man on cell phone

A recent study by LendingTree found that in 2021, 95.20% of adults in San Diego, California had at least one active credit card. But how many of us are using our credit cards to their fullest potential? When used responsibly, a credit card is a powerful financial tool to have in your toolbox and, since you probably already have one, we want to help you maximize its effectiveness.

1. Pay on time and never skip a payment
Making your credit card payment on time each month is the first crucial step to avoid inconvenient late fees (which can often be as much as $39). Creating a personal payment schedule, setting yourself reminders, or implementing automatic payments are all great ways to ensure the good standing of your credit score – and your overall credit health – over time.

2. Pay off your balance each month, if possible
Think of your credit card as a temporary loan to yourself. Would you loan someone money when you know they don’t have the means to pay you back? The same idea applies when using your credit card. Having the funds to pay off your entire outstanding balance each month not only keeps you from paying any interest, but also boosts your credit score substantially (since 35% of your score is based on your payment history).

If you plan to make a large purchase with your credit card but don’t have all the cash to pay down your entire balance immediately, make a strict timeline to pay it off over the course of a few months. Keep in mind that you’ll have to be disciplined and pay a bit in interest for the luxury of spreading out the payments.

3. Pursue rewards strategically
Lots of credit cards offer users reward points for dollars spent on specific spending categories. Take advantage of these perks but proceed with caution! Only pursue reward points by making big purchases when you are certain you can pay off your balance in full at the time your next payment is due. Otherwise, the amount in interest you accrue will cancel out any rewards you’ve potentially earned.

4. Know your limit
Experts have long recommended that cardholders who carry a balance aim to keep the utilization rate below 30% to keep their score strong. For example, if your credit card limit is $3,000, your outstanding balance should always stay under $900. If you find yourself struggling to keep this up, consider asking for a credit line increase. Increasing the limit to $5,000 would allow for a safe outstanding balance of $1500, effectively giving you more room to spend without hurting your credit health in the long run.

5. Do an audit of where you spend the most money
Use your credit card as a budgeting tool. Unlike cash purchases, credit cards allow us to log on and check our accounts often to keep track of spending specifics. Do an assessment of where most of your money is being spent, and then choose a primary credit card whose reward benefits compliment your largest spending category. For example, if you consider yourself a food lover, you might take interest in the Wheelhouse Visa Platinum Rewards Credit Card. Right now, you earn five times the reward points per $1 spent on takeout such as Blaze Pizza, Luna Grill and R&B Tea. Check out Wheelhouse Credit Union’s other credit card options here:

All in all, using your credit card shouldn’t be a daunting task. Keeping your payments timely, your outstanding balance low and your reward points in check are all positive steps towards keeping debt low and getting the most out of that piece of plastic in your wallet.

man on cell phone

Were you a victim of fraud in 2021? According to a new report produced by Javelin Strategy & Research and cosponsored by AARP, you’re one of the 42 million Americans who were, costing consumers $52 billion in total losses. With so many more people relying on the internet due to the pandemic, criminals had plenty of opportunities to harvest their victims’ personal identifiable information.

Can we eliminate financial fraud in America? The first steps start with you. There are dos and don’ts to cyber security that everyone should be aware of to help protect themselves and their personal information from scammers.


  • Monitor your accounts daily for suspicious activity
  • Enable two-factor identification when creating logins
  • Create strong passwords and use a password manager – see our blog post on strong password tips here
  • Keep your devices secure by installing the latest updates
  • Use secure Wi-Fi connections


  • DON’T give personal information to unsolicited callers. Wheelhouse Credit Union employees will NEVER ask you for Digital Banking credentials, passcodes, etc. When in doubt, hang up immediately and call the Member Services number on the back of your debit/credit card.
  • DON’T click on links that you don’t trust or that are from unknown sources. Quick tip: hover your mouse over a link without clicking it to see where the link will take you.
  • DON’T respond to voicemails or phone calls asking you to verify account information.
  • DON’T forget to logout of your accounts.

As scammers continue to find new ways to scam, fraud will always be on the rise. We must take the initiative to protect ourselves in the technology and internet-centered society we live in today. Being overly cautious is the first step – keeping your accounts and passwords secure comes second.

Strong Passwords & Password Managers

Strong passwords are your first defense against fraud. However, you may find yourself thinking “all these complex and unique passwords are getting out of hand! How am I going to remember them all?”

Well, a premium password manager can be the solution. With a password manager, you only have to remember one master password. So let’s get into the details.

Strong Passwords Typically:
  • Use 15+ characters
  • Include numbers, symbols and a mix of uppercase and lowercase
  • Are different for every account
  • Are changed every 6 months

A password manager can check all those boxes for every account by generating random passwords, at the character length of your choice, with numbers, symbols, uppercase and lowercase letters, and can be manually or automatically changed every so often.

What to Know About Password Managers
  • A password manager may cost you some money.
    Although there are free ones out there, premium managers are safer than most free options. Some premium managers offer free versions, so do some research to determine what is best for you.
  • With a password manager, your master password is extremely important.
    You need to have a strong password, incorporating the above elements, to protect your vault. If you need to, have a “hint” to reference in case you forget your master password. You’ll be locked out of the vault if you cannot remember your master password.
  • Password managers can be breached.
    Password managers can be, and have been, breached. However, password managers encrypt the data, typically with industry–standard encryption like AES (Advanced Encryption Standard, the same encryption the U.S. government uses), so if there is a breach, the hacker would have to decipher that encryption, which is almost impossible. Plus, with a strong master password, two-factor authentication and malware free devices, your security is looking very strong.
  • More than just passwords.
    Password managers can store more than just account passwords. You can store addresses, membership numbers, insurance information, credit card and bank information, WiFi passwords and more.
  • There are different types of password managers.
    Password managers can be browser-based, cloud-based or desktop-based. Each one has pros and cons, so do some research to determine which is best for you.

For more information on security and common fraud tactics, visit


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