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Managing your household finances

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Take personal responsibility for your credit cards Add to ...

I'm a loyal credit card client. I have three credit cards in my wallet and I use them a lot. I use them to buy groceries, clothes and pretty well all our household's goods.

But I will never make the list of Visa or Mastercard's favourite customers. That's because I don't carry a balance and never pay interest. Other than the fee I pay for a reward card, I don't generate much revenue for credit card companies.

My husband and I made a conscious decision to be disciplined. He grew up in a home where credit cards were juggled. Often one card would be used to pay another. Because of that background, he is determined to avoid the stress of credit card debt.

However, many families are facing that exact stress these days.

In response, the government just introduced that will lengthen the interest-free grace period for cardholders, as well as increase transparency of credit card limits and interest costs.

Some argue that Ottawa should have gone further and forced banks to offer lower-interest credit cards.

I disagree. There are many different kinds of credit cards out there, including some that offer lower rates of interest. Consumers need to look around and find the card that suits them.

The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada has on its website to help find the credit card that's right for you. Personal finance blog has a good list of no-fee rewards credit cards in Canada. It's not hard to find a card that meets your needs.

Similar rules to reign in the banks and help credit card users are being introduced in the U.S. Some that consumers could lose in the long run since banks will need to make up for lost earnings with new annual fees or by cancelling rewards programs. Credit cards may also be harder to obtain.

We'll have to wait and see what happens. But in the meantime, people should be personally accountable for their credit cards.

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