CreditCards.com Q&A expert Susan C. Keating

Susan C. Keating

Susan C. Keating was the expert columnist for CreditCards.com's "Credit Smart" feature. Keating, the president and chief executive officer of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, would answer a reader's question each week. Prior to joining NFCC, Keating spent 29 years in financial services. She was the highest ranking female CEO of a U.S. bank holding company, serving as president and chief executive of Allfirst Financial Inc., the largest U.S. holding of AIB Group. She currently serves on Bank of America’s National Consumer Advisory Council and is a board member of the Council on Accreditation. Keating also participates in the Financial Regulation Reform Collaborative, a nonpartisan group committed to finding solutions for reforming financial services regulation.

Susan C. Keating's stories on CreditCards.com

Use 0-percent promotions to create an emergency savings account -- Don't rush to pay off card debt that won't incur interest for a while; make calculated monthly payments and use your cash to give your financial health a boost instead. ... (See Saving)

How far can I go over my credit limit before my card gets declined? -- There's no magic formula to guess when a transaction on a maxed-out card will go through, but if it does, it may impact credit limit, monthly minimum payments and/or even credit score ... (See Maxed out)

Is paying off card debt with a personal loan a good idea? -- The option of taking out a personal loan to pay off credit debt can work for some consumers, but much will depend on credit score, amount of debt, and spending habits ... (See Loan)

Can an employer pay salary through a payroll card? -- Receiving salary through a payroll card could help initiate a banking relationship, but if you already have a checking or savings account, direct deposit might offer better perks. ... (See Payroll card)

Is an unsecured personal loan the best way to consolidate debt? -- Compare it to balance transfer and doing it yourself ... (See Personal loan)

Either yourself or with help, break the debt cycle -- Unpaid debt just leads to more unpaid debt, and the pattern has to be stopped ... (See Debt cycle)

Know closing date to maximize your interest-free grace period -- Do you hate paying credit card interest? Know your card account's closing date ... (See Grace)

Can I lose my house over credit card debt? -- Probably not, but ignoring debt will just make things worse ... (See Lose house)

Deep card debt jeopardizes hopes to fund children’s college -- Action must be taken to get a handle on $80,000 card debt before more loans get taken out for college-ready daughter ... (See Debt)

Know debt settlement companies' full cost -- You will trash your credit and may owe a larger tax bill ... (See Settlement)

Credit counselors don't report you to credit bureaus -- The agencies' debt management plans are credit-score neutral ... (See Report)

Staying on track after getting a debt consolidation loan -- Set up autopayments, put some of your gains in savings and keep credit card accounts open ... (See Loan)

Sticking to the long, slow credit rebuilding process -- After bankruptcy, garnishment, find a plan that works for you ... (See Rebuild)

Rebuilt credit, sleep better -- Barely making it? Seek financial help ... (See Rebuild)

Avoid using your IRA to pay card debt -- Wiping out your life's savings will create its own problems ... (See IRA)

Retired, with recent bankruptcy: Should you get a card? -- Proceed with caution and consider a secured card ... (See Retired)

Pay down card debt, if you can, before retirement -- If you have ample savings, you will come out ahead in the long run ... (See Retire)

On active military duty? You can't get 6 percent APR cap on cards -- Service members' legal protections apply to older debt ... (See Cap)

Making minimum payments versus closing a card account -- Getting the card out of delinquency, paying on time are the important things ... (See Delinquent)

Yes, rates will rise on closed accounts with balances -- An exception in the federal CARD Act lets issuers pass along Fed rate hikes, and those are coming ... (See Closed )

Deep in debt after college: Where to start? -- With multiple debts in default, but better job prospects, it's time to get a plan ... (See Debt)

Son made $6,000 in unauthorized card charges? Report it -- There may be legal consequences for your son, but if you don't, you'll be on the hook for his charges ... (See Unauthorized)

Consolidate debt into high-rate personal loan? Don't -- A 29 percent loan may be convenient, but the terms are terrible ... (See Condolidate)

