Credit card use can be a tricky thing, given high interest rates, hidden charges and changes in laws. As a consumer, you need to be educated and aware of the best practices when it comes to using your credit cards. Read on for some valuable tips on how to use your 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.
You should try to have at least two open cards or possibly three open credit accounts. That works to build a stable credit history, particularly if you repay balances in full each month. However, if you have over three, a lender may think that looks bad when pulling up your personal credit bureau report.
If you have credit cards be sure to check your monthly statements thoroughly for errors. Everyone makes errors, and this applies to credit card companies as well. To prevent from paying for something you did not purchase you should save your receipts through the month and then compare them to your statement.
Create a spending budget for your credit cards. It is important to budget your income, and it is equally important to budget your credit card spending habits. Your credit card is not extra money, so never view it this way. Set aside an amount of money that you can pay each month on your credit cards, and follow through each month with the payment. Adhere to your budget, and pay the balance off every month.
Take the time to play around with numbers. Before you go out and put a pair of fifty dollar shoes on your credit card, sit with a calculator and figure out the interest costs. It may make you second-think the idea of buying those shoes that you think you need.
Instead of just blindly applying for cards, hoping for approval, and letting credit card companies decide your terms for you, know what you are in for. One way to effectively do this is, to get a free copy of your credit report. This will help you know a ballpark idea of what cards you might be approved for, and what your terms might look like.
Every time you decide to apply for a new credit card, your credit report is checked and an “inquiry” is made. This stays on your credit report for up to two years and too many inquiries, brings your credit score down. Therefore, before you start wildly applying for different cards, research the market first and choose a few select options.
Many companies advertise that you can transfer balances over to them and carry a lower interest rate. This sounds appealing, but you need to carefully consider your options. Think about it. If a company consolidates a higher amount of money onto one card and then the interest rate spikes, you are going to have a hard time making that payment. Know all the terms and conditions, and be careful.
An important tip for saving money on gas is to never carry a balance on a gas credit card or when charging gas on another credit card. Plan to pay it off each month, otherwise, you will not only pay today’s outrageous gas prices, but interest on the gas, as well.
If you’re not pleased with the interest rate, ask your bank to change it. If they can not lower your rate, look around for a card with a better rate. If you locate one, go with this company, as they can better help your needs.
It is very important when you get a credit card to keep the account open as long as you can. It is unwise to move to different issuers unless you have to. The length of your history with a creditor is one factor in your credit score. You must keep an account open to build credit.
Do not go on a spending spree just because you have a new card with a zero balance available to you. This is not free money, it is money that you will eventually have to pay back and going overboard with your purchases will only end up hurting you in the long run.
Don’t place your credit card number on anything that is visible to the public. This includes on the backs of postcards, on the outside of envelopes, and on publicly visible (and unsecure) areas of social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Sharing your information on mail or on social media can lead to serious credit theft.
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.
Once you’ve closed your account associated with your credit card, remember to destroy the card completely. It is not enough to throw it in a desk drawer or in the garbage. They card should be destroyed completely. If the card is left intact and forgotten, it could wind up in the wrong hands and used to open another account in your name.
Hopefully, this article has provided you with some helpful guidance in the use of your credit cards. Getting into trouble with them is much easier than getting out of trouble, and the damage to your good credit standing can be devastating. Keep the wise advice of this article in mind, the next time you are asked if you are paying in cash or credit.