There is a lot more to credit cards than fees and rewards. Before you start reading reviews and shopping around for your ideal credit card, there are a lot of basics to cover — and a few tricks to learn. From what balance you should be carrying to how to avoid paying unnecessary fees, the tips and insights compiled here will prepare you to use your credit card safely and get the most benefit out of the deal.
Whether you are getting ready to apply for your first ever credit card, want to learn more about how credit card companies work, or need help managing debt and lowering your monthly bills, this resource center is for you.
Table of Contents
Credit Cards 101
Getting and using your first credit card can mean learning a whole new vocabulary. This handy reference will help you understand everything from the applications to your first statement with ease.
Credit Card Basics: How Credit Cards Work
What is the difference between a loan and a line of credit? What about between debit and credit cards? Is Visa a network, a bank, an issuer, or simply a brand name? Understanding credit cards means knowing the answers to these and many more questions; fortunately, we’ve gathered all that information and organized it for you here. Learn exactly how credit cards work and what goes on behind the scenes whenever you use your card.
- How Credit Cards Work: A Beginner’s Guide
- How the Credit Card Companies Make Money
- The Big Four: Visa, Discover, Mastercard, and American Express
- The Difference Between Credit and Debit Cards
- Why You Get So Many Credit Card Offers in the Mail
Credit Cards: Why Do You Even Need One?
It may seem like credit cards are everywhere, but not everyone agrees that they are worth having. Whether they have struggled with consumer debt before, didn’t get the rewards they expected, or simply prefer to deal in cash, many people avoid credit cards. The articles below will explain the benefits and uses of credit cards, and why they can be helpful, if not absolutely necessary for everyone.
- Understanding the “Credit” in Credit Cards
- The Fast, Easy Way to Build Your Credit Score
- What Your Credit Card Tells Lenders About You
- Revolving Credit: The Pros and Cons of Credit Cards
Secured Credit Cards: What They Are and What They’re For
Technically, the traditional credit card is an “unsecured” credit card, though that part of the name is usually left out. Here, we’ll explain what that means, why the difference is important, and how both secured and unsecured credit cards can be used to build or improve your credit score.
- What Are Secured Credit Cards?
- Gift Cards Aren’t Secured Cards
- How Secured Cards Can Help You Build Credit
- Do Secured Cards Earn Any Rewards?
- When To Trade Your Secured Card In for Something New
Your First Credit Card: A Complete Guide
These articles are specifically for credit card novices. You’ll be taken through the steps of how to apply for your first credit card, important terms to know, navigating your statements and bills, and using your card responsibly.
- Choosing the Best Card: What to Look For
- Applying for Your First Credit Card
- Help! I Don’t Think I’ll Be Approved for a Card
- Ready, Charge! How to Start Using Your First Credit Card
- Paying Your First Credit Card Bill
- How to Read Your First Credit Card Statement
- Security Basics: Protecting Your First Credit Card
When You Should and Shouldn’t Use Your Credit Card
It can be tempting to simply use your credit card to pay for everything. When you get rewards for every purchase, paying any other way can seem like a waste. However, not every merchant or retailer will accept credit cards, and there may be situations where using your card isn’t the best option, in spite of the rewards potential. These articles will go over common situations and whether or not credit cards should be your default payment method.
- Paying the Bills with Your Credit Card
- The Pros and Cons of Automatic Bill Pay
- How Tipping Works With Credit Cards vs Cash
- The Costs of Cards: How Retailers Must Pay For You to Swipe
- Not Accepted Everywhere: Why Some Utilities Won’t Take Your Card
- Traveling With Credit Cards: How the World Shops and Spends
- Credit Cards at the Altar: Wedding Spending Tips
- Using Your Card While Unemployed
Business and Company Credit Cards
Many companies and small business owners set up credit card accounts. Employers and employees alike may have good reason to use a company card. These articles explain how credit cards work in these situations, and go over some best practices to keep in mind when dealing with company credit.
- Do You Need a Company Card?
