Credit cards have the capacity to serve as valuable financial tools for anyone willing to use them in a responsible, disciplined manner. Knowledge is essential, however, when it comes to choosing the best cards and using them in the most effective way possible. Use the ideas in this piece, as part of your daily life and you will be well on your way to becoming a smart credit consumer.
To make the best decision regarding the best credit card for you, compare what the interest rate is amongst several credit card options. If a card has a high interest rate, it means that you will pay a higher interest expense on your card’s unpaid balance, which can be a real burden on your wallet.
Live by a zero balance goal, or if you can’t reach zero balance monthly, then maintain the lowest balances you can. Credit card debt can quickly spiral out of control, so go into your credit relationship with the goal to always pay off your bill every month. This is especially important if your cards have high interest rates that can really rack up over time.
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!
If you can’t get a credit card because of a spotty credit record, then take heart. There are still some options that may be quite workable for you. A secured credit card is much easier to get and may help you rebuild your credit record very effectively. With a secured card, you deposit a set amount into a savings account with a bank or lending institution – often about $500. That amount becomes your collateral for the account, which makes the bank willing to work with you. You use the card as a normal credit card, keeping expenses under that limit. As you pay your monthly bills responsibly, the bank may decide to raise your limit and eventually convert the account to a traditional credit card.
Look into the rewards that credit card companies offer. Find one that is going to pay you for making purchases on their card. If you are trying to maximize the rewards, charge everything you can on the card, but be sure to put enough cash back to pay the card off each month, in order to avoid losing your rewards to interest fees.
Keep one low-limit card in your wallet for emergency expenses only. All other cards should be kept at home, to avoid impulse buys that you can’t really afford. If you need a card for a large purchase, you will have to knowingly get it from your home and take it with you. This will give you extra time to think about what you are buying.
Every time you use a credit card, think about the extra expense that it will incur if you don’t pay it off immediately. Remember, the price of an item can quickly double if you use credit without paying for it quickly. If you keep this in mind, you are more likely to pay off your credit quickly.
Prior to applying for a credit card, try to build your credit up at least six months in advance. Then, be sure to take a look at your credit report. By doing this, you are more likely to get approved for the credit card and get a higher credit limit, as well.
It is a good rule of thumb to have two major credit cards, long-standing, and with low balances reflected on your credit report. You do not want to have a wallet full of credit cards, no matter how good you may be keeping track of everything. While you may be handling yourself well, too many credit cards equals a lower credit score.
Take advantage of security features that your credit card company might offer. These might include things like adding your picture to your credit card. This is an additional step that merchants can use to verify that you are the person using the card, allowing them to help you keep your card safe from criminal activity.
Most people would agree that credit cards have a useful role to play in everyday personal finances. The important thing to understand is that along with the convenience they can offer, comes the necessity of adhering to strict principles of appropriate usage. The tips and guidance contained in this article can provide an important framework for the wise management of your personal finances.