Credit Card tips and tricks

Here is a list of tips that I find useful:

If you are at a point of paying your high-interest cards down to zero regularly, but you are still being assessed a monthly fee, or being assessed a non-usage fee, then all you have to do is send the credit card company a paper check for more than you actually owe. You can’t pay this on their websites because most credit card web interfaces will not allow you to overpay.

Overpaying by even a dollar, if you time it right, will put your balance at negative one dollars. This means you have overpaid them by a dollar. Now, you are avoiding the monthly fee if you leave it in the negative. The advantage is that even though you aren’t using the card you have the available credit. Available credit will decrease your percentage of credit used.

If you are going to carry a balance, put it on your low-interest cards. Carrying a very small balance is better than no balance, but don’t miss any payments. In a pinch, pay only the minimum until you aren’t strapped for funds. Paying as much as you can into your credit cards rather than have money sitting in a checking account is better for your credit score. If you have money to spare in a checking account and no bills to pay, put that money in an interest-bearing account. That, too, looks better to creditors…even though you really only earn pennies in savings interest. Why? More assets look better.

Using a credit card at swiping or chip machines is safer than using a debit card. If the machine is tampered with they are stealing the credit card company’s money, not your money. If you do see fraudulent charges report them right away.

A lot of credit card companies will waive late fees. Call them up but ASK NICELY.  Don’t make it obvious that you’re buttering up the customer service rep, either, and don’t flirt on the phone.

If you are traveling, don’t rely on only one credit card because that card may end up on a hold if the company thinks it’s not you charging up a bill in Hong Kong. Have a spare but do not carry all your cards, either. Leave some at home. Don’t carry your social security card and rip up those old Medicare cards that had your SSN on it. Have the 16-digit number of at least one credit card memorized. Memorize the expiration date and the three-digit code also.

NEVER use the word bankruptcy when speaking to a credit card company. NEVER. Do not even joke about it. Don’t say that word. Be very careful and don’t tell them the card is lost if you know it’s in your house or know you’ll find it very soon. If it’s really lost, that’s when you tell them. If you left it on the bus or left it in the gym or sitting on your desk at work, consider it stolen. If you walk regularly at night at the same time, walk a different route each time. Thieves like it when you are predictable.



Feedback and comments welcome!