Credit Cards

How can you stick to your budget while using credit cards? It's so easy to charge everything you buy. But then the interest charges pile up, and pretty soon you've maxed out your credit.

Monthly Payments

Consumers like the convenience of "low minimum monthly payments." But those payments are so low that only the interest is paid off, not the actual debt.

Instead, by paying more than the minimum, you can shave months off your debt.

Limit yourself to two or three cards, and try to pay more than the minimum monthly payment. If you can, pay off the balance in full every month. If you keep your credit card purchases small and infrequent, this isn't so hard.

Debit Cards

A debit card, which looks similar to a credit card, works more like a check. It withdraws money directly from your checking account, so there's no interest and no debt. When you use your debit card, be sure the money is in your bank account to cover the charge, or you could be overdrawn.

Be careful with your debit card. If it's stolen, your bank account could be drained. Your personal identification number (PIN), the code you use to withdraw money from your bank, also may be stolen. If your debit card is lost or stolen, be sure to report it to your bank immediately.

Read the Fine Print

Beware of special offers like "buy today and pay nothing for 6 months." Always read the "fine print." You could find high interest rates and strict credit terms. Make sure you understand and can afford the credit terms before proceeding. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Don't be afraid to use your credit and debit cards. Just remember to be careful.



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