Don’t be fooled by those who tell you that it is okay to buy something, if you just put it on a credit card. Credit cards have lead us to have monumental amounts of personal debt, the likes of which have rarely been seen before. Get yourself out of this way of thinking by reading this article and seeing how credit cards affect you.

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.

Keep a close eye on your balance. You should also remain aware of your credit limit. If you inadvertently go over your credit limit, you will either be heavily penalized or your credit card will be blocked. If fees are assessed, it will take a longer period of time to pay off the balance.

If you need to use credit cards, it is best to use one credit card with a larger balance, than 2, or 3 with lower balances. The more credit cards you own, the lower your credit score will be. Use one card, and pay the payments on time to keep your credit score healthy!

Before even using your new credit card, be sure to read all the terms of the agreement. Most credit card companies consider the first use of your credit card to represent acceptance of the terms of the agreement. Even though the agreement’s print is tiny, read it as carefully as you can.

Every time you decide to apply for a new credit card, your credit report is checked and an “inquiry” is made. This stays on your credit report for up to two years and too many inquiries, brings your credit score down. Therefore, before you start wildly applying for different cards, research the market first and choose a few select options.

Learn how to manage your credit card online. Most credit card companies now have online resources where you can oversee your daily credit actions. These resources give you more power than you have ever had before over your credit, including, knowing very quickly, whether your identity has been compromised.

Make sure you are consistently using your card. You do not have to use it frequently, but you should at least be using it once a month. While the goal is to keep the balance low, it only helps your credit report if you keep the balance low, while using it consistently at the same time.

Before using your credit card online, check to verify that the seller is legitimate. Try calling the listed phone numbers to ensure the company is in business and always avoid purchases from companies that do not have a physical address listed.

You may want to consider using layaway, instead of credit cards during the holiday season. Credit cards traditionally, will cause you to incur a higher expense than layaway fees. This way, you will only spend what you can actually afford during the holidays. Making interest payments over a year on your holiday shopping will end up costing you far more than you may realize.

Do not use your credit cards to pay for gas, clothes or groceries. You will find that some gas stations will charge more for the gas, if you choose to pay with a credit card. It’s also not a good idea to use cards for these items because these items are things you need often. Using your cards to pay for them can get you into a bad habit.

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.

Transferring a credit card balance from a high interest credit card to a card where the rate is less, can save you money every month. Credit card companies offer special introductory rates to attract new business to their credit cards. If you take advantage of one of these offers, make sure that you understand the amount of time that the introductory rate offer lasts.

Interest rates are subject to negotiation. Contact the company that issues your credit card, you may be able to get them to lower your rate. If you’ve made your payments regularly and if you have proven that you are a good customer, they could give you a better APR.

If you owe money to your credit card company and you cannot afford to pay it, contact your company. You may be able to set up a hardship plan until you are able to pay the money back. This way, you can avoid getting into debt and ruining your credit.

If have a missing or stolen credit card, report it as soon as possible to the card issuers. Several companies have a 24-hour service and toll free number on their statement for this reason. To protect yourself, after calling, write a letter to every issuer. The letter should provide your card’s number, the date it went missing, and the date it was reported.

Don’t pay credit card bills with the same exact card. Panicked borrowers sometimes take out cash advances and purchase money orders in order to pay their bill. The fees and interest that result from this “trick” simply make next month’s emergency even bigger.

Knowing the impact that credit cards really have on your life, is a good first step towards using them more wisely in the future. Often times, they are a necessary building block for good credit. However, they are overused and often, misunderstood. This article has attempted to clear up some of those confusing ideas and set the record straight.