HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU HAVE TOO MANY CREDIT CARDS?
How many are too many? Is there a set rule or a prescribed limit? Apparently not from what I have read. But what I have found is that when I have to spend hours almost daily to monitor them, it is too many for me.
HOW DID I END UP WITH SO MANY CREDIT CARDS?
When I discovered that cash reward credit cards could be a reliable way to reduce my monthly expenses, I started applying for them as often as I could. Of course, the idea was to get the largest promotional welcome bonus, the highest % of cash rewards as well as a substantial amount of available credit. Therefore for about the last three years, gathering cash reward credit cards has become a major pastime. Well, guess what? Now I have too many cards.
THE JOURNEY TO TOO MUCH
It has been a tremendously educational experience collecting all the cards I have. Primarily, it has helped and still helps to reduce my expenses. In addition, I have written many blog posts and several Ebooks about this. Doubtless, there will be more. But the most significant comment I can make at this time is that right now I have too many. As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I have reached critical mass.
For most of this time, my primary concern has been focusing on the 5 or 6 FICO® credit score factors that go into building a good credit score. Certain cards have taken priority for charging purchases. Then it recently occurred to me that if I did not start using all of my cards, some could be closed for inactivity. That could affect my credit score negatively by lowering my available credit, changing the average length of time I have had cards and flagging too many closures. Low and behold, that is exactly what happened this week. One of my co-branded cards was closed without notice for inactivity.
HOW MANY CARDS DO I NEED?
I need enough cards to satisfy the FICO® score factors. Fortunately, I found a formula that I could use to determine how many cards to own, which ones to keep and those to phase out since I had surpassed critical mass. These are the factors I now consider in which cards to use:
a. the oldest aged accounts
b. those with the best credit line and lowest credit utilization ratio
c. the ones with optimal returns in my top spending categories
d. those that give me the maximum value for use with my favorite merchants, stores, airlines or hotels
HOW MANY CARDS DO I WANT?
My sense is that I would like to have no more than ten at the most. For example, my ‘straight flush’ analogy illustrates most of them. Beyond that, I think that one or two travel cards are essential. Other than that, an additional card or two in the ‘straight flush’ formula would be OK too.
I am at a new beginning. I have climbed the credit card mountain in excellent standing. Now it is time to descend the other side with equal care. Therefore future writings on this topic will involve reducing my load doing my best to maintain my great credit card standing while keeping also 6 FICO® score factors in balance.
‘Account Closed, SYNCHRONY NTWRK’. This is the credit monitoring alert I received on September 23, 2019 from two of my weekly lists for credit card account activity. CreditSesame posted one of them and WalletHub posted the other one.
WHAT DID AN ACCOUNT CLOSING MEAN?
These and other questions raced through my mind. The only thing that was clear was that one of four Synchrony cobranded credit card accounts were involved. The reason was that the symbol ‘SYNCHRONY NTWK’ was included. Other than that, I did not know which card had been closed. In fact, my biggest concern was not which card it was but how this would affect my credit score.
My concern involved several credit card score factors. First of all, as a result of a credit card closing, I would have less available credit. That could affect my ‘available credit ratio’ credit score factor. I could lose points on my credit score because this ratio is one of six major factors in determining one’s credit score. But let me not get ahead of myself. Before anything else, I had to figure out which card had been closed.
WHAT ACCOUNT HAD BEEN CLOSED?
Since I couldn’t tell from the details provided in the closing notice which card had been closed I had some searching to do. In fact, all that was clear was that it was a Synchrony card. That meant it was a co-branded card. In fact, this was the third time a co-branded card had been closed:
First was my Best Buy card co-branded with CitiBank
The Second was my Lane Bryant card co-branded with TD Bank
And now one of my cards co-branded with Synchrony Cards
I went online. One by one I checked each Synchrony cobranded account. When I came to the ‘Welcome Home’ Synchrony card, I received a response that no such account existed. Right there was my clue.
To be certain, I called them. Sure enough, their response was that the card had remained inactive for too long. Since I had not used it since February 3, 2017, two and a half years, they were entitled to close it without any written warning or final notice. Actually, they do not have to provide any. Instead, I had been responsible for the account closing. This is because I had not paid attention to the cobranded card closing game.
THE COBRANDED CREDIT CARD CLOSING GAME
Then I remembered that this was exactly what had happened with two of the other times there had been a card closing. A pattern began to emerge with these co-branded cards, USE IT OR LOSE IT!.
