8 Credit Checks for Maintaining and Maximizing Financial Health

Protect and maintain a strong credit record and maximize the benefits and rewards of your credit cards with this eight-step credit checklist.

1. Check credit score
Check in on your credit score a few times a year and not just before you make a big purchase like a home or car.

"Check your credit scores at least annually -- preferably quarterly -- regardless of whether nor not you are seeking credit or any loans," advises Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, The Money Coach. "Monitoring your credit score over time will help give you a credit education and clues into how your specific financial behavior is affecting your credit health."

2. Check credit reports
Review credit reports at least once per year.

"At the very least you should claim your free credit reports every 12 months via, but most people do not," says John Ulzheimer, credit expert at "There are also a variety of sites where you can monitor your credit reports for free."

3. Check credit card terms
Check the terms on your credit cards once or twice a year and ask for a lower interest rate if you've been a good customer.

"If you've been a great customer, it doesn't hurt to ask," says Beverly Harzog, credit card expert and author of "Confessions of a Credit Junkie: Everything You Need to Know to Avoid the Mistakes I Made." "But if you've had a rough year and you missed a few payments, you're not going to get it."

4. Check rewards balance on a credit card
Keep close tabs on credit card rewards and use them wisely.

"I check in on my rewards every month because I want to see how much is there and I want to think about how I want to use them," Harzog says.

Wondering how and when to use those rewards? Harzog suggests using credit cards rewards to offset the cost of a vacation. Ulzheimer recommends cashing in rewards around the holidays, when holiday promotions will make rewards points go further.

5. Check in with credit card issuer before a vacation
Alert card issuers of travel plans in advance. If you don't, your card could be frozen or denied.

"Some banks let you do this online. Others require you to make a phone call," says Khalfani-Cox.

For an overseas vacation, pack credit cards without foreign transaction fees.

"Foreign transaction fees on credit cards can really add up when you're traveling abroad, so if you're going out of the country, do yourself a favor and only use credit cards with none of these fees," Khalfani-Cox recommends.

6. Check your balance after filing taxes
If you have a credit card debt, apply your tax refund to a balance with a high interest rate.

"Using a tax refund to pay down credit card debt is the smartest move you can make with the refund, hands down," Ulzheimer says."The average interest rate on a credit card debt is around 15 percent, which is likely the most expensive debt you'll ever service."

7. Double-check payments when you get a new card
Review terms and payment information on new credit cards.

"Read all the disclosure statements. Read everything that comes with a new card. Double-check your terms to see if something has changed," Harzog advises. "If you change account data information, double-check that your automated payment is still intact. "

8. Check in with banks and credit card companies when you move
On or around moving day, take a moment to update your customer profile to minimize risk of lost statements and other correspondence.

"You can change address and contact information online with your bank or credit card issuer so timing the address change so it coincides exactly with your move is very easy," Ulzheimer says. "There's no reason your address can't be changed the same day you move."

This article 8 credit checks for maintaining and maximizing financial health originally appeared on

Speaking of credit, did you know that your credit card may soon be completely worthless?
The plastic in your wallet is about to go the way of the typewriter, the VCR, and the 8-track tape player. When it does, a handful of investors could stand to get very rich. You can join them -- but you must act now. An eye-opening new presentation reveals the full story on why your credit card is about to be worthless -- and highlights one little-known company sitting at the epicenter of an earth-shaking movement that could hand early investors the kind of profits we haven't seen since the dot-com days. Click here to watch this stunning video.

You may also enjoy these financial articles:

4 sneaky ways social media can wreck your finances

Identity theft: 8 steps to help save your financial life 

5 quick ways to improve your credit score 

Read/Post Comments (0) | Recommend This Article (1)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

Be the first one to comment on this article.

Sponsored Links

Leaked: Apple's Next Smart Device
(Warning, it may shock you)
The secret is out... experts are predicting 458 million of these types of devices will be sold per year. 1 hyper-growth company stands to rake in maximum profit - and it's NOT Apple. Show me Apple's new smart gizmo!

DocumentId: 2928318, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 9/3/2015 7:06:04 AM

Report This Comment

Use this area to report a comment that you believe is in violation of the community guidelines. Our team will review the entry and take any appropriate action.

Sending report...

Wise Piggy
WisePiggy offers free credit scores to consumers, advice on how to improve their scores, and product comparison to help them get the best offers to save them money.

Today's Market

updated 9 hours ago Sponsored by:
DOW 16,351.38 293.03 1.82%
S&P 500 1,948.86 35.01 1.83%
NASD 4,749.98 113.87 2.46%

Create My Watchlist

Go to My Watchlist

You don't seem to be following any stocks yet!

Better investing starts with a watchlist. Now you can create a personalized watchlist and get immediate access to the personalized information you need to make successful investing decisions.

Data delayed up to 5 minutes