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Consumer Reports Offers Holiday Credit Tips

[Nov 16, 2007.]


With the holiday shopping season just around the corner, the consumer protection publication known as Consumer Reports is offering some tips for getting the most out of your credit cards during the Christmas rush.

The advice can be important, since many consumers end up with credit bills they simply can't pay once January rolls around.

The magazine notes that hidden fees and high interest rates could cost you hundreds of dollars if you're not careful.

The average family has amassed credit card debt of $9,000 - a significant amount, by any calculation. More than 40% of all holiday shoppers are already charging their way to Christmas. According to the nation's retailers, the average shopper will spend nearly $1,000 before the shopping season is out. Much of those purchases will be charged to credit cards.

Consumer Reports maintains that you can find the best deals on cards issued by credit unions. In addition, military credit cards offer the highest satisfaction rates. The magazine also notes that you can save money by using cards that have no interest or annual fees, such as American Express. With such cards, consumers are motivated to avoid amassing credit card debt by paying off their balances at the end of the month.

Citibank, Capitol One, and Bank of America cards posted lower satisfaction ratings. Consumer Reports recommends that consumers make certain that they read the fine print before applying for credit cards. That way, they'll know what to expect before their first bill arrives.

Some retailers offer consumers special incentives for signing up for their cards, such as discounts on initial purchases. However, in return, credit card holders may be faced with sky-high interest rates of 20% or more. Therefore, consumers may be best off sticking with their bank credit cards and foregoing store-issued charge cards.

For more information, consumers can consult Consumer Reports magazine. As an alternative, they can log onto http://www.ConsumerReports.org.   

Julie Ann Amos
November 16th 2007

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