Using Credit Cards Responsibly

Credit cards can be a useful tool or a “dangerous weapon” and most of this depends on the user. The top credit cards available will be counterproductive if you spend beyond your means. However if used correctly a credit can be a convenient and efficient payment method.

The struggling economy and the ongoing mortgage and job crisis may be affecting your credit cards since issuers are likely to raise rates, change terms, and lower credit limits. The following are fundamentals of credit card usage that can help anyone avoid the negative aspect of credit in your wallet:

1) Read the fine print – Credit card terms and conditions are quite challenging to read, being comprised of some legalese, so use the Wells Fargo credit card glossary to help you get through the terms.

2) Look at your statements every month – Go over fees, interest rates, and of course due dates, since they are all subject to change and make sure to be on top of these. In addition, be vigilant for credit card fraud which should be reported to the credit company immediately.

3) Never shy away from contacting customer service to dispute a charge, ask for a rate reduction, etc’

4) Your Credit company will send you offers from time to time so make sure to know exactly what services they are trying to sell to you, such as extra insurance, fraud protection, etc.

5) Pay your bill every month in full before the deadline. Using credit cards and paying the balance every month is equivalent to getting a 0% loan. However, do remember that credit is a tool that allows you to use the money you already have in a more efficient way. Basically, avoid getting into the black hole of debt.

Chew on this – Tip #3. A Blog for the times

For the current economic crisis, I would like to mention a blog that I came across as being focused on the topic and presenting the information with the consumer in mind first and foremost. The Talk Money BlogĀ  discusses such pressing issues as: money saving tactics, debt problems and solutions, the mortgage meltdown, the credit crunch and its impact, finance contracts, and how to claim compensation for wrongful bank or credit card charges.

The blog’s author is Mark Aucamp, who has worked in Africa, Asia, and Europe, and is experienced as the owner of a debt management businessĀ  and as a mortgage consultant running his own company.

Some of the informative blog articles include the “Buy to Let Landlords“, “money saving tips – free enterprise”, and “Credit Cards Debts Cleared Legally“.

There is also a forum section within the blog that is divided into sections of: The Mortgage Market, The Credit Crunch, Money Saving Tips, Unenforceable Finance Contracts, and Debt Management.

The site itself is slick looking and easy to navigate. It also isn’t bombarded with ads, just a couple of banners and some Google Adsense ads, which make for an unobtrusive reading.

Overall, the site shows good potential, as it was launched in early July and already contains many extensive posts and relevant comments relating to the current economic crisis.