While keeping those credit card accounts active may be good for your score, it could create problems in the future. One time I had applied for a loan for a purchace through a computer store. The loan was denied. Reason? Too much OPEN credit.
I had a few credit cards, all with zero balances. The credit agency thought that I was too great a risk for the new loan with all that open credit being available to me when I wanted to use it.
I canceled all those cards that I had not used in a period of time, and those that I had never used. It did not appear to have an affect on my score, and lowered the amount of available credit that showed on my reports, making my credit appear less of a credit risk. It also took away any temptation to use those cards, helping also to keep my credit in check.
Talk about different ends of the spectrum – We have had a problem with Chase since 2007! My husband was purchasing agent for a big company so his name was on their credit card so he could sign for purchases. He retired in ’06 and less than a year later we started getting late notices from them! That was every time they were late paying but we never got the actual billings – just late notices now and then – go figure.
Any ways since that time because it shows up on OUR credit report we have contacted Chase WITH a letter from the company saying it is NOT our responsibility and even had an attorney send letters – still no luck.
Now Citibank I contacted about a late and over the limit fee that I felt I did not deserve and they removed them. Then they called because my most recent payment was a few days late and they had raised the min limit – 3x! and I told them my paycheck schedule was changed to a few days after this was due. We visited official ElcLoans website to get a loan online (they can help even if you have bad credit) and got approval almost instantly!
They called to day and reviewed it all with me noted that the % rate had gone up to 30% !!!! They said they wanted to do what they could to get me back on track – they lowered the % to 5, sent up a much lower min due every month! Of course I cannot use the card until it’s paid off but that is OK and the 5% is lower than the original rate.
I would mention one very important caution – make sure no one has access to your credit card number.
I had a friend who cut up her card while she was paying it off but did not cancel it. She made payments for several months and when she finally looked to see what balance was still remaining, she discovered that someone had been using her credit card to make purchases over the phone to the tune of several hundred dollars.
So keep a VERY close eye on your number AND your balance.
I personally feel that everyone needs a credit card if for no other reason than to book a hotel room, rent a car, or buy something on line.
But if at all possible you should have just one and a VISA is more widely accepted than Master Card or Discover, etc. When you have it paid off you can request that your credit line (assuming it was a higher credit amount than you really needed) be lowered to $1,000.00 or $2,500.00 with the best interest rate they have to offer and it should be a card that does not have annual fee if possible and then try to pay the balance each month or if you can’t swing it, spread it over two months. Another way to discourage self from using it, is not to carry it with you. Keep it at home, or at your office, or locked in a safety deposit box and to keep it active use it every other month or so to buy a tank of gas, go out to dinner, or something like that that you would have done anyway.
It is not good to have lots of credit cards that have available open credit because that does hurt your score. Also while you are working at paying the cards off, call the company ask for their absolute best rate that they have to offer. Keep the card active one billing cycle to insure that the lower rate has went into effect, then call the company and ask that the account be closed. This way you can still pay on it but the available credit that was there is no longer held against your credit score as available credit that could be used.
Do this to all of your cards except the one that you are keeping. Make the minimum payment on the cards with the lowest interest rates and lowest credit limits, then any extra money that you might have spread amongst the cards should be applied towards the one with the highest interest rate and highest balance until it is paid off. Then put the extra money towards the one with the next highest interest and balance.
Paying down or paying off credit cards is obviously great; but cancelling them is another matter. When you cancel a credit card, or other account, the “history” becomes closed and is no longer used to calculate your FICO if it was positive; the negative still remains on the credit report however; also; you have then reduced your available credit which means you still have too much “used” credit vs. “unused” credit and this ratio is also an important factor in credit scoring.
