How to Best Manage Multiple Credit Card Accounts

Written by , June 19, 2012

How to Best Manage Multiple Credit Card AccountsSome people get themselves in trouble by charging too much on their credit cards. In many cases this happens because they might have a number of different cards. While there might not be a large balance on any one particular card, it’s sometimes easy for the aggregate indebtedness to get out of hand.

But there’s not necessarily anything wrong with having multiple credit cards, provided that you manage them appropriately. Proper management of multiple accounts involves not just staying well-informed on your account balances and repayment terms, but also making the right decisions and taking the right steps to keep your accounts healthy.

Here’s some credit card advice on how to more effectively manage multiple credit card accounts.

  • Get in a Regular Payment Routine. One common problem with having multiple credit cards is keeping track of when each bill is due. Write down all of these due dates and see if there is a way to pay all your credit card bills once a month, even if that means paying one or two of them early. For example, if you have three cards and your bills are due on the 20th, 25th and 28th of each month, then you might want to consider paying all of them on the 15th or 16th of each month so that you don’t forget to pay any of them. Some credit card companies allow you to adjust your payment cycle and set the date on which your payments are due, so if this option is available you can use it to align your credit card due dates more closely.
  • Use Online Bill Pay Services. If you can’t easily set a single date to pay all your credit card bills, or you don’t want to pay any of them before absolutely necessary, then use an online bill pay service to help you manage the process. These services, which are generally offered for by your bank or brokerage, usually allow you to schedule payments ahead of time, so that you can enter your payment as soon as you receive the bill, even if your account isn’t actually debited for a week or two.
  • Maximize Your Benefits. Because of the competition among credit card companies for customers, it’s likely that at least one of your cards offers some type of rewards or benefits program. All other things being equal, favor using the cards that provide you the best benefits. In addition, credit card companies will sometimes run promotions where the rewards for particular types of purchases (often things like groceries or gasoline) earn extra rewards. Consider coordinating your credit card use to take advantage of these promotions in order to maximize your benefits.
  • Minimize Your Fees and Expenses. If you carry a balance on more than one of your credit card accounts, then make sure your efforts to manage your accounts includes a plan to pay down the balance of the higher interest rate card before the others.
  • Use a Personal Finance Tool. Using a personal finance tool such as Quicken or Mint.com can help you stay on top of all of your credit card accounts so that you always have a good idea of your total outstanding balances. People sometimes get in trouble when they use multiple credit cards because a number of moderate balances on multiple cards can add up to a significant figure.
  • If you’re unable to effectively manage all of your credit card accounts, consider cutting back. As long as you have a high enough credit limit on one or two cards to cover any unexpected emergencies, you might save yourself trouble by closing some accounts.

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