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Credit Cards and Debt

Aug 17, 2007
Lately it seems you can't pick up the paper without reading another bit about how the UK is becoming a nation up to its elbows in credit card debt. The statistics as quoted do indeed look bleak: according to figures provided by the Economic and Social Research Council, UK personal debt climbed above the 1 trillion mark in July 2004 and has been increasing at the rate of 1 million every four minutes. Over 56bn of that debt is on credit cards. In fact, the average household debt in the UK is 7,463.

Horrifying numbers - and yet, averages can be deceiving. If your neighbor owes 20,000 on credit cards and you owe nothing, your average credit card debt is 10,000. Even more heartening is the fact that only about 7% of us are over indebted - carrying more debt than we can pay off. That means that 93% of us are not in all that bad shape at all.

The secret to staying in that 93% of people who are not over indebted is to use credit wisely. Here are some tips on how to manage your credit cards wisely, from choosing the best credit card to how to use a bad credit credit card to repair your credit and get you back on track to financial health.

1. Compare credit cards to be sure you're getting the best credit card deal for you.
When you compare credit cards and their features with your personal spending style, you can choose the best credit cards for your situation.

For instance, if your credit is healthy and you always pay your accounts off in full the moment you get them, them a cashback credit card could put money back in your pocket every time you use it. A cashback credit card that offers a discount on certain purchases can save you money on purchases made at your favorite stores. Other versions of a cashback credit card keep a running track of the amount that you've charged over the course of six months or a year, and send you a cheque for that amount periodically.

2. Remember that the best credit card in one situation may not be the best in another situation.
Take that cashback credit card we were just talking about. It's a great deal if you're buying everyday items or small purchases that you're going to pay off before the next accounts due date. If you decide that you want a new patio set, though, and you'll pay it off over the course of the next six months, the interest that you pay on the purchase will wipe out any benefit from the cashback feature. Instead, the best credit card for that purchase may be one that offers no 'rewards' program, but has an APR several points lower than your cashback credit card.

3. If you've already made those mistakes and want to recover your credit, a 'bad credit credit card' can help.
Some lenders and finance companies offer credit cards even to those with impossibly bad credit - popularly known as 'bad credit credit cards'. Most of these have high fees and higher interest - but they do offer the one thing that no other credit card offering may: they'll accept even those with the worst credit.

So how can another credit card help you get your credit back in shape? When you use your credit card and make regular, on time monthly payments, the credit card company will report your payments to the credit bureaus. It won't be an overnight miracle, but by building a current history of repaying your debts, you'll eventually reverse your adverse credit report.
About the Author
Jon Francis has been involved with finance for many years! With an in-depth knowledge of the credit card UK market help helps others get the best from a credit card.
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