Credit card offers seem to come from all over the place. Should you shred them or beef up your spending power? Remember these tips the next time you’re considering getting a credit card:
Mix it up
Your credit score is calculated on five different metrics. One of those is your “credit mix,” and that accounts for about 10% of your overall score, depending on which credit bureau is calculating it. Having a balance of revolving credit (credit cards) and installment credit (mortgage, car payment and other fixed payment accounts) can help improve this portion of your credit. If you don’t have a balance between the two and need more revolving credit, getting a new credit card might help.
Mind your new inquiries
Again, this percentage can vary slightly between credit bureaus, but another 10% of your credit is based around “new credit.” If you apply for multiple credit accounts at once, it can be a red flag for a lender and possibly lower your credit score. If you’re thinking of making a purchase like a new car or house where your credit score will be checked, you might want to wait on applying for a new credit card.
Know your limits
It’s good to keep an eye on the limit of your credit accounts, but really, knowing your personal limits can be just as important. If having another credit card means you won’t be able to resist the temptation of racking up debt on a new card, applying for more might not be a good idea.
Watch for fees
Some credit cards have monthly fees, so review every application thoroughly to ensure you know what you’re getting into.
Many retail credit cards have rewards associated with them. Some are points-based systems that will send you store credits while others give you cash-back credits or travel points. Finding a card that provides the most lucrative awards can make using credit really work for you.
Always be on time
The largest portion of your credit score – 35 % – is based around payment history. No matter what kind of credit account you have, it's important that you make your payments on time.
With anything related to money and credit, the right answer depends on your habits and goals. If you exercise healthy habits and need to build more credit, getting another credit card might be a good idea. If keeping things simple and avoiding temptation are priorities for you, then consider forgoing a new card. Make a plan, make a decision and follow the right path for you.
By Scooter Hendon, GM Financial
GM Financial's Scooter Hendon might have a funny name, but he's serious about educating customers about financing their vehicles – and no, not the foot-powered kind on two wheels.