How to Use a Credit Card Responsibly

Read Time: 4 Min

Credit cards are smart ways to make purchases and build credit, but the buy-now-pay-later convenience can cause some to lose track of their spending and increase their credit card debt.

At Huntington, we strive to ensure you have every tool at your fingertips so you can stay informed and achieve financial success. Learn more about credit cards and how you can implement responsible practices into your everyday life below.

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How Credit Cards Work

Like debit cards, credit cards are physical cards you obtain to make purchases or pay bills. You can think of credit cards as small loans from your credit card company. You must apply for a credit card, and if you are approved and can open an account, you’ll receive a credit card in the mail. Each card has a credit limit, which is the highest balance a credit card company will allow you to spend with your card.

When making a purchase with a credit card, you won’t feel the financial impacts right away because you’re borrowing money from the credit card company, not taking money directly from your own bank account. At the end of your billing cycle, you'll be required to pay a minimum amount to keep your account in good standing, but you can pay more of your balance if you would like.

The Benefits of Using a Credit Card Responsibly

Now that you know a little more about credit cards, learn more about some tips to use your credit cards in a responsible way.

Build credit by paying on time

A credit card is a revolving line of credit, meaning it can directly affect your credit score. Payment history is one of the largest factors in a credit score, so it’s important to pay your credit card bill on time at the end of every billing cycle to maximize your credit score.

To ensure credit card bills are consistently paid each month, consider setting up autopay in your credit card company’s app, or set electronic reminders. That way, you’ll never miss a beat and can feel confident about maintaining a consistent payment history.

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Find the credit card benefits that work for your lifestyle. From establishing credit or saving money with lower rates, to earning 1.5% unlimited cashback or 3x rewards in a category of choice, we have the card that’s right for you.

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Pay more than your minimum payment

The minimum payment is the lowest amount you can pay on your credit card statement to remain in good standing with the credit card company and not be subject to late fees or penalties. Often the minimum payment is 1% to 3% of the outstanding balance including interest plus fees.

If you’re experiencing financial hardship, it’s okay to pay the minimum payment in the short term for some extra cash in your pocket, but it shouldn’t be a habit if you can help it. It’s not a sound long-term solution for credit card debt. Only paying the minimum payment will actually keep you in debt for longer because of the annual percentage rate (APR) or interest rate that comes with a standing credit card balance.

When paying the minimum, you'll pay more for your purchases because of the interest that accrues. It’s key to at least pay the minimum to avoid late fees, but it’s better to pay your entire balance at the end of each billing cycle because it will eliminate interest.

Only paying the minimum can also hurt your credit utilization ratio, another credit score factor. Credit utilization ratio is the amount you owe compared to the amount of credit you have available. Even though you’re making a payment month after month, you may barely chip away at your balance if most of your payment is covering interest and fees hiking up your utilization ratio if you continue to make purchases on the card. It is commonly recommended to stay below 30 percent of your credit limit and try to pay more than the minimum or the entire balance.

Track your spending

Your credit card can also be used to help you budget and track your spending. Each month, your card issuer will send a detailed statement of your purchases, making it easy to see what you spend the most on or if you went over your predicted budget. For extra convenience, you might be able to access your card issuer’s app to view a breakdown of your spending habits.

With Huntington, it’s simple and straightforward to budget for every part of your life using Spend Setter℠. You can set monthly limits for specific categories like groceries, entertainment, or utilities, and each time you use your Huntington credit card, the transaction is tracked against the limit you set for that category. This makes it easy to stay on track with your budgets, and you can even enroll in alerts to notify you when you get close to a specific budget.

Keep an eye on your credit card statement

As you receive your credit card statements, not only is it important to look over them for budgeting purposes, it’s also important to make sure you don’t notice any unfamiliar charges to your card.

