Bill Maurer

Q: What are some current credit card trends that consumers should be aware of?
BM: People paid down their credit card balances during Covid -- in part because their spending declined with fewer opportunities for dining or entertainment, and in part because of relief checks. Expect credit card companies to come courting you hard, with new offers, points, and rewards. But proceed with caution! There may be hidden fees, higher interest rates, or other catches. It pays to read the fine print.

We'll see more contactless payment options at the point of sale, too -- tap and pay or mobile. The technology was arriving in more retail establishments before the pandemic, but Covid made people cautious about touching things, and merchants will respond to that behavior change.

Q: What is a common misconception around credit cards?
BM: The first misconception is that all credit is bad or will get you into trouble. Having good credit provides you with the power to borrow when you need it, at a lower rate and with better terms. Building credit can help you make longer-term investments in your own and your family's future -- through education loans and mortgages, for example. But it needs to be part of an overall, conscious strategy, not just driven by your latest online shopping binge.

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