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Credit Card Do's
How to manage your first credit card is, unfortunately, not common knowledge nor taught in school. Typically it's a process that is learned over time, but often not before making unnecessary and costly mistakes. If you're the parent of a soon to be adult child, be sure and share this information with them.
- Shop around for the best credit card deal. Use the internet to compare and contrast the greatest number of credit card options.
- Read the fine print of any credit card option you're considering. Understand what fees will be incurred and if the stated interest rate is promotional, variable or fixed. Also don't hesitate to ask questions of the credit card company or someone else if you don't understand the terms of a card.
- Keep your credit cards safe from fraudulent charges. Sign your card as soon as it arrives in the mail. Keep an eye on your card during the transaction, and get it back as soon as possible. Save your receipts in order to compare them with the actual statement. Never place your pin number on or near the card.
- If you lose the card you'll need to call the credit card company as soon as physically possible to avoid a major headache. Keep a record of your credit card account information together with the customer service phone number in a safe place
- Periodically pull your credit report to look for mistakes. If you see fraudulent accounts open under your social security number or reports of erroneous missed payments you'll need to take action quickly to get those items resolved.
- If you decide to cancel an unused credit card make sure you have the company report it as "Customer Requested" to avoid any damage to your credit score. Closing unused credit cards is a good way to avoid credit card fraud.
- Be aware of the desire to make frivolous purchases with your credit card. You will eventually have to pay back the cost of that item. Only use your credit cards on items you need versus items you want.
- If something comes up and you can't make your minimum payment on time call the credit card company right away. They will often work with you to avoid late fee payments and get your account back on track.
- We all like to say we won't keep a credit card balance but that's unrealistic for most credit card holders. If possible, keep your balance at around 30% or less of the available credit. This will have a positive reflection on your credit score - improving your chances of affordable borrowing in the future. Make it a practice of paying more than the minimum payment each and every month.
- If you're credit card rate is high don't hesitate to call the company and attempt to negotiate to a lower rate. This can save you hundreds to thousands of dollars in the long run. A solid payment history will allow you to better leverage your business during this process.
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