A benefit of using a credit card is the extra layer of fraud security and purchase protection. Huntington credit cards are built to protect you and your purchases:

  • Zero Liability – Huntington cardholders pay only for the purchases they have authorized on their card and won’t be held liable in the event of unauthorized purchases. This applies to purchases made in store, over the phone, online, or ATM transactions.
  • Identity Theft Protection – Huntington cardholders are provided access to several identity theft resolution services including monthly risk alerts, lost wallet assistance, single bureau credit monitoring, and resolution services available 24/7.
  • Real-Time Fraud Alerts – Huntington will let you know immediately by text, email, or automated phone call if we suspect fraud on your credit card.#

Be prepared for financial emergencies

Unfortunately, you never know when disaster will strike, so it’s important to be prepared in case of an emergency. For unexpected costs like a job loss, totaled car, or medical bills, a strong emergency fund should contain three to six months of living expenses.

When you’re still building your emergency fund, credit cards can help cover an unexpected cost to relieve some stress and financial burden in the moment. That said, make sure you build a strategic plan to repay your debt, so you can pay more than the minimum payments.

If you find yourself without an emergency fund or available credit, Huntington offers a unique feature called Standby Cash®. Huntington customers can qualify for a digital-only line of credit based primarily on their checking history, not their credit score. You just need to pay it back over three months and you don’t have to pay interest when you set up automatic payments. Otherwise, a 1% monthly interest charge (12% APR) applies to outstanding balances.

Leverage the right credit card for you

Credit cards are a big responsibility—as you’re working hard to build credit and minimize debt, make sure you’re choosing a credit card that works just as hard for you. Many credit cards offer lower interest rates, special rewards, points, or cashback on purchases you would have made anyway, saving you money in the long run.

Huntington offers a variety credit cards with unparalleled perks, like earning rewards or lower interest rates, so you can choose a card that makes sense for your lifestyle and spending habits.§

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Standby Cash is subject to terms and conditions and other account agreements. A 1% monthly interest charge (12% Annual Percentage Rate) will be added to outstanding balances if automatic payments are not scheduled. Available through online banking or the Huntington Mobile app to individuals with an active consumer checking account with at least three months of consistent deposit activity of $1,000 or more, and an average daily balance over the last 30 days of $200 or more. An active or recent bankruptcy or other legal process may disqualify you. Other eligibility requirements apply, including your recent overdraft and/or return history, regardless of whether you are charged overdraft fees or have transactions returned or they are waived with our 24-Hour Grace® and $50 Safety Zone services. We reserve the right to change eligibility criteria at any time. Line amount and/or ongoing availability may vary based on changes to your deposit activity, average daily balance, and number and length of overdrafts and/or returns on any of your Huntington deposit accounts. When any of your Huntington deposit accounts are in an overdraft status for more than one day, your Standby Cash line may be suspended until they are no longer negative. If 90% or more of the approved credit line is drawn three months in a row, Standby Cash will be suspended until it’s paid to a zero balance. Business checking accounts are not eligible for Standby Cash.

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§Voice Credit Card Terms and Conditions, Voice Rewards Terms and Conditions, Cashback Card Terms and Conditions, Cashback Rewards Terms and Conditions.

Voice Credit Card® and Standby Cash® are registered service marks of Huntington Bancshares Incorporated. Standby Cash is patent pending. Spend Setter and Huntington Voice Rewards Credit Card are service marks of Huntington Bancshares Incorporated.

The information provided in this document is intended solely for general informational purposes and is provided with the understanding that neither Huntington, its affiliates nor any other party is engaging in rendering financial, legal, technical or other professional advice or services, or endorsing any third-party product or service. Any use of this information should be done only in consultation with a qualified and licensed professional who can take into account all relevant factors and desired outcomes in the context of the facts surrounding your particular circumstances. The information in this document was developed with reasonable care and attention. However, it is possible that some of the information is incomplete, incorrect, or inapplicable to particular circumstances or conditions. NEITHER HUNTINGTON NOR ITS AFFILIATES SHALL HAVE LIABILITY FOR ANY DAMAGES, LOSSES, COSTS OR EXPENSES (DIRECT, CONSEQUENTIAL, SPECIAL, INDIRECT OR OTHERWISE) RESULTING FROM USING, RELYING ON OR ACTING UPON INFORMATION IN THIS DOCUMENT EVEN IF HUNTINGTON AND/OR ITS AFFILIATES HAVE BEEN ADVISED OF OR FORESEEN THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES, LOSSES, COSTS OR EXPENSES.

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