All you need to know to get started with credit cards in Sweden
You probably know about Sweden’s reputation for caring deeply about its residents. In Sweden, one is likely to have a good quality of life. This is thanks to its affordable healthcare and education system. Something more is that employers in Sweden have a duty to make sure that they pay a living wage. This just means that irrespective of the kind of job one does in Sweden, there is a guarantee of a living wage.
Again, employees in Sweden are required to have a bank account into which salaries are paid. This simply means that there will be no boss who will hand you over cash money for work done. In this light, something pleasantly surprising about Sweden is its wide embrace of technology in financial management. Here is where you need to know that Sweden is one of the most cashless societies on earth. This acts as a clear pointer to why we zoom in and narrow down on credit cards in Sweden.
Yes. Swedish people or those who have lived there will attest that they hardly ever use cash for transactions. And what’s more, the country’s bank branches have stopped handling cash! This may sound as a banger for someone used to stashing loads of notes in the purse or wallet just to feel rich…aha! But we are here to save you the shock of being rejected with your cash. So, don’t be surprised to find most establishments demanding other modes of payment other than cash. One of the most common forms of payment is through credit cards. So gold coins is of no use (read more about gold on kjøpegull.com).
No cash in Sweden – just swiping and clipping cards
This is a good thing especially if you were thinking of getting a credit card in this country. It will be fairly straightforward and fast so no need to worry. Most shops, museums, restaurants and other businesses accept major credit cards. You will also be able to use your credit card at banks, hotels, stores, taxis, car rental companies, and for air, ship and rail tickets. Interesting stuff right?
The next logical question would be whether you can use your Swedish credit card abroad. This will depend highly on your credit card provider. And Sweden has many of these thanks to its liberalized banking sector. So, it pays to shop around before settling on a provider. Remember that they also determine the features of your card including the monthly limit.
Having a credit card definitely comes with many benefits. For starters, they are convenient for shopping, and most include rewards on what you purchase. Besides, using your credit card in Sweden is an effective way of building a positive credit history. However, if this is your first time getting a credit card it might take a minute. Knowing a thing or two about how they work and how to use them to your advantage will save you some money. This blog focuses on the credit card environment in Sweden.
How Credit Cards Work in Sweden
The concept behind credit cards is that you buy now and pay later. So, it works the same way a short-term loan would. The credit card provider lets you purchase goods using their money with the hope that you will pay them back later. The repayment is usually at the end of the month. However, whether or not you pay interest will depend on when you repay.
Credit card providers allow you to carry balances forward if you wish to. However, this is a really bad idea since they charge crazy interest rates. Repaying your credit card bills in full will ensure that you avoid any interest. The provider will give you a pre-set monthly limit that you can make purchases against.
Your credit card limit in Sweden is based on your credit score, income, and account history. So, the more you use your credit card, the further your monthly credit reduces. The opposite happens when you repay your credit card bills at the end of the month. So, you should expect your provider to send you a statement at the end of each month. It details all your credit card activity including your balance, minimum payment, and due date.
Credit Card Statements in Sweden
Credit card statements are sent to users by their providers at the end of every month. Though a statement may differ from one company to the other, there are standard features. For instance, the balance that is available on the card. This is the total amount of money you owe the credit card company.
It also includes the credit limit that is still available on the card. This amount will depend on how much you have spent during the month. Similarly to avoid any misunderstanding, it includes every purchase you made during that billing statement cycle. Finally, it will show the minimum payment due and the payment due date. The minimum payment due describes the least amount you have to pay for that month. It’s always best to pay the credit company in full to avoid interest. They charge exorbitant rates on the total amount due and not just what you haven’t paid back.
On the bright side, the provider will also include the interest rate that will be charged if you don’t pay in full. This should make it easier for you to make a decision on how much to pay. Your best bet though is to pay your total bill before the grace period ends to avoid interest. The joy of using a credit card after all is not having to pay any interest.
Most providers will offer a grace period of between twenty to thirty days. After the grace period elapses, it starts to accrue interest. The interest will depend on your provider. However, it is also based on your card’s annual percentage rate (APR). The APR also influences any fees the card charges every year.
How to Use a Credit Card in Sweden
One thing you will love about credit cards is just how easy they are to use. For instance, all you have to do after a purchase is to insert your card in a chip reader or swipe it at the checkout. Credit cards also allow contactless payments. All you have to do is to add it to digital wallet apps for any purchases.
You can also use your credit card to shop online. The vendors will ask you to enter certain information about your card. This includes the credit card number, expiration date and its CVV security code. Most cards have their CVV security code at the back. Credit card payments are authorized by the merchant, the credit card company, and the card network.
The parties work together to electronically authorize and process the payment instantaneously. Remember that you can use your credit card to increase your credit score. However, you have to be careful not to accrue any fees or interests while doing this. Let’s look at some of the ways you can achieve this responsibly.
Paying Bills on Time
In Sweden, like other countries, your payment history determines your credit score. However, remember that there are other factors that influence your credit score. By paying your utility and other bills on time, you can increase your credit score. Subsequently, you can lower your credit score if you pay late or fail to pay.
The same concept applies to paying your credit card bills. Therefore, ensure you pay your bills in full on or before the deadline each month. To ensure you don’t miss any payments, link it to your bank account. This will enable you to pay through direct debit. Similarly, you can use the reminder on your devices for due dates.
Understand Credit Card Interests
Carrying your balances forward each month can lead to high interest charges. This can really dent your finances if you don’t manage it effectively. So, before you choose a credit card provider, you should understand how they calculate interests. It also helps to know the APR for your provider. It helps to keep in mind that there is always a grace period when you will not accrue interests.
