Getting credit may not be as easy now as it was ten years ago, but there are still plenty of options available to provide you with a financial boost when you need it most. Mobile banking and apps are opening up easier and better ways of managing your finances, which is a great help when you find it difficult to keep track of where your money’s going and remembering repayments.
Mobile is also a useful tool for carrying out credit comparisons when you’re away from home, or you could make use of one of the apps that allow you to create a realistic forecast of your spending over the life of a loan to ensure you can afford the repayments and still live comfortably. Mobile apps that record your spending are an excellent tool for identifying where you could be making savings, and being able to access your bank account via mobile makes it far easier to keep on top of your income and outgoings.
Do you need credit?
You’ve got a well-paid job, or you run your own business, there’s money in the bank and no major expenses on the horizon; do you really need to use credit anymore? Providing you use them for their benefits and don’t forget to pay them off in full each month, credit arrangements can still work to your advantage.
If you’re less well-off, do you worry about getting into debt using credit cards or taking on expensive loan repayments? Credit can help if you understand how to manage it and don’t get caught out with interest charges and late payment charges.
You might wonder why lenders offer interest-free periods or balance transfers, and similar deals that seem to favor the consumer rather than the provider. The reason is simple; most of the people who take up these offers fail to manage the accounts to their advantage, forgetting to change cards after the promotional offer is over, for example. The critical factor in using credit is to manage it for your benefit, rather than the providers.
Credit cards are one of the easiest ways to gain benefits, but also one of the easiest to lose track of and end up paying extra for. If you use an interest-free card to pay for your purchases, you’ll be getting credit on that money for the length of the offer period. That’s like having a free loan, with the only provison being you need to pay the entire balance off before interest charges resume.
You can also have a cheap or free loan by using balance transfer offers that move your debts from one card to another, either for free with a low ongoing rate of interest, or for a percentage fee and zero interest for an extended period. This can work out to your advantage if you remember to switch cards in advance of the standard rates coming back into effect.
Both these options can be a great way of managing money in a way that enables you to use what you would have spent on interest and charges more constructively or to earn from using the money to make some investments.
Most large purchases, for example, buying a car, are completed using loans or finance deals. There are a wide variety of alternative credit terms available now, including the lease option that has become increasingly popular recently. Rather than buying your car outright, you lease it for three to five years, paying a monthly amount towards the car purchase. At the end of the three or five years, you get the choice of paying a lump sum to keep the car or trading up to a newer model.
These options and variations on them are a cost-effective way of affording a higher-class vehicle and not having to worry about running costs or getting a replacement. You don’t own the car, but you use it as if it were your own (within the agreed annual mileage figures), and you can drive a shiny new car with no-one knowing it isn’t yours.
Loans and mortgages
Mortgages are loans, just very long ones! Whether it’s called a loan or a mortgage, it will work in the same way, and you’ll often be committing on a long-term basis. Before taking out any form of loan, check it against other options that could be available, like finance, to see which offer the most advantages overall.
Loans can often work out cheaper than trying to juggle several different balance transfers on which you frequently forget to make payments, but conversely, a well-managed 0% interest purchase card could save you money on smaller loans. Make sure you speak to your own bank first, especially if you’ve been a loyal customer, because they may be able to offer you rates that wouldn’t be advertised to the general public.
Short-term loans can be a great help if you just need a small amount to tide you over until payday. What you don’t want to do is get stuck with a short-term loan that charges an excessive rate of interest, so shop around to get the best deal.
Another option is pensions loans, where you secure a loan based on the value of your personal pension. Go for straightforward repayment options rather than loans that require a proportion of your future pension pot, or come with complicated terms requiring you to take out life insurance policies and the like.
No matter if you have plenty of cash or finances are a bit restricted, using credit wisely gives you a more flexible way of managing your money, and if you are able to keep on top of everything, could save you a fair bit of cash each year. There are more and more mobile apps available for managing credit, so make good use of them. Don’t forget to check that any apps you use have the highest security standards, for example, ones that use fingerprint sign-in if they can access your bank records.
Using mobile apps gives you plenty of useful tools with which to manage your credit options, making the use of credit less risky and more rewarding.