By Taylor Nunley. Edited by Arjun Chandrasekar.
The idea of credit and the accompanying score that comes with it can be scary. Everyone has heard a relative or friend’s horror stories about their trouble with loans. This financial problem is so widespread that a recent survey from CreditsCards.com estimates nearly half of all Americans carry credit card debt. And with a recent recession that rivals the Great Depression, this number only continues to grow. So when it comes time to apply for a credit card or take out a loan, it can be quite confusing. But it doesn’t have to be. Being smart about credit and preparing for the worst can save you from a lifetime of financial trouble. Here are some simple tips in setting up a future where credit is not something to worry about.
1. Don’t Mistake Credit as Free Money
Contrary to debit cards, credit cards aren’t drawing on your own deposited funds. In essence, they’re borrowing money. Not to mention that this money always has to be paid back plus interest. But many cardholders don’t understand this concept and can easily rack up thousands in debt.
2. Always Pay More Than the Minimum Monthly Payment
If you have a revolving credit account, you may already be familiar with minimum monthly payments. But you may not be doing what’s best for your credit history. Simply paying the exact amount due on the minimum monthly payment is, well, doing the minimum. Although this is enough to keep in the good graces of a credit card company, subsequent interest rates will still be higher than those who pay just a few dollars more than the minimum.
3. Pay Your Bills on Time
One of the most important tips to follow is to always make your payments on time. Early is better than last minute, but late does nothing but hurt a reputation and make it harder to get good credit. The whole point behind credit is to prove the consumer is reliable and can repay their loans. Don’t make the mistake of paying your bills late.
4. If You Do Start to Get Behind on Payments, Don’t Be Afraid of Asking for Assistance
Most banks now, especially with the coronavirus recession, are willing to work with patrons to avoid being buried in insurmountable debt. If your payments keep passing the deadline to be paid and it seems like more and more debts are stacking up, maybe it’s time to speak with someone from the bank about a break. Simply changing the deadline for payments can help tremendously.
Credit and financial management don’t have to be difficult. Whether you already have a credit card, or you’ll be applying for it soon, it’s dire to be informed about all the ins and outs of credit. Thankfully, all it takes is a little planning, dependability, and looking to the future to ensure stability!