Credit cards can be incredibly useful; all through high school I had one with a small ($500) limit that I was to use “for gas only.” Now, needless to say, my family never taught me good money management skills (sadly, my mom was almost $15,000 in credit card debt at one point), so I had to learn on my own, as I’ve mentioned before. It’s taken a long time to get from point A to point B, but I feel like I finally have a grasp on how to properly use a credit card. Took long enough, right?
Credit cards are a finicky subject for a lot of people. Some people say you should get one to establish credit; others shun them off entirely. Some people think that they can help with teaching responsibility, others think that they open the door to being irresponsible.What kinds of questions should we be asking when it comes to getting a credit card?
So, here are some tips and tricks for choosing whether or not you should get a credit card, and if so, then what you should be looking at. Today, we’re going to look at 4 things you should ask yourself before getting a credit card.
- What am I getting it for?
Am I getting the credit card to establish credit? For emergencies? To just get something that I want right now instead of waiting until I have the cash? Make sure your reasoning is the right reasoning; if it is more based in materialism than necessity, you may want to reconsider getting a credit card at all.
- What is the interest rate?
Interest rates will make or break you. Some companies charge as much as 25% interest. Some companies will also offer 0% interest for a certain amount of time. You should ALWAYS read the fine print and see how long this period is for.
- Are there any fees or hidden costs involved?
Some credit cards make you pay a certain fee monthly or annually. This is another case of “read the fine print.” You may be getting roped in to something you’re not ready for.
- Can I afford to make monthly payments/Can I pay more than the minimum?
Can you afford another bill, or will it burden you to have that other bill? Also, I ask if you can pay more than the minimum because you could pay up to twice as much as you originally paid for anything you put on a credit card if you only pay minimum payments. These are important to think about.
These are just a few things to think about when considering a credit card. The average American is at least $5,000 in credit card debt, because Americans allow their spending to get out of control and don’t keep track of what they are spending. So, keep these things in mind when applying for any credit card.
What have you asked yourself when looking for a credit card? Have you ever gotten a credit card and then later regretted it? Share your stories in the comments, have a great week, and we’ll see you back here next week!