Credit cards are convenient, freeing, and very, very tempting. While it’s necessary to have a credit card to build up your credit score, it’s also essential to have the right strategy or you could quickly find yourself buried in debt. Remember these three suggestions.

Tip #1: Stick to your Budget

Do you already have a budget for your finances? You’ll want to stick to that for your credit card. Overspending is how you get in debt, but using your credit card efficiently and smartly can help you build your credit while earning rewards. Don’t throw your budget out the window simply because you have a $5,000 spending limit – it should always be in line with your income and financial goals such as saving.

You should also be tracking your purchases. Just like a checking account, you’ll want to know how much you’ve spent each and every month. A mobile app can help you keep track and as long as you pay attention, you can avoid accidentally overpaying.

Tip #2: Pay in Full

Every month, when you receive your credit card statement, there will be a number under “minimum payment due.” This is usually just a fraction of your credit card debt. Although you are only required to pay that amount, it’s not a good idea. It’s how debt and interest can add up.

Instead, make sure you pay your credit card in full each and every month. This should be simple as long as you spent within your budget. If, for some reason, you can’t pay it off in full, make sure to pay off as much as you can and keep your credit card spending lower the following month.

Tip #3: Don’t Forget About Rewards and Perks

Almost all credit cards will come with rewards and perks. Your online account will usually track this for you. Your rewards can include everything from cash to put in your checking account to travel points. You can set goals for yourself to save up points for something you’d like, but the rewards offered will vary from lender to lender.

Sometimes, credit card companies will also offer extra cash back for specific purchases. For example, you may normally get 1% cash back, but the company may offer, for a set period of time, 20% back on all purchases made through if you pay with the card. These deals regularly change so check them often!

Some credit card companies offer additional perks so be sure to read what you signed up for so you can take advantage of them.

Use Your First Credit Card Wisely

Having a credit card can be beneficial to your overall financial strategy, but it pays to be smart with your new account. Opting for a spending strategy now will help keep you from getting too deep in debt and getting overwhelmed. These three tips are excellent starting points for your finances and brand new credit card.