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Paying off credit cards: questions.........

Posted by castlequeen (My Page) on
Tue, Oct 31, 06 at 13:56

OK, here's my situation: I recently got married, and I moved into my husband's apartment. I own a small house that I lived in prior to my marriage, and we are selling that (almost to the closing date now). I will walk away with about $14000.00 after the close. I have $25000.00 in credit card debt (it just makes my stomach turn to even admit that). I have a total of nine cards. I am going to use the money to pay down on the credit cards, but I need some feedback on the best way to do this.

My plan is to start at the card with the highest interest and work my way down the list until the money runs out (which will pay off 6 of the cards, leaving me the three with the highest totals). That makes sense, right? To keep the debt with the lowest interest and get rid of the high interest?

My husband and I plan to purchase a new home after we get this business over with. I pulled my credit reports, and I have a FICA score of 665. I'm just wondering how paying these cards off will affect my score. Does anyone have any input on this? I just don't want to think that I'm doing the right thing by paying down my debt, (which I believe I am), and end up doing it in a way that messes with my credit score. Also, does anyone know how long after you pay off a credit card that it takes for it to be reported to the credit agencies?

Any advice would be most welcome.

Thanks,
Carrie


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Paying off credit cards: questions.........

I don't know the answer to your last questions, but your plan sounds like a good start. Then, once those high interest cards are paid off, cancel them and cut them up.

If you can borrow to pay off the remaining cards at a lower rate than the cards charge, it would be a good idea to do so. Cancel and cut up cards as you go, so that you don't ever get back in the same mess.

One all-purpose card is all most people need. More cards just tempt you to get in deeper debt.


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RE: Paying off credit cards: questions.........

I would also suggest you take about 5 thousand of the money and park it in a safe money market accout. Think of it as your emergency money and only use it if you really really need to. This way you can avoid adding to your credit card debt if something unexpected comes up.

If you do use some of it, add it back as soon as you can.


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RE: Paying off credit cards: questions.........

Your credit score will go up if you pay off cards. Just don't cancel them. (Hide them or cut them up though.)

I would try to get the card with the lowest interest rate to give you a higher limit and put the debt from the rest of the cards just on that one card, then pay it down. They often give you a 0% on transfers rate - see if they will give you that - or get a new card that will do that to the amount you need transferred.


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RE: Paying off credit cards: questions.........

If you want to buy a house in the next 3 to 6 months you need a plan that will raise your credit score
First thing I would do is call all the high interest cards and tell them "you have been offered a balance transfer at a lower rate" whether of not you did is not important. You need to ask for the "Account retention Team" because most customer service folks can't do this, especially if your call ends up overseas.
This can be done, I spent 3 hours last Monday doing this for a friend. We would call, he then would give them permission to talk to me. Then I got to have fun . We lowered all but one of his cards interest rates. We even got his Sears M/C down 6 points.
Once you have done this you then need to use the money to make sure that each account is paid down to 50% of the credit limit for example:
Visa - credit limit $8000 balance $7500 they get $3500 new balance $4000 = 50 %
A part of your credit score is affected by how much of your available credit you have spent. Mortgage companies like seeing it 50% or under.
I would then take the remain money and depending on the balances left pay off as many of the small balances that you can. You can then take all the monthly payments that you are no longer making and apply them to the remaing balances. This is important because believe me you will find stuff to do with the money. "oh look I no longer have to send Visa $150 a month I can spend that on clothes" it happens :)

I would NOT recommend trying to get a "0" apr to transfer the balances. If you were not going to be buying a house it would be different but you should never apply for new credit 3 to 6 months before applying for a Mortgage.

I agree with the others that say DO NOT close the accounts. Put them away or cut them up.
The mortgage company will look to see the last usage. So if it an account that hasn't been used in awhile they will see this.

