Credit cards have the potential to be useful tools, or dangerous enemies. The best way to understand the right ways to utilize credit cards, is to amass a substantial body of knowledge about them. Use the advice in this piece liberally, and you have the ability to take control of your own financial future.

Make sure that you make your payments on time when you have a credit card. The extra fees are where the credit card companies get you. It is very important to make sure you pay on time to avoid those costly fees. This will also reflect positively on your credit report.

Check out the types of loyalty rewards and bonuses that a credit card company is offering. If you use credit cards regularly, find one that has a loyalty program. If you use it smartly, it can act like a second income stream.

As a general rule, you should avoid applying for any credit cards that come with any type of free offer. More often than not, anything that you get free with credit card applications will always come with some sort of catch or hidden costs that you are sure to regret later on down the road.

If you are determined to stop using credit cards, cutting them up is not necessarily the best way to do it. Just because the card is gone doesn’t mean the account is no longer open. If you get desperate, you may ask for a new card to use on that account, and get trapped in the same cycle of charging you wanted to get out of in the first place!

Many companies advertise that you can transfer balances over to them and carry a lower interest rate. This sounds appealing, but you need to carefully consider your options. Think about it. If a company consolidates a higher amount of money onto one card and then the interest rate spikes, you are going to have a hard time making that payment. Know all the terms and conditions, and be careful.

An important tip for saving money on gas is to never carry a balance on a gas credit card or when charging gas on another credit card. Plan to pay it off each month, otherwise, you will not only pay today’s outrageous gas prices, but interest on the gas, as well.

Prior to applying for a credit card, try to build your credit up at least six months in advance. Then, be sure to take a look at your credit report. By doing this, you are more likely to get approved for the credit card and get a higher credit limit, as well.

Never give your credit card number or information to any company that you are not familiar with. A company may appear to be legitimate, but you never know what may happen behind closed doors. If you do not feel comfortable with a certain company, only use cash when making purchases from them.

Designate a single credit card only for online purchases to protect your finances in the event your information is ever compromised. Using a lot of different cards can increase your risk of being defrauded, so having one card eliminates some of that vulnerability.

Call your card company immediately if you lose your card. This way, they are able to shut down your card and prevent anyone else from using it. Then, the company can issue a brand new card.

Be sure to find out if the due date for your payment is a firm date or just a suggested date. A lot of credit card companies now post suggested due dates along with actual due dates. If you have a due date suggested to you, knowing the actual due date can be of assistance in case you require some extra time in order to gather the money.

If you are looking for one of your credit card accounts to close, do not make it your oldest card. The longer you have a solid credit card on your report, the better it looks on your report and gives you a better score. If you are considering it because of high interest rates, contact your creditor and request a reduction in interest rates.

If your credit card becomes stolen or lost, report it immediately. Most credit card issuers have a special number to call just to report a loss. To keep you further protected, it is best to write a follow up letter to the issuer. This letter should have the card number, when your card went missing and the date you reported the card lost.

Be sure that you make your monthly payment on your credit card each month. Most companies assess a late fee for late payments. This fee could be as high $25, even if you are only one day late making your payment. If you pay many late payments, your fee can grow larger and larger.

When considering the application for a credit card, be sure that you determine if you can afford to have one. This is important because many credit cards will have an annual fee that might put a financial burden on you that you may not be prepared to handle. Be sure to check all of the terms before applying.

If you are looking to open your first credit card, try your bank first. They already have a lot of your financial information, and can often offer you a speedy approval as well as some great incentive. A credit union is another option you can try.

Be dubious of zero percent teaser rates. The grace periods where these take place can lead you into the trap of being overly confident and spending too much. Know what the go-to rate is going to be and when it kicks in. Have some idea what your likely balance will be at that date.

Far too many people have gotten themselves into precarious financial straits, because of credit cards. The best way to avoid falling into this trap, is to have a thorough understanding of the different ways credit cards can be used in a financially responsible way. Put the tips in this article to work, and you can become a truly savvy consumer.