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We live in a sea of credit, credit cards and debt in general. It’s the lifeblood of our economy and personal finances.

Now with recent legislative changes having taken effect in February, it’s time to reassess the credit cards we carry and make the most of them while avoiding any nasty bites from behind.

Cardholders have been receiving disclosures in tiny print from their credit card companies for a while now. But most of us ignore these densely worded forms. But there are hidden traps in them.

Sure, the card companies are not supposed to arbitrarily increase your interest rate on existing balances and it cannot apply payments to the lowest interest rate balances first.

On the other hand, the privilege of having a card will now likely cost more: the return of annual fees, inactivity fees and even fees if you use the card but not enough.

You could consider closing out the cards you don’t use. But remember that will likely have a negative impact on your personal credit score. One of the factors that a credit score is based on includes the longevity of an account and you could inadvertently be hurting your score by closing out an account that you don’t use. It may make sense to use the card for a few transactions to meet the minimum. But plan on paying these charges off in full each billing cycle.

If you do happen to carry a balance, then consider replacing your BIG BRAND card with one of the smaller competitors. These card issuers may offer better deals, lower rates and lower fees, too. Start with a credit union or smaller, local bank by logging onto FindACreditUnion.com.

To compare your existing cards and find other deals, you may also want to check out CardRatings.com or Savvy-Discounts.com.

Considering a balance transfer? Watch out. Big banks are moving to up the fee from the average of 3% of the balance to 5% and eliminating the dollar cap. Look for banks that will do such transfers and cap the total fee.

It’s your money and the one certain way to get ahead is to control the things that you can control. And by watching the details regarding your credit, you can control your costs. Put more into your pocket by reducing the bite from your plastic.

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