Why use a credit card?
One of the tools that can be used in the creation of your financial future is a credit card.
The advantages of Credit Cards
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. Of course, there are other advantages to having a credit card including:
- Security in emergencies;
- Cash back
- Reduced need to carry cash or checks; and
- Enhanced personal responsibility and independence.
Remember that only one card is necessary to benefit from the advantage of card ownership!
Helpful hints on using Credit Cards
Credit cards can be a two edge sword. By using discipline, you can take advantage of some of the advantages mentioned above. However, using credit cards irresponsibly can lead to financial disaster. Consider the following hints on using credit cards!
- Do not carry balances from month to month. Some cards charge 20% or more in interest or finance charge.
- Examine your statement carefully and notify the company right away if you have any questions.
- Frequently there is a large finance charge for cash advances and interest begins accruing as soon as you take the money out.
- Watch out for annual fees. Often, you are charged $50 or more just to have the card.
- Be aware of 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. The card company will always remember when the offer expires.
- 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!
- If you get behind
- Cut your recreational expenses.
- Call your credit card company. Credit card companies are sometimes willing to work out a repayment schedule with you.
- Create a budget and stick with it! Everyone makes mistakes, but don't procrastinate correcting them. Bad credit will haunt you and hurt your chances for mortgages or other borrowing opportunities later on.
- Consult credit counseling services. Many services offer educational programs or individual counseling sessions to help you get back on track
Although you may get numerous mailed solicitations for credit cards, the Internet has simplified the whole process of evaluating and comparing available offers. Rather than having to collect the mailed offers or make numerous phone calls to verify rates and terms, you can access the information immediately from your computer terminal, comparing offers and finding out whether or not a certain credit card may be an advantage to you.