Moving out? Don't forget about the credit cards
Manage your finances before, during and after a relocation
Packing up to move? Don't overlook the little things in your wallet.
you are moving, your credit card company may not have gotten the memo. A
little preparation goes a long way in getting your credit off on the right foot in a new
the U.S. Census, 7.1 million Americans moved from one state to another in 2012.
That's nearly a 5 percent increase over relocations in 2010, which
dipped significantly during the economic downturn.
Whether you're picking up stakes and heading across state lines or relocating locally, keep these tips in mind for
efficiently moving your finances -- before, during and after you arrive in your new home.
Before you move: Keep finances stable
As part of your
move, you might be selling your home and assuming a new mortgage -- major
financial transactions that can potentially distract from your day-to-day
So right around
the time that you start dreaming of your new digs, consider how to make your
financial obligations less stressful throughout your relocation process. Here
are some tips.
- Don't make any additional drastic financial
changes. Use your existing cards to finance your move rather than opening
up new lines of credit, pay all your bills on time and put off additional major
purchases, such as a new car (tempting as those might be). The reason: opening
up new cards, defaulting on bills or incurring major debt all negatively affect
your credit score.
"The rule to
getting a mortgage when considering buying real estate is when you are making a
move, try to make sure you keep everything stable," said Joan Brothers, president of Manhattan Boutique Real Estate
in New York. "Even those who move and rent a place have their credit
- Set up auto-payment for your credit cards. This
easy step can go a long way toward reducing your stress. "Lots of little things
fall through the cracks when relocating. Don't let your credit card bills be
one of them," said David Bakke, a financial columnist at MoneyCrashers.com. If
you prefer, you can always revert back to your old payment system after you
- Cancel your old auto-payments. Take a
look at what currently might be automatically billed to your credit card or
checking account. Your payments for items such as newspaper, cable TV, utilities (including Internet service) and gym memberships all should be canceled so you are not
billed for services you aren't using after the move.
- Pad your emergency fund. "Conventional
wisdom holds that individuals need to save six to nine months' worth of living
expenses," said Kevin Gallegos, vice president of
Phoenix operations for Freedom Debt Relief. "With the inevitabilities of moving
and always some surprise expenses, it's extremely important to build up this
fund." Adding some extra cash to your emergency fund is wise in case any
surprises pop up in the course of your move.
During your move: Be choosy about new credit
While you're in the
process of moving, you'll likely be focusing on the logistics and
preparations for your new home. But be on the alert for things that may impact
your financial picture.
For example, while
new credit card applications are commonly associated with relocation (it's one
of the chief reasons people get new credit cards besides going to college,
graduating and getting married), you need to be careful about which cards you
Be discriminating as you apply
for new credit.
Store cards offering one-time incentives may seem like a good deal now, but may
not serve you well in the long term. Find out which cards are most advantageous
to use in your new city.
When he recently
moved to Shanghai, Mark Elliott focused on using only his cards that did not
charge a foreign transaction fee. "Also, do some simple research to find out
what cards are accepted in the area you are moving," said Elliott, president of
Elliott Asset Management. "In my case, Visa and MasterCard are only accepted at
the highest-end shopping outlets, so I have made arrangements for a new bank
account and local credit card."
Don't leave sensitive financial
information behind. Ensure
that all financial records are securely packed in bags or boxes that are
staying with you (as opposed to going on the moving van that's driven by
After you settle in: Take advantage of your
your relocation as an opportunity to start fresh -- you can create new processes
for paying your bills and staying organized.
- Change your address. Make sure your
address has been updated with each of your credit card companies as well as
through the post office so you don't miss statements and other important
- Update your auto insurance and your home
insurance. "Your move -- even just to a nearby neighborhood -- may bring
about some rate adjustments" for car insurance, said Gallegos. Shop
around for home insurance when you move, and then survey the rates periodically
so you can ensure that you're getting the best deal.
- Protect yourself from identity theft. If possible, ask for cards with updated
security features such as chip technology that offer a bit more protection.
Also set up a system for destroying sensitive financial information in your new
home to protect against identity theft.
- Make a commitment to stay organized in your
new home. With
your fresh start comes an opportunity to create a streamlined process of paying
bills and checking your credit report annually. Keep files updated with your
credit card agreements and any additional correspondence.
In short, treat your credit with care as you move. Like your delicate vase, it doesn't need any unnecessary jostling.
Printable guide: Your relocation credit card checklist
Published: January 31, 2014