Smart SpendingSmart Spending

Best credit card advice for 2012

If you have excellent credit, ask for a lower rate on your credit card. If you don't, start by building a higher credit score.

By MSN Money Partner Dec 28, 2011 7:12PM

This post comes from Jeanine Skowronski at partner site MainStreet.


MainStreet on MSN MoneyAn increase in credit card solicitations, delinquencies and fruitful sign-on bonuses indicates 2012 may, in fact, be a big year for credit cards.


But whether or not a plastic revival will be good for consumers depends on how well they manage their accounts. To help ensure everyone stays in the black, MainStreet asked some of its favorite credit card experts to provide one piece of credit advice consumers can apply in the new year. Here's what they had to offer:


Ken Lin, CEO of Credit Karma -- "2012 should be the year for rebuilding credit. Consumers can take proactive steps by reviewing their credit report for errors, creating a plan to pay down any existing debt, and monitoring and tracking their credit scores to gauge their success." (Estimate your credit score for free.)


John Ulzheimer, CEO of -- "When choosing between retail store credit card debt and other general use credit card debt (like Visa or MasterCard), choose to pay off retail store card debt faster. The rate on those cards is 10 percentage points higher on average, so you'd be exhausting the most expensive debt the fastest."


Post continues below.

Tim Chen, CEO of Nerd Wallet -- "For those who are carrying a manageable balance, if you're paying more than 10% on your credit card, call a few local credit unions and see if they can do better. Chances are that they can beat your bank's rate, no matter where your credit stands."


Curtis Arnold, CEO of -- "The first half of 2012 should be a great time to shed debt incurred in 2011, including holiday debt. There will be some great 0% (no interest) balance transfer/teaser rate offers for up to 18 months that consumers can take advantage of."


Adrian Nazari, founder and CEO of Credit Sesame -- "So many people focus on coupon-clipping and penny-pinching, yet continue overpaying on their mortgages. So in 2012, instead of wasting hours of your valuable time wondering how to split your hard-earned dollars, resolve to look at the big picture -- the big debt picture -- and you may be surprised at the savings you're able to find." (Try this calculator: Should I refinance?)


Beverly Harzog, card expert with -- "Remember that you're the boss. If you have excellent credit and you have a credit card with a high interest rate, call the issuer and negotiate. This can be really effective if you have a few low-interest credit card offers in hand from a competitor. You're the one who decides which credit card issuer gets your business."


More on MainStreet and MSN Money:

Jan 8, 2012 11:07AM

This is the best advice? OMG you have got to be kidding me. People, its time to WAKE UP!


Step 1: Create a budget and get a visual (monhtly) on your spending.

Step 2: Cut up your credit cards

Step 3: Pay off your credit balances, then your car, then eventually your house.

Step 4: Become debt free and STOP borrowing money
Step 5: Realize that borrowing others money only makes you poor and that once you stop, your "credit rating" is total BS and now a NON-factor in your life, and you have more than enough money.

Jan 8, 2012 9:15AM
hows this for credit advise. DONT DO IT! seems like all this credit advice always comes from the people who will benefit the most from your debt. Im not falling for any of it.
Jan 8, 2012 8:28AM

Here's the best credit card advice.

1. Get a rewards card that suits your lifestyle.

2. Use if for EVERYTHING you NEED - not want

3. Use a Checkbook register to track your spending - write down every purchase and keep every receipt until you get the bill.  This way you know what you owe and know if you are over spending.

4. Pay the bill off at the end of the month

Benefit: The Credit Card companies will pay you, at a minimum 1%, to use their money to buy things you would buy anyways. (Food, gas, meds, etc...)

For things  you want, save up the cash, then go and charge it.  Then pay it off as soon as the bill arrives.

