Checking My Credit Score + Closing a Credit Card? (Citi)

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by HappyDude20, Dec 14, 2009.

  1. HappyDude20 macrumors 68020

    HappyDude20

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles, Ca
    #1
    I've had a credit card for 2 years now. I'm 21 years old and would love to check my credit score. I remember checking once online using one of the freecreditreport.com sites, or something similar.

    At the time it said I was at like 690, but then again I had recently opened the credit card account.

    Now, I'd like to check my credit score again (i'm sure its been more than a year since I last checked) and have heard I have the option of checking one score at a time, rather than all 3 reports at the same time once a year. I'm a bit confused on whats the best way to check my credit score, one report at a time so i'll be able to view each report only once a year, checking the next every 3 months...and of course would like to do this for free.

    Secondly, I've had this Citi credit card for 2 years now and have never had a plesant experience with the card. I find the website confusing and the people i've delt with both on the phone's customer support and in person seem to only point me in other directions, making me keep calling and visiting them in person with poor results. Finally, I'm annoyed at the random, hidden charges I notice every few months and even the random APR fees rising... with Citi telling me all I needed to do was call them and complain about it and they'd remove it instantly. So anyways, concerning this: I'm wondering if its okay to cancel this credit card and switch to something else that people would recommend...but then again have heard that closing a credit card can be bad for your credit. Then again, i'm not too aware on the matter (yet).
     
  2. Zombie Acorn macrumors 65816

    Zombie Acorn

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2009
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario
    #2
    Get a new card and just keep the citi one/don't use it. If you cancel the card its likely to effect your credit report.

    As for getting the reports you can do whichever you like, they give you a free report every year (not necessarily the score).
     
  3. Silencio macrumors 68020

    Silencio

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2002
    Location:
    NYC
    #3
    Apply for another card, hopefully get accepted for it. Either pay off your balance on your Citi card or use a balance transfer to move what you owe off the Citi card to the new card. Leave the Citi card in your drawer. Maybe charge something on it every six months or so, then pay it off.

    I too am a Citi card customer, one of many who just got ratejacked -- from 12% to 19%. Still weighing the ramifications on my credit score of opting out and effectively closing that account. (My FICO was in the high 800s last I checked.)

    Funny that now all of a sudden I'm being deluged with offers for new credit cards again. I think some of these issuers want to get a few more customers before the new federal laws that clamp down on credit card issuers a little more than before take effect in January or February or whatever. I may wait until after then to apply for a new card or, better still, join my wife's credit union and get one of their cards and stop subjecting myself to the greed of the big banks.

    It's totally absurd that your FICO score can play such a huge role in your financial life, but the rules for calculating the score are so nonsensical and opaque.

    The place to go to get your free annual credit reports is http://www.annualcreditreport.com
     
  4. mscriv macrumors 601

    mscriv

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2008
    Location:
    Dallas, Texas
    #4
    Pay off the card and close it as fast as you can. Make a budget to track your finances and stick to it. You don't have to play the FICO score credit game as the deck is stacked against you. Credit card companies are not in business to "help you" and once you get involved with them it can be hard to get out and cut all the ties. You DO NOT have to use debt to get through life or be financially successful, especially consumer debt.

    Check out a guy called Dave Ramsey. He's written several books and has a national radio show. He is not a get rich quick or a help you get out of debt by sending him money scam artist. He is a financial advisor/planner that teaches people how to control themselves by learning to live off of what they make instead of using credit to live beyond their means. His book can be found at any bookstore and is worthy of a read.

    I can speak from personal experience on this one. I got caught up in the credit card race in college and did some really stupid stuff by buying into the I can make the monthly payment lifestyle. While I haven't used credit cards in years I am still paying off debt I created during that period of my life. Learn financial self control now and you will be much better off in your future.
     
  5. eawmp1 macrumors 601

    eawmp1

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2008
    Location:
    FL
    #5
    Never..ever..use credit card to finance ANYTHING. Car loans and mortgages can be had for 5% so why would anyone finance anything for 20%. When I was young the only people who charged you 20% were loan sharks.

    Pay off credit cards as soon as you can. Then pay off your full balance every month..on time. Live within your means, buy necessities and save for luxuries.

    Check you credit rating every 4 months with a rotating schedule of companies. This give you the most frequent way to stay on top of your credit situation. Look carefully at old cards..if they are not being used, you need to CANCEL them (status of your cards can be open, but inactive....this counts against you).
     
  6. James L macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2004
    #6
    Learning financial self control does not mean abstaining from credit card use... it means learning to use all financial avenues available to you effectively.

    I put pretty much every expenditure I make each month on my credit card, and pay it off in full each month. I make enough via the bonus features in my credit card to get free vacation airfare each year.

