As President Obama and federal legislators debate with credit card companies on fees and rates, consumers are still responsible for paying their credit cards and maintaining their credit reports.

The Illinois CPA Society has released a list of 10 things you can do for yourself to take control of your credit life and manage your credit card activity.

  1. Read the fine print and all mail or material from your credit card
  2. Keep an eye on the Annual Percentage Rate (APR) and watch out for low
    teaser rates offered only for the first 3 to 6 months.
  3. Get your credit card bills under control by paying as much as you can
    each month, or at least more than the minimum.
  4. Set-up auto pay to avoid late fees.
  5. Stick to one card or as few as possible and keep low credit limits.
    It’s ok to have multiple cards, but the less you use them the better.
    Maintain your cards, especially your oldest one.
  6. Be protective of your credit cards — never borrow them, keep cards
    you’re not using in a safe place and don’t give out your card number
    over the phone if you didn’t originate the call.
  7. Don’t assume your statement is correct. Review it for suspicious
    charges and interest rate hikes.
  8. Shop around and compare the terms offered by several different credit
    cards. Shop, but don’t apply for each card — keep in mind the number
    of inquiries can affect your score.
  9. Avoid cash advances. Their interest rate can be much higher than the
    rate on charged purchases.
  10. Protect your credit history by obtaining a free copy of your credit
    report at lease once a year. It’s available from each of the three
    main bureaus or go to

For more information, take a look at some of our other credit card stories at or watch our new Credit and Identity Theft video series at