, you must be judicious in your credit card use; otherwise you might find yourself in a quicksand of credit card debt. Therefore, it is of critical importance to become educated about credit card features, terms and conditions, as well as your consumer credit rights and responsibilities.
Credit Card Companies
Credit cards are offered by credit card companies that are integrated with mainly financial institutions such as banks. Cards are also accessible from retail companies, colleges and universities, hotels and resorts, airlines, movie theaters, major gas stations, and more. The original concept of paying merchants using a card was the brainchild of Frank X. McNamara and Ralph Schneider in 1950.
The credit card was to offer convenience to consumers and increase revenues of merchants. The original credit cards provided by credit card companies werent actually credit cards but charge cards. Today, only a few credit companies offer charge cards, as only few consumers have the financial ability or the desire to pay off their complete balances at the end of the month. Also, charge cards almost always are accompanied by high annual fees.
Annual fees are not the exclusive domain of charge cards; many credit cards have them as well. But annual fees are certainly not popular among the general public. Herein, most consumers carry credit cards with no annual fees. However, there are things that credit card companies provide that are immensely popular with consumers, called credit card offers.
Credit Card Offers
All major credit card companies, retail companies, airlines, and more offer special credit card promotions and programs to entice cardholders into using their cards. Over the years credit card companies have started offering various types of cards for various types of consumers. For example, there are credit cards for businesses, college students, cards that offer reward points, and such. Here are some of the major, more common credit card offers:
- Rewards Credit Card
rewards for your various purchases
- Cash Back Credit Card
you can earn cash back on your purchases
- Airline Credit Card
you can earn frequent flyer miles with several airlines
- Low Interest Credit Card
0% intro Annual Percentage Rates (APR) or low fixed rate
- Balance Transfer Card
high interest balance can be transferred to a low APR credit card
- Business Credit Card
businesses and corporations earn rewards when credit cards are used by employees
- Instant Approval Card
instant approval from certain credit card companies
- Prepaid and Debit Card
allows you to control your spending with prepaid debit cards, debit cards and prepaid credit cards
- Student Credit Card
credit cards for high school and college students
- Credit Card for Bad Credit
extended to consumers with less than perfect credit.
These are the most popular forms of credit card offers provided by credit card companies. As credit cards become more popular, credit companies will extend newer, more innovative offers to consumers.