Credit cards, a convenient system of payment, give individuals a chance to purchase anything of value if cash is not available or if their budget is limited. However, with the number of credit card firms on the market, it's understandable that consumers can get confused about which card he or she should apply for.

Ideally, one should opt for a combination of low introductory rates and reasonable percentages for standard rates, balance transfers and cash advances. Credit card companies offer various figures, some higher or lower than others, for every category of interest. The object is to achieve a balance that reflects your monthly income, interests and spending habits.

Perhaps the most versatile option is a card with a particularly low standard rate, since it covers most expenditure on credit. Credit cards with 0% interest are the types of deal you should look for; low interest rates mean lower credit card dues, which can therefore provide some flexibility in your spending.

One of the first things you should enquire about when applying for a credit card is the annual percentage rate (APR). APR reflects the interest rate for a whole year that is charged on your balance until it is paid in full. It is applied monthly, so if you do not pay your balance you'll see incremental increases in the amount owed.

While applying, you'll come across a couple of terms attached to the APR: fixed rate and variable rate. In the comprehensive world of credit, you should know that a single word or figure makes a world of difference, and in the case of the APR it could be the difference between effective credit use and being buried beneath a ton of debt.

What do these terms refer to, then? First, a fixed rate pertains to an unchanged rate of interest for the duration of a loan or credit card subscription, which means you'll be paying the same amount each month. Sometimes rate changes may occur, but you'll be duly notified by the company more than a month before, giving you enough time to prepare your finances. Second, a variable rate is subject to change; this has its benefits, as the rate can benefit the consumer, but it is normally safer applying for a card with a fixed rate for obvious reasons.

A good practice before applying for a card is to ask yourself how you intend to use it. Prompt payers can secure charge cards, which are appealing because of the rewards and amount of money you can borrow monthly. They can also apply for credit cards with high credit limits, provided they have exceptional credit activity for years. Credit firms will assess their credit history upon application and decide which card type or credit limit suits them perfectly.

If you're looking to switch your balance to a lower rate, consider applying for 0% balance transfer cards. The balance from your old card will be transferred to the new one. With the low introductory rates given by credit firms for balance transfer cards, your debt will be more tolerable. The introductory rate eventually expires, though. In light of this, it's wise to enquire with the credit firm on how long the introductory period will last and what the interest rate will be after.

Another factor to consider is the grace period, which pertains to the duration in which the balance must be paid before interest is charged. Grace periods differ in length per card. Lengthy ones give you more time to come up with enough cash, not just to pay off your credit card bill but also to prepare your finances at least for your basic needs.

Ideally, then, the first things to look for in a credit card is a low interest and a lengthy grace period.

Credit card firms offer benefits and rewards in an effort to attract more customers. For instance, points are awarded through every credit purchase and these are based on the item's value; when the points reach certain amounts, corresponding prizes are awarded by the credit firm. You can also avail freebies and discounts in many commercial establishments.

Your ability to qualify for a credit card, of course, depends on your credit rating. Credit rating, which reflects your track record in using credit and making prompt payments, serves as a basis for banks and companies in providing you with credit card deals. The truth is that firms may reject applications if the applicant has a low credit score. There are companies that specifically accommodate those with unfavourable ratings, but their offers pale in comparison to the attractive deals provided by big names in the credit card industry to individuals with favourable credit ratings.

Picking the right credit card is something you need to put a fair amount of thought into; there are a number of different credit firms offering a variety of card types and it's up to you to select the most suitable one for you. Comparing credit deals is as easy as visiting the websites of credit card companies. These sites contain all the necessary information for each card type that a company offers.

Ultimately, the best credit card for you is the one that's the most appropriate for your level of income and the available cash in your account. Once you've selected your ideal card it's just a matter of applying for it online and then waiting to be approved by the credit card company in question.