Choosing a credit card used to be simple. Today, there are over 600 issuers of credit cards in Canada. The different cards offer a variety of options, so it's important to have a good understanding of their features and costs before you sign up. Ask yourself these questions:
- What are the interest rates?
- Do they charge an annual fee?
- Are you looking for extras?
Some financial institutions offer all-purpose credit cards like VISA, MasterCard and American Express. They can be used to extend payment for the purchase of goods and services over time. If full payment is made each month, there are no interest charges. However, if you take a cash advance on your credit card, you are charged interest from the moment you make a withdrawal until the money is paid back.
Other cards include Diners Club, Carte Blanche and those issued by retailers and oil companies such as The Bay or Petro-Canada. Interest charges and credit limits vary. Some charge cards have loyalty programs similar to those offered by bank credit cards.
Retailer charge accounts are usually offered by retailers in several forms. One type requires payment within 25 - 30 days; another option is the installment plan charge (equal payments including interest are made for a specified number of months); and the all-purpose accounts (payments made in full or over a period of time).
When adjusting interest rates, credit card issuers must give up to 60 days notice of credit card interest rate changes.