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Correctly handling credit can be an ordeal. Unless you’re a credit guru, it’s never clear which card would be the best card for any given purchase. A good consumer should actively try to maintain and raise their credit score and standing. Not understanding the credit card market and your personal credit card can leave you fighting to save your credit score. There are some general ways to make sure your credit card works for you, and not against you.

Make sure you pay your bills on time. Credit card experts across the board agree that this is the biggest factor affecting your credit score. If a consumer is dedicated to on time bill payments then your credit score will reflect positively and you will in turn be rewarded with low interest rates and will be subject to fewer fees.

It Rewards You

When you have good credit, life goes much smoother, as you have access to cars, homes and large appliances at a lower and more affordable interest rate. If you can commit to paying off your bills on time, then you should be rewarded. A rewards credit card is a good way to do that. A good rewards card will offer cash-back or bonus points. Bonus points can be redeemed for products or cash via catalogs or online shopping malls. Cash-back rewards cards offer anywhere from one to five percent on a variety of categories. Getting a rewards card is a great way to make your credit card work for you. A good rewards card will be one that you use frequently. So, if you shop at Wal-Mart a lot, maybe a co-branded Wal-Mart rewards credit card will be your best bet. But don’t get a rewards card if you don’t shop at that store, even if it offers other discounts. Rewards credit cards are about building customer loyalty. Think about that when you’re reading through the fine print; think about whether or not you would consider yourself a loyal customer of the brand.

It Protects You

Like a good friend, a good credit card should be there to protect you in times of need. And, thankfully, most credit cards do offer protection services when it comes to ID theft, fraud, extended warranties, etc. When it comes to security, most credit cards protect you from any unauthorized or fraudulent purchases due to a breach of your personal information or identity theft. Also, most credit cards offer protection when you least expect it. For example, if you buy a large item with your credit card and you’re debating whether or not to dish out the extra money for the extended warranty, your credit card might already have you covered. American Express and Visa both offer a year of protection on certain items, including electronics. Some credit cards even protect your rental car if you get into an accident.