Q: I’m trying to build credit. Should I pay off my credit card every month or leave a balance?
A: Whether you carry a balance or pay it off in full, the key to building good credit is making payments on time and keeping balances (if you decide to carry them) below 35% of the total credit limit. Both methods show responsible credit usage and will reflect positively on your credit report. However, paying off a balance in full each month will avoid interest charges, saving you money.
Here’s how to avoid a credit drop.
- Don’t open lots of cards. Applying for several new lines of credit in a short time period can drop scores.
- Mix credit types. A combination of student, auto or mortgage loans and credit cards reflects better on scores than only having credit cards. But don’t borrow if you don’t need to.
Credit scores can be affected by identity theft and processing mistakes, so monitor your credit report regularly through annualcreditreport.com and check your score with myfico.com for a fee or at creditkarma.com for free.
Q: I have a gift card I really don’t want. Are gift card exchange websites safe?
A: At plasticjungle.com, giftcardrescue.com, and cardpool.com, you deal directly with the company, not other buyers or sellers. All transactions, whether purchasing or selling, are backed by 100% refunds and satisfaction guarantees. In short, gift card exchange sites are a safe way to get cash for unused gift cards or stretch your buying power by purchasing gift cards for up to 35% off the remaining balance.
The sites listed above will also purchase gift cards for up to 92% of their remaining balances. Depending on which site you choose, payment can be made by check (typically within five to eight business days), instantly via PayPal, or as an exchange for an amazon.com gift card with a 5% bonus.
Rest assured that these sites are safe–Plastic Jungle is registered as an “A” company with the Better Business Bureau and the other sites have been featured by major media outlets. Thoroughly research any other site you’re considering using before selling your gift card.