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Holiday season brings credit woes

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By Shakinta M. JohnstonRegister Staff WriterYou better not shout, you better not cry. You’ve got no money, but Visa will get you by. Credit cards are marking the town.It’s that time again. With a little over 50 days left in the holiday shopping season, most jolly shoppers aren’t worried about buying their families big and expensive gifts or sumptuous holiday meals. They know Visa, Discover, American Express and MasterCard will buy gifts for them.Tiffany Hughes, senior psychology major, is looking forward to the holiday shopping season.”I plan on doing a lot of Christmas shopping for family and friends this year,” said Hughes. “I estimate spending about $650 while shopping.”Hughes went on to say that the purchases would be made with credit. Since, she prefers the convenience of credit to cash, Hughes anticipates a merry shopping season. But she isn’t the only person looking forward to the precious union of plastic sliding through metallic shafts seeking credit approval.”We already plan on seeing an increase in our credit card use for the holiday season,” said Circuit City employee and A&T psychology major Kevin Harris. “Most people aren’t going to buy a lot of expensive items, but the lower-priced VCRs and DVDs for Christmas.”Harris continued to say that holiday purchasing isn’t quite at the increase it will be on the day after Thanksgiving, the biggest shopping day of the year.”I’ve seen people start lining up at 7 a.m. for holiday shopping,” said Harris. “I don’t expect this year to be any different.”Clothing and electronic retails aren’t the only markets noticing and preparing for the onslaught of credit-welding consumers. With Thanksgiving around the corner, some grocery stores are witnessing more and more shoppers paying with plastic.Scott Haines, store manager of Harris Teeter located at 5710 W. High Point Road, says 35 percent gross revenue is attributed to credit card purchases and that number is expected to increase in coming weeks.”We expect an increase of credit card purchases around the first weekend in November,” said Haines.Haines also believes consumers are using credit cards more because of a “heightened sense of economy.””Most people want to keep their cash around them, so they use their credit cards,” said Haines.While the increase of credit card use may be a welcome sight for some, other outlets haven’t yet experienced the credit card frenzy.”This time of year, you can expect to see a credit card use increase. But, here the increase isn’t really noticed until close to Christmas,” said Mary Dickerson, customer service manager of Harris Teeter on Summit Avenue.The lack of credit increase in the Summit Avenue’s Harris Teeter may be attributed to its location. Located at a primary spot for student patronage, the store sees credit use changes as students arrive and leave the campus. But are credit cards really the glitz, glamour and convenience that consumers think they are? Not always, according to customer service representatives from Encore Collections. If your credit score is low due to being turned to collections, consider checking out this list of credit repair companies. Collection representatives say increased credit card use without proper payment can result in phone calls, letters and marks against credit. While most collection payments are made right after income tax returns are filed, there are some accounts that must be handled immediately.So what measures can be taken to keep credit card use from getting the best of consumers during the holiday season? And how can consumers recognize a potential financial problem?Credit card debt consultants from the website offer several signs of impending financial credit problems that include being continually late making payments, paying minimum balance, approaching limits on credit cards and finding it difficult to save money. Avoiding credit card debt isn’t difficult. Simply figure out names, addresses, and how much money is owed to creditors. Then develop an approved plan to pay off credit card debts. But perhaps the best advice for credit card use can be summed up with good common sense. Don’t buy what’s wanted. Buy what’s needed. Don’t live beyond your means. And remember all that glitters isn’t gold.Credit reports can be obtained by calling the three major credit card agencies. Contact Transunion at or (800) 916-8800, Experian at or (888) 397-3742 and Equifax at or (800) 685-1111.

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Holiday season brings credit woes