Frontwave Blog

Get Smart about Credit Card Warning Signs

Has keeping up with your credit card balances has become a challenge? Do you feel like paying your bills each month is a juggling act? If so, now's the time to assess your overall financial picture and your spending habits.

Remember, taking on credit card debt is borrowing money you haven’t earned yet. It's smart to keep the focus on this fundamental truth.

To get smart about credit cards, be aware of the common warning signs you may have an issue with credit card use:

1. You're only able to make minimum payments.

Making only the minimum payment on your credit card bills means you’ll end up paying much more in interest charges, and it will take you longer to pay your debt off.

2. You've been denied credit.

If you’ve been denied for a loan or credit card, take a step back before applying with another creditor. Applying for multiple credit lines within a short period of time can result in a lot of hard inquiries, which can have a negative impact on your credit score.

3. You find it challenging to set aside savings. 

If setting aside savings on a consistent basis feels more like a dream than reality, review your monthly budget and look for ways to reduce spending to save a little from every paycheck.;

4. Your credit cards are near or over your credit limit. 

Your creditors set your limit based on your credit history, income and outstanding debt. If you're at or near this limit, take a good look at your financial picture and focus on making smart purchase decisions in the future. A good rule of thumb is to try to keep your balances below 30% of your available credit limits.

5. You're taking cash advances from cards to pay your other bills.

Cash advances often mean higher interest rates and/or fees, which can put you deeper in debt in the long run.

6. Collectors are calling. 

Receiving calls from creditors happens to many people. You can relieve this financial stress by figuring out a budget with a financial counselor and reviewing your options to start paying debts back on time.

7. You're using one credit card to pay off another credit card.

This is like digging one hole to fill in another hole and usually the hole just gets deeper and deeper!

A Smart Approach to Credit

Smart credit card use is part of financial wellness. Managing credit is possible with planning and the understanding of how credit can affect your financial future. It’s all comes back to budgeting basics: looking at monthly expenses and income, setting spending priorities and building up emergency savings. These principles will continue to be the building blocks of achieving financial success no matter where you are in life!

Through Frontwave Credit Union's partnership with GreenPath Financial Wellness, you have access to a trusted independent nonprofit resource to help you get smart about credit. Their financial counselors can lend an empathetic ear, look at your entire financial picture, and can help you develop a customized plan to achieve financial wellness. To request a free counseling session, visit or call 877.337.3399.

This article is adapted from information provided by our partners at GreenPath Financial Wellness, a trusted national non-profit.