Credit card use has developed into quite a problem for consumers. A study determined that Houston is near the top of the list for the highest level of credit card debt in the U.S. Certified financial planner Michael Neuenschwander with Outlook Wealth Advisors, LLC, shares four mistakes that people make with credit cards and ways to avoid them.
According to a Creditcards.com survey, the average credit card balance is more than $7,100 dollars per person in Houston. The survey also concluded that based on the median income, if a person allocates 15 percent of his or her gross monthly income toward paying down debt, it will take 20 months to pay it off with likely $800 paid in interest.
Credit card debt is a huge concern for many people. In November 2017, credit card debt reached a record of more than $1.02 trillion dollars throughout the U.S., according to USA Today.
The CreditCards.com survey also determined that 38 percent of people didn’t know when they would be free of debt and 30 percent don’t believe they’ll ever get out of debt, according to NBC.com.
Credit card spending can quickly get out of control. Make sure you are only spending money you have. Carrying a balance and accruing interest can escalate a credit card problem quickly.
The average American household with credit card debt paid $904 in interest each year and that number is increase as interest rates do the same, according to Nerd Wallet.
You can use credit cards responsibly if you only charge what you can afford to pay off each month. To make this work, track your charges like you would if you were using a checkbook. Also, be careful of the credit card perks. Don’t spend more money just to earn extra points or frequent flyer miles. The extra spending usually does not outweigh the cost.
There are six fees tied to the average credit card. Late fees are the most common, followed by cash advance fees, returned payment fees and balance transfer fees, according to The Balance.
If you miss a payment, you’ll likely be charged a late fee, your interest rate will increase, the late payment will be added to your credit report and your credit score may drop. That should be enough of a scare to be sure you’re making your payments on time.
To avoid late fees, Neuenschwander suggests you set up an online bill pay for your credit cards or set a monthly reminder on your phone or calendar.
If you start missing multiple payments, the credit card company could send it to a collection agency and that note stays on your credit report for up to seven years, according to NerdWallet.
Making minimum payments is one of the most common and costly credit card mistakes because it is something that people don’t really catch until it’s too late. Having large amounts of debt at the end of the month leads to greater interest rates. Paying only the minimum amount due every month could mean it will be months or even years before you can get the card entirely paid off, according to Investopedia.
You can determine how much interest can cost you with an interest rate calculator. You can change the numbers to see how much of a difference a few extra dollars can make.
Credit card mistakes can be detrimental to your credit score, which can determine whether or not you’ll be eligible for thousands of dollars in loans when you go to make your biggest purchases, such as a car or a house. Your credit score will also play a factor in how much interest you pay on those loans.