The Credit Card Monster Doesn't Exist
If there’s one thing I’m continually learning, it’s that I have a lot to learn.
For years I had a credit card but never used it because I was scared of digging a hole I couldn’t get out of. I heard so many horror stories from people about huge credit card balances and piling interest ruining their credit, that it was safer to not touch it all together.
Fast forward a few years and I started working at a credit union, where I learned that having a credit card helps build your credit, but actually using it helps more.
(My actual expression.)
There are a whole bunch of technical details about what can help or hurt your credit, but when it comes to credit cards the boiled down version is this:
- Having a credit card helps build credit
- Using your credit card will help more
- Letting the balance show up on your statement, then paying it off in full will help even more
If you’re worried about interest, I’ll fill you in on a secret…you don’t have to pay it. If you pay your balance in full each month (as long as it’s paid before the due date on your statement) you don’t pay any interest. The easiest way to use your card without the risk of overspending is to use it for purchases you would make anyway, like groceries, gas, or that twice a week Starbucks run you never miss.
Really though, there are other ways to build your credit too. If you’re still uncomfortable with credit cards, you don’t have to get one. All I’m saying is they aren’t as scary as they seem.