Refresh your credit card knowledge

First, let's review how a credit card works.

A credit card is a revolving line of credit where cardholders can make purchases up to a specific limit. Each time the cardholder swipes their card, the credit card issuer is lending them the money so they can make the purchase. Each month a payment will be due - the cardholder can choose to make just the minimum required payment, pay off the balance in full, or make a payment of any size that falls between these two amounts. Unlike a personal or auto loan, the credit card account has no fixed term so the credit card can remain open as long as you continue to make payments towards your balance.

Credit cards tend to have high-interest rates relative to other kinds of loans. The most recent data with average rates can be found on the NCUA’s website.

Pay bills in full and on time

It is best practice to make your credit card bills on time and in full each month. This has multiple benefits:

  • Build credit — Using credit responsibly builds up your credit history, which makes it easier and more affordable to secure a loan in the future.
  • Skip the interest — Paying credit card bills in full and on time each month lets the cardholder completely avoid the card’s interest charges.
  • Stay out of debt — Paying bills in full each month helps prevent the consumer from falling into the cycle of endless minimum payments, high-interest accruals, and a whirlpool of debt.
  • Avoid late fees — Late fees and other penalties for missed payments can get expensive quickly. Avoid them by paying bills on time each month.
  • Enjoy rewards — Healthy credit card habits are often generously rewarded through the credit card issuer with airline miles, reward points, and other fun benefits. Like our, Visa Signature Elite® card.

Tip: Using a credit card primarily for purchases you can already afford makes paying off the entire bill each month easier.

Brush up on billing

There are several important details to be familiar with for staying on top of credit card billing.

A credit card billing cycle is the period of time between your current and subsequent credit card bills. It can vary from 20 to 45 days, depending on the credit card issuer. Within the billing cycle, purchases, credits and any fees or finance charges will be added and subtracted from the cardholder’s account. When the billing cycle ends, the cardholder will receive a bill or credit card statement, for the total balance. The current dates and span of a credit card’s billing cycle should be clearly visible on the statement.

Tip: It’s important to know when your billing cycle opens and closes each month to help you keep on top of your monthly payments.

Credit card bills will also show a payment due date, which tends to be approximately 20 days after the end of a billing cycle. The timeframe between when the billing cycle ends, and its payment due date is known as the grace period. When the grace period is over and the payment due date passes, the payment is overdue and will be subject to penalties and interest charges.

Tip: To ensure payment is never overdue, it’s best to set up automatic payments each month, ideally during the grace period and before the payment due date. This way, you’ll avoid interest charges and penalties and keep your score high. Allow a minimum of one week for the payment to process.

Spend smartly

Credit cards can easily turn into spending traps if the cardholder is not careful. If you are just beginning with a credit card, it’s best to start with a card that has a low introductory rate, like our Visa Advantage® card. With a lower introductory rate on purchases and balance transfers, you can keep your monthly payments low, which can help to manage spending.

Following these dos and don’ts of credit card spending can help you stick to your budget even when paying with plastic.


  • When making a purchase, treat your credit card like cash.
  • Remember that credit card transactions are mini loans.
  • Pay for purchases within your regular budget.
  • If you use your card for a big purchase, have a plan to pay off the balance.
  • Decrease your reliance on credit cards by building an emergency fund.


  • Use your credit card as if it provides you with access to extra income.
  • Use the credit to justify extravagant purchases.
  • Neglect to put money into savings because you have access to a credit card.

We hope you found this review of the best habits for credit cards useful. Remember, using credit cards responsibly can help you build and maintain an excellent credit score, which will make it easier to secure affordable long-term loans in the future.

Looking to obtain a credit card or get a new one? Jovia offers two great credit card options, our Visa Advantage®, and Visa Signature Elite®, which provide two different benefits for your needs. Learn more here!