There can be no doubt that credit cards have the potential to be either useful financial vehicles or dangerous temptations that undermine your financial future. In order to make credit cards work for you, it is important to understand how to use them intelligently. Keep these tips in mind, and a solid financial future can be yours.
Don’t fall for the introductory rates on credit cards when opening a new one. Be sure to ask the creditor what the rate will go up to after, the introductory rate expires. Sometimes, the APR can go up to 20-30% on some cards, an interest rate you definitely don’t want to be paying once your introductory rate goes away.
Do not accept the first credit card offer that you receive, regardless of how good it sounds. While you may be tempted to jump on an offer, you do not want to take any chances that you will end up signing up for a card and then, seeing a better deal shortly after from another company.
Emergency, business or travel purposes, is all that a credit card should really be used for. You want to keep credit open for the times when you need it most, not when purchasing luxury items. You never know when an emergency will crop up, so it is best that you are prepared.
Pay close attention to your credit balance. Know what your limit is and how much you’re spending, you don’t want any surprises. If for some reason you exceed your limit, you will be liable for large fees that you might not know about. It will take longer for you to pay the balance down if you keep going over your limit.
If you are determined to stop using credit cards, cutting them up is not necessarily the best way to do it. Just because the card is gone doesn’t mean the account is no longer open. If you get desperate, you may ask for a new card to use on that account, and get trapped in the same cycle of charging you wanted to get out of in the first place!
Make sure that you watch your statements closely. If you see charges that should not be on there, or that you feel you were charged incorrectly for, call customer service. If you cannot get anywhere with customer service, ask politely to speak to the retention team, in order for you to get the assistance you need.
If you are going to make purchases over the Internet you need to make all of them with the same credit card. You do not want to use all of your cards to make online purchases because that will increase the chances of you becoming a victim of credit card fraud.
Use a credit card to pay for a recurring monthly expense that you already have budgeted for. Then, pay that credit card off each and every month, as you pay the bill. Doing this will establish credit with the account, but you don’t have to pay any interest, if you pay the card off in full each month.
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.
Find out if the interest rate on a new card is the regular rate, or if it is offered as part of a promotion. Many people do not realize that the rate that they see at first is promotional, and that the real interest rate may be a significant amount more than that.
If you have gotten in over your head with credit, and have no idea how you will pay back your debt, don’t give up just yet. Many companies now have hardship programs which you can enter, that will lower your interest, set you up on a payment plan you can afford, and save you the damage of bankruptcy or litigation.
Always try to find a credit card that does not charge an annual fee. Some credit cards that charge annual fees try to entice users with bonus offers or cash back incentives. While these types of rewards might be tempting, really think about whether or not they are worth the annual fee you will be forced to pay. In many cases, they are not.
If you aren’t using a card, it is better to close it. You risk identity theft if you keep them open. Credit card providers can also charge large annual dormancy fees for unused credit card accounts.
If your credit card company offers to raise your spending allowance, think carefully before you accept. A higher spending allowance on your cards raises your possible debt to income ratio, and that can harm your credit score. If you do not need the higher spending allowance, ask your creditor to keep your balance where it is, instead.
Credit cards can offer convenience, flexibility and control when used appropriately. If you want to understand the role credit cards can play in a smart financial plan, you need to take the time to research the topic thoroughly. The advice in this piece offers a great starting point for building a secure financial profile.