Debunking credit-card myths

FRESNO, Calif.

Each time you apply for a card your credit score can take a hit, and you might not want to risk that if you're applying for a mortgage or other significant loan in the near future.

But if you already have a lot of cards, don't worry. Contrary to popular belief, having several cards may actually help your credit score if you use them wisely.

The more credit you have available, the better it is for your credit score. But you still have to keep your spending well under your card limits and keep making your payments on time.

Another common misconception is that you should hold on to your oldest credit card no matter what. How long you've had credit does count for 15 percent of your credit score. But even after you ditch a card, it can still count toward your score for as long as 10 years.

So if your overall credit history is healthy, it may be a good time to get rid of your old cards if you don't like their terms. But do check carefully for any fees, such as on balance transfers, and make sure you know what the annual percentage rate will be once the introductory rate expires.

If you do apply for a new card and it affects your credit score, the damage will only last six months. That is if you maintain healthy spending habits.

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