Home > 2012 > Managing Debt

Four Easy Credit Card Resolutions for 2012

Advertiser Disclosure Comments 2 Comments

I used to be highly skeptical of New Year’s resolutions – mainly because I used to create such spectacularly hard-to-reach goals that I never made it past the second week of January before breaking one of them. But once I started making resolutions that were more realistic and had easy, reachable goals, I had some success.

So here are four easy credit card resolutions that are within reach. Nothing too fancy or complicated. Just vow to follow these tips and you’re on your way to a debt-free 2012.

Resolution #1: Take Advantage of Balance Transfer Offers

If you’re in credit card debt and you have excellent credit, you’re in luck. Many cards are offering zero percent introductory APRs on balance transfers. Right now, the intro periods range from six months to 21 months.

And a few cards, namely the Slate from Chase and the Discover More Card – $0 Balance Transfer Fee!, have waived the fee (usually 3 to 5 percent) that accompanies balance transfers. Your goal is to pay off your balance (or at least make a major dent in it) before the interest-free period ends.

Resolution #2: If You Transfer a Balance to a Zero Percent Intro APR Credit Card, Don’t Make Any Purchases with the New Card

I don’t care if your new card has the best rewards in the world. Don’t use the card for purchases until you’ve paid off the debt you transferred. Even if the new card has a zero percent intro APR on purchases, don’t buy anything.

Remember, your goal is to pay off the credit card debt. Throw all your extra money at the debt. Don’t waste it on new stuff. Take advantage of this opportunity to free yourself from credit card debt. Trust me, it will feel great when you succeed!

Resolution #3: Check Your Credit Reports

You get three free credit reports every year. You want to stay on top of your credit life this year. That means looking at your reports from the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. You want to look at your reports to make sure there are no errors or fraudulent purchases.

If there are errors on your reports, you might be paying a higher interest rate on credit cards or loans than you otherwise would be. So be aware of what’s listed in these reports. I suggest getting one from each bureau every four months. That way, you get a glimpse of what’s happening throughout the year.

I also recommend getting your FICO score at myFICO.com so you know exactly where you stand. It’s around $19.95 to get your score. This is the score that most lenders will look at. Instead of buying your score several times throughout the year, though, you can use Credit.com’s free Credit Report Card. This tool allows you to see a snapshot of your credit reports as well as credit scores.

Resolution #4: Track Your Spending

Research shows that we tend to spend more with credit cards. There’s a disconnect between using your credit card and feeling the pain of cash leaving your wallet. The easiest way to stay out of debt if you’re using credit cards for purchases is to track your spending. There are some top-notch free money management tools online to help you do this.

I use Mint.com and I get email alerts when I’m approaching my limits on a specific card or in a category, such as dining (my personal Achilles’ heel). Even if you have cash flow issues due to hard times, you can still use a free money management tool like Mint to help you minimize the chances of sinking further into debt.

Image: creepyed, via Flickr.com

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

  • Jeff Crews

    Mint.com is a great approach. I like setting up accounts with certain limits for each month. Like you, eating out is my Achilles’ heel. Mint.com allows me to stay on track.

  • Pingback: 6 Easy Credit Sites()

  • http://www.alter-schreibtisch.de/artikel/7425_brombel_express_schreibtische.html Dorian Rehse

    This is excactly what I was serching for (post)! Dorian Rehse

Certain credit cards and other financial products mentioned in this and other articles on Credit.com News & Advice may also be offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com will be compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards or products. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Our Owners

Credit.com is owned by Progrexion Holdings Inc. which is the owner and administrator of a number of business related to credit and credit repair, including CreditRepair.com, and eFolks. In addition, Progrexion also provides services to Lexington Law Firm as a third party provider. Despite being owned by Progrexion, it is not the role of the Credit.com editorial team to advocate the use of the company’s other services. In articles, reporters may mention credit repair as an option, for example, but we’ll also be sure to note the various alternatives to that service. Furthermore, you may see ads for credit repair services on Credit.com, but the editorial team isn’t responsible for the creation or implementation of those ads, anymore than reporters for the New York Times or Washington Post are responsible for the ads on their sites.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team