Credit cards are a blessing – or a curse. It depends on how you use them and what your overall financial condition is. Insurmountable credit card debt is one of the main reasons so many people declare bankruptcy, so it’s important to learn how to use credit cards appropriately, especially if you’re just beginning to use them. If your debts do spiral out of control, bankruptcy may or may not be the right move for you. Again, it depends. If you’re facing mounting debts and considering bankruptcy in the Chicago area, the wisest move is to speak at once with an experienced Chicago bankruptcy lawyer. Here are some basic principles for using credit cards:

1. Do not use credit cards for emotional satisfaction, like going on a shopping spree when you’re depressed or buying a round for everyone at the bar because you’re happy. Don’t use cards when you’re sleepy, sick, or intoxicated, because your rational thought processes aren’t at their peak. It’s not a bad idea to delay every credit card purchase for at least 24 hours; a day later, you may actually be glad that you didn’t make the purchase.

2. Do not start using a credit card because you’ve been fired or laid off. You might feel desperate, and it might look like your only option, but accumulating new debts when you have no income is never a smart move. Don’t make the purchase, or find another way to pay for it.

3. Don’t use a credit card when you’re close to your credit limit. Ideally, you shouldn’t be using more than 30 percent of your available credit. If you exceed your limit, there may be a surcharge and your interest rate may go up. More importantly, if there’s an emergency, you won’t have access to credit.

If you stay well under your credit limit and you make routine on-time payments, you’re not likely to have credit card trouble. Sometimes, however, credit card debt can’t be avoided. Emergencies and life’s unforeseeable circumstances can sometimes put even the most financially responsible people in serious debt. Bankruptcy may or may not be the answer if your debts are overwhelming you, but in the Chicago area, you should discuss your options with an experienced Chicago bankruptcy lawyer. If your debts are mounting, don’t wait to make the call.