Finding a Credit Card: 4 Things to Look Out for in Consumer Reviews

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Finding a Credit Card: 4 Things to Look Out for in Consumer Reviews

When you're picking a credit card, other people's reviews can be an extremely valuable resource. Here at Credit Karma, we pride ourselves in the community that our members make up, and we have a bustling reviews section where you can leave a review and help out other members. Looking for some advice to help pick the right credit card? Check out our consumer reviews and look out for these four elements.

1. Number of Reviews

In general, the more, the better. One recommendation is great, but 100 are probably more reliable. Plus, beyond a simple rating, each reviewer has their own details which they bring to the table. Our most reviewed credit cards come with an exceptional amount of consumer-provided information.

This doesn't mean that credit cards from smaller institutions with fewer reviews aren't worth exploring, though. Small lenders, like credit unions, can sometimes provide the best service for you. Cards that are new to the market are also worth a look because they may have improved features. If you have a credit card that's so new that it's barely been reviewed, you can help out others by adding your own thoughts. Just keep the total number of reviewers in mind before taking a five-star rating as gospel.

2. Who Gets Approved

We do our best to take the mystery out of the application process. With approximate approval odds and personalized recommendations, it's possible to get a sense of how likely you are to be approved for a specific offer (though we can't guarantee it). More information is almost always helpful, though.

Scan the reviews to find members reflecting on the application process. Often, both those who have been approved and those who weren't will share their credit scores or other information about their credit profile. Obviously member experiences will vary, but these reviews can help you get a sense of what the lender is generally looking for and how you compare. Some review pages also display a graph featuring the credit score ranges of Credit Karma members who are cardholders.

3. Customer Service Experience

Credit card reviews could also give you a peek at the customer service of the particular issuer. If you've never had a card with that lender before, then the feedback of those who have might be particularly useful.

Opening a credit card is the beginning of a relationship with a financial institution, and other cardholders can give you insight into how well a lender takes care of its customers. Before applying, you may want to see how easy it's been for others to get in touch with the lender, since you'll need to do that if your card is lost or stolen, if you want to add an authorized user or if you need to change the personal information attached to your account.

4. Changes in Terms

Credit card companies do everything they can to encourage you to apply. Sign-up bonuses and low introductory interest rates are becoming more and more common, and draw many to apply for credit cards that they would not have applied for otherwise. Many don't realize, however, that these terms sometimes can and will change.

This fact is especially true with rewards cards. Even if the rate at which you accrue points doesn't change, the actual value of those points could change. The feedback of current cardholders is a great way to get insight into your possible credit card terms. If a lender has a history of adjusting terms, then they could do it again in the future. Of course, it's also important to read the terms made available by the issuers themselves. Issuers are required to inform you in advance of many important details, including certain potential changes to their terms. For things like introductory interest rates or other promotions, they'll usually disclose before you apply when and how changes will occur.

Bottom Line

When you're looking for the perfect credit card for you, it makes sense to use every available resource to aid in your search. While a packed highway or a stuffed train car might occasionally leave you wishing for a little space, other people do come in handy. Next time you're in the market, check out our reviews section to help kick off your search.

About the Author:Mike Goldstein is a Content Writer at Credit Karma. Since joining the team in June 2013, he's been delivering the financial know-how on the daily. When away from work, you can find Mike watching hockey, Twittering for hours and frequenting trivia nights.

Editorial Note: The opinions you read here come from our editorial team. While compensation may affect which companies we write about and products we review, our marketing partners don't review, approve or endorse our editorial content. Our content is accurate (to the best of our knowledge) when we initially post it, but we don't guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information provided. You can visit the company's website to get complete details about a product. See an error in an article? Use this form to report it to our editorial team. For questions about your Credit Karma account, please submit a help request to our support team.

Advertiser Disclosure: We think it's important for you to understand how we make money. It's pretty simple, actually. The offers for financial products you see on our platform come from companies who pay us. The money we make helps us give you access to free credit scores and reports and helps us create our other great tools and educational materials.

