8 Solid Tips When Applying for Credit Cards

Many people who have had serious financial problems misused or overused their credit cards. The following tips will help you when you apply for credit cards or an increased credit limit:

1. Be consistent with the name you use. Use your middle initial always or never. Always use your generation (Jr., Sr., II, III, etc.).

2. Take advantage of pre-approved credit for department store, gasoline, and bank cards. If your credit is shot, you may not have the luxury of shopping around.

3. Be honest, but appear sympathetic. Lenders are especially apt to ignore past credit problems that were out of your control - such as a job layoff or illness.

4. Bolster your credit application. Don’t lie, but don’t denigrate yourself, either. For example, if you’re an administrative assistant, don’t put “clerk/typist” for your job title. Also, if you are married and your spouse has excellent credit, apply jointly or at least indicate on the credit application that you are married.

5. Apply for credit when you are most likely to get it. For example, apply when you are working, when you’ve lived at the same address for at least a year, and when you don’t have an unusually high number of inquiries on your credit report.

6. Apply for credit from creditors with whom you’ve done business. For example, if you had a Sears charge card from a store in New Jersey and you moved to California, apply for a Sears card from a store near your new home.

7. Don’t get swept up by credit card gimmicks. Before applying for a credit card that gives you rebates, credit for future purchases, or other perks, make sure you will benefit by the offer. Some are good deals, especially cards that give you cash back. But, in general, a card with no annual fee and/or a low interest rate usually beats the cards with “deals” or any “rewards” you get by using your card.

8. Scrutinize any pre-approval solicitations for non-bank cards. A “gold” or “platinum” card with a high credit limit may be nothing more than a card that lets you purchase items through catalogs provided by the company itself. No other merchant accepts these cards,
and the company won’t report your charges and payments to the credit bureaus. Also, the items in the catalogs are usually high priced and of low quality.

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