It can take 30 to 45 days for it to show on your credit. Credit card companies send "tapes" to the 3 Credit reporting agencies and it depends on how often then send them .
You didn't mention how your husbands credit is. This could also affect your new Mortgage rate
I hope this helps, I used this plan for a friend and we raised his credit score from 625 to just over 700.
If you need more specific details feel free to send me a email.
lol my DH calls me a "credit geek" because I love this stuff
Karla


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RE: Paying off credit cards: questions.........

I agree absolutely do not apply for new credit cards now no matter what they offer you

However you may get your current card companies to transfer balances at 0 or 1.9. Make sure you aske what the transfer fee is, its a few percentage points or 50-100 whichever is lower. Ask. Also, since 3% of 10k is 300, it may make sense to transfer it to one card and only pay 50-100 but I see Karlas point about the 50% rule. Although I am not sure if the take your entire available credit or each card separately. Whatever you do do not use these cards for purchases because you will be paying interest the minute you leave the store. If possible try to pay any new balances in full or use cash

I am told any credit dispute is best done in late July becaus ethey only have 30 days to respond and no one works in August


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RE: Paying off credit cards: questions.........

They look at each card.

"I am told any credit dispute is best done in late July becaus ethey only have 30 days to respond and no one works in August"

this is one of the tricks the "companies" that promise to "clean up your credit" use. But what they don't tell you is that once they have verified the debt it goes back on your credit. This was changed back around 1996, because of these companies.
These companies are one of my biggest "pet peeves"(settlement companies are another)
They convince folks to give them a whole bunch of money to remove the "bad debt" but reality is paying and time is the only thing that will remove the bad debt.
Karla


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RE: Paying off credit cards: questions.........

Anyone who has managed to accumulate $25K in unpayable credit card debt, should not have 9 active cards. It is too much of a temptation.

Apart from selling the house, and using the money to pay down the cards, I don't hear of any lifestyle changes planned by the OP. Selling an extra house is like getting a windfall sum. It doesn't require changing anything about your life.

It is only through MAJOR changes in money handling that the debt will permanently disappear. The OP doesn't need open credit tempting her into old spending patterns.


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RE: Paying off credit cards: questions.........

I'd use all the cash to pay debt, then buckle down and pay off the balance in as short of time as possible. Can you pay off the debt in six months, cut back on all expenses, pay off the cards, don't use them. You will then probably have good credit scores and be able to buy a new house with no stress.


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RE: Paying off credit cards: questions.........

9 active cards may be a temptation, but the fact is that the credit companies look at how much of your available credit you've used up.

So, say you have 10 cards that have a limit of $1000 each--total $10,000. You owe $800/card--total $8000. You pay off one card, so your total owed is now $7200. That's 72% of your credit limit. Now, if you cancel the card you just paid off, your total credit limit is $9000, and the $7200 is 80% of that. The percentage of unused credit has gone down. This makes you look like a worse credit risk than if you had left that card account open--even though you're improving your handling of money by paying off cards.

Don't cancel any cards unless you're really a serious shopping addict and will spend the day buying on QVC using account numbers off your old statements out of the file cabinet. Instead, freeze them in a block of ice, put them under the mattress, even cut them up--just keep the accounts open. At least until you've gotten several cards paid off. I actually like Karla's system a lot.

As an aside, i'm always surprised at how many cards my credit report shows i have. There are a couple of store cards that I haven't seen in years, but they're still on there. To say nothing of the fact that AMEX for some reason has me down as having had something like 5 cards, when I've only ever had 1 at a time. Go figure. They must have counted each time the acct number changed or something. So 9 cards isn't really too bizarre.

To make it even more confusing, I've gotten 'adverse action' notices a couple of times (that's where they send a form letter saying that something in my credit made me get less than the absolute best deal). In the 'reasons' section, it said both that I had too many credit accounts and too few. Huh? WTF?

Be sure before you start house-shopping to pull at least one copy of your credit report (DH's too), and pay the extra money for your credit score. Make sure you've gotten any errors handled.


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RE: Paying off credit cards: questions.........

