How to use and manage your credit card

How to manage a credit card responsibly, step by step:

  1. Borrow responsibly, always staying within your credit limit.
  2. Make your credit card payments on time.
  3. Clear your balance when possible.
  4. Keep a close eye on your spending.
  5. Only borrow what you can afford to repay.

Credit card advice - using and managing your card

Having access to credit is a useful financial tool that gives you convenience and flexibility. And like any other tool, it needs to be properly looked after.

If you know how to manage a credit card responsibly, you’ll be able to take advantage of all the benefits it has to offer. But if you’re not careful you could end up racking up a lot of interest and debt and it could cost you more in the long-run.

Here are some credit card tips that’ll help you keep your finances in order.

Borrow responsibly

One of the best pieces of credit card advice is to borrow responsibly. Come up with a budget that lets you manage your borrowing, and stick to it. Some other ways to manage your credit card borrowing and not take on more than you can manage are:

  • Be sensible with your spending – avoid purchases you can’t afford.
  • Keep track of where you spend your money, and hold on to receipts.
  • Plan purchases to fit your monthly budget and avoid impulse buys.
  • Keep within your credit limit.
  • Avoid making cash withdrawals.

The MoneyHelper provides useful credit card budgeting tips.

Make payments on time

Paying your credit card on time is really important. There are lots of ways to do this, including:

  • By Faster Payment: make your credit card payment over the phone, online or at a local branch of your bank.
  • By Direct Debit: make automatic payments each month by setting up a Direct Debit.
  • By debit card: you can make one-off credit card repayments of any amount you choose with your debit card.
  • By cheque: it’s possible to make credit card payments by cheque. You may need to allow at least five business days for the payment to arrive.
  • From overseas: if you’ve got a UK debit card and you’re overseas, it’s still possible to pay your credit card. You can find out more on how to do this by reading our guide to using credit cards abroad.

If you miss a payment, you are likely to be charged a late fee and damage your credit rating. You could also lose any promotional rates on your credit card and have to pay the standard interest rate instead.

If you’re struggling to make your payments to MBNA, contact us and we’ll do our best to help. You can also download our income and expenditure form (PDF, 53KB) if you’re concerned about your financial situation.

Clear your balance whenever possible

If you only make your minimum credit card payments, your debt will take longer to clear and cost you more.

A useful piece of credit card advice is to pay off the whole balance or as much as you can every month, so you’re paying as little interest as possible and clearing the debt faster.

It’s important you generally understand any interest charges that could apply and when they’ll be charged. Check your credit card terms & conditions for details of fees, charges and interest.

Keep monitoring your financial situation

It’s important to keep an eye on your credit card spending to make sure you’re not spending more than you can afford to pay back. Some of the signs you might need to rethink your finances or get independent advice include:

  • Regularly paying bills late and/or only making minimum payments each month.
  • Being surprised by how many transactions are on your monthly statement.
  • Regularly reaching or exceeding the credit limit on your account.
  • Needing to work overtime or a second job to meet your monthly payments.
  • Having to juggle your finances to make payments.

Managing your credit once you’ve been approved is important so you don’t incur extra fees or charges. Taking these pieces of credit card advice on board will help you control your credit, rather than letting it control you.

Please note: the contents of these pages are not intended to be taken as financial advice or recommendation made by MBNA. You should seek independent financial advice if you’re unsure about your financial needs.