It’s vital that you know how to use a credit card properly. If you’re not careful, your credit card could end up costing you. Use them responsibly and you’ll build a good credit history, misuse them and you could end up trapped in a cycle of high-interest fees, leading to difficult to beat debt.
We’ve listed five steps that’ll help you enjoy all the benefits of a credit card while minimizing all the risks.
How To Use A Credit Card Properly:
1. Always Pay Your Bills On Time
When it comes to using a credit card properly, the first piece of advice is to make sure you always pay your bills on time. Making on-time payments each month demonstrates to lenders that you can manage your money responsibly -something which will help to improve your credit score. Missing a monthly payment looks bad to the lenders, and will negatively affect your credit rating.
If you’re worried about paying your bills on time, you could set alerts to remind you. Or, you could enroll in automatic payments. This will allow the lender to automatically deduct the monthly balance from your account, and means you’ll never miss a payment again.
2. Pay More Than The Minimum Amount
Another tip that’ll help you use your credit card properly is to pay off as much of your outstanding balance as you can each month. Not just the minimum payments.
A responsible way to use your credit card each month is therefore to make a few purchases each month and pay your bill in full and on time. By paying your bill in full each month you avoid paying any interest fees, whilst successfully building credit.
3. Don’t Max Out Your Credit Card
With every credit card comes a credit limit. This credit limit allows you to spend money that you do not have. It can be tempting to spend your whole credit limit, but maxing out your credit card is not a great idea.
Where possible you should avoid using a credit card for large payments that’ll take a long time to pay off. These payments could lead to debt that you might find difficult to shake.
If you’re trying to use your credit card properly, try setting yourself your own credit limit. Think about how much money you’ll be able to pay back in full at the end of the month, and try to not spend more than this.
4. Avoid Withdrawing From Cash Machines
You should avoid using your credit card to withdraw money from a cash machine at all costs. If you do, you’ll incur high interest charges from the day you withdraw the money until the day you pay the money back.
Using a credit card to withdraw money can also negatively affect your credit score, because it leads lenders to believe that you didn’t have enough money in a current account.
For more information on different types of bank fees and charges you can avoid, check out this article on the Emma blog.
5. Read All The Terms & Conditions
You should always read the terms and conditions before getting involved with any financial product, not just credit cards. When it comes to credit cards, start by researching the different types of credit cards. You’re then going to want to understand what fees you need to pay, how each of your payments works, and what the interest rates are. This information should all be available on your credit card statement and knowing this can help you use your credit card properly.
Not understanding the fees, interest rates and payment schedule on your credit card can lead to high-interest debt, so make sure you’re clued up.
There are lots of benefits of having a credit card. They can help you build good credit. They offer greater consumer protection than other bank cards. And many offer rewards like cashback, or air miles.
If your spending gets out of hand, monthly payments and high-interest rates can become a problem. Downloading an app like Emma could help you manage your credit more effectively. Connect your credit cards to Emma and we’ll help you set budgets, track your spending and stay within your limits. Head to our Save Money tab and you can even compare deals on a range of credit cards, ensuring you pick a card that is best suited to you and your finances.