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TheStreet Open House

Don't Let Your Credit Become A Greek Tragedy

Think about credit differently

Greek heroes often suffered from hamartia, or a tragic flaw. Spending money to save money is certainly a flaw of reason.

Instead of thinking about credit cards as an extension of your spending, think of them as a report card for how you manage credit. If you cannot control spending urges, leave the cards at home. If you have to drive all the way home to get your cards, you may reconsider how badly you need the purchase.

Your credit score can be improved by keeping your total credit utilization under 10 percent, making small purchases and paying them off monthly. It may feel like a Herculean feat to pass up that deal, but the hero's sacrifice is rarely easy.

Paying more in fees than you think

Ignorance seems to always come back to punish a tragic hero. He is completely oblivious to all of the money he's wasting in fees. He figures that they can't be that big of a deal if he doesn't ever notice them. He's being hit with interest fees, annual fees, and even an occasional late fee.

But imagine what he could be doing with that money if he wasn't paying fees! Paying down debt faster? Saving for retirement? Giving a charitable donation? Surely that would earn the good grace of the gods.

Stop paying fees

The prophet Tiresias might have been blind, but he'd likely sense the fees draining his bank account.

If your account is in good standing, try asking your issuer for a lower interest rate. Consider swapping to a card with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fee such as the Discover it Card. Be certain to budget to pay your monthly statement in its entirety and eliminate interest charges. Set up recurring payments to avoid forgetting a due date and paying a late fee.

Maintaining an excellent credit score is vital to helping you qualify for the best available lending rates, saving you extra cash for your retirement plans on the Aegean coast.

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