There is always an element of excitement and anticipation with getting a new credit card. It all begins after the long and sometimes tedious process of researching and comparing is complete. You have spent a good portion of your time carefully analyzing different credit cards to ensure you apply for the right one. When you have finally found a winner you feel a brief rush as you apply and get that instant approval online. Then comes the waiting for the new card to arrive in the mail. When it finally arrives you can’t wait to start using it.
It is a very exciting and satisfying feeling to successfully get approved for a new card that will further complement your overall credit portfolio. However, it doesn’t end there. When you get that new card in the mail there are a few things you want to make sure you do enhance your overall credit card experience.
Activate and Register
You will want to activate and register your new credit card as soon as you receive it in the mail. The sooner you do that the better. Don’t file the envelope somewhere to take of care later, that’s how you can lose your card and forget to start using it on purchases that will maximize your overall annual cash back rate. Although most cards can be activated via phone, I recommend going online to that issuer’s website to complete this task. That way you can also register for an online account and paperless statements. I highly encourage doing this. Having your statements available online or via email makes it easier in the long run. You don’t have to worry about things getting lost in the mail, arriving late, or anything else that can occur with receiving things through the mail. In addition, online accounts generally offer more to a member like tools to analyze spending habits and sometimes even the ability to check your credit score.
As you are activating your card and registering an online account, you should also set up automatic payments. Some people are a little nervous about doing this but I personally think it is a great way to never miss a payment and actually control your spending. Connecting one of my bank accounts to my credit card account will always ensure my bill is paid on time and in full (just make sure you actually set it to pay the bill in full, not the minimum!). Even though my credit portfolio has grown over the years, I never have to worry about missing a bill between my almost ten different accounts. This is not to say I am oblivious of my spending, though. I practice financial discipline by keeping a very comprehensive budget and am intimately aware of all my spending. So through automatic payments, not having to constantly remember to pay bills on time saves me time and reduces anxiety. Having automatic payments also ensures I never spend beyond my means. I know that I cannot spend more money than I have because that money will be automatically be taken to pay my statements each month. This forces me to spend with a cash mentality (only spending what you have or can comfortably afford) but with the perks of credit card rewards!
Sure, you did all that research before applying but it doesn’t hurt to reread all the material that will come with your new credit card. Yes, it can be lengthy and dry at times but you never know what new things you might learn (for better or worse). The sooner you fully understand your credit card, the more money you will save and more rewards you will earn. There have been many times where I have learned a few valuable facts about my new card with the written material that came along with it.
Spend With a Purpose
Once you get your card, start using it…strategically! There should be a reason you got it (high cash back for certain types of purchases or other bonuses) so start taking advantage of it as soon as possible. Ensure you are always using that new card for its intended purpose. Don’t get carried away or lax and start using it for every purchase (unless trying to meet the spending requirement for a sign-up bonus). Your older cards probably will still get you better rewards for certain types of spending. And lastly, be proud you successfully got a new credit card that will move you further on your journey towards credit card nirvana and never stop searching for the next step!