Tips to keep your credit in good standing

July 24, 2009 8:53:40 AM PDT
Maybe it never occurred to you, but falling behind on your bill isn't the only way to be hurt by your credit card. What you buy with the plastic can also cost you. Some advice and tips on what credit card companies don't want to see on your statement.

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Putting your plastic back in your pocket won't just save you money, it could just save your credit. Every time you utter the words "charge it"-- your credit-card issuer could be assessing your spending behavior and drawing conclusions about your credit worthiness.

In the book "Credit Card Nation," you'll find a list of ten things you should not charge on your credit card. The idea is that certain purchases you make can make you look desperate, unstable, or like you're looking for an escape from financial worries. That part of the list includes adult toys, marriage counseling, cash advances, lottery tickets, traffic tickets, personal pampering, and alcohol.

Some other things to keep in mind: If you didn't use your credit card at a 99-cent store or at Wal-Mart in the past, don't start now.

Retreading your tires can look like a desperate move if you used to buy new tires. And income taxes: whenever you use your credit card to pay another bill, like your taxes, it raises a red flag.

And another thing you can't afford to "not" pay attention to the kind of credit card you're using.

"We are finding 95 per cent of people are just not on the right credit card," said BillShrink.com CEO Peter Pham.

BillShrink.com is one Web site that claims to have your back or at least your wallet. The Web site asks a few questions about your spending habits and tells you what you need to know.

"What are all the interest rates and fees, that add up over the course of three years. And if you do pay off your credit card every month, find the credit card that pays you the most amount of money," said Pham.

The bottom line is learn how to make "cents" out of plastic. You may even end up with a little more paper.

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