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Top Eight Things You Didn't Know About Your Credit Card

by ncoles   July 08, 2011 at 7:00AM  |  Views: 4,198
In a world of easy credit, it's so simple to swipe a card and amass a pile of belongings without ever thinking about the credit card itself.

8. The Number Has a Hidden Meaning

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The credit card is not a set of 16 arbitrary numbers randomly thrown together in an awkward, financially-arranged number orgy. Your credit card number actually has meaning. The first digit of the card is known as the Major Industry Identifier (MIF) and indicates the type of industry that issued the cards. Here's a rundown of those numbers:

  • 1 and 2 are for airlines
  • 3 is for travel and entertainment
  • 4 and 5 indicate a banking or financial institution
  • 6 is for merchandizing and banking
  • 7 is petroleum
  • 8 is for telecommunications
  • 9 is for other assignments

As you're probably well aware, the number 4 and 5 are most common. VISA cards always start with a 4, while Mastercards always start with a 5. The number also contains your financial institution identification number and your personal account number.

7. You Can Lower Your Credit Card Rate Right Now

7. You Can Lower Your Credit Card Rate Right Now

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Don't feel trapped with an exuberantly high interest rate. Take charge of your interest and make a phone call. The credit card industry is fiercely competitive and individual companies do not want to lose customers. Do your research, find out what other cards are charging in interest and use this information to get a better deal. Threaten to switch to another credit card company unless you are given a better deal, just like you would with a cable company or cell phone provider. Do this and watch your interest rate recede. Just note, no matter how much you call that interest is still going to be high.

6. You Can Opt Out of Receiving Credit Card Solicitations

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Last year Americans received a whopping 2.73 billion prescreened credit card solicitation letters in the mail. No wonder we love credit so much. Every day we return home to find our mailboxes stuffed with the offer of easy money. Seriously, if it weren't for credit card companies the United States Postal Service would have said bye-bye years ago.

Now there is a way to stop these pesky letters from clogging up your mailbox. You can opt out of receiving such letters through OptOutPresceen.com. This is a service offered by consumer credit report companies and acts as a kind of "do not call" list for prescreen/preapproved credit cards offer letters. So do your wallet and the environment a favor and opt out.

5. Cancelling a Credit Card Actually Hurts Your Credit Score

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These days access to credit is almost as difficult as finding pots of gold at the end of a rainbow. Your credit score or FICO score is the main way lenders determine whether you're worthy of receiving a loan to buy a house, a car, or start a business. The score also affects the amount of interest you pay on your credit cards. So whatever you do, you want this score to be as healthy as possible. So if you're thinking of getting rid of one of your credit cards, think twice.

Cancelling a credit card will actually have a detrimental impact on your credit. Finance blogger Money Girl explains, "You'd think that canceling a credit card would be one less account on your record, right? Well, the problem is that a card cancellation negatively affects three of the five credit factors." Your credit score is a rating of your credit history and if you remove that history, even if it's negative, it's going to affect your score. It's actually far better to have a credit card with nothing owing on it, than not to have the card at all. So keep the card, lock it in a draw and help your credit score climb.