The average credit card balance in the United States is $4,532, and with the coronavirus pandemic causing financial instability around the world, that average might very well continue rising into 2023.
While you may be relying on your credit card more than usual to get through a salary reduction or a job loss right now, you should always keep in mind a few primary credit card safety rules. For example, a general rule is: Don’t put something on your credit card that you won’t be able to pay off in full when the bill comes due.
A few other expenses you shouldn’t charge to your credit card include:
1. A Significant Purchase That Will Deplete Available Credit
It’s tempting to do so when you know that making substantial purchases with a credit card will get you closer to receiving a sign-up bonus. However, we advise that you only do this if you are confident that you can afford to pay off the sum.
You’ll be charged interest when a significant transaction goes unpaid on your credit report, but your available credit limit will be depleted. Why? Your credit usage rate is critical in determining your credit score, and if one or more of your cards is maxed out, your credit score will suffer until those sums are cleared.
2. Your Monthly Rent or Mortgage Payment
You may be able to put your monthly rent or mortgage payment on a credit card, but be cautious before doing so.
While it may appear to be a terrific offer and a simple way to rack up extra rewards points, there’s usually a 2 to 3 percent processing fee that cancels out the full advantage.
Make sure you’re aware of all the extra fees of using a credit card to make this type of purchase.
3. Medical Bills
Putting your unexpected medical debt on a credit card may seem like a quick fix, but if you can’t pay it off in full right away, it will cost you extra. You’ll rack up interest while trying to pay off your credit card if you can’t afford it.
Life is infamous for throwing us a few curveballs, so make sure you have an emergency fund. You don’t have to use your credit card to pay for an unexpected medical bill or other unavoidable expenses. Even if the doctor or hospital recommends it, these charges do not belong on a credit card.
You can pay taxes using a credit card, but you shouldn’t in most instances. Credit card payments, unlike bank account transfers, are not free. You’ll have to pay a fee based on a percentage of your tax payment.
If you owe money to the IRS, you can work out a payment plan with them at a much lower interest rate than your credit card.
5. A Series of Small Impulse Purchases
It is not only massive purchases that can set you back but also small ones. If you enjoy racking up points and awards by charging entertainment, travel, and eating expenses to your credit card, be sure you have a strategy to pay off your amount in full when the statement arrives.
One of the reasons why impulse purchases are so common is that credit cards postpone the agony of payment. They’re easier to rationalize, at the very least, but they may pile up rapidly. It’s almost as if these purchases don’t exist because the money doesn’t come out of your checking account right soon.
Consider treating your credit card like currency when choosing what you should and shouldn’t charge. Make it a habit to check your balance daily to see how much you’re spending, just like you would if you were using physical currency.
Contact Briteside Solutions today to receive credit education, credit monitoring, and identify theft protection to take control of your financial future.