Over the years, credit cards have become an increasingly valuable financial tool. No longer are banks the only company who issue credit cards; now every department store, retail store, furniture stores, and gas station offer consumer credit through their own name-brand credit cards. Furthermore, each credit card offer comes with a perk that makes it a must have. So how are you supposed to manage all of those cards? Here are a few tips to keep from maxing out your existing cards and paying off those pesky balances.
Cut, leave, lock or shred them. The quickest way to stop yourself from using credit cards that may already have a high balance is to remove them from your sight. Take them out of your wallet, leave them at home, cut or shred them, or even lock them up. By removing the cards from easy access, you limit yourself to how much you are able to use them. Just remember that they arent in your wallet (it could lead to an embarrassing situation in a store if you forget they arent there!) and be sure you have access to the numbers in case of emergency.
Close accounts you dont use. If you dont have a balance, the card is not the oldest credit card you have, and the rewards or perks arent the best, close the account. There is no reason to leave multiple cards open, especially since it is possible to have too much credit, which can negatively affect your credit score. Just make sure to close accounts every three months so the activity doesnt negatively impact your credit score and if you plan to make a major purchase in the next six months or so, it may be better to close one and then wait a little while to close the others.
Do the math. Take a few moments to calculate the true cost of those cards. How much are you actually spending in interest? Say you have about $10,000 you owe on a few different credit cards with interest rates around 15-20 percent. If you were to just pay the minimum on the cards, you could end up paying nearly $60,000 and it could take almost 30 years to repay all the cards, assuming of course that you do not make any additional purchases while paying off the balance. Thats enough to make most people stop spending.
Ask. Call your creditor and ask for a lower interest rate. If you pay on time and dont have a large outstanding balance, you may be able to get your interest rate lowered a few points, which can help save money in the long run, should you ever need to carry a large balance on that card.
Consolidate. If you have large outstanding balances, credit consolidation with one payment and a lower interest rate may be the best way to save not only your sanity with managing multiple bills and due dates, but also your credit score. You can transfer your balances to one card with a lower interest rate, or take out a personal loan.
Know what people are saying about you. Check your credit score regularly. It is important to know what is on your credit report as that can impact your finances for the rest of your life.
Treat yourself. Set goals for yourself on going credit card-free. At the end of the month, or whatever time period you set, reward yourself. After all, youve probably saved a bundle on future interest payments by not spending any additional money.
By doing a little research and exercising a little discipline and self-control, it is easier than many people think to stay on top of your credit cards. Resisting new offers can be tough, but just remember how much just one more card can hurt you in the long run. Researching to find the best reward card for you and using only that card is the safest bet to managing credit cards.