Excess credit card debt is often a factor in bankruptcy cases. When faced with economic hardship, many people rely on credit cards just to make ends meet. Unfortunately, this only increases their debt due to the high-interest rates offered by many credit card companies.
Using credit wisely can actually boost your credit score and prevent future financial strife. Here are some good habits to adopt to improve your finances and keep credit card debt to a minimum.
Be prepared to pay your bill in full each month
When you factor in interest on credit purchases, you end up paying more for an item than if you used cash or a debit card. However, you can sidestep this interest by paying off your bill in full every month. Only use the credit card to make small payments, or make sure you have enough money put aside to cover the purchase when the bill arrives. Along with reducing interest, this is also a good method for improving your credit score.
Keep track of your balance
For the best possible credit score, it is recommended that you do not use more than 30% of your credit limit at any given time. That means a person with a credit limit of $500 should never charge more than $150 on the card. Make sure you are under this 30% limit by keeping track of your balance and card activity. Whether you receive statements in the mail or online, check them each month to review your purchases, as well as check your total charges.
Try not to make late payments
Late payments are often punishable by added fees, as well as a decreased credit score. If you anticipate that you will have a problem making a payment that month, contact your credit card company as soon as possible. If you have a good payment history, they may be able to offer a grace period during which you can pay your bill without facing a penalty. They may also allow you to pay your bill in installments until you are finally caught up.