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22 Stupid Things You're Doing with Your Credit Card

Avoid these plastic mistakes

Credit cards are often vilified for the enticing ease with which you can get them, and the high interest rates you sometimes pay. However, in some cases you really do bring your problems on yourself. While the best credit cards can offer helpful rewards and provide you with a valuable financial tool, their misuse can end in heartache and large amounts of debt. Even the smartest among us are guilty of some of these stupid credit card mistakes.

1. Applying for lots of credit cards at once

One recipe for disaster is applying for multiple cards at the same time.

Lots of applications for credit can be a red flag and damage your credit score. Why? Opening several credit accounts in a short amount of time represents a greater risk, especially for people who don't have a lengthy credit history. Hits to your credit score can limit your ability to get good rates on home and auto loans down the road. Instead of applying for every card you see, comparison shop for credit cards, and choose a card that is likely to suit your needs. When you get that card, use it responsibly before you consider applying for another credit card.

2. Co-signing someone else's credit card

The Credit CARD Act means that your children can't get credit cards without adequate income until they are 21 -- unless they have a co-signer. Or you might have a friend or relative who wants you to co-sign. This is usually a big mistake -- not only are you responsible for the balance they run up, but your credit score could also take a plunge if the balance is enough to increase your credit utilization percentage or if they’re late paying the credit card bill.

3. Too many department store cards

One of the subtlest items influencing your credit score is the department store credit card. These are not considered as desirable as major bank credit cards. Plus, the interest rates can be quite high, and you end up with few rewards. Even if you apply for one to get a promotional discount, it can be trouble. Paying off the account and then canceling the card can ding your credit score, since you are reducing your available credit. Carefully consider why you are getting the card, and think about how often you shop at the store. If you are a loyal customer, and the rewards are worth it, you might be OK. But avoid filling your wallet with department store and retailer cards.

4. Overlooking introductory terms

Many people apply for credit cards for the low introductory rate, and are unpleasantly surprised when it comes to an end. Read the fine print so that you know when the intro period will end, and be aware that the end of the period could mean a rather high interest rate on balances you have accrued during the intro period. If you transfer a balance for the intro rate, try to create a plan to pay off the balance before the introductory period ends. Also, realize that a late payment or going over the limit can mean an immediate end to the introductory interest rate.

5. Maxing out your credit card

Using the entire available balance on your credit card can result in a number of costly problems. Interest charges can put you over your limit, resulting in fees and a newer, much higher interest rate. Additionally, if you do not have any room on your credit card it can mean a lower credit score, since you are using up more of your available credit.

6. Not reading notices from your card issuer

It may look like junk mail, but it could actually be a notice from your credit card issuer. This could be an increase in interest rate, a change to your due date, or a change to fees for balance transfers or cash advances. If you don't read these notices, you might be surprised down the road—and unprepared for the consequences. Make sure you know what is going on with your credit card.

7. Not keeping track of credit-card spending

Because it isn't coming out of your checking account, you might not feel as though it's necessary to keep track of credit card spending. However, if you are not keeping track, you might spend more than you think. Make a budget and stick with it so that you are never spending more on your credit card than you can pay off each month. Use a ledger or personal finance software to help you keep track of your purchases made with credit cards.

8. Making only the minimum payment

One of the biggest credit card mistakes you can make is paying only the minimum. The minimum payment is designed to seem affordable to you, while providing the credit card issuer with a longest possible amount of time for you to be making payments. If you only make the minimum payment, it will take you years to pay off your credit, and you could pay three or four times what you originally borrowed.

9. Ignoring your credit card statement

Many people do not really look at their credit card statements. This can be a mistake, though, because it could mean that you miss fraudulent charges. Take the effort to balance your statement, and compare it to your own records of transactions. If you find something that you didn't authorize, you will be able to address the problem immediately when you are top of what is happening on your credit card statement.

Another good reason to scrutinize your statement—incremental fees for services like credit monitoring and payment protection plans can creep up on you. It’s possible you opted in to a monthly charge when you activated a new card or accepted a rewards offer over the phone. Check your statement for small charges that often get lost among all your other transactions, then call to cancel services you don't think you'll ever use.

10. Paying late

Surely everyone forgets a due date once in a while, but paying late is not only costly in the short term (late fees can be as high as $35 and you could be hit with a high penalty APR), but it can also be very costly in the long term. Take more than 30 days past the due date to pay, and your card issuer will likely report your account to one or more of the major credit bureaus. Since your payment history makes up 35 percent of your FICO credit score, a mark like that will make your credit score take a significant hit, which translates to less-than-desirable terms for loans such as mortgages, car loans and credit cards.

Avoid this scenario by taking advantage of all the technology that surrounds you. Set your smartphone with a recurring alarm, make an event on your computer calendar or consider setting up an automatic payment. Technology is fun, but it's not necessary: a paper statement, a highlighter and a fridge magnet work nicely, too.

To Read the Rest of These Great Tips by msn Click Here.

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