Managing Your Credit Cards

Wow! Just sign your name and you can buy whatever you want! Credit cards are fun, useful and… potentially your worst budget buster. How do you choose the right card? What do you know about your responsibilities as a card holder? Do you know how much interest will accumulate if you can't pay? Keep your finances in good order by learning more about your credit cards.

The Basics:

  • Because there are many types of cards out there, you can shop around to find the card that is right for you. What are the interest rates and minimum monthly payments? What will your credit limit be? Does the card offer any bonus features, like points toward “rewards”, car rental insurance or affiliation with a cause that you support?
  • Know your card: the interest rate, any annual fees, and minimum monthly payments. Make sure you understand all of the terms and conditions before you sign the agreement.
  • Keep track of what you purchase with your credit card and where. Then check your monthly billing statements to ensure that all the charges on it are for purchases that you made. This will help you monitor your spending and avoid fraud.
  • Make your minimum payments on time to avoid credit problems. If possible, pay the full balance on your credit card when you receive your bill.
  • Only use your credit card if you are sure that you will be able to repay the balance. Used wisely, your credit card will help you build a good credit history, which will help you when you apply for a mortgage or a personal loan. Not making payments on time, or at all, can hurt your future access to credit.
  • If you lose your card or suspect that someone else is using it for unauthorized purchases call your credit card company immediately. Cancel any credit cards that you are not using.

Helpful Web Sites: