Take a look at your wallet. If you’re like most Americans, you have a credit card or two (or three) to your name—shiny pieces of plastic that can have a tremendous impact on your financial well-being.
In fact, about three out of four U.S. adults have at least one credit card, according to a 2016 Gallup report. Still, Americans, overall, do a fairly poor job of managing their credit usage: Case in point, the average U.S. household has $15,310 in credit card debt, according to a 2015 NerdWallet survey.
There’s no magic number for how many credit cards a person should have, says Bill Hardekopf, CEO at LowCards.com. Some financial pros say one card is enough, whereas others advocate for using multiple credit cards.
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If you’re hunting for a house and a mortgage, you’ve probably heard that your credit score will affect your buying power big-time, because lenders use your credit score to determine whether to give you a loan, and at what rate.
Odds are you also know that your credit score will suffer badly if you make credit card payments late, or miss them entirely. So as long as you’re current on those payments you should be fine, right?
Not exactly. Thing is, credit scores are tallied using a whole slew of factors, and they aren’t always as straightforward as whether you’ve paid your bills. Just so you’re clued in to these surprising credit score saboteurs, check out this list to make sure you aren’t destroying your home-buying odds without even knowing it.
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A zero percent introductory interest rate sounds great. So does a juicy rewards program. And who couldn’t use a sweet $100 sign-up bonus? We’ve all seen credit card commercials touting such offers, but most close with those dreaded words: “terms and conditions apply.”
Digesting the high volume of information contained in a credit card offer is not only time-consuming for many people but headache-inducing. While it’s up to you as the consumer to make sense of the fine print, you can avoid most of the grunt work by asking issuers these right questions. Click here to read on.
Teaching teenagers how to save and spend responsibly is one thing. But teaching them how to use a credit card? That presents a host of new challenges, with the potential for slipups that could have damaging long-term effects.
To apply for a credit card, anyone younger than 21 must either have a cosigner or verifiable income that proves they have the means to repay the credit.With stricter requirements in place today for, teenagers interested in using credit must rely on their parents. Before handing them a credit card, though, parents can gauge their child’s financial responsibility by seeing how well they manage a checking account.
Many banks offer checking accounts for applicants as young as 13, and they come with monitoring tools for parents. If the checking account is used responsibly, parents can start discussions with their teenager about credit cards.
Read this article to learn more about how parents can measure their child’s responsibility before handing them a credit card.
Some 37 percent of business owners use credit to cover some of their costs, according to the National Small Business Association. But the optimal card for your operation depends on how you’ll use it. For a story for Money magazine’s March issue, I talked to credit card experts to identify strategies for both types of credit card users: Those who’ll carry a balance and those who won’t. Click here and scroll to the second page to read the piece.