In fact, inactivity is the death knell for a co-branded card, because:
These cards are primarily designed for making large purchases to be paid over a long period of time without interest. But, the card company does earn interest when the account can’t be paid on time. In addition, this kind of purchase needs to be made on going to keep the co-branded card alive.
THE EFFECT ON MY CREDIT SCORE
Fortunately, even though I have had a few closings, my credit score seems to have lost only a few points, if any. As a matter of fact, I still have a credit score of over 800. Besides that, I don’t think the ‘length of time factor’ was hurt either. Lastly, I am relieved to have one less card to worry about. Everything should return to my best score within a month or two. But this account closing reminds me of how ‘high maintenance’ a co-branded credit card can be.
Credit card critical mass refers to the appropriate number and kinds of credit cards to have. How does one know what kinds to have? How many to have? When enough is enough? Then, when is how many too much, therefore, when is it time to stop collecting more or even cut back? What is the best way to cut back? This blog post will attempt to answer these questions. But keep in mind that the numbers and types of cards will vary depending upon the person, their lifestyle and needs.
COLLECTING CREDIT CARDS
When I started collected credit cards, I went through some very active phases. The reason for these was manifold:
a. building up my credit
b. getting promotional welcome bonuses
c. collecting cash rewards
d. establishing the best cash rewards rates
e. traveling bonuses
THE CASH REWARDS SWEET SPOT
At one point in my credit card collecting, I realized that I had achieved a cash rewards credit card sweet spot. I compare this to a straight flush in the card game of poker. The blog post, A Two-Pronged Credit Card Rating System (Part 2 – June 2019) goes into detail about this. The straight cash rewards flush looks like this collection of credit cards: 6% for US supermarkets
5% for purchases at many cobranded store cards
4% for dining out
3% for gas
2% for health care services and items
1.5% for all purchases
REACHING CRITICAL MASS
In the collecting cards phase, I saw only the small picture. At the time I applied for a card, I found it a necessity. After a few years, I accomplished all of my above goals and then some. Not only did I reach my credit card critical mass but in retrospect, I surpassed it. How did I know that I had done this? That was easy to answer. I knew because the number of cards I had to deal with had become unmanageable.
SURPASSING CRITICAL MASS
As the owner of many credit cards, I was forced to see the big picture and began to ask myself these questions:
a. how many cards did I really need?
b. what categories did I spend the most in?
c. with that in mind, which cards did I use most often?
d. which cards was I leaving dormant?
e. why was I having trouble keeping track of my card purchases when it came time to do my monthly accounting?
f. how could I make things more manageable?
g. when was enough, enough?
h. how could I safely cut back on the number of cards I had?
THE CREDIT CARD CRITICAL MASS FORMULA
Fortunately I found a formula I could use to determine about how many cards to own, which ones to keep and those to phase out since I had surpassed critical mass. These are the factors I now consider in which cards to use:
a. the oldest aged accounts
b. those with the best credit line and lowest credit utilization ratio
c. the ones with optimal returns in my top spending categories
d. those that give me the maximum value for use with my favorite merchants, stores, airlines. or hotels
PHASE OUT RATHER THAN CLOSE CARDS
It is best not to close cards. Instead, let them phase out by letting them be dormant. Make sure that any card that has fees stays open only if it is useful by the above standards. Otherwise, close it to avoid any future fees if it is going to be dormant.
It is beneficial to have both network and co-branded cards when they have value. But it is wisest not to gather more cards than are really necessary. It can become a real nuisance to have too many cards to care for. On the other hand, it is great to have just enough to be helpful and profitable.
According to Mortgagefit.com administrator’s blog, there are 5 credit card types. The image to the left illustrates them. They include:
5. co-branded credit
4. store credit
3. charge credit
2. general credit
1. secured credit
In addition, the following describes what they are. This is also according to their blog administrator. Keep in mind that the blog post is from 2011.
5 TYPES OF CREDIT CARDS REDUCED TO THEIR ESSENTIAL 2 PLUS
In my opinion, the administrator’s blog post uses generic definitions. By today’s standards, they are not technical or simple. In addition, the post is dated. As a result, it is not exactly accurate by today’s standards. Therefore, I have attempted to clarify the types of credit cards that exist. In my blog post series written about credit cards, these are the types of credit cards:
3. secured and unsecured
There is some agreement of terms between mine and Mortgagefit.com. #5.co-branded: #Co-branded credit cards: These cards are the same as general credit cards. But these cards have a “special relationship” with a particular organization or retailer. So, if you purchase goods/items from those particular organization or retailers, then you will be able to extra rewards and benefits. However, these cards can be used in other stores as well. A good example of such a card is Amazon.com credit card.”
