How to Use a Credit Card Responsibly
Credit cards are powerful financial instruments, and like any other powerful tool, you must be careful with it. When used responsibly, your credit card can offer you more security and convenience than other methods of payment, along with useful benefits and valuable rewards.
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At the same time, using credit responsibly will help build your good credit history and raise your credit score. But when you don’t know how to use a credit card responsibly, the result can be poor credit, higher interest charges and expensive fees. Here are several good habits to use a credit card responsibly.
One of the strengths of a credit card can also create some of its biggest problems. A credit card allows you to spend money that you don’t yet have, which creates debt. And while you may want to use a credit card to borrow a small amount of money for the short term, you should avoid incurring large amounts of debt that can take a long time to pay off.
To avoid debt, it’s important to only spend within your current means and to avoid utilizing the majority of your available credit. It’s also critical to pay off as much of your outstanding balance as possible each month, and not just make the required minimum payment.
Focus on Making On-Time Payments
Usually the most important factor in your credit score is your payment history, and making on-time payments is essential to responsible credit card use. Thankfully, most credit card issuers, including Discover, offer resources to keep payments top of mind. For example, you can use email and text reminders of your payment due dates. In addition, Discover and other card issuers allow you to configure automatic payments from your bank account.
Keep Your Credit Card Secure
Another part of using a credit card responsibly is keeping your credit card information secure. You should always keep your credit cards in a secure place, keeping them out of view in your car or at your workplace. Also, you should never loan your cards out to be used by others.
It’s important to immediately contact your card issuer if one of your cards is lost or stolen. And if you have a Discover card, you can use the Freeze it® on/off switch on their mobile app or website to prevent new purchases, cash advances and balance transfers on your account in seconds if you misplace your card.1
Examine Your Monthly Statements
It’s critical to look at every charge on your monthly statement, to ensure that they are all authorized and accurate. If you notice any unauthorized charges, you can report them to your card issuer and have the charges investigated. Nearly every card issuer, including Discover, has a $0 liability policy toward unauthorized charges which means you’re not responsible for unauthorized charges on your credit card account.
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By taking a few of these steps to use a credit card responsibly, you can continue to enjoy all of the benefits of card membership without experiencing any downside.