East Texas Recession Survival Guide: Credit Tips

By Morgan Chesky - email

Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

$970 billion. That is the magic number for US credit card debt, and that's up fifty percent since 2000. The rising debt, coupled with the ailing economy, has credit card companies scrambling for your money.

You don't have to look far to find someone with a credit card story.

"I'm still in over ten thousand dollars worth of debt," said Joanna Mercer of Whitehouse.

"I had a friend who had over fifty thousand dollars worth of debt," said Nathan Sewell.

Getting her first credit card at nineteen, ment Jackie Vaughn learned her lesson the hard way.

"Good grief! The interest rate kills you, and if you don't pay it early or whatever they hit you with overdraft fees or late fees," said Vaughn.

She eventually paid it off, but a growing family now means a growing statement.

"I just recently got married. [My credit cards] are pretty much all maxed to the limit, and I just had a baby so its been really tough," said Vaughn.

The credit game has now changed, and at the Consumer Credit Counseling Service in Tyler people who followed the rules are now looking for help.

"Normally their interest rates have gone up. It could be they've never missed a payment, they make their payments on time, they have a good interest rate," said Glyndel Corzine with Consumer Credit Counseling Service.

TV ads promise to take care of debt, but watch out! 2008 saw a growing number of complaints from people saying debt consolidation firms took their money and helped them - lose even more.

Here are some credit tips you should know:

There is no such thing as a fixed rate. One small mistake could make your rate jump overnight.

Striking a deal with a credit company looks attractive, too, until you realize you'll still pay taxes on the tab they pick up.

Always pay on time. Try to pay more than the minimum, or you could find interest rates rising because of being labeled a liability. While all debt is bad, some is worse than others.

If you are struggling to pay debt several years old, make sure you don't skip current payments causing your score to drop even more.

But the best advice for credit trouble often comes from someone who's been there.

"Just don't do more than you can handle," said Vaughn. "Fifty bucks here and fifty bucks there for so on and so forth kills you."

If you are stuck in debt there are folks that can help. The National Foundation for Credit Counseling is a non profit agency designed to help any debt situation. We've set up a link to the NFCC on our homepage. Just click on Know more on 7. Then find the story "Credit Counseling".