Toronto, ON – November 27, 2012: In school, students are taught the language, science and business skills required to succeed in adulthood – yet the focus on financial literacy, a topic critical to the future wealth and stability of Canadians, is noticeably lacking. As young adults are left to acquire personal finance skills through trial and error, the risk of accumulating unmanageable debt becomes very real.
Credit cards are a main contributor to this debt trap – but they can also be an excellent financial tool when properly understood and utilized. In celebration of Financial Literacy Month, and on the heels of major shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, RateSupermarket.ca, Canada’s independent rate comparison site, is offering Canadians six important tips and little-known facts about credit cards that can make a significant impact on your financial success.
1. Explore Lower Interest Options
Don’t get stuck paying the standard 19.99% featured by many credit cards. There are many low interest credit cards on the market designed to help if you’re prone to carrying a balance. Switching to one of these options will give you an interest break, and increase the effectiveness of payments toward your principal debt.
2. Interest accrues immediately on credit card cash advances
Unlike credit card purchases, which are billed monthly and do not accrue interest if paid on time, cash advances offer no such leeway. If you must take a cash advance, pay it back as quickly as possible to minimize the expense.
3. Research Your Rewards
With so many different rewards credit cards out there, it’s easy to be seduced by the appeal of free flights, gas, groceries or even cash back. Just be sure to choose a card that fits your needs and spending. Take a look at dollar-to-rewards ratios and annual fees before making a decision. For example, if you have an air travel rewards card with a $100 annual fee, and it takes you three years to accumulate enough points for a short-haul flight, in the end it would have cost the same to simply pay for the flight. Identifying your spending habits, and comparing the market to find your best credit card option, is integral to smart credit use.
4. Pay Off Your Balance in Full to Avoid Interest Charges
The only way to avoid paying interest on your purchases is to pay them off in full within the grace period – a point many credit card users miss out on. “Many people don’t realize how key taking advantage of that interest-free grace period is to controlling their credit card debt,” says Kelvin Mangaroo, President of RateSupermarket.ca. “Once purchases become overdue, interest really begins to snowball – and the resulting debt can become unmanageable very quickly.”
5. Considering a Switch? Read the Fine Print
If you’re looking to pay down your credit card debt, it’s a great idea to take advantage of low introductory rates offered by low balance transfer credit cards – some cards on the market even offer a 0% balance transfer rate for a limited amount of time! But that doesn’t mean you can rack up charges, interest-free. Often, that low interest rate only applies to the transferred balance, not new purchases. Be sure to make note of when the low rate expires, or you could unknowingly end up paying a much higher rate.
6. Keep Track of your Limits
If you have pre-authorized bills to be paid on your credit card, pay close attention to when they get charged. If your balance is near your limit, the credit card company will usually push pre-authorized charges through, but many will also charge an “over limit” fee in such cases.
About RateSupermarket.ca (www.ratesupermarket.ca)
Over 2.5 Million Canadians have found their best rate for personal finance products on RateSupermarket.ca. Launched in 2008, RateSupermarket.ca is Canada’s largest and most comprehensive rate comparison site, offering visitors transparent access to the best mortgage rates as well as credit cards, bank accounts, insurance quotes and GIC rates.