Apr 16
Smart ways to use a credit card safely

Smart ways to use a credit card safely

Planning on forsaking your credit card? When it comes to credit cards such negative connotations like heavy interest rates, harsh penalty fees, debt traps and more give people nightmares!  But it doesn’t have to be quite like that.

Credit cards spell trouble for your finances only when abused or misused. If managed responsibly they can earn you exclusive offers, cash-back rewards, loyalty points, a stellar credit score and much more. Here are 5 smart ways of using your credit cards safely to maximize its benefits.

Pay full Balance:

It is crucial to pay off your credit card bill in full and on time every month. However, cardholders often adopt the quick fix solution and clear only the minimum amount due each month. This is a big mistake. By dragging out the payments and letting the balance roll over to the next cycle you can incur hefty interest rates that keep accumulating. To make matters worse, your credit rating gets battered.

Build up a good credit rating:

If used strategically, a credit card can help boost your credit score. The significance of a good credit rating cannot be stressed enough.  It reflects your reliability, trustworthiness and repayment capacity.  A good credit score can help clinch a great job and also get funding for personal needs, business activities, or big purchases like homes, vehicles etc.  The higher your credit score, the easier it is to secure loans at better interest rates.

Purchase expensive stuff:

Use your credit cards for big and important purchases of high value. Coughing up hard cash in one go can dent your monthly budget considerably. With credit cards, you have the option of taking the EMI route which comes with a lower interest rate. Call your bank to convert the expensive buy into easy installments spread over a period of few months. This not only eases the burden but also turns out to be cheaper.

Know your limits:

Don’t overshoot your credit limit at any cost. In fact, a smart move is to use only 50% of your specified limit. This ensures your card utilization ratio remains at a decent level. If you are an impulsive buyer, a good strategy is to use a mobile or e-mail alert. This can help avert overspending. The facility sounds an alert on reaching the self-imposed limit so that you can stop using the card until the bill is paid in full.

Avoid cash withdrawals:

Cash withdrawal with credit cards from ATMs comes with transaction fee as well a very high-interest rate.  This provision should be used only as the last resort, like maybe an unforeseen emergency. It’s important to remember that the charges for cash withdrawal kick in instantaneously and keeps getting compounded until the full amount is reimbursed.

As you can see, a credit card is an invaluable financial tool that can become a huge asset if used judiciously. The key is to keep your balance low, exercise self-discipline and not fall into the minimum payment trap! What say then, ready to swipe?

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