Paying on time and in the right amount protects your credit score. Good credit means paying less interest on car and house loans, and can even make you look better to perspective employers!
The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SRCA) gives military personnel on active duty better interest rates and protections for their credit cards. However, you must apply for them in writing and with the proper documentation, such as copies of deployment orders. Some credit card companies even offer additional benefits, so make sure you ask.
Interest rates are negotiable. If you have good credit (a FICO score above 700), you may be able to get your credit card company to lower your rate just by calling and asking.
Paying off your balance in full every month saves you money. It basically means you got a short-term loan for free!
Your credit card company may be willing to refund your money if you buy something that breaks or is defective. Check your card agreement for the kinds of insurance that may already be included.
If you transfer a balance to a card with a lower rate, there is usually a transfer fee. Find out how much it is to make sure the transfer is really saving you money.
Rewards come at a cost. Cards that offer everything from airline miles to cash back rewards usually charge a higher interest rate and/or annual fee. Read the terms carefully to know what you’re getting!
The credit bureaus are mostly looking for how much of your available credit you’re using. Add up the credit limits on all your cards, and then add up all your balances. If your balance is 30% or less, you’re in good shape as far as they’re concerned.
Applying for too many cards at once can hurt your credit. But so can closing too many, or lowering your credit limits (see #8). If you’re trying to repair your credit, there are better ways to go about it.
Credit cards aren’t inherently good or bad. They’re a tool, and like most tools they can be helpful or hurtful, depending on how you use them.