Did 2009 bring some unwanted changes to your credit cards' terms and conditions? If not, consider yourself lucky.
Skyrocketing interest rates, reduced credit limits, increased minimum payments, and account closures have left very few credit card users unaffected. That's why this time of year presents the perfect opportunity to conduct an annual inventory of your personal credit cards and determine exactly what has and hasn't changed in 2009.
First, pull your credit reports from the three major credit bureaus and begin by making a list of all your active credit card accounts. Next, build a simple Excel spreadsheet where you can keep track of your credit cards, account numbers, credit limits, expiration dates, and average monthly balances. Of course, it's always a good idea to password protect this type of personal information when storing it on your home computer.
After you have completed a basic inventory of your credit cards, you'll have all the information necessary to run some quick calculations, such as your total available credit and credit utilization ratio. Understanding these numbers will not only help you make better decisions in 2010 about how to improve your credit scores, but if your credit cards are ever lost or stolen, you'll be happy to have this information readily available.