Used responsibly, a credit card is a helpful financial tool. Paying consistently and on time can boost your credit rating and offer you rewards for purchases. However, if your credit spending gets out of control, accumulated interest and monthly payments can become a problem.
In this article, we teach you the art of managing credit cards and how to leverage responsible credit card management to your advantage. Below are some tips on how to become more financially responsible with your wealth, inspired by the credit card best practices according to the money-savvy.
Money-savvy people track everything they spend. They may track expenses in different ways, but what matters is they found a method that works for them. Like them, you’ve got to find a method that works for you.
One effective method is to categorize the way you spend according to your habits and lifestyle. You can organize your credit card expenses into the usual categories: utilities, groceries, gas, meals, travels, and clothing.
Set aside a little time to analyze your spending habits. You might find you’re running over on your clothing budget or spending more than usual on expensive coffee. You could use this money in other ways, like starting a travel fund or setting aside extra money for your retirement.
Another easy way to track and manage credit card spending is not to spread it across too many credit cards. Don’t go overboard by managing more than two or three credit cards at a time. Having a maximum of three credit cards lets you maximize their benefits and keep your balances at a manageable level.
Money-savvy people look at their bill carefully. They check how much the bill is and when the payment is due. They also run down all items, preferably with receipts to match. With a lot of online fraud going on nowadays, you should always be on the lookout for anomalous transactions and accidental double credit card entries from, say, your supermarket or department store.
This is why it’s important to scrutinize your bill as soon as you receive it. If you see something that’s not right, report it right away to your bank’s credit card hotline. If you have to file a dispute, file it right away. Don’t wait.
This one’s simple but remains one of the best practices for managing credit cards. Money-savvy people pay off their credit card bill in full every month. Otherwise, they end up paying more because of interest.
Usual credit card purchases (except installment purchases) are short-term loans extended to you by the credit card issuing bank. You will be billed after one credit card cycle, which is usually about 21 days after your monthly cut-off date. If you miss the payment due date, you will have to pay late and finance charges. It will also have a negative impact on your credit score.
Yearly credit card interest rates can take a huge bite out of your savings if you don’t rein in unnecessary credit card spending. The Philippines’ Central Bank issued an annual cap of 24% on credit card interest rates in November of 2020, but prior to this, credit card interest rates could run up to 36 or even 47% a year.
The solution? Pay your credit card in full when the deadline comes around. When making a big purchase, ask if you can get a 0% installment deal, and take it if they do, but commit to the monthly payments. Track your expenses religiously as you continue paying in full.
You shouldn’t spend more than your preset monthly budget for regular expenses and disposable items. If your credit card bill starts ballooning to unmanageable levels, it’s time to review your expenses and pay for everything in cash or via debit card.
If you need further help with responsible credit card management, we have an article on the best practices for managing your credit card.
Paying on time, all the time is a sacred rule of responsible credit card management. If you cannot pay your dues in full, then pay for what you can by the deadline.
If you scrutinize your bill regularly, you know what comes if you don’t pay on time. You’ll get a late charge fee (which is calculated as a flat fee or as a percentage of your bill, depending on the bank), as well as a finance fee. The late charge fee applies even if you’re just one day late, so you’ll always pay a late fee together with the finance fee.
What’s worse is if you start missing credit card payments, you’re going to hurt your credit score, which in the Philippines is tracked by the Credit Information Corporation. Your credit score is calculated based on your timely payments for utilities such as PLDT, Meralco, and your mobile phone bill, as well as any outstanding loans you have on record.
A low credit score hurts your ability to raise your credit limit or ask for any kind of loan. You don’t want to waste your earnings and savings on unnecessary fees, and you don’t want to hurt your credit score, either. So make sure your credit card payment habits include paying on or before the deadline.
There are many credit card products with various offers. If you’re a careful and responsible credit card user, you could be maximizing your credit card’s benefits in no time with no additional expense.
Credit card benefits vary according to the card you choose. Here are some examples:
Credit card brands also offer special wellness, travel, shopping, and dining discounts from various establishments, as well as special zero percent interest for up to three or six months for certain types of purchases. Cashback promos are among the most in-demand benefits by a lot of credit card users.
Doing some credit card research on product benefits and discounts could go a long way in helping you earn discounts and savings that match your lifestyle–benefits that you’d probably never get otherwise.
Here’s a bonus credit card best practice: money-savvy people never max out their credit card.
Juggling monthly expenses using your credit card saves you the inconvenience of queuing at the bank for utility payments or carrying large amounts of cash. As a matter of industry practice, it’s usually okay to incur credit card expenses up to about 30% of your credit card limit, but do not go beyond that.
Showing you can use your credit card responsibly by paying on time can help you improve your credit score. Your credit card company may even increase your credit card limit once your yearly card renewal comes around or when you ask for one.
Money-savvy people know how to use credit cards without getting into huge debt or carrying over any credit balance from one month to the next.
Those who gained the most from credit cards are the ones who follow the credit card best practices outlined above. That includes having responsible credit card payment habits and maximizing credit card benefits. It also involves spending within your means and making sure you know your limits.
Learn the art of managing credit cards with Metrobank. Apply for a Metrobank credit card that fits your needs and lifestyle and gain access to a wide range of credit card benefits and perks.