“People who have a bad credit history or no credit history at all can take help of these secured cards. These secured cards are similar to that of general credit cards. However, in case of these cards, you must make a fully refundable deposit, either by cash or by sending a check. This deposited amount is considered as your credit line. As a result of this deposit, all the secured cards offer guaranteed approval.” This standard seems to work about the same today. So this card’s name and description are still solid. Here’s one card in both blog post comparisons.
But I find #4.store credit, #3.charge credit, and #2.general credit somewhat confusing. Therefore, I wish to simplify them to be more accurate by today’s standards. Otherwise, they should be eliminated.
#4.store credit, #3.charge credit, and #2.general credit
“General Credit Cards: A very common type of credit card is the general credit cards. Such credit cards don’t require any kind of security deposit and can be used in most stores/shopping malls or to make any kind of purchases.” This seems to describe both network and co-branded cards.
#Charge Cards: These cards are very similar to general credit cards. However, the major difference lies in that fact that unlike general credit cards, you will have to pay your total balance in full every month.” What does this remind you of by today’s standards? The only one, in my opinion, is what is called a store credit card. I find them to be minor players in the credit card count either way. I still find them confusing.
#Store Cards: These cards are similar to that of credit cards. However, these cards can only be used to buy goods at the store that has given you the card. Macy’s Credit Card is a good example of a store card.” These sound like store cards that are not backed by any banks. Therefore, I would combine charge cards and store cards into one kind of credit card. That reduces the number to four kinds of kinds from 5. In addition, I am still confused by charge cards today. I have about five of them. The only reason I got them is for the 5% discount when I charge merchandise in their stores.
CONCLUSION: A FINAL TALLY
What then is really the number of types of credit cards? Let’s look at each category.
1. Secured cards are definitely relevant today especially with people starting out to establish credit. But since they are offered by large banks, and can be upgraded, I do not give them their own category. Total of 0.
2. Somewhere in-store card, charge card, and a general credit card are what we call, the network and co-branding cards. They are unsecured cards and do not need their own category. Total of 2.
3. Charge cards are fazing out overshadowed by the above cards. In my opinion, they rate a total of 0.
WHAT DO YOU THINK? Please go to the comment box and share your thoughts with the world
COMMENTS AND QUESTIONS
Readers are welcome to comment on this blog post by scrolling down to the VERY bottom of the page. That is where you will find the comment form where the words ‘start the discussion’ are. Questions are also welcome. But it is best to contact me for Q&A on The Credit Card Maven Facebook Page.
In Part Two, I explore two areas of focus in Credit Card differences. They are network versus co-branded credit cards in addition to secured versus unsecured credit cards.
THE FIRST FOCUS AREA OF CREDIT CARD DIFFERENCES: NETWORK VERSUS CO-BRANDED CARDS
I will answer Credit Card differences in Part Two of Different Types of CreditCards and Their Best Uses. The first question I will answer is, ‘Why get network cards’? Then, ‘Why get store co-branded cards’? And finally, ‘What is the difference’?
NETWORK CREDIT CARDS
Referring back to Part One, it was explained that there are four types of major network credit cards, AMERICAN EXPRESS, DISCOVER, VISA, and MASTERCARD. Purchases can be charged just about anywhere with these cards. But there are no interest-free payment plans available.
COBRANDED CREDIT CARDS
In contrast, co-branded credit cards offer interest-free payment plans. This is what makes them an essential part of credit card differences. The banks that these cards cobrand with are rarely major banks. That is because their primary purpose is cobranding not checking, savings, etc.
CONCLUSION TO NETWORK VERSUS COBRANDED CREDIT CARDS
Thus a prudent mix of both types of cards is the optimal way to benefiting from credit card differences, the best percentages of cash rewards available combined with interest-free, overtime purchase payments. The blog post A Two-Pronged Credit Card Rating System (Part 2 – June 2019) reviews the reason to get a straight flush scenario with the major network cards.
THE SECOND FOCUS AREA IN CREDIT CARDS: SECURED VERSUS UNSECURED CARDS
The above questions about network versus cobranded cards will be followed by an explanation of the difference between secured versus unsecured credit cards. On top of that, information about more cobranding banks that were mentioned in the last post will be discussed. Links will be provided in the SOURCES & RESOURCES area, as well.
