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How’s your relationship with your credit cards? Is it often smooth-sailing and sometimes rocky—or is it the other way around?
A credit card is like your trusty BFF: it’s there when you need it. Simply take it out of your wallet, have it swiped, and sign the receipt. No sweat! You can take that expensive appliance or furniture home, all thanks to the convenience of paying with your plastic card.
As much as you have reasons to love your credit cards, you also hate them sometimes, especially when the credit card statement arrives. You dislike paying high-interest charges, penalty fees, and annual fees. Isn’t it frustrating when your credit card debts go out of control? It may get so bad that you considered letting them go. But then you realize—breaking up with your cards is painfully hard to do.
It’s tricky to own and use credit cards. Sometimes, you want to avoid them forever; other times, you can’t imagine life without them.
Tired of having a love-hate relationship with your credit cards? Here are three tips for improving your relationship with credit cards.
Tip #1: Choose a credit card wisely.
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Choosing the right credit card is no different from choosing a lifetime partner—you use not just your heart but also your brain. You won’t go with someone or something that would break your heart, right? If you let your emotions rule when you have various credit card options, it’s easy to get tempted by empty gimmicks that lure you into getting the wrong credit card.
The best credit card for your needs should match your lifestyle and spending habits. Come up with your criteria when finding the right credit card. Look for credit cards with low-interest rates to minimize the risk of getting into debts. Credit card interest rates in the Philippines range from 2% to 3.5% per month. You also need to check the payment terms, annual fees, and rewards system. Hate paying credit card annual fees? Look for cards that waive annual fees for the first year or for life. That way, you save around Php 3,000 each year.
Don’t have much time to do your research? Speed up your search for the best credit card for your needs with the help of a free online credit card comparison tool like MoneyMax.ph.
Tip #2: Keep your credit card spending in check.
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By itself, a credit card isn’t necessarily evil—it’s how you use it that makes it the best ally or the worst foe. Studies found that having a credit card encourages overspending. The act of swiping the card and signing the receipt is more bearable from physically letting go of your hard-earned cash. Thus, people find it easier to spend more on their credit cards than they would with cash.
But then it doesn’t mean you should ditch your cards altogether. Be honest with yourself about how your use of credit cards affects your finances and keep your credit card spending under control.
Here are some ways to curb the temptation to overspend with credit cards:
- Follow the 48-hour rule. In the dating world, there’s a rule that says you must wait for 48 hours before you text someone you like. Why don’t you use this technique to improve your relationship with credit cards? When you’re about to use a credit card to purchase something, wait for 48 hours instead of buying instantly. This gives you enough time to figure out whether you need that item or not.
- Don’t go beyond your budget. Each time you pay with a credit card, ask yourself: “Can I pay for this in cash?” If the answer is no, don’t proceed with the purchase.
- Avoid using the cash advance feature. Otherwise, be prepared to pay a high interest.
- Avoid maxing it out. Just because you have a high maximum credit limit, doesn’t mean you have to spend every centavo of it.
- Always pay your monthly balances in full and on time to avoid accumulating interest and penalty charges.
Tip #3: Make your credit cards work for you.
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To minimize your bad experiences with credit cards, make the most out of their benefits. For instance, if you travel a lot, maximize your card’s travel reward points, which you can use to pay for airfare for your future vacations. If you often shop for groceries and pay utility bills, you can save money if you take advantage of rebates from a cashback credit card, which allows you to refund 0.2% to 6% of your monthly purchases.
The key to improving your relationship with credit cards is to maximize their benefits and avoid (or at least reduce) their setbacks. That way, you won’t be heartbroken the next time you see your credit card bill.