Credit cards are a fantastic way to build credit, but things can quickly get complicated. One expense can lead to 10 purchases and, before you know it, your bill is too expensive for you to pay off by the end of the month. Then you’re stuck with a roll over balance and a high interest rate.

So, how can you avoid this and other credit card faux pas? We’ve put together these tips:

Shop around

Don’t choose the first credit card option that comes your way. Look at multiple factors, including interest rate, annual percentage rate, cash back fees, and annual fees. Some credit cards will offer a large credit limit, but a small disclosure can reveal a large interest rate. We recommend doing some research before applying.

Stick with one card

One of the biggest mistakes for first-time credit card users is that they don’t stick with one credit card; they get multiple at a time. This can lead to large, scattered balances and the inability to pay them off. Many people feel the more cards they have, the more they can spend. Yet this is where the trouble starts: it can lead to low credit scores and massive debt.

Keep a low balance

A $500 to $1,000 balance is perfectly fine for your first card. Not only are these amounts typically easier to keep track of, but it’s also unlikely that you’ll need to go over those amounts at any given time. It’s helpful to start small.

Make payments on time before they’re due

Paying your credit card bill multiple times a month—or whenever you make a purchase—is key to a good credit history. This avoids any potential late fees and the possibility of a balance rollover with a large interest accrual. If you’re unable to do that, make sure you pay your bill on time. Enrolling in automatic payments is a good practice because not only will you not have to remember the due date, but it saves you the hassle of logging in to your account each month.

Don’t share your personal information

Pretty simple. Sharing your information can lead to identity theft and fraud. Make sure you are the only one with access to your physical credit card and credit card information.

Keep it active

This is the key to building a credit line. Make sure you use your card every three to four months with smaller purchases that can easily be paid off. This keeps your card from going dormant and helps you build a stronger credit history.

Moving you forward

Whenever you’re considering a financial decision, even a credit card, we advise doing some research first. It’s easy to get lost in the financial flexibility that comes with owning a credit card, but it’s just as easy to fall into debt. Be sure to adopt healthy credit card habits and you’ll have a great financial tool at your fingertips.

For more information on credit card fraud, please visit our resources page.