5 steps to avoid credit card debt and maximize returns
By Ankit Sharma
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Credit cards are great financial tools if used in the right manner. Contrary to popular perception, credit cards can be owned and used without accumulating credit card debt. What are these ways? How do we get the maximum benefit from our credit cards? What is the right method to use credit cards? If these questions bother you also, read on. Here are five simple steps, which will make the plastic work for you.

1. Decide what you want
There are different types of credit cards like co-branded, reward cards, women cards, student cards, business cards etc. available today  Each one of them brings in special benefits for the desired category. If you are a businessman who travels a lot then a business reward credit card offering travel rewards would be the ideal choice. Similarly if you spend a lot at Barista, a co-branded credit card, which rewards your spend at this popular coffee joint will suit you more. The entire idea is to enumerate your requirements and expenditure and then decide, which particular category of credit card will suit you best. This ensures that the credit card always works for you.

2. Shop around for the interest rates, fees and other charges
You won't believe, but there are many credit card providers in India like ABN AMRO, American Express, AXIS BANK, Bank of Baroda, Bank of India, Bank of Maharashtra, Barclays, Canara Bank, Central Bank of India, Centurion Bank of Punjab, Citibank ,Corporation Bank, Deutsche Bank, HDFC Bank, HSBC Bank, ICICI Bank, Indian Bank, Indian Overseas Bank, Jammu & Kashmir Bank, Kotak, PNB, Standard Chartered Bank, State Bank of India, Syndicate Bank, Union Bank of India, and Vijaya Bank etc. Some of the major credit card providers have a wide range of credit cards, so there is plenty to choose from.

Though, most of the credit cards in India have interest rates in same range, situation will change once the CIBIL credit scores are used to judge the credit worthiness of the credit card holders. Based on these scores credit card companies will offer different rates to different credit card holders. A person with a high credit score will be eligible for low interest rates and those on the lower end will have to bear the burden of high interest rates. The idea here is to get the lowest interest rates, annual fees, late payment penalty and other finance charges for your credit card.

3. Pay your balances in full every month before due date
Every credit card has a repayment date attached with it. Bills are sent by credit card companies and the repayment must reach the credit card company before this date. Otherwise the outstanding balance attracts interest rate as noted in credit card terms (plus the late payment fee). To avoid paying this interest the balances should be paid in full before this due date. This is the right way to use credit card. However, many people use the most terrible way to repay their outstanding balances, they pay just the monthly minimum, which is mostly used to service the interest and the principal still remains. Another thing not to miss is the late payment penalty. If your payment doesn't reach the credit card company by the due date they slap a late payment penalty.  And with the late payment penalty a default interest rate also comes into the picture. In the present scenario credit card companies charge a very high interest rate in the range of 30% to 40% anually, which is even more than penal interest rates charged on credit cards in USA, but things will hopefully get better as credit-worthiness is rewarded in India.

The interest rate charged on default of payment is higher than regular interest rate and it is applied to your credit card's outstanding balances once you meet the default terms as mentioned in the credit card. Usual is not to pay on time for two consecutive months. Once the  default rate sets in, it is revoked after certain conditions like continuous timely repayment for six months etc. Exact terms and conditions are supplied with the credit card and they should be noted properly.

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(Comments Posted : 6) Post Your Comments
1. good site ... gives lot of inormation...


Sajith Kumar
Sajith Kumar (Posted: Nov 10, 2008)
2. Very Good Article..

Very nice site.. I am gonna recommend this site to my friend and relatives..

It has got very useful information.

Leela (Posted: Sep 28, 2008)
3. I had paid max. amount to my Credit card and my principle really stands as it is. Personal loan from the same bank could not be available inspite of my approach to clear the card amount. Inspite of adding more interest and late fee etc. and bank itself freeze my card how can pay
GV JAYARAM (Posted: Sep 6, 2008)
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