Quoted from 5 Types of Credit Cards, “People who have a bad credit history or no credit history at all can take help of these secured cards. These secured cards are similar to that of general credit cards. However, in case of these cards, you must make a fully refundable deposit, either by cash or by sending a check. This deposited amount is considered as your credit line. As a result of this deposit, all the secured cards offer guaranteed approval.”
Quoted from the ‘General Credit Cards’ section from the same post, “General Credit Cards: A very common type of credit card is the general credit card. Such credit cards don’t require any kind of security deposit and can be used in most stores/shopping malls or to make any kind of purchases.” This definition would include what we call an unsecured, network credit card or co-branded card.
As stated earlier, there are really only two kinds of cashback credit cards, network and cobranded. In fact, the secured or unsecured featured is really just a qualification. But it is not its own category as the post 5 Different Types of Credit Cards states.
COMMENTS AND QUESTIONS
Readers are welcome to comment on this blog post by scrolling down to the VERY bottom of the page. That is where you will find the comment form with the words ‘start the discussion’. Questions are also welcome. But it is best to contact me for Q&A on The Credit Card Maven Facebook Page.
Credit cards took on a whole new purpose after our finances took a nose dive in the not-so-great depression of 2008. Using credit cards became a necessity. Over the years, mastering the system has allowed us to develop extreme credit card benefits.
By 2009, we went from being Middle Class to becoming part of The Former Middle Class as well as One Day From Homeless. The Introduction to my first eBook, The Poor Middle Class Crisis, details what happened to us. As a result we had to find new ways to survive, new ways to make ends meet. We created a financial survival toolkit. One of our most essential money making tools became credit cards,the cash rewards and travel points cards we already had in addition to the numerous new ones we have gotten since then.
Our Financial History Over The Last Decade
Mastering the system of extreme credit card benefits can go beyond achieving necessary income for survival. Mastery can provide extreme credit card benefits. Over almost the last decade, we have worked on fine tuning our use of credit cards to achieve mastery of this invaluable financial survival tool. It has allowed us to rise from survival to live a frugal way of life. It even includes what might be viewed as a bit of frivolity.
Mastery starts out as a science. It develops into an art. This became the situation when the need to visit family in Colorado arose. The art of creating extreme travel rewards credit cards benefits came into play. Before that, our focus had been primarily on cash rewards credit card. Needing to find a way to afford our trip, we had to learn to master travel rewards cards.
Earning Credit Card Benefits
The first step in mastering credit cards is learning about them. So that is exactly what I did. I did research locating the best sites and blogs about mastering credit cards. Then I practiced and learned how to do it myself. As part of the process, I created a ‘cheat sheet’ that I could easily refer to. It is called, ‘Tips for Mastering Credit Cards’.
Tips for Mastering Credit Cards
Even though I continue to gather more helpful tips, I think that the ones on this list give me and anyone who reads them a pretty good start. What I would like to do for the rest of this post is go over them and explain any that are not completely transparent already. The details will cover several blog posts because there is so much information to share.
1. Pay credit card bills in full by the due date and preferably before the report date
The companies that you have credit card and other ‘debt’ with report the amount of that debt to the credit report agencies on a monthly basis. To have them report a $0 debt, pay your balance in full before the reporting date. Your credit card companies are supposed to provide you with that date if you request it. Find out what that date is and keep track of that date as well as the due date and the closing date.
2. Learn to build and maintain excellent credit
There are many resources for learning to build your credit. They are listed at the end of this post. Notice the colored sections in the image below. They indicated credit levels. Excellent credit is the bright green bar.
3. Get credit cards that offer promotional sign up bonuses
Many credit card offers include a promotion of either cash or travel points in addition to the regular cash back % and points that they acru. Be sure to get one with both. In addition, compare offers for the best deal. There are several variables. This includes the promotion, the amount that must be spent to get it, and the regular benefits. The best ‘investment’ I have ever made was a $200 bonus on a $500 required expense. That’s a 40% return. Where else can one get that kind of a deal? This is where mastering skills come into play and why you want to learn mastery.
4. Get credit cards with exceptional cash or travel points rewards
This card also is one of the best cash back credit card. Note the cashback percentages on this card: 3% restaurants, 3% gas, 1% on the rest. (You can see it on the image about the AARP card info above). Other cards with similar cash back bonuses may offer 3% on some items, 2% on some items and 1% on the rest. I suggest using such a card for the items that only get 1%. What is an alternative? This brings up the tool of credit card pairing.
