For many, January is a month of new beginnings and a good time for some reflection. At LendUp, we especially like to reflect on our financial habits.
It may seem obvious, but thinking about your credit decisions today could help you make even better habits tomorrow. That’s why we created a LendUp Education course with tips to help you beat the risks of a credit card.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself when thinking about your credit card usage:
1) Did I carry a balance on a credit card? For how many months?
If you carry a balance, or don’t repay your balance in full at the end of the month, what you buy now could end up costing you a lot more later on. When you get a credit card, each card provider is required to include a summary box in your terms displaying how much you’ll owe and how long it’ll take to repay if you only make minimum payments. Be sure to review it carefully.
2) How many times did I make at least the minimum payment?
Sometimes you may only have enough funds for the minimum payment, but making that payment on time is extremely important. It looks good to creditors because it demonstrates you’re committed to paying back what you borrowed.
3) How much of my available credit did I use?
Experts suggest keeping your balance below 30 percent of your total utilization (or the amount of credit that’s available to you). This makes you look less risky to lenders and also provides a cushion in case of an emergency.
4) Did I ever miss a payment?
Missed payments can stay on your credit history for up to 7 years (according to Fair Isaac Corporation, or FICO). Sign up for payment reminders via email and text message so you’re less likely to forget; also keep in mind that some credit card providers offer auto-pay.
5) Did I choose the right card?
If you’re considering getting a new card in 2016, be sure to compare terms and benefits. Check the annual fees, interest rates and what rewards or benefits cards offer. In general, the lower the interest rate, the better -- but in some cases, the annual fees are so high that they offset the benefit of a lower interest rate.
These are just a few tips on how to beat credit card risk. Test your knowledge and take all of our LendUp Education courses. Share with your friends, and stay tuned for more education opportunities from LendUp.
Is there an area of personal finance that you’d like us to cover in a course or Fast Financial Fact? Where do you struggle with managing your finances? We’d like to know! Or are you an organization that’s interested in collaborating? Please get in touch at education(at)lendup(dot)com.