For many people, the holiday season consists of Black Friday shopping, visiting friends and family, and attending special events. While fun activities and filling up your cart can be exhilarating, the average cost is projected to rise to more than $1,400 this year, according to Yahoo Finance. Using a credit card can initially help cover costs but could backfire if not handled correctly. Consider taking these steps to ensure you’re using your credit card responsibly.
Only Spend What You Can Afford
It can be easy to think of credit cards as unlimited spending sprees, but there could be consequences to uncontrollable spending. Credit card holders are required to pay back all the money spent on the card, up to your available credit limit. Credit limits vary based on factors such as credit scores and income, but it’s recommended to avoid spending your full limit each month. Restricting your credit card to only what you know you can afford will make It easier to pay off the balance in full, thus avoiding high interest debt on any outstanding balances. In addition, continually spending to your limit can have a negative impact on your credit score.
Take Advantage of Rewards
When you pick a credit card, consider thinking about which rewards best align with where you plan to spend your money. Some rewards can offer either a fixed number of points or a percentage of cash back on every dollar spent. No matter which you choose, you can maximize perks while being smart with what you’re swiping on. With a credit card, the more you swipe, the more rewards you get. However, be cautious about how much you’re spending, as any rewards you earn will be overtaken by interest and fees if you do not pay off your balance on time.
Review Your Monthly Statement
Your monthly statement is the final record of charges made to your credit card account. It’s important to verify transactions to avoid paying the same charge twice as well as any unfamiliar charges. This is the time to address any issues, including fraudulent charges, with your credit card provider to help protect your credit score. Your statements allow you to keep your finances in check each month, helping keep your balance at the amount you know you can afford to pay off in full. If your statements arrive in standard mail, consider changing them to electronic delivery so you can view them at any place at any time.
Credit cards can be a quick and easy way to pay everyday expenses. However, you could find yourself in debt with a higher interest rate that could impact your financial well-being. Consider contacting your financial institution to confirm you’re utilizing available resources, such as transaction alerts, to ensure your card is safe and secure. If you’re unsure about opening a new credit card account, contact your nearest Cinfed branch to schedule a free conversation.