Jan 8, 2012 10:45AM
this must be written by a banker the best advice is CUT UP THOSE CREDIT CARDS the money you save will suprise you
Jan 8, 2012 5:55AM
Here's the best credit card advice ever!!!  Do not use them... ever, for anything!!! Just have one or two to use to make airline reservations, etc... but pay cash! If you have to use a credit card to purchase something like a handbag or movie tickets, etc. you cannot afford to make the purchase!!! DON'T DO IT!!!  If you do use a credit card, make sure you can pay off the balance immediately, otherwise DON'T BUY IT!!!   There you go, best credit card advice ever, and I am not the CEO or "credit expert" of any company advertising here!!!
Jan 8, 2012 10:20AM
How about writing an article that has some new, useful information?
Jan 8, 2012 6:03AM
3 yrs ago  could get a card  at 6.9 %.  the lowest i have seen in the last year has been 12.3% why would  any body in there right  mind  borrow or  use money at that   high  rate i buy  things that give you a year  to  pay it off with  no  interest  just  make  sure you  pay it  off  there is a huge  penalty  if you don't . if we don't  use there card  the rate will come  downn remember the feds  rate  is  0%  ???
Jan 8, 2012 8:08AM
My credit Union credit card is still at 6.8% but My commercial card is at 14% which is a major difference ,I always make sure they are currently paid in full, I would never pay cash for major purchases like tires, a TV or washing machine because I like the peace of mind for the extra guarantee, if it don't work the store has to make it right or You can call your credit card company and they will refund Your money and then argue with the store.
Jan 4, 2012 5:33PM
It seems to me that there is a correlation between the rise in the average credit card interest rates and the renewed interest of card issuers toward sub-prime borrowers.  Sub-prime credit cards should be expected to come with higher APRs, so the more such cards are issued, the higher the overall average.

And as if we needed convincing that sub-prime card issuance was hot,  the WSJ told us yesterday that even debt collectors were now eager to issue new credit cards to their debtors (see for more).  Talking about sub-prime!
Jan 8, 2012 11:13AM
I  called Barclay's several times and requested my interested rate be lowered. They refused. After I paid the card off and called to cancel the card, they then offered to reduce the interest rate and I did a balance transfer. A week later, I found out that they lowered my limit from 11,700 to 4,200 because I have high balances on my cards but have maintained an excellent payment history with all my cards.
Jan 8, 2012 4:00PM
I see bad advice in the article as well as comments.  First of all, be careful about pushing for a lower interest rate.  That often comes with a lower credit limit which will nick your credit score.  Also, counterintuitive as it seems, DON'T pay off the full balance each month.  Maintaining a SMALL balance and managing it well will get you a better credit score than paying off in full.  Avoid high balances, even if you're managing it well, because the credit companies don't like seeing people use more than 35% of available credit.  Go over that, down goes the credit score, even if you're making your payments.  Pay off all credit and never use it?  FALSE.  Unless you're rich and can afford to buy a car or cover an emergency in cash when you need to, it's important to maintain good credit.  You can't have good credit if you're not using credit.  And, finally, by all means cut up some of those credit cards, but DON'T close the account.  Again, that will harm your credit score.
Jan 8, 2012 3:14PM
I agree with balance123's advice and do most of the same things....the one thing I hadn't thought of was to keep a record of every credit card purchase, which could be useful.  I'm always surprised whenever credit cards are mentioned at the number of people who are so opposed to them.  I've had credit cards for probably 30 years now, and I've paid the full statement balance every single time....there have only been 2 or 3 times where I've even had to pay any interest, and that's when my payment arrived late (back in the days when "snail mail" was the only option, and I lived overseas.)  As long as you pay your full statement balance every month, you're the minimum....a "free" loan for a few weeks, and in most cases, you can get cash or some sort of rewards back.  An example: where I live now, I get 6% off in gas by using a particular credit my business requires a lot of driving, that really helps out, and costs me nothing.
Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.


Smart Spending brings you the best money-saving tips from MSN Money and the rest of the Web. Join the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.