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by Christy Bieber | Published on Dec. 1, 2021
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You don't have to cut up your cards to use them more responsibly.
Overusing credit cards can lead to a lot of financial trouble if you're not able to pay off your credit card bill in full and on time. If you're worried you may end up getting in over your head in credit card debt, you may be tempted to close your existing credit card accounts.
Unfortunately, if you close your accounts, your credit score could take a hit. Removing an account from your credit record could damage your score by shortening the average age of your credit record. It could also affect your credit utilization ratio, which is the ratio of the credit you've used versus the total amount available. Over time, you could also lose the positive payment record from your credit record.
Since a lower credit utilization ratio, a long account history, and a solid record of on-time payments are all essential for earning a good credit score, you don't want to close credit card accounts unless you absolutely have to. The good news is, there are a few clever ways to reduce credit card spending without closing the card altogether. Here are three options.
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For many people, it's easy to overspend online because it takes just a few clicks to place an order. Removing your cards that are stored on online accounts could make it much harder to mindlessly make purchases on the computer without thinking about the consequences.
If you have to go get your card and manually enter the number each time you're checking out with an online purchase, this will provide you with time to stop and think about whether you actually want to follow through with buying the items. This alone could be enough to significantly curb your spending so you end up using your cards less.
If manually entering your card information isn't enough to keep you from overspending, freezing your cards in a block of ice could be a good solution. If you freeze the cards, you'd have to wait for them to defrost in order to be able to use them. This, like removing the cards from online accounts, creates an added barrier to spending and gives you time to think about whether the purchase is a smart choice for you.
Finally, keeping a journal of what you buy and how much you spend could also result in using your credit cards less.
Tracking your spending allows you to be more conscious about each purchase you make since you know you'll have to write it down. Like the other two steps on this list, forcing yourself to take more time and make a more purposeful choice to spend can be enough to reduce how often you use your cards. You'll also be able to go back over your list and identify patterns in where and when you're spending too much.
Hopefully, each of these three steps can allow you to use your cards wisely for things you really need so you can earn rewards -- and cut down on the type of problematic spending that could end up getting you into financial trouble over the long run.
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