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Credit Cards – You Choose The Lifestyle You Want, Don't Let The Lifestyle Choose You

Updated on September 2, 2015

Shopping for a credit card is no different than shopping for clothes, a wrong choice will lead to misfit and a state of discomfort. The best way to choose what is right for you is to do a little window shopping before you make a decision. The information you can find online regarding Credit Cards offered by various companies can be overwhelming and exhausting. But the task at hand is for you to make an informed decision because the impact a Credit Card has on your life is everlasting and it is up to you to turn this into a cordial and positive experience.

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At the end of the day a Credit Card provider is like a Loan Shark, the money you borrow is the money you owe. Hence, the first step is to choose a Credit Card provider who will cater to your needs and provide you with maximum satisfaction with you having to invest minimum effort. What you share with the Credit Card provider is not restricted to their service that you have opted for but a relationship you have chosen to engage in, with them. It is them you approach with every single problem you face with the Credit Card and their ability to provide quick resolutions or their inability to address your concerns which becomes a defining moment that molds the kind of relationship you will share with them. So choose wisely and carefully.

Secondly, a Credit Card has a direct and irreversible impact on your credit rating. Each time you apply for a Credit Card, your application is recorded, it is worse when your application is rejected as it will reflect on your file. But what the file may not show is “why”your application was rejected. This leaves room to wiggle thoughts and make assumptions for the same. It could mean that you already have too many credit cards or that nobody wants to lend you any money. Either way, it does not look good and directly affects your credit rating. Also, Credit card debt takes a toll on your credit score. Always remember, lending is easy, repaying is much harder. You can manage your debt by coming up with a strategic and thought out repayment plan. At the end of the day, the problem is not just with the credit card industry but it is also with you who forms an integral cog in this payment machine.

Whenever you use the term 'money', fraud tags along with it. Fraud is no less common in the credit card world either. It is completely up to you to protect your Credit Card details as it cannot protect itself. First things first, do not share your Credit Card PIN (Personal Identification Number) with anyone else. A PIN is a security number that is unique to every card. It allows you access to the money provided by your service provider through this card. If anyone one else has access to this money and misuses it, you may have to bare the brunt of repaying the added debt. It is an unnecessary hassle that can be avoided. Here are simple yet cautious measures you can take to protect your Credit Card information from misuse and fraud.


  • Keep your Credit Card in your possession and sight. It is up to you to know what is happening with your card. The magnetic stripe that you see at the back of your card can be copied and illegally used if anyone gets a hold of your card.

  • Always check your monthly statements. Keep a track of everything you have purchased using your Credit Card and get in touch with your service provider when you don't recognize certain purchases. You could get better clarity on purchases that you have forgotten but were made by you, and at the same time it could also mean that you in fact have not made that purchase and it requires further investigation. Either way, it is better to be safe than sorry.

  • Dispose all payment receipts. It is important to destroy all the payment receipts you receive as they contain some sensitive information about your card and account. You can tear them into little pieces so the information cannot be retrieved easily or you can also shred them if you have access to a shredder.

  • Make purchases only through secure websites. Always check for the security that a website assures you for protecting your Credit Card information. For added protection, you can use an online verification scheme. This allows you to set up an additional password that requires to be manually keyed in for any purchase made online using your Credit Card. The password also gets verified by your service provider before the payment has been successfully completed. This online verification scheme can be Verified by Visa or MasterCard SecureCode.

  • Contact your service provider immediately if you have lost your Credit Card or if it has been stolen. You can find a contact number for reporting your lost/stolen Credit Card on your monthly statements or on your service provider's website. If you have insured your Credit Card, you may also contact your insurance company.

Apart from Credit Card Fraud, there is another pivotal issue that demands your attention and that is debt management. If you are struggling to meet your requirements and make successful payments, discuss the issues you are facing with your service provider. Your relationship with your service provider can play a crucial role in the assistance they provide you. You can ask for your interest to be frozen so that there is no future debt until you have settled the score first. You can also request to pay a a reduced amount for a while until you can pull up your payments. If neither is suitable to your service provider, you can discuss the issues at length and request for viable options to make your payments so your debt still remains manageable.


  • Approach a Credit Counselor if you do not find a way to make payments on time. Often, a consumer submerged in debt problems feels alone and may find their service providers unapproachable. In such instances you can always seek outside assistance and approach a Credit Counselor to address all your debt related problems. A credit counselor may not be able to take up your case like a lawyer can and directly contact your service provider on your behalf, but they can assist you on how you can manage it on your own. An additional benefit of having a credit counselor is that they can also aid in any personal issues you face that has led up to your debt management such as a gambling addiction for instance. They allow you to participate in their debt management programs or free seminars to better educate consumers to handle their debt more efficiently.


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Important cautions while using credit cards

Check Points for Credit Cards
Tips
 
Self-employeed/ salaried
1. Keep your Credit Card in your possession and sight
4. Make purchases only through secure websites
 
2. Always check your monthly statements
5. Contact your service provider immediately if you have lost your Credit Card or if it has been stolen.
 
3. Dispose all payment receipts.
6. Approach a Credit Counselor if you do not find a way to make payments on time.
You can choose a Credit Card tailored around your needs.

At any given point, be careful not to overspend on your card beyond your means. It is important to know the limit on your credit card and it also helpful to set a personal limit so you do not go overboard. If you have reached your limit freeze your card so you stop yourself from excessive spending. It also helps if you delete your Credit Card information from websites where you are a regular shopper because it makes it that much faster to make a purchase without thinking it through. Deleting this information may not entirely be a solution but will most certainly make it a little less convenient shopping experience, thereby reducing such impulse purchases in the future. You can always choose a more conventional approach by leaning on your family and friends for support. You can loop your closed ones on your issues with limiting the Credit Card usage and seek their help to owning the accountability for it. Having to answer to someone else for every purchase makes you more responsible with your card and curbs your impulsive behavior regarding the usage of your Credit Card.


Another tip that can come in handy is to do a little research on rewards offered by different Credit Card providers. Every Credit Card provider wants your business because that will help their business expand, hence they will make you irresistible offers in the form of 'rewards' depending on what you will be using your Credit Card for. For example, there are cards that provide rewards, points, cashback or miles with respect to specific purchases in target industries such as entertainment, shopping, travel, dining etc. You can choose a Credit Card tailored around your needs. Choose a card that provides the best rewards in the industry that you will most often use the card for so you can maximize its benefits for an enriching experience. Explore each card offered and contact the service provider for any clarifications or further information. Bid these cards against each other by weighing the pros and cons with respect to your needs and choose one that satisfies almost all your requirements if not all of them.

The aforementioned tips helps to keep you in check and prepare for a better lifestyle, one that you have always wanted, but more importantly, one that you can afford and be responsible for. Always work for a lifestyle you want, not one you already have.

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