NEW YORK (MainStreet) — An increase in credit card solicitations, delinquencies and fruitful sign-on bonuses indicates 2012 may, in fact, be a big year for credit cards.
But whether or not a plastic revival will be good for consumers depends on how well they manage their accounts. To help ensure everyone stays in the black, MainStreet asked some of its favorite credit card experts to provide one piece of credit advice consumers can apply in the new year. Here’s what they had to offer:
“2012 should be the year for rebuilding credit. Consumers can take proactive steps by reviewing their credit report for errors, creating a plan to pay down any existing debt, and monitoring and tracking their credit scores to gauge their success.” – Ken Lin, CEO of Credit Karma.
“When choosing between retail store credit card debt and other general use credit card debt (like Visa or MasterCard), choose to pay off retail store card debt faster. The rate on those cards is 10 percentage points higher on average, so you'd be exhausting the most expensive debt the fastest.” – John Ulzheimer, CEO of SmartCredit.com.
“For those who are carrying a manageable balance, if you're paying more than 10% on your credit card, call a few local credit unions and see if they can do better. Chances are that they can beat your bank's rate, no matter where your credit stands.” – Tim Chen, CEO of Nerd Wallet.
"The first half of 2012 should be a great time to shed debt incurred in 2011, including holiday debt. There will be some great 0% (no interest) balance transfer/teaser rate offers for up to 18 months that consumers can take advantage of.” – Curtis Arnold, CEO of CardRatings.com.
"So many people focus on coupon-clipping and penny-pinching, yet continue overpaying on their mortgages. So in 2012, instead of wasting hours of your valuable time wondering how to split your hard-earned dollars, resolve to look at the big picture – the big debt picture – and you may be surprised at the savings you're able to find." – Adrian Nazari, founder and CEO of Credit Sesame.
“Remember that you're the boss. If you have excellent credit and you have a credit card with a high interest rate, call the issuer and negotiate. This can be really effective if you have a few low-interest credit card offers in hand from a competitor. You're the one who decides which credit card issuer gets your business.” – Beverly Harzog, card expert with Credit.com
What can consumers expect from the credit card industry in the coming year? Find out in MainStreet’s roundup of three credit card predictions for 2012!