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Understanding Your Credit Options

As modern consumers, we all encounter situations that require us to borrow money. Fortunately, there are several financial tools at our disposal. Knowing what credit option is right for each situation is essential. That’s why it’s important to educate yourself on the pros and cons of each of these financial tools.

Credit Cards

• Easy to use
• Great for incidentals, retail shopping, one-time expenses

• Must have good credit to be approved for a card
• Many cards charge high monthly interest rates
• It’s easy to spend more than you have, since you never “see” the money.

Credit cards are an undeniably convenient consumer tool, but it’s easy to accumulate debt that you are then charged high interest on. If you use a credit card, it is important to try to pay your amount in full each month, which requires financial discipline.

Conventional Bank Loans

• Great for big purchases like cars, education tuition, or home investments
• Provide a structured payment system that can be budgeted and paid off over a longer period of time.

• Must have good credit to be approved
• Involves lots of paperwork and a lengthy application process
• Usually involves providing collateral to secure the loan

Conventional loans go by many names––personal loans, car loans, home equity loans—and more. A bank loan can be tailored to almost any need. They are a great tool for financing life’s big purchases. Unfortunately, the recent banking crisis has limited the amount of credit being extended from banks, and it’s harder and harder to qualify for this type of loan.

Cash Advance Loans

• Easy to qualify
• No credit check required
• Quick application and approval process

• High interest rates
• Defaulting on a loan can create serious debt problems

Payday loans are a great tool for emergencies and cash flow problems. They are intended to be a short-term solution for smaller loan amounts. Although they come with high interest rates, due to the short timeframe of the loan this typically is not a problem unless you default on the loan. Protect yourself by budgeting carefully and having the loan amount paid by an automatic withdraw from your account on your next payday.

A Credit Tool for All Seasons

At different times in our financial journeys, each of us might use one or all of these credit options. Knowing the right one to use for the right situation will help you become a confident and savvy consumer.


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