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All about Credit Card Shuffle

Keep in mind that applying for multiple cards in a short period of time can have a devastating effect on your scores. Potential creditors look at a flurry of applications and interpret it as a potential financial hardship, meaning it will become increasingly difficult to obtain credit as your rejections pile up. If you want to protect your score but are in need of credit, consider applying at your local bank branch where you have an existing relationship. In many cases, they are more willing to extend credit to individuals they know as opposed to people off the street who may have run into a bit of trouble.

However, when trying to lower the overall cost of your debt, there are several steps you can take depending on your financial situation. First, many people have success simply by calling the credit card company and requesting an interest rate drop. In many cases, a creditor would rather keep you as a customer rather than lose you to a balance transfer, so use this knowledge as leverage during your conversation with them.

If you have a second card with a lower interest rate, consider switching your current debt to that card so that you can save money as well as consolidate all your monthly payments into one bill. Many companies charge a fee that falls well short of the eventual financial savings for a balance transfer.

You’ll want to take some time to document any unsecured debt you have, and if possible, move this debt either to a new card or loan with a cheaper interest rate or to the lowest existing option available to you. The latter is especially attractive if you want to protect your credit score and avoid hard inquiries.

Whatever you decide to do, you should pay off your most expensive debt first. That is, whatever has the highest balance and highest interest rate should receive top priority in your monthly budget. Obviously, you should make all necessary minimum monthly payments to avoid further debt and negative credit marks from occurring.

As you begin to repay your expensive debt on the cheapest card, consider moving more debt to the cheaper interest rate if there was not room in previous months, as even doing so later than planned can lead to savings long term.