Carrying your balances forward can also lead to varying interest rates. The provider will charge different interests on each balance. However, they will consider any minimum payments as paid to the one with the highest APR first. Be on the lookout for cards with promotional offers. However, you should always note when the offer expires to avoid interest.
Understanding Credit Card Fees
Another factor to consider before taking out a credit card are the credit card fees. Credit card fees will determine the overall cost of using your credit card. Different credit card providers will charge various fees depending on their terms. However, some fees are fairly standard. For example, some providers charge annual fees, foreign transaction fees and balance transfer fees.
Other providers will also include additional fees such as cash advance fees, late payment fees and returned payment fees. So, before you sign up, ensure to read the agreement carefully since it includes these fees. However, these are among the things you should consider when choosing a provider. The provider will likely include them on their website.
Another trick is to weigh the annual fee against any value the card might offer via a rewards program or other benefits. However, you should know that many providers in Sweden offer cards with zero annual fees. If you travel a lot, you should go for a card that won’t charge any foreign transaction fees.
Tracking Credit Card Balances
Credit cards are only useful if they are used the right way. You should always remember that your credit utilization ratio will affect your credit score. The credit utilization ratio mostly focuses on your available credit. Its end goal is to determine how much of this you are using over time.
Always ensure that your card balance is low compared to your credit limit. Depleting your available credit is an indication that you are a high-risk borrower. It can also lead to a lower credit score. So, always ensure that you only spend as much as you can pay every month. This will ensure that you don’t pay any interest.
Using your Credit Card Responsibly in Sweden
Like I mentioned earlier, your credit card is only as beneficial as your responsibility while using it. Some finance experts have warned against using credit cards and they would be right. Using your credit card irresponsibly can lead to debts that you might be unable to pay back.
Credit cards can be a safe and convenient way to pay for various purchases if used appropriately. So, what are some of the ways that you can use your credit card responsibly? Our articles will cover this in detail but here is an overview.
Most providers in Sweden will attempt to lure you in with the promise of an initial bonus. However, this is just a business angle on their part. As long as you have a good credit history, you will likely get a bonus. The bonus can be worth $150 or more (sometimes much more). However, it’s usually after you spend specific sums from $500 to several thousands. The bonus is only valid for the first several months after you get your credit card.
Similarly, you will also find providers offering bonus reward points or miles. They are redeemable for travel, gifts cards, merchandise, statement credits, or checks. So, you should always check with your provider and compare it to others in the market.
In Sweden, you will find providers offering cash back to their users after spending a given amount. The amount and percentage will depend on your provider. For instance some offer 2% while others offer as much as 6% cash back. However, you should note that it applies to certain purchases.
You should also know that they might be subject to quarterly or annual spending caps. You should be careful when selecting a card based on cash back rewards. Always go for those that involve limited fees and interest but have a high rewards rate.
One advantage of using a credit card is that you can earn points based on what you spend. You might even find a card that offers bonus points for certain purchases. A good example would be restaurants, gasoline or grocery stores. The point is to encourage you to use your card as much as possible.
Eventually, you can redeem these points for travel, gift cards from retailers and restaurants. Providers in this country offer limitless reward options for their users. You can also maximize your reward options by choosing a provider that is in partnership with another business. So, your best bet is to match your card provider to your spending habits. Given that you have so many options, never compromise your spending pattern for a credit card.
Some experts have noted that credit cards are best for those who fly frequently. How true this is depends majorly on your provider. To boost their businesses, airlines partner with credit card companies. So, if you find such a provider, you can earn miles based on your credit card purchases.
Your luck will depend on whether you are using a high or low-end card. It also depends on whether or not the card has an annual fee. The value will also depend on the type of airline ticket you settle for. You should also lookout for introductory bonuses that can add more value to the card.
Safety using credit cards
Safety should always come first when it comes to using your credit card. The truth is, using your credit card in Sweden is as safe as they come. There are not that many credit card fraud cases reported in the country. You are not responsible for any fraudulent charges on your credit card. All you have to do when you lose your credit card is to notify your provider. In the end, you won’t lose any money.
However, it might take time to sort everything out. Most popular credit cards offer zero liability coverage for fraudulent transactions. This encourages their users to use credit cards for payment instead of cash. Similarly, your credit card provider can be helpful in resolving refund issues. Just notify them whenever you can’t resolve the issue on your own.
Even after using your credit card to make a purchase, you still have your money in your account. The money only leaves your account when you pay the bill at the end of the month. This brings to mind the phrase having your cake and eating it. Money has a time value that can help you to save in different ways.
Similarly, late payment makes your purchase a little cheaper than it would be otherwise. If you have money in an account that earns interest, the card in essence helps to earn money. It also ensures that you can keep track of your payment without checking your account.
Credit card providers in Sweden have different innovative ways to protect their consumers. You might not even realize this unless you look closely though. Some cards come with rental car insurance, travel insurance, and product warranties that may exceed the manufacturer’s warranty. However, you should note that the car insurance is in most cases secondary to your personal auto insurance.
Credit cards are easier to use for transactions such as rental cars or booking a hotel. For instance, you will find that most hotels and car rentals in Sweden prefer credit card payments. This makes it easier for them to charge you for any damage you cause to a room or a car.
Similarly, it’s not easy to predict the final cost of transacting. By using a credit card, they can keep track of your spending and ensure you don’t exceed your limit. Using a credit card is easier if you are a foreigner in a country. Most businesses will accept a credit card over a debit card.
Building Credit Score
A credit card is an effective way to build your credit score even in a new country. If you use your credit card responsibly, your provider will report your repayment activity to the credit bureaus. A good credit score will ensure that you can get access to unsecured loans in Sweden. It can also ensure that you get a good job since employers will usually check your credit scores.