How can I Use Credit Cards Responsibly?

Bronwyn Harris

Many people have difficulty keeping their credit card debt under control. Learning how to use credit cards responsibly is simple, but can be difficult to put into practice.

A credit card should never be loaned to a third party.
A credit card should never be loaned to a third party.

One of the most important goals to have is to always pay your balance. Pay off your balance every month. You do not need to carry a balance to establish credit, and if you pay off your balance, the credit card companies are not taking your hard-earned money as interest! If you can't pay off the full balance every month, spend less, learn to use credit cards responsibly, and pay off as much as you can. Never pay only the minimum amount — that is how the credit card companies get rich!

Possible scenarios for credit card debt.
Possible scenarios for credit card debt.

Keeping track of your money and your cards is also extremely useful. If you keep the receipts of everything you charge, you will always know how much you owe and can avoid spending more than you can pay at the end of the month. These receipts are also useful when it comes to checking your credit card statements, which is another key in learning to use credit cards responsibly. Keep track of your cards — do not have duplicates made, and do not lend them to anyone!

Avoid paying off one credit card with checks from another. Juggling debt does not help you use credit cards responsibly, and can get you deeper into debt. Unless it's a really good deal long-term, don't do it.

Late fees are another way that credit card companies make money off the consumer. Make sure that you allow enough time for your payment to get to the company and be cleared in their office before the due date. Late fees aren't just expensive, they can raise your APR, costing you a lot of money in the long run. In addition, don't max out your credit cards, as this too can run up fees. Experts recommend spending only up to 75% of your credit limit so that you have room for emergencies — and of course, if you can spend less, do.

Finally, in learning to use credit cards responsibly, limit the number of credit cards that you own. More credit cards mean more opportunities to spend money you might not have, more payments to keep track of, and more cards that can get lost or stolen. With credit cards, as with many other things in life, simplicity is better. If you pay attention, you can become the master of your credit cards, and not have them master you!

It is important to pay bills on time and to limit the number of owned credit cards.
It is important to pay bills on time and to limit the number of owned credit cards.

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