This quick blog post is in response to a reader who asked me how I keep all my credit cards straight. Missing payments can ruin your credit and cause you worlds of pain, effectively taking you out of the credit card game.
These are two simple hints to ensure that you never miss a payment along with a backup safety measure in case you somehow overlook the first two:
Safeguard 1: The Bookmarks Bar
Right in the center of Google Chrome I have my bookmarks bar with the folder Points. The first sub folder is called Banks. Here is the list of banks I have cards with or have had cards with (just in case they try to say my account is open.) I go one by one and check each account as the due date draws near to make sure I’ve paid my balance in full.
Safeguard 2: The Due Date
Some people like having multiple due dates so they get points bonuses a few times a month. That’s a surefire way to miss a payment. Whenever I get a new card, I do my disorganized self the favor of changing the due date to the 28th. Some banks like Bank of America refuse to give me the 28th, making me agree to the 2nd or 3rd. Though I agree to it, in my mind the due date is still the 28th. It hurts to pay late, not early.
Safeguard 3: The Excel Spreadsheet
What else do we have besides Excel to save us from ourselves? Even with the same due date and the OCD of going bank by bank, I still need another safeguard to make sure that I pay this month’s bill. This simplified spreadsheet where blue field indicate cards I use for daily and pink is for MS keeps me protected. I put an x when the bill has been paid and I’ve received email confirmation. I can’t tell you how many times I thought I paid the bill but for some reason it never went through. Don’t let that happen to you, check the box after the confirmation.
The Balance field is for making sure I don’t overdraft on my checking account and the Date is the due date in case I have a sneaky BOA date. January is the balance due for the next month.
That’s it, obvious yet integral.