Credit Card Tips
On your existing credit card accounts:
- Keep a list of your credit card numbers, expiration dates and the phone number of each card issuer in a secure place.
- Open credit card bills promptly and compare them with your receipts to check for unauthorized charges and billing errors.
- Report promptly and in writing to the card issuer any questionable charges. Written inquiries should not be included with your payment. Check the billing statement for the correct address to send any written inquiries. The inquiry must be in writing to guarantee your rights.
- If any of your credit cards are missing or stolen, report the loss as soon as possible to your card issuers. Some companies have 24-hour service and toll free numbers are printed on their statements for this purpose. For your own protection, follow up your phone call with a letter to each issuer. The letter should contain your card number, the date the card was missing, and the date you called in the loss.
- If you report the loss before a credit card is used, the issuer cannot hold you responsible for any subsequent unauthorized charges. If a thief uses your card before you report it missing, the most you will owe for unauthorized charges on each card is $50.
When using your credit card:
- Watch your card after giving it to a clerk. Take your card back promptly after the clerk is finished with it and make sure that it`s yours.
- Void or destroy any incorrect receipts.
- Never sign a blank receipt. Draw a line through any blank spaces above the total when you sign receipts.
- Never give out your credit card number over the phone unless you have initiated the call.
- Never put your card number on a post card or on the outside of an envelope.
- Leave infrequently used cards in a secure place.
- Consider closing any inactive accounts with the issuer(s).
If you decide to open a new account:
- Credit card issuers offer a wide variety of terms (annual percentage rate, methods of calculating the balance subject to the finance charge, minimum monthly payments, and actual membership fees). When selecting a card, compare the terms offered by several card issuers to find the card that best suits your needs.
- Consider transferring balances on higher interest rate cards and accounts to a card with a lower rate.
- Sign new cards as soon as they arrive. Cut up all unwanted cards.
10 Ways to Raise your Credit Score
- Check your credit report regularly!
- Make all of your payments on time. If you are forced to miss a payment, pay it off in the flowing month. Accounts more than 60 days past due will be indicated on your credit report.
- Don’t apply for multiple credit cards over a short period of time or your cards that you are not likely to get.
- If you need help, contact a reliable nonprofit agency such as the ISU Financial Counseling Clinic or Consumer Credit Counseling Services.
- If you fall behind on payments because of illness, unemployment of family issues, you can write a short explanation to the credit reporting agencies. You should also call your creditor and work out a payment schedule that you can meet.
- If your credit is severely damaged or you have a short credit history, consider opening new accounts with lower credit limits and paying them off on time.
- Correct any errors that might appear on your report. The credit bureau who is providing your report can show you how to do this.
- Keep your total account balances as low as possible.
- Don’t open new credit cards that you don’t need just to increase your available credit. This could actually lower your score.
- Learn what your current credit score is and what appears on your credit report.