Sometimes it can feel like credit cards are more foe than the dependable friend we desire them to be. Some months it can even feel like they’re an unannounced houseguest who turns up on your doorstep sporting a bad attitude and delivering financial woe.

The truth is, building a lifelong and reliable friendship with your credit card doesn’t have to be hard. Keep the following tips in mind to ensure your friendly credit card remains on your Christmas card list in 2014 and beyond.

Tip 1:  Pay off the full balance each month – wipe the slate clean!

If you borrowed money from a friend you would expect it to be returned, so be nice to your credit card and give back what you owe. Ideally, it is best to pay the balance in full each cycle to avoid paying interest. If you are struggling to achieve this then be sure to pay back as much as you can afford and work towards paying it off in full at your next budget cycle. Whilst it may seem enticing to only pay the minimum amount, it can make it harder to keep your budget under control and makes overspending much easier.

Tip 2: Set up automatic payments – more time for fun!

Whether it is every pay cycle, every month or at the end of any interest free period, your credit card will appreciate your efforts to foster and nurture your friendship by making automatic regular payments. This could be an amount that covers those regular bills such as phone, electricity and insurance and is a smart way of keeping the amount owing to a minimum. Alternatively, you can set up an automatic payment of exactly the outstanding balance. This strategy is particularly effective for busy (and forgetful) people, as you don’t have to consciously remember to make the payment and ensures you avoid paying interest.

Tip 3: Make yourself accountable – share your goals!

Sharing the details of your credit card ins and outs with friends and/or family and making them aware of your goals can often provide much-needed motivation to get credit card debt under control. Whilst it isn’t necessary to skywrite it or broadcast your goals and intentions to the world, being a “secret squirrel” can often hinder your progress, as you’re only accountable to yourself..

Tip 4: Research your spending habits – get to know yourself better!

Our credit card friend can be an easy crutch when emotions run high. Sit down with your credit card statement and have a look at the times when you seem to make those hasty credit purchases (particularly the online ones). Think consciously about whether or not you needed that purchase or whether you were ‘leaning on a friend’ for support in a time of need. Can you see any patterns? Set up a reminder on your phone that will pop up to alert you of the possibility of an impending spending spree. The more you are consciously aware of your spending habits, the easier it will be to recognise in the moment when you are about to make one of the hasty purchases.

Tip 5: Consider consolidation – bring all your credit friends together!

Explore opportunities to consolidate your credit debt by considering lower interest credit cards or a personal loan . As a general rule, personal loans have a lower interest rate, so by transferring the balance you have the ability to pay off the debt sooner by making set regular repayments. Remember toalways pay off the debt with the highest interest rate first and look to consolidate any debt to the lower interest rate.  https://www.peopleschoicecu.com.au/products-services/personal-loans/

So there it is – five simple and effective ways to get your credit cards under control and remain good friends. If you treat it right, a credit card has the potential to repay you with many online shopping opportunities and will be there as your loyal “get-out-of-jail free” card when the need for those sudden and unexpected expenses arises. There is nothing more rewarding or empowering than knowing you are in control of your credit card debt. However, should you choose to neglect the friendship, well, you could be in for a long and rocky relationship…

If you would like more information on the People’s Choice Credit Card, featuring a low introductory rate and up to 62 interest fee days, visit their website, call 13 11 82 or drop into your nearest People’s Choice Credit Union  branch to speak to a friendly staff member.

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