Busting 5 Common Credit Card Myths
70% of Americans have at least one credit card, and 34% carry three cards or more. As widespread as credit cards are, so are some persistent myths that surround them. Let’s separate fact from fiction when it comes to these credit card myths.
MYTH: Paying Even One Day Late Hurts Your Credit Score
While it’s true your payment history makes up the largest portion of your credit score at 35%, paying a day or two late won’t make a difference. In fact, creditors don’t report payments as late until they hit the 30-day mark, so there’s some wiggle room there. But that doesn’t mean you want to make a habit of missing your payment date. Although paying a few days late won’t harm your credit, it will generate a late fee from the card issuer. Get into the habit of paying credit card bills on time, every month by setting up auto-pay so you never make a late payment again.
MYTH: You Should Always Close Credit Cards You’re Not Using
If you’re trying to pay off debt, it might seem like a natural step to close a credit card when you reach a zero balance. But doing so can actually harm your credit by reducing the amount of total credit available. The best thing to do once a card is paid off is to leave it open and use it to make a small purchase every few months that you pay off right away to keep the card active.
MYTH: You Should Never Close a Credit Card
So that means you should never close a credit card, right? Well, that’s not true, either. Although we recommend keeping zero balance cards open, there are always exceptions to every rule. If you have a card with a high annual fee and other fees, you should close that card and replace it with a card with a lower or no annual fee.
MYTH: You’re Stuck with the Interest Rate You Start With
When you carry a balance on a credit card with a high interest rate, it can feel impossible to make a dent in the balance. What many consumers don’t realize is that interest rates aren’t set in stone. If you’ve been a good customer with a solid payment history, you may be able to get a lower interest rate.
Before you call the creditor, shop around to see what interest rates would be available to you if you made a balance transfer. This will give you leverage to use when requesting a lower rate. Here are more tips for how to negotiate credit card interest rates.
MYTH: You Should Carry a Balance to Build Credit
We’re not sure how one of the most persistent credit card myths got started, but it’s definitely not true. You won’t build credit faster or more efficiently if you carry a balance on your card from month-to-month. But you will pay more in interest. The best way to use credit cards to build credit is to make a few small purchases each month and pay off the balance in full. This allows the card to remain active and shows creditors they can trust you to use credit responsibly.