Terrible Credit Card Mistakes First-time Users Easily Make

Credit cards allow users to pay for items or services in lieu of cash. However, a person should be responsible enough to understand that the card must not be considered free cash.

That is why, for some people,  without proper guidance, it is easy to end up in serious debt within a short span of time.

Here are six of the most common mistakes first-time credit card owners make when using their cards and what can be done to avoid them.

1.Believing credit isn’t important

In the real world, having good credit is vital. Credit scores allow an individual to apply for mortgages and save up on car insurance premiums.

Without excellent credit scores, you won’t have access to lower interest rates or premium credit card rewards. Even potential employers and the landlord of your future apartment might check up on your credit score to see your ability to pay your debts.

By managing your credit responsibly, future credit card and loan applications are approved more easily and you can gain access to better offers. You can also use your good standing to negotiate better interest rates on loans. Even credit cards with a limit of $5000 can help build your credit score.

So apply for a credit card early, but make sure to use it wisely.

2.Spending too much

Credit cards offer users the opportunity to buy or pay for products or services that may currently be out of financial reach. However, if you’re not aware of where your money goes and how much you spend on a monthly basis, you could quickly max out your cards and end up in crippling debt.

Live below your means. This is true regardless of whether you are still currently relying on your parents for financial support or working multiple jobs.

Create a budget to get an idea of your financial state. Make a list of your sources of income and your monthly expenses. There are apps that can make recording this information easier, although simple spreadsheets can work just as well.

Write a goal to motivate yourself to save, then create a financial plan for achieving your objective. It could be as simple as skipping Starbucks for a year or avoiding mall sales.

3.Paying only the minimum amount

If you have any outstanding payments on your credit card, do your best to pay these off as quickly as possible. Compound interest can easily bloat your small debt if you are not careful.

Say, you paid AED5,000 for a used car and paid for the purchase using your credit card. With an annual interest rate of 15 percent making the minimum payment AED150, it will take 173 months or more than 14 years to pay it off. At the end of this period, you would have paid over AED8,300 on interest rates alone.

That is more than your original debt if you think about it, so make an effort to eliminate your credit card debt as quickly as you can.

4.Missing payments

Not paying on time can be devastating to your credit score. It stays on your record for at least five years.

As much as possible, avoid buying anything that you cannot afford to pay in cash. By doing so, you avoid going over your budget and getting into credit card debt.

Find a way to make paying off your credit card debt automatic if you are the type who forgets. Perhaps you can open a bank account that automatically debits a certain amount to pay off your debt. This way, you won’t have to worry about forgetting your payments.

6.Lending your credit card

For some, having a credit card gives the holder a license to spend to its limits. You may be responsible with using your credit card, but you can’t say the same thing about your friend, girlfriend, boyfriend or significant other.

Treat your credit card as you would your bank account PIN: always keep it secured to yourself. Never let anybody else use it to avoid souring your relationship and ending up in bad debt.

Remember these common errors so you can avoid getting into trouble with your credit card company.

Why You Should Use Comparison Websites Before Signing Up for a Credit Card?

Why You Should Use Comparison Websites Before Signing Up for a Credit Card?

Whether you have great credit or are working hard to improve your credit score, you undoubtedly receive plenty of credit card information or application forms in the UAE. The potential offers and rewards are often extremely compelling, whether it is extra points for eating at your favorite restaurant or travel deals that are only available to certain cardholders. Credit cards also have many different terms, and these terms can become all too real if you are behind on a payment.

Therefore, when analyzing which credit cards in UAE to pursue, it is helpful to compare all of the offers that are available to you. This is much easier said than done. However, You may find yourself placing pieces of paper side-to-side or simply choosing a credit card that your friend or sibling likes.

Luckily, there is a better way. We believe that comparison websites are a true game-changer when signing up for a credit card. These websites make it extremely easy to compare different types of credit cards, thereby making it more obvious to you when making your final decision. Everyone from the first-time credit card holder to more experienced borrowers can find immense value from credit card comparison websites.

