Credit cards have many advantages and can be like fire - very useful to have and necessary to accomplish many things if used properly, but if it is not used right, it could lead to disastrous consequences. Maximizing the use of your credit card doesn't mean you should use it frivolously, without thinking of the consequences.
Here are 9 deadly credit card mistakes you should avoid:
1. Applying For Too Many Credit Cards Within A Short Period Of Time
It's never good to apply for too many credit cards at once or within a short period of time as the banks might think that you are about to go on a spending spree and have trouble handling your finances. This could affect your credit score negatively.
2. Spending On A 0% Balance Transfer Card
Spending on your 0% APR balance transfer card is a big mistake! If you have a 0% APR balance transfer card, it is likely to have a higher interest rate for purchases than a credit card where you would have to pay some interest on the balance transfer, since that is the only way the card issuer can make money. So if you have one of these cards, you shouldn't use it to make purchases, but instead use a normal credit card. Balance transfer cards should only be used for transferring balances from a higher interest rate card as an effective way of consolidating your debt since you can cut your interest rate to the intro 0% offered by the balance transfer card.
3. Using Your Credit Card For Withdrawing Cash At ATMs
If you are going to withdraw money from an ATM, it would be much wiser to just use your debit card, because if you use your credit card to make a cash withdrawal from the ATM, your credit card company will charge you a cash advance fee which is usually around 5% or $10 minimum. If you don't repay the full amount by the due date, the APR for cash advances is usually much higher than the interest rate you are paying on purchases, and that can be around 25% - a hefty rate!
4. Spending Over Your Credit Limit
It's always good to keep an eye on how much credit you have left in your credit card and to pay off your credit card balance when it gets close to your spending limit, because if you spend over your credit card limit, you will have to pay over-limit fees. The Credit CARD Act of 2009 requires you to opt into over-limit spending, so that you agree to pay an over-limit fee when you go over your credit limit. And if you don't opt in, you can't spend more than your credit limit, and thus won't have any over-limit fees to pay.
5. Spending Money You Don't Have Just To Get Rewards
Reward credit cards give out freebies like gift cards, merchandise and even cash once you spend a certain amount on your card. Sometimes people get very excited over these rewards and spend more money than what they have just to earn more reward points. But if you can't pay everything off at the end of the month, it is totally not worth it since the interest rates will be so high that your payments would be more than what you would earn with the reward points. Your #1 priority must be to stay out of debt (pay in full and on time every single month), and if you can do that, then plan your spending carefully so that you can earn those rewards.
6. Missing payments
This is the most important rule: never miss any payments, since doing so will get you into debt and because the interest rates are so high, your balance will usually just keep on accumulating until it gets out of hand. Even if you are late in payment during a 0% introductory period, you will be slapped with a penalty APR which can be more than 25%, and you will lose the 0% introductory offer on balance transfers or purchases. You also have to pay a late payment fee.
The simplest way to not miss any payment is this:
Contact your credit card company by phone or via the web, and tell them you want to set up automatic credit card payments. You can deduct from your savings or your checking account. You need to have your routing number and account number for this. Then select to pay off the entire balance (not just the minimum payment due) every month. Once this is set up, you save yourself the hassle of writing checks every month! This is how I do it.
7. Paying interests
The easiest way to stay clear of paying sky-high credit card interest is by paying your credit card balance in full by the due date every month. You should set up direct debit to automatically pay your monthly credit card bills so that you never miss a single payment.
8. Opening store cards
You should never get one as they have much higher rates than other credit cards, and it really isn't worth the discounts and promotions they offer. It will always encourage you to waste your money on things you don't need.
9. Not finding the best credit card for yourself
Before getting a credit card, you should always do your homework and compare which one offers the best deals or the one that suits your needs the most. For example, if you tend to spend a lot on groceries and don't travel often, it will be more beneficial for you to get a cash back credit card, instead of a travel rewards card as all your grocery spending would amount to a nice cash rebate over time, thus saving you money in areas where you are spending the most. Or if you own a business, you should consider getting a business credit card instead of putting your business expenses on your personal card.
At GET.com, we make it easy for you to compare credit cards so that you can decide which is the best credit card for your own needs, and then apply online.