Credit cards are almost a necessity of modern life, but the easy credit that they offer can get many people in trouble. Knowing how to use credit cards responsibly is a key part of your financial education. The tips in this article will help make sure that you do not abuse your credit cards.
Know what interest rate your card comes with. You should completely understand the interest rate prior to signing up for a credit card. You can end up paying a lot more if you don’t make yourself aware of it. If you are paying a high interest rate, you might not ever be able to pay the bill completely every month.
If you have a credit card with high interest you should consider transferring the balance. Many credit card companies offer special rates, including 0% interest, when you transfer your balance to their credit card. Do the math to figure out if this is beneficial to you before you make the decision to transfer balances.
Be smart when it comes to the use of credit cards. Limit your purchases to things you know you can afford. When you use the card, you have to know when and how you are going to pay the debt down before you swipe, so that you do not carry a balance. If you carry a balance, your debt will grow and the total balance will be harder to pay off.
It may not be a wise idea to apply for a credit card when you first meet the age requirement. Although many people do this, it’s in your best interest to learn more about how credit works before you make this decision. Try to experience a few other things in life before jumping into the lending and borrowing arena.
If you have several credit cards with balances on each, consider transferring all of your balances to one, lower-interest credit card. Almost everyone gets mail from various banks offering low or even zero balance credit cards if you transfer your current balances. These lower interest rates usually last for 6 months or a year. You can save a lot of interest and have one lower payment each month!
It is best to stay away from charging holiday gifts and other holiday-related expenditures. If you can’t afford it, either save to buy what you want or just buy less-expensive gifts. Your best friends and relatives will understand that you are on a budget. You can always ask ahead of time for a limit on gift amounts or draw names. The bonus is that you won’t be spending the next year paying for this year’s Christmas!
Try setting up a monthly, automatic payment for your credit cards, in order to avoid late fees. The amount you need for your payment can be automatically withdrawn from your bank account and it will take the worry out of getting your monthly payment in on time. It can also save money on stamps!
Know your credit history before applying for new cards. The new card’s credit limit and interest rate will depend on how bad or good your credit history is. Avoid any surprises by getting a report on your credit from each of the three credit agencies once a year. You can get it free once per year from AnnualCreditReport.com, a government-sponsored agency.
It is a good idea to avoid walking around with any credit cards on you that already have a balance. If the card balance is zero or very close to it, then that is a better idea. Walking around with a card with a large balance will only tempt you to use it and make things worse.
If you pay your credit card bill with a check each month, make sure you send that check out as soon as you get your bill so that you avoid any finance charges or late payment fees. This is good practice and will help you create a good payment history too.
Restaurant and grocery charges on a charge card may take longer to show on your statement which can be deceiving when it comes to knowing the amount that you have available. This can result in more fees on your account if you spend over your limit due to the groceries or restaurant bills not posting fast enough.
Make a spending plan. When carrying a credit card on you and shopping without a plan, you have a higher chance of impulse buying or overspending. To avoid this, try planning out your shopping trips. Make lists of what you plan to buy, then decide on a charging limit. This plan will keep on track and help you resist splurging.
Having access to credit makes it much easier to manage your finances, but as you have seen, you need to do so with care. It is all too easy to over-extend yourself with your credit cards. Keep the tips you have learned from this article in mind, so that you can be a responsible credit card user.