    Why would I stop doing this?
     
  7. mscriv macrumors 601

    mscriv

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2008
    Location:
    Dallas, Texas
    #7
    If you can do that then good for you, but stop and think about why credit card companies offer all of these perks? It's because they encourage people to get into the credit card race where many get caught. Your level of self control is by far in the statistical minority of credit card users. In my opinion it's a dangerous game. That being said, I fully acknowledge that there are people who can play the game successfully, but not many. It's all about risk management and to me using debt as a tool is a dangerous risk. The "I want it and have to have it now" mentality plus easily available credit is a scary combination. There a many out there who truly believe they've got it under control, but in truth they don't and one financial mis-step or unforeseen crisis can spell destruction.

    The mantra that you have to go into debt via the use of credit to prove that you are financialy responsible is a myth. This backwards thinking is being pushed by the system because it makes the credit companies money by fooling customers into believing they have to do it this way. C'mon, realistically think about that kind of logic. You really feel that you have to owe somebody money in order to prove that you can be responsible with money. Irresponsibility doesn't prove responsibility. That's like telling a doctor they need to lose a few patients to prove that they understand the value of life and are capable of saving the next one. It's ridiculous. Like mentioned above, today's credit system has evolved into legal loan sharking.

    I'm not saying you are a bad person for handling your finances this way. But, I firmly believe you are either willing to take more risk than I am or financially in a position of wealth that doing so is not really a risk at all.
     
  8. James L macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2004
    #8
    Position of wealth.... umm... no. :)

    It's simple math... right now you budget money for groceries, for transportation needs, for entertainment, etc. I do too, only I put those expenditures on my credit card and then use the budgeted money at the end of the month to pay it off.

    You said:

    I agree... and this is true with or without the use of credit cards.

    There is NO risk to using a credit card, as long as you only spend what you can pay off at the end of the month. It is the same financial self control you mentioned.
     
  9. mscriv macrumors 601

    mscriv

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2008
    Location:
    Dallas, Texas
    #9
    I respectfully disagree. There's NO risk to snake handling as long as you don't get bit, there's NO risk to tightrope walking as long as you keep your balance, there's NO risk to auto racing as long as you don't crash, and there's NO risk to skydiving as long as the parachute opens up. (By the way, I've participated in one of these activities. I'll let you guess which one.):D

    From my own personal experience, my reading/reseach, and my interaction with others in this area, those who use credit cards tend to spend more than those who use cash. Additionally, those who have credit available to them in the form of credit cards often rely on it as their safety net in the event of an emergency. This can be very dangerous as often it's people who live paycheck to paycheck that are using credit and it's easy to get behind in times of crisis. Oh, and when you're behind is when the fees start building up and the interest rates skyrocket. Again, not everyone, but in general, those who use credit cards for all of their spending, especially the younger generation, tend to lose track of how much they are spending and don't fully appreciate the value of money.

    At the core the issue is really simple. Credit card companies are doing nothing more than providing people the means by which to fulfill their natural selfish human impulses to have what they want when the want. Some people succeed at self control others don't. It seems we agree on this basic principle, but take different approaches in how to personally apply it. Going back to the snake handling analogy, you think it's okay to play with the snake believing you will never get bitten. I prefer to put as much distance as possible between myself and the snake thereby ensuring that I will never get bitten. :)
     
  10. DeepIn2U macrumors 68040

    DeepIn2U

    Joined:
    May 30, 2002
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    #10
    @HappyDude.

    First check your Credit Report on ALL Bureaus in the country you live, most like Equifax is one of them (Canada/USA) as well as TransUnion. I'm in Canada so we have to pay.

    Secondly, Evaluate ANY current and next month fees you have with Citi, prior to cancelling (especially confirm any pending charges, INCLUDING that insurance should you loose your job thing ~ if you bought into that)!! Then cancel it.

    Third, if you already have another credit card to use, then stay with that ONLY for the next 6mths ensuring you pay the MAXIMUM FULL balance off each 30days or less, not the minimal. This boosts your credit score. After 30days - 6mths THEN apply for another credit card. Cancelling one just to apply for another in 30days will drop your score, possibly significantly (having too many cards seems like you NEED emergency cash and thus not budget for it well).

    Fourth, you're better off, MUCH better, than I and I wish you great fortune. Keep deligent and stick with the plan. This may be a good time to find a highly recommended financial planner for investments.

    Cheers.
     
