Updated 6 months ago
When used wisely, credit cards can provide a convenient way to make larger purchases, allow you to make purchases online, and even help build a positive credit history to help you secure larger loans in the future. Take some time to learn about the benefits of different cards and how to use them wisely.
» Prepaid Cards
These cards are not actually credit cards. Instead, you deposit a certain amount of money in an account that you can then spend by using the card. While you won’t run up debts with these cards, watch out for fees.
» ATM/Check Cards
These cards are tied directly to your checking account, and any ATM withdrawals or card charges are automatically deducted from that account, so you can only spend what you have in the bank.
» Student Credit Cards
These are credit cards offered to students enrolled in two- or four-year universities. Many charge no annual fee, and some even offer programs to reward card holders who earn good grades, stay under the credit limit and pay bills on time.
» Secured Credit Cards
These cards allow someone with poor or no credit history to build credit. To get one, you must first deposit money with the card issuer. Annual fees are the norm with these cards, but avoid cards that charge an application fee.
What you need to know
• Credit cards aren’t free money. You will have to pay back every dollar that you spend.
• If you don’t pay in full every month, you will also have to pay interest on the remaining balance.
• If your payments are late, you’ll have to pay more fees as well.
What to look for in a card
• Low interest rates or finance charges (also known as APR or “annual percentage rate”)
• No annual fees
• Cash back or travel rewards
• A grace period before finance charges start building up
Some credit card issuers offer free, personalized and automatic alert messages to your phone and email to help you keep track of:
• Available credit
• Payment due dates
• Payment histories
• Purchase activity