Tips And Treats
Credit Card Tips
Are You Ready For a Credit Card? You may already have a credit card, but if you don't, you can be sure there will be many opportunities to get one.
Like loans, using credit cards can help you build a positive credit history. This can enhance your ability to receive a private student loan, buy a car, rent an apartment, get a job, and eventually, try to buy a house.
Last Updated - 30th September 2005
The Advantages of Credit Cards
- Security in emergencies
- Reduced need to carry cash or checks;
- Enhanced personal responsibility and independence.
- There are many advantages to having a credit card such as being able to purchase items online and make hotel and car reservations. The way you handle your purchases should be taken seriously.
How Credit Cards are Billed
- Unlike repayment on a traditional loan, such as a student or car loan, credit cards do not allow you to spread the amount you owe over a fixed period of time. Instead, you are required to make a minimum monthly payment, which is the smallest amount you can pay and still meet your cardholder agreement (the terms you agree to when signing up for the card).
- The minimum payment is usually 2 percent of your outstanding balance. Unfortunately, by paying only the minimum each month instead of paying off your entire balance, your debt will continue to grow. Many credit card companies also charge late fees (usually 2 percent of the outstanding balance), and higher interest rates on cash advances.
When making your decision about a credit card, ask yourself the following:
- Do I need a credit card?
- Can I afford a credit card?
- Will I be able to pay off my balance each month?
If you decide to apply for a credit card, be a smart consumer and shop around. Look for a company that offers the following:
- Low interest rates or finance charges (combined, they are called APR)
- Low or no annual fees
- A grace period (time during which no payments are due) before finance charges are posted
- Other benefits including purchase warranties, free gas, airline miles, etc.
Helpful Hints on Using Credit Cards
Credit cards can be helpful in emergencies or if you are able to pay off the balance each month, but be wary! Credit cards can also get you into trouble. Here are some helpful hints on using credit cards:
- Watch out for carrying balances. Some cards charge 20% or more in interest. (Interest is usually called "Finance Charges" on your statements.)
- Look at your statement carefully and call the company right away if you have any questions.
- There is usually a large finance charge for cash advances and interest begins accruing as soon as you take the money out, not after the next statement closing.
- Be aware of annual fees.
- Watch out for introductory offers! When you receive a credit card offer in the mail with a low rate, it may expire in three or six months. Note when and by how much the rate increases after the "introductory offer" expires. You may not remember when it expires, but the card company will.
- Think about your purchases. If you are not able to afford the purchase now, chances are you won't be able to afford it in a month when the credit card bill comes in!
- If you get behind Cut your recreational expenses.
- Call your credit card company. They may be willing to work out a repayment schedule with you
- Develop a budget and stick with it! Everyone makes mistakes, but don't prolong yours. Bad credit will follow you and hurt your chances for mortgages or loans down the road.
- Look into credit counseling services. Many offer educational programs or individual counseling sessions to help you get back on track.
- Credit cards are just like a loan-you have to pay what you owe - so try and not overcharge more than you can afford to pay.
- Keep track of how much you spend on your credit card. Remember that incidental and impulse purchases add up fast.
- Save your credit card receipts. Compare them with your monthly bill. Promptly report problems to the company that issued the card.
- Never lend your credit cards to anyone.
- Owing more than you can repay can damage your credit rating. That can make it hard to finance a car, rent an apartment, get insurance or even get a job.
- Pay your credit card bill on time, and in full when possible. If you don't, you'll have to pay finance charges on the unpaid balance-and it takes forever to get caught up if you just pay the minimum.
Reduce your monthly repayments for 6 months (typically - will vary with card issuer). Consider:
- Is there a charge for transferring? Usually 1% with a minimum fee of about £2.
- What is the %APR once the %0 rate finishes?
- What is the % balance monthly repayment? This can vary from 2% to 5% of your outstanding balance. If low repayments are a priority then 2% sounds attractive, but you normally pay a higher %APR for this privilege.
Low Rate Balance Transfers
A credit card issuer may offer a permanently low interest rate on balance transfers. If you have a large outstanding balance which you cannot repay within the 0% period offered by other card issuers then this option can save you money. You must calculate your repayments and decide.
Interest Free Credit Cards
Typically 6 months interest free period for purchases. Useful if you want to make a major purchase. If you do not expect to pay off the balance within the interest free period then check the regular interest rate.
Cash Back Credit Cards
If you normally pay your credit card balance in full every month then there are some good deals about. Rewards can be in the form of air miles, points, or cashback. %APR do not tend to be the lowest with this type of card.
Disclaimer: The Credit Card Tips / Information presented and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of Tips And Treats . com and/or its partners.
© Tips And Treats. An Information Based Website (2005-2018)