Your credit card

What?? You want a what card? It's not enough that you've got a health insurance card? A bus card? A library card? 32 partially stamped coffee cards? Now you want a credit card, too? Well, alrighty then! BUT FIRST! Allow me to explain exactly what a credit card is It's a convenient way of paying that makes it easy to buy things

Useful things! Or not But as the saying goes, money doesn't grow on cards

So, when you use a credit card, you're promising to pay the money back later The good news? If you pay everything you owe each month, you won't have to pay interest But the bad news? If you don't, and you buy more than you can afford, and you get into debt, You'll end up paying credit card fees, like interest Still game? Great! Here's what you have to do Before shopping with your credit card, you have to shop around

For your credit card First things first: you need to know how old you are If you're not 18, you can't have a card But don't cry! Parents can add someone under 18 to their accounts Thing is they're still responsible for all the money owed on the card and any fees

But if you're at least 18 years old, you can get your own card Compare credit fees, membership fees, if they apply and annual fees, if they apply Once you've made your choice, fill in the application form and if it's approuved, Voilà! You've got a card! At the end of every month, you'll get a lot of newsletters and an email with your credit card statement Unsubscribe from a few of them, open your credit card statement and READ IT! Inside, you'll see a list of all your purchases and what you owe

If you spent wisely, you won't fall off your chair You have at least 21 days to pay what you owe And this is where you've got a choice to make One, you can pay it all off, go grab a coffee, whistling away, and ask for another coffee card because you forgot yours again Or two, you can pay off only part of what you owe, as long as it's the minimum amount indicated

For example, 5% of what you owe But, since you won't have paid off everything before the due date, hello fees

And fees cost money! For example: you've got a credit card with a 20% interest rate and you owe $2,000 Now, if every month you only pay the minimum amount it'll take you 8 years to pay off the $2,000 And you'll have paid an extra $94532 in interest Ouch! Maybe your credit limit was too high

What? Oops, I guess I forgot to explain that part Your credit limit is the maximum amount you can spend on your card Even if your credit card company offers to increase it, try to maintain a credit limit that fits your needs and that you can afford The Office de la protection du consommateur reminds you if you want to be a smart shopper: take time to think before making a purchase, get information about your rights from reliable sources and exercise those rights If you've got questions or doubts or feel lost, help is just a click away