Consumer News

Consumer Reports Debunks Credit Card Myths

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(Photo Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

(Photo Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -If you feel like you’re being inundated with credit card offers, you’re not imagining things.

Credit card companies mailed 1.4 billion offers in just in the first three months of 2011. That is nearly double the offers sent during the same period in 2010.

Before you are tempted to sign up, here is some important advice from Consumer Reports.

As you pull them out of your mailbox, credit card offers can seem so enticing. Some offer zero percent introductory interest rates, attractive cash-back options or no annual fees.

It may seem like the ideal time to get a new credit card.

However, Consumer Reports said you should be aware that your credit score can be hurt temporarily when you apply for new cards.

“Each time you apply for a card, your credit score can take a hit, and you might not want to risk that if you’re applying for a mortgage or other significant loan in the near future,” Chris Fichera from Consumer Reports said.

However, if you already have a lot of cards, there is no need to worry.

Contrary to popular belief, having several cards may actually help your credit score if you use them wisely.

“The more credit you have available, the better it is for your credit score. But, you still have to keep your spending well under your card limits and keep making your payments on time,” Fichera said.

Another common misconception is that you should hold on to your oldest credit card no matter what.

“How long you’ve had credit does count for 15 percent of your credit score. But, even after you ditch a card, it can still count toward your score for as long as 10 years,” Fichera said.

If your overall credit history is healthy, it may be a good time to get rid of your old cards if you do not like their terms.

However, check carefully for any fees, like on balance transfers, and make sure you know what the annual percentage rate will be once the introductory rate expires.

If you do apply for a new card and it affects your credit score, the damage will only last for six months.

Of course, that is dependent on maintaining healthy spending habits.

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