By John Ostapkovich
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Generosity this time of year can have a price, especially if you’re running up your credit cards to buy gifts.
Credit cards are a good way to buy online, says Gerri Detweiler of credit.com, because they have better consumer protections than debit cards, but if you lose track of your credit limit you can hurt your credit score.
She says, be especially careful with store credit because it usually comes with a lower limit which is therefore easier to exceed, which will ping your credit rating.
And after you spend, pay. “You got a 14 percent interest rate and you’re carrying a balance on your credit card. You’re earning, what, maybe if you’re lucky a half-percent on your savings at your bank, so paying off that credit card gives you a really good return on your money and it gives you return on your credit, as well.”
Detweiler says it might even be a good idea to take out a personal loan to consolidate credit card debt. The rate might be lower and such a loan is counted differently than credit cards by credit reporting agencies.