As the cost of living continues to rise, many people are being conscious of their spending. From setting a strict budget to installing apps to monitor spending, requesting a credit card report or even just paying our bills on time, we’re all looking for ways to make our money go further.

Credit cards can be a useful way to budget our spending, if they’re used sensibly. So, if you want to learn how to get the most out of your credit card, and some common mistakes to avoid, read on.

 

Keeping your credit card safe

Unfortunately, credit and debit cards will always remain a target for hackers no matter where and how you use them. One of the most common ways credit card information is stolen is at gas pumps. In the past, these attacks primarily relied on skimming hardware installed on top of the pump’s hardware. It was an easy task, even for amateur criminals.

Visa is now warning users of more advanced attacks: FIN8, a group of elite hackers, is using vulnerable spots in gas station networks to hack card details without any physical modifications at pumps. So if you only have a card with a magnetic stripe, there is a chance of losing your money. The simplest and most secure way is exchanging an old-style card for a chip-and-pin one. However, it will be protected only if gas station hardware also supports this technology.

 

Opening joint cards responsibly

The best relationships are built on a foundation of love and trust. Arguably, one of the greatest displays of love and trust in modern romance is to open a joint account. But is it wise to do so? How can a joint account influence your credit history and perhaps more importantly, your relationship in general?

A major benefit of a joint credit card is when one partner has a good credit history and the other has a lower credit score. Sharing a joint credit card can potentially help the partner with a lower credit score to improve it. Opening a joint account is a big step however, and it’s not something you should enter into lightly. You need to be certain you’re both in it for the long haul, because if things unfortunately take a turn for the worse, neither of you wants to deal with settling the finances. It’s definitely worth discussing each other’s money habits and agreeing how you will use the card before committing to financial matrimony.

 

Mistakes to avoid

It’s always better to learn from someone else’s mistakes and that’s why we’ve made a list of the top three mistakes that Americans distinguish as the most destructive ones.

  • Paying unnecessary fees. Over 75% of Americans think that added fees are nothing but a waste of money, and rightly so. To avoid paying late fees, make sure your monthly payments are sent on time. Remember, payments often take a few days to clear, so be sure to factor that into your payment schedule.
  • Paying excessive interest. If you can, clear your card balance in full very month. At the very least, try and clear more than the minimum amount to avoid paying more than you need to.
  • Impulse purchases. Impulse purchasing is one of the biggest expenses, according to more than 70% of Americans. Try writing a shopping list and sticking to it when you go to the supermarket and put off any non-essential purchases for 24 hours. If you still want something the next day, and you can afford to, buy it then.

It might not be possible to significantly reduce your expenditure, but you can still check out the best cards for great credit. American Express Gold Card, Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, The Platinum Card from American Express, Bank of America Premium Rewards Visa Credit Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve all offer competitive deals, which may help you to reduce your interest payments.

 

Remember, you’re the boss

While credit cards offer us a degree of financial flexibility, they should be used with caution. All too soon they can lead to debt and money worries if used irresponsibly. Always spend within your means, pay your balance off in full every month if you can, protect yourself from fraudulent activity and look for the cards that offer the best interest rates. If you’re struggling financially, it’s always better to discuss your situation with your card lender so they can offer you help and advice. Don’t forget that you’re in charge of your finances, your finances aren’t in control of you.


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