Credit Cards

Nearly 90% of Canadians use credit cards regularly for online purchases, everyday
expenses, travel, and emergencies.

But selecting the right one can be a challenge. Do you choose the lowest interest rates
or focus on the rewards? With so many different types of credit cards available,
making an informed decision is difficult.

We’re here to help

At Lend for All, we want to make sure every Canadian is getting the credit card that
best suits their lifestyle and financial goals. After all, you shouldn’t have to be an
economics major to build credit and secure your financial health.

How to Choose a Credit Card

Travel a lot? Looking for a way to buy online items? Trying to build a credit score?
Depending on how you will use it, different types of credit cards will offer various
benefits and features.

Here are some common situations and some tips on finding the perfect credit card for
your financial goals:

1. You plan on carrying a balance

Opt for a credit card with a low-interest rate (APR). High interest rates can quickly add
up if you don’t pay off your balance each month, so a low-interest card is crucial for
keeping your debt manageable.

2. You travel frequently

Look for a credit card that offers redeemable travel rewards, such as points or miles
for flights, hotels, and other travel expenses. Additionally, consider cards that provide
travel insurance, including trip cancellation and interruption coverage, to give you
added protection.

3. You want to earn cash back

Cash-back credit cards reward you for everyday purchases. These cards typically
offer a percentage of specific categories like groceries, gas, or dining, allowing you to
make money while you spend it.

4. You shop online often

Choose a card with robust security features and purchase protections. Some cards
offer perks like extended warranties, return protection, and fraud alerts, which can
provide added security and convenience for online shoppers

5. You’re building (or rebuilding) credit

Look for a secured credit card. These cards may have lower credit limits or require a
security deposit, but can help you establish a positive payment history and improve
your credit score over time.

6. You want to maximize rewards

Some cards have comprehensive rewards programs with flexible redemption options.
They allow you to earn points on all purchases, which can be redeemed for travel,
merchandise, or statement credits, giving rewards you can actually use.

7. You’re a business owner

A business credit card with features like expense management tools, higher credit
limits, and rewards on office supplies, travel, or other business-related purchases can
help limit your overhead.

8. You want to support a charity

There are credit card programs that support organisations like the Red Cross, Cancer
Research Society, MADD, and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. If you are in a
strong financial position and would rather donate your rewards to charity, these can be
a great way to help those in need.

How to Apply for a Credit Card in Canada

Once you’ve decided which type of credit card best suits your needs, it’s time to apply!
Here’s a short guide on how to apply for a credit card in Canada:

1. Check your credit score 

Financial institutions use your credit score to determine your creditworthiness. A higher score can increase your chances of approval and may also help you secure better terms and rates. 

Get a free credit score check with Lend for All today. 

2. Compare different offers

Don’t settle for the first offer you come across. Use comparison tools to evaluate interest rates, rewards programs, and fees. This ensures you pick the card that aligns with your financial goals.

3. Gather necessary documents

Depending on the credit card and financial institution, you’ll need documents like:

  • Proof of identity (driver’s licence or passport)
  • Proof of income (pay stubs or tax returns)
  • Social Insurance Number (SIN)
  • Banking details

Make sure to have these on hand before you start the application process. 

4. Apply online

Most banks and financial institutions offer the convenience of online applications. Visit the website and complete the application form with accurate information. You can visit a local branch for in-person application assistance if you prefer face-to-face interaction.

5. Wait for approval

Approval times can vary. Online applications might receive instant decisions, while others could take a few business days. Be prepared for potential follow-up questions or requests for additional documentation.

6. Activate your card

Once approved, you’ll receive your credit card by mail. Follow the instructions provided to activate it. Usually, this involves calling a toll-free number or activating online through the issuer’s website.

7. Understand the terms and conditions

Read the fine print. Make sure you understand the interest rates, fees, repayment terms, and rewards programs. Being well-informed helps prevent any unexpected charges and helps you maximize your card benefits.

Pros and Cons of Credit Cards

Credit cards can be powerful financial tools, but they aren’t magic. Understanding the different advantages and drawbacks can help you make an informed decision about whether or not to use them, and how to use them responsibly.

 

Pros

  • Convenience: Credit cards are widely accepted, making them a convenient way to pay for goods and services both online and offline. They eliminate the need to carry large amounts of cash.
  • Building credit history: Responsible credit card use can help you build or improve your credit score. Timely payments and keeping balances low contribute positively to your credit history.
  • Rewards and benefits: Many credit cards offer rewards programs, such as cashback, travel points, or store discounts. These benefits can provide additional value for your everyday spending.
  • Purchase protection: Credit cards often come with built-in protections like fraud detection, extended warranties, and return protection, giving you extra security and peace of mind.
  • Emergency funding: A credit card can be a handy financial backup for unexpected expenses or emergencies until you can access other funds.
  • Grace period: Most credit cards offer a grace period on purchases where interest isn’t charged if you pay off your balance in full by the due date. This can effectively function as an interest-free loan.

Cons

  • High interest rates: If you carry a balance from month to month, interest can accumulate quickly. Some credit cards have extremely high interest rates, especially on outstanding balances.
  • Potential for debt: It’s easy to overspend with a credit card because it doesn’t directly deduct money from your bank account. Overspending can lead to accumulating more debt than you can reasonably pay off and a bad credit score.
  • Fees: Credit cards can come with annual fees, late payment fees, foreign transaction fees, and more. These can add up and reduce the overall value of your rewards.
  • Impact on credit score: Mismanaging a credit card by making late payments, maxing out your credit limit, or applying for multiple cards in a short period can negatively impact your credit score.
  • Complicated terms: Some credit cards come with terms that can be confusing or misleading. Understanding all the details is essential, from interest rates to how rewards are earned and redeemed.
  • Minimum payment trap: Making only the minimum payment each month can keep you in debt for a long time and result in substantial interest charges, as most of your payment goes toward interest rather than the principal balance.

Credit Cards Frequently Asked Questions

For new users, a secured credit card can be an excellent option. They are easier to get approved for if you have little or no credit history and can help you build your credit score with responsible use. 

Additionally, student credit cards designed for college or university students often have lower credit limits and fewer fees, making them ideal for beginners.

To get a quick approval ensure you have a good credit score by paying your bills on time and keeping any other debt low. Avoid applying for multiple credit cards simultaneously, which can negatively impact your score. 

A steady source of income and a stable employment history can also boost your approval prospects.

If your application is denied, don’t worry. First, find out why. Issuers are required to provide this information. Address any issues, such as improving your credit score or reducing outstanding debts

You can also consider applying for a secured credit card or finding a co-signer with good credit to improve your chances of approval.

Credit card rewards programs allow you to earn points, miles, or cash back on your purchases. The specifics vary depending on the card. For example, some cards offer a flat rate of rewards on all purchases, while others provide higher reward rates in specific categories like dining, travel, or groceries.

A balance transfer involves moving an existing credit card debt to another credit card, usually at a lower interest rate or with a promotional 0% APR for a specific period. It can be a good idea if you aim to save on interest and pay down debt more quickly.

However, be aware of balance transfer fees, which are usually a percentage of the amount transferred. Also, make sure you can pay off the balance before the promotional period ends, as the interest rate may increase significantly afterwards.