Getting a Handle on Credit Cards

By: Susan Duey

If you were one of the many Americans who, in 2006, managed to wrack up a total of more than $2.38 trillion in consumer debt, of which $875 billion of this consumer debt was defined as revolving credit debt, you are not alone. Even with all this documented debt, getting a handle on your credit cards would not impossible. It is not even especially difficult, since many of the steps are well-defined, but the process does take work and determination. By educating yourself on the steps that can be taken in order to get a handle on your credit cards, you are taking a step in the right direction.

While many people are aware of the advantages that come from using credit cards, such as the quick and easy use, there are some disadvantages to these plastic lifesavers if they are not used correctly. In order to get a handle on your credit cards, you first need to be aware of the less desirable features of credit cards and how you can use education in order to limit these credit card nuisances. Credit cards are meant to be used to aid individuals but, at the same time, they do not need to be used constantly and as a person's only source of payment.

Did you know that if a person paid, using the average credit card debt for a person, just the minimum payment that is scheduled by the credit card company every month, it would take more than thirty years to pay off this debt? In addition to the time it would take to clear this credit card debt, there would also be a great deal of interest tacked on to the total of the bill. Individuals can help themselves more than they know by being aware of the interest percentage that they are responsible for paying on their individual credit cards, since many credit cards will differ in this percentage, as well as by paying more than the minimum payments. Obviously if a person is not paying more than their minimum payment and it is taking a long time to pay off their debt, they are not going to feel as though they have a handle on their credit cards or on, to some degree, their life.

It also would help dramatically for individuals to pay off the full balance of their credit cards each month whenever possible. When account holders make it a point to not use their credit cards as magic payment devices, and to put on the card only what they can pay off each month any time that it is possible, they will be able to get a strong handle on their credit cards. Obviously emergencies come up from time to time, and in these cases credit cards can truly be lifelines for many people. However, when these situations come up, it is important for account holders to remember that they will benefit greatly from paying an amount higher than the minimum payment, which would result in the account holder being debt-free sooner.

Many people, including roughly eighty percent of students, actually charge normal month-to-month necessities on their credit cards. These items include food, clothes, toiletries and other such items. When individuals can do so, it would be important for them not to use their credit cards for these purchases. The previously listed items are those that are standard monthly payments. When individuals plan for these purchases each month, they can budget it in to their financial plans. There is no reason for them to additionally pay credit card interest on these purchases by using their credit cards.

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