The Other New Year: Your Credit Cards

BOSTON (CBS) – Managing money ranks in the top three when it comes to making resolutions.

According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau there were 1.1 billion credit cards in the U.S. in 2014.

How many cards do you have? Those folks with cards carry an average of four cards. Can you name what’s in your wallet? If the answer is no, you have too many cards. You probably don’t need more than two cards.

Yeah, I know, you get some great deals with some of your cards. But unless you are a really, really big spender it will take an eternity to reap any real rewards.

Pare down the number of cards you have. Pay them off, stop using them, take them out of your wallet and then consider canceling them. I did say “consider” canceling them. Your credit score uses a very complicated formula to come up with a simple number that creditors can use to judge your credit worthiness.

Part of that score is the percentage of credit you use each month to the amount of credit you have available. The key is not to be maxed out on your credit cards or late with your payments.

You want to keep the cards you have had the longest. Longevity is a plus on your credit score. Ask for an increase on your limit with these cards. Once this is done cancel a few of the cards. Check your credit score again. Then cancel the rest.

This may be a slow process if you need to keep your credit score intact.

If you have a lousy credit score, pare down to the two cards you have had the longest, cancel the rest and work on building up your score. A good score is between 690 and 719.  An excellent credit score is over 720. Scores range from 300 to 850. The higher your credit score the lower your interest rate on a loan or the cost of your insurance.

One more thing:  The three major reporting agencies are: Experian, Equifax and Transunion. To purchase your credit score you can go directly to their websites. But listeners have told me they have become confused and have actually purchased more than just their credit score.

I would recommend if you are looking to buy your credit scores that you use My Fico and purchase the FICO Standard which gives you credit scores from Equifax and Transunion plus your credit history.

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You can hear Dee Lee’s expert financial advice on WBZ NewsRadio 1030 each weekday at 1:55 p.m., 3:55 p.m., and 7:55 p.m.

Subscribe to Dee’s Money Matters newsletter here.

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