Some things in life are one-size-fits-all. They will suit you both in your twenties and in your sixties. Your tastes won’t change and neither will your needs, so these things remain a constant in your life for decades.
One item that does not fall into the one-size-fits-all category is your credit card. That’s because your credit card’s interest rate, its fee and its rewards are all highly customizable to your unique financial situation. Whether you’re a new graduate just starting out or a seasoned traveller looking for a credit card to fund your next getaway, the credit card that makes the most sense for your financial situation will most likely change as you change.
Here are three examples of life stages that would benefit from a specific type of credit card:
When you want to improve your credit score
If you are young and haven’t had a chance to establish a good credit score yet, you may have trouble qualifying for a credit card. Most lenders will use your credit score to determine what credit limit you’ll qualify for, so having a low or non-existent credit score can rule out traditional unsecured credit cards. If this is the case, consider a secured credit card to help you begin building credit right away.
- No annual fee
- 19.99% interest rate on purchases
- Credit limit is set by the amount of security deposit put down, between $500-$10,000
- Not available to residents of Quebec
A secured credit card is backed by a security deposit paid in advance, usually one or two times the amount of the credit limit. For example, if you wanted a secured credit card with a credit limit of $750, you’d have to pay a deposit of between $750 – $1,500. A secured credit card can be used just like a normal credit card and is a great tool to help you build up your credit before qualifying for an unsecured credit card. Once you qualify for a regular credit card and cancel your secured credit card, you’ll receive your deposit back.
When you want to clear your debt
Let’s all be honest here: most of us stay in debt much longer than we intend to after school.
Whether you are a new graduate carrying student loan debt or you supplemented your initial lower income with credit card debt, there is a class of credit card that can help you become debt free faster.
- Annual fee: $29
- Low 11.99% interest rate on purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers
- Special introductory 0.99% interest rate on balance transfers within the first six months (offer ends November 21, 2021)
These credit cards are commonly known as the best balance transfer credit cards in Canada and offer a low interest rate for a set period, usually between six and 18 months. Some balance transfer credit cards offer an interest rate as low as 0.00%, which can be a great way to pay off a large chunk of your debt without incurring interest charges. It’s important to note that these low interest rates only last as long as the promotional period, so make sure to pay off your debt before the term expires. Otherwise, you may incur some hefty interest charges. You also don’t want to fall into the trap of constantly using low balance transfer credit cards just to avoid paying off your debt. Make sure you have a debt repayment play when going this route.
When you want to travel
As you progress through life, you’ll establish your credit, pay off your debt and increase your income. At this point, your needs for a credit card will have changed, and you may be ready to switch to a credit card that rewards your spending with points. These are known as the best travel credit cards in Canada.
A rewards travel credit card lets you earn points with every purchase, and you can redeem those points for flights, hotel stays, and even car rentals. The best travel rewards credit cards have no blackout dates for travel and even cover your taxes and airport fees.
Choosing the best travel rewards credit card can be a complicated process since many credit cards are tailored to reward specific spending profiles. Fortunately, you can use our credit card comparison tool to determine which credit card makes the most sense for you. Alternatively, take a look at the BMO World Elite MasterCard since if offers a generous signup bonus and the annual fee for the first year is waived.
- $150 annual fee (waived for the first year)
- Earn 3 BMO Rewards points per dollar on travel, dining and entertainment purchases; 2 points per dollar on everything else
- Earn 35,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 in the first three months
- VIP lounge access with the included Mastercard Airport Experiences membership, plus 4 complimentary passes per year
The final thought
Just like you change cars as you go through life – from a sedan as a young adult, to a van as a parent, and then to an SUV after that – you should also change your credit cards. Make sure you always have the credit card that is right for your situation so that you are maximizing your credit card’s benefits, whether that is a low interest rate, travel rewards, or cash back.