Credit Card Lab at Captial One

So, here is something interesting. Capital One has a “credit card lab” on their website. Basically, the way it works is, you get a screen with several options available to you. As you choose the options you want, some of the other options get grayed out because you can’t choose them any more. For example, this is the screen if you choose “Excellent Credit”

Capital One Card Lab

You can choose all kinds of things like how many points you earn per dollar charged, and even “Additional Rewards” like a 25% Annual Bonus, or 0% APR on Balance Transfers.

What makes this so interesting is you can see exactly how your choices impact the remainder of your card features.


Credit Cards and Free Lunch

It is often said that there is no such thing as a free lunch. With the Capital One Credit Card Lab, you can see exactly that. Choosing 2 points per $1 spent for example, eliminates your ability to get the lowest interest rate, all “additional rewards” and even requires you to select an annual fee of $39.

Capital One Credit Card Lab Screenshot

By playing around with the various options you can see two things. One, what kind of card could you build if you wanted to? And, two, how much certain features are worth.

How to Use Credit Card Builder

So, how do you take maximum advantage of this tool?

  1. Select $0 Annual Fee first — Nothing on that screen is worth paying an annual fee for unless you have a HUGE balance. Then, the 7.9% APR might be worth it, but make sure you do the math first.
  2. Set A Specific Use – Decide on what you want to use this card for. For example, if you used this card exclusively to purchase all your gas and groceries, you could select 1% cash back and 2x Rewards on all Gas & Groceries.
  3. Ignore Intro Rates – If you aren’t going to be transferring any balances to your new card, don’t bother wasting features on the transfer features. Instead choose the lowest interest rate.
  4. Lowest Interest Rate – It goes without saying that you want the lowest interest rate, but if you pay off your cards every month does it really matter what the interest rate is? Get all the features you want and take the higher rate. Just make sure to use a different card if you ever have to carry a balance.
  5. Comparison Shop – One of the hardest things to do is compare rewards credit cards. Now, you have a good tool to do so. When you see an offer that looks interesting, get all the details and then come to the Credit Card Lab. Try and match the features. If the offer you have comes up better than what you can get here, then it might be a good deal. If you can beat it with the Credit Card Lab, then keep shopping.

Monitor Your Credit Score

Before making any changes to your credit lineup, it is a good idea to get your credit score, and then monitor its reaction to your new card. Sign up for a 90-day (or more) free trial offer with a temporary credit card number that expires before the 90-day period is up (so it can’t automatically renew) and make sure to cancel before your free trial period is up.

Get your credit score before you apply. Then apply and check your score for as long as you can during the trial period to see the affect. If you need to monitor for longer, sign up for a different trial offer until you know how this new credit line will affect you.

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