11 common credit card mistakes to avoid

A credit card allows one to make purchases and pay later to the bank or lending institute covering immediate costs. Many variables, including salary and debt, come into play when applying for a credit card. But credit cards come with some terms and conditions, and using them carelessly or defaulting on repayments may lead to a bad credit score. Therefore, here are some common credit card mistakes one can avoid.

Not reviewing billing statements
Before making credit card payments, one’s advised to run through the billing statements. Confirming the accuracy of the transactions on one’s billing cycle can help detect fraudulent transactions. One can review the statement monthly and report to the bank or the financial institution in case of any suspicious activities.

Credit cards are convenient and can make one rely too much on them while shopping. One must remember that when one uses a credit card, one borrows from a financial institution that charges interest on the amount. It’s a type of loan that one is required to repay as per the terms. Losing track of where the money goes is a common mistake cardholders make. This allows the payments to be settled in full within the same billing cycle to avoid overspending.

Making only minimal necessary payments
One may prevent late fees and penalties by paying only the minimum monthly amount, ensuring good standing. But continuing to do so for months can lead to payment delays and accrued interest, which in the long run can pile up. The best way to avoid this is to create a payment plan and manage monthly finances. This will allow one to make timely payments and avoid piling up on more payment obligations.

Ignoring introductory 0% APR offers
Some credit card issuers offer introductory 0% APR deals. An Annual Percentage Rate (APR) deal offers the cardholder no interest on new purchases or debt transfers for a predetermined period. Using this deal can help one to save significantly on bigger purchases. Since these deals are usually offered to new cardholders, one may miss out on excellent savings by simply being unaware of them. One can find out the start and end date of the initial 0% APR deal and its conditions before opting for it.

Missing a payment
FICO estimates that one’s credit card score dips by 17 to 83 points if one misses a payment for 30 days. Missing payments for 90 days or more can lead to one’s score decreasing by 27 to 133 points. Late payments add on the interest charge and significantly affect one’s credit score, which is detrimental to one’s financial standing in the long run. One way of dealing with this is to automate the regular monthly bills or set reminders a couple of days before the due date.

Carrying a balance
Carrying a small balance from month to month instead of paying everything off does not necessarily give one’s credit score a boost. Any revolving debt may accrue interest. To reduce the negative impact that high balances might have on one’s credit score, borrowers are advised to maintain their revolving debt below 30% of their available credit.

Taking cash advances
A cash advance is a cash withdrawal from one’s credit card account. Borrowing money from one’s credit card comes with fees and withdrawal restrictions. While this is a useful credit card feature in emergencies, it’s best to avoid cash advances for ordinary purchases. Unlike credit on one’s card, cash advances accrue interest right after withdrawal. So, in addition to the hefty interest, one is also likely to pay a withdrawal charge or fees. Overall, cash advances are costly affairs. One can instead consider a personal loan, borrowing from family or friends, collateral loan, or salary advance.

Applying for too many credit cards too quickly
Each time one applies for a new credit card, one faces a hard inquiry into one’s credit history. Lenders who see multiple credit card requests can view a cardholder as risky and deny future applications. It’s best to keep a gap of at least six months before applying for a new credit card.

Adding on to the late fees
If one expects a late payment, one’s advised to contact the credit card company immediately. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently stated that a late fee might cost up to $30 the first time and up to $41 afterward. Sometimes, the financial institution may alter one’s due date or offer financial hardship programs. Opting for a debt management plan can eliminate fees or reduce interest rates for a short while.

Maxing out the credit card
Using up all of the allotted credit can lower one’s credit score. The credit rate is influenced by the credit usage rate, which is the number of times one uses a credit card. One can contact the issuer and get a credit boost if one routinely maxes out the credit limit but has no defaulting history.

Closing a credit card
The average credit history of a cardholder is impacted when one closes a credit card. Closing the oldest card can drop one’s credit age by the number of years between the oldest and the second oldest card. That said, one can close a credit card under some valid circumstances. For example, if one sees that the card’s advantages don’t justify the annual fees of a credit card, it’s best to forgo the card and opt for a more beneficial one.