At some point each of us will be approached to sign-up for a credit card. Some of us decide we don’t want to take up the offer, citing that we don’t want to have spiraling uncontrollable credit card debt. Others decide to take up the offer, and that’s exactly what happens – spiraling uncontrollable debt! However, there is a third way: take up the offer and make sure you don’t have any credit card debt, all you need to do is keep in mind the following:
It’s a credit limit, not unlimited credit!
A mistake common to most first time credit card users is that the credit card limit “needs” to be used. There also appears to be a common misunderstanding that credit cards are “free” credit. In fact, neither could be further from the truth. You don’t need to use the credit card limit, and it is not free credit! Conversely, if you want to affect a manageable credit card debt scheme, you’ll start to put away the money you would otherwise have spent on the credit card purchase into an interest-bearing savings account and then use this money to make the repayment of your credit card bill when you get your next statement.
Pay as you go, don’t go as you pay!
Another common mistake made by most credit card users is to use the credit card when they don’t have the ready means to make payment for the product being purchased in cash. Sensible credit card use, where you don’t encounter unmanageable levels of credit card debt, means that you pay off your credit card balance in full at the end of each statement period. Here, make no mistake about it, credit cards are dangerous and expensive means of funding debt if you do not have the intention to be disciplined enough to at least try to make the repayment in full each statement period. If need be, use the credit card again in the next statement period; but do everything in your power to make sure you clear the balance at the end of the statement period!
Don’t just pay it – look at it
A third common mistake made by credit card users is just to pay the minimum balance at the end of the statement period. It’s almost as if they’re ashamed to see how much they charged to their card. But, you should keep in mind that credit card fraud is rife and so you should check your credit card statement each period to make sure you have not been charged for something which you clearly did not charge to your card. This goes double if you have charged anything to your credit card over the internet. To this end, not reviewing your credit card statement at the end of each payment period is a sure fire way to ensuring that you’ll soon have an unmanageable credit card debt!
Calculate the interest & fees – don’t just take their word for it!
As with all matters of finance, if you want to ensure you use your credit card properly and do not encounter any excess or unmanageable credit card debt levels you’ll need to educate yourself on how the process of credit cards, their interest rates, and their fees work. Always keep in mind that it is not uncommon for people to make mistakes and a computer is only as good as the person programming it! So, although it may not happen often, there is a chance that you may spot a mistake in the calculation of interest and the fees payable.
If all else fails – don’t be afraid to cut your credit card up!
As soon as you start to think that your credit card debt levels are starting to take control of your life, the time has come for you to cut the card up and to start to eliminate the credit card debt as quickly as possible. Do not, at all costs, let the credit card debt take control over your financial well-being, or take the risk of spending many a sleepless night wondering how you are going to make your next credit card debt payment.