by Jen Kuczynski
The Basics of Credit
- Credit: ability to obtain good/service before payment, with payment being made in the future.
- Creditworthiness: trustworthiness with money based on a person's credit history.
- Credit Score: number representing the creditworthiness of a person.
Credit Cards: What You Need to Know
Your interest rate determines the amount of interest you pay on your card. The higher the rate, the more money you pay. If you violate any of the terms your cardholder expresses, you will have to pay a penalty fee. And for each month you exceed your loan limit, you will also have to pay a fee, which is called an over-the-limit fee.
You can use your credit card at department stores, grocery stores, restaurants, etc. Many shopping places are adapting to the use of credit cards, which is why so many places now allow it.
Many of the costs of using credit cards include what have been explained above (annual fees, interest rates, credit limit, penalty and over-the-limit fees), but there are also many benefits to using a credit card. This includes being able to budget expenses each month when you pay your bill in full each time. There are also credit rewards, which are like mini bonuses for using your card (50% bonus on cash back you earn every year, 0% APR on purchases until a certain date, etc).
Smart Consumers: Don't Fall Into the Credit Card Trap
- Do not fall into the habit of using your credit card as a substitute for actual money. Money and credit cards are very different things, obviously, as you pay with money NOW, and credit is used so you can pay with money LATER.
- Use your credit card for things you need rather than things you want. Clothes, gas, and food are a few examples of purchases that should not be bought with a credit card.
- Stay within 30% of your credit limit, that way you will maintain a good credit score, and lower balances will be easier to manage as opposed to higher ones.