We’ve all gotten those flyers in the mail. Pre-approved for this credit card or that credit card. 0% interest! Reward points! Airline miles! But what does it all mean, and further, what should you be cautious of when considering a credit card?
First, opening a credit card establishes a line of credit in your name, which can be great for your credit score. Not carrying a balance, making your payments on time and not using a large portion of your available credit could have an even greater positive impact on your credit score.
Numerous cards come with offers such as cash back, airline miles or reward points that provide an incentive to use the card often. If you choose one of these cards, be careful; it may charge an annual fee, which could potentially eat into your expected benefits.
Many cards also offer balance transfers, which allow you to move balances from existing credit cards to a different card. But if you read the fine print, there are often fees (a percent of the balance) that can be a factor as well.
Credit cards typically carry a high interest rate (could be upwards of 20-30%, depending on the card). If you get a 0% offer for a new card or to complete a balance transfer, again, be sure to read the fine print and know when that rate will change. And, if you transfer a large balance, pay it off before that rate jumps!
Transferring your balance brings up what could be the biggest pitfall of having a credit card: falling into credit card debt. Carrying a small balance for a time as you pay off a large purchase is generally fine, but you can run into trouble if you carry a large balance for an extended period.
Since cards can have high interest rates, the balance owed can quickly spiral out of control if not paid down. The solution here is to always be on top of your payments and be sure that any balance you carry is taken care of as quickly as you can.
In general, try not to carry a balance, make your payments on time, and use the card responsibly to make the most out of your card and reap the benefits of improved credit and incentives.
At Vantage, we have both traditional and reward credit cards — all of which come with no balance transfer or annual fees.
Don’t have a Vantage Mastercard credit card? Apply today!
Are you looking to transfer a balance from another card? Vantage Mastercard ® credit cards carry no balance transfer fees!