(A Message from the Better Business Bureau)
Chicago, IL – Keeping up on credit card debt is an important part of maintaining a good credit score. The Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and northern Illinois (BBB) advises consumers to make more than the minimum payment on their monthly credit card; while it may prevent consumers from defaulting on their account, it might also have some unintended effects to their credit score.
“It’s important for consumers to maintain a good credit score,” said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and northern Illinois. “Once your credit score is tarnished, it may make it difficult to finance a house or car, and plan for your future. Simple steps can ensure you keep your credit in check.”
Most consumers naturally assume they should only pay the minimum payment, partly because that’s the approach taken with other monthly bills. However, this payment strategy might not be as advisable with accounts that accrue interest – particularly credit cards, which often come with higher interest rates.
The actual act of making a minimum payment won’t harm consumers’ good credit score, because credit bureaus still consider it the “full” monthly payment in their history. However, cardholders with large credit balances often cannot effectively eliminate their debt with the smallest required payment, because their account will accrue interest each month. In fact, it is possible for a credit balance to increase even as its owner makes monthly payments.
The BBB offers strategies for consumers to avoid seeing their balance inflate due to high interest and low payments.
- Pay more each month – Consumers who pay even a small amount more toward their credit card payment each month may be able to prevent their balance from increasing significantly. Financially, this might not be reasonable every month, but it’s important to try to put more toward that debt when possible.
- Develop a payment plan – Cardholders who estimate how long it will take for them to pay off their balance and how much they need to put towards the payment each month may be able to develop a realistic plan of attack.
- Keep tabs on ones credit situation – It may also be helpful to check one’s credit reports and scores to see if any serious credit damage has already occurred. This can be the first step in a consumer’s approach to fixing his or her credit situation.
For more consumer tips, visit www.bbb.org