Too many cards? Too little wallet?


woman choose one credit card, concept of  credit  debt

Took advantage of all of those discounts at the register, didn’t you? You know what we’re talking about. It’s those offers that usually sound like this…“We can save you 20% today on this purchase with our store card. Would you like to apply?” To hook you completely, the nice sales associate tells you that you’ll then receive monthly coupon enticements, discounts, and special offers that are only available to their card carrying shoppers. Before you knew it, you ended up with a wallet stuffed with plastic, receipts, coupons, and very little cash. And, your monthly budget was blown out of the water. What’s a shopper to do now?

We’re not saying these offers are good or bad. The holiday season is a particularly vulnerable time for shoppers looking to save a buck or two. We’re simply suggesting that you may want to take a long, hard look at the big picture and determine if your budget can realistically handle numerous offers of credit. Think about your personal finances in the moment, what may be coming due, and your financial goals. Keep in mind that interest rates on store cards can be extremely high – for example one big name national department store card has a flat 24.50% interest rate. Wow – 24.50% APR! And, it doesn’t matter what your credit score is – you’re going to get that 24.50% annual percentage rate.

Things to think about when you’re faced with that at the point-of-sale offer of credit:

  • Weight the pros and cons of the instant savings or bonus points you’d receive with the long term effect. If you’re going to make a big purchase on a store card and carry a balance, whatever it is you just purchased is going to cost a lot more in the long run.
  • Watch out for time sensitive discounts. For example, use your card today to get 10% off on all of your purchases. Often times people tend to spend more because they only hear discount, discount, discount and forget about that balance that’s adding up purchase after purchase after purchase.
  • Keep in mind that when you apply for a store card, your credit report gets hit with a hard inquiry. That means you could drop a few points off of your overall credit score. That drop could have an effect a few months down the road if you are anticipating applying for a mortgage or an auto loan.
  • Read the fine print pertaining to any and all credit card offers. For example, zero percent financing for a year sounds great up front, but the fine print will typically tell you that you’ll end up paying all of the interest at some point if you don’t pay that balance in full within the promotional period.
  • If you’re unsure at all, call the card carrier or department store offices or do some online research to help you avoid an unpleasant financial surprise.

If you find yourself carrying too much plastic in your wallet, consider ways to get those high interest balances under control and making your budgeting process less complicated. Consolidating does simplify your payments. You may want to consider transferring your balances to a lower rate card product such as our Members 1st VISA® Platinum Rewards Credit Card.

Tips for transferring balances:

  • Look for a card that doesn’t charge balance transfer fees or annual fees.
  • Be sure you understand how long the promotional rate lasts.
  • Know what your rate could be when the promotional period ends, how that is determined, and how it affects your remaining transferred balance.
  • Understand the entire rate structure – what is the balance transfer rate, what is the purchase rate, and what is the cash advance rate.
  • Understand how your monthly payments are allocated.
  • Find out what fees are in place or what penalties you may face in the event you’re late with a payment during the promotional time frame.
  • Make your monthly payment using Members 1st Online – simply transfer your payment immediately from your account right to your VISA Credit Card.
  • If you have questions and would like to talk to one of our associates about transferring your balances, contact us at (800) 283-2328, ext. 6040.

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