Credit cards are a great way to build a solid personal credit history, but they can also cause significant turmoil and heartache when used unwisely. Knowledge is key, in terms of building a smart financial strategy that incorporates credit cards.
If you have misused your credit card, remember that you still have rights. Credit card collection agencies must follow the law concerning how they can collect the debt if you have stopped making payments on your card.
Shop different credit cards before applying to find out the perks each offers. Some offer roadside assistance, while others offer airline perks, like free baggage check. Some will also offer buyer protections, above and beyond what a store offers. Depending on your buying habits, one credit card may offer perks that fit you best.
A great credit card tip is to set your own limit, below that of your card so that you always have some place to turn to, in the event of an emergency. This will also keep you from spending more than you can afford, which will keep your credit manageable.
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.
Credit cards should always be kept below a specific amount. This total depends on the amount of income your family has, but most experts agree that you should not be using more than ten percent of your cards total at any time. This helps insure you don't get in over your head.
Remember that you must pay back what you have charged on your credit cards. This is only a loan, and in many cases, it is a high interest loan. Carefully consider your purchases prior to charging them, to be sure that you will have the money to pay them off.
When you are unable to pay off one of your credit cards, then the best policy is to contact the credit card company. Letting it just go to collections is bad for your credit score. You will find that most companies will let you pay it off in smaller amounts, as long as you don't keep avoiding them.
If you can't pay your credit card balance in full each month, be sure to make at least double the minimum payment until it is paid off. Paying only the minimum will keep you trapped in escalating interest payments for years. Doubling down on the minimum will help to ensure you get out from the debt as soon as possible. Most importantly, stop using your credit cards for anything but emergencies until the existing debt is paid off.
Just about everyone has some experience with credit cards, though not every experience is positive. In order to ensure that you are using credit cards in a financially strategic manner, education is critical.