4 Ways to Protect Your Credit During Vacation

Don't let a financial bind ruin a good time

Credit CardsThe vacation season is almost here. But before you finalize your plans, pause and make sure you’re not practicing behaviors that could jeopardize your credit.

Getting caught up in vacation mode—and the charge frenzy that often accompanies it—is how many of us get into trouble. Here are four ways to keep your credit in tip-top shape while on vacation:

1. Don’t apply for retail credit cards. Getting a 10% discount on your purchase really isn’t worth it in the long run. Opening a new account could spell trouble for your credit score because the length of your credit history makes up 15% of your FICO score. The older your credit age, the better, as it shows a long history of credit management. Opening a new credit card account will lower your overall credit age, and consequently, your score. Applying for credit also means that there will be an inquiry on your report. Inquiries make up 10% of your FICO score.

2. Be cautious when shopping online. If you’re shopping for gifts online, make sure that you only visit websites that you’re familiar with or that you’ve done business with in the past. Don’t just give anyone access to your credit card number.

3. Don’t overcharge. Be mindful of how much you’re spending. If you won’t be able to repay the amount you charge at the end of the month, reconsider your purchases. Charging too much on your card will cause the amount you owe to spike. Amounts owed account for 30% of your FICO score.

4. Don’t forget to pay your bills. It might seem obvious, but it’s easy to forget to pay your bills when you’re traveling and visiting relatives. Set up reminders in your calendar or automatic bill payments so that you won’t miss a payment and get a negative mark on your credit report. Your payment history accounts for 35% of your FICO score.

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