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Using credit cards to fight inflation could blow up in your face

Many are feeling the pinch lately with prices going up, but Mike Gillaspia learned that unless you're careful, it can do more harm than good in the end.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — It starts out small. 

Higher prices have you coming up a little short, so you put a week's worth of groceries and gasoline on your credit card. 

No big deal, right? That is, until you find yourself doing it more often in order to pay other bills, and you're left with a big payment that gives you a big headache. 

"Maxing out your credit cards is the last thing you want to do," said MoneyTips Sr. Credit Analyst Nathan Grant. "You're going to affect your credit scores negatively, and it's going to be near impossible to catch up, and that's the biggest thing people don't realize when they lean on credit cards."

Grant said that when used responsibly, there are credit-card benefits that could save you money -- something we are all looking to do -- and it begins with only buying what you know you can pay off by the statement due-date. 

"Even if you have a card that has a ridiculously high APR, it's not going to apply until a balance is carried," he said. "The scariest part of some credit cards is that interest rate and it might not even be a factor if you're responsible in paying your bills on time."

Beyond that, Grant says it is important to be strategic. That means looking at which credit cards you have and which ones you use for which purchases. That's where reward and cashback options come into play.

"If you have a card that has a good return on gas purchases or grocery purchases, use that card for those purchases," he said. "Don't have it just sit in your wallet because you want to use the other one that has travel miles."

And, finally, if major purchases are on the horizon, like appliances or holiday shopping, you may benefit from finding a credit card with an introductory offer of 0 percent interest. It will allow you to pay off the debt without accruing anything extra.

It's a money tip that could help see you through these challenging economic times.

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