2015 Credit Predictions

What will the New Year bring us financially? Here are some educated guesses and predictions:

CardHub (www.cardhub.com) assembled the opinions of financial experts … who don’t agree on all points. Credit-card interest rates likely won’t go up, credit will be more available because of low rates, and consumers are likely to spend more in the next years (to the tune of $60 billion in credit-card debt) because we haven’t learned anything from the past few years.

Overdraft protection might be harder to get, and your credit worthiness will be checked before banks offer that service on your accounts.

The reader machines for “chipped” credit cards will show up in more places, especially since new rules (starting next October) will force merchants to pay for any fraud if they haven’t installed new machines. If you have an opportunity to swap an existing card for one with a chip, take it.

Data breaches will continue.

U.S. News (money.usnews.com) consulted experts who see more access to credit in 2015, especially for those who haven’t qualified in recent years, for two main reasons: Banks are a bit more relaxed with approvals now, and bad credit is scrolling off the credit reports of consumers who got in financial trouble before.

We’ll see more offers of balance transfers at zero percent interest for a year or year and a half. Again, credit-card companies are more relaxed about extending credit now.

More credit-card companies will provide FICO scores on your monthly statements.

Without consensus from experts on how 2015 will go financially, your best bet is, as always, to keep your head down. Don’t charge what you can’t pay for within three months. Look at statements when they first come in for any signs of fraud or compromise. Save, save, save. Try to get one more year out of your vehicle before buying another one. Keep good security on your home computers, and stay on top of news about viruses and how they might present themselves in email or on websites. If you can qualify for a zero-percent interest balance transfer credit card, use it to pay off any other credit card that charges interest. (Don’t close that other account — just don’t use it.)

But mostly, don’t give in to the feeling that it’s safe to start spending extravagantly. It’s not.

(c) 2014 King Features Synd., Inc.