- Credit Cards for Small Businesses
- Keeping Your Business and Personal Cards Separate
- Business Credit and Company Credit Cards
Student Credit Cards
Whether or not it is your first credit card, many companies offer special terms and products specially designed for college students. Here we’ll explain what they are, how they differ from more traditional credit cards, and everything else you need to know before applying for one.
Making the Most of Your Credit Card
Credit cards can be powerful tools. From helping you earn rewards and pay for vacations, to building your credit and improving your financial health, there are a lot of ways to utilize credit cards. The articles here will provide tips for everyone from first time card users to experienced veterans on how to maximize the benefits and minimize risk.
- Smart Shopping: Control Your Spending and Paying Your Debts
- Purchase Tracking and Monitoring Your Credit Card Habits
- Price Protection and Other Smart Shopping Hacks
- The Right Balance: Credit Utilization Tips
- Tips and Tricks for Getting the Best Rewards from Your Credit Card
- Store-Brand Credit Cards: Are They Worth the Rewards They Offer?
- Upgrading Your Card and Changing Credit Card Companies
- Should You Ever Cancel a Credit Card?
Credit Cards for Friends and Families
Charging purchases as an individual is one thing; adding users like a spouse or children to a credit card account is a whole other issue. There are risks and advantages for everyone involved, and important considerations for extending access to cards. These articles will go over what you need to know before authorizing users and how to manage credit card accounts with multiple users.
- Teaching Your Kids to Manage Credit Responsibly
- Authorized Users: A Checklist Before Sharing Your Card
- Marriage and Joint Accounts: Things to Consider
- When Should Kids Get A Credit Card?
- Roommate Finances and the Risks of Joint Accounts
Credit Card Calamities: Avoiding Theft, Fraud, and Other Common Pitfalls
Credit cards are not free from risk. Depending on how you shop, spend, or interact with technology can all add or alleviate the risk of fraud, theft, and other hazards. These articles will go over everything from what credit card fraud entails, how to keep yourself safe, and even credit card features that can help you keep an eye on your money and identity.
- Do Signatures Really Keep Credit Cards Safe?
- Credit Card Fraud: Common Tricks to Know and Avoid
- How Credit Card Thieves are Punished
- How Credit Card Thieves Are Caught
- When Fraud Goes Abroad: Travel Safety For Your Cards
- Protecting Your Credit Card While Traveling
Avoiding Extra Fees: Tips, Tricks, and Hints To Save You Money
As convenient as credit cards can be, ultimately they are a source of revenue for different banks, brands, and companies. There can be all sorts of fees applied to your account, or associated with different features on a given card. These articles will help you understand all the different penalties, fees, surcharges and other hidden expenses you may face, and how to avoid paying, negotiate them down, or even get debts forgiven.
- How Many Credit Cards Is Too Many?
- The 5 Worst Credit Card Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them)
- Travel Fees: What They Are and How to Avoid Them
- Annual Fees: When Are They Worth Paying?
- When, How, and Why to Negotiate With Your Credit Card Company
- Understanding Your Credit Limit and How to Get It Raised
- How to Get a Lower APR
- Credit Card Debt Settlements and Repayment Plans
Holiday Shopping with Credit Cards From Black Friday to Christmas
Holiday shopping is a major source of revenue for credit card companies, and often a major source of debt and stress for shoppers. Credit card companies and retailers may offer special sign-up bonuses or other offers to entice you, and everything from Black Friday to day after Christmas sales will tempt you to shop, and spend, more. These articles will help you navigate the holiday season with your budget and credit intact, as well as keeping your credit card secure and your balance affordable.
- The Smartest Ways to Use Credit Cards During the Holidays
- Avoiding the Black Friday Credit Card Trap
- The Most Dangerous Time of the Year? Credit Card Security at Christmas
- Holiday Credit Card Offers: Are They Worth It?
- From Black Friday to Cyber Monday: Hackers and Scammers to Watch Out For
- Smart Spending and Holiday Budgeting Tips
- Why You Should Keep Your Holiday Shopping Receipts
- When Not to Charge: Keeping Credit Card Rewards in Perspective