7. Paying your full balance every month hurts your credit

Banks are in the business of making money; it's the product and byproduct of their business. They're not your buddy, and, although they're very much a part of your family, you're not a part of theirs. Have you ever seen a bank on the show "How Does It Work?" Does your account come with "Behind the Scenes" footage of what your bank does behind the scenes?

"Using a credit card is not a bad thing, but it is important to remember that credit cards are not 'free money,'" cautions Elle Kaplan, CEO of Lexion Capital Management. In fact, they are very expensive money." That being said, when you pay off your full balance every month, the banks don't make any money off you, and you've effectively stunted the growth of your credit rating.

The credit report algorithms are a pain. There's a minimal positive point impact going from $1000 available credit with a $0 balance to $999 available credit with a $1 balance, but it gets really gray as to where the balance is between the slight credit push and throwing money away on interest. In the long run, your credit report score will help you more than liquid assets.

8. The difference between credit and charge cards

There are exceptions to every rule, and in the credit card industry, most of those exceptions are attributed to the fact that you have a charge card, not a credit card. The most famous charge card is the American Express card, although Amex issues credit cards as well (branded Optima and Blue).

With charge cards, you're charged a fee for using them, and you're billed by an entirely separate set of rules and regulations. They also affect your credit report in different ways, as charge cards don't necessarily have a firm limit (despite what they tell you), so your available credit ratio is negatively offset. Pre-paid cards work similar to these (as do those oh-so-cleverly marketed Visa/MasterCard/Amex "Gift Cards").

9. Store credit cards are like Disney cash

Store credit cards (which is to say a credit card that is only good within the store) don't show up on your credit report the same way. When you open a normal credit card with a $1,000 credit limit and you spend $500, you have $500 available credit to use. This gets reflected in your credit score, and your credit rating is raised because you have a recorded nest egg of available credit.

When you sign up for a Best Buy credit card with that same $1,000 credit limit, it doesn't matter how much you spend; it'll always look like $1,000 with $0 available credit. If you run out of money, you can't pay rent with a big screen TV, so you may want to melt it into a pole to dance on.

"Experts differ about the ideal ratio, but all agree that keeping your debt below 30 percent of your available credit line is key to ensuring your credit score isn't negatively impacted," offers NFCU's Hopper.

10. Assorted credit report and debt collection tips

There are both state and federal laws that protect you from being bullied by financial institutions, but they're more guidelines than an actual code. Some states also protect you better than others; Massachusetts and Maryland, for example, have such great consumer phone protection laws, and it's hard to believe our boys in the NSA dropped the ball on constituent privacy.

Debt collectors are limited in the number of actual contacts they make, so you're actually better off answering the phone than not, as they can call as often as they want, and leave way more messages than actual contact. They're also limited at the time of day they can call you. If you receive a call between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m., it's not your bill collectors...and if it is, you can file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Financial institutions have a lot up their sleeves, but I've seen behind a lot of curtains. From debt collection to payoffs, the financial operations of every business are essentially the same. Whether you like it or not, Americans exist to make money (yay Capitalism!). If you want your piece of the pie, you need to understand how the system works.

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