  11. Mousse macrumors 68000

    Mousse

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2008
    Location:
    Flea Bottom, King's Landing
    #11
    That's the best advice when dealing with credit cards. I've had a credit card for well over 15 years and never once had I paid any interest. It takes discipline, but it's well worth it to build up your credit rating (last I checked, my FICO score was in the 800's).
    As for the Op's credit card situation, I'd shelve the Citi card and open one with the bank you're currently with. Don't buy into the myth that having 3 credit cards is good for your credit rating. One credit card is all you need. Your credit history lets the lender know that any money you borrow will be repaid. A credit history of only 2 years is too short any real confidence by a lender. 10+ years of consistent repayment of loans, that's credit gold.
     
  12. abijnk macrumors 68040

    abijnk

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2007
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    #12
    I'm sorry, but this is a very ignorant statement. Credit is a fact of life, especially in the U.S. Closing your first and only credit line after only two years is not going to be helpful in any way.

    Credit doesn't have to be an evil thing, it just takes some common sense.
     
  13. themoonisdown09 macrumors 601

    themoonisdown09

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2007
    Location:
    Georgia, USA
    #13
    I agree. You have to have credit to get by.

    For me, I try and put every purchase on my credit card. Why? Because I have a rewards card. For every dollar I spend, I get a point. For every 2500 points, I get a $25 check. Obviously, I pay my credit card off every month. I always have, and I always will.

    Also, my credit limit is high enough that I don't ever go over 50% of my limit, which is good because it can hurt your credit score if you always get close to reaching your limit.

    I also agree with what Mousse said above about having only one credit card. There's no reason, that I can think of, why you would need more than one credit card. One is enough.
     
  14. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2002
    Location:
    Republic of Ukistan
    #14
    Agreed. If you can pay off a credit card in full each month, you can get all the benefits of a card (not carrying cash, ordering online, paying security deposits, etc) without any of the disadvantages (ludicrous interest rates, hidden charges, runaway debt), and it will do wonders for your credit rating.
     
  15. -aggie- macrumors P6

    -aggie-

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2009
    Location:
    Where bunnies are welcome.
    #15
    My dad was one of those people who didn't believe in using credit cards. One day my younger brother needed him to cosign a loan so he could buy a car. My brother was turned down because my dad had no credit. He was quite pissed. What did he do? He used his credit union to get the loan (back then credit unions didn't help your credit rating), essentially doing nothing to improve his credit.

    Anyway, you need to have a credit card, but you should try to pay off the balance at the end of each month. Also, although closing a credit card sounds good, it actually hurts your credit to do so.

    Welcome back, Abbie!
     
  16. eawmp1 macrumors 601

    eawmp1

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2008
    Location:
    FL
    #16
    2+
    This is the way I've ALWAYS done things (for >20 years since college) and my FICO is well above 800.
    The real myth is that you deserve to buy something you cant pay off in full, and therefore finance via credit cards. Finance education, cars, houses if you have to. All other expenses should NEVER be financed.
     
  17. Zombie Acorn macrumors 65816

    Zombie Acorn

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2009
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario
    #17
    The problem with this is if you fall on hard times choosing to eat is always going to rank higher than choosing to have a high credit rating.
     
  18. rdowns macrumors Penryn

    rdowns

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2003
    #18
    I agree with this and other similar sentiments. Credit is not evil if used wisely.

    I put as much onto my credit card as possible to take advantage of the perks- points, better warranties. i pay my bill in full each month and have never been later paying a bill.

    I do have 2 credit cards though. One for use in stores and the other for use online.
     
  19. James L macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2004
    #19
    Credit card companies are offering a service... it is up to the individual consumer to decide how to responsibly use that service. It is much akin to the "guns don't kill people, people kill people" argument.

    This ties in with the snake analogy. When snake handling you can minimize the risk of being bit, but ultimately the snake thinks and acts on its own. A credit card doesn't do that. It is passive. It has no self directed actions.

    The only person who decides what goes on my credit card is me. There is no risk of being bit as long as I exercise financial self control. In fact, by using my credit card responsibly I GAIN.

    You and I agree on the need for fiscal responsibility though, and that's what's important.
     
  20. mscriv macrumors 601

    mscriv

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2008
    Location:
    Dallas, Texas
    #20
    Credit is a fact of life because the system has made it so. Just a few generations ago people would scoff at the idea of financing your fast food purchases. As others have stated above large purchases like cars and homes will often require financing, but the credit card use for any and everything you buy including your morning latte is just silly. And, believe it or not it is possible to get credit for big ticket items without having to jump through the credit card hoops that are reportedly required to get a loan.

    It's probably of no surprise, but I think co-signing for a loan is also a no no. It's too risky as you have no control over what the other person does. It's also super dangerous to mix money and family. Countless relationships, both familial and friendship, have been ruined when money was introduced. You may disagree, but I don't think this one is up for debate. When money becomes a part of any relationship it shifts the balance of power in that relationship and thus changes the nature of it.

