If you’re new to the world of credit cards, you might be feeling a little nervous—and a lot powerful. But before you embark on some retail therapy, there are things you need to know about how to use your credit card to 1) build and maintain a strong credit score and 2) protect yourself against fraud.
With great power comes great responsibility.
Credit cards have many advantages, including convenience, security, instant purchasing power and rewards. They also help build your credit score. On the flip side, credit cards can be too easy to use. Spending more than you can afford can leave you with growing debt you simply can’t pay off.
The best way to avoid debt and build a good credit score is to handle your new Mastercard® as you would handle cash: never spend more than you can repay based on how much you actually have in the bank. Call it your personal limit (and it’s likely much lower than your credit card limit).
Why are credit scores important, anyway?
A credit score is how financial institutions evaluate a person’s ability to manage debt. You need a good credit score to buy items that cost more than the cash you have on hand, like a home, vehicle, electronics and more. A poor credit score indicates to lenders that you’re a high risk borrower, meaning they’ll be less likely to lend you money or will offer only very high interest rates.
Here’s how to build a good credit score: pay off your credit card in full, on time, each month. If you can’t pay it off in full, at the very least, make the minimum payment on time.
What about privacy and security?
Skimming, cloning, hacking, the list goes on. It doesn’t matter if you’re making a payment online or in store, credit card fraud happens. In fact, it’s happening more each year. But there are things you can do to protect yourself.
Out in public:
- Limit the number of cards you carry with you and keep them in a safe place.
- Consider using a digital wallet. (Google Pay™, Apple Pay™ and FitBit Pay™ are secure and simple to set up with your ATB Mastercard®.)
- Cover the keypad with your hand or body when entering your PIN.
- Keep your credit card in sight at all times when making a purchase.
- Use only trusted and secure websites when sharing personal information or shopping online.
- Keep your computer firewall, anti-virus and anti-spyware systems up to date.
- Never give out credit card information (including photos of your credit card) over text or email.
- Avoid using public WiFi and computers to do your banking or online shopping.
- Destroy expired credit cards by cutting them up.
- Verify the amount charged to your card matches the receipt amount that you paid. (ATB TrackIt™ makes this easy.)
- Shred receipts and credit card statements when you no longer need them.
- Shred unused credit card solicitations.
- Report lost or stolen cards immediately.
For more ways to protect yourself from scams and fraud, read about tips to avoid fraud. Or, learn more about ATB’s online security. And remember, your ATB Mastercard® is protected by Zero Liability Protection, which covers you against unauthorized use of your Mastercard® if it’s misplaced or stolen.
® Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated. Used under license.