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Smart Holiday Credit Card Use

“Credit is great!”

“Credit is scary!”

We get a lot of mixed messages about credit card usage these days. Some people think cards should be avoided, while others think they are the best things since sliced bread. Which side is right?

Credit cards are a wonderful resource for shoppers and spenders, especially during the hectic holiday season. By using your card wisely, you make your money work for you. Smart credit card usage doesn’t mean shopping for boring things or cutting all the candy, clothes and celebrations out of your budget. You can use your credit sensibly, have fun and prepare for a prosperous new year.

So, what are some of our favorite credit-savvy tips?

  • Budgeting is still basic. Just because you’re not physically counting out cash doesn’t mean you have carte blanche when it comes to your purchases. You still need to have a financial plan throughout the holiday season. Sit down and make your budget before you hit the malls and shops. You also need to plan for more than presents – think about the travel, the meals, the parties and the entertainment that come along with the holiday season. For example, many families enjoy going together to a holiday movie. By the time you factor in travel, tickets and snacks, you could be putting more than $50 on your card for a family for four – and that’s money you probably wouldn’t have accounted for in your holiday spending plan.
  • Protect your online purchases. Online shopping makes up a bigger portion of holiday purchases every year. When you shop online, the peace-of-mind that comes with an RBFCU MasterCard® can be priceless. All RBFCU MasterCard credit cards provide users fraud liability and monitoring, in case something unexpected happens during the purchase and shipping process.
  • Make spending money rewarding. If you’re planning on using a credit card to make purchases, you might as well get something out of it. Look for a card that includes the perks you enjoy, whether that means bonus cash to buy something special in the New Year, or points to treat yourself with a few extra perks. RBFCU offers three unique cards, each with special benefits to meet the needs of our card holders. That way, you get your rewards in the way that works best for you – it’s as easy as just applying!
  • Take advantage of transfers. Okay, holiday bargain shoppers: if you can get the same thing for less, that’s what you’ll usually do, right? You wouldn’t pay $5 for a cookie when you could just as easily pay $1 for the same delicious treat. Don’t do that with credit cards and interest rates, then. If you have the opportunity to take advantage of a low rate – like our 3.9% APR rate on balance transfers and cash advances, do it! With the lower rate, you’ll save money on your interest payments each month, which will help you stay out of long-term debt and manage your money responsibly.

The holiday season is all about cheer, not fear, so do your research, review your card options, and decide on the RBFCU MasterCard that works for you. You’ll be able to shop smart during the season, without letting bills and interest overwhelm you in the New Year.

Rates and terms are subject to change. Credit cards are subject to credit approval. The 3.9% Annual Percentage Rate (APR) is a promotional rate available on cash advances and balance transfers made between July 1, 2012 and December 31, 2012 to a new or existing RBFCU MasterCard credit card. Beginning January 2015, any remaining balance at the 3.9% APR will be repriced to a rate of 9.7% – 15.7% APR for Gold CashBack, 9.7% – 15.7% APR for Platinum Rewards and 5.7% – 14.7% APR for Platinum Preferred Rate. The APR on all purchases during the promotional period and thereafter will be at 9.7% – 15.7% APR for Gold CashBack, 9.7% – 15.7% APR for Platinum Rewards and 5.7% – 14.7% APR for Platinum Preferred Rate. Beginning April 1, 2012, purchases made with a Platinum Preferred Credit Card acquired on or after April 1, 2012, will be at 7.7% – 14.7% APR. Contact the Consumer Lending Center for complete details.