Smart Credit Card Use

Looking out for your own interests

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secured credit cards.

“Consider what you are looking for in a credit card, such as the annual fee, grace period, interest rates, and credit line,” says Carey. “Then, do your research. It is important to find out the terms of the initial agreement. Be sure to read your monthly statements and flyers that are included because most contracts state the terms are subject to change. If they change the grace period or interest rate, you may rack up unexpected late fees.”

When you need cash, use your credit card as a last resort. There are double fees on cash advances. Most credit cards enforce both a transaction fee and finance charges.

“You are being charged two fees for one transaction,” says Carey. “Don’t use cash advances for casual purposes. It is not good budgeting.”

To help consumers stay within their Christmas budget and eliminate credit card debt, created a booklet entitled How to Cut Your Holiday Bills in Half Without Feeling Like a Scrooge. To order, call 800-680-3328. And to keep a record of your holiday gift purchases, use their On Track program (

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