Sorry to hijack the thread but Why is it bad for your credit rating to cancel credit cards? Does it matter what your score is to begin with? We use very few credit cards and pay in full monthly. Last time I checked our score was very high but DH has idiotically been taken with several of those offers of discounts if you open a card. I then close all of these stupid accounts and I do believe I have finally gotten him to stop this nonsense. No wonder people get into credit card trouble with all the pressure and incentives to open so many accounts.


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RE: Paying off credit cards: questions.........

Gibby -
IMO the credit industry is as fickle as a teenage girl trying to decide what outfit she is going to wear.
Years ago the "norm" was to close any account you didn't use. Some banks would actually calculate what the monthly payment you would pay if you decided to use the available credit you had and use that to determine how much money to lend.
Now the trend is lets see how folks "manage" their available credit. What % have they used, how long have they had the accounts(this is a biggie) and are they playing the balance transfer game(the debt just moves around and is never really paid off)
If you are going to close accounts close only the ones that have been opened recently. If you are tempted to open an account just to save the 10% on a really large purchase ie: $200 on a $2000 item that you were planning on paying cash for once you have received the discount pay the bill immediately. Sometimes you can go right over to the customer service dept and pay it right then. Then CLOSE the account. There is a really good chance it will never even show up on your credit report.
Also what allot of people don't realize "what cards do they have"
There are a couple cards that are known in the industry to "issue" cards to folk that have "credit challenges".
This could be a red flag.
When I was working for the "bank" and we would pull a credit report and saw "abc" or "xyz" credit cards the first thing someone would say is" uh oh I think we are going to see some issues here" ie: late pays,charge offs, bankruptcies and so on. 90% of the time we were right.
I don't understand what you meant with "Does it matter what your score is to begin with?" So i can't really address it with out speculation.
Hope this explanation helps
Karla


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RE: Paying off credit cards: questions.........

Gibby, I'm not an expert on finance but even I can tell you that credit score matters. When you apply for a mortgage or auto loan, one of the things lenders check is your credit score. The higher your credit score, the better coz that's one of the criteria they use as to what interest rate you'll get.


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RE: Paying off credit cards: questions.........

Myfask & Rich - what I meant when I asked if credit score matters is - does it always negatively impact your credit rating when you close charge accounts? Or if your credit rating is really high to begin with does closing accounts not affect your rating?

Personally I have NO interest in opening any charge cards no matter what they try to entice me with but DH is another story. However I think I have reined him in with horror stories about how these charge accounts (even if closed) are wreaking havoc on his credit rating.


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RE: Paying off credit cards: questions.........

gibby
If you have a high credit score 740+ closing the smaller newer ones shouldn't impact your credit
I can also tell you from personal experience that having open accounts with high credit limits and "0" balances $12k optima,$11k Home depot,$10k visa none used for at least 3 or more years hasn't affected my credit scores which as of yesterday was 780,798 & 808
(the only reason I am not closing them is I have had them for years and that does help)
If your Dh gets the "urge" to go for the 10% any time soon, have him read my post on "just because you pay your bills" he can see what having to many "new" small store accounts with small balances did to a friends credit.

If you have had the cards for a long time and don't use them just put them away somewhere. I keep it in the back of my mind that should I have a huge emergency they are there.

karla


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RE: Paying off credit cards: questions.........

If I were you I would put off buying a new home for as long as possible to get your debt under control/paid off and save up money for a down payment. How long do you have tax wise before you *must* buy a new home? Is it 1 or 2 years?

9K in credit card debt is a lot less than 25k in debt, but it is still a lot of debt. And, with the expenses that come with home ownership it could easily be back up to 25k in no time. Based on your current spending habits, I think you would be best served by going into your next home as debt free as you can. It won't be easy, but it is doable.

So, I would suggest biting the bullet and eating Ramon noodels for a while. Cut back wherever you can. Pay off your debt as fast as you can. Once it is paid off, start saving for a down payment. Then, when you are ready, buy a home that is less than what you could actually qualify for. Good luck!


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RE: Paying off credit cards: questions.........

I just reread this and need to correct myself. 25K - 14K = 11K. Not sure where I got 9k from!


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