Credit Expert Provides Tips for a Very Merry Credit Christmas

With the holiday shopping season fast approaching but the economy still stuck in neutral,many consumers are struggling with how to pay for items on their holiday shopping list.Credit Karma today shared tips for those considering credit cards or retail credit offers as an answer to tightening budgets.

“The most important step is to devise a realistic budget and then stick to it,” said Ken Lin, founder and CEO of Credit Karma,the free and easy way to access, improve and leverage your credit. “Overspending now could make for a very uncomfortable 2009.For those considering credit to help with holiday gift shopping, it’s important to consider the long-term effects of credit decisions.”

Mr. Lin offered five ways to use credit smarter and avoid damaging your credit score for long-term borrowing prospects.

  1. Avoid retail credit cards: Often, these cards have higher interest rates and restrict usage to only the store that issues them.This means you’ll still need other cards to shop further or for everyday purchases.
  2. Avoid applying for too many credit cards: Applying for a number of cards lowers your credit score, which in turn leads tohigher interest rates on existing cards. Do your research in advance to find the right card for your lifestyle.
  3. Carefully evaluate “Same as Cash” offers: No interest offers are great if used wisely, but almost all accrue interest from day one andcharge it in full if the loan is not paid off in time. Be realistic about your prospects about paying off these loans within the allotted term.The interest rates on these offers are often twice as much as average credit card rates, even for good credit customers.
  4. Don’t overuse one single card: If you carry a balance on a card, be sure to keep it below 35 percent of your credit limit.By borrowing more than this amount, you can lower your credit score and raise your interest rate on existing cards.
  5. Be wary of balance transfers: While consolidating holiday shopping debt sounds like a good idea, research the potential hidden fees first.Many cards charge a three percent balance transfer fee, effectively mitigating the gains of a lower initial interest rate.

For more information about using a credit card this holiday season or to learn more about which credit card is right for you,please visit To obtain your free credit score, visit

About Credit Karma

Based in San Francisco, Credit Karma is a pro-consumer credit score company dedicated to helping consumers better understand the power of their creditby giving them completely free access to their credit score as often as they wish, providing a host of tools and services to help them track and monetize that score,and helping them become better overall credit consumers. At, consumers not only learn their score,but they can identify what behaviors will positively impact their score and then gain preferred product pricing based on their credit score range.