Compensation may factor into how and where products appear on our platform (and in what order). But since we generally make money when you find an offer you like and get, we try to show you offers we think are a good match for you. That's why we provide features like your Approval Odds and savings estimates.

Of course, the offers on our platform don't represent all financial products out there, but our goal is to show you as many great options as we can.

All Comments

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1 Contribution
55 People Helped

Helpful to 55 out of 62 people

I don't know about an annual feel, but Southwest airlines gives great sky miles without an annual fee.  I use one for my biz purchases and one for my personals.  They come from Chase.  When you decide to run all your purchases thru your credit cards both to stay ahead of the payments by a month and also to get spiffs, you can rack up to a heft number of dollars charged each month on your cards, month after month after month.  I have racked up many thousands of sky miles this way, my total right now is near 100,000 sky miles and was more than that before my last RT flight.   Since no interest is charged if you pay the card off in full by the due date each month, that's absolutely free plane flights.

Southwest's  methods for how those miles count and can be used has changed recently tho. Used to be that once you earned a a voucher it would cover any airport in the country where SW flies, no matter how far away.  That has changed.  These days it's directly linked to how many dollars you would pay if you paid normally, based on time of purchase, farther away from flight time the better.  So going for a flight next day will cost you many times more sky miles than getting your flight 3 weeks or more in advance.  A one way flight from OAK to BWI can cost as little as 8726 sky miles if booked for February to 63,516 sky miles if booked for tomorrow.

Staying 3 weeks or more ahead of flight date and choosing your flight time carefully based on what's still least expensive for that day - which changes as the flights get gobbled up, another reason to get in early - is the best way to keep your available sky miles way up there.

Credit Karma Team
Top Contributor
2949 Contributions
4612 People Helped
Helpful to 21 out of 25 people

Great tips, MrBob84! Thanks for chiming in.

1 Contribution
9 People Helped

Helpful to 9 out of 9 people

Pretty good article but they didn't cover the basic and easiest way to get your credit score up. It's not quick but for me it was very simple. I Only had a 557 credit score when I opened my bank account but after 18 months I now have a 720 score by following the following steps.

1. Have a job and set up direct deposit with my local Credit Union Bank.  After 1 year I applied for a $500 Mastercard and got it. I didn't put anything on my credit card more then I absolutely had to and made payments on time but NEVER paid it off fully so I always had a current balance.

2. I created my credit karma account and found all 3 of my transunion accounts that they said were in default (missed payments or were in collections).

3. I tracked down each one of the collections accounts via the web and got phone numbers for all of them and simply talked to each and asked how I can begin paying off all three of the debts owed. Turns out they weren't for large sums of money and I could make small payements to each for a couple weeks till I had them all paid off. All 3 of the debt collectors were very helpful and easy to work with.

4. Once i had all 3 of my debts paid they reported the payments to the 3 credit bureaus for me for free and from that point on my score just went up and up and up.

5. Credit Karma says keep your credit card balance to under 30% usage and thats actually what all the credit bureaus agree with as well so thats what I've done for 1 year since I got my credit card and now my score is 720. I can get any home loan I want now and any credit card within reason. The only thing that's still holding me from getting a much higher score is the fact that my credit history is so young (under 2 years old since I fixed it they said).

Hope this helps :)

1 Contribution
21 People Helped

Helpful to 21 out of 24 people

The differences between the bureau's are as different as night and day. Writing and calling does no good even when you send concrete proof that they are wrong. From the smallest of details to the really important things are incorrect. Who and what do I have to do to get it corrected ?

Reply by
mmmcitrusy

5 Contributions
29 People Helped
Helpful to 16 out of 16 people

If you've disputed something that is clearly in error with the bureaus and they still have not removed it, you can escalate the complaint to the FTC. You have a right under the Fair Credit Reporting Act to accuracy on your report. So escalate that complaint to the enforcement agency.
DO NOT work with a credit repair company. They don't do anything for you you couldn't do yourself for free, and are out to get your money.

1 Contribution
19 People Helped

Helpful to 19 out of 23 people

try finding a credit card company that... when you call for customer service, you get to actually speak with someone in the USA.   I refuse to discuss my financial information, with someone outside the USA.   NOT going to happen.

