Managing Credit and Using Credit Cards Wisely
Choose them carefully. Don't choose a card just
because of the freebies that come with it or because there's no
annual fee. Look for a card that's best for your borrowing
habits. Also, before you apply for a card, carefully review
all other terms and conditions, which must be disclosed to you
before you incur any charges on the account. Once you use a card,
you have entered into a contract with the card issuer and you are
obligated to abide by the terms disclosed to you.
Use credit cards carefully. Credit cards offer
great benefits, especially the ability to buy now and pay later.
But you've got to keep the debt levels manageable and pay on time.
If you don't, the costs in terms of fees and interest or the damage
to your credit score could be significant.
Pay on time to avoid late fees. One option is
to arrange for an automatic withdrawal from your checking account
to cover your credit card bill and perhaps other recurring expenses
(but be sure to record the transaction). Another option is to pay
online, generally at least two days before the due date to be sure
it is processed on time. If you pay by regular mail, allow enough
time for delivery and processing by sending your payment about a
week before the deadline.
Check for errors on your credit card bill. If
you find charges you didn't make, call your lender immediately to
guard against fraud. Also, protect your rights under the law by
mailing a letter to the card issuer's address for billing disputes
within 60 days of the date of the bill. A phone call, fax or e-mail
isn't enough to fully protect you.
Guard your credit card numbers from thieves.
Never provide your credit card numbers - both the account number
and expiration date on the front and the security code on the back
- in response to an unsolicited phone call, e-mail or other
communication you didn't originate. In general, only give your
credit card or card numbers to reputable merchants or other
organizations, and only when you initiate the transaction.