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The invention of credit cards was a giant leap forward for humans. People around the world use their credit cards for all kinds of purchases and payments. The credit cards give the people, the freedom of purchasing what they want, without having to depend on their bank balance. Credit cards are used by all kinds of people in cities and towns across the world. It is a fact that a credit card can be a boon as well as a bane at the same time.
At times, people do not know how to effectively manage their credit cards. This is why, their credit score is severely affected and they find it hard to acquire financial assistance from banks and other lenders. In order to make sure that your credit score is not affected, you need to effectively manage your cards. You need to be careful about making payments and using the card for any purchase.
When you make your credit card payments on time, your credit score improves and you can obtain higher amount of credit. On the other hand, if you fail to make the payments on time, your credit score is negatively affected and you may not get any further credit from financial institutions. Here are a few important tips which will help you in effectively managing your credit cards:
1. Plan your purchases – Before purchasing or buying any product, determine if it is necessary to buy it. You must make a list of your priorities and stick to that so that you can arrange for the money needed to pay your credit card bills. At any point of time, make sure that you do not purchase something too expensive as it will make you cross your monthly budget or the credit limit on your card.
An effective way of way of planning your purchases is to make a shopping list. At the beginning of the month, try to make a list of things you need to buy with the card and stick to that list as much as possible.
2. Always check your statements – Check your statements on a monthly basis as the statements will help you understand your spending pattern. Based on your observation, you can try to avoid unnecessary purchases. Also, checking the statements will help you in knowing the minimum payment due for a particular month, so that you can make that payment on time and avoid extra charges or fees.
You can easily check your statements online, and you can also use your smartphones to keep a track on your card usage. Mobile alerts can be very helpful in ensuring that you do not end up paying more than what you are supposed to, when you use your credit card for any transaction.
3. Try to make full payment – Try to make full payments, whenever possible. When you pay your credit cards in full and within the due date, you do not have to pay any interest on the billed amount. Besides, paying the credit card balances in full will help in improving your credit score. Even if you are not able to pay your credit card balances in full, you should always make sure that you pay the minimum amount due, within the due date.
Apart from saving a substantial amount of money on interest, you will also be able to improve your credit score and increase your chances of obtaining more credit in the future.
4. Keep a track of supplementary cards – At times, you might forget the fact that you have provided supplementary cards to your family members and these cards are linked to your credit card account. The way these cards are used can have an impact on your credit card account. Hence, you should keep a track on them and also ensure that the transactions completed with them are paid for within the payment due date.
Besides, you also need to keep a track of these cards so that you can ensure that the credit limit of your card is not exceeded. If it is exceeded, you will end up paying an over limit fee and other hefty charges.
5. Look out for promotional offers – Why pay more when you can get the same product by paying less? Be a little smart when using your plastic money and make sure that you utilize the variety of offers and promotions provided by the card issuers from time to time. These promotions can provide you with access to discounts, deals and privileges across different segments such as dining, travel, shopping and so on.
You can not only save money through these promotional offers but you can also enjoy a variety of other exclusive privileges which will enhance your experience of using a credit card. Make sure that you always visit a website where you can find information about such promotions so that you can take full advantage of them.
6. Make multiple payments in a month – Do not just limit yourself to making a single payment within the payment due date every month. Instead, try to make multiple payments even if you pay small amounts. It has been observed that the credit card issuers and the credit bureau tend to send payment reports more than once every month, if there is a lot of payment activity in an account.
When you make multiple payments you make sure that the lot of positive information about your credit card usage is being sent to the credit bureau and in the process your credit score will get a big boost. For example, if the minimum payment due for the month is S$1500, do make a payment of S$1500 and apart from that also make other amounts in the same month.
7. Avoid cash advances – You will be provided with the feature of withdrawing cash with your credit card but you should avoid utilizing this feature. When you withdraw cash with your card, you will be charged a cash advance fee and you will also not get any interest free period to make the payment.
Almost one-third of users experience credit card fraud and in 2010 close to 11 million adults experienced identity theft, with 43 percent of reported theft linked to credit card fraud. As of 2010, estimated showed that 11.1 million adults are victims of identity theft each year.
Those are staggering numbers and are the reason that credit card safety is an ongoing necessity for all of us. During holiday season even greater vigilance is necessary for many obvious reasons. Most security actions fall into the common sense group, but with busy lives we often end up tasking without adding a good dose of forethought.
Following are my top ten list of easy, fast habits anyone can build to support credit/debit card security.
Never write down your PIN number and make sure to cover the keypad when entering on any machine. For added secure, do not use a PIN number tied to personally identifiable information. A quick Google search with your name may shock you about your personal data floating around on the web.
Sign the back of your card upon receiving it and destroy old cards immediately. Scissor through the name line and account number. Scrap away the bar code with the scissor blade. Even better, use a home shredder to completely destroy cards.
Review receipts, both ATM and store, to make sure the figures are accurate.
Destroy receipts as soon as possible. I tear ATM receipts into small bits immediately upon verification. Credit receipts are matched to statements online and then shredded.
The only time to give card information over the phone is when you’ve made the call and know the vendor is reputable. Short of this, don’t use the phone for dispensing card information.
Avoid public computers and unsecured networks for all financial transactions, including account balance checks. Online purchases are fast, convenient and a major part of our shopping experiences. However, use only a private-secured connection. Look for the HTTPS//: and closed padlock icon in the address bar.
Never leave a card unattended. It belongs in your hand, wallet or purse. A teller should not take your card to a machine. If so, request to go with the clerk or have the machine brought to you. Unattended includes a card left in the car, hotel room or any place someone can easily access.
Check for skimmers when using ATMs, self-checkout lanes, and swipe pads. A stand-alone swipe pad attached by cable is a red flag for a skimmer.
The new RFID chip cards bring added security using a radio transmitter to send client data, but also need special caution by the user. RFID is easily susceptible to someone with a hand-held reader standing close enough to steal card information. Reportedly, some people have been able to steal card data with a cell phone app. Take added care by using Tyvek sleeves or RFID wallets that can block radio signals
Carry only a few cards or better yet one. People tend to have multiple cards, but should carry only those used – be selective.
Increased card use provides greater chance for credit fraud leading to a disappointing way to start the new year. Be on your guard through the holidays and use these tips when you use a credit card.