Settling credit card debt can cause serious financial strain. It’s important that consumers understand how they can protect themselves and use credit wisely. Follow our credit counseling advice to keep your finances under control.
How To Use Credit Wisely
Prior to signing up for a credit card, it is important that consumers are aware of the proper way to use it to avoid excessive debt. Without a good understanding of how to use credit wisely, consumers may find themselves in a tough financial situation. It can lead to mounting debt and a poor credit score.
Tips on How to Use Credit Wisely
Do not use credit cards to finance an unaffordable lifestyle
Are you constantly accumulating consumer debt and unable to pay the bill each month? Then you should consider whether you are using their cards to try and finance unreasonable spending. Credit means that you are borrowing money in the transaction. If you can’t pay off your statement at the end of the month, that means you actually don’t have the money to make the purchases you already have made.
You should avoid using credit cards if you are already in financial trouble
Finance charges and other fees can put your debt management plan in jeopardy. However, using a credit card in a time of financial difficulty can be better than taking out a an unsecured loan which typically carry high interest rates.
Don’t get hooked on minimum payments
Some credit card issuers have set their minimum payments as low as 2% of the balance. Others may set it to 4%. If you pay only the minimum, it will take a long time to pay off debts. Plus, all the interest!
Don’t run up the balance in reliance on a temporary “teaser” interest rate
Money borrowed during a temporary or promotional rate is likely to be paid back at a much higher permanent rate.
Make credit card payments on time
You should avoid late payment charges and penalty rates if you can. Bad problems get worse fast when you have late fees and higher rates to pay during financial difficulty. It’s worth calling to ask for a fee to be waived if you were accidentally late on a payment.
Avoid the special services, programs, and goods that credit card lenders offer to the bill to their cards
Most of these extras – fraud protection plans, credit record protection, travel clubs, life insurance, etc – are often bad deals. Just avoid them to be absolutely sure.
Beware of unsolicited increases to the credit limit
Don’t assume that this means that a consumer’s lender thinks he or she can afford more credit. Lenders generally increase limits for consumers that they think will carry a bigger balance and pay more interest. Remember, that’s how they make money; they aren’t in business to make life easier for you.
Don’t max out cards
It’s easy to get hit with over-limit fees. A credit card account close to its limit will cause a big drop in a credit score. Consumers should be aware of whether or not their account allows them to spend over their limit, as this is optional. If possible, consumers should try to stay below 30 percent of their credit limit.
If you’re struggling to pay off debt, ACCC can help. Schedule a free credit counseling session with us today.