Here are some things to consider doing. Some items may not be applicable to you.

Credit Cards

Before applying for a credit card:

  • Determine:
    • The interest rate for purchases (watch out for unspecified rates, e.g., "as low as" a certain rate)
    • The interest rate for cash advances
    • If there's an annual fee and, if so, how much
  • The waiting period before finance

When you receive a new card:

  • Make a note (in wallet, home files, etc.) of phone number to call in event card is lost or stolen

When you receive a notice (e.g., "important changes") with your credit card statement:

  • Read it carefully, looking for:
    • New or increased penalties for paying off your balance
    • Cutbacks in rebate programs, etc.
    • Shorter waiting period before payments are late
    • Higher late charges
    • Penalty interest rate if you're late making payments, e.g., twice


  1. On June 5th, 2011, Rashad S. said:

    Thanks for a really interesting read, learn quite a few tips here, trying hard to improve my credit , i did a consumer proposal 7 years ago and just now i am starting to rebuild my credit slowly but surely and trying to avoid that credit card trap.

  2. On October 26th, 2020, Laura said:

    I encourage people to hesitate to get credit cards. It’s a very easy way to live beyond your means but with a painful consequence. Better to learn to save a little bit each paycheck and practice delayed gratification. Dave Ramsey has an excellent course that I have taken that change my thinking in a fun way (he’s quite humorous). I am quite frugal, but thought it well worth the cost to teach me how to plan how my money WILL be spent instead of being depressed about how I am making others rich with the interest in my payments.

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