TODAY

TODAY   |  November 14, 2013

Pick your plastic: In-store credit cards to ignore

Lauren Lyons Cole, personal finance contributor for the street.com, discusses which in-store credit cards are worth using this holiday shopping season.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> when you are out shopping for holiday shopping, the sales clerk will undoubtedly ask you newest you want to sign up for a card?

>> should you do it? good morning, estimated that 33% of reward points from credit card go unused. i am one of those people that seem to rack them up. we are talking about $16 billion people are letting go bye-bye, by the wayside, what can we do to get the best benefits?

>> it's about your lifestyle. you have cash back or travel card . newest you are not sure which one is best for you, you can go on nerdwallet.com. they will spit out recommendations and when newest doubt, a cash card is a good bet.

>> should she choose on big sign-up bonus points or the free fee? they usually give you that choice.

>> if it's not the right card for you, overlook it. on the other side, an annual fee can work out working for good. i have a cash back card. i pay $75 a year for it. i get $300 back in reward. totally the cost.

>> i have an am as many as ex kampltd i get cash back at the end of the year. let talk about the risk. a lot of people don't realize, newest you don't use them, sometimes you are going to lose them. what should you be careful of?

>> one thing, you should never miss a payment. newest you are someone who can be forgetful, check out an app call check. they will make sure you never miss a payment and keep track of reward point as well. newest you miss a payment, you could end up forfeiting the rewards from that cycle.

>> or break the card agreement as well.

>> the card agreement is that booklet with the teeny fine print no one reads. so if your card goes inactive, you could forfeit your points. newest you have an airline card and the airlines merge or something changes the required points like an airfare ticket, that can change as well. stay on top of those things.

>> read the fine print and keep track of the changes?

>> open all the letters you get from your credit card company, yes.

>> let's talk about sneaky ways you can build up debt with so many different reward cards right now.

>> right. newest you have opened a few too many reward cards, my recommendation would be to focus on paying down those cards before you open a few card. even a zero percent balance, they work in theory, but there is a trick with these. first of all, the 0% is an introductory rate. so after nine months, that rate might skyrocket. it could be higher than your current interest rate . they can charge a transaction fee for transferring the balance. in the end, you could end up spending may way more.

>> bottom lines, newest i'm at the register this holiday season , i don't always love the gift card , is it a smart play?

>> do research online first, don't make the decision at the