Credit cards are readily accepted around the world and come with many perks depending on the individual card you choose. They can have a variety of different credit limits and interest rates that they charge. If your balance is paid in full each month there is usually no interest rate charged. Most card issuers reserve the right to change the terms or conditions of your credit card contracts whenever they want without warning. Besides interest rates there are several other costs that can be charged to your account, for example late fees, spending over your limit, bounced checks and many others. It is advisable to register your cards so that if lost or stolen you can easily report them and have all the accounts froze while they issue you new cards.
Credit cards are different than debit cards. Debit cards use the actual money that you have available in your checking or savings account to pay for items purchased, every time you use your debit card money is removed from you account. It’s a good idea to keep close records of all your debit card transactions, it’s very easy to forget the quick lunch you picked up the other day or the tank of gas you purchased on the way to work. Before you know it your account balances won’t match with you checkbook and this can lead to overdrafts and penalty fees being deducted from your accounts. More and more debit cards are being accepted everywhere credit cards are taken.
When you use your credit card to purchase something you are agreeing to repay the card issuer. There is usually a grace period in which the card holder can pay the balance due in full, if the balance is not paid in full there will be no grace period with the next statement sent out. There are credit cards that of low interest rates and even 0% interest for a pre-determined length of time. Many people have taken advantage of these offers to transfer their higher interest rate cards to them and pay more on the principle of the balances while the 0% interest rate offer is in effect, you can save hundreds of dollars doing this.
There has been some controversy over credit cards in recent years. Some major credit companies have been charged with targeting younger people, college students in particular who are already in debt with college tuition and student loans. Nine out of ten students have a credit card or two that they use to purchase books, meals and other materials needed. With many students new to the use of credit cards and the ease at which it makes making purchases many are getting in way over their heads and are unaware at how making late payments or even no payments a month is effecting their credit scores. It is usually later in life when they are about to make their first large purchase of some type that they realize how important protecting their credit is.
Anytime a credit card is lost or stolen it should be reported to the card issuer immediately. They will then put a hold on the account and reissue new cards for the cardholder, the account will not become active again until the cardholder has activated his or her new cards. It is always a good idea to cut up you old credit cards before disposing of them, the same goes for you statements. With identity theft at an all time high you can never be to safe or cautious. There are a couple of different ways to go about signing your new cards, one you can just sign them as stated and in small print write “SEE ID” under your signature. The second way is to simple write “SEE ID” in the signature box, either way you choose when a cashier asks to see your credit card for whatever reason they will also ask to see your ID to verify everything. Usually your ID has a picture of yourself on it and it just makes it much harder for a theft to use.
When you begin your search for a new credit card make sure to shop around. Not all credit cards are created equally. Some have higher fees and interest rates, while other offer low introduction rates but after the introduction time is up charge a much higher interest rate than one offering no specials. Some offer cash back bonuses while other offer rebates and rewards that you can use to make purchases with or even earn flying miles that are redeemed when you have accumulated enough miles. While you can always do a search online and get hundreds of results to search through on credit cards you may find it easier to just go through the financial institution where you bank first to check out what they have to offer.
Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express, Diners Club to name just a few of the major card issuers out there all offer great credit cards with a wide selection of interest rates, fees, services, rewards and options. It is to your advantage to do you research first and know what you want before you sign your name on the dotted line. Used wisely these cards can be a great safety net for you in time of emergencies. They are very convenient and great to use while traveling or on vacation, they eliminate the need to travel with large amounts of cash. They are easy to have replaced if lost or stolen while on vacation or traveling, just remember to have all the information you will need to verify your identity. Credit cards, don’t leave home without one!