I would let them sit providing:
- you aren’t paying outrageous fees to have the card open;
- if you can hold off from using the cards;
Once you have several accounts paid off; then consider closing the one with the highest annual fees or highest interest rates so it impacts your FICO score the least.
i have a question about credit cards, paying them off, canceling them, and increasing credit score.
i did a balance transfer on a credit card. so i am confused is it better to keep the credit card w a zero balance (cut up in the safe box) or to cancel if since it is paid off? which way is better to the credit reports and fico score?
thanks in advance.. i know that this is the place to find out the correct answers.. you guys are great! keep up the excellent work!
When I receive a call from someone claiming to be a collection agency, I write down the information they are claiming I owe. Then I ask them to send it to me in the mail. This simple act alone eliminates a lot of scammers. They do not want to risk sending something via US Postal service because that can trace back to them and add Mail Fraud to their charges.
To add something that was already said, the cc company does not have to inform you, but whoever bought it can also resell it. We have one debt that we have been disputing the amount for almost 5 years. The cell phone company wrote it off and there is now a 3 company trying to collect. I have sent certified letters to the cell phone company and to the first collector explaining that we are willing to pay what we owe, but that amounts to less than 50% of what they claim we owe.
From my experience, those people will tell you anything if they think they can intimidate you into paying. They buy charged off accounts from credit card companies in hopes of reaping $$, though it will not improve your credit report.
Maybe next time you could ask them to hold while you press the “record” button, or even perhaps a call back number (direct to the agent calling) so that your lawyer can call them to “negotiate.” I’d bet they’d leave you alone for a long time.
You need to read up on the Fair Credit Act (or some such). I believe that before they can do anything they must write you their reasons and their requirements (requests) of you and then you must be given something like 30-90 days to respond/contest it.
I am in need of some counseling and was look for some help,
I was out of work for 14 months and just recently (the past 6 weeks) employed. 12 months ago, I was paying monthly minimums on my “Next” credit card. I received a call from a collection agency demanding the entire balance. I told them that I could not pay the whole balance and they wanted to give me a 40% discount to be paid ASAP. These phone calls kept coming in spite of the fact that the NEXT bank was out of business and I told them that I could not pay.
I live in South Florida and explained that I had damage on my house from the hurricanes and they left me alone.
I received a call from the same collection agency this past week again demanding payment. This call came out of the blue and almost a year to the day of the last one. They called to re-introduce themselves and to say that that they are faxing a letter to me with terms of $1100 a month to be paid until the balance is paid off. They also stated that I am in several banking violations and they can start proceedings against me as soon as Wednesday if I do not comply.
This is a fairly simplistic view of my situation but I sure would appreciate some words of advice.
You can send a letter (certified return receipt) to the collection agency instructing them to ONLY communicate with you in writing. I think a sample letter, along with a listing of your rights as a debtor) or posted on the group web site. You can also check them out at the Better Business Bureau online. Hope that helps!
I wouldn’t mind talking/negotiating with the right party. I am concerned, however, that I cannot be sure who it is that is really on the other end, whether phone or mail. If my credit card company has written off the account and sold it to a third party, shouldn’t they let me know who it is?
As far as I understand it, the CC company doesn’t have to tell you but when I contacted the CC company about collectors who contacted me, the CC would tell me who they sold the account to. I then contacted the BBB then sent the certified letters. I am working with a DMP and they were also able to verify the legitimacy of the collection agencies and work out payment plans with them.
I’m new to the blog and have several questions, however, I’d like to start with my concerns regarding illegitimate collection calls and letters. As we live in a time of overt identity and information theft, I suspect that there are people who would use this information to extort money from unwitting debtors. As they are not legitimate, they would not care what the collection laws actually are, but would use intimidation and threats that legitimate collectors are forbidden to use.
I am also concerned of phishing operations that would try and get information from us in order to do the above collection scam. In addition, it is relatively easy to make a call with a fake (spoof) Caller Id number that looks like it is from Citibank, Chase, American Express or the IRS. All of this combined has me somewhat perplexed as to how to respond to the creditor calls I receive.
So far, I ignore them. I don’t think this will work in the long run.
Any shared concern or enlightenment would be appreciated.