Don’t let bad credit choices leave you with a blue Christmas

Consumer alert: Survey finds almost 75 percent of all consumers will use credit cards for holiday shopping

If you plan to use a credit card for your holiday shopping, you are not alone. A recent survey by Family Credit Counseling Service revealed that almost three-quarters of all consumers use credit cards for holiday shopping.

“When it comes to holiday shopping, credit cards may be safer than carrying cash,” said Michael McAuliffe, president of Family Credit Counseling Service (FCCS). “It’s important to not let yourself get carried away, though. A little bit of sensibility goes a long way when you are shopping.”

Here are some simple tips when using your credit cards:

Choose your card carefully. If you are not going to pay your balance in full when the bill comes, use the credit card with the lowest interest rate. Department store credit cards historically carry higher interest rates.

Stick to your budget. Studies show that consumers spend more money if they use a credit card. If you only planned on spending $30 on a gift for Aunt Hilda, don’t buy her a $45 sweater!

Keep a tight hold on your credit cards. The hustle and bustle in the stores makes it easy to forget your credit cards at the check-out counter. Losing your cards can cause quite a headache if they are fraudulently used.

Track your spending. It’s easier to spend more when using a credit card because you aren’t watching the cash physically leave your wallet. Paperclip an index card to your credit card and write the dollar amount of each purchase. This will give you a better idea of how much you are actually spending.

Use wisdom when shopping online. The internet is a great way to avoid the crowds. When entering your credit card number, make sure the URL begins with https://, this will ensure the site is secure.

For additional holiday shopping tips, general money management tips, or a copy of FCCS’s holiday spending survey, contact consumer advocate at 800-994-3328.

About Family Credit Counseling Service—FCCS is an ISO-registered, non-profit agency providing solutions for those seeking financial assistance. FCCS is one of the largest consumer credit counseling agencies, is licensed in more than a dozen states, and has been servicing consumers throughout the country for more than 10 years. FCCS’ mission is to reduce the stress in consumers’ lives through education, budget counseling and debt management.

From the Dec. 13-19, 2006, issue

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!