Karen Smith
Executive Director

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Microsite > Consumer Resources > Topic of the Month

Topic of the Month

Understanding Credit Cards

Credit cards have a bad reputation as debt that people get in over their head with and can't afford to pay back. That is unfortunate because they can be a useful payment tool, depending on the terms of the card and how they are used. If consumers understand the terms of the cards they use, and choose a card that fits their needs, the chances are much greater for it to be a positive experience.

What credit cards are

  • A loan
  • Either unsecured or secured
  • Usable within a pre-determined credit limit
  • Reported to credit bureaus
  • Used at point of sale, online, or phone purchases
  • Portions of the balance paid monthly
  • Rate charged against unpaid balances
  • Fees charged to discourage behavior (i.e. exceeding credit limit, late payment)

What credit cards are not

  • A gift
  • Free money
  • A coupon
  • Unlimited spending

Visit the MCUCD website throughout the month of November, as we take a closer look at comparing credit card offers, the difference between credit and debit cards, and wise use of credit cards to build credit. Phroogal also gives advice on whether Credit Cards are a Good Idea.

We also have regular consumer information on the topic of the month on our Facebook and Twitter feeds. Feel free to share them with your own audiences.


Montana Credit Unions for Community Development (or MCUCD) is the award-winning, charitable arm of the Montana Credit Union Network. A state-wide nonprofit organization, MCUCD works together with the state's credit unions to improve the lives and financial independence of all Montanans.