    Agreed, that it's a service and that it's up to the individual to act responsibly. I have no argument that credit cards can be viewed similar to the gun analogy that you have put forth. And thus, unlike what some have implied, I do not believe credit cards are evil, just unwise and a risk.

    Again, I'll have to respectfully disagree. The system is set up such that the credit company has the advantage, not the consumer. You are correct in stating that only you can make a purchase with your card. However, the credit company is far from passive. At any time they can change the rules of the game. Interest rates are altered, minimum balances change, and new fees are levied. Several companies not so long ago decided to close member's accounts because they weren't used as often as the company liked or they were paid off every month as so many of you state you are doing. The card company is in business to make money and if they are not making money off of you then they change things in an effort to do so or simply drop you as a customer. Now it's been mentioned by several in this thread that the closing of an account can be harmful to your FICO score. So, with no impetus or wrong doing from the consumer the credit card company can take action that adversely affects the responsible customer.

    Seriously, I think even if you advocate credit use you've got to admit that the system itself is pretty crazy. I mean the way your score is calculated and the hoops you have to jump through just to know where you stand. And heaven forbid something is wrong. It's a pain and can be very difficult to get errors corrected and the statistics on errors is through the roof. I mean at the heart this is your private information, but anyone at any point and for any reason can file something with one of the bureau's that negatively impacts you. Is the burden of proof on them to prove this accusation, no, it's on you to prove that they are wrong. Nothing about the system is built to protect or benefit the consumer. And the pressure to use the score for more and more reasons is ridiculous. I've heard rumors that some employers are looking at applicants FICO scores as a part of the interview process.

    QFT. It's the most important thing regardless of how we might differ on methodology.

    EDIT: If your interested check out a documentary film named "Maxed Out". It ran on Showtime last year and is worth a watch.
     
  21. ravenvii macrumors 604

    ravenvii

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2004
    Location:
    Melenkurion Skyweir
    #21
    I do use my credit card for everything, too. It's just easier - no need to fiddle around in my wallet looking for the bills I need, no need to deal with change, coins, etc etc. Just swipe, jab at the screen a couple times and you're done. Safer, too (you won't have to let others see how much you have in your wallet, inviting a mugging).

    Small purchases or large, I use my credit card, and pay it all off every month. I've never carried a balance on my two credit cards in the past 10 years.

    There's no reason not to use your credit card for a latte in the morning, as long as you would've gotten that latte with cash either way.
     
  22. rhsgolfer33 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2006
    #22
    You know, if you pay you're credit card off at the end of the month you are not financing anything. I routinely pay for lunches and Starbucks on my credit card, but I never pay any interest because I pay my card off every month. By using my credit card I can earn points that get me cash or gift certificates and I keep cash in my savings account until the end of the month when it earns some interest; so, essentially, by using my credit card I actually make money.

    Credit is a risk for people with no self-control. I got a credit card at 18, I charge it up for a few hundred dollars every month and then I pay it off when the bill is due. I've never paid any interest and I have an excellent credit score that will allow me to have a rate close to prime when I go to get a home loan and nice low rate when I purchase my next used car.
     
  23. mscriv macrumors 601

    mscriv

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2008
    Location:
    Dallas, Texas
    #23
    LINK

    This legislation seems to be good, but I hope congress will do more to improve the system.
     
  24. steve2112 macrumors 68040

    steve2112

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    Location:
    East of Lyra, Northwest of Pegasus
    #24
    I'm glad to see another Ramsey-ite around here. :)

    I fell into this trap as well. Got the first card in college, and thought I could control it. That didn't work out very well. Even after college, I thought paying them off every month was no problem. Then I was jobless. The first month, I thought "just pay the minimum until the job thing works out". When the savings started running out, I was using the cards to make ends meet. It took me a long time to dig out from that. All I know is that no amount of reward points or cash back will make me feel as good as not owing all that money makes me feel. That will not happen again.

    A few years ago, I lost my mind again after the AC went out in my car in July. It was 11 years old, with almost 200k miles, and I got new car fever. I had been 5+ years with no car payment, but I broke down and bought another car. There have been times when I hated that car because of the payment. It will be paid off in about 3 months, 2 years early. I will not have another car payment. Finally, my student loans will be paid off in about 1.5 years, about 10 years early. I now know there is nothing short of a house I want badly enough to finance it.
     
  25. mscriv macrumors 601

    mscriv

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2008
    Location:
    Dallas, Texas
    #25
    Thanks for sharing your story and I'm glad to hear that you are being successful at reaching your goals. Keep on keeping on. :)
     

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