Checklist: credit cards

When you’re looking for a credit card

Shop around for the card that best suits all of your needs. Use this tool from the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada to help you decide.
Find out what interest rateInterest rate A fee you pay to borrow money. Or, a fee you get to lend it. Often shown as an annual percentage rate, like 5%. Examples: If you get a loan, you pay interest. If you buy a GIC, the bank pays you interest. It uses your money until you need it back.+ read full definition you’ll pay on late payments – although you should aim to pay in full each month, know what the penalty is. Is the interest rate a limited-time promotional rate that increases later?
Limit the number of credit cards you apply for at the same time as this could affect your credit score.
Read and understand card terms and conditions before you apply. Are there annual fees? How much time do you have to pay your balance before you pay interest?
Consider whether a rewards program will benefitBenefit Money, goods, or services that you get from your workplace or from a government program such as the Canada Pension Plan.+ read full definition you (cash back, travel, movies, etc.). Are the rewards worth the additional fees?
If you receive multiple card offers, accept only the one you want and shred all other offer information.

When you have your card

Pay your bill on time, every time to avoid interest costs.
Avoid taking cash advances on your card – interest is usually charged immediately on these withdrawals.
Keep all of your credit card purchase receipts and compare these to your monthly bill to make sure there are no incorrect charges.
Track your spending throughout the month to make sure you don’t go over your limit and that you have the money to pay your bill when it’s due.
Keep your card number, pin and other card information private. Don’t save your card information on online retailer sites, especially if you shareShare A piece of ownership in a company. A share does not give you direct control over the company’s daily operations. But it does let you get a share of profits if the company pays dividends.+ read full definition a computer.
Learn how to protect yourself from identity theft.
Let your card company know when you are going on vacation – if your card company sees purchases outside of your area, they may disable your card.
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