Many people use the Internet exclusively to pay bills, access their bank accounts, and perform other finance management tasks. The Internet has become the easiest way to access and explore credit as well. If you've spent any amount of time online at all, you've probably noticed sites that offer credit cards in addition to other financial products.
So, what's the deal?
Remember when your parents used to tell you that there's no such thing as a free lunch? Well, online credit card offers and other financial product offers, such as a free credit score, are rarely what they appear on the surface. Can you get your credit score through these sites? Sure, but you'll pay for it in the long run. Here's a tip: you are legally entitled to one free credit report each and every year, for free.
As long as you know what you're paying for what you'll be getting, you may be making the right decision. Be sure to read the fine print so that you know exactly what you're getting into. Make a hasty decision and you'll likely cost yourself some money.
The Free Credit Score
That flashing banner ad at the top of the screen may be screaming free credit score, but is it really free? Ads are a way to make money, not give things away for free. More often than not, those ads are a way for the advertiser to get you to buy something in exchange for something you may want.
For instance, that free credit score may be accessible only if you sign up for a credit card. Not a bad idea, you say? Check out the terms of the card issuer before you commit. Cards with high interest rates and hidden fees often use what appear to be great online deals to entice the credit novice to sign up. What good is a free credit score if you end up paying hundreds of dollars in fees for your new card?
The Sign up Now Draw
Ads enticing you to sign up for a credit card may be convenient, but what's in it for them? In most cases, online ads that direct you to sign up for a new credit card make money by receiving a finder's fee for each new account they bring to the credit card issuer. Although such practices don't really hurt you in any way, they don't help you either.
Ultimately, if you're shopping for a credit card and XYZ company is your choice anyway, go ahead and sign up for the card and get your free credit report. Conversely, if you're not in the market for a credit card, click the x and close the page. Remember, using credit wisely is all about making informed decisions. Check out what the offer entails and make your decision based on what you're getting for your time and money. A little research now may save you a ton of money down the road.