Smart Tips for Credit Card Success

A credit card can either be a person’s greatest dream or worst nightmare, depending upon how they use it. By adopting a good set of strategies for proper credit card usage, credit troubles and debt can be avoided. Here are 5 methods to employ for responsible credit card usage:

Pay the Full Balance

If this is possible, paying off the full balance after receiving a statement is a very wise thing to do. Any balance carried over to the next statement period will incur an interest charge. These interest charges will continuously add up over time, making it much more difficult to pay off a credit card balance. Even if paying off the full balance is not possible, it is still a good idea to try to at least pay more than the minimum payment required, as this can help lower interest fees.

Take Advantage of Rewards

Many credit cards come with certain perks such as free movie tickets and free flight miles with a major airline. The key, though, is to not overspend with a credit card just to get the rewards. If a card balance becomes too high coupled with interest fees, this will offset any rewards.

Protect Account Information

Scam artists are always looking for innovative ways to fraudulently obtain a person’s credit card information. These may include telemarketing or email scams, where these criminals request credit card information. Fake deals are frequently posted online encouraging customers to use their credit cards to purchase fake goods or services, only to end up being scammed. It is a good idea to always check to see if the company or person who is requesting any account information is a reputable source. Also, it is wise to keep the card concealed as much as possible to avoid the wandering eyes of any scammers who may be looking to steal the information.

Limit Number of Credit Cards

Just because it is easy to get approved for these cards does not mean it is a good idea to obtain them. Possessing too many credit cards can certainly result in massive debt. Even though the extra lines of credit may initially seem tempting, it is best to stick with just one or two credit cards to avoid any further financial hassles.

Use Only for Necessities

To curtail bad spending habits, try limiting credit card usage to only the most essential purchases. These may include electric bills, gas or groceries. Credit cards may also need to be used in times of emergencies. Frivolous shopping sprees and other extraneous purchases can quickly deplete a credit line, making it impossible to use in times of necessity.

Credit cards have their advantages, but they certainly have their downfalls as well. They should ideally enhance financial ability, not detract from it. By using credit cards prudently, many financial pitfalls can easily be avoided.

Author Harvey Wakefield is a financial counselor and writes for, a site providing help with comparing credit cards, and reviewing rewards programs and credit card balance transfer deals.

Image: Hakan Dahlstrom / Flickr

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