You don’t need to cut up your cards to use them more responsibly.
- Many people want to stop using credit cards, or use them less often, because of high interest rates.
- Closing the cards is a solution to stop using them, but this can have consequences on your credit.
- There are other techniques, such as freezing your card, that can reduce usage while keeping your account open.
Overuse of credit cards can lead to many financial problems if you are unable to pay your credit card bill in full and on time. If you’re worried about ending up with excessive credit card debt, you might be tempted to close your existing credit card accounts.
Unfortunately, if you close your accounts, your credit score could take a hit. Removing an account from your credit report could hurt your score by shortening the average age of your credit report. It could also affect your credit utilization ratio, which is the ratio of the credit you’ve used to the total amount available. Over time, you could also lose the positive payment record on your credit report.
Since a lower credit utilization rate, a long account history, and a solid history of on-time payments are all essential to achieving good credit, you don’t want to close credit card accounts at unless you absolutely have to. The good news is that there are a few clever ways to reduce credit card spending without shutting down the card altogether. Here are three options.
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1. Remove your credit cards from online accounts
For many people, it’s easy to overspend online because it only takes a few clicks to place an order. Deleting your cards stored on online accounts could make it much harder to mindlessly shop on the computer without thinking about the consequences.
If you have to reach for your card and manually enter the number each time you make an online purchase, it will give you time to stop and think about whether you really want to continue purchasing the items. That alone could be enough to drastically reduce your spending so you end up using your cards less.
2. Block your credit cards
If manually entering your card information isn’t enough to keep you from overspending, freezing your cards in a block of ice might be a good solution. If you freeze the cards, you will have to wait for them to thaw before you can use them. This, like removing cards from online accounts, creates an additional barrier to spending and gives you time to think about whether buying is the right choice for you.
3. Keep a spending diary
Finally, keeping a diary of what you buy and what you spend could also help you use your credit cards less.
Tracking your spending allows you to be more aware of every purchase you make since you know you’ll need to write it down. Like the other two steps on this list, forcing yourself to take more time and make smarter spending choices can be enough to reduce how often you use your cards. You will also be able to go back through your list and identify trends in which and when you are overspending.
Hopefully, each of these three steps will allow you to put your cards to good use for the things you really need to earn rewards and reduce the kind of problematic expenses that could cause you financial problems in the long run.
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