Choose Your Credit Cards Wisely

Credit card and calculator iStock_000006405718SmallThe information in this post is provided by our partner Accel Financial Counseling. Accel’s counseling services and educational programs are available free to all Consumers members.

Many of us want to take advantage of flexibility in our spending plans by using credit cards, but it’s important to choose the right credit card to fit your lifestyle. You may receive credit card offers in the mail, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to apply for and begin using those cards. When shopping around for a new credit card, look out for the following to be sure you’re making a smart decision:

Late fees and other charges

Most creditors charge a fee if you don’t make a payment on time. Other common credit card fees include those for cash advances and going beyond the credit limit. Some credit cards charge a flat fee every month, or every year, whether you use the card or not.

Grace period

This is the time between the date of the credit card purchase and the date the company starts charging you interest.

Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

Know how much you’ll pay in interest if you carry a balance from month to month, and what the rate will change to if you are late making a payment.

Customer service

Customer service is something most people don’t consider until there’s a problem. Look for a 24-hour toll-free telephone number.

Also, be sure to know and understand any influences on your spending habits. If you tend to overspend easily, avoid a card that offers rewards for spending unless you pay off your balance each month.

No matter what credit card you end up choosing, be sure to use it wisely. Remember that using your credit card means committing future earnings to monthly payments. Stick to your budget, keep all receipts so you can check them against your monthly statements and dispute errors, and pay on time and preferably, in full.

If you want to learn more about credit, contact Accel. As a member of Consumers Credit Union, you can take advantage of the Accel program, a free financial education and counseling program. Accel counselors are available Monday through Thursday 8 a.m. to 12 a.m. (EST), Friday 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. To use this new service, simply call 1-877-33ACCEL (332-2235) or visit them on the web at www.accelservices.org

To learn more about credit cards offered through Consumers Credit Union, click here.

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