Below, you will find several key reasons why these websites are so important in today’s financial environment.

A Clean User Interface

As referenced above, credit card comparison websites make it easier and enjoyable to compare different credit card offers. Many websites, in fact, let you place credit cards side-to-side. They make it seamless for you to compare cards’ interest rates, annual fees, join fees, and more. This side-by-side layout is more effective than you may think, as it quickly gets to the crux of why certain cards are better for you than others. Instead of spending hours sifting through the paperwork and comparing the fine print, you can get a great first glance through credit card comparison websites.

Opening Your Eyes to New Opportunities

Credit card comparison websites aren’t just for comparing credit cards that you are considering. Arguably just as valuable (or even more valuable) is the fact that you can use them to discover new credit cards. For instance, if your most important factor is a low interest rate, you may use a credit card comparison tool to find a low-interest card that you haven’t even considered yet. This is just one simple example, but the discovery nature of credit card comparison websites makes them attractive to credit card applicants.

Helping You Maximize Your Points

In the example above, we explained how credit card comparison websites can help you find low interest card cards, thereby saving you cash if you end up making a late payment. But the flip side to this, however, is that credit card comparison websites can help you maximize potential incentives. If you enjoy traveling, for instance, you can find a new credit card that caters to travelers. Moreover, the website will help you understand how you can maximize your points so that you can rack up free flights or vacations. To put it another way, these websites are your trusted guide to get the most value out of a potential credit card.

A Godsend if You Have Bad Credit

Finally, credit card comparison websites can be especially helpful if you have bad credit and are looking for a new credit card. Repairing or strengthening a credit score is always time-intensive. That said, this shouldn’t mean that you can’t find a great credit card now. Credit card comparison websites can help you with this task. They can highlight some of the most attractive options for you—considering your financial situation.

Your Secret Weapon

These are just several key reasons why credit card comparison websites are so powerful. They are simple and easy-to-use, yet extremely powerful. They can help you stumble upon key insights about your spending goals and budget. They can even be a massive assistance in helping you more quickly save up for your dream vacation.

Whatever the case may be, we encourage you to check out these websites. Spend some time reviewing both the websites themselves and the credit cards that they let you compare. In sum, we  believe that credit card comparison websites can be your secret weapon as you work toward achieving all of your financial goals.

Soulwallet is a personal finance comparison portal in the UAE. With a team of “out of the box” thinkers and a deep understanding of the UAE consumer banking industry, we help customers make the best choices while shopping for financial products such as credit cards and personal loans in UAE.

Are You Carrying the Right Credit Card in Your Wallet?

Credit cards make life easier – boost our purchasing power and makes big-ticket purchases much easier. They offer financial convenience in times of an emergency and come with a range of different benefits.

Credit cards offer ease of transactions and can also become a source of savings when you choose the right ones and then use them the right way.

Here are three questions that will help you determine if the card you have works well for your particular needs.

1. Does your credit card loyalty program offer the best value to long standing customers?

Credit cards in the UAE offer several exciting features for new cardholders that usually are for a limited period only. Alluring signup bonuses, zero-interest periods, waived annual fees and many more schemes are available for new card applicants.

However, what rewards do these credit cards offer over the long term?  This is vital information that one should check before deciding on the most suitable credit card. This will also help you decide whether it’s worth sticking with your existing bank’s credit card or if you indeed need to change and would be better off with another option.

The rewards offered for signing up are one of the main reasons people switch credit cards frequently. Consumers usually change cards for the better rewards program and to take advantage of signup offers that last for a limited period only.

It is important that the credit card you have chosen offers you good value for both short term and long term as well. An attractive signup bonus offer, a 0% interest period, no annual fee for the first year, or high spending rewards and other such perks must be attractive and indeed competitive over the long term and not just during the initial signup offer period.

