Whether you currently have multiple credit cards or are thinking about applying for a second or third, it’s important to have a game plan. This will help ensure you’re using the multiple credit cards wisely and not getting into debt that is difficult to climb out of. Here are five tips you should remember for making the most of your credit cards and getting ahead of your finances:

#1. Don’t Spend Over Your Budget

It’s easy to think of credit cards as free money – they’re anything but. You will have to pay that money back and with interest. It’s a good idea to only use them within your budget and spend only within your means. This is because…

#2. You’ll Want to Pay Them Off Each and Every Month

The easiest way to keep your credit card debt low but still take advantage of the credit card perks is to pay them off each and every month. You can only do that if you’re actually spending within your means. While they can come in handy in emergencies or for larger purchases, you don’t want it to become a habit. That number can quickly snowball and before you know it, you’re paying off massive debt on more than one credit card.

And this means also paying them on time! Paying late can cause you to incur fees and will, in turn, damage your credit score.

#3. Understand the Different Terms of Each

It’s likely you will have different terms on each of your credit cards. Before you even accept them, it’s important to understand each. You need to know the interest rates, repayment terms, due dates for payments, and how the credit card perks work. This will help so you can take full advantage of the credit cards for your own financial benefits.

#4. Open New Accounts Slowly

You shouldn’t open all your new credit cards at one time. This can damage your credit score and can make it extremely easy to accrue more debt. The more credit cards you open, the more finances you need to track. You don’t want to forget one, forget to pay, and get the fees for a late payment.

#5. Create a Budget

Even if you only have one credit card, it’s a great idea to create a budget. This will help ensure you’re always spending within your means, paying off your card or cards on time, and keeping track of all your bills. It will even help you save money if you plan right! It’s a must if you have more than one credit card, so you don’t accidentally overspend. Make sure you’re also tracking just how much you spend on each card.

Going in with a plan will help ensure you’re using your credit cards wisely, taking advantage of the perks, and not getting deep into debt. One of the most important things you can do is to pay it off on time each and every month.

Still need some help? Visit our financial planner tool.