Credit cards: play the game right

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

There were times when credit cards were used for charging something that cardholders would pay at the end of the month. Times have changed and credit card perks have grown. But not only they have – the risks have grown too. Today you can earn points using credit cards, but they can become a curse, if you don’t use your cards right. Here are some mistakes that can cost you a pretty penny:

1)      Chasing points while burden with balance. There are consumers who blindly collect the points on their cards and they don’t even give a second glance to the enormous interest rate they’re paying on their balances. Credit cards with attractive additional features tend to come with high interest rates. If you are not paying your balance off in full, those points will cost you a lot.

2)      Neglecting the fine print. If you see a tempting bonus feature with an asterisk and bother to look at the fine print, you will see there’s a limitation or special disclosure. Do you spend that much on the card to cover the annual cost of having a credit card? Think of how much money you actually earn before you hit the fine-print limit?

3)      Don’t be trapped by instant discounts. Think twice before accepting this or that “nothing to cost” credit offer. The credit limit you are offered will affect your other borrowing limits. Another form of credit on your credit history may negatively affect your credit score. And credit issuer will recoup this beneficial offer by making you pay twice more in interest and fees.

4)      Complicated to redeem. Your points are piling up. You want to use them for travel but come upon some restrictions that make it extremely inconvenient. Or you decided to redeem them for groceries, but standing in the line and feeling pressure coming from all other customers for using the coupons makes you cringe. There’s no sense in gathering the points if you never turn them into cash. Use them to get cash you would easily spend.

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