How to stay on top of your credit card bills (and avoid any surprises)

There are few things in life that feel more like a chore than managing your credit card. This is compounded by the fact that if you fall behind on payments, it can be catastrophic for your credit score.

To help avoid this, we’ve put together some strategies that will help you get a handle on your credit card bills in a flash, and stop you stressing about your finances.

Pay your credit card bill online – it’s fastest and easiest

While most providers let you pay off a credit card over the phone or by visiting one of their bricks and mortar locations, this takes more time than most of us can afford to give up to such a boring task.

The solution is to learn how to make your credit card payment online, and to do this as a matter of course.

Getting into the habit of opening up your banking app and paying off your credit card whenever you use it to make a purchase will mean that you aren’t caught out by the amount that’s built up over time.

Make sure your repayments reach the minimum required amount each month

Another fact that’s true of all credit cards is that they’ll have a minimum monthly repayment amount that you need to make in order to avoid fees.

Taking note of this and endeavoring to hit this milestone each month is important. You could even set up an automatic payment from your main bank account to your credit card account so that it’s not something you need to think about whatsoever.

Of course the only reason to pay the bare minimum back each month is if you can’t afford more than this. If you have more cash to spare, pay off as much as possible, because any credit you do use will be subject to interest charges.

Work out your personal budget and look for wiggle room within it

If you haven’t made a budget, you really need to. It’ll let you see what you bring in each month, what you spend, and whether or not there are opportunities to rethink how you manage your money.

Most importantly, if you find that you can cut costs in certain areas, then you should redirect this money to pay down your credit card sooner rather than later.

For example, if you’re paying for a streaming service that you simply don’t use anymore, or you have membership at a gym that you’ve not visited in months, these are obvious candidates for the cut.

It’s not just avoiding waste through good budgeting, but also ensuring that your debts are reduced faster, rather than lingering like a weight on your shoulders.

Switch to deal with a better rate of interest

You don’t have to stick with the same credit card package indefinitely, even if you’ve still got a large balance to pay off.

With a deal that has a lower rate of interest applied to it, your repayments won’t be so steep and you’ll avoid pouring more money into the pockets of the provider unnecessarily.

You don’t even need to move to a new card to get a better rate of interest; simply get in touch with your existing provider and see if they’re willing to reduce the rate on the card you’re using at the moment. If you’ve got a good credit score and you’ve been a loyal customer, they might do this just to keep you on their books.

Transferring the balance from your current credit card over to a new one in order to get a lower rate of interest is also an option. And with perks for new customers frequently provided to tempt you over, it’s always worth comparing packages.

You can even consolidate several different cards into a single card through balance transfers if you need to. Generally speaking you should aim to have as few credit cards as possible, because it’s not just more expensive but also more complicated to manage multiple bills and balances.

Embrace spending alerts and try out tracking features

The days of having to manually look into your spending habits are thankfully behind us, as today many banks and credit card companies have adopted cutting edge software to help customers keep tabs on how they use their money.

As well as getting alerts whenever you use your card, you can also receive updates and warnings when payment deadlines are looming, which helps avoid late repayments on credit cards, and to make savvy choices for services you use, amongst other things.

Start building good habits today

It does take a bit of effort to wrangle your credit cards and get them in order, but building good habits today is better than finding that things have spiraled out of control tomorrow.

Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya