Dec 9, 2022

5 Credit Card Mistakes to Avoid During Tough Times

If you're still learning how to manage your credit or are forced to make dangerous financial decisions as a result of difficulties, credit card debt may be unavoidable during these tough times. Here are some effective tips!

5 Credit Card Mistakes to Avoid During Tough Times

With inflation, it’s the daily expenses such as food, fuel and energy where consumers feel the pinch. You can prevent credit card errors that result in debt by making a plan and being aware of less expensive options. If you're still learning how to manage your credit or are forced to make dangerous financial decisions as a result of difficulties, credit card debt may be unavoidable during these tough times. 

When money is tight, having a plan may help you avoid debt or keep it under control. Before making costly credit card errors that are difficult to recover from, take into account alternatives if your situation allows.

Here are some mistakes you should avoid at all costs now (and in the future):

1. Stop overspending where you can

If inflation or other things are making it hard to stick to your budget, make changes. Account for rising gas prices, internet and cell phone costs from your credit card, and today's inflation. Carefully look at the budget and weigh your needs against your wants. Costs can be balanced out by cutting back in other areas and choosing alternatives. When you look over your credit card statement, think about canceling any purchases or subscriptions that you don't need. Give the most importance to costs that help bring in money, like rent, electricity, food, and other necessities. If your money is still tight after making changes, look into other options like getting a side job or a part-time job, or getting roommates. By spending less, you might be able to find ways to save money and use credit cards less. Save what you can, even if it's just $10 a week.

2. Avoid relying on your credit limit

While spending over your credit limit may provide short-term relief, it can cause long-term financial issues, including fees, debt and damage to your credit score. You should avoid maxing out your card and spending anywhere near your credit limit. Remember that going over your credit limit might not be because you bought something with your credit card. If you have a big balance on your credit card, the interest you have to pay each month could put you over the limit. Even though an over-limit interest charge probably won't have the same effects as an over-limit purchase, you should still try to avoid it. Check the balances on your credit cards often. When you log in to your online credit card account or app, you should be able to see both your current balance and your available credit. Find out how much credit you still have to spend and make plans to stay under that amount.

Read: Where is the Best Place to Park Money in Uncertain Times?

3. Don't carry a balance on a high-interest credit card

The cost of purchases increases when a high-interest credit card balance is carried. While the interest rate on a card is determined by the economy and your credit, some cards or institutions provide lower rates that could result in savings on outstanding amounts. 

If you have good credit and need a plan to pay off your debt, you may be able to get a balance transfer credit card with a low interest rate (a FICO score of 690 or better). To decide what to do, compare the cost of the balance transfer fee and the cost of the interest fees every month. The best balance transfer credit card is one that doesn't charge an annual fee, has a balance transfer fee of 3% or less, and has a long enough 0% introductory APR period to help you pay off your debt.

Credit Card Tip

4. Taking out cash advances

You want to pay as few fees as possible when you use a credit card. But if you get a cash advance, you'll definitely pay back more than you borrowed. Cash advances don't have grace periods, so interest starts to add up as soon as you get the money. Even if you don't count the convenience or ATM fees, cash advances are a very risky way to handle your money because they have high interest rates. Consider getting a personal loan instead, or look into offers from card issuers that let you turn the available credit on your credit card into a cheaper installment loan that puts money in your bank account. For the second choice, you don't have to fill out a loan application or have your credit checked.

Read: How to Maximize Your Personal Finance

5. Stop racking up late fees

Your payment history is the most crucial criteria among the many that make up your credit score. To assess if you are trustworthy enough to repay your loans, lenders look at your payment history. Missing or making late payments can seriously harm your credit score, costing you extra money in interest and late penalties. If you're struggling to make your payments on time, try contacting your creditors and requesting an extension. You might also consider setting up automatic payments so you won't forget.

Reminder: ensure that you watch for changes in the terms of your account.

Credit card companies can change the terms and conditions of your account. They will notify you in advance if fees, interest rates, billing, or other features change. You can choose if you wish to alter how you use the card by reading these "change in terms" notices. You might decide to use a different card for cash advances, for example, if cash advance fees rise. Be aware that credit card firms are not required to send you a notice before raising your interest rate if you have a card with a variable rate or if your introductory rate is about to expire.

Most credit card issuers offer a variable annual percentage rate (APR), which means that the interest rates fluctuate with market conditions. They are often set by looking at the Federal Reserve’s benchmark prime rate, plus adding on a specific number of percentage points depending on the borrower’s credit. The prime rate is currently 5.50%.You can find interest rates on your monthly payment. Make sure you carefully read your bill and note any changes!

Rule of thumb: Pay off your balance every month. Avoid paying interest on your credit card purchases by paying the full balance each billing cycle. Resist the temptation to spend more than you can pay for any given month, and you’ll enjoy the benefits of using a credit card without interest charges.

Wrapping Up

You'll want to do everything you can to preserve or improve your credit score because it may be viewed when you apply for loans, rent an apartment, or even a new job. You should be careful with how you manage your spending even though credit cards might help you buy necessities for your life. 

Building sound financial habits will help you stay out of debt and avoid the traps of credit, as misuse of credit cards can harm your credit score. Here are five credit card blunders you should steer clear of!

If you want to start building your wealth, visit the experts at Vincere Wealth Management for a financial plan to suit YOUR goals. Click here for more information.  


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