Using Credit Wisely

Credit cards are easy to use. But good management of your credit use can be challenging. Here are some strategies to help you avoid credit problems and put credit to work as a helpful tool in your financial life.

Smart Credit Tips

  • Spend within your budget. Use your card to make purchases you have the money to cover. Not only will you be using your money wisely, you will also be on track to building a good credit history.
  • Watch your limit. Know your credit limit and stay well under it. It's a good idea to have credit available in case of emergency. Monitor your balance carefully. If you "opt-in" to allow over-the-limit transactions, you may be charged a fee if your balance exceeds the limit.
  • Pay as much as you can. Pay as much of your balance every month as you can afford. Pay the whole balance if possible.
  • Pay on time. You are likely to be charged late fees if you don't. Also, a single late payment may increase your interest rate.
  • Read your statement and any communications from the credit provider carefully. Interest rates and even your credit limit are subject to change.
  • Keep your receipts. Use them to double-check against charges to your account listed on your statement.
  • Know the rules for fees and interest. Be sure you understand your card's terms for cash advances and convenience checks before using them. They may have fees and higher interest rates.
  • Don't let anyone else borrow your card. Don't charge purchases for other people on your card.
  • Keep your address up to date. If you move, promptly notify the credit card company of your change of address. Delayed delivery of your statements could cause you to lose track of due dates and miss payments.
  • Don't procrastinate if you run into trouble. If you are having trouble managing your account, call your credit card company right away. It may be able to adjust your fees and interest rates.
  • Report a lost or stolen card immediately. You can avoid almost all financial liability plus any headaches resulting from bogus charges.

Information in this article is of a general nature. It is provided by COLLEGEdata for educational purposes only and may not apply to you or your situation. Please consult a financial or legal advisor before acting on such information. COLLEGEdata is a service of 1st Financial Bank USA, a provider of financial services.

For Students Age 18 and Older

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