With the way the economy is these days, you really need to be smart about how you spend every penny. Credit cards are a great way to make purchases you may not otherwise be able to, but when not used properly, they can get you into financial trouble real quickly. Read on for some great tips for using your credit cards wisely.
Be sure to limit the number of credit cards you hold. Having too many credit cards with balances can do a lot of harm to your credit. Many people think they would only be given the amount of credit that is based on their earnings, but this is not true.
You should always try to negotiate the interest rates on your credit cards instead of agreeing to any amount that is always set. If you get a lot of offers in the mail from other companies, you can use them in your negotiations, to try to get a much better deal.
Shop around for a card. Interest rates and terms can vary widely. There are also various types of cards. There are secured cards, cards that double as telephone calling cards, cards that let you either charge and pay later or they take out that charge from your account, and cards used only for charging catalog merchandise. Carefully look at the offers and know what you need.
Take advantage of the fact that you can get a free credit report yearly from three separate agencies. Make sure to get all three of them, so that you can be sure there is nothing going on with your credit cards that you may have missed. There may be something reflected on one that was not on the others.
If you have the money to do so, pay your entire balance on your credit statement monthly. In an ideal world, you would only charge what you could comfortably afford in cash. Avoid finance charges by paying the balance in full and improve your credit rating at the same time.
Whenever you are considering a new credit card, you should always avoid applying for credit cards that have high interest rates. While interest rates compounded annually may not seem all that much, it is important to note that this interest can add up, and add up fast. Make sure you get a card with reasonable interest rates.
Always know what your utilization ratio is on your credit cards. This is the amount of debt that is on the card versus your credit limit. For instance, if the limit on your card is $500 and you have a balance of $250, you are using 50% of your limit. It is recommended to keep your utilization ratio of around 30%, in order to keep your credit rating good.
It should be obvious, but many people fail to follow the simple tip of paying your credit card bill on time each month. Late payments can reflect poorly on your credit report, you may also be charged hefty penalty fees, if you don’t pay your bill on time.
Do not use your credit cards to pay for gas, clothes or groceries. You will find that some gas stations will charge more for the gas, if you choose to pay with a credit card. It’s also not a good idea to use cards for these items because these items are things you need often. Using your cards to pay for them can get you into a bad habit.
Research all of the charges that a credit card company may include with an offer. Look beyond interest rates. Some companies may charge application fees, cash advance fees or service charges, which may make you think twice about having the card.
It is very important that you save your credit card receipts. You need to compare them with your monthly statement. Companies do make mistakes and sometimes, you get charged for things you did not purchase. So make sure you promptly report any discrepancies to the company that issued the card.
If you get into trouble, and cannot pay your credit card bill on time, the last thing you want to do is to just ignore it. Call your credit card company immediately, and explain the issue to them. They may be able to help put you on a repayment plan, delay your due date, or work with you in ways that won’t be as damaging to your credit.
It is a good rule of thumb to have two major credit cards, long-standing, and with low balances reflected on your credit report. You do not want to have a wallet full of credit cards, no matter how good you may be keeping track of everything. While you may be handling yourself well, too many credit cards equals a lower credit score.
As stated previously, you really have no choice but to be a smart consumer who does his or her homework in this economy. Everything just seems so unpredictable and precarious that the slightest change could topple any person’s financial world. Hopefully, this article has you on the right path in terms of using credit cards the right way!