Credit Card Basics
Why You Should Still Save When in Debt
The shackles of debt seem to be a bonding force for many millennials around the country, but it isn’t just Gen Y that is attempting to pay off lenders. Debt is a national problem spanning all generations. To many, it may feel nonsensical to save money while in debt, but it’s an important part of everyone’s financial health strategy.
You Still Need an Emergency Fund
Debt doesn’t preclude anyone from experiencing emergencies. Murphy’s law would suggest those already in the hole should expect more pain to pile on.
In fact, $1,000 surprises happen so regularly that Shannon McLay, a financial planner and author of “Train Your Way to Financial Fitness,” doesn’t even think people should consider them a surprise. The only twist is the type of emergency the money goes toward – perhaps your car, health care or education.
Personal finance experts differ on how much those in debt should have saved in an emergency fund, but they almost unanimously agree some disposable cash is a necessity.
A Beginner’s Guide to Using a Credit Card
So, you want to open a credit card? It’s a good idea – most of the time. Opening a credit card provides a simple way to establish and build credit history. Yes, certain credit cards can earn users rewards for cash back, travel miles, and redemption points, but the road to reward chasing is littered with people who slipped into credit card debt. Beware of your budget and your personality if you elect to pursue the path of reward chasing.
How credit cards work
On a basic level, credit cards are lines of credit that you can use over and over again as long as you pay off your balance. They’re a handy way to pay for purchases and can help you build credit when used responsibly. Credit cards usually have detailed terms and conditions that list fees, rewards, benefit restrictions and more. As a new cardholder, you may be confused by these terms, but we’re here to help you understand common features so you can avoid unnecessary fees.
There are numerous credit cards available for a wide range of needs from building credit to earning rewards, to getting out of debt and more. You should decide what your goal is with a credit card, then compare cards from various issuers prior to applying. Some issuers allow you to fill out a pre-qualification form that performs a soft pull on your credit to see if you may qualify for a card.
Checking your credit score on a monthly basis is a good habit to get into and can promote positive credit behavior. Read our guide for where to access your free credit score and other credit tips. It’s also a good idea to check your credit report every few months to make sure everything checks out and no unknown accounts are open in your name.
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