There's responsible credit card usage, and then there's smart credit card usage. Permit me to draw some distinctions.
If you're only charging sums that you can afford to pay, you're being responsible. If you're paying off your credit card bill in full each month, you're being responsible.
If you're a smart credit card user, though, you'll have done some digging to find the card or cards right for you. For example, if the sad fact of it is that you're carrying credit card debt, you'll want to have a card with as low a rate as possible. If you travel far and wide frequently, you may want a card that rewards you with miles. And if you simply use your card for lots of purchases, while paying it off regularly, you should perhaps focus on finding a card that offers you compelling rewards -- in the form of cash or rewards.
Take me as an example. I'm currently using a credit card that gives me 1% back on all my purchases, and on some, I get 5% back. Over the months, these little rewards add up. I recently cashed in a check the card sent me for $263 -- not bad, eh? Not only do I get the convenience of paying for most things with plastic, I even make money on the deal.
Learn much more about the surprisingly interesting credit card industry in our Credit Center, which also features tips on getting out of debt, along with guidance on how to manage your credit effectively. (We even offer spiffy Motley Fool credit cards.) Really. I mean it. There's some great stuff in our Credit Center, and it's all free reading.
The following articles can help you:
- The 8 Commandments of Credit
- The Best Low-Interest Credit Card?
- The Hidden Perks of Plastic
- Urban Credit Legends Exposed!
- $24 Billion to Card Companies ... for What?
- Sneaky Credit Card Tactics
You can also read about all things credit-related on our Consumer Credit/Credit Cards discussion board, including stories and tips from our readers about how they climbed out of debt.
Oh, and while we're on the topic, you might want to consider investing in one or more credit card-issuing companies, such as American Express
Foolish research associate Katrina Chan has updated this article, which was originally published by Selena Maranjian on December 23, 2005. Katrina does not own shares in any companies mentioned. The Motley Fool has a full disclosure policy.