Smart ways to use your credit card

How to make your credit card work better for you

Here are tips to avoid costly fees and interest, and make the most of your credit card.

Save money on your credit card

Try these tips to save money on your credit card.

Before you get a credit card

Once you have a credit card

  • Always pay your credit card on time to avoid extra interest or late payment fees
  • Keep track of spending on your credit card so you stay within your limit. Use our TrackMySPEND app to help manage your spending.
  • Pay more than the minimum repayment each month, to pay off your balance more quickly and save on interest.
  • If you can only make the minimum monthly repayment, switch to a card with a low interest rate and pay off more when you can.
  • Consider setting up a direct debit to pay a fixed amount off the balance owing each payday
  • Don't take cash advances because they usually attract higher interest
  • Use store cards wisely and be aware what fees you'll pay
  • Use the credit card calculator to work out the fastest way you can pay off your credit card

Video: Laura talks about credit card debt

Credit Card Debt video

Laura finds out it will take her 45 years
to pay off her credit card by using
our credit card calculator.

Transcript: Laura talks about credit card debt

Don't rely on your credit card to make ends meet if you run low on cash before payday. We have lots of guidance if you're having problems paying these sorts of debts or bills:

See our financial counselling webpage to find a free, confidential financial counsellor near you.

Increasing your card's credit limit

Smart tip

If you can't afford to pay off your balance each month, don't increase your credit limit. A higher credit limit makes it very easy to get into more debt.

Your credit limit is not a licence to spend money. It should be an amount you know you can repay, and one that won't tempt you to spend more than you can afford.

Credit card issuers are not allowed to send you invitations to increase your credit limit without first getting your agreement. This applies to both new and existing credit cards. You can change your mind at any time by contacting your card issuer and asking them to stop.

Whether you decide to opt in or out of receiving offers of more credit, you can ask your card issuer for an increase to your credit limit at any time.

If you need extra money to make a special purchase, aim to pay the debt down quickly. Then lower your limit back to a more manageable amount. Use our credit card calculator to help you work out how much to pay off.

Credit card calculator

Think carefully before getting a credit limit increase and don't live beyond your means. If you only make the minimum repayments on your card each month, you will pay more in interest and it will take longer to pay off your balance. See making repayments for more information.

Secondary credit cards

Smart tip

Unless you really need the second card, close the account. Otherwise you may be paying fees on a card you aren't even using.

A secondary card allows someone else to use your credit account, and can be a convenient way of managing joint expenses. But if you are the primary account holder you will be responsible for any debts the other person runs up, even if they misuse the card without your knowledge.

If you want to cancel a secondary card, be aware that some credit providers will not cancel the card until it is returned to them. Check the conditions of use in your credit contract.

If you can't return a card because your personal relationship with the other cardholder has broken down, your credit provider may still hold you liable for any transactions the other cardholder makes and that it cannot stop through electronic or telephone approval.

So think twice before getting a secondary card for someone else. See loans involving family and friends and relationships and money.

How to check your credit card statement

The best way to check your monthly statement is to keep all of your credit card receipts each month, then tick them off against the charges on your statement. This will help you check that you have been charged
the right amount for the things you bought, and that you have not been charged for anything you did not buy.

Even if you don't keep your receipts, here are some things you should look for when checking your credit card statement:

  • Charges by companies you do not recognise
  • Large or unusual charges
  • Changes in direct debit amounts
  • Duplicate charges

Contact your credit card provider immediately if you find any transactions you didn't make. You may be able to reverse the transaction. See unauthorised and mistaken transactions for more details.    

Credit card chargebacks

Smart tip

Ask for a chargeback as soon as you realise something has gone wrong as there are time limits.

You may have chargeback rights when you make a purchase using a credit card and something goes wrong, such as you don't receive the goods or what you get is not what was described.

You can make a request to your provider to get your money back from the merchant or shop where you bought the goods. To find out when and how to request a chargeback, see the terms and conditions of your credit card or ask your bank or card issuer.

There are some circumstances when chargebacks may not be available, such as when you make a BPAY payment.

Here is more information on unauthorised and mistaken transactions.

Closing your credit card

There is more to closing a credit card account than just cutting up the card. Visit our how to cancel a credit card webpage to find out how to close your credit card account properly.

Take charge of your credit card and make sure you only pay for expenses you have authorised.   

Related links

Last updated: 28 Jul 2016