- A credit card is basically a way to borrow money from a bank to make purchases. Unlike a bank loan, a credit card “loans” money in smaller amounts and on a short-term basis, requiring you to pay the bank back monthly (or be subject to unpleasant penalties and interest fees). The biggest payment networks are MasterCard, VISA and American Express, but do note that merchants may not accept all types.
- Simply fill out an application online or at a bank branch and submit the required documents such as proof of income. After approval, the bank will inform you about how much you are allowed to borrow and mail you your new credit card. You’ll need to activate the credit card as well as sign on the back.
- Unlike credit cards, debit cards do not involve any borrowing. They are linked to your bank account, so purchases made on your debit card are paid for by deducting straight from your funds. You must have sufficient funds on hand to use your debit card. If you have a credit card, you can borrow the money for the time being and pay it back later.
There’s no sure-fire way to prevent credit card fraud, so unfortunately holding a credit card also means being vigilant about making sure it doesn’t end up in the wrong hands. Make use of credit card alerts, monitor your transactions closely, be wary of phishing scams and don’t make it easy for others to get hold of your credit card information.
- It might not be the most fun thing to read, but it IS super important to understand your credit card statement. So don’t throw it away without checking it. Of course, after reading the statement you will have to pay your bill – typically through online banking, though some people use ATMs, SAMs, AXS machines or go to the bank in person.
- Because credit cards are effectively short-term loans, you are meant to pay off your bills in full every month. If you make only the minimum payment each month, you may accrue huge additional costs on top of your bill due to the credit card’s interest rate (typically 24%+)