The average Indian shopper today is likely to have at least two credit cards in his wallet. In fact this number has been on the rise with banks and credit card companies sending free lifetime credit cards with ‘attractive features’ to anyone who they think fits the bill. These cards sometimes come as a ‘surprise gift’.
As a customer you have the choice to use the card or return it. If you receive a credit card, which you had not asked for you just need to cut it into two and send it back to the bank, declining the offer.
The more cards you have the more tempted you will be to avail the offers on each of them and at some point in time discipline could give way to reckless spending leading you into a maze of spiralling debt before you realise what hit you.
For a spender who is not disciplined in prompt repayments, debt can mount in accelerated proportions.
If you use your credit cards extensively or even if you use it once in a while, it would be prudent to access your credit report from Cibil (Credit Information Bureau (India) Limited). You can manually access your credit report by placing a request with Cibil, details of which are available at http://www.cibil.com.
Though currently you can pay for this report through Cibil’s online payment gateway, you cannot access your credit report online as of now but this will be enabled in future. Once you make your payment Cibil will send you a hard copy of your credit report to your postal address.
Having access to credit reports is a definite step for the genuine borrower with an excellent credit profile to increase his negotiating power. So, how can you ensure your credit report gives you this negotiating power?
Well, what can be the doom for a reckless spender can be an excellent tool for the disciplined borrower. It depends on how you use your credit card. This can be the single most important factor in improving and increasing your credit score.
Here are some pointers on what to do and what not to do in order to achieve this.
1. Judicious use: Making use of a credit card judiciously will help you improve your credit score. Just make sure to choose a card that is suited for you from a well known brand.
2. Low credit limit: Keep a tab on the credit limit of your card. Open a credit card account with a company that will provide you with the highest credit limit possible. High credit limits, even if they are not used, will add merit to your credit score and improve it.
3. Closing credit card accounts: The number of years you hold a credit card account has an impact on your credit scores. So keep your oldest credit and if you must close a card opt for the most recent cards and close them one at a time, maybe once a month over a period of time, as closing them too quickly could also affect your credit score as your available credit limit will take a dip in one go.
4. Bargain for a lower interest rate: If you have never defaulted on payment for a few years, make use of your good repayment track record and speak to the bank officials for a better bargain. Request them to lower your interest rate citing the good track record.
5. Request for hike in credit limit: The most recent card has the highest credit limit. The oldest card has the lowest credit limit. What do you do? In such instances, if you have a good repayment track record, approach the bank and negotiate for a higher credit limit especially since you have been their customer for quite a few years. Most banks will facilitate such a request. You can then go ahead and close your most recent card.
6. Keep a self imposed credit limit: Never exceed 40% of your credit limit. This has a beneficial effect on your credit score. This shows your credit limit is high but you have not burnt it up and have plenty in reserve. This logic helps you attain a much higher credit score. The same logic suggests you should not close any credit card accounts, as they collectively will provide you a high credit limit, which is good for the score.
7. Paying off credit card dues quickly: This will dramatically improve your credit score. Try not to accumulate too much credit card debt. Be wise and pay the dues quickly and keep rotating your cards. Paying off dues timely will spike your credit score.
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