Credit card debt in America is climbing. Most individuals have large balances on multiple cards, and the weight of this debt can be difficult to overcome. According to one debt reporting organization, bankruptcy due to credit card debt has risen over the past decade, and many believe they will never pay off the balances within their lifetime. If you are struggling with credit card debt and want to get your spending under control, there are a few errors you can avoid that might help improve your credit habits.
Opening an Account Based on Rewards
While some cards offer rewards and bonus points for every dollar you spend, it is wise to review all the terms and conditions of these offers because they may contain hidden fees and limitations. This can be especially important in the case of individual store cards. Even if you shop at a retailer often enough to earn cash back on a credit card, high interest rates and hefty fees for late payments can cause your balance to far outweigh the benefits of any rewards you may earn. Read credit card applications carefully and avoid those with an inflated interest rate.
Using One Card to Pay Off Another
Drawing cash from one credit to pay off another’s minimum balance each month is like treading water. You may keep your head above the surface but never move forward. While this system might seem like a good way to avoid late fees, most cards charge for cash advances and you will have to pay that advance back with interest. Make an effort to have the payment set up in your checking account each month to avoid getting caught in this vicious circle.
Maxing Out Your Cards
If you use one or more cards to pay several of your bills each month, such as your home’s internet or insurance premium, this could max out your line of credit much sooner than you realize. It may be tempting to pay out your bills this way because charging is always simpler than spending the hard-earned cash in your checking account. However, since you are building up interest fees with every payment, you are creating a more expensive charge each month. Set credit cards aside for emergencies and pay monthly bills via auto-debit from your checking account instead.
Using credit cards incorrectly can hurl you into a spiral of late fees and debts that seem insurmountable. However, when you pause to review how you spend, use, and pay on your cards, they can be a financial asset instead of a liability.