Getting a credit card for the first time feels like receiving a gate pass to a lavish lifestyle. Let’s all admit it. Swiping a plastic instead of shelling out cash is like a dream come true, but the truth is, for most people, it can be a nightmare. The most important thing is to think right from the start, that a credit card is actually the fastest way to incur financial debt.
So before swiping your sleek new card for the very first time, here are five tips on how to use your credit cards wisely:
Choose the right credit card
All banks make an assessment of your financial status before giving you your first credit card. The key to choosing the right credit program is by identifying how you plan on using it. Consult your assessor regarding the different programs and perks that are being offered. Now, choose which credit program best suits your needs, not your desired lifestyle.
Manage your finances
To stay out of debt even before having a credit card, you must know where you stand financially. List down all your financial obligations: your bills, payments and all other expenses. Every time you get your salary, make sure that you set aside money for your allowance until the next payday. Saving money must be one of the factors when it comes to personal financial management, so you must allot a percentage of your salary to go to your monthly savings. Consider your savings account as a security blanket or a contingency fund – whichever works for you.
Live within your means
Sometimes it’s okay to say no regardless of how much you want something. Swiping a credit card is literally spending the money that you don’t have on-hand. Practice smarter shopping by getting the best deals through online promos, coupon sites, or by choosing to shop during a mall sale. Don’t let anyone influence you on your improved spending habits.
Pay your credit card bills on time
Why do most people’s debts pile up because of credit cards? The answer is simple. Interest and late payment fees can really hurt your pockets. If you want to make the most out of having a credit card without paying for unnecessary fees, pay your minimum amount due on or before the payment due date. By doing so, the only thing you’ll have to pay for is your principal card’s annual membership fee.
Boost your knowledge about credit card deals
Take advantage of 0% installment programs whenever you can. Do not shy away from asking a merchant about their existing credit card deals and availing of it. Take a few minutes off of social media, and visit your bank’s website. There are surely travel, shopping, and other promos that you have been missing out on. During the holidays, some banks also offer buy now, pay later programs which will instantly give you the credit flexibility you need during the season.
Consider your credit card your new best friend and your worst enemy. Being new to the world of plastic spending can buy you the life that you have been dreaming of. But if you’re reckless enough not to hear these 5 simple tips, collecting agencies might come knocking on your door or pray not, a lawsuit.
To help you further, here are 10 Ways to Have a Debt-Free 2014.