University of Illinois Extension

Spend Smart, Save Smart Tips

Ten Tips for Using Credit Wisely

  • Shop around for the best offer and interest rate.
  • Think of credit as the use of future income.
  • Don’t get a credit card just because they’re giving something away.
  • Establish a credit budget, and keep track of all credit purchases.
  • Pay bills on time, so you won’t have to pay late fees or jeopardize your credit history.
  • Pay bills in full each month, so you won’t have to pay finance charges.
  • Pay more than the minimum amount due. Debts will be paid off sooner, and you’ll save money.
  • Use only when necessary. Don’t use credit to buy what you can’t afford.
  • Know how much credit debt you can handle. It shouldn’t be more than 15% of your monthly take-home pay.
  • Get a free copy of your credit report once a year and make sure it’s accurate.