You can use credit cards responsibly by following a few simple tips. Many people are afraid of using credit cards. They see them as some evil tool that will ruin you financially.

Yet others, like me, see credit cards as a useful tool that can help you manage your finances well.

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Here are a few tips to help you use credit cards responsibly.

Use the card.

You need to actually USE the card to gain any benefits. The best way to start if you are afraid of using credit, is to start small.

Pick one constant amount that is small and that you know you can easily pay off. This is something you would normally use debit or write a check for every month. You could use your phone bill for example. Now you can simply use your credit card to pay that one bill. Then you debit the amount or write the check to the credit card company.

By making this simple change you are building up credit in a responsible manner, and you are paying off the phone bill in full.

After a few months you can always add another bill or spending category from your budget to your credit card. The key is to make sure you have the money on hand to pay off the bill. You also need to be careful to stay within your budget and not overspend just because you are spending on a credit card.

Pay the card on time.

You need to make sure your payments are on time EVERY time. This means you need to send out the payment early enough if you are writing a check. Even if you use the debit function in your bank it may still take up to 24 hours for the payment to go through.

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One thing you need to think about is that credit cards have different cut off times for payments. Just because your payment is due on the 25th of the month for example, it does not mean at midnight. Some cards have a due time of 2 pm that day, while others may have a 5 pm deadline. If you make the payment a few days in advance you lessen the risk that your payment is received after the cut off time.

Pay the balance in full.

Paying off the balance in full every month will save you in interest and fees! Credit card companies make a lot of money by charging those who carry a balance. As with the point above, if you are one minute late with your payment then you will trigger these charges.

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You should ALWAYS pay your balance in full every month. Every. Single. Month.

If you started with just one bill or item then this would be very easy. Even as you add in more items on your credit card, you will still pay the balance in full.

If you follow these simple tips above you should be able to use credit cards responsibly.