You shouldn’t use your new credit card until you’ve done these things

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Trying a new credit card is like driving a new car for the first time: in the same way that you can adjust the seat and mirrors, locate the emergency brake, or manipulate the air conditioning controls, you’ll want to maybe adjust your new card’s settings before you start spending. Here is a checklist of things you should do when getting a new credit card.

Activate your card

Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? Well, not to everyone: I made the mistake of tearing up the envelope for a new card, running to buy something and seeing my card refused at the counter. It used to be more complicated to activate cards over the phone with a customer service representative, but the process is now automated and only takes a few minutes over the phone or by registering online (there should be a URL on the phone). sticker or in the letter supplied with the credit card).

Destroy your old card after activating the new card

If your new card replaces an old one, you may as well cut out the old credit card immediately after activating the new card, in order to avoid identity theft. Be sure to cut out the card, including the magnetic stripe and chip, as thieves can steal information on both.

Configure mobile banking

As long as you follow your lender’s instructions on how to download their app, it should be as safe as browsing their site on a browser. The main benefit of mobile apps is convenience (I often pay off my credit card right after making a purchase so I don’t forget), but the added security of push notifications that can tell you when your card is being used without your permission is great. too. In addition, you are likely to check your account balance more regularly.

Call customer service to confirm card bonus terms and adjust your billing cycle

Many cards offer a cash back bonus for spending a certain amount of money within a few months. The problem is, the bank’s message regarding bonuses is not always explicitly clear once you have the card. When I signed up for a Bank of America Cash Rewards card, there was nothing on the site or app that said, “Hey, the bonus is active, you have that much to spend and that many days to do it. . ” Also, once you hit the goal, the cash reward is often delayed, which can make you a little paranoid that you missed the spending goal.

Therefore, before spending thousands of dollars chasing a bonus, contact a customer service representative to confirm the bonus amount, the spending target, and the date the offer actually started (this should be the activation date, But it’s not always the case).

Finally, you might want to align the billing cycle to a date that works best for you. One tip that will help your credit score is to confirm the closing date of your credit cardthat is, when your balance is reported to the credit bureaus. Knowing this date, you can schedule your payments so that the declared balance is in total as low as possible (for me, it’s after payday, in the middle of the month). This way you are using as little debt as possible, which is a good thing because the amount of credit available to you. do not usage represents 30% of your credit score.

Set up automated payments

The downside to credit cards is that they come with late penalties and ridiculous interest rates, so you’ll want to make consistent, on-time payments on any outstanding balances you might owe (plus one more times, it helps your credit score to do so).

Since it’s easy to forget and miss a payment, set up automated payments through your checking account, either on the bank’s app or on their website. You can even set up these payments to pay off the total balance each month, whatever it is at that time. The only risk with automated payments is overdraft fees, so you’ll still need to monitor your checking account balance every month.

Activate your rewards

Cash back cards have often increased rewards based on different categories of spending, such as 3% cash back for online purchases versus 1% for all other spending. Since reward cards often come with multiple categories that have tiered rewards, you’ll want to log into your card’s app or site and adjust those categories to match your spending habits. Your card may also offer other benefits, such as statement credits or short-term coupons, which must be activated before you can claim them (look for a ‘rewards’ tab in your lender’s app or site) .


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