The credit cards in your wallet, touch a multitude of various points within your life. From paying for gas at the pump, to showing up in your mailbox as a monthly bill, to impacting your credit scores and history, your credit cards have tremendous influence over your lifestyle. This only magnifies the importance of managing them well. Read on for some sound ideas on how to take control over your life through good credit card use.
Practice sound financial management by only charging purchases that you know you will be able to pay off. Credit cards can be a quick and dangerous way to rack up large amounts of debt that you may not be able to pay off. Don’t use them to live off of, if you are unable to come up with the funds to do so.
Set a budget when it comes to your credit cards. Many people think a budget is only for the bills you owe; however, you should also set a budget for credit card usage. Try not to think of credit cards as a source of extra money. Determine how much you can spend monthly on credit cards. Remain committed, and repay that amount religiously every month.
Read the credit card agreement thoroughly before you sign your agreement with the company. When you make your first purchase on a new credit card, the credit card company will usually consider your purchase as your acceptance to their terms. The fine print on the terms of the agreement is small, but it’s well worth the time and effort to read the agreement and understand it completely.
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.
Make sure each month you pay off your credit cards when they are due, and most importantly, in full when possible. If you do not pay them in full each month, you will end up having to have pay finance charges on the unpaid balance, which will end up taking you a long time to pay off the credit cards.
Consumers should shop around for credit cards before settling on one. Many different credit cards are available, each offering a different interest rate, annual fee, and some, even offering bonus features. By shopping around, an individual can find one that best meets their needs. They can also get the best deal when it comes to using their credit card.
When it is time to make monthly payments on your credit cards, be sure that you pay more than the minimum amount that you are required to pay. If you only pay the small amount required, it will take you longer to pay your debts off and the interest will be steadily increasing.
If you cannot afford to pay cash for something, think twice about charging it on your credit card. Big-ticket merchandise that you may have difficulties paying for should not be charged. Only charge things that you know you have the ability to pay for in the near future.
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.
Set a credit card budget. Include your credit when planning your monthly budget. Credit cards should not be viewed as “extra” money. Set aside an amount of money that you can pay each month on your credit cards, and follow through each month with the payment. Stick to that, and pay it off each month.
Many people, especially when they are younger, feel like credit cards are a type of free money. The fact is, they are exactly the opposite, paid money. Remember, every time you use your credit card, you are basically taking out a micro-loan with incredibly high interest. Never forget that you must repay this loan.
It goes without saying, perhaps, but always pay your credit cards on time. To be able to follow this simple rule, do not charge more than you afford to pay in cash. Credit card debt can quickly balloon out of control, especially, if the card carries a high interest rate. Otherwise, you will find that you cannot follow the simple rule of paying on time.
As was mentioned earlier in the article, your credit cards touch on a number of different points in your life. Even though the physical cards sit in your wallet, their presence is felt on your credit report and in your mailbox. Apply what you have learned from this article to take charge over this dominant thread through your lifestyle.