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A credit card user displays her cards in Washington February 22, 2010. (KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (UNITED STATES))
A credit card user displays her cards in Washington February 22, 2010. (KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (UNITED STATES))

Managing Debt

Choosing a credit card Add to ...

Five things to consider when choosing a credit card

1. Your options

Before you start shopping for a card, understand the different choices you have.

2. How you’ll use the card

If you plan to pay off what you owe in full each month, a lower introductory interest rate may not be of use to you. If you rarely travel, you may not want a card that rewards you with air miles. If you’ll use rewards points to buy essentials like gas and groceries, you might save money over time.

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3. The costs

Know the interest rate you’ll pay on any unpaid balance after the grace period. Also find out about any fees you’ll pay for the card and when they apply. The most common types of fees include annual fees, late fees and over-the-limit fees. You may also be charged fees for having additional cards and for cash advances.

4. The grace period

The grace period is the time you have to pay off the balance you owe each month before you will have to pay interest. In most cases, the grace period starts on the billing date and ends a certain number of days after.

Under Canadian rules, if you pay off your balance in full each month, your card company must give you a grace period of at least 21 days on all new card purchases. You’ll lose your grace period if you don’t pay off your balance each month. To regain your grace period, you must pay off everything you owe on your card by the next due date.

5. Extra features

Many cards offer extra features like insurance. To be eligible, you must use your credit card to pay for your travel or merchandise. Other conditions might also apply. Check with your credit card issuer for more information.

FeatureWhat it usually covers
Travel accident insurance​Accidental death and dismemberment coverage when you, your spouse or any dependent children travel on a plane, train, bus or ship.
Trip interruption or cancellation insuranceTrip cancellation or interruption coverage if you can’t travel due to illness, injury or a death in your immediate family.
Travel medical insurance​Coverage of certain medical costs when you travel outside the province where you live.
Rental vehicle insuranceDamage or theft coverage on a rental vehicle, up to a certain dollar value.
Flight delay insurance​Coverage of some hotel, motel or restaurant expenses, up to a certain dollar amount, when your flight is delayed or you’re denied boarding, and no alternate transportation is available.
Baggage insuranceCoverage of loss or damage to your baggage while you’re in transit, up to specific limits.
Purchase protectionRepair or replacement coverage for merchandise, up to a certain limit, if the merchandise is accidentally damaged or stolen.
Extended warrantyThe same coverage as your original manufacturer’s warranty once the original warranty expires.

 

Use the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada's credit card selector tool to help you find the card that's right for you.


 

Content in this section is provided in partnership with Investor Education Fund, a non-profit organization founded and supported by the Ontario Securities Commission that provides unbiased and independent financial tools to help Canadians make better money decisions. To find out more, go to: GetSmarterAboutMoney.ca

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