Using your credit card responsibly means knowing the places where it's accepted and when to pay it off.
Getting set up
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The types of return
A label inside the envelope or on the card itself will contain a phone number or URL to verify your card info and begin using it.
After creating a profile with the issuer, you can use those credentials to begin tracking spending in their app or the FinDIY app.
Instead of dealing with paper statements, monitor your bill digitally to avoid the confusion that comes with mail delays.
Issuers' apps allow you to set and customize alerts for daily spending, potential fraud and payment reminders.
If your checking account sustains a stable balance, consider linking it to your card, so the bill is paid automatically each month.
Treat cards as extensions of your checking account
When you perceive your credit card as a standalone consumer loan to deal with at the end of the month, you're much more likely to run into cash shortfalls that prevent you from paying the entire bill.
Instead, use a tool, like FinDIY, to view your credit card balance directly beside the bank account that is used to pay it off. By seeing how much your current debt stacks up against available funds, it'll be easier to adopt a mindset of only spending what you can pay off now.
The first month using it
Once you've activated your card, you'll begin the first billing cycle, which begins with a $0 balance and ends with a statement that reflects your card activity from that month.
Where to use your card
While most retailers accept card today, you may have to spend a certain amount (ex. $5), due to the fees that they are charged by issuers.
To pay with a card online, you'll need to enter the 16-digit card number, expiration date and security code (CVV) at checkout.
Apps like Uber and Postmates will typically collect your credit card information at signup, so that it can be instantly charged going forward.
Where NOT to use it
Unless your friend is willing to cover the 2-3% fee charged by issuers for accepting their card as payment, stick with a bank account.
Landlords usually require tenants to absorb credit card acceptance fees for paying by card, which can be substantial for rent.
Paying other bills
Like landlords, other billers add credit card acceptance fees onto the bill total, with the notable exception being cellular providers.
When to pay your bill
The cycle concludes with a statement that reflects the prior cycle's balance plus the purchases and payments made in that cycle.
Instead of paying your bill right on the cycle end date, you are afforded a grace period if you didn't carry a balance in the prior cycle.
Statement due date
The balance shown on your statement is due at the end of the grace period, which tends to be between 21 and 25 days.