More and more people turn to credit cards in order to boost their scores and secure better loans in the future. But other than that, your first credit card can also become the first step in establishing good financial habits and building a proper financial future. All in all, here are a few tips to ensure you use your credit card without causing yourself any trouble.
Decide on a budget
While you can use the credit card for rewards or short term loans before your pay day, avoid using it for things that you cannot afford – not in the literal way. You need to be realistic regarding the amount of money you can repay before shopping for anything – consider paying everything by the end of the month.
It might be a good idea to stick to a 50/30/20 rule or something similar. Spend 50% of your income on mortgage or rent and utilities, use 30% of it for things you like but you do not necessarily need and spend the remaining 20% on your debt or savings.
Get a direct debit
Most credit cards will allow you to set a direct debit – an automatic payment for the bank to get the money out of your account all the time. You need to ensure the money is there though. The good news about this technique is you will never have to face late payment fees should you forget about the due date.
If you cannot pay for the full balance, try at least to pay more than the minimum requirement. Keep in mind that paying bills and debt in time will help your credit score. In fact, you might as well use your credit card even if you do not need it – simply repay it right after, so it helps the mechanism growing your score.
Grab the rewards
Most credit cards come with some sort of rewards – not all of them though. If you have a card with such rewards, make sure you understand how they work. Get cash back or points by using your credit card in shops or facilities that provide access to rewards, such as petrol stations or clothing shops.
You can get rewards in all kinds of forms – do not let them collect dust. Whether it is a gift card, a cheap flight or a check, use the rewards. Many of them have expiration dates – you should find such small details on the fine print.
Become familiar with the fees
Adopting a healthy spending behaviour can help you avoid most fees – apart from the annual fee, if any. Make your payments on time or even better, pay the full balance within a month. Avoid dealing with cash when using your credit card as it will most likely bring in some fees, not to mention transactions abroad.
While you can use your credit card on holiday abroad, it may not be a good idea, as fees will build up.
Keep track of your expenses
Keeping track of your purchases is related to your financial behaviour – the better you are at it, the more stable your financial future will be. First, you have to determine how much you can afford to spend. Second, keep track of your purchases – it helps if you install the application on your smartphone, as you have everything at a glance.
Once you reach that limit, practice good discipline and avoid using the credit card until you pay the balance.
Bottom line, credit cards can be fascinating and challenging at the same time, but a little financial education can help you make as much as possible out of them.