Credit cards are both a convenient way to pay for purchases and a trap for those who are easily tempted by access to credit. Being smart with your use of credit cards can help you manage your money better and avoid getting into too much debt. These simple tips are all you need to be credit card smart:
- Set your credit limit at a level you can afford to repay within the interest free period.
- Know the due date of your payment and pay on time.
- Always pay more than the minimum due on your credit card to help reduce your balance and your interest charges.
- Avoid interest charges altogether by paying your credit card balance in full each month, preferably by direct debit from your bank account.
- Use online services to keep track of your card spending so you can keep within your limit.
- Avoid taking cash advances or paying utility bills with your card as they usually incur additional fees.
- Regularly review your monthly statements to ensure that there are no errors or unauthorised charges on your account.
- Use your card only for essential purchases and not for luxuries.
Consider having two cards – one with a low limit for everyday purchases which you pay off in full each month and another for emergency or large purchases. It pays to shop around for the right type of card for you with a fee structure that suits your needs. For example, some low interest rate cards have higher monthly fees and are more suitable for those with high credit balances. If you need a card only to make online or telephone purchases, consider using a debit card. Your bank account will be debited straight away and you will therefore pay no interest.