MEMPHIS (WMC TV) - First rule of shopping credit cards: shop LOCAL BANKS FIRST.
Local banks usually set aside great credit card offers for their customers. In fact, I carry a Platinum Premier VISA card from First Tennessee. Since I'm a First Tennessee customer, I earned a low 3.9 percent APR introductory rate, and then it bumped to seven percent. That's still a very competitive rate. No fees, no strings and great customer service.
Since I'm a Costco member, I also carry Costco's TrueEarnings American Express card that doubles as both a rewards card and my membership card. Three percent cash back on restaurant purchases; three percent cash back on the first $3,000 in gas purchases; two percent cash back on travel expenses and one percent cash back on virtually everything else. Since I buy most of my stuff in bulk from Costco, this one's a no-brainer.
On Action News 5 at 6, I mentioned three cards recommended by Curtis Arnold of www.cardratings.com. Those are indeed competitive cards, but they're not "cookie-cutter" cards that fit everyone.
After shopping card offers from your local bank, you should shop these sites:
CreditKarma.com arranges card offers by credit score. If you know your score -- or have a general idea where your score falls in the range (300 to 800, www.myfico.com), you can shop cards by credit score. The lower your scorer, the more likely you'll face either higher rates or annual fees.
Since the CARD Act is law, now's a good time to try calling your credit card's customer service agents to see if they will lower your APR. Here's the link to my lower-credit-rate "script" to use with a customer service agent, plus details about the CARD law's protections: