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3 Credit Card Annoyances, Solved

March 18, 2014
Credit Card Basics, Credit Cards
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There’s no two ways about it: Using a credit card responsibly is important to your financial well-being. This is because credit cards help you build a positive credit history, which is essential to accomplishing your big money goals, such as buying a house or a new car.

Despite this, many people continue to use a debit card because of some of the quirks that come with choosing credit. However, there are easy ways to get around these credit card frustrations so that you can get all the benefits of using credit without any of the headaches.

Interested in the Nerds’ top tips for solving three common credit card annoyances? Take a look at the information below.

1. My credit card balance doesn’t update in real time the way my bank account balance does.

If you’re like most people, you’re using plastic for most purchases. There’s nothing wrong with this, but it’s smart to check online every few days to keep track of how much you’re spending. Unfortunately, if you want an up-to-the-minute update on your total credit card balance, you might have a hard time getting it.

Even though most credit cards allow you to track your transactions online in real time, your total balance can take days to reflect your recent charges. Many people feel that debit cards – which immediately deduct your purchase amounts from your total checking account balance every time you swipe – make it easier to hold themselves accountable. After all, financial responsibility has a lot to do with keeping tabs on your spending.

But there’s an easy workaround that will solve this credit card annoyance and allow you to easily see the total balance you’re carrying: Log into your credit card’s online banking system and simply subtract your available credit amount from your total credit line. For example, if your total credit line is $10,000 and your available credit is $7,800, you know that your total current balance is $2,200.

You’ll have to take one extra (small) step to get an accurate update on your credit card spending. But given all the benefits that credit cards have to offer, this is a small sacrifice.

2. I have to remember to pay a credit card bill every month, but debit transactions are paid immediately.

For the all the forgetful souls out there, having to remember one more thing can be overwhelming. This is why many people turn to debit cards for their plastic needs – there’s no need to worry about forgetting to pay a bill because each transaction is automatically withdrawn from your account.

But these days, most credit card companies are happy to send out emails and text messages to alert you to when it’s time to pay a bill. Go online and check out the reminder options your credit card company offers, then sign up for free. You’ll be on your way to stress-free credit card use in no time.

3. It’s too easy to overspend with credit cards.

One of the most common reasons that people choose debit over credit is fear, specifically the fear that they’ll overspend and end up in debt if they make the switch to credit. This is a legitimate concern, given that the credit card debt load carried by the average U.S. household was $15,270 in 2013.

Luckily, there are ways to avoid this fate. The best way to take advantage of all that a credit card has to offer and still stay out of debt is to set a budget and stick to it. You can do this on paper or use budgeting software, but the idea is to keep tabs on where your dollars are going. That way, you’ll be sure you have the cash available to pay your credit card bill in full when the end of the month rolls around.

Another idea is to have your credit card company alert you when your balance has reached a certain dollar amount. Most major credit card issuers allow you to go online and sign up for text message or email alerts to notify you when your spending has reached a certain level.

If you choose this option, we recommend that you give yourself a little leeway when you set your spending threshold. For example, if you budget to put $1,500 in charges on your card each month, set the alert for $1,200. That way, you have some advanced notice that you need to reel in your spending.

The takeaway: Credit cards give you the opportunity to build a positive credit history, which is an important to your financial life. To get all the benefits of credit card use while avoiding some common annoyances, use the tips discussed above. The important thing is to make the move from debit to credit as soon as you can – now there’s no excuse not to!

Credit card user image via Shutterstock