Your credit card is more than just a convenient way to make purchases and manage your expenses. The more you know about credit card information, the better you can manage your financial life. Sarah J. Halpin, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional and Vice President-Investments of The Danforth Group of Wells Fargo Advisors is here to share some credit card questions and need to knows from a recent online poll conducted by creditcard.com.
How many credit cards do you carry? Only 3% of those polled said zero. 44% carry one or two. 37% carry three to five and 16% carry more than five.
A wallet stuffed with credit cards can make financial institutions nervous that your spending could get out of hand. But that doesn't mean you have to restrict yourself to just one card. You may want to apply for another card if you are using up a big chunk of your available credit to lower your debt to credit ratio. For example, if you have two cards, each with a $1,000 limit, you have $2,000 in total available credit. That means if you charge $600 between the two cards, your credit utilization ratio is 30%. If you spend that same amount but on one credit card with a $1,000 limit, then you will have used 60% of credit utilization ratio. In the end, whether you have no credit cards or a handful, the key to a great credit score comes down to the basics -- paying your bills on time and keeping debt levels low.
What is the average credit card interest rate? As of 7/29/13 14.95% is the national average.
If you have a balance of $5,000 with an APR of 14%, and you only pay the minimum of $100, it will take 22 years to pay off the debt in full, according to a Federal Reserve credit card calculator. <
http://www.federalreserve.gov/creditcardcalculator/Default.aspx> You'll also hand over $6,110 in interest. Boost your monthly payment to $150, however, and you'll be debt-free in four years and pay $1,369 in interest. Thanks to the CARD Act, you don't have to do the math yourself. Your monthly statement now includes information on how long it will take to pay off your balance by only making minimum payments, as well how much you would need to pay to erase your debt in three years. Beware of consequences of late payments which include late fees, jacked-up interest rates and a potentially lower credit score.
What's the average credit card balance? According to creditcard.com, this year it's $1,688 down from $1,952 two years ago.
The big three credit bureaus are adding new payment data to the reports of some 160 million card-carrying adults. In the past, your credit file displayed your monthly balance, your credit limit and whether you failed to make at least the minimum payment. Credit bureaus are now adding a two-year review of the actual amounts you paid each month. These figures reveal whether you are paying off balances in full each month or paying less and incurring interest charges.
What is the length of the typical 0% APR offer? The length of the typical 0% APR offer is 10 months, 2 ½ months longer than in 2010.
Moving debt from a high-interest-rate card to one with a low introductory rate can make financial sense--but only if you read the fine print of the balance-transfer rules. Start by determining exactly how long the introductory offer lasts. Then ask yourself whether you have the discipline and means to pay off the debt before the APR goes up. Next, check whether an introductory offer entails a transfer fee. Be aware that constantly closing old accounts and opening new ones to take advantage of promotional offers, could potentially impact your credit score.
What's the percentage of cardholders who say they frequently carry a balance? 28% of cardholders say they frequently carry a balance and 37% say they never do.
You must use your credit cards to build a credit history, but that doesn't mean you must carry an unpaid balance. In fact, your best strategy is to use your credit cards and pay off the bill in full each month so you keep your overall debt-to-credit limit low.
A credit card is just a financial tool. Choose a credit card that matches your needs. Read the terms and conditions, and understand the consequences of not using the credit card properly. Understand the fees, particularly if there is an annual fee just for owning the card. Get your credit card facts straight and this can help get you on the road to building a more sound financial future.