The whole package of benefits to suit your lifestyle and spending patterns must be balanced between immediate rewards and long-term value. Your credit card must be suitable for your everyday purchases and your typical spending patterns.

If you can continue to enjoy great benefits from your credit card over a long-term without incurring additional costs and with minimum efforts, then it is worth considering to keeping on with you.  But if the ongoing benefits are not appealing it is definitely worth looking out for a better option.

2. How well does your credit card rate for the features that you use most?

The credit card in your wallet must have the incentives suitable for your spending patterns and lifestyle. There are a set of distinctive perks available on different credit cards offered by various UAE banks.

Hence, begin analyzing your spending patterns by accessing your credit card statements. Note down expense categories on which you spend the most as this can help you identify the credit card that best rewards that type of spend.

For instance, frequent travelers would be better off having a credit card that offers rewards on airline tickets and hotel stays and benefits such as airport transfers and VIP lounge access. Such credit cards typically have an annual fee component but frequent travelers generally gain back the value from the perks and rewards offered.

There are also credit cards with travel benefits that fit the needs of travelers looking for best deals, such as discounts on travel, dining and hotel stay along with the flexibility in reward redemption.

If you use your car a lot then it would be advisable to check for credit cards that offer fuel discounts, gas credits or rewards features on amounts spent at gas stations.

If you love playing golf – an expensive hobby to keep up, owning a credit card that has exclusive privileges on golf like a free tee-time once or twice every month at selected locations can be a good choice. Movie lovers will benefit if their credit card offers them a buy-one-get-one cinema ticket or similar movie discounts. When eating out is a weekly habit for you, dining discounts and perks on the card is a must.

For those who live a simpler life and spend only on basic necessities, cards offering cashback or rewards on groceries and other retail expenses can be the most rewarding. Hence, do review your regular expenses to choose a credit card that best rewards your lifestyle.

3. Is the type of credit card you carry, giving you the right value-based your lifestyle?

Credit card operators offer perks to customers differentiating their value-added services such as cashback, miles or rewards programs. When looking for real value on your credit card, it’s vital to match the type of card perks with your spending needs.

Cashback cards help cardholders get a percentage of their spend back on specific expense types incurred on the card. If you are a frequent credit card user then even a small percentage rebate can help you save money. Cashback earned is usually directly credited to your credit card account as money back.

Cashback on a flat-rate credit cards typically pay anywhere between 0.75% to 1.25% for all purchases whereas tiered and bonus-category credit cards give higher cashback rates at selected merchants or on certain types of purchases (groceries, school fees, fuel etc.) but with a nominal (usually 0.25% to 1%) reward on all other purchases.

So if you prefer some extra money in your pocket than other rewards, a cashback credit card could be the answer. However, do keep in mind that even cashback offers come with their own terms and conditions – prominent ones being a minimum spend requirement and maximum possible cashback restrictions (or caps).

For travel enthusiasts credit cards that offers air miles as a reward could be a better option. These cards provide higher miles on travel purchases and international spending made via the credit card.

It is true that joining bonuses are often the most attractive reasons to apply for a new credit card. However, in the following years, you’ll need to spend more to gain attractive rewards, especially if the card has an annual fee.

When redeeming miles, also note that there could be blackout dates, airline restrictions, or booking instructions that you will have to consider. Reward points offered on credit cards in the UAE are very diverse. You can accumulate reward points against spend and then redeem these points for various items – shopping vouchers, gifts, and even air miles. However, similar to cashback, these rewards credit cards also sometimes have an expenditure cap attached to them.

 

As is most often the case, there is no perfect credit card for everyone. But there could be definitely a perfect credit card best suited to your individual purchase patterns and benefit preferences. Taking that little extra effort to “align” yourself to the best credit card for ‘you’ can not only help maximize your savings but also provide you with meaningful benefits to enjoy.

Transactor vs revolver – What’s Your Approach with Using Credit Cards?

