Friday, August 21, 2009

What's not in 58 million wallets and what you can do to fight back

Credit card issuers really whacked cardholders, FICO, the credit score people told the Associated Press recently. They've dropped some 58 million cardholders in the last year, including many with really good credit histories.

They're looking for a sweet spot in their customer base that will generate more profit with little risk, says the Gerson Lerhman Group consulting firm. Finding it is a bit tricky just now.

You can fight back, said John Ulzheimer, the consumer education chief at with whom we talked recently. If you've got a decent credit history and a card you don't use much, blow the dust bunnies off those cards and pop for a few things - gas for the car or a dinner out -that you would spend for anyway and put those on the cards.

Just be sure to pay off the balances on time. Even though some consumer friendly credit card rules kicked in this week, one thing has't changed.

"Due dates are due dates, not suggestions," Ulzheimer said.

If your credit records are really skimpy, you even might want to open an account or two to stake out a history before further reforms kick in next February. Whether you're doing that or just trying to recover what you lost in the 58 million card flush, brace yourself for more paperwork, says Florida financial adviser Jean Mascary. These are challenging times on both sides of the loan desk.

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