#SWAAYthenarrative
BETA
Close

Making Your Credit Card Work For You: Tips For Business and Personal Users

Finance

Opening a credit card certainly has its perks, but it also comes with a great deal of responsibility. Whether you are opening the card for business or personal, use credit cards can wreak havoc on your personal or business finances – which is the last thing you want. The key to successfully navigating and managing credit cards – for you or your business – is to be thoroughly educated on the basics. Here are some tips to get you started.


"Having healthy business credit will be beneficial to your company in the long run if you need to rent space or equipment, open accounts with suppliers or take out a business loan" - Leslie Tayne

Business Use

Choose the Best Card for Your Business

As in any major decision for your business, it's best to do some research first. Check out some reviews of some of the top business credit cards offered to see what may best suit your needs. Some cards specifically cater to small business owners, while corporate cards are offered for larger companies. Researching the interest rates and rewards offered can be helpful in choosing what makes the most sense for your business. Additionally, it may be best to use a card provided by the institution where you already do your business banking. Keeping all of your finances under one roof can be beneficial for managing your accounts and for contacting the company for customer service.

Keep Track of Your Interest

If you are carrying a balance from month to month on your business credit card, monitoring your interest will be crucial. It is important to remember that you need to account not only for the charges you've made but also the interest they will accrue, meaning you should be aware of your exact interest rate. If you open a card that is interest-free for the first year, be sure you are attentive to when interest will start to be added. Keeping track of your interest and including it in your monthly budget will allow you to have a better grasp on your business's overall financial situation.

Build Good Credit

Making consistent and timely payments – and paying off your full balance when possible – will help build good credit for your business. Many services offer free credit reports to help track progress with your credit. Having healthy business credit will be beneficial to your company in the long run if you need to rent space or equipment, open accounts with suppliers or take out a business loan.

Keep Your Business Credit Separate From Your Personal Credit

Be aware of whether your business credit is tied to you personally. Unfortunately, if you're not careful, business credit can affect your personal credit score without you knowing, so be sure to look into this when opening a business credit card.

"Some cards specifically cater to small business owners, while corporate cards are offered for larger companies. Researching the interest rates and rewards offered can be helpful in choosing what makes the most sense for your business." - Leslie Tayne

Personal Use

Find the Card That's Right For You – And Stick With It

As with a business credit card, do your research before you decide to open a personal card. Consider interest rates and rewards bonuses. If you plan to use your credit card mostly for travel, look into cards that have airline or hotel rewards. If you are looking for a card for more general use, one that offers straight percentage cash back may be best. Once you have found the card that suits your needs best, try to stick with just the one or as few cards as possible. Having fewer cards makes managing your payments much more manageable and can help you maximize your rewards.

Pay Off Your Balance Every Month

If you can, pay off your balance in full every month. Doing so allows you to avoid racking up interest on your bill.

Never Skip a Payment

Even if you can't pay off your full balance, it is always best to make sure you are at least able to make the minimum payment every month. By ensuring you never miss a payment, you will avoid late fees and will decrease the amount of your interest payments. Missing a payment can also lead to a dock on your credit score, and missing multiple and building up late fees can be disastrous. Make a habit never to charge more than you have available in your bank account.

Only Use The Card When Absolutely Necessary

You can think of a credit card as a personal loan to yourself when you may not feel comfortable having that money taken from your checking account. But consider only using this tactic for essential purchases, such as paying a bill that is coming due or buying significant items for your home. Using your credit card for frivolous spending can lead to trouble in the long run.

Never Use Your Full Limit

To keep your credit score healthy, it is best never to use more than 30 percent of your credit limit. Your utilization rate is a crucial component to determine your credit score. Keeping your usage to a smaller percentage of your credit line will help keep payments and interest manageable.

"As with a business credit card, do your research before you decide to open a personal card" - Leslie Tayne

Never Use Your Full Limit

To keep your credit score healthy, it is best never to use more than 30 percent of your credit limit. Your utilization rate is a crucial component to determine your credit score. Keeping your usage to a smaller percentage of your credit line will help keep payments and interest manageable.

