You can find yourself sliding down a slippery slope of credit card debt if you’re not careful but, as it turns out, there are ways to wisely incorporate credit cards into your day-to-day life. 

People rely on credit cards for everything from paying bills to making purchases both big and small. Most credit users are “revolvers”—consumers who carry balances over from one month to the next—but with the continuing pandemic, more and more people are relying on credit cards to carry them over until their next payday

Rather than attempting to swear off credit cards forever, let’s get realistic about managing them. If you find yourself wondering how to effectively carry balances on your credit cards without falling victim to major debt, we’ve got you covered. Follow these tips to ensure you spend wisely and stay on top of your credit card debt. 

Tip #1: Set a limit for yourself to not use your card for any purchases under a certain dollar amount. 

Just because you have credit available to you, doesn’t mean you should use it for everything. This is one of the most straightforward credit card tips but one that may be a hard truth to learn.

It’s important to set limits with your credit card spending, especially if you are someone who relies on your credit card for must-haves, like rent or groceries. Try to save your credit line for bigger purchases that you might not be able to afford otherwise. Even better, keep these purchases to items you need rather than those you want in order to avoid unnecessary debt

Tip #2: When shopping in-store, make a list before you go and stick to it. For online-shopping, leave items in your cart for 24 hours to reevaluate your purchase before buying. 

How many times have you gone to the store only to leave with way more items than you had planned on buying? Similarly, in the age where popular online retailers like Amazon make shopping super easy from our phones, we are easily persuaded by the one-click convenience factor. The outcome? We often buy items we don’t really need. While it might seem like a good idea at that moment, these purchases quickly add up on your billing statement. Keep this credit card tip in mind the next time you go to the store for “just a few things.”

Tip #3: To understand the true “cost of a purchase”, add $X to each purchase to account for credit card costs such as interest, annual fees, etc. 

While credit cards are a convenient way to make purchases, it is important to be aware of the costs that come with any line of credit. From interest payments to annual and late fees, misused credit cards can cost a lot more than expected. Avoid any surprises by calculating what the cost of interest would be before going through with a purchase. It might require a little extra work, but it will help you understand the true cost of buying with credit and will go a long way in teaching you how to manage credit cards responsibly.

Tip #4: Set weekly reminders to check your credit card balance. 

It’s a lot easier to swipe a card than hand over cash, but in doing so it’s a lot easier to lose track of just how much we are spending. Try monitoring your statement frequently to help you maintain a low balance and stay within budget. Strive to check your statement each week to avoid any surprises and know when to curb any frivolous spending. The best part? Most banks make this effortless with mobile banking on your phone, making managing your credit card expenses easier with fewer excuses not to check!

Tip #5: Commit to making an extra payment each month above your minimum payment.

High-interest rates are often the culprit for anxiety-inducing debt that you can’t seem to shake. If you’re looking to pay down that debt sooner than later, start by managing your credit card beyond trying to meet the minimum payments on your statements. While the lower number is tempting, sticking to the minimum ends up costing you far more in the long run due to the compiling interest on remaining balances.

Tip #6: Call your credit card company and move your payment date to 3 days after payday.

No one likes feeling financially strapped. One crucial tip for managing your credit cards is monitoring when you have the funds to support regular payments. The good news is you have some say in when your payments are due. Simply call your credit card’s customer service or hop on their website to inquire about selecting a new due date for your payments. Chances are you can set a date that better lines up your finances. The goal? Being able to pay a larger sum toward your balance, decreasing the amount you will owe in interest, and regaining control of finances along the way.

Credit cards can be a great tool when used correctly. Managing your credit cards responsibly is possible by implementing these credit card tips. Once you have these good habits down, there are ways you can actually benefit from using credit cards instead of cash. From fraud protection to cardholder rewards, utilizing credit cards has its perks. Plus, using credit cards responsibly helps you build the credit history you need for major purchases and earn lower interest rates in the future. Knowledge (and discipline) is power, especially when it comes to using a credit card.