Manage Credit Card Use to Improve Your Financial Picture

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If used wisely, credit cards can be a valuable financial tool. Using cards the right way can earn you rewards in the form of cash back or trips, and they can also help improve your credit score, which can lead to better loan approval and higher credit limits. If you want to use cards to improve your financial profile, the following tips will help you stay in control.

Less is More

One or two cards are sufficient – you don’t need a wallet full of cards to see an improvement in your credit rating. Just a couple is usually plenty to cover most people’s spending habits. When you begin looking for credit cards, be sure to choose the ones with the best terms. Some cards have no interest or fees, which is ideal. However, if you are looking to improve a less-than-perfect credit rating and can’t get these premier terms, choose the one with the lowest rates. Check to see if the card you choose has a rewards program that fits your lifestyle.

Think Before Spending

It can be tempting to spend without thinking when you use a credit card. You might see something you really want but don’t have the cash for at the moment. You can use your card to buy the item, but be sure you can pay the bill off when it comes. If you know you won’t have the funds to pay the entire balance when it is due, hold off on making the purchase until you know you can afford it. Using cards as a crutch when your income isn’t enough for things that aren’t necessities isn’t a good idea, either.

Some people have credit cards for emergencies only. While this is certainly helpful, an unused credit won’t do much good for your credit score. Using these cards for small purchases that you pay off monthly will help improve your credit rating much faster.

Keep Track of Transactions

Most credit companies allow you access to your account online. There, you can keep track of each purchase you make, which will help you avoid overspending or going over your credit limit. Going over your limit can incur extra fees and interest that can wreak havoc on your credit score.

Monthly Pay-off

Make it a point to pay your credit card bills in full each month. When you do, you avoid extra fees and interest, and improve your credit rating quicker. Also, you get to enjoy the peace of mind that comes from having paid your bills completely on time.

Take Advantage of Earned Rewards

Many cards come with a rewards program that can earn you cash back, credits to your balance, travel vouchers and more. Take advantage of the rewards you earn and enjoy the benefits of using your cards.

Stagger Credit File Changes

If you are using your credit cards wisely and paying the bills off completely each month, there should be no reason to close the card out. However, if you do choose to close your credit card accounts, do so gradually, as too many changes too quickly can actually cause your credit score to go down. Ideally, you should have at least three months between changes to your credit file because it takes that long for your score to average out after opening and closing your credit cards.

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