22 October 2021

How to have a healthy relationship with credit and make your card work for you


Financial tools can enhance our lives with efficiency and convenience. However, it is important that we understand how to use them the right way, so we get the most out of them. A popular financial tool that almost all of us are familiar with is a credit card. A credit card can support our cash flow, enhance the efficiency in tracking spending and budgeting and could even protect us against dodgy purchases (depending on the features of the specific card you choose), all while opening up a global marketplace.

But, we have all heard stories about what can happen when they are misused. However, when credit cards are used correctly they can be a useful tool in our financial arsenal. They allow widely accepted access to cash around the web and around the world and come with other features and benefits too. Here’s some tips on what to keep across to make the most of your credit card.

Have one credit card only

Have one credit card only – This simplifies and minimises your financial responsibilities as it is easier to see everything in one place and get a quick picture of your spending, making it easier to manage.

Set your own limit

Set your own limit – a provider may give you a preapproved limit that’s higher than what you might actually need. You can ask for it to be reduced in most cases which could benefit your borrowing power when you go for a home loan or personal loan, not to mention remove temptation.

Have a budget and stick to it

Have a budget and stick to it – your credit card is designed to help manage your cash flow without the need for cash with the added benefit of being able to see all your transactions in one place. This doesn’t mean you can do away with your budget. Use your card to easily pay for the items on your budget in store or online and keep paying the full amount off each month.

Your credit card is separate to your emergency money

Your credit card is separate to your emergency money – always have a separate savings account for emergencies. If you ever need to dip into your savings account for urgent circumstances, remember to replace the savings as soon as you can. If you are running a tight budget, brainstorm some side hustle that can generate additional cash outside of your income.

Pay your credit card in full, every month

Pay your credit card in full, every month – or even better, transfer the fund from your everyday account, each time you use your credit card. This simple habit helps you stay credit card debit free and feel the handspace benefits.

Cross reference your actual transactions against your budget. This not only helps you stay on top of your budget, but also allows you to identify and resolve any security concerns or new spending habits trying to sneak in.

Have access to your credit card via your banking app. This provides a complete picture of your financial situation, reminding us of our financial goals and dreams.

Make your card work for you

Make your card work for you – before you pick your one and only credit card, do your research and ensure it has features that work in with how you use your money. These could include a low annual fee, low interest rates, added security features, mobile payments, flight and cashback rewards, additional insurance and loads more.

Be sure to check the fine print; particularly around memberships and reward programs. A loyalty program can be really valuable and save you money, but only if you use it. So, only pay for the bells and whistles that you value.

Watch your habits

Watch your habits – we can often pay a laziness tax when it comes to our spending. A good habit to get into is to periodically look through your statement and cancel subscriptions you no longer use or contact companies like your utilities, internet, insurance and phone providers for a better deal.

Understand your credit score and what it means for the future. When you apply for a loan, your bank will run a credit check and this is where they can see your previous credit management habits. If you have had a bad run with debt, this may impact your ability to borrow. Think of your credit card as a reference check that holds the reigns on your financial and lifestyle goals. Employing this mindset will motivate you to demonstrate your A+ personal finance skills!

There are many Australians who have a credit card and use it wisely and it is easy to be one of them. Pay your card off on time, make the most of any loyalty or reward programs and enjoy the responsibility that comes from having a credit card.

Find out about the benefits of ING's Orange One and how you can apply.

Canna is the founder of the financial media platform, SugarmammaTV, and author of financial advice books The $1000 Project and Mindful Money. She comes from a corporate finance background and is a licensed financial planner. SugarmammaTV provides educational content that helps make money and finance more approachable. She is also the founder and director of financial planning firm, SASS Financial Services.

This article was prepared in partnership with ING. The information provided in this article is of a general nature only and does not consider your personal objectives, financial situation or particular needs. The views expressed in this article are provided independently by Canna Campbell, a Financial Planner and an Authorised Representative of Wealthstream Financial Group Pty Ltd (AR 000309372) featured in the article. ING makes no warranty as to the accuracy, completeness or reliability of the information, nor does ING accept any liability or responsibility arising in any way from omissions or errors contained in the content. ING does not recommend any products, services or financial strategies mentioned in this article. ING strongly recommends that you obtain independent advice before you act on the content. Canna Campbell uses ING’s trademarks under arrangement with ING. ING is a business name of ING Bank (Australia) Limited, ABN 24 000 893 292, AFSL and Australian credit licence 229823.

The information is current as at publication. Any advice on this website does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs and you should consider whether it is appropriate for you. Deposit products, savings products, credit card and home loan products are issued by ING, a business name of ING Bank (Australia) Limited ABN 24 000 893 292, AFSL and Australian Credit Licence 229823. ING Living Super (which is part of the ING Superannuation Fund ABN 13 355 603 448) is issued by Diversa Trustees Limited ABN 49 006 421 638, AFSL 235153 RSE L0000635. The insurance cover offered by ING Living Super is provided by Metlife Insurance Limited ABN 75 004 274 882, AFSL 238096. ING Insurance is issued by Auto & General Insurance Company Limited (AGIC) ABN 42 111 586 353 AFSL Licence No 285571 as insurer. It is distributed by Auto & General Services Pty Ltd (AGS) ABN 61 003 617 909 AFSL 241411 and by ING as an Authorised Representative AR 1247634 of AGS. All applications for credit are subject to ING's credit approval criteria, and fees and charges apply. You should consider the relevant Product Disclosure Statement, Terms and Conditions, Fees and Limits Schedule, Financial Services Guide, Key Facts Sheet and Credit Guide available at ing.com.au when deciding whether to acquire, or to continue to hold, a product. Before interacting with us via our social media platforms, please take a minute to familiarise yourself with our Social Media User Terms https://www.ing.com.au/pdf/Social_Media_User_Terms.pdf.

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