Information from the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions

Using Credit Cards Wisely

Credit cards are convenient and they come in handy for emergencies. Problems can start if you don’t pay off your bill every month, or if you start to think of your credit card as extra cash. Here are some tips on how to use credit cards wisely.

Helpful Tips

  • Limit the amount of credit cards you have
    Multiple cards mean multiple chances of debt.
  • Opt out of credit card offers that come in the mail
    To stop pre-approved credit card offers from showing up in your mailbox, call 1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567-8688) or and ask to have your name removed from marketing lists. This helps remove the temptation to acquire more cards.
  • Send your payment before the due date
    If your payment is late by even a day, you’ll probably be charged a hefty late fee, as much as $30 or more. Your interest rate could go up, too. Some credit card companies also let you make electronic payments online, this saves you a stamp as well.
  • Try and pay off your balance each month
    The best part about this, no interest charges!
  • Pay more than the minimum payment
    To reduce the amount of interest you pay and to pay off your credit cards faster, pay more than the minimum payment.
  • Review your credit card transactions for errors
    If you find an error, call your credit card company immediately to resolve the issue.
  • Avoid using your credit card for cash advances
    Interest can start to add up from the minute you withdraw the cash and can get costly.
  • Protect your card against unauthorized use
    Keep your credit card in a safe place and be careful about buying merchandise over the phone and online.

Finding Help If You Can't Pay Your Debts

Act quickly if you are having trouble making credit card payments.

Contact your creditor right away and explain your situation to them. If that doesn't work, consider working with a credit counselor.