Reply by
mmmcitrusy

5 Contributions
29 People Helped
Helpful to 10 out of 11 people

Do not, and I mean DO NOT work with a Credit Repair company. They are almost all shady as hell and don't do anything for you that you can't do yourself for free. DON'T. DO. IT.

3 Contributions
27 People Helped

Helpful to 25 out of 36 people

I am so happy. With just 642 points and still one account in collection I got an OLD NAVY credit card for 200$.

Top Contributor

Reply by
CKCharmaine

512 Contributions
1065 People Helped
Helpful to 13 out of 19 people

That's great to hear!

1 Contribution
16 People Helped

Helpful to 16 out of 23 people

With a 556 I got a Capitol One Card with a $2300 limit SWEET!!!!

Reply by
eugenedillard

5 Contributions
1 Person Helped
Helpful to 1 out of 5 people

 Reply,,,it must be your 2300,,,,,,,no way would a card company give wi t h 556   

1 Contribution
12 People Helped

Helpful to 12 out of 15 people

Who has the best credit card for rebuilding credit?

Credit Karma Team
Top Contributor
2949 Contributions
4612 People Helped
Helpful to 22 out of 26 people

Hi terryterry64,

The card doesn't matter so much as how you use it! They all report the same way on your report.  You may want to start with a secured credit card if you have not yet established any credit. 

Reply by
alexrev13

5 Contributions
9 People Helped
Helpful to 5 out of 8 people

I would say Discover Card. It was for me anyway.

Reply by
NewLilac

6 Contributions
163 People Helped
Helpful to 8 out of 8 people

I found the Fingerhut Fresh Start program helped me.  I couldn't even get a secured card from anyone, but they approved me.  A few months after on time payments with Fingerhut, Citibank sent me a pre-approval and to my surprise, I was approved for $2,000!  That was the start of me rebuilding my credit from the mid-500s to over 700 today, 18 months later.  But I had to be patient, make payments over the minimum, and watch my credit to debt ratio.

But be careful, amongst the pre-approval for Citi, I also received a deluge of preapprovals from rip off places like Credit One (not Capital One), and other subpar places, which went straight into the shredder.  It pays to do research, as I understand that some of the subpar companies on your report can actually hurt your credit, as well as costing you too much money.

Reply by
eugenedillard

5 Contributions
1 Person Helped

CAP ONE,,,if get debtcard,,they rate as credi t, ,,after one year they increase line...best to put 2500.00,,if ever had 5,000,,,you wo u ld see other card offers in mail after onetime payments and keep at zero balance by paying off monthly...

3 Contributions
8 People Helped

Helpful to 8 out of 11 people

i got my score up to [650] and even though i paid off my [2007] KIA with no payment missed or late for [60] month i just got aprove for[500] credit with CAPITAL ONE, and i make over [50,000 +]  A YEAR, SO CAN SOME ONE WITH AN [550] SCORE GET [2000] CREDIT LIMIT WITH THE SAME CARD COMPANY?

Reply by
katmarsh

2 Contributions
14 People Helped
Helpful to 14 out of 17 people

Maybe it was from the length of his credit history compared to yours? I have under 2 year history and my score is 726. My man's is 689. He gets approved for anything and I either get denied or high interest. His history is over 10 years old and he has like 26 accounts. I have 5. That may be the difference. It's a catch 22 essentially, you have to get someone to giextend you credit in order to establish credit but no one wants to extend you credit until you have credit. It's very sloooow process. I've been going through it for the last 2 years. I have the high interest cards and pay them like I should to build my credit. @ years ago my score was 610.

1 Contribution
6 People Helped

Helpful to 6 out of 7 people

are there any credit cards out there that offer fly miles for your purchases that do not charge an annual feel?

Credit Karma Team
Top Contributor
2949 Contributions
4612 People Helped
Helpful to 15 out of 19 people

Many rewards cards charge an annual fee. It might be easier to look for a card where the fee is waived for the first year.

1 Contribution
1 Person Helped

Helpful to 1 out of 1 people

How do you transfer balances on credit cards and how do you know what interest rate you should be paying?

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