What are they?
Credit cards are a type of unsecured loan that can be used to make purchases of goods or services. Because these purchases are made from borrowed funds, if you do not repay by the due date; interest will be added therefore making what you owe increase. If you pay your balance in full each month then no interest will be added.
The advantages of credit cards include earning cash back, earning air miles, spreading out large purchases etc. and these benefits can be worthwhile with good credit card management such as treating the loan as if it were your own money therefore ensuring that balance is ALWAYS paid off by the due date.
How it works
When applying for a credit card the bank will look at your credit history before accepting your application. If all is well, the bank will set a credit limit, which is the maximum amount you can spend on the card. The bank will send you a statement every month, detailing the transactions on the card, plus the amount owing. It will also provide details on the minimum payment you need to make and the payment due date.
We often hear of credit cards being considered a trap; that we should avoid them altogether - and with good reason. Failing to keep on top of our credit spending could result into us paying hefty interest charges, eventually ending up in debt in the process.
Missing a payment or the payment deadline will normally lead to a penalty charge. There is also a penalty if you exceed your credit limit. So make sure to take control of your credit card and always monitor your statements.