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Learn how to custom design your credit card

March 5, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
The new credit card rules are in effect, but you may still be feeling helpless about the card you're carrying and the terms that are set. Now, some companies are making it possible for you to pick your own rates and a lot more. Credit cards can be so convenient, the terms and conditions, not so much. But what if you could change that?

Now it's possible, thanks to some changes being made by several companies that allow you to custom design your card not just the look, but the actual terms.

"They're allowing you to design a card that suits your lifestyle, whether it's a fixed rate card or variable rate card, different reward programs, different time frames, different due dates, grace periods," said Adam Levin, from CreditCard.com.

Citigroup is allowing customers to transfer balances and pick their own interest rate based on how long they think it'll take to pay back.

Discover has a new CardBuilder tool which lets certain customers choose between a low introductory interest rate on purchases or a longer term length. American Express is testing ZYNC cards that allow users to customize their rewards and benefits, ranging from restaurant discounts to extra air miles.

"They are giving the consumer a little bit more control," said Levin.

Whether that translates into a good financial deal remains to be seen, according to Levin. He does have one word of warning.

"They're looking to enhance their marketing programs," said Levin. "In a lot of cases it's more marketing and less meat."

Card reps say they are giving customers what they want, more flexibility and control, allowing them to better manage their finances. Levin believes there is a benefit in thinking through your choices.

"People are thinking about the process more than ever before," said Levin. "They are engaging in it, and as a result of that, they are raising their level of financial literacy which is absolutely critical to avoid the mistakes of the past three years."

And many consumers like the idea of playing a bigger role in picking their plastic.

One last word of advice, no matter what card you choose make sure you read the fine print before you agree to anything.