Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation
Bryan A. Schneider, Secretary  
Bruce Rauner, Governor
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Banks and Trust Companies - Tips

Choosing a Credit Card*

You may view a list of the most competitive credit card interest rates and terms in the country by going to

Credit card issuers offer a wide variety of terms. Consider and compare all the terms, including the following, before you select a card:

  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR)-the cost of credit as a yearly rate.

  • Free or Grace Period-allows you to avoid any finance charge by paying your balance in full before the due date. If there is no free period, you will pay a finance charge from the date of the transaction, even if you pay your entire balance when you receive your bill.

  • Fees and Charges-most issuers charge an annual fee; some also might charge a fee for a cash advance or if you fail to make a payment on time or go over your credit limit.

Shop around for the terms that are best for you. Before giving money to a company that promises to help you get a credit card:

  • Find out who the card issuer is and get the credit card terms in writing, including all the fees and whether a deposit is required;

  • Try to apply to a card issuer directly, rather than giving money to a third party; if you don't get the credit card, you might not be able to get your money back;

  • Beware of "credit cards" that only allow you to buy from certain overpriced, restricted goods catalogs.

  • Beware of companies that promise "instant credit" or guarantee you a credit card "even if you have bad credit or no credit history;" no one can guarantee you credit in advance.

Courtesy of The U.S. Office of Consumer Affairs - Premier site for comparing credit cards, comparing interest rates, and finding the best overall offer. Provides information for various types of payment cards including credit, debit, ATM, loyalty, and phone cards.

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