Watch Your Credit Card Debt
Older Americans have more credit card debt than their younger counterparts.
According to AARP sponsored research in 2012 older Americans paid down less of their credit card debt than younger consumers. As finances became difficult, boomers, seniors
and retirees dipped into their retirement funds and charged more of their day to day living expenses on their credit cards.
The study revealed that the low-and middle-income 50-plus population had an average credit card balance of $8,278, compared with the younger generation’s balance of $6,258.
It also showed that older Americans were paying off credit card debt by reducing balances owed at a much slower rate than the under 50 age group.
As credit card debt piled up, about half of older Americans were called by debt collectors, the study says. Some of them have tried to renegotiate what they owe, and a growing number are seeking help from credit-counseling services. In 2011, 33% of Americans who went to a credit counselor were 55 and older, which was 7% higher than in 2009, according to the NFCC.
Many older Americans use their credit cards to pay for medical expenses. Prescription drugs, dental and physician visits lead this list followed by car and home repairs. In a number of cases day to day living expenses are charged to credit cards.
If your credit card rate has been raised
...and if you have good credit (740 or above), you should consider switching to a card that offers a lower rate. Click here
to check low interest credit cards
Best low interest credit cards
These low interest credit cards are best used if you have a habit of making large purchases and plan to pay them off over a period of time. Examples are large appliances, home furnishings, entertainment centers...even expensive emergencies, like home or auto repairs.
Best rewards credit cards
If you pay your bill in full, and like receiving coupons or discounts, a rewards credit card is best. What you spend is converted into points, and when enough are accumulated, certain benefits become available. The better of these cards offer bonus points--often in the thousands--when the application is approved.
Best balance transfer cards
Balance transfer credit cards allow you to consolidate debt that is spread across several credit cards onto one card. The best credit cards in this category feature 0% APR for an intro period from 6 to 12 months. If credit card debt is becoming a burden, a balance transfer card is best.
Secured credit cards for those who do not have a credit history
If you do not have a credit card, consider getting a secured credit card.
Secured credit cards are great for establishing your credit history. Unlike prepaid cards, secured credit cards give you a credit line, and your payment activity will be reported to the major consumer reporting agencies. Getting a secured card is easy! Funds you deposit at your bank are used as collateral for the credit card. You may use this card like any credit card. You can build your credit history by making on time monthly payments to all of your creditors and by maintaining your balances under the credit limits set by the issuer of the card.
Credit Counseling Scams
Many companies advertise telling you they will solve your debt problems, reduce your payments and even cancel part of what you owe. Most of these credit services are for profit companies and take a good part of your payments for themselves. You can end up far worse off than before you contacted them.
A rule of thumb that will help is to do business with non-for-profit entities like Cambridge Credit www.cambridge-credit.org/ 1-800-235-1407 This is a nationally certified credit and housing counselor.
As a general rule, if the URL ends in .org as opposed to .com you will be dealing with a legitimate non-profit organization. A few others include:
Consolidated Credit Counselors www.consolidatedcredit.org/ National Foundation for Credit Counseling www.nfcc.org/ CredAbility www.credability.org/en/homepage.aspx Green Path debt solutions www.greenpath.com/