Using Your Credit Card

So, tell me Jen, what brings you in to relationship counseling today? Um, my credit card? You have quite the sense of humor! No, I mean–this was my credit card’s idea Hello

Oh! I just can’t take it anymore! I’m at my limit—literally! Oh my Jen, the key to a successful partnership with your credit card is to pay it in full on time Pay it in full on time? Pay it in full on time! That’s right Your credit card’s billing cycle is the period of time between billings It can vary depending on the card issuer, so you must understand when it starts and when it ends for each credit card you use

During that time frame, purchases, credits and any fees or finance charges are added and subtracted from your account When your billing cycle closes, you are billed for the remaining balance This will be reflected in your credit card statement Which you would know, if you ever opened one Ssssh! Your statement also shows your payment due date, which is usually about 20 days after your billing cycle ends

Your bill must be paid before the due date—in what’s known as the grace period—in order to avoid late fees, and it must be paid in full to avoid being charged interest on the balance Make sure you allow extra time for your payment to process, too! In the meantime, your next billing cycle will already be underway It starts with whatever balance was left unpaid at the end of the previous billing cycle and goes from there, adding and subtracting your credit card activity for the current cycle What happens to our relationship if I can’t pay off my balance? I will make your life absolutely miserable What? What if we compromise and I pay the minimum payment? That’s gotta count for something! Well, making minimum payments on time may protect your credit rating and dodge the penalties related to missing a payment altogether, but you will be charged interest on the remainder of the balance

And that interest accumulates quickly If you only pay the minimum every month, I can keep you in debt for a really long time You wouldn’t! Oh yes I would! Start missing payments and I’ll tank your credit score, raise your interest rates— trust me, sister, you don’t wanna go there OK, let’s talk about strategies for managing this conflict Jen, I want you to turn to your credit card and imagine it’s cash

Uh… Treating your card like cash means using it to pay for things within your budget Bills, groceries—all the regular things you know you can afford with the money you already have What’s the point of having a credit card if I’m just going to treat it like cash? For the convenience and—depending on the specifics of your card—for the rewards What? I don’t want you to think I’m using you just for your rewards! Why not? I’m cool with it Really? If you’re paying in full and on time, it’s perfectly fine to enjoy the perks of your credit card

So, how do you feel? I feel recharged! And I feel renewed interest What? No! Relax Renewed interest in this relationship, not on my credit card balance Well in that case, I would say balance has been restored Why does everyone forget about me? I’m a really nice gift card

I’ve always been there for them