This is a guest post by Harrison Vickers, a finance consultant with over a decade of experience. He enjoys writing articles in his spare time to help people understand better control their finances.
In today’s world, it’s very likely that you’ll have a credit card at some point in your life. Finances are just too difficult to manage without some sort of credit line. Not to mention, you’ll need to have good credit if you want to buy a house or a car.
Getting started with credit is something people do at various points in their lives, but once you have a credit card, it’s important that you know some basic tips to keep yourself safe and your credit in check.
5 Tips For Every Credit Card Owner
These tips are focused on making sure that you’re safe and that your credit score is fair and substantiated. Credit is an exciting, but also complex aspect of our lives. Here are five tips that will keep you safe and in the know:
1. Be Smart at Gas Stations.
Our first tip is for a place that we all visit, some more than others. Gas stations are a constant pitstop for car owners, and a place to grab a quick snack for people on-the-go. They also happen to be a place where credit scammers will plant skimmers to steal people’s data and their credit information.
Swiping at the pump will be risky until gas station implement chip technology, but they have until 2020 to make this happen, so you need to be smart in the meantime. Here are some quick tips:
- Use pumps that are closer to the store
- Pay inside instead of at the pump
- Use a credit card instead of a debit card. That way, if fraud does occur, you’ll face no liability.
2. Check Your Statements and Credit Reports.
Each year, you can get a free copy of your credit reports from all three bureaus, and you should. Credit reports offer a glimpse into the information that goes into calculating your credit score. They can also be used to catch identity theft early and before it becomes severe.
Checking your credit reports can also reveal errors that are bringing your score down without your knowledge. The process of disputing these is known as credit repair, but it’s a completely valid means of getting your score back where you want it.
By targeting items that are unfair, unsubstantiated, or inaccurate on your credit report, you can bring your score up quickly. For more information on today’s credit repair companies, check out this link: http://www.debtsteps.com/credit-repair-services/
3. Set Up Mobile Alerts.
If you’re too busy to be checking your credit card statements, you should at the very least be aware of anything that happens with them. By setting up mobile alerts through your creditor, you can get text messages when things like this happen:
- Your credit limit is about to be reach
- Alerts on any unusual or suspicious activity
- When your card has been used on purchases of varying sizes
Staying in the know is the best way to prevent or quickly catch any potential issues.
4. Pay Off High-Interest Debt First.
Carrying a high balance, especially on high-interest cards, can be detrimental to your score. Credit cards from stores and retailers are notorious for having high rates, for example. As rates go up, so does your minimum payment as well.
It’s a slippery slope, and one you don’t want to find yourself on. As the Federal Reserve continues to raise interest rates, you can bet that the credit companies will match them.
If you’re having trouble paying down your high-interest cards, consider looking for ways to make money online that you can set aside for this purpose. There’s plenty of ways for people to make a side income this way.
5. Get a Rewards Card.
Sign-up bonuses and rewards add value to your credit card and make it worth your while. Look for offers that provide a bonus to their rewards program, or offer cashback for purchases you make anyway like gas and groceries.
As creditors look for new ways to entice people to join them, you’ll see offers like these everywhere. Take advantage of the competition they are creating and look for the best rewards programs.
Case and point: look for offers like this that fit your needs and use them to make smarter credit card choices.
Credit card holders can use these tips to better understand and protect themselves from fraud and detriments to their credit score.
What tips would you offer for credit card owners? Let us know in the comments!