27 September 2023

Credit rated: How to manage multiple credit cards

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Jason Steele* says that after years of struggling to keep all of his credit cards in order, he has now found the best strategy for managing them.

I’ve been writing about credit and credit cards for over 11 years.

So, as you might imagine, I have a lot of credit cards.

The most important thing that you can do with your credit cards is to manage them responsibly.

That means paying all of your bills on time and carrying very little debt.

In fact, I make it a habit to avoid interest on my 18 cards by always paying my entire statement balances in full.

But managing your credit cards responsibly is often easier said than done, especially when you have a lot of active accounts.

Here’s how I’ve learned to manage all of my cards:

Plan A: Paper statements

For most of my adult life, I managed my credit cards by using paper statements.

I simply waited for the paper statements to arrive in the mail, put them in a pile, and went through them every few days.

I’d review the charges, look for mistakes or fraudulent charges, and then schedule payment through my bank.

I’d always pay the full statement balance by the due date, to avoid interest charges.

And if the due date fell on a weekend or holiday, I made sure to make my payment by the last business day before the due date.

After I paid the statement, I’d place it in a different pile.

The advantage of this system is that it’s simple and convenient.

But it had several downsides.

First, I had to remember to go through the pile every few days.

Also, the system broke down when I was travelling for more than a week or so if I wasn’t at home to receive and pay for my statements.

It was also a chaotic system to manage, as I had due dates scattered throughout the month at random times.

Plan B: Electronic statements with coordinated due dates

After struggling to maintain the paper system, I finally broke down a few years ago and decided to become more organised.

First, I went through all of my accounts and synchronised their due dates by card issuer.

This is easy to do, as nearly every credit card issuer will allow you to change your due date to any day of the month that you choose.

For example, I have five American Express accounts — all of which now have due dates on the 10th of each month.

Likewise, I have 11 accounts with Chase, and they’re all due on the 20th of each month.

On the small business side, I have the several others and I set these up to be due on the 10th of each month, along with my American Express cards.

As a result of this new system, there are only two times per month that I need to go through statements and pay my bills.

I also have no paper statements floating around, and can manage cards from my home, my office or from a hotel room on the other side of the world, if necessary.

Paying your bills on time is critical to maintaining a great credit history and a high credit score.

And, while there’s no one way that works best for everyone, my system has evolved to work for me.

* Jason Steele is a finance journalist.

This article first appeared at www.businessinsider.com.au.

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