What happens when you drop out of a debt management plan -- If you stop paying, the debt will not go away, but the benefits of the plan will ... (See DMP dropout)

Can't afford monthly card payment? Try these options -- There's no easy way to delete debt, but you do have choices ... (See Debt)

Keep credit utilization low when refinancing mortgage -- Even if you don't carry a balance, high card use can hurt ... (See Refinance)

Don't fall into the deferred-interest trap -- Pay late by a day and you face a huge penalty ... (See Deferred)

How to cancel a debt settlement contract -- You can escape, but you'll still have to deal with the debt ... (See Cancel)

Rolling card debt into a mortgage? Consider alternatives -- You risk your house when you convert debt from unsecured to secured ... (See Mortgage)

Card account keeps getting hacked. Close it? -- Canceling a card can impact credit score, but it may be necessary ... (See Hacked)

To escape from crummy cards, you need a plan -- Get basic good credit behavior down pat; worry about the nuances later ... (See Crummy)

Make sure loan consolidation improves your credit -- Consolidating your credit card debt into a single loan can help your credit or hurt it. It depends on your actions ... (See Debt)

Who must pay card debt of deceased husband? -- The state where you live determines who has to pay. ... (See Widow)

Card issuers can reduce your credit limit -- Banks monitor credit reports, and make adjustments if it sees signs of risk ... (See Limit)

Pay medical bill before debt goes into collections -- Complex medical billing makes it common for debts to slip past due ... (See Medical debt)

When medical bills lead to deep debt, tough choices follow -- Cut your costs, get credit counseling and accept that bankruptcy may be in your future ... (See Medical debt)

Struggling homeowner reliant on credit looks at raiding 401(k) -- With credit maxed out, car shot, raiding the 401(k) is tempting, but don't do it ... (See Help)

One day late, one dollar short means late fee -- Paying a bit little, a bit late, will trigger a fee ... (See Late fee)

What happens after a debt is charged off -- When the original lender gives up, collection efforts continue, with important consequences ... (See Debt)

Dealing with aggressive debt collector tactics -- A real debt collector must start by sending a validation of debt notice ... (See Debt)

Minimum payments won't cut debt on 16 cards -- If all you can afford is the minimum payments on your debt, you need a game-changer ... (See MInimums)

Risk of lien, garnishment during debt settlement -- If debt negotiations get nasty, you could be sued, so watch out for notices from the court ... (See Garnish)

Which 0-percent card should be paid off first? -- Priority should be given to the card with the closest expiring APR offer ... (See 0-percent)

Removing your name from a joint account after divorce -- You're still responsible if ex doesn't pay. If you're on good terms, and ex has good credit, a balance transfer would work ... (See Divorce)

Selling your home to pay off debt, fund college -- Shedding debt is good, but college costs add up fast and another home won't be cheap ... (See Home)

Credit card issuer can't garnish your Social Security check -- Contact the company and ask about a hardship program ... (See Garnish)

Don't close accounts after paying card debt -- Using a cash-out refi to pay off card debt? Great. Closing the card accounts after? Not great at all ... (See Close)

How to tell if a debt is too old to collect -- Time determines whether a debt can legally be collected, and you have to know the starting and ending dates ... (See Too old)

Big balance transfers may run into limits -- Zero-percent loans are great, but you might not be able to transfer all your debt to one ... (See Balance)

After divorce, ex dies with card debt; am I responsible? -- It's unlikely, but check divorce decree, credit reports ... (See Debt)

Pay off all card debt? Or leave a small balance? -- If you want to keep the card, use it; inactivity can cause it to be closed ... (See Pay off)

Settlement options on an old card debt -- A "paid in full" notation on your credit report will be helpful ... (See Settle)

If buying a home soon, handle old debt with care -- Have a strategy: How you deal with creditors can clean up your credit -- or send up red flags to mortgage lenders ... (See Home buy)

Don't rush to pay very old debt in collections -- After many years, it may be uncollectible due to its age ... (See Old debt)


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Updated: 05-23-2017



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