Saving Cents: Keeping credit cards in check


by By Sherry Williams / 11 News

Posted on August 15, 2009 at 4:17 PM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 9 at 3:12 PM

HOUSTON -- With money tight for many Houstonians, it can be hard to pay down credit cards the way you'd like to.

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So Saving Cents dug up some tips to help you save some cash and keep your debt in check.

First off, stop charging! Put your cards down, but don't close the accounts.

"Closing the account is sometimes worse than a bankruptcy," banker John Frels said.

And here's another tip: Don't buy credit card insurance.

Credit card companies sell the insurance, saying they'll make your payments for you if you ever get laid off or sick.

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But financial experts say the insurance costs about one percent of whatever you owe, which just isn't worth it.

You'd be much better off using that money to chip away at your balance.

"You're gonna have to deal with the paperwork. You're going to have to fight with them to make the payment and if they make the payment, I've heard horror stories where they don't make the payment, or if they do, they make it late," Frels said.

Another way to save some cash is to pay on time. Missed and late payments increase your interest rate and cost you money in the long run.

You should also call your credit card company and ask them to lower your interest rate. If they say no, hang up and call right back - you'll get someone different - and ask again.

Each person who answers has decision-making authority, so just keep at it until you get a "yes."