How to use Credit Karma’s credit card reviews

Couple using credit card to make an online purchaseImage: Couple using credit card to make an online purchase

In a Nutshell

Not sure how to pick your next credit card? Reading other people’s credit card reviews can help you home in on your best options. Here’s how to take advantage of our member reviews.
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Shopping for a new credit card means sifting through a lot of information. The process can be overwhelming, even if it’s not your first time choosing a card.

Often you’ll encounter shiny sales pitches, which could include an introductory 0% APR period, a sign-up bonus or a cash back reward. But focusing only on the benefits can mean ignoring the stuff that matters. The benefits of a big sign-up bonus can be undone somewhere down the line by a high interest rate or annual fee.

Here’s how to use our member credit card reviews to make a well-informed decision about your next credit card.

  1. Look at the average user rating
  2. Compare the average approved credit score with your own scores
  3. Consider the average credit limit awarded
  4. Check the average household income
  5. Look for the average cardholder age

1. Look at the average user rating

User ratings can help you balance reality against an exciting sales pitch. If a card has a large number of reviews and is highly rated, that can be a good indicator of quality.

But a credit card with fewer reviews, or even a relatively low rating, shouldn’t be dismissed altogether.

Be sure to first note how many ratings the card has. If there are only a few ratings, it could be an indicator that the card is newer to the market or comes from a smaller lender. Credit cards that fall into these categories are worth considering, too.

2. Compare the average approved credit score with your own scores

You may be tempted to limit your search to the five-star credit cards, but keep in mind that not everyone will be approved for the cards that our members rate most highly. Your credit scores are a major factor in deciding what you’ll ultimately qualify for.

Gia Davis, a student from Fresno, California, used Credit Karma’s member credit card reviews to search for her most recent credit card.

“I knew my credit scores were OK, but not great,” she says, “so I was nervous about applying for a credit card.”

“Using the reviews helped me avoid applying for credit cards that I probably wasn’t going to qualify for yet. I was surprised that I still had a lot of options though,” Davis says.

3. Consider the average credit limit awarded

Every credit card has a credit limit, or a set dollar amount that you can spend up to, at any given time.

For those who will use a credit card wisely, the card with the highest credit limit has some appealing benefits. As long as you keep your balances low (30% or less of your credit limit), higher limits can improve your credit utilization ratio, which may help your credit scores.

The credit limit you’re approved for can depend on many credit factors, like your credit scores and household income.

4. Check the average household income

Household income is one piece of the credit card puzzle. Your calculations can include your spouse’s income and other documented, regular payments that may not be earned through an employer, like Social Security, child support and disability.

Even if your household income is on the lower end of the spectrum, there are well-rated products that you may be approved for.

5. Look for the average cardholder age

Concerned that your age will affect your ability to qualify for a credit card? A creditor can’t legally deny your application based on your age unless you’re under 18.

But age can be a factor in other ways. For example, if you’re close to retirement age, a creditor can consider how your income may decrease in the near future.

For those who are younger and haven’t had much time to build up their scores, using our member reviews can help you sort through plenty of student cards or secured cards to help you start building credit.

Bottom line

Most of us don’t have the time or the patience to sift through all the available credit cards on the market. Fortunately, Credit Karma’s member credit card reviews can save you the time and frustration of sorting through and comparing hundreds and hundreds of different products.

Using our reviews not only helps you quickly compare lots of credit cards, but you’ll also see what our members think about each one of them. That means less time spent applying for credit cards that aren’t right for you.

About the author: Sarah C. Brady is a San Francisco–based financial consultant, workshop facilitator and writer. In addition to writing for Credit Karma, Sarah writes for Experian, LendingTree, Magnify Money, MSN News and more. In her … Read more.