Ever noticed how some people seem to manage their credit cards better than others? Perhaps that’s because managing credit cards starts before you even open the credit account.

Any purchase that is made with a credit card is a loan. It must be repaid. And as with any loan, the payment terms are very important considerations. As important as it is to use credit cards wisely, it is very important to choose a credit card that meets your needs and your financial circumstances. Choose wisely.

Take Charge and Pick the Right Card

Too often people are tempted to simply choose the credit card that came in the mail with the best offer, or the one at the store that offered such a discount on the purchase. But such a convenient circumstance may not represent the appropriate circumstance.

  • Think about how you will use the card. Do you expect to pay your card balance off in full every month? If so, the price discounts and even the points applied to charges may be a worthwhile feature. If not, you may be better off choosing a card with a lower Annual Percentage Rate (APR).
  • Shop and compare. Don’t assume that the credit card offers that come addressed just to you are the best deals for you. Take the time to compare current offers from several lenders. Their websites can help you make that decision. Some websites offer to make the comparison for you, but beware that sometimes the credit cards listed are there because they paid for advertising on the site.
  • Understand the key terms and conditions. The FDIC has published a very handy reference that describes APR, Fees and Rewards. Read that important summary.

A good manager understands the inner-workings of the process and controls what things are possible to control. Be a good manager of your credit cards. Choose wisely, use wisely, to avoid the trap of out-of-control debt.

For more tips and information, start at the FDIC Web page “How to Choose and Use a Credit Card”. Another resource is a set of questions and answers developed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.