10 signs you're a credit card abuser
By Angela Spires
Five years ago, I was asked at the register at Victoria's Secret if I would like to apply for a Secret Angel's card. And as if my dreams of becoming a Secret Angel (never mind that it was for Victoria and not Charlie) weren't enough, the card came with a coupon book with over a hundred dollars in savings and other offers. Naturally, I applied.
Every six months to a year, my limit increased because I paid my bills on time. Soon, I had a $1,000 credit limit--maxed out--to an underwear store. Who needs $1,000 in underwear? I needed to be stopped.
High debt-to-credit limit ratios, paying credit cards late, and having too many credit cards can all have negative impacts on your credit score. If you're not paying attention to your spending, or you think using your credit limit to its full potential is as good as sticking to your budget, you're probably a credit card abuser. And you're not alone.
I was finally able to get control of my financial debt, and I cut up the card. So, how will you know if you are a credit card abuser?
You might be a credit card abuser if…
10. Your creditors send you Christmas cards.
9. Your credit cards stack up higher than Lady Gaga's high heels.
8. Your ringtone is the latest Mastercard commercial.
7. You play Go Fish using your credit cards.
6. You have a credit card to match every outfit in your closet.
5. You have more credit cards than Charlie Sheen has had drug convictions.
4. The only pictures of your children in your wallet are on your personalized credit cards.
3. You own more plastic than Matel.
2. You've forgotten which president is on the dollar bill. In fact, when was the last time you saw a dollar bill?
1. And finally, you might be a credit card abuser if you're acquiring new cards faster than Angelina and Brad are adopting children.
Break the habit before you break the bank
Abusing your credit cards is a serious addiction that can lead to financial death. It can ruin your credit and cause you multiple financial problems. The first step is to talk to someone--a counselor or friend--and work toward stopping the habit. Then, take these next steps to help you get control of your debt:
- Put the cards out of reach: Leave your cards at home, in a box, anywhere you do not have easy access to them. Put post-it notes on each, reminding you that you are working to get out of debt. Try "For emergency use only," or "Use me and die."
- Grab some scissors: If you have cards that offer a low or zero percent balance transfer fee, transfer balances to the card with the lowest interest. Then, cut up the ones with zero balance. Canceling your cards can actually hurt your credit score. However, if the card has an annual or monthly fee, it's probably best to cancel.
- Pay on time: This is singularly important to improving your credit score. Pick the credit card with the highest interest rate, and pay double, or even triple--the most you can afford--the minimum payment, until it is paid off. Do the same thing with the credit card with the second highest interest rate, keeping up with minimum payments on any other cards you have.
Poor spending habits like this are hard to break, but it can be done. I know--I've done it. My financial future was important to me, so make yours important to you, and end the cycle of abuse.