Credit is a convenient financial tool, but it carries responsibilities that must be understood beforehand, rather than after ignoring them has caused problems.
DO shop around. If you get a solicitation in the mail, on the Internet or at the local bank, compare rates and fees. The credit card industry is very competitive so interest rates, credit limits, grace periods, annual fees, terms and conditions vary.
DO read the fine print on a credit application. The application is a contract, so read it thoroughly before signing. Watch for terms such as "introductory rate" and periods that expire.
DO ask questions. You are the customer and the card company is providing a service. If you don't understand something, ask.
DO set a budget and stick to it. Developing a plan will help keep your finances in order.
DO be wary of anyone who claims they can "fix" your credit. The only thing that can fix a credit report is time, and a positive payment history.
DO open your bill and pay it on time every month. This helps protect you from identity theft and unauthorised charges.
DO pay at least the minimum due. Paying above the minimum is even better.
DO contact your credit card issuer if you have trouble making payments. They may work with you to create a payment plan you can manage.
DO be careful with your credit card. Keep it secure. Always have your bank's phone number available in case your card is lost or stolen.
DO view credit as an investment in your future. By using it wisely, you can build a good credit history, allowing you to purchase a car, buy a home, etc.
DO close out credit accounts you don't use.
DON'T feel pressure to get a credit card if you don't want one. It’s OK to say "no" to salespeople.
DON'T open many credit accounts in a short period of time.
DON'T pay your bills late. Late payments can hurt your credit rating.
DON'T spend more than you can afford. A credit card is not magic money; it's a loan with an obligation to repay. Know the difference between needs and wants. If you charge items now and only pay the minimum, you could still be paying months from now.
DON'T reach your credit limit or "max out" your cards.
DON'T apply for more credit cards if you already have balances on others.
DON'T ignore the warning signs of credit trouble. If you pay only the minimum balance, pay late or use cash-advances to pay daily living expenses, you might be in the "credit" danger zone.
DON'T give out your credit card number unless you've initiated the transaction. Be alert to identity thieves and scam artists