5. What Is Credit Card Pairing?
There are two formulas offered on cash rewards cards. There are 3%/2%/1% cards. There are straight 1.5% cards. Both have their place. The 3/2/1 cards give 3% cash back for either gas, groceries or restaurants. Then they give 2% for the alternative of restaurants, groceries or food. For example, if gas is the priority, you can use a card that offers 3% for gas and 2% for groceries, like the BankAmericard and the Amex Everyday Blue Cash Rewards cards. If you like to eat out, you can use the AARP card that offers 3% for restaurants as shown in the image below.
Therefore, if you pair cards, you can get 3% or at least 2% for groceries, restaurants and gas. You can avoids using the 1% feature altogether. That is because cards like the Capital One Quicksilver Card pays 1.5% across the board for other expenses. Since pairing requires carrying more than one card at a time, you will needs a tool to remember which card pays what percent of cash back.
6. Remembering What Cards to Pair
I had thought of this tool but did not start using it until I read about it in a blog post by Jim Wang of Wallet Hacks. He actually mentioned writing the cash reward percentages directly on the credit cards in something like waterproof magic markers. It works great.
As I think of them, I will write about more extreme cash rewards benefits. Be on the lookout for future posts on this topic. There is also an (upcoming) Amazon eBook entitled, Mastering the System of Extreme Credit card benefits. As mentioned at the beginning of this blog post, two other Amazon eBooks on this topic are currently available. They are:
The responsible and potentially profitable use of credit cards requires one fundamental rule. All credit card statements must be paid in full and on time. There are no shortcuts, no magic tricks or hidden agendas. All of the suggestions, tips and tools mentioned in these posts are totally above board and follow standard credit card use guidelines even when creative techniques or combinations are applied. Study these tools, practice these tips, learn these applications so that you can have the opportunity to experience extreme credit card benefits, too.
I’ve talked a lot about using cash reward credit cards, lately. It actually feels like I am living in a credit card world. In fact, this for two reasons. One is because I have wanted to learn everything I could about cash reward credit cards, credit scores and credit reports, too. The other reason, probably the most important one, is that cash reward credit cards have become one of my most essential survival tools.
The Credit Card Maven
As a result of my intense interest and need to know everything I can about credit cards, I’ve even created a Facebook page called The Credit Card Maven. This is where I post information as I have researched and sourced it. I have found a number of websites, blog posts, Facebook pages (listed here) and groups that are extremely helpful resources in my quest for knowledge as The Credit Card Maven in my credit card world. Included are:
• Credit Card Mastery
• Credit Karma
• Wallet Hacks
• Wise Bread
Credit Cards as a Survival Tool
As I mentioned at the start of this post, credit cards have become a survival tool in my credit cards world. It was not by design that this came to be.
It was more a matter of circumstances. Once I got a feel for how useful and profitable using credit cards could be, my desire to use them and master it increased. Let me give you an example.
I have had cash reward credit cards for a number of years. I can accumulate up to about $40. in a two month period from one of them. That was a good beginning. Then I decided to get a travel rewards card in anticipation of someday going to visit my family in Colorado. I used it and kept on accumulating points.
Credit Card Currency
When I went to check on the conversion to paying for an airplane ticket, the results were not impressive. I had to find something better. This time by design, I set out to find the best deal I could for air travel benefits using a credit card. I found one that I ultimately used for my flight. It rewarded me with 30,000 points and a $100. discount on my airplane ticket. This was such a great deal that I have enough points to return to Colorado for free, right now.
Now that’s what I call using credit cards as currency. If I could do that with a travel rewards credit card, I wondered what other benefits and rewards I could manifest in my credit cards world. I familiarized myself with a few other travel rewards cards as part of getting a second ticket for my husband and having funds for other things related to our vacation. All in all, my activities resulted in a savings of between $400 and $500 for our trip.
Credit Card Investing
Let me present one more situation where the skilled use of a credit card became very profitable. I found an offer for a cash rewards credit card that would refund $100 on spending $500 within 90 days of acquiring the card. That would be a 20% profit. I had never accomplished that in the stock market. It seemed like a very good investment to me. I wasn’t sure if I would be granted another card as I had accumulated quite a few by this point. But it came through. I fulfilled the requirements. Now I am just waiting for my investment to pay off.
Credit Card Monthly Rotation
I made another discovery. It may seem a bit confusing. In fact, I am kind of surprised that I am even able to do this. I am calling it credit card monthly rotation. It is based upon a combination of the nature of credit cards themselves and good credit card hygiene.
