Used the right way, having a credit card can make life easier. Here’s how you can get the most out of using your card and pay less interest on your spending.
Your credit card can help you boost your credit score, spread costly payments and can even give you access to certain perks and rewards.
On the other hand, it can be easy to fall into the trap of racking up a big credit card balance and paying too much interest. That’s why we’re sharing these tips to help you get the best out of your card – without paying more than you need to.
1. Set up a Direct Debit
Falling behind on payments can be a costly business. Not only will a missed or late payment be bad news for your credit score, but you could also be charged a fee. A late credit card fee will usually set you back around £12, which is a price you could do well without.
Save yourself the hassle of remembering when your payment is due by setting up a Direct Debit. This just means that you’re telling your credit provider to take a certain amount from your balance on a specific day.
This’ll mean your payments will be paid on time, every time. Plus, if you want to pay off your balance quicker, you can opt to pay off a big chunk each month – and while you can amend a Direct Debit, it could be a handy deterrent to stop you from paying the minimum amount.
Which leads us nicely to our next point…
2. Pay more than the minimum
Paying off your balance with the minimum repayment can be an expensive way to borrow. While you’re still sticking to your end of the agreement, it’ll take you much longer to chip away at your balance.
Plus, if you’re not reducing your spending and your balance is growing every month, the amount of interest you pay will rise.
To borrow without paying any interest at all, try to clear your balance in full after your statement becomes available. If you can’t manage that, it’s important to pay more than the minimum amount to help you stay in control of your credit card balance.
3. Stick to around 30%
Credit reference agencies often recommend sticking to around 30% of your overall credit limit. This means spending less than half of your total balance – across multiple credit cards, if you have more than one.
Why? They believe that this shows that you’re in control of your finances because you’re not relying on credit every month.
Spending 30% (or less) of your limit will help you stay in control of your debts, meaning you won’t be struggling to pay off a huge balance or forking out for costly interest payments every month.
4. Think small
To help you keep your credit spending to a minimum, try to use your credit card little but often.
If you’re trying to build your credit history, you might want to use your credit card each month to prove you’re capable of managing credit. You can do this by using your card for small treats or necessities every month which you can easily afford to pay back in full.
For example, why not use your credit card to top up your petrol every month? That way, you can pay it all off the following month, which can help you maintain a healthy credit score and keep your balance under control.
5. Set reminders
Does your bank allow you to set email or text alerts? Use them!
You can keep your spending under control by setting yourself personalised limits. If you don’t want to spend past a certain point, see if you can set yourself an alert to stop yourself from reaching that figure.
If that’s not possible, work out how much you can afford to pay off in full each month and make sure you’re checking your account regularly to avoid spending past that figure.
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Intelligent Lending Ltd (Credit Broker). Capital One is the exclusive lender.