How to Pick a Credit Card [Features Checklist]

If you’re ready to choose a credit card, you may be wondering how to get started. With so many features, rewards, and different rules and guidelines, it can be hard to know the right card for you.

We understand it can be overwhelming to apply for a credit card, which is why we’ve put together a checklist of features to help you with how to pick a credit card that’s right for you.

Do Your Research

There are a few steps to take that can smooth the way for the rest of your credit card search:

Check your credit score.

Don’t waste your time going after a card with dazzling rewards and a high credit limit if it’s not realistic for you.

If you have a poor or insufficient credit history, you may find yourself carrying a balance with high interest rates, resulting in large monthly payments eating a hole in your budget. Check your credit score and find out where it ranks.

Comparison shop interest rates.

If you know your credit score and where it falls on the spectrum from poor to excellent credit, you should have a better idea of the types of rates for which you’ll be eligible. Look around at various financial institutions to see what rates they offer with their cards.

Some places even offer cards for bad credit, so if you are looking to build or establish credit, once you know your score, you can look at the different types of cards (usually called secured credit cards) available.


Credit cards charge various fees at the initiation of the account opening as well as annually. It’s different for every credit card. Make sure to thoroughly review what fees apply to the credit card you want to apply for.

See the fees that come with a card.

Don’t get caught off guard by surprise fees. While the fees may not necessarily be prominently displayed on the ads or the website for a credit card, if you look on a bank or credit union website, they have their fees listed elsewhere.

Those fees can include:

  • Late payment fee
  • Balance transfer fee
  • Foreign transaction fee
  • Annual fee
  • Cash advance fee
  • Over-the-limit fee
  • Returned payment fee

Not all credit cards have these fees, so in your comparison shopping, be sure to check to see which ones charge them.

Special Offers and Rewards

Once you’ve narrowed down the crucial elements, you can start looking at some of the fun stuff. Examples of special offers and rewards that may ultimately guide how you pick a credit card include:

  • Sign-up bonuses like lower or 0% intro APR
  • Cash back rewards
  • Bonus points on certain types of purchases
  • Cash-back option at checkout
  • Concierge services
  • Travel insurance
  • Purchase protection

Security Features

You want to look at all of the different types of security features that come with various types of cards.

Zero liability for fraudulent charges.

This one is important to protect your money if you’re the victim of identity theft. However, there are usually specific rules about how and when to report fraudulent charges to be eligible for zero liability.

Mobile App and Online Banking

One of the nice things about credit cards is their convenience. Layer on more convenience by making sure your card comes with a user-friendly mobile app and online banking options. Some features you should look for:

  • Pay your bills
  • Check and redeem rewards

At Radiant Credit Union, our cards come with an additional mobile app intended to protect you and your card. Our Card Manager App is a safeguard from fraud:

  • Restrict transactions
  • Suspend your card
  • Set transaction limits
  • Link your cards to your mobile

How To Shop Smart and Pick the Right Credit Card

When researching different types of credit cards, there are certainly a lot of factors to consider. However, the better your knowledge of your current finances, and the clearer your future goals, the better an idea you will have of how to pick a credit card that’s best for you.

Whether it’s a secured or rewards credit card, if it’s the right card for your situation, then it’s the right card for you.

Radiant Credit Union Credit Cards

Radiant Credit Union members have access to a variety of card options with varying interest rates and benefits. Each card comes with exclusive Dime Back Rewards on qualifying purchases. As the name suggests, you can receive 10 cents in your Radiant checking or savings account. Even better, Dime Back is independent of our card rewards, so that 10 cents shows up in your account no matter what!

If you’re in the market for a new card, we’re happy to help you get started. We also offer a range of borrowing options. Whatever the answer, we’ll work with you to find the right solution for you and your goals, so you can get where you want to be.

Ready to check out our credit cards?

Review our credit cards or apply now.