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What to consider before getting a gold or platinum card

Friday - 9/2/2011, 8:14am  ET

credit card (AP)
If you are making a big purchase, you might want to clear it with your issuer first/(AP)

Michelle Basch, wtop.com

UNDATED - People who didn't get gold and platinum credit card offers before are receiving those tempting offers in the mail.

If you are someone who's received one of those offers, beware of how much you have to charge to get the rewards and the fees that come with them.

With today's premium cards it's typical to get $250 or more in rewards for charging about $3,000 in first three months. But membership fees can run as high as $150 a year, so do some math before you make the leap.

Also watch out for no preset spending limits. That doesn't mean you have unlimited credit. It means the credit card company hasn't said what what the limit is. Watch out. The issuer can change that limit.

Most would-be premium cardholders are not looking for a new card right now, so credit card companies are offering those sweeter perks and are changing the market for them.

Pitches for these kinds of cards have more than tripled in the last year. Smartmoney.com reports credit card companies are now sending these premium credit card offers to people with credit scores in the 600s, instead of just to those with top-notch scores in the high 700s and up.

Platinum and gold cards tend to be a win-win for credit card companies because users are more likely to pay off their balances and merchants are often charged more to process payments made with these cards.

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(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)