protect-your-credit-cardAmid the hustle and bustle of the season, it’s important for shoppers to make informed decisions about holiday spending when taking advantage of Black Friday and other deals. According to the experts at Credit Sesame (www.creditsesame.com), shoppers should keep in mind the following tips.

1. Avoid opening new retail store cards. Retail store credit cards often have very high interest rates and very low credit limits, which means that even modest balances can harm your credit score.

2. Use credit over debit and cash. Data breaches have become a common occurrence, so choose your payment methods wisely. If your credit card information is hacked in a data breach, you won’t be held liable for any unauthorized charges on the card. You can’t say the same in your debit card information, prepaid debit card information or cash is stolen.

3. Don’t spend more than can be paid in full… by January. Don’t go into debt when you’re shopping for the holidays. Consumers should aim to spend an amount lower than what they can comfortably pay off by the due date of their December statement – usually around mid to late January.

4. Check credit reports before December 31. Use online resources to check your credit report and get your credit score for free. As the New Year approaches, consumers often set resolutions to improve their credit scores or financial situations. One cannot improve their score without first knowing what’s on their credit report.

5. Use the credit card with the highest limit for holiday shopping. The credit score protection strategy focuses on keeping the credit card balance to credit limit ratio, or revolving utilization, low. Credit scoring models like to see balances that do not eat up too much of the credit limit.