Credit Cards

What is a credit card?

A credit card allows you to buy things even though you might not have the money to pay for it right away. The company that gave you the card lets you spend up to an agreed sum and then makes additional money available to you as you pay off what you’ve spent. You must pay at least a minimum amount by the due date, generally once every month. You will pay a finance charge or interest on any amount you do not pay by the due date.

Today our entire financial system relies on credit. Credit cards can help to make your life that little bit easier- you can use it to pay for goods or services, either over the phone, online or over the counter.

Credit cards can enable you to have that little extra spending power when and where you need it. In addition to paying for purchases you can also use your credit cards in order to withdraw cash from a cash machine, not only in this country but all over the world.

It is increasingly difficult to operate in the modern economy without a credit card. Credit cards allow people to manage emergencies, to shop conveniently in the High Street, by telephone or over the internet and are useful when travelling abroad.

With each credit card you will have a limit to the amount of money that you can spend on it. This is known as a ‘credit limit’. You can withdraw money and pay for goods and services as much as you want up to your credit limit, effectively borrowing capital from your credit card provider.

Every month you will receive a credit card statement that will detail both your balance (the amount of money you have either withdrawn or spent) and any interest that has accrued upon it. You can then either pay off the full amount or make the minimum payment.

Credit card statement

A credit card allows the cardholder to borrow as much money (up to their credit limit) as they like, when and where they like, without having to get permission from their bank manager.

All credit cards have finance charges for not paying your balance in full each month, but you could save a lot of money by shopping around for the credit card that offers you the best terms.

Shop for a card with an interest free period that gives you enough time to pay your bills on time without charging you interest. Credit cards with no interest free period start charging you fees as soon as you buy something on your credit card.

A credit card is convenient for making purchases. It is also the best way to create a credit history for you, and this is necessary to do things like buy a home.

It is very easy to lose control of your spending habits if you rely on credit cards too often. While they can be very useful, credit cards can also be risky. Even people who are usually good with their money get into trouble with credit cards. The problem is that people use their credit cards too often and let their debt add up. Then they can only pay back small amounts at a time. This ends up costing a lot of money in finance charges.

Before applying for a credit card, you should decide why you want one, and make sure you can use it wisely.

About the author
John Mussi is the founder of Direct Online Loans who help UK homeowners find the best available loans via the website.