Transactor or a Revolver – What’s Your Approach with Using Credit Cards?

Plastic money is a popular and convenient way to pay for purchases. Credits cards and debits cards are often referred to as plastic money. Most people prefer them as they make transactions more convenient.

So whether you are purchasing a ticket to travel, shopping for groceries and everyday essentials, buying gadgets, clothing or other luxury treats, paying via a credit card is typically the first choice for most consumers. You can also order food, make purchases online, and book different transport needs effortlessly by using your preferred plastic card, thereby saving you a lot of time and energy.

If you are careful with your transactions, the use of a credit card makes your life hassle-free. However, if you make impulsive purchases beyond your means, using plastic money irresponsibly can put you into a vicious debt cycle.

So, what’s your style of using your credit card?

Do you use a credit card only for convenience? This means you never pay interest on the card and instead prefer to pay all dues on time. If that’s your approach, then the industry sees you as a “transactor” – a person who uses credit cards to make transactions easier and does not really utilize the “credit” facility offered by the card fully. Transactors enjoy benefits by accumulating points, miles and other rewards on their card transactions and hence effectively enjoy a “discount” on their purchases.

On the other side of the spectrum, many people use credit cards to make purchases without having enough funds to pay for them in full by the due date. Such users are known in industry parlance as “revolvers” as they “revolve” their balance outstanding across multiple billing statements.  “Revolvers” use credit cards to furnish today’s needs via tomorrow’s income. However, revolving your credit card balance can cost a lot of money in the form of interest, and this type of spending habits can severely strain your personal finances.

When does a revolving habit become risky for your financial life?

Banks typically give consumers a grace period of 21 to 30 days – the period between the end of the billing cycle and the payment due date. When you pay the outstanding amount in full before the due date, you won’t have to pay any interest.

For those who struggle to find the funds to clear their credit card balance each month, it’s easy to enter into a vicious cycle of debt.

When the payment is made after the due date, i.e. when you  “revolve” a balance, interest is calculated on an average daily balance method from the date you made the purchase.

If you continue to revolve a balance, there will be no grace period. You accrue daily interest on your balance outstanding and new purchases. So, your statement will then show substantial interest each month. In such a scenario, everything you purchase automatically becomes 30-40 per cent more expensive (depending on your particular card’s interest rate). This is a lousy buying strategy.

Moreover, for Personal loan seekers, this revolving balance can act as a disadvantage. It impacts your debt-to-income ratio (DTI) adversely, which in turn affects the credit score.

Revolvers that tend to accrue interest daily will have higher utilization rates and DTI ratios. The utilization rate and the percentage of the available credit you’re using are vital elements in determining a credit score.

For example, if your statement balance says Dh1,000, your credit report will indicate that you have a debt of Dh 1,000 that month. Now, if your credit card has a Dh1,000 credit limit, then the utilization rate here will be 100 per cent, even when you pay the bill in full.

So, here, to lower your utilization rate, you need to limit your purchases for the month or make payments early.

Whether you use the card and make payments as a revolver or transactor is not essential here. What you need to keep in mind is that for a better utilization rate, you must bring the total balance as low as possible and pay the remainder of the bill on time.

A higher DTI results in you paying extra money as extra interest charges in the long run (as these could impact your other loan interest rates in the future). Hence, a low DTI is vital for securing more favourable terms on a new loan or line of credit. It is also recommended you pay off all existing debts before submitting such a loan application.

The revolving habit overall imposes a high risk on your saving strategy and financial health. However, if you are revolving the balance at the time of an emergency, then carrying a balance for several months on a credit card is a better option to other even more expensive financing methods.

Even for other mindful larger purchases made with a credit card that is backed with a good plan to pay off the debt, it can be a wise decision. Remember, credit card companies will always prefer having revolvers because interest charged equals higher income for them. But, if you are looking for a robust financial situation, aim to be a transactor and always pay your credit card balance in full each month.