Do you use a credit card? Do you know how much credit you have total? Do you know how much additional credit you have available to you? If you are unable to answer these second two questions, then you are probably not using credit responsibly, and it is time to learn more!

Obtain a copy of your credit score, before you begin applying for a credit card. Credit card companies will determine your interest rate and conditions of credit by using your credit history, among other factors. Checking your credit score before you apply, will allow you to make sure you are getting the best rate possible.

Don’t fall for the introductory rates on credit cards when opening a new one. Be sure to ask the creditor what the rate will go up to after, the introductory rate expires. Sometimes, the APR can go up to 20-30% on some cards, an interest rate you definitely don’t want to be paying once your introductory rate goes away.

Go over the fine print. If you see ‘pre-approved’ or someone offers a card ‘on the spot’, be sure to know what you are getting into prior to making a decision. Find out the exact interest rate and the time that rate is in effect for your card. You should be aware of any and all fees, and be aware of grace periods.

Check your credit report regularly. By law, you are allowed to check your credit score once a year from the three major credit agencies. This may be often enough, if you use credit sparingly and always pay on time. You may want to spend the extra money, and check more often if you carry a lot of credit card debt.

Anytime you apply for a credit card, you should always familiarize yourself with the terms of service that comes along with it. This will allow you to know what you can and cannot use your card for, as well as, any fees that you might possibly incur in different situations.

Be aware that there are credit card scams out there as well. Many of those predatory companies prey on people that have less than stellar credit. Some fraudulent companies for example will offer credit cards for a fee. When you send in the money, they send you applications to fill out instead of a new credit card.

Use a credit card to pay for a recurring monthly expense that you already have budgeted for. Then, pay that credit card off each and every month, as you pay the bill. Doing this will establish credit with the account, but you don’t have to pay any interest, if you pay the card off in full each month.

Now, you should be better prepared to use a consumer credit card in the proper way. When used correctly, credit cards can be a great way to simplify your life, however, when you are irresponsible with credit cards, then they can quickly get out of hand and make your life very complicated.