Each credit card has a closing date and a payment due date. Since I have several cash reward credit cards and they have different closing and payment dates, I can stagger them and not have to pay them at the same time. If I make my purchases and schedule my payments using my monthly rotation system, I have a revolving credit situation. In other words, if my budget in a particular month needs to be exceeded, I can use a card that has a closing date that will allow payment the following month. I just have to make sure the funds will be available then. I also have to have a very good bookkeeping system to keep track of every detail of every card.
Based upon my understanding and goals to achieve Credit Card Mastery, I believe that I am on my way but I have not achieved mastery yet. When will I achieve it? There are several requirements that I have established for myself:
• My credit scores average will be over 800 again. It is only about 10-20 points from that now.
• My monthly rotation system will have proven itself to work and I will have a sense of mastery in my credit card world
• My Credit Card Management Chart will be complete and committed to memory. As a result, I will have a firm grasp on all my cards and a natural flow for their use in rotation as needed.
To many people, understanding credit scores and reading credit reports are overwhelming and confusing. There is no need to not have transparency and clarity about your credit cards world. Credit cards are an important tool and can even be crucial for personal survival and business development. Study the resources provided. Take the Credit Card Mastery Course if you can. Having one’s finances in order and being able to live solvently in a credit card world are not luxuries. They are necessities and everyone deserves to have them.
I am The Credit Card Maven. I have learned ways to use credit cards for survival and profit. This post is designed to share these techniques with my friends and followers.
I started using charge cards many years ago. I never abused them. The bills were always paid on time. But they were not credit cards. They were charge cards for department stores. At one point, I decided to eliminate most of them.
Credit Cards Replace Charge Cards
My FICO score has always been in the excellent range. In spite of that, I had no idea how FICO scores worked. It was just one of those mysteries of life. I continued to carry a limited number of cards as well as having a credit score of over 800. When our financial situation changed in 2008, credit cards took on a totally new meaning for us.
Credit Cards Become Currency
Due to circumstances which I detail in my first eBook, The Poor Middle Class Crisis Introduction, our financial profile changed drastically. Our equity was gone as well as our income. We no longer had savings. Suddenly credit cards became a way to earn money and derive other benefits from them, as well.
The biggest incentive to use credit cards as currency was our need to take a trip to Colorado to visit our families. Because of that, I signed up for a total of four travel rewards cards. One of them was the airline travel rewards card. I signed up during a promotion. If I spent $1,000 in three months using this card, I would get 30,000 bonus points and $100. off the airfare. I have earned enough points for a free trip to Colorado and back, again. Hopefully it won’t take six years to see our families again.
Mastering Credit Card Use
As you can imagine, using so many cards can become very confusing. I am still perfecting my system. But I can tell you what I have learned so far. We are fortunate enough to have excellent credit. So we were easily able to secure all the cards we wanted. If you don’t have great credit, do everything you can to improve it. There is a link to an article from NextAdvisor.com in the Sources and Resources section about paying down if not getting out of debt. Do read it.
Treasure An Excellent FICO Score
For the person with excellent credit, you want to keep it. Great credit is precious. Here are some golden rules on how to train yourself to use your credit cards wisely.
• Sign up for cards that best meet you needs and spending habits. There are websites that show you which to use.
• Always pay bills in full and on time.
• Make a chart of closing and payment due dates for all your cards.
• Keep an accounting of how much you spend each month so that you do not exceed your budget.
• Use no more than 30% of the credit limit you have on each card.
• It is better to charge larger amounts on a few cards than to charge small amounts on many cards.
• For cash rewards cards, write on the card itself the cash back % you get on each category of purchases.
• Do not close old credit card accounts. It is best to have as long a credit history as possible.
• Avoid fee based cards unless the benefits greatly outweigh the out-of-pocket expense.
Credit Card Myths and Tips
Myths about credit cards abound. So here are some tips to dispel them.
• A credit score will not necessarily be lowered by having numerous cards. But don’t sign up for too many too close together. That can appear to the credit card score companies like you are in crisis.
• Almost every credit card company has a ‘Check Your FICO score’ feature. You can use it without negatively impacting your score. This is a ‘soft’ check.
• A ‘hard’ check can negatively impact your score. That could be checking by a loan company, a future employer,etc.
There is so much more that can and will be said about credit cards, their use and mastery in future posts. Credit cards can be like a loaded gun. They can be dangerous, even deadly if you do not know how to use it. On the other hand, they can be a lifesaver when properly trained.