Hints on keeping credit cards:
Credit cards can be helpful in emergencies or if you are able to pay off the balance each month. But sometimes credit cards can also get you into trouble. Here are some helpful hints on using credit cards:

  • Watch out for carrying balances. Some cards charge 20% or more in interest. (Interest is usually called "Finance Charges" on your statements.)
  • Look at your statement carefully and call the company right away if you have any questions.
  • There is usually a large finance charge for cash advances and interest begins accruing as soon as you take the money out, not after the next statement closing.
  • Be aware of annual fees. Many times you are charged some amount just to have the card.
  • Watch out for introductory offers! When you receive a credit card offer in the mail with a low rate, it may expire in three or six months. Note when and by how much the rate increases after the "introductory offer" expires. You may not remember when it expires, but the card company will.
  • Think about your purchases. If you are not able to afford the purchase now, chances are you won't be able to afford it in a month when the credit card bill comes in.

If you get behind

  •  Cut your recreational expenses.
  •  Call your credit card company. They may be willing to work out a repayment schedule with you.
  •  Develop a budget and stick with it! Everyone makes mistakes, but don't prolong yours. Bad credit will follow you and hurt your chances for mortgages or loans down the road.
  • Look into credit counselling services. Many offer educational programs or individual counselling sessions to help you get back on track.
FTC's Advise
The Federal Trade Commission advises consumers not to give out personal information - including their credit card or bank account numbers - over the phone or online unless they are familiar with the business that's asking for it. Scam artists can use your personal information to commit fraud, such as identity theft. That's where someone uses some piece of your personal information, such as your credit card account number, Social Security number, mother's maiden name, or birth date, without your knowledge or permission to commit fraud or theft.

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