Credit card advice for beginners

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When it comes to building your credit, there is little more important than a credit card. If used properly, credit cards can be incredibly helpful in building a positive credit history, making purchases, and starting a lifetime of responsible consumer spending habits. However, if used irresponsibly, a credit card can be a huge hindrance toward your overall financial success.

Fortunately, using a credit card is not difficult – it just takes responsible management. As such, here is some credit card advice for beginners.

Open A Credit Card

Even if you don’t plan on using a credit card often, it is very important that you open a credit card as soon as you are able. Why? Your credit score is key in determining your ability to get loans for major purchases, like mortgages and cars. Credit history is vitally important for determining your credit score, and having a long and positive credit history can go a long way towards ensuring that you build a good credit score. As such, open a credit card as soon as you are able. You don’t have to use it very often, but regular use of your credit card – combined with on-time and full payments – can help to ensure that you build a good credit history and prove your creditworthiness to banks when you need a big loan. 

Treat It Like A Bank Account

One of the biggest mistakes that someone can make is treating their credit card like it is some sort of slush fund. Credit cards are not a magical pit of money that you can just replenish whenever you feel like doing so. When it comes to a credit card, get yourself in a mindset that you should only make a purchase if you have the money to repay it immediately. This way, you never make the mistake of using it when you cannot afford to do so.

Make Payments On Time and In Full

The biggest reason you should get a credit card is for the purpose of building your credit score. A huge chunk of your credit score is determined by a low debt-to-income ratio and ensuring that you do not have a lot of consumer debt. As such, always try to make your payments in full. This is not only good for your credit score, but it’s good for your wallet, as making your payments in full allows you to avoid expensive interest charges.

Furthermore, making at least a minimum payment on time is vital. Late payments will go to credit reporting agencies and will absolutely have a negative impact on your credit score. Indeed, a history of regular, late payments can be devastating for your credit score, ultimately driving up interest charges and making it harder for you to get major loans at important moments in your life.

Shop Around for Perks

Even for beginners, many credit cards come with valuable perks, including discounts, points, and more. It may be tough when you are first opening a credit card, but do what you can to shop around and see what sort of options are available to you.

Furthermore, many organizations, like credit unions or alumni groups, may offer credit cards that come with specific bonuses. It is always worth spending some time investigating what sort of credit options are available for you. Doing so can help you save money on future purchases. 

Set Up Autopay

As noted above, the most important and responsible thing you can do when it comes to your credit card is make on-time payments. Thankfully, there is an easy way to do this: Just set up autopay. Virtually every credit card comes with an online portal that makes it easy for you to make payments on a certain date. You can hook your card in with your bank account and set it up so that it always makes a payment of a certain amount, including the minimum payment, or the full balance. You absolutely should do this. It automates the process and ensures that you never have to worry about forgetting to pay your bills. Furthermore, these autopay options are always revisable. If you are ever worried about paying a certain amount, you can just change it. You can then make additional payments at a later date.

Set a Budget

This advice applies to your credit card and financial life in general: Set a budget, and stick to it. This will not only help you learn how to live within your means but assist you in developing the financial skills that are necessary for any functioning adult. 

Track Your Purchases

Worried about creating a budget and sticking to it? There are many apps that can help you do that, including programs like Mint or Quicken. These programs can automatically track your spending and alert you if you are going over your budget. They also have a variety of added benefits, like letting you know if someone has gained access to your credit card and is using it to make unauthorized purchases.

Remember, the benefit of getting a credit card – even if you don’t plan on using it often – is to build a positive credit history. That is impossible if you don’t track what you use.

Credit can seem intimidating, but here’s the truth: All of the above tips revolve around being responsible with your money. A history of good credit can be vital for your future financial success. Maintain it, and you can be well on your way to a happy and productive financial future. 

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