India has 24.5 Million credit cards (Source) and the number is growing day by day. I’m glad to see that India is turning from a cash to a cashless economy. But like Spiderman said, with great powers cones great responsibilities. Many of the problems created by credit cards is because of its wrong usage. It is important to learn how to use credit cards, the right way. In this article, I’ll talk about how you can make best use of your credit cards in India.
Pay off your monthly bills in full.
One of the biggest mistakes most Indians make with credit card are treating it like a cash loan. Use your credit card only when you can pay the money back in full in 30-60 days. When the bill comes, pay it in full. Your credit score will soar up!
Set up usage alerts to keep spending in check.
Don’t keep swiping blindly. Set up mobile and email alerts with your credit card company and stay on top of each purchase. If your spouse or someone else is using your credit card, keep a tab on where and how it is being used. If some unknown charges show up, report and dispute it right away with your bank.
Always keep spending 20 – 30%.
Understand that using your credit card to it’s full credit limit is not a good idea. Keep the spending limited to 20-30%. Credit utilization is a factor that goes into deciding your credit score and keeping it high will only ding your credit score points. (Source)
Check credit score and be your best.
Keep checking your credit score every other month to see how you are doing. If you are in control, your score should be in greens but if you keep track of it, you’ll know what got your point down and you can fix it as you go. Sign up for a free credit check tool and keep checking your credit score.
Know what to do when you lose a card.
Prepare yourself and get the details on where and how to report when your card is stolen. In such an unfortunate event, acting quickly is key. Get the contact numbers of your bank, get your card details etc stored somewhere safe so that you can report quickly.
Check monthly statements in details and dispute unrecognized charges.
Check your monthly card statements in detail. Check every transaction. If you find something that you don’t recognize, report it right away to the bank. Unauthorized usage can invite bad reputation and ding your points so be honest and report it as early as you can.
Let others know of your usage & card details.
Don’t hide your credit card from others in the family (unless you have a solid reason to). Other in the family, should know the details of your credit card so that in any unfortunate event, they know what account to close and continue. There have been many unfortunate events reported in India where banks kept sending overdue charges to people who passed away or closed their credit card accounts.
Use the right card at different situations.
As you might already know, there are different types of credit cards that are meant to be used for various situations. Like rewards cards for shopping, fuel cards for fuel, travel cards for travel etc. Know which cards are meant to be used for what situation and don’t mix up.
Ask for higher limits every 3-6 months.
Like I mentioned above, your credit score depends on how much credit utilization you have. Keeping credit utilization under 20 – 30% is always recommended. However, if you want to spend more, it is better to get your credit limit raised before you do it. What I’d suggest is to keep paying of your monthly statements in full and ask for a bigger credit limit every 3-6 months.
Utilize your rewards points.
One way to let the banks know that you are a good value user, is to make use of your rewards points and shop stuff from their rewards mall section. The idea is that if you are eligible to redeem rewards, then you should have spent enough on the card. These are the best type of customers every bank needs, so they’ll keep promoting you. Don’t make your rewards points go to waste, redeem them whenever you build up enough. It’ll get them on the bank’s radar and might as well get you to better status.
So, there you have it. Ten tips to use your credit cards wisely and make the most of it. Getting a credit card might be easy, but using it wisely is key. If you know of other tips, feel free to share here in comments.