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AICCCA Says Be Careful Using Credit Cards for Holiday Purchases

12/10/2013 12:00:00 AM -

Fairfax, VA - The National Retail Federation recently released its holiday consumer spending survey, which showed that the average holiday shopper plans to spend $737.95 this year. For consumers who will put their spending on a credit card without a plan to pay off the balance, the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies cautions consumers to consider the actual cost before reaching for the credit cards.

Putting the entire amount on a credit card with an 18.9 percent interest rate and paying only the minimum on the card would add nearly two-thirds to the total amount paid. It would take a consumer in this example 6 years and 2 months to pay off, with a whopping $477.54 in interest alone. This consumer will have paid a total of $1,215.49 at the end.

"This illustrates the need for consumers to have a plan for paying for holiday expenses," said Dave Jones, president, Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies. "Without proper planning, families are more likely to spend more than they can afford and put themselves into deeper debt in 2014."

AICCCA recommends a stop, look and listen approach to keep from using credit cards this holiday season.

  • Stop shopping now if you have already spent more than you had planned. Evaluate your purchases to see if you bought more than one item for someone on your gift list. Check to see if the additional gift is appropriate for another person on your list.
  • Look for alternatives to traditional gifts. Homemade goodies are welcome treats for almost anyone and you may have most of the ingredients you need already on hand in your pantry. Or consider a gift of service like pet sitting or garage clean-up.
  • Listen to your conscience. Your friends and family do not want you to go into debt just to give them a gift-wrapped package.

Founded in 1993, Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies (AICCCA) is a national membership organization, established to promote quality and consistent delivery of credit counseling services. AICCCA and its members are focused on improved creditor relations, efficient processes and advanced technology to best serve clients and creditors. AICCCA members are independent nonprofit agencies that advocate for debtors, counsel millions of consumers annually nationwide and provide debt management services to consumers with excessive unsecured debt. For more information or to contact an AICCCA member office call 866-703-TRUSTAICCCA (866-703-8787) or visit www.aiccca.org.