Using The Web to Get Your Credit Card

Not only can you find card deals on the Web, sign up for them and have your card in the mail to you the same day, you can also take care of card business online.

A good place to start: Go to a credit card search page and choose "online cards" from the top pull-down menu.

You can surf over to Visa , MasterCard, American Express, Discover, or Diner's Club to get a feel of how online card company sites work before you get down to the serious work of applying.

A lot of card companies have Web sites that let you do a lot of administration with digital ease. You can look at your statements, pay bills, talk to company problems solvers, download your information into your own computer and even download pre-prepared tax numbers.

Some will let you know if your statement has been sent, others will let you know if you are approaching a problem — maybe you're nearing your credit limit. Some will tell you how your perks (like frequent flier miles) are piling up.

Decide just how valuable these services are before you sign up with a card. If they are super convenient it may be worth paying a little extra for the card as you trade money for time.

But before you do, understand fully what each little online offer means. An online credit card bill payment may actually take longer, or cost more, than a snail mail payment for example.

Web Site Security

Also be sure to check you card company Web site for security — that's your private financial (and personal) information up there, so you need to be sure you go with a card operation that has a secure Web site. A site that does not tell you exactly how they protect your privacy may not be the best pick.

Some card companies on the Net offer you the chance of going completely paperless. It can be convenient, but there are those experts who argue that having a paper record may be a very good thing if you get into a dispute with your card company.

Using the Net offers you and the card company a lot of conveniences — but don't assume all that ease will translate into savings. Ask the same questions you would if you were on the phone or looking at information the card company had mailed to you. Find out ALL of the costs and potential costs associated with the card. The Net may offer no real savings, just a different way of doing business.