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Taking charge of your credit cards
Smart tips for handling credit and debit cards, balance transfers!
Things you shouldn’t charge
Sometimes you can’t avoid pulling out the plastic when you’re strapped. But before you do so in these cases, consider your options for fending off financial disaster,
Basics guide to use of credit cards
Credit cards do have some benefits, but it’s easy to get into financial trouble if you rely on them too much. Here are more than a dozen tips for using cards wisely.
Use a credit card wisely and you can reap benefits like cash back, bonus points and airline miles, not to mention a better credit.
Pay off your balance every month. Otherwise, you’ll pay interest on your purchases. Paying the balance takes discipline.
Make your payments by the date — and time — they’re due. Late fees are $29 or more. A couple of late payments will trigger an interest rate increase. Because late and missed payments lower your credit, the interest rate can go up on your other credit cards and for future loans as well. Limit the number of cards you have. Experts recommend having two to six cards. Applying for lots of cards can hurt your credit score. Conversely, closing several credit cards at once will trigger a decrease in your score.
Read the fine print. Know the interest rate you will be charged, the grace period for paying your debt before interest kicks in and your credit limit. Does your company use two-cycle billing? (Better look, because two-cycle billing means you could pay interest even when you carry no balance.) Also, almost half come with a “universal default” clause, allowing an increase in your interest rate if you are late paying any other bill. (See “Credit card companies’ evil tricks.”)
Negotiate. You may be able to get a lower interest rate or get the company to drop a late fee.