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Credit Card Debt - Watch Your Credit Report and Your Bill

Jan 29, 2008
The credit card industry is so competitive that, whatever card you have, the chances are that somewhere out there is one that would be cheaper or better for you and you can change as often as you want! Literally billions of dollars are being used up on expenses that are only created because of the existence of the credit card industry.

A study by The UK Post Office found that a quarter of credit card holders said they had started the New Year more dependent on real credit than ever before with 41 per cent saying that they would be relying on their credit cards to pay for groceries and other daily expenses.

There are a lot of good reasons to be scared of credit cards, and not to have too many.

We live in an 'I-want-it-now' consumer culture, and we're willing to pay more than we can afford to fund our lifestyles. Credit cards are called credit cards to avoid saying what they really are: debt! You will do much better in all things connected to credit cards if you always remember this simple mantra: credit cards are debt cards.

If you had bad credit, you couldn't get a credit card at all. Once you've got a credit card, you'll find that you can do more with it than just pay for things with the card. Whatever you do, though, don't spend a whole day applying for every credit card you can find, just to see if anyone will take you.

Lot's of people who are regular credit card users realize that debt consolidation can bring in several benefits. A loan can be taken for the sole purpose of debt consolidation and often it is at lower rate than what you might be paying to the credit card issuers. You can save money by clearing your credit card bills that might have been attracting very high interest rates. Credit cards are there to put you in debt and keep you in debt. Less than half of all the UK's credit card users pay off their bills every month and millions are now believed to be using plastic money to pay for everyday necessities, including super market, groceries etc.

If you're a good customer, you'd be surprised how easy it is to get a better rate.

Far more people get buried in debt because they lose their job, or get sick they take out credit cards to pay for basic expenses, and fall into the interest trap. For higher interest rates, it only gets worse: there are cards out there where only making the minimum payments will actually cause you to owe more each month, not less! Companies giving out small loans are far more likely to rely completely on this rating than to bother checking your income, and a worse rating will mean that you are offered a higher interest rate.

Your limit is just that: a limit, not a minimum! Whatever you do, don't get a card and immediately spend your whole limit. The average family carries a balance of between 5,000 and 8,000 pounds on all their credit cards, depending on which figures you believe.

Most people don't work this out, and feel that the payments must simply be their fault for spending too much money to begin with. To avoid being in a credit card debt try to transfer as much money as you can from the high-interest cards down the list to the lower-interest ones.

Phoning companies to ask to negotiate your debts isn't a good idea it's too easy to get flustered and say the wrong thing. When you have enough money to pay off your debt, there's absolutely no reason to keep it. Debt is for people who don't have the money, and need to borrow it. Debt costs money, and savings make money you want as much of your finances as possible to be savings, not debts. If your savings account and credit card are with the same bank, then you're effectively paying for the privilege of borrowing your own money from them. Why would you do that?

If you're in a really bad situation, and you just can't even make your minimum payments this month, don't worry. As long as there's only one late payment, it doesn't matter too much, especially once a year or so has gone by. Pay attention to what kind of fees you'll be charged for a late payment, or if you take a cash advance, or if you accidentally exceed your limit on the card.

Don't let stigmas put you off; this is about your health. People with lots of debts don't want to talk about it, even with their family, for fear of upsetting people or looking like a failure. It is very important, though, that you do talk about your problems, as keeping it all inside yourself will make you much, much more stressed.

Your rating is important when you get car loans and mortgages too. It is also worth considering that the credit reports of anyone you live with may be linked to your report, and could reflect badly on you your wife or husband's credit rating is tied to yours quite closely.

Good cards can have a grace period of up to two months bad ones might not have one at all. Check that the card you're looking at has a grace period on purchases.

The most dangerous thing about debt consolidation loans is that the ones with lower payments generally last a very long time you could be paying it off for twenty years, or even longer. If you've got a really unmanageable amount of credit card debt, you might be considering a consolidation loan. If you do take a debt consolidation loan, you need to read the small print as if your life depended on it (it does), and then be very, very careful.

In some countries, you might not have a legal leg to stand on your card issuer can do what they like to you. When it comes to Credit Card Issuers, getting it in writing also means that you can hold them to what they say later on.

Most creditors would rather let you pay back a tiny fraction of what you owe than have to try to get money out of a bankrupt. They'll be able to lend you the money at a much better rate than a credit card would, simply because they know why you're taking the loan and can set regular monthly payments for you to repay it.

You need to sit down, work out a budget, cut unnecessary expenses and try to free up as much money as you can to pay back debts. When you're paying back debts, a little strategy can make a difference of hundreds or even thousands of pounds.

If the advice you get is to sign up for another loan from one company in particular, don't believe it the chances are that the person you're talking to is just a salesman in disguise. If you are identified as sub-prime, you'll start getting offers for loans secured on your property they know that if you can't pay, they'll get their money anyway.

Credit unions are like banks, only more local.

You probably don't think about it, but using a credit card basically makes your money worth less than it would be usually. That's why it feels so hard to pay a credit card back if you borrow a dollar from a credit card at 15% interest, sit on it for five years, and then give it back, guess what?

Essentially, every company has a slightly different way of working out how much interest you should pay each month. You might also note that consumers with more debt have less to spend and when money isn't flowing, it hurts the economy.

You might think that one card issuer won't know what you're doing with a competitor's card, but you'd be wrong. Don't worry if you don't understand all the maths involved here with credit card interest rates; it's been deliberately designed by mathematicians and marketers to be as confusing as possible, to stop you working out what a bad deal you're getting. After all, if you haven't read this, would you really ever turn down a month off paying your bills?

If you're in a situation where you're relying on advances, you should start using your card for smaller things where you wouldn't usually bother, just to avoid taking the advances and paying more interest. Transferring your entire balance to another card will make them sit up, take notice, and start making you much better offers than you ever got before.

In all things in life, remember that no-one gives you anything for nothing least of all credit card companies.
About the Author
Christos Margetis is available for interviews and public speaking. The tips in this article were extracted from Chris's award- winning website. ClickGoFind offers best information and reviews for Debt Consolidation Loan and financial resources information.
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