(WTNH) – Credit cards are a convenient way to shop but some people don’t have access for various reasons and others may want to take a break from using their credit cards to keep from building up personal debt. We are Stretching Your Dollar with what your options are.
Carrying a balance on your credit card has become a lot more expensive. The average credit card interest rate is nearly 21 percent, making it easy to rack up debt.
There are alternatives to traditional credit cards like pre-paid or secured cards. You pre-load money onto the card, which then acts as your spending limit.
“For example, you could put $200 down and then you can spend up to $200 on that card. It is low risk because you can’t spend above that, unlike a traditional credit card. And at the same time, you know that you are building your credit over time because those secured credit cards actually report to the credit bureaus,” said Kimberly Palmer.
The downside? You only have access to the money you currently have, much like a debit card which is linked to your checking account.
“The downside with debit cards is that you are vulnerable to fraud. If you lost it or if someone stole it, then your money could be stolen directly from your bank account,” Palmer explained.
Buy now, pay later services like Affirm and Klarna are popular. They let you split the cost of a purchase into four equal payments over six weeks at no interest.
“If you don’t want to really strain your budget that month, you’re just stretching out those payments // you do still have to ultimately pay back this amount of money, and so you just want to make sure you’re not getting into a bigger amount than you’re comfortable with,” Palmer said.
And beware, with some buy now, pay later services missing a payment could cost you up to 25 percent of your purchase.
Before agreeing to any card or payment service experts say to make sure you read the fine print and understand what you’re signing up for.