The holidays are here once again and for many credit cardholders, the holiday season is when they rack up the highest balances on their accounts than any other time of the year. Are you planning to use your credit card for Christmas shopping or to prepare for the New Year feasts?
Before you do, here is a smart holiday spending guide on how you can use your credit card while steering clear from bad credit.
Set a personal spending limit. How much do you plan to charge to your credit card? What kinds of purchases will you use your credit card for? Will you use it to buy gifts or to buy that one special gift for a loved one? Are you thinking about buying a new gadget or a home appliance before the year ends?
It’s important to set your own limit, making sure that you will not max out or exceeding your actual credit line. This way, you can take control of your credit card usage and avoid incurring a very large debt when the holidays are over.
Check the interest rate. Many people have more than one credit card and if this is true in your case, you should check which of your cards have the lowest rate of interest and which ones carry high APRs. Naturally, you want to avoid using a high-rate card for your holiday expenses. If you plan to use a few credit cards for holiday shopping, you may consider consolidating your debts by transferring balances to a low rate card.
However, transferring balances to avoid expensive APRs should be done with caution. You want to be very careful not to max out the limit on your low-rate credit card. Keep in mind that it’s not just about being able to pay your credit card bills. Your credit score can also suffer if you max out your limit.
Leave other credit cards at home. Take only the credit card you need when you shop. Having all your credit cards in your wallet may only encourage splurging. Furthermore, you will have a bigger problem in case your wallet gets lost or stolen. Trying to call up different issuers to report the loss can be difficult and you will need to get a replacement for all the cards you lost as well.
Use cash as much as possible. If you can avoid using your credit card this holiday season, then you will be in a much better position to start the New Year right with zero debt. After all, spending a fortune is not necessary to enjoy the holidays. What’s more important is for you to spend quality time with family and friends. Look for happiness in things that money can’t buy. A simple gathering with a few budget-friendly dishes can still be meaningful and memorable as long as there is love and good cheer. So, if you don’t have the money, don’t feel obliged to use your credit card or run up debt just to survive the holidays.
Don’t delay with repayment. If you have decided to use your credit card this holiday season, be prepared with a repayment plan, too. As much as possible, you should pay off your full balance on or before the due date. If your credit card offers zero rates, you should work on repayment at the quickest possible time as most issuers only provide a 6-month introductory period.