Some people view credit cards suspiciously, as if these pieces of plastic can magically destroy their finances without their consent. The truth is, however, credit cards are only dangerous if you don’t know how to use them properly. Read on to learn how to protect your credit if you are using credit cards.

Exercise some caution before you start the process of applying for a credit card offered by a retail store. Whenever retail stores put inquiries on your own credit to see if you qualify for that card, it’s recorded on your report whether you get one or not. If you have many retail inquiries, your credit score may decrease.

If you are in the market for a secured credit card, it is very important that you pay close attention to the fees that are associated with the account, as well as, whether they report to the major credit bureaus. If they do not report, then it is no use having that specific card.

When you are looking over all of the rate and fee information for your credit card make sure that you know which ones are permanent and which ones may be part of a promotion. You do not want to make the mistake of going for a card with very low rates and then they balloon shortly after.

If you only pay the minimum amount each month on your credit card, only the credit card company benefits. The monthly minimums are deliberately designed to be so low that you will be paying for years in in order to pay off your balance. In the meantime, the credit card company will be collecting inordinate amounts of interest from you. Make payments beyond what your minimum payment is set at. You will save a lot of money on interest in the end.

An important aspect of smart credit card usage is to pay the entire outstanding balance, each and every month, whenever possible. By keeping your usage percentage low, you will help keep your overall credit score high, as well as, keep a substantial amount of available credit open for use in case of emergencies.

Only take cash advances from your credit card when you absolutely have to. The finance charges for cash advances are very high, and very difficult to pay off. Only use them for situations in which you have no other option. But you must truly feel that you will be able to make considerable payments on your credit card, soon after.

Always read every letter you get regarding your credit card. Credit cards companies can change their policies, fees and interest rates so long as you receive a written notice that they are doing so. If you don’t wish to comply, you are allowed to cancel that credit card.

Remember that you must pay back what you have charged on your credit cards. This is only a loan, and in many cases, it is a high interest loan. Carefully consider your purchases prior to charging them, to be sure that you will have the money to pay them off.

Make sure that you watch your statements closely. If you see charges that should not be on there, or that you feel you were charged incorrectly for, call customer service. If you cannot get anywhere with customer service, ask politely to speak to the retention team, in order for you to get the assistance you need.

A great tip for saving on today’s high gas prices is to get a reward card from the grocery store where you do business. These days, many stores have gas stations, as well and offer discounted gas prices, if you sign up to use their customer reward cards. Sometimes, you can save up to twenty cents per gallon.

Many experts suggest that your credit limit on a given card should never exceed three-quarters of your monthly income. If your balances exceed one month’s pay, try to repay them as quickly as possible. If you do not or cannot, the amount of interest you pay quickly skyrockets to excessively high amounts.

Do not sign up for store cards in order to save money on a purchase. Often times, the amount you will pay for annual fees, interest or other charges, will easily be more than any savings you will get at the register that day. Avoid the trap, by just saying no in the first place.

If you have made the poor decision of taking out a cash loan on your credit card, be sure to pay it off as soon as possible. Making a minimum payment on this kind of loan is a big mistake. Pay the minimum on other cards, if it means you can pay this debt off faster.

You should try and limit the number of credit cards that are in your name. Too many credit cards is not good for your credit score. Having several different cards can also make it more difficult to keep track of your finances from month to month. Try and keep your credit card count between two and four.

If you pay your credit card bill with a check each month, make sure you send that check out as soon as you get your bill so that you avoid any finance charges or late payment fees. This is good practice and will help you create a good payment history too.

It is important to always review the charges, and credits that have posted to your credit card account. Whether you choose to verify your account activity online, by reading paper statements, or making certain that all charges and payments are reflected accurately, you can avoid costly errors or unnecessary battles with the card issuer.

As you can see, credit cards don’t have any special power to harm your finances, and in fact, using them appropriately can help your credit score. After reading this article, you should have a better idea of how to use credit cards appropriately. If you need a refresher, reread this article to remind yourself of the good credit card habits that you want to develop.