If you've received credit card solicitations in the mail recently, you're likely familiar with their enticing offers: miles, points, cash back.
On this edition of Circuit Cents, The Daily Circuit checked in with Michelle Singletary, who offered some essential credit card Dos and Don'ts.
8 takeaways from the conversation
- • If you already have credit card debt, it's not the time to pick up a new card.
- • There's little-to-no reason to have more than one credit card. Keep in mind, the more credit you have out there, the more temptation there is.
- • If you have existing debt and are looking into debt counseling, stay away from for-profit organizations. Non-profit debt counselors can be very helpful in managing your debt, but their for-profit alternatives often charge exorbitant fees. Check out debtadvice.org for a list of local non-profit debt counseling organizations.
- • Remember, mail solicitations are just offers. Banks are putting out feelers for new card holders, but the cards aren't necessarily easier to get a hold of. Many applicants will still be denied.
- • Shred any credit card-related mail that includes personal information like your address or phone number. Throwing this mail in the trash or recycling may increase your risk for identity theft.
- • Don't close a credit card if you have any outstanding balance. This will hurt your credit score. On the other hand, closing an account because of non-use, with no outstanding balance, may cause a minor hit to your score, but it should quickly bounce back.
- • Often, payment terms are negotiable - don't hesitate to try to extend or reduce your payment term, but be aware that your interest rate may rise.
- • Avoid convenience checks at all cost - the fees are extremely high.