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In the world of finance, owning a credit card is a big step and means more than being able to buy whatever you want. If you want the credit score needed to buy a car or a house at a good interest rate, keeping up with your credit card balances is a key factor.

Using a credit card is the same as borrowing money, which means every time you swipe your card, you should be prepared to pay back what you spent. While using a credit card can be a great tool for building your finances, you have to be careful not to get behind and fall into debt.

Here are some tips to help you stay on top of your credit card usage:

Stick to a Budget

An important tip for anyone using a credit card is to have a plan for your money. Create a spending plan or a budget and stick to it. If you stick to a spending plan you will be less likely to fall into debt and get behind on your credit card payments.

Payoff Balance Monthly

If you are sticking to your spending plan, you should have no problems paying your balance off each month. Paying off your credit card balance each month eliminates those interest fees that could potentially add up, increasing the initial cost of the items purchased. Bottom line, make sure you are able to pay off what you put onto your card to avoid interest fees and compounding debt.

Stay in Control of Credit Limit Increases

A credit card limit increase can seem like a reward, but if misused can put you in a position that can hinder your ability to pay back what have put on your credit card. For many first time credit card users, the initial limit is often between $500-$900. After a few responsible payments, the card limit is often increased. When/If  this happens remember to stick to your budget. Just because your credit card limit has increased does not mean the same for your wallet.

Do The Math

All that glitters is not always gold when it comes to a credit card

Stay away from Cash Advances

Cash advances are usually high interest rate loans associated with unwanted fees that can quickly become an expensive regret. Once again stick to your budget, and live within your means to avoid financial issues and cash advances. Remember borrowing money is expensive.

Pay Bill on Time

Paying your bill on time is important and a huge favor to yourself. Late fees can add up quickly, and late payments do not look good on your credit report. Understand paying your bill on time has a major effect on your credit score.

Keep up with the terms and conditions

Keep up with the changing terms and conditions of your credit card by paying attention to the material your credit issuer sends you. Do not overlook new credit agreement or notices, information on increased fees, and updated rates. Keep up with what’s happening with your credit card to stay on top of your spending plan.

Keep your card information private

Last but not least, remember to keep your credit card information private. Be careful of who you share your credit card information with and don’t give out your account number or other information to people who ask for it online. Know exactly what you are doing and the purpose for the use of your card. When using your card online always double check if the site is secured before entering your credit card information.