A fistful of credit cards is a good thing, right? Well, maybe yes and maybe no. With a credit card you are able to receive money, goods, or services in the present, in exchange for a promise to pay in the future.

Used wisely, credit cards enable people to expand their income, immediately enjoy the results of their labor, and manage short-term money problems. Although a credit card may seem like the perfect answer to your money problems, if used unwisely you can get into a lot of trouble. If you are unable to pay off your credit cards you may end up in a debt hole that you dug for yourself. Don't take the promise of "easy payment plans" too literally. Using more credit than you can afford is a trap.

According to the experts, the primary purpose of a credit card should be convenience. Buying by phone, over the net or just the ease of not carrying cash are all examples of appropriate card use. If you use your credit card properly you will pay off the total you charged each month. If you do not pay off the balance owed, you will have to pay interest.

Credit card bills state clearly what your minimum payment must be, but beware! Minimum payments are a trap; they are often designed so that it takes months or years to pay off the balance.

There are many different types of credit cards. A department store or chain of stores may issue retail credit cards for use in the main store or in any of its branches. The store handles the processing and the billing. Bank cards, like MasterCard and Visa, are credit cards issued by banks and accepted by millions of businesses in the United States and abroad. They can be used at hotels, restaurants, department stores, theaters, and airline ticket offices-just about anywhere. Major oil companies issue credit cards that provide credit for gas, oil, and other products. Interest charges and fees vary with each type of credit card.

Excessive credit debt is a serious problem that frequently begins right after high school. It is important to remember the differences between wants and needs. Pay close attention to your spending habits, refuse to charge things that are not essential and plan to pay your credit card off every month.

En Espanol