What You Need to Know about Credit Cards

From pros and cons to coming out on top, we’ll help you master your plastic.

Getting to know your credit cardsCredit is a double-edged sword. Your credit cards allow you to make large purchases, take vacations with the family and shop online. At the same time, using credit cards without a clear plan for managing the debt can put you in severe financial distress.

The info below can help you master credit cards to avoid problems. If your cards are already causing issues, we can help. Call us at to speak with a certified credit counselor or request a free Debt & Budget Analysis.

The Pros and Cons of Credit

With so many potential issues, it can be hard to remember that there are some upsides to using credit cards. On the other hand, it’s also vital to remember the downsides so you can protect your finances.

Pros Cons
You can buy needed items & cover emergency expenses You pay more for purchases with interest added
There’s no need to carry cash Additional fees can be applied to your transactions
It creates a record of your purchases If you lose track of spending, you can face financial distress
It’s more convenient than writing checks There is a proven increase in the risk of making purchases on impulse
Some cards offer rewards with great incentives “Purchase acceleration” can make you buy more just to earn rewards

Risky Habits When Using Credit

The following habits should be avoided if you want to avert financial distress:

Choosing the Credit Cards for Your Needs

Not all credit cards are created equal. Understanding the different types of cards available can help you decide on the best card for you.

Important Factors for Comparing Cards

When you decide to get a new credit card, make sure you consider the following factors when comparing different credit cards you’re thinking of applying to use:

Staying Up-to-Date on Your Terms

Thanks to new credit laws, major changes to your terms and conditions require 30 days notice prior the change going into effect. The following list outlines the changes a credit card company must inform you about at least 30 days prior to it taking affect:

That last point can be a confusing. This doesn’t mean a creditor calls to tell you when penalty APR has been applied to your account. They are only required to tell you if your APR changes because the reference rate used to calculate it changes; the reference rate is the base interest rate used to calculate APR.

Outside of that situation, you may be surprised to look at a bill and see a different APR when didn’t know a new rate would be applied. If more than one rate is listed in your contract, it’s your responsibility to know when and how different rates apply.

Additional Resources

If you’d like more information, we offer a downloadable self-help guide that covers Everything You Need to Know about Credit Cards. If you’re still having trouble or you need help eliminating your credit card debt, we’re here to help. Call Consolidated Credit at or request a free Debt & Budget Analysis.

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