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Keep Your Credit Cards in Check

man doing shopping in a grocery store and paying by credit card

If you’re just starting out with your first credit card, or even if you’ve had credit cards for a while and just need to keep them under control, I’m sure we could all benefit from remembering some good credit card habits. Here are some ways to keep your cards in check:

  1. Handle your current debt (if you have credit card debt already) – Take stock of all your credit cards and the total dollar amount of your outstanding balances. Now come up with a payment plan according to your budget that you can stick to. Remember, paying more than the minimum each month will help pay down your debt faster and help minimize the amount of interest you end up paying in the long run.
  2. Keep track of your spending – If your credit card’s system allows for monitoring such as text, email alerts, or a smartphone app, don’t be afraid to take advantage of those features to make tracking your spending easier. If not, you may want to manually keep a record of each time you make a purchase and your total balance to keep from being surprised when you receive your bill.
  3. Pay off the entire balance – Ideally, you wouldn’t want to spend more than you have available funds to pay it off. Carrying a balance means you’ll be paying interest, and depending on your card that interest may be pretty steep. Aim to pay off the balance of your credit card in full every month.
  4. Avoid late payments – Not only will missing a payment cost you in the form of late fees, but it will also affect your credit score. Even if you can only make the minimum payment, paying it on time will keep your credit score from being affected. Consider even setting up automatic payments, if available, to give you the peace of mind that your payment is being made on time each month.

Credit cards, if used wisely, can be great tools to help improve your credit score and are handy when needing to make larger purchases. Some cards also have great rewards programs that can benefit you in other aspects such as airline miles, merchandise, gift cards, etc. The key is to use them wisely and keep track of our spending so we aren’t left with a high bill and not enough funds to pay it off.