Guide to Credit Cards

by : Chris Marshall

When used properly Credit Cards can be very handy for times when cash flow is a problem. For example, if there are a number of purchases or one large purchase that you need to make in any given month but your wages are yet to go into your bank account you could use your credit card to make the purchase before paying off the balance when you are paid.

Alternatively you could choose to pay off a percentage of the balance and then continue to make similar payments in future months, or pay it all off at a future date. However, if you choose to do this then you should be aware that you may be charged interest on top of your purchase which will increase the total amount that you will have to pay back. After all, a credit card is simply a small loan where the money you need is lent to you by the lender who you then have to pay back.

You can also withdraw money from a cashpoint using a credit card but again not only may you charged interest for doing so there may be fees you have to pay for a cash advance regardless of how quickly you pay off the balance borrowed. Finally you can use Credit Cards to transfer balances from other Credit Cards or store cards that you have. This means if you are struggling to make your repayments across a number of cards you can group them all together to make one repayment per month for all of your debts. Some card issuers offer 0% interest on balance transfers for an introductory period after taking out a new card but you may be charged a fee to transfer the balance or face high interest rates once the introductory period runs out.

Therefore if used wisely Credit Cards can be of great benefit to you. If you pay back the full amount that you have borrowed before the monthly typical Annual Percentage Rate (APR) is applied then you will avoid hefty interest charges. The amount of time it takes for the interest charge or typical APR to kick in varies from card to card but is typically from 28 days to 56 days.

As already mentioned, some card issuers may offer 0% on purchases and balance transfers for a set period when you take out a new card, or indeed as a special offer later on, but remember that this will not last forever and although you may enjoy spending at 0% APR, if you do not pay off the amount borrowed in time you will end up paying back interest. Also, you may find that the amount of interest charged is higher than other cards meaning you could end up paying more than if you didn't take out a card with 0% if you're not careful with your finances.

Introductory Credit Card Offers

We've already touched on the subject but in this section we will talk about the offers that credit card issuers will use to tempt you into taking out a card with them. The main offer is 0% on either (and sometimes on both) purchases and balance transfers for a pre-stated period of time. This means that for example you could have 0% on purchases for six months meaning that whatever you buy in the first six months will have no interest charged on top of it. So if you pay back what you have borrowed within the first six months you will not pay any interest at all. The same applies to balance transfers where you can transfer the balances of other Credit Cards and store cards onto your new card. This means all of your debts are in one place but again if you do not pay the balance off within the set period you will find yourself paying interest once again unless you transfer the balance to another card once again!

0% interest deals are great if you know you can pay off what you have borrowed at the end of the offer period but if not you may find yourself struggling to pay off the interest which can often work out higher on such cards when compared to typical cards.

As already mentioned balance transfers can help you consolidate all of your debts in one place so that you can make one monthly repayment rather than several across a number of lenders. Although you may be able to get a credit card with 0% on balance transfers for a set period you may find you are charged an initial fee to transfer the balance over. This may be a percentage of the amount you are transfering or a capped fee. This means that whilst you will have not have to pay any interest on the amount transferred for the introductory period, a large amount that is transferred at the cost of a percentage based charge could still work out quite expensive. Therefore always do some basic maths prior to transfering a balance to work out how much it will really cost you in the long-run.