With St. Patrick’s Day around the corner, we don’t blame you if you’ve got money on the mind. All this talk about pots of gold sure makes looking at the ol’ bank account seem slightly less, well, shiny.
These days, every coin counts. Whether you’re a current or soon-to-be Mission Lane member, taking time to set simple goals for your new plastic could pay off (literally) down the line. As you start to think about how you want to use your card, we’ve put together a little list to help you hold onto your gold.
Think of a credit card like an instant, limited loan that increases your spending power. When you activate your card, you gain access to a line of credit you can spend every month (and pay off the next).
A good rule of thumb? Spend only what you know you can pay back. That way, if you pay your statement balance in full by 5pm EST on your billing due date, you’ll never have to pay us interest on new purchases. Ever. 🙌 Disclaimer: If you request a cash advance, you’ll always have to pay at least a little interest. That’s why we recommend only using them when you reeeeally need to.
FYI: If you decide to pay an amount between your required minimum and your statement balance, that’s cool, you’ll just have to pay interest on the average balance you keep in your account during that billing cycle. Read all about it in the cardholder agreement.
A credit card is a great way to gain access to money in a pinch. If you’re trying to pay a hefty medical bill, for example, it may make sense to use your whole credit line. A useful tip? Don’t wait until your due date to pay it back. Make a plan to pay down as much of your outstanding balance as you can, as quickly as you can. That will increase your chances of paying it off in full by your due date, which could help you avoid or reduce interest payments.
An added benefit? You’ll lower your utilization (the percentage of your credit limit that you’ve used).
Slow and steady wins the race. And by this we mean: spend small, pay on time (you’ll get your billing due date as soon as you activate your card), and try to keep your utilization below 30%. Over time, the bureaus may see you as a more trustworthy credit candidate and bump up your score. If you’re eligible, we’ll even raise your credit limit (learn more in the Credit Limits section of the Cardholder Agreement).
To ensure you’re always making payments towards the right billing cycle, make sure to double check when your cycle begins and ends. If you’re saving up funds to make your minimum payment every month, you don’t want to accidentally pay twice in the same cycle. Let us explain.
Picture this: It’s March. You’ve already paid your monthly minimum payment and you’re feelin’ pretty good. A couple weeks later, you get a paycheck, and you decide to go ahead and pay off next month’s minimum. But - oh no! - you check your account and quickly realize that the second payment was applied to your outstanding balance, instead. Why??
All payments you make during a billing cycle will either go towards that cycle’s minimum payment or, if you’ve paid the minimum, to your account’s outstanding balance. For example, if your statement cycle lasts from February 27 - March 27, all payments you make between those two dates will apply to that cycle’s balance (and not future minimums).
The good news? There’s an easy fix. At Mission Lane, we always let you know when your new billing cycle begins. If you wait to make payments until we ping you by mail, email, or your online account letting you know that your new billing cycle has begun, you can rest easy knowing you’re putting your money where you mean to.
We hope you found this mini guide helpful! For some extra tips and tricks, visit our credit education board. Good luck! 🍀