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How to keep track of spending on multiple credit cards

Keep all of your plastic in order and your finances won't suffer.

By Credit.com 22 minutes ago
This post comes from Jason Steele at partner site Credit.com.

Credit.com on MSN MoneyThere are some good reasons that credit card users may want to have multiple accounts open at the same time.


Often, cardholders are trying to take advantage of the unique benefits of different cards, such as bonus rewards for certain categories of spending. Some earn tremendous amounts of points and miles through generous sign-up bonuses. Others choose to have multiple credit cards in order to expand their credit history and improve their credit scores.


Credit card and computer © Stockbyte/SuperStockRegardless of the reasons for having multiple credit cards, cardholders will need to some way to keep track of their spending.


3 popular ways to keep track of your spending

1. Make a list. Do you know how many credit cards you have? If you do, do you know what their current balances are and when their due dates are? To find out, you can start by making a simple table using a computer spreadsheet, or even a just a piece of paper. In addition to each card's balance and due date, include columns for the statement opening and closing dates, as well as your interest rates if you are carrying a balance on the card. Then, log into each account's website and update your list as necessary. Once you have a clear picture of all your accounts, you will have a better idea of what you are spending your money on.


2. Use an online tool. There are several different tools available to track your spending in an automated fashion. For example, Mint allows you to see all of your accounts on its website and analyze your spending habits. You Need A Budget offers software that allows you to plan and budget for large, infrequent expenses. It also has mobile apps. These programs offer a range of features and benefits that make it easier to manage your money.


3. Accounting software. Accounting tools are the industrial-strength way that businesses and households can manage all of their accounts, including credit card accounts. Quicken is one of the most popular tools in this field and it offers the ability to track spending and make payments.


Other tricks

1. Using different cards for different purchases. Because cardholders often use different credit cards to maximize the rewards offered by different ones, it only makes sense to use different cards for different types of purchases. For example, a credit card user might have one card for gasoline, another for restaurants, and a third for all other types of purchases. In addition, small-business owners and those who have a side business frequently use a business credit card to track those expenses.


2. Set up account alerts. Most card issuers now allow customers to set up automated messages via text or email that notify them when a bill is due or a spending threshold is reached. Taking advantage of these features is a great way to stay on top of your credit card spending, even when you have a tracking system in place.This way, cardholders don't have to remember to log onto their accounts online or any tools that they use (even though that's recommended by identity theft experts).


3. Change your due dates. Most banks allow cardholders to choose a payment date for their credit cards, and some customers choose to make all of their payments due on the same date. For example, you might want your payment dates to fall shortly after your paycheck is deposited, or during a different time of the month than a large bill such as rent or mortgage payments. If you miss a payment or make a late payment because you forgot about your due date, you won't just incur the wrath of interest charges -- it can do serious credit score damage. 


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