Owning a credit card is like owning a gun. Handle it responsibly and it will take care of you and save you from occasional tight situations. Misuse it and it can bring you to grave financial disaster.
To get the most out of your credit card, therefore, you need to have a full grasp of what credit card ownership entails. Keep your account in good credit standing and know what is expected of you to do this.
To keep card ownership simple and less expensive, it’s best to maintain only one credit card. Maintaining one card means saving on yearly membership fees and allows the cardholder to maximize the rewards points he earns from frequent card usage.
Prior to actually getting the credit card, find out more about what it has to offer in terms of benefits, features, and services. Look into monthly finance charges, annual fees, late payment fees and the like to have an idea of how much it would cost to maintain the card.
What are the advantages of owning a credit card?
By owning a credit card and maintaining it responsibly, you will establish your credit worthiness. You will create a positive credit history for yourself that will tremendously improve your chances of getting loan approval to finance your studies, purchase a vehicle, open a bank account, or even buy a house. You also enjoy the added benefit of having access to stand-by funds in cases of extreme emergency. You eliminate the risks of carrying too much money on you when you need to shop for big-ticket items. More importantly, you enjoy a sense of personal freedom and independence.
Tips on proper maintenance of credit cards
• Know your payment due date. Always pay on time and avoid carrying balances over to the next month. Paying in full each month helps you avoid steep financial charges on unpaid balances.
• Make sure that all entries in your statement are correct. Fraudulent entries in your statement indicates someone has tampered with your records. Immediately notify the company once you see a strange entry on your statement.
• Beware of misleading introductory offers. When you are offered a card with a low monthly interest rate, make sure that this rate is on a permanent basis and not a promo rate that will double after the promo period has expired.
• Think first before making a large purchase. Problems arise when we make major purchases with our cards without checking whether we will be able to pay for these purchases when our statement arrives the following month. We need therefore to be aware of our cash flow situation.
All these said, next time you feel like taking the plunge and buying that expensive gadget you have long dreamed of, think hard. It’s so easy to buy something using plastic money. Remember that, in a few days, you will be asked to dish out real cash to cover this purchase. Stay within budget.