At a Glance

Having access to a credit card is a helpful tool when it comes to meeting expenses that pop up in daily life. However, credit is a double-edged sword as the benefits it provides come with certain drawbacks if a person is not careful. Learning how to manage credit cards effectively and responsibly should be the goal of all cardholders.

In this article, you’ll learn:

How to responsibly use a credit card

Learning how to use a credit card responsibly is not an easy feat and takes dedication in order to build positive credit habits. Below are some of the most important tips for bolstering responsible credit card use:

1. Know your credit card terms

All credit card issuers will offer different terms with their cards including different billing cycle dates, APR rates, minimum payments, and more. The first step towards building better credit habits is learning the different terms associated with each credit card in your wallet so that you can make payments on-time and in-full accordingly.

2. Pay your balance on time

Perhaps the biggest tip on how to responsibly use a credit card is to make all payments by the posted due date on the card. To find this due date, log in to your credit card portal and click on the card in question. The due date, if there is one posted, should appear at the top of the page along with the minimum payment required.

3. Low credit utilization ratio

A unique tip for how to use credit cards effectively is to maintain a low credit utilization ratio. This simply refers to using somewhere between 10-30% of your available credit during a given billing cycle. This indicates to lenders that you are accessing the credit available to you, but that you are only accessing what you need and that you are being responsible about it.

4. Make more than minimum payment

Beyond just paying a credit card on time, a person should also aim to make more than the minimum payment. When you pay off more from your balance than just the minimum payment, you will have less interest to pay over time. In an ideal world, a person will completely pay off their balance monthly so that they never pay interest on a card.

Learn more: Paying More Than Credit Card Minimum Payment

5. Stay below your credit limit

When considering how to use a credit card wisely, nothing sends up red flags for a lender faster than seeing a borrower constantly hit their credit limit in a billing cycle. Unless the credit limit is extremely low, a lender will likely view this as a sign of financial distress.

6. Check your balance statement frequently

As a person focuses on practicing healthy habits with credit, they should be constantly checking their billing statement to ensure everything looks alright. Only checking your statement once a month means that you aren’t watching what you are spending, and you may even miss fraudulent activity on your account.

How does the issuer determine responsible credit card user?

A person can view themselves as responsible with their credit, but their opinion doesn’t matter to lenders. By learning how lenders determine whether a person is responsible with credit or not, a person can focus on certain aspects of their relationship with credit.

1. Credit score

First, the credit score a person has is the leading indicator for whether or not they have a positive history with credit currently. The factors that make up a credit score include payment history, credit utilization, current debt outstanding, the length of credit history, the mix of credit, and any new credit a person has.

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2. Credit history

As mentioned, the length of credit history is a major determining factor for lenders regarding a person’s responsibility with credit. Having a lengthy history allows a lender to see more examples of how you deal with debt and whether it was in a positive manner or not.

3. Income and expenses

Finally, the income a person has, specifically compared to their debt, is another leading indicator for how they manage their finances. A person with a large income and relatively low debt likely makes many payments on that debt to keep it low. However, a person with a lower income and a lot of debt is likely using credit to fund their life.

Cards that rewards responsible users

For those who are actively using credit cards responsibly, there are certain credit cards that reward holders. The most prominent of these include:

1. Chase slate edge

The Chase Slate Edge card offers cardholders an excellent $0 annual fee and a 0% intro APR that lasts for 18 months on both purchases and balance transfers. The regular APR range after this period fluctuates from 16.49% to 25.24% depending on a person’s credit worthiness, making it one of the best cards on the market for those who qualify.

Apply now: Chase Slate Edge Credit Card

2. Citi double cash card

The Citi Double Cash Card also offers a $0 annual fee and an introductory APR period on balance transfers only that lasts for 18 months. On top of this, the card rewards holders with an unlimited 1% cash back on purchases as you buy, followed by another 1% back when the payments on those purchases are made to the card.

Apply now: Citi double cash card

3. Wells Fargo reflect card

The Wells Fargo Reflect Card may not offer a rewards rate as the Citi Double Cash Card does, but it does offer no annual fee along with an incredibly long intro APR period. Card holders who qualify will enjoy a 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for up to 18 months from the account opening, with an intro APR extension for three months with on-time minimum payments made during the first 18 months.

Apply now: Wells Fargo Reflect®

4. Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Offering a blanket 1.5% unlimited cash back on all purchases, the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards card comes with a low annual fee of $39. There is no welcome bonus associated with this card and the APR rate sits at 26.99%, though this is variable.

Apply now: Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Learn more: Capital One QuicksilverOne Card Review

5. Discover it secured credit card

Finally, the Discover It Secured Credit Card is best for those just getting started with credit. There is no annual fee associated with the card and the regular APR sits at 24.49% variable. However, a cardholder earns 2% cash back on gas station and restaurant purchases up to $1,000 per quarter, along with 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Apply now: Discover it Secured Credit Card

Credit card mistakes you must avoid

As a person starts to build a positive relationship with credit, there are a few common mistakes they should keep at the top of mind so that they can avoid them. These include:

1. Do not go over the credit limit

A credit limit is there for a reason and exceeding it is viewed negatively by lenders. When considering how to properly use a credit card, always try to stay within a 10-30% credit utilization.

2. Closing your credit account

While closing a credit card account ordinarily will be alright, there are certain situations in which it can negatively impact your credit. If the account had a large credit limit, your total available credit across all accounts will drop drastically, which can negatively impact your credit score. Additionally, if the account was your oldest, it will reduce the length of your credit history and impact your score as well.

3. Neglecting fine written polices

Almost all credit cards have finely written policies that discuss rules of using the card. Violating these rules can put you in a negative standing with the credit card issuer that can take a long time to overcome. To avoid this, always follow the outlined rules of credit card use.


A common example when looking at how do you use a credit card responsibly is simply making on time and in full payments to the card on a regular basis. This will show lenders that you can handle the amount you are borrowing and will reflect positively on your credit score.

The best way to become a responsible credit card holder is to begin practicing healthy credit habits, such as keeping credit utilization low, making payments on time, paying more than the minimum payment, and more.

Technically, using a business credit card for personal purchases is not illegal, but it very well could be a violation of the terms and conditions for that card. This can put you into bad standing with the lender and result in your credit account being closed.

The three main rules to keep in mind when using a credit card are: make payments on time, utilize low amounts of credit, and try to pay more than the minimum balance.

The number one rule, above all else, when using a credit card is to never miss a payment on any of your credit cards.