Responsible Credit Card ManagementMay 26, 2010 - 2:02 am
Responsibly managing your credit cards can be a task that ranges from very easy to incredibly difficult, depending on one’s financial discipline and ability to control their spending. The fact that credit cards are accepted nearly everywhere, to pay for almost anything, allows individuals to spend somewhat freely, and without due care, one can end up in serious financial trouble. However, with a few key tips in mind, being responsible with your credit cards can be made a bit easier.
The most important task begins with new credit cards. Reading over the credit card agreement or contract may seem boring, but the agreement contains information that is critical to being financially responsible with one’s credit. For instance, knowing how much the interest rate is, when monthly payments are expected, and what the annual credit card fee is are all details that are critical to managing credit cards. These seemingly minor details play a major role in how responsible users choose when and how to use their credit cards.
When the temptation arises to use a credit card to pay for a purchase, it’s important to give consideration as to whether or not you can actually afford it. Asking the questions “Can I pay for this in cash without hurting my monthly budget?” and “Do I need this now, or can it wait?” can help one determine if the purchase is critical or is something that doesn’t need to go on a credit card. Monthly payments may seem small at first, but they can build quickly and begin consuming a large portion of the household income if not kept in check.
Keeping the actual number of credit cards one has to a minimum is important, as well. New credit cards are offered at almost every turn, so learning to say “no” to retail store credit cards, gas station credit cards, and credit cards offered by mail help greatly with responsible credit card management. Although the free gift or offer that comes with the credit card may seem like a great deal at first, credit cards outside of those issued by banks are generally riddled with very high interest rates, and sometimes come with high annual fees as well. If you need to use a credit card, stick with one of the ones you already have instead of opting to get another credit card that may end up an additional burden in the future.
Being responsible with one’s credit cards is generally not much fun, but will likely end up saving one from a financial burden that can range from annoying to crippling in the future. Use only what you need, and you’ll come out on top.