From cash-free convenience to protection from fraud and beyond, credit cards provide a number of advantages to consumers. It’s no surprise that 7 in 10 Americans have at least one credit card and 60 percent are “convenience users” who pay balances in full each month.
Before you use plastic for making purchases and managing your personal finances, ensure you use credit wisely. Busey shares the following five tips:
1. Payback is key. By making only the minimum payment, it could take years to pay off your purchases. The minimum payment may cover just more than the interest on your balance. To determine how long it will take to pay off your credit card, use the credit card minimum payment calculator provided by Bankrate®.
Plus, if you don’t pay at all, you will be charged a late fee and it may cause your annual percentage rate (APR or interest rate) to increase.
2. Don’t nickel-and-dime yourself. From morning lattes to afternoon snacks, small purchases can add up to a big monthly balance. You can quickly find yourself in over your head and unable to pay off purchases. Remember, nickel-and-dime items can easily be paid for with cash.
3. Think first, charge second. Impulse purchases can be problematic. Ask yourself, “Would I buy this item if I had cash to pay for it?” If your answer is no, don’t pull out the plastic. Also, check in on your emotions. Discover® recommends the following alternatives to emotional impulse buying: walking or working out, calling a friend or reading a good book.
4. Avoid the danger zone. Warning signs include taking cash advances on one credit card to make payments on another or struggling to meet minimum payment requirements monthly.
If you realize you have a credit problem, the American Bankers Association suggests making a budget and being realistic, letting creditors know you want to pay and contacting local consumer credit counseling services at 800.388.2227.
5. Know your score. You are entitled to one free credit report from each of the U.S. credit reporting agencies—Equifax, Experian and TransUnion—annually. The report will help you identify fraudulent activity and mistakes—which can drag down your score, prevent you from getting a loan or cause you to pay a high interest rate.
Offering industry-leading expertise, Busey associates are committed to helping you use credit wisely. Visit any Busey location or call 1.800.67 l Busey today.