5 Ways to Use Credit Cards Wisely
By: Aly Hess
Posted on Thursday, June 30, 2016
Credit cards are a hot topic when it comes to personal finance. While some people advise not getting a credit card because of how quick and easy it is to rack up debt, there are also benefits to signing up for one – especially when it comes to help building your credit. The key, though, is using them wisely. Here are a few tips you’ll want to keep in mind if you want to keep your finances in good standing while using credit cards.
Choose the right card for you.
With so many card options out there, it’s important to find one that fits your financial needs and your lifestyle. Do your research, and plenty of comparing, taking into consideration the rates, terms, and reward options that come with the card.
Keep balances low.
Just because your credit limit is set at a certain amount, say, $10,000, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to use that full amount. Most experts recommend utilizing 30% of your total limit or less at any given time. So, if your card has a $10,000 limit, you should aim to carry only a $3,000 balance.
Pay in full and on time.
Make sure you know when your monthly payment is due and always attempt to pay your card off in full. On-time and in-full payments go a long way toward boosting your credit score. Look into setting up automatic payments on your card, or develop a habit of making smaller, weekly payments to stay on top of it.
Keep accounts open and active.
When calculating your credit score, credit bureaus take into consideration how long you’ve had an open line of credit. So, even if you get another credit card or two down the road, it’s important to keep your first one open – and even better, active and paid off – as it shows how consistent and responsible you are financially.
Don’t apply for credit you don’t need.
Make sure that you’re in a position financially to apply for a credit card and really consider why it is you want or need one. If you have reservations or don’t feel entirely confident that you can make regular payments, then it’s probably in your best interest to wait and seek other financial options, like a personal loan, supplementing your income, or reducing your other debts.