Smart management of credit cards is an integral part of any sound personal finance plan. The key to accomplishing this critical goal is arming yourself with knowledge. Put the tips in the article that follows to work today, and you will be off to a great start in building a strong future.

When you are unable to pay off one of your credit cards, then the best policy is to contact the credit card company. Letting it just go to collections is bad for your credit score. You will find that most companies will let you pay it off in smaller amounts, as long as you don’t keep avoiding them.

There are many cards that offer rewards just for getting a credit card with them. While this should not solely make your decision for you, do pay attention to these types of offers. I’m sure you would much rather have a card that gives you cash back than a card that doesn’t if all other terms are close to being the same.

If you have a credit card account and do not want it to be shut down, make sure to use it. Credit card companies are closing credit card accounts for non-usage at an increasing rate. This is because they view those accounts to be lacking in profit, and therefore, not worth retaining. If you don’t want your account to be closed, use it for small purchases, at least once every three months.

Do not make purchases with your credit card for things that you can not afford. Credit cards are for things that you purchase regularly or that fit into your budget. Making grandiose purchases with your credit card will make that item cost you a great deal more over time and will put you at risk for default.

It goes without saying, perhaps, but always pay your credit cards on time. To be able to follow this simple rule, do not charge more than you afford to pay in cash. Credit card debt can quickly balloon out of control, especially, if the card carries a high interest rate. Otherwise, you will find that you cannot follow the simple rule of paying on time.

Understand the laws governing credit and credit card companies. Credit card companies are prohibited from imposing retroactive rate increases, for instance. It is also against the law to double-cycle your bill. Learn about current laws. The two important laws that have come into effect recently are the CARD Act as well as the Fair Credt Billing Act.

Department store cards are tempting, but when trying to improve your credit and keep a great score, you need to keep in mind that you don’t want a credit card for everything. Department store cards can only be used at that specific store. It is their way of getting you to spend more money at that specific location. Get a card that you can use anywhere.

Do your research prior to applying for a credit card. Certain companies charge a higher annual fee than others. Compare the rates of many different companies to make sure you get the one with the lowest fee. Also, do not forget to find out if the APR rate is fixed or variable.

It is a good rule of thumb to have two major credit cards, long-standing, and with low balances reflected on your credit report. You do not want to have a wallet full of credit cards, no matter how good you may be keeping track of everything. While you may be handling yourself well, too many credit cards equals a lower credit score.

Use cards that offer you a low interest rate with a balance transfer cautiously. In many cases, that rate is only available for a short period of time. When that time expires, the rate might jump to three or four times that amount. Make sure that you understand the terms and make an educated choice about choosing, and using, these cards.

Once your credit account is closed, shred your card. If you throw it in a drawer or let your kids play with it, it may wind up in somebody’s hands who could use it, reopen it, and charge items in your name.

If you can, pay the full balance on your card. Unless you have a credit card with 0% A.P.R., you will have a charge for financing added to your outstanding balance. To avoid this charge, pay the due amount by the date indicated on the bill. If you pay only the minimum amount due, it will take you a longer to pay off the amount owed because of finance charges.

If your credit card is charging you a high rate of interest on your balance, consider transferring it to a lower interest rate card. This can save you a lot while you are working to pay down that balance. The key is to not charge any more on the old card once you have transferred your balance, or you will end up in a worse financial situation.

Do not think that just because you paid your credit card account off in full that the account is closed. The account will not be closed until you contact the credit card company and request it to be closed. This should be done in writing. The company should confirm the closure within fifteen days.

If you are hit with a credit card fee that is unavoidable, perhaps due to an emergency situation, call your credit card company. Sometimes they will waive these fees for certain users. The key is to only ask if you are a person who always pays their bill on time and only needs a one time exception, otherwise your request will be turned down.

Using credit cards wisely is an essential aspect of being a smart consumer. It is necessary to educate yourself thoroughly in the ways credit cards work and how they can become useful tools. By using the guidelines in this piece, you can have what it takes to seize control of your own financial fortunes.