Tis the season to buy gifts and many of us rely on our credit cards to do so. Not just at Christmas time, but throughout the entire year. It's a convenience many are dependent on. With the fees and interest banks charge for the convenience of credit cards, it's amazing what you really end up paying over the year(s) if you carry a balance.
I encourage you to read your credit card statements this month as your statement will disclose just how much you paid in interest and fees this year. You may be rethinking the value of your mileage plan (like I am) or what ever "benefit", like airline miles, the bank is extending in trade for this indebtedness. It may be real tempting to close the account after seeing how much the cost for the credit is. Closing your established credit accounts may actually hurt your scores!
If you're considering a mortgage over the next few years, you may want to consider working on paying off the account and only using it once a month for small purchases (like gas or groceries) and paying it off monthly in order to optimize your credit score. Established credit helps your credit scores and your closed account, depending on what else you have impacting your credit, may lower your score. Likewise, new credit may bring down your credit scores – even if it's for doing something that is financially wise, like transferring credit card debt to a lower interest credit card. If you don't use credit cards, you may discover that you need to have established credit (typically three to four different active credit lines that are at least 1 – 2 years old) in order to qualify for a mortgage. Credit is a real catch-22 when it comes to qualifying for a mortgage and your credit scores.
If you own a home and have not yet refinanced, it could be worth your consideration. The additional savings from with your monthly mortgage payment could go towards reducing debt, like credit cards.
I often work with my clients who are getting ready to buy a home to develop a strategy on paying off their debts, increasing credit scores and/or building savings, depending on what their financial goals are. If you are considering a mortgage to buy or refinance a home, do contact your local mortgage professional before taking action. I've often met with people who have done what would seem like "the right things" to improve their financial scenario, such tapping savings to pay off and closing all debts, only to learn they've wound up dropping their scores and reducing their savings.
I'm licensed to originate mortgages on homes located in Washington state and happy to help you with your home finance needs.