Don’t treat credit cards like an easy-access loan – only use them to buy things you can afford and have the cash for
Always try to pay your statement balance in full each month. Only ever making the minimum payment is a false economy, as it’ll take longer to clear your balance and make your purchases cost even more
Use the direct debit trick to never miss a payment. Set up a direct debit from your current account to automatically pay the balance (or any other amount) owed on your credit card. Make sure you’ve got enough cash (or interest-free overdraft) in your current account, though!
If you can’t clear the balance in full, do still pay what you can. Missing minimum repayments could affect your credit score and hit you with penalty charges, too
Buy high-value items on a credit card to get Section 75 protection against the retailer going bust, or your item not being as expected. Think holidays, tickets, gadgets or eBay. You’ll need to pay directly with your credit card to get S75 protection (i.e. not via PayPal or other payment services)
Going after rewards points, cashback or air miles? It could be worth using your credit card for everything to build up better bonuses, while your Student Loan, salary or other income sits tight in your savings account brewing extra interest. Just make sure you’ve still got the cash to cover your spending
Never withdraw cash on a credit card. You could be charged a higher interest rate than on purchases, as well as a handling fee. Either way, it’s going to cost you – so don’t do it. If you want to transfer cash available from your credit limit into your current or savings account, ask if the card company offers a money transfer service instead. Check the terms carefully, though
Don’t spend more than your credit limit or you’ll face penalty fees. It’s worth keeping an eye on your spending towards the end of the month in particular
The jury’s still out on whether getting a credit card but not using it will do anything useful for your credit score. Tucking it away and forgetting about it isn’t great for fraud prevention, either
You only need one credit card. Any more than that and it just gets stressful.