While excessive credit card use can lead to debt, credit cards can also be useful tools for maintaining your financial health. When used responsibly, credit cards offer several advantages for your financial health. A credit card can be a great way for you to make important purchases, get perks and reward points, and build your credit history. To reap the rewards of credit card use while avoiding credit card debt, use your credit card responsibly. Learn the dos and don'ts of credit card use.
Use your credit card for making small purchases
Having a credit card that you use responsibly will help build your credit score. The key is to swipe responsibly. Don’t charge more than you can afford. Keep your balance low and be sure to make credit card payments regularly.
Choose the right credit card.
You can’t simply choose a credit card because of an appealing ad or a friend’s recommendation. Not all credit cards are created equal. Be sure to check the fees and interest and compare the rewards and perks you can get from one credit card to another.
Understand credit card fees
Credit cards almost always come with some type of fees. However, there are certain fees that are avoidable and those that aren’t. So be sure you understand the fees involved when you use your credit card.
Check your credit report and monthly billing statements.
Spend time each month checking your credit report. You can take advantage of an annual credit report from the three major credit bureaus; Equifax ®, Experian ®, and Transunion ®. By checking your credit report often, you can immediately address any discrepancies or errors in your report. The same principle applies to your billing statements. Whenever you find an error, don’t hesitate to dispute it with the responsible bureau.
Carry all your credit cards everywhere
Carrying your credit cards with you everywhere you go could tempt you into splurging on unnecessary purchases.
Go over your credit limit
Ideally, you should not be spending more than 20% of your credit card limit. Maxing out your credit cards frequently isn’t good for your credit score.
Miss your payments
Late payments can hurt your credit score. Use your calendar, or better yet your smartphone, to track your bill cycles. To stay better organized, download an app like Bills Monitor or Bill Minder to help you stay on top of your payments.
Carry a balance
An outstanding credit card balance will result in ballooning interest rates. And over time, you could find yourself overwhelmed with credit card debt. That’s why it’s important to commit to paying off your balance in full and on time each month.
With the convenience that credit cards offer, it’s easy to get into debt. While paying off debt can cause headaches and stress, and often requires sacrifice , if you’re proactive and committed, you can turn your finances around. Just remember to use your credit cards wisely, pay your bills in full regularly, and make it a habit to charge only what you can afford.