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Debt Consolidation Facts

1. If you spend more than 50% of your credit limit every month, this indicates to the Credit Bureau that you do NOT have enough cash on hand to meet your monthly expenses. This will identify you as a high credit risk and will actually reduce your credit score by 60 - 70 points overnight (Fair Isaac).

2. If you miss 1 or 2 payments on your credit card debt, the issuing company will skyrocket your interest rate to a whopping 27% - 30%!

3. Out of a random sample of 3 million American consumers (included in Experian's National Score Index), 51% of them have at least 2 credit cards and 14% of them have 10 or more credit cards.

What Is Debt Consolidation?

With debt consolidation, you will take out a loan to cover all your other debts. Some credit card customers do this to simplify their lives. Instead of paying eight different bills for eight different cards and deciding “which one to pay this month,” borrowers can pay off all their creditors in full immediately and then just concentrate on making one lower payment to repay their debt consolidation loan instead.

You can run into problems, however, if you keep using your credit cards after you take out the loan.

Video: Frontline – Secret History of the Credit Card

How Do Credit Card Companies Make Money?

In 2007, credit card companies made $18.1 billion in late fees alone! A quarter of college students said they’ve paid at least one late fee in the past year. Nearly 60% of late fee payers actually had enough money in the bank but paid out of sheer negligence, found a 2007 study conducted by New York University, York University and the University of Alberta. Over all, transaction fees, late charges and over-limit penalties accounted for 33% of creditor profit. The other 67% was racked up in interest charges.

Video: The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet

How You Can Minimize Your Creditors Profits

There are many secrets credit card companies don’t want you to know so they can keep making money off you!

credit card company secretsTo avoid paying late fees, you should diligently check your statement each month and stay organized! Mark due dates on your calendar and give yourself a week or two to account for mail routing (if you’re mailing in checks.) You might want to also consider a direct deposit setup if you’re chronically missing your deadlines. Another great trick is to call the credit card company and request that your due date be moved to a more convenient time – like after payday!

You should carefully scrutinize your bill each month, keeping all your receipts to verify the information. Sometimes a store will accidentally charge you for something twice or a restaurant will add an extra tip onto your credit card. Also look out for things like credit monitoring or late fee protection that you may be automatically signed up for but did not order. If you find suspicious charges on your card, you can notify your creditor within 60 days and they will look into the matter for you.

Sometimes your lender may not credit you properly for a payment you’ve recently made or returned merchandise. It’s all too easy to assume that these transactions will be automatically taken care of. However, your vigilance can save you a lot of money in the end.  

Avoiding interest is as easy as paying your bill on-time and in full every month. Also, avoid the temptation to take out cash advances, transfer balances, buy the monthly protection plan or surpass your credit limit – all of which result in added fees.