Today’s smart consumer knows how beneficial the use of credit cards can be, but is also aware of the pitfalls associated with excessive use. Even the most frugal of people use their credit cards sometimes, and we all have lessons to learn from them! Keep reading for valuable advice on using credit cards wisely.
Obtain a copy of your credit score, before you begin applying for a credit card. Credit card companies will determine your interest rate and conditions of credit by using your credit history, among other factors. Checking your credit score before you apply, will allow you to make sure you are getting the best rate possible.
Be wary of late payment charges. Many of the credit companies out there now charge high fees for making late payments. Most of them will also increase your interest rate to the highest legal interest rate. Before you choose a credit card company, be sure that you are fully aware of their policy regarding late payments.
In order to keep your spending under control, make a record of the purchases that you make with your credit card. Unless you commit to a spreadsheet or notebook, it can be easy to lose track of where your money went.
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.
Never give out your credit card number to anyone, unless you are the person that has initiated the transaction. If someone calls you on the phone asking for your card number in order to pay for anything, you should ask them to give you a way to contact them, so that you can arrange the payment at a better time.
Credit cards are often essential for young people or couples. Even if you don’t feel comfortable holding a large amount of credit, it is important to actually have a credit account and have some activity running through it. Opening and using a credit account helps you to build your credit score.
Take advantage of the freebies offered by your credit card company. Many companies have some sort of cash back or points system that is attached to the card you own. When you use these things, you can receive cash or merchandise, just for using your card. If your card does not offer an incentive like this, call your credit card company and ask if it can be added.
Each month when you receive your statement, take the time to look over it. Check all the information for accuracy. A merchant may have accidentally charged a different amount or may have submitted a double payment. You may also find that someone accessed your card and went on a shopping spree. Immediately report any inaccuracies to the credit card company.
Have a running list with credit card account numbers and lender’s emergency contact phone numbers. Stash this is a safe place like a safe, and keep it separate from the credit cards. This list will help you make quick contact with lenders if you ever misplace your credit card or if you get mugged.
Read the fine print to determine what conditions may affect your interest rate as they can change. Credit card issuers have several interest rates they can use at their discretion. If your interest rate is high, call your credit company and see if they will change it before you switch to a new card.
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.
A lot of banks no longer issue secured credit cards, but it is common to find them being offered through credit unions. If you would like to sign up for a secured credit card, you can open an account with a credit union and take advantage of whatever cards they offer.
If you feel like your credit card balances are getting out of control then get before you get to far in debt. There are many helpful services which can help such as Consumer Credit Counseling Service. CCCS is a non-profit organization that provides cost effective services to consumers who need a plan to repay their debts and get their credit score higher.
Before you go on an international vacation, check the credit card situation in your destination country. Certain cards are more useful than others in different countries. Do not be afraid to open a new account or get a specialized traveler’s card for the duration of your trip. Using your card, without hassles overseas, is worth expending a little effort in planning, before you leave.
Sign up for alerts from your credit card company. Most companies offer them and they can be conveniently sent via email or text. These alerts let you know when you are nearing your credit card limit, when you are close to the due date for your payment or even, when suspected fraudulent activities have occurred. They can really help you to manage your credit effectively.
As noted earlier, you have to think on your feet to make really good use of the services that credit cards provide, without getting into debt or hooked by high interest rates. Hopefully, this article has taught you a lot about the best ways to use your credit cards and the best ways not to!