Using Credit Wisely

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In today’s fast-paced culture, it’s often easier to hand over a credit card for purchases rather than write a check, use a debit card or pay with cash. Many people rely on credit to stay on top of their finances and expect competitive rates and credit limits.

To complicate matters, the credit crisis that hit the housing market is now affecting the credit card industry – giving credit card companies reason to raise interest rates and lower credit limits to trim their own losses. Have you been notified by your credit card company that it is making changes to your credit card? You may be hit with a higher interest rate, even if you've always paid your bill on time.

Using a credit card is easy and convenient, but managing it wisely gives you the ultimate advantage. Here are tips for keeping credit in check:  

  • Pay your bills on time and in full. This will help you avoid much-dreaded late fees and extra interest charges on your balance. Focusing on good credit management can also build a positive credit history.
  • Look over the little items. Everyday expenses, such as coffee, magazines and snacks will quickly add up when placed on credit. Consider using cash or a debit card to purchase these items.
  • If you overspend, fix it. It happens: you go over your credit limit and are charged a penalty. If you spend more than allowed, call your credit card issuer right away to determine a plan for returning your balance to the allotted amount.