New to Credit Cards? Here’s All You Need to Know

So you’ve decided to take the plunge and get yourself a credit card. Unwrapping that shiny little piece of plastic opens you to a world of benefits and privileges. However, there are certain rules to live by if you want to avoid falling into a debt trap that could see your credit worthiness spiral downwards and make you a financial persona non grata.

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A credit card gives you the freedom to spend money that is not debited from your bank account up to a certain sum for a fixed period of time. Thus, credit cards make credit available to you as and when you need it. The amount is to be repaid based on your billing cycle to avoid penalties and fines. While the initial rush of swiping your card everywhere you go might seem the way to go, here are some points to keep in mind so card debt does not loom on your financial horizon:

 

  • Credit Card Charges:

A credit card usually comes with a whole list of Credit card charges, beginning with the joining fee. Additional charges include the annual fee, statement fees, service tax, surcharge, late payment fee, card replacement fee, etc. Exceeding your credit limit on your card will attract a charge as well. Delayed payment of your dues will also result in a penalty, which will be levied on your subsequent bill.

Not paying off the total amount due on your credit card will attract interest charges, which could be anywhere from 3%-4% a month. Doesn’t seem like much, you might scoff, but when annualised, the rate amounts to a whopping 48% on the higher end of the interest spectrum. This amount is also levied on each successive bill that has a balance carried over, which will inflate your overall amount due by a significant amount.

  • Picking a Credit Card that Suits Your Needs:

Picking a credit card that suits your needs is important, as this could be the deal breaker between you enjoying the perks of a card and drowning in a sea of debt. If you’re looking for a card merely to help you keep up with payments and aren’t looking for any perks, a no-frills card is the best bet for you. Looking for discounts each time you swipe at a store? A shopping credit card that offers cashback or in-store rewards is the one for you. Frequent travellers can benefit from a travel card, which converts points into air miles redeemable on flights or hotel stays.

  • Dates to Remember:

With your new credit card comes a host of important dates that you have to keep in mind, such as your bill payment date, the date the bill is generated etc. The date your bill is generated on marks the end of your billing cycle and lists your outstanding dues for that period only. The bill payment date is the date by which you are expected to pay off the outstanding amount or the minimum amount due to avoid late payment charges.

    • Credit Card Application Status

      Different banks have different ways of credit card application status but most of them have an online facility, where you can apply for a credit card online as well. The process then involves furnishing all required documents and information to the bank. Once, the application process is complete, you must track your application status to check how far long has it been processed by the bank so that you can follow up with the bank accordingly. Usually, it takes up to three weeks to receive your credit card from most banks. Credit card may take a month from the date of registration, as it undergoes processing request, followed by dispatch to your home address.

  • Minimum Due versus Full Payment:

Credit cards offer you the chance to pay off your debt in instalments, either before the due date or after it. It is always advisable to pay off your outstanding amount by the due date to keep your credit score and repayment history healthy. However, if you are unable to pay off the whole amount, you are required to pay a minimum amount, usually a percentage of your total outstanding amount.

Getting away with paying just the minimum amount brings with it a set of charges though, since you will be paying interest on the balance amount. You will also lose out on the interest-free period, meaning every successive transaction will incur interest from the day the purchase is charged to your card.

As seen above, there are quite a few pitfalls associated with credit cards that, if you aren’t careful to avoid, could leave you in debt for a considerable amount of time. Being prompt with payments, avoiding maxing out your credit card and being prudent with what you charge to your card will ensure that you reap the many benefits that come with credit cards.

 

Save Cash Using Credit Cards

Many people are aware of the fact that a credit card allows purchase of products or services on credit, but not everyone knows that this same card can help them save money as well. Yes, in India credit cards offer certain benefits using which cardholders can save cash. One must remember that the benefits differ based on the type of card being purchased.

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Some of these benefits that help save are as follows:
Protection Against Fraudulent Activities – If you lose your wallet, you will  end up losing all the cash in it for sure, but if you lost your credit card, you do not have to be sad because most credit cards have zero lost card liability feature. This feature protects people from fraudulent transactions made using their cards in case it’s stolen or lost. Some cards protect the customers even before they lose their cards. Apart from this, credit card companies in India protect cardholders against online frauds through various ways. One of those is the multiple steps involved in the online payment authorization process.
Life Insurance – If you have a credit card that offers free travel or life insurance, you can save a lot of money and at the same time feel protected. Some cards even provide insurance against hijack to people when they travel by flights.
Low Charge for International Transactions – If you travel abroad a lot, then buying a credit card that charge less for foreign transactions is a good idea. Credit cards offer really good forex rates and there are some cards that only charge around 2% transaction charge. Even while purchasing products from foreign websites, using such cards might benefit you a lot.
Lost Baggage Claim – Some credit cards offer insurance for lost baggage when cardholders book their flight tickets using them. If you own one such card, then you can claim the amount mentioned in the card insurance policy easily if you lose your baggage.
Free Access to Airport Lounges – If you want to visit an airport lounge, you will be asked to pay an entry fee, but if you own a credit card that offers free access to airport lounges, then you can enjoy the facilities of the lounge and save money.
Free Club Memberships – Some credit cards offers free memberships of different clubs to the cardholders. For example – Golf clubs, Vistara Club, Hotel memberships, etc. These memberships help them enjoy discounts and other deals that are available exclusively to the members.
Credit History – Credit cards help you a lot in building your credit score. This score measures your credit worthiness and is used by banks while deciding if they want to provide a loan to you or not. Use your credit card wisely and pay the bills on time to increase this score.
Loan on Credit Card – Many banks provide loans against credit cards to customers. The credit worthiness in this case is decided based on the cardholder’s card usage pattern and credit limit. If cardholders have a very good history of bill payments, then banks may approve their loan requests easily.
These are some of the many credit card benefits that help cardholders save cash. Many people think that credit cards only offer reward points or miles. It is not true, credit cards have a lot to offer if you know how to use it well. People can end up with serious financial issues if they do not use their credit cards carefully.
All said and done, credit card is an amazing financial tool and if you don’t have one, apply for it today and enjoy saving while spending.