The little piece of plastic in your wallet packs a big punch. Credit Cards have made life extremely convenient. However, managing payments, understanding credit terms, and keeping a healthy credit score can sometimes be challenging for the average user.

Here are some common misconceptions about Credit Cards:

    • A new Credit Card dents your credit score
      Applying for new credit results in a ‘hard credit enquiry’ by the service provider. Too many applications may have a significant effect on your credit score, but a single inquiry is unlikely to affect your score by more than a few points. Therefore, it is important to pick the right card based on your requirement, spending habits, and the benefits it offers. A good payment history on the new card will swiftly offset the point loss.
    • One Credit Card is plenty
      It is understandable that you want to avoid the temptation of over-spending, but if you can responsibly manage the card usage and stay on top of payments, having multiple cards bring other perks. In case of emergencies, you have room for additional credit and different cards bring different rewards. For example, HDFC Bank Regalia Card is perfect for the itinerant traveller – with the lowest mark-up on international transactions and complimentary access to international and domestic lounges, you can explore the world in style. More importantly, the additional credit will lower your ‘credit utilisation’.
    • Old/unused Credit Cards must be closed
      Credit utilisation comes into play here as well. The percentage debt/consumption you have vis-à-vis the total credit available to you across all cards or loan accounts is used to calculate your overall credit utilisation. A standard practice is to maintain card utilisation at about 30%. Lower debt usually suggests a sound financial position, ergo higher credit scores. Just as it helps to expand the pool with a new card, closing an old one would reduce your total available credit, and proportionately increase your credit utilisation. Also, old accounts are treated favourably when calculating credit scores as they hold weightage in the ‘length of credit history’ category.
    • Avoid credit limit hikes if you don’t need them
      Timely payments and responsible financial behaviour are awarded with higher credit limits and aspirational metallic colours on the card. There is no reason for you to deny yourself the benefits of higher spending power while having the added advantage of lowering your debt in comparison to your total credit line.
    • Make your monthly settlements ASAP
      This is a tricky one. Traditional wisdom is to pay your due amount in full every single month to maximise your credit score. But this may not be entirely prudent. In fact, a small balance carried forward could actually be better for your score than none at all.
    • Don’t accept a card with an annual/renewal fee
      This again is dictated by personal spending habits. Paid cards come with additional perks. HDFC Bank Infinia Card, for instance, offers dining privileges with 15% off, complimentary lounge access, waiver on fuel surcharge, personal concierge services, Travel Insurance up to Rs 3 crore, free golf lessons in India and abroad, and many more well-crafted benefits! If you add them up, such specialty cards more than make up for their fee.

    Common Rules for Your First Credit Card
    Credit Cards can be an immense boon when your hit a rough patch financially. It will not only give you the much needed breather, but also provide you with the means to get back on your own two feet without relying on anybody else.No doubt, when you own your first credit card, it can be exiting tempting and intimidating. You can reap plenty of benefits, with each expenditure you make.

    Moreover, it opens the window to various other financial offering.But be warned, Credit Cards can become the proverbial double edged sword. Not only will it protect you, but it can also harm you, if not utilised wisely.To ensure that you make the most of your first Credit Card, here are some rules you must remember before you start the process to own one:

    Consider and compare the fees, interest rates and benefits
    All Credit Cards come with different fees, interest rate and several benefits. The ideal Credit Card you would want to choose should have the lowest fees, lowest interest rates and benefits that match your financial needs. While there may not be a single Credit Card option that will offer you the best of all of these three features, you can consider and compare the available options that will match your usage and needs.

    A Credit Card is a big responsibility
    Credit Cards work very simple. The issuing company will lend you money on each expense you make on your card. After a certain duration or even an expenditure limit, you will be responsible to pay off the borrowed funds within a given time frame. If you fail to do so, you will attract high interest rates on the payment delay.

    Stick to one Credit Card
    When you apply for a Credit Card, there are chances that you will receive many offers for different credit card types. However, this doesn’t mean that you have to sign up for each offer you receive. As a first time owner, it is best to opt for a single card. You can choose the right credit card, based on several features that match your needs. Remember, the more the number of cards you own, the higher are the chances you increase your debt.

    Opt for a low credit limit
    Spending on your Credit Card can be tempting as it offers you a high expenditure. However, high expenditures equals to high repayments, which you may not afford. This is where your credit limit can help you. Depending on your credit limit, you can calculate the estimated amount you can afford to spend without going over your repayment limit. It also helps you cultivate healthy expenditure habits.

    Pay off your entire Credit Card balance before the end of your billing cycle
    You need to pay off your card balance within the given credit card cycle, or else you will earn late charges. First time credit card holders normally get an interest free grace period to pay off their balance. Once this grace period is over, the longer you delay paying off your balance, the higher will be the late charges. Paying off your balance within the given period will not only help you earn a good credit report, but also help you inculcate good payment habits in the long run.

    Use your Credit Card wisely and regularly
    You may have bought a Credit Card for emergency purposes. However, if you don’t use your credit card continuously for a certain period of time, it incur additional charges. To avoid this, use your credit card for small purchases every couple of months. Do ensure that your pay off the balance before any interest it due.

    Know the Card usage and safety
    You can use your Credit Card at any store be it offline or online. In certain emergencies, you can also use it to withdraw cash from the ATM’s. However, this will attract certain transaction fees.

    Moreover, to ensure that your usage and card details are well protected, most of the cards come with security features. The CHIP + PIN features are the standard security feature for all credit cards. The embedded chip encrypts all your data on your card, which prevents your credit card data from either being duplicated or tampered with. The PIN, which is known only to the user, helps in authenticating any transaction made on the card.

    Together, no matter where or when you are using your Credit Card, your data and transactions are all kept safe.

    As you can see, owning a Credit Card offers you plenty of benefits in the long run. You can easily own your very own first Credit Card in no time too.#KhabarLive

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A senior journalist having 25 years of experience in national and international publications and media houses across the globe in various positions. A multi-lingual personality with desk multi-tasking skills. He belongs to Hyderabad in India. Ahssanuddin's work is driven by his desire to create clarity, connection, and a shared sense of purpose through the power of the written word. His background as an writer informs his approach to writing. Years of analyzing text and building news means that adapting to a reporting voice, tone, and unique needs comes as second nature.