After looking at my credit cards in 2011, I have decided to pick my favorite for those of you looking for a new card in 2012. Keep in mind that if you are new to credit cards, you may want to try to get a student credit card first or ask your parents to add you to one of their credit lines before applying for your own. Well, without further ado, my pick for 2012 is the Chase Freedom card.
If you could only have one credit card, my pick would be the Chase Freedom, hands down. While other credit cards are more specialized, I believe that Chase gives the best overall value in this card. What are the benefits?
Firstly, there is no annual fee. This is a must when I go looking for credit cards. Because it is so competitive, there are plenty of alternative cards out there that don't charge a fee to the credit card users. Always look for a card without an annual fee, like the Chase Freedom.
Secondly, the yield on the Chase Freedom card is fantastic. It has a revolving 5% cash back program which gives you 5% cash back on up to $1500 spent on the categories for that quarter of the year. This is the same return as Discover with a much higher limit on how much you can spend in on that category (Discover's limit is usually around $300 for their 5% revolving program). They have 10% cash back if you shop online at Chase, although I have yet to use this feature. You also get 1% cash back on all other purchases making the yield on this card a solid reason to get it.
It also comes with a 0% interest rate on the first 6 months after opening the card. I believe it used to be a year but looking at the features right now, you only have to make the minimum payment on the card for the first six months after receiving it and you won't get charged any interest. Just make sure to pay off your card in full after the six months or you will get charged interest.
As an added bonus, the offer available on the website gives you $100 if you spend $500 within the first 3 months. For most of us, that probably won't be a problem, especially if you have a large expense coming up like an booking an airplane ticket. This is essentially a bonus 20% cash back for those $500 to help heap on more incentive.
There is no annual fee, the rewards program is simple with a great yield (whether you are using it for normal purchases or its 5% revolving categories), and there are some bonus features with an introductory 6-month 0% APR and $100 bonus after spending $500 within 3 months. Also they have great customer service. Just last week, I used their online messaging system to inquire about raising my credit limit. After two emails by early evening the same day, I had my limit raised. Visa is virtually accepted everywhere any credit card is accepted so you should have no problems with that issue. If you don't have the Chase Freedom yet, whether you are a student or experienced credit card user, I would recommend taking another look.