"Even if you can't pay off your full balance, it is always best to make sure you are at least able to make the minimum payment every month. By ensuring you never miss a payment, you will avoid late fees and will decrease the amount of your interest payments." - Leslie Tayne

The key takeaways to remember when opening credit cards for yourself or your business is to be educated and to be proactive. By knowing the kind of card you are using, and understanding both the interest rates and the rewards offered, you will have a solid grasp on your financial situation as it relates to your credit. And by taking in active role in managing your credit – tracking your payments and interest, keeping an eye on your usage, budgeting effectively – you can ensure that you are making your credit cards work for you, and not the other way around.

Our newsletter that womansplains the week
3min read
Career

Momtors: The New Wave of Mentors Helping New Moms Transition Back Into Careers

New parents re-entering the workforce are often juggling the tangible realities of daycare logistics, sleep deprivation, and a cascade of overwhelming work. No matter how parents build their family, they often struggle with the guilt of being split between home and work and not feeling exceptionally successful in either place.


Women building their families often face a set of challenges different from men. Those who have had children biologically may be navigating the world of pumping at work. Others might feel pulled in multiple directions when bringing a child into their home after adoption. Some women are trying to learn how to care for a newborn for the first time. New parents need all the help they can get with their transition.

Women returning to work after kids sometimes have to address comments such as:

"I didn't think you'd come back."

"You must feel so guilty."

"You missed a lot while you were out."

To counteract this difficult situation, women are finding mentors and making targeting connections. Parent mentors can help new moms address integrating their new life realities with work, finding resources within the organization and local community, and create connections with peers.

There's also an important role for parent mentors to play in discussing career trajectory. Traditionally, men who have families see more promotions compared to women with children. Knowing that having kids may represent a career setback for women, they may work with their mentors to create an action plan to "back on track" or to get recognized for their contributions as quickly as possible after returning to work.

Previously, in a bid to accommodate mothers transitioning back to work, corporate managers would make a show at lessoning the workload for newly returned mothers. This approach actually did more harm than good, as the mother's skills and ambitions were marginalized by these alleged "family friendly" policies, ultimately defining her for the workplace as a mother, rather than a person focused on career.

Today, this is changing. Some larger organizations, such as JP Morgan Chase, have structured mentorship programs that specifically target these issues and provide mentors for new parents. These programs match new parents navigating a transition back to work with volunteer mentors who are interested in helping and sponsoring moms. Mentors in the programs do not need to be moms, or even parents, themselves, but are passionate about making sure the opportunities are available.

It's just one other valuable way corporations are evolving when it comes to building quality relationships with their employees – and successfully retaining them, empowering women who face their own set of special barriers to career growth and leadership success.

Mentoring will always be a two way street. In ideal situations, both parties will benefit from the relationship. It's no different when women mentor working mothers getting back on track on the job. But there a few factors to consider when embracing this new form of mentorship

How to be a good Momtor?

Listen: For those mentoring a new parent, one of the best strategies to take is active listening. Be present and aware while the mentee shares their thoughts, repeat back what you hear in your own words, and acknowledge emotions. The returning mother is facing a range of emotions and potentially complicated situations, and the last thing she wants to hear is advice about how she should be feeling about the transition. Instead, be a sounding board for her feelings and issues with returning to work. Validate her concerns and provide a space where she can express herself without fear of retribution or bull-pen politics. This will allow the mentee a safe space to sort through her feelings and focus on her real challenges as a mother returning to work.

Share: Assure the mentee that they aren't alone, that other parents just like them are navigating the transition back to work. Provide a list of ways you've coped with the transition yourself, as well as your best parenting tips. Don't be afraid to discuss mothering skills as well as career skills. Work on creative solutions to the particular issues your mentee is facing in striking her new work/life balance.

Update Work Goals: A career-minded woman often faces a new reality once a new child enters the picture. Previous career goals may appear out of reach now that she has family responsibilities at home. Each mentee is affected by this differently, but good momtors help parents update her work goals and strategies for realizing them, explaining, where applicable, where the company is in a position to help them with their dreams either through continuing education support or specific training initiatives.

Being a role model for a working mother provides a support system, at work, that they can rely on just like the one they rely on at home with family and friends. Knowing they have someone in the office, who has knowledge about both being a mom and a career woman, will go a long way towards helping them make the transition successfully themselves.