When used wisely, credit cards can offer a wide range of benefits. However, you may want to take advantage of a credit card offer from a bank that isn't near your home. If you choose to apply online for a credit card, be sure that you take steps to review the offer carefully and keep your personal information safe.
Finding Reputable Credit Cards Online
Some online financial offers are legitimate and safe, and some are not. Key tips for verifying that an offer is reputable include:
- Look for https. The website address of the credit card application should start with https. The 's' stands for 'secure,' and means the bank is using a secure internet page.
- Initiate the offer yourself. Never respond to an email, click an email link, or engage in any other online credit card offer that you did not seek out. Such offers are almost always attempts to steal your information, even if they claim to be from a well-known bank.
- Select a reputable bank. If you've never heard of the bank offering the credit card, steer clear. While some little-known banks do offer credit, it isn't worth the risk.
- Avoid offers that are too good to be true. Credit cards do offer rewards for signing up and using the card. However, if something seems extreme or too good to be true, skip it. It may be a false offer to steal your personal data. Some examples include not requiring a credit check, automatic VIP status, and claims that extremely low interest rates are permanent.
- Don't share too much information. Stay away from online credit card offers that ask for your bank account number or passwords. That kind of information is not necessary to process a credit card application.
If an offer meets these security criteria, you can feel relatively certain the offer is legitimate. If you move forward with applying, be sure that you do so in a way that keeps your information safe.
Safely Submitting Your Information
Credit card companies need to know specific personal information to review your credit and offer you a card, so submit your application with care. If you are on a secure website, you have an excellent start. Other steps to take include:
- anti-virus and anti-malware applications. High-quality safety services run regular scans to keep your devices clean and safe from thieves.
- Use a secure network when submitting sensitive information. It's not a good idea to apply for a credit card on a public computer, such as a school or library. It's also not safe to use an open Wi-Fi network such as a coffee shop or restaurant. Instead, use the direct internet connection you have at home, or another a secure Wi-Fi connection.
When you take these steps, you can be confident that your personal information will be protected from prying eyes and identity thieves. Identity theft has significant consequences and can cost enormous amounts of money, hurt your credit rating, and make it difficult to be approved for loans or credit cards in the future.
Reading the Fine Print
When you sign up for a credit card at a bank, there are several pages of disclosures that you need to read. This 'fine print' explains the interest rate, fees, reward program details, and more. When you apply online, there aren't papers laid out in front of you to describe the card details. You may have to open a separate window to find the fine print. Look for a small link, or phrases like 'important terms and disclosures,' 'terms and conditions,' or 'interest rates and fees.'
Be sure to review all the terms and conditions before applying for a credit card. Important specifics to look for include:
- Interest rates, including how long introductory rates last
- Fees, including annual fees, penalty fees, cash advance fees, and more
- Reward details, especially restrictions and minimum purchase requirements
Once you fully understand the terms and conditions of the credit card offer, you can decide if you want to move forward and complete the application.
Some Credit Cards to Consider
You can apply online for a number of credit card accounts. Many have rewards programs, such as accounts that offer airline miles, cash back, or points that can be redeemed for merchandise. When you apply, be sure to provide the correct personal information. A credit card company cannot successfully review your application unless you enter the correct details about your identity and income.
A few reputable credit cards that have an online application process include:
- BankAmericard®: Issued by Bank of America, this account offers a variety of benefits, including a 0% introductory APR for 15 billing cycles and a $0 balance transfer fee for the first 60 days the card is open. After the introductory period, the interest rate ranges from 12.99% to 22.99%, depending on creditworthiness. There is also no penalty interest rate - your rates do not go up due to late payments. Bank of America also offers the security of chip cards and ShopSafe® service, along with the convenience of text banking and account alerts.
- Citi Diamond Preferred® Card: This credit card has no annual fee and a long, 21-month 0% APR introductory period for purchases and balance transfers. After the introductory period ends, the interest rate ranges from 13.49% to 23.49%, depending on creditworthiness. Premium benefits include access to ticket deals and VIP seating. Citi offers the ability to choose your payment due date, worldwide car rental and accident insurance, identity theft solutions, and more.
- Chase Freedom Unlimited: This Chase account offers 1.5% cash back on all purchases, with no limits on the cash back you can earn and no minimum amount to redeem your rewards. There's no annual fee, and you may be able to get additional cash back if you spend a certain amount in the first few months. This card gives you 0% interest for 15 billing cycles, and then has an interest rate ranging from 15.99% to 24.74%, depending on creditworthiness. Chase also includes chip security, zero liability protection, extended warranties on purchases, and more.
- Discover it® Miles Travel Credit Card: If you're a traveler, you'll love this offering from Discover. You get unlimited 1.5 miles per dollar on all purchases. There's no annual fee and no blackout dates for the miles you earn. The interest rate is 0% for 14 months, after which time it ranges from 11.99% to 23.99% depending on creditworthiness. If you misplace your card, you can quickly freeze it, then reactivate it if you find it. Discover also has 100% U.S. based customer service and offers alerts if suspicious activity happens on your card.
Stay Safe Online
You can do so much online, but it's vital to do so with security in mind. This is just as important when you're applying for a credit card as when you are shopping, looking at your online bank statements or engaging on other online activities.