Smart Ways To use Credit

Posted: May 14, 2021

At home, a smiling member looks down at the credit card in their hands.

Credit cards can help you build your credit history, earn rewards and offer protection against fraudulent charges. However, it’s important to learn how to use them responsibly so you don’t end up with debt you can’t afford to pay back. Here are some tips on maximizing the benefits of credit cards while avoiding the potential pitfalls.

Understand the Fees and Interest

Before you choose a credit card, make sure you have a clear understanding of the fees and how much interest will be charged. Examine the annual fees, cash advance fees and late fees if your payment is made after the due date. Know what the interest rate or APR (annual percentage rate) is for your card and if it will change after an introductory period has expired. When you carry a balance, you’ll be charged interest, which will appear as a finance charge on your statement.

Keep Spending in Check

Even though you may have access to more money because you have a credit card, it doesn’t mean you should use all of it. Keep in mind that when you use a credit card, you’re borrowing money. Try to avoid using your credit card for more than you can pay back. Keep your balance at least below 30% of your credit limit to avoid harming your credit score.

Make Timely Payments

Your payment history has the biggest impact on your credit score, so it’s important to make your credit card payment on time every month. Consider scheduling recurring payments to ensure you don’t accidentally miss a due date. Also, keep in mind that you can pay more than the minimum payment. Whatever additional amount you can put towards your balance will decrease the amount of interest you owe.

Earn Rewards or Cash Back

If you’re going to be paying for your streaming service or energy bill each month anyway, then why not put it on your credit card to earn incentives? At Landmark, we offer a Cash Back Visa® that gives you 1.5% Cash Back on every purchase1, and also a Rewards Visa® which earns you two points for every dollar spent on gas and restaurant purchases and one point for every dollar spent on all other purchases2. Points can be redeemed for gift cards, merchandise, travel and more. As long as you are spending responsibly and staying on top of payments, these types of credit card programs provide great perks!

Get Fraud Protection

Most credit card companies will monitor your card and contact you if they suspect there are fraudulent purchases. Additionally, if you notice fraudulent charges and properly notify the credit card company, they will put a hold on your card and you legally can’t be held liable for more than $50 (although Landmark and most other financial institutions won’t charge you anything).

Enjoy the Convenience

Credit cards provide a lot of convenience. They give you the ability to make purchases online, book reservations for hotels and car rentals and even make secure, contactless payments in store when you set up mobile payment. Landmark also offers Card Management which is an app that allows you to manage your card on your on the go, giving you the power to lock your card and set limits on when, where and how it can be used.

Keep Your Cards Open

The length of your credit history is one component of your credit score. So as long as a credit card does not have an annual fee, it may be advantageous to hang on to it even if you aren’t actively using it. That will help extend the average age of your accounts.

By using credit cards thoughtfully and wisely, you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits without taking on more debt than you can handle. If you’re interested in applying for a credit card, learn more about the credit card programs we offer at Landmark.

1Earn 1.5% cash back on all Cash Back Credit Card purchases. Cash back will be earned based on your qualifying net purchases (purchases minus returns and/or other related credits). Limited to accounts in good standing. An account will be disqualified if it becomes past due 60 or more days. You do not earn cash back on cash advances, balance transfers, unauthorized or fraudulent charges or for fees of any kind on your card account.
2Rewards Visa earns 1 point for $1 dollar in purchases. Points will be earned based on your qualifying net purchases (purchases minus returns and/or other related credits). You do not earn points on cash advances, balance transfers, unauthorized or fraudulent charges or for fees of any kind on your card account. An account will be disqualified if it becomes 60 or more days past due.