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Greetings all,

First, I'd like to say that I've thoroughly enjoyed reading the inspirational stories that grace this folder. I'm rooting for everyone who's sacrificing and struggling to fill in the hole so they can start adding to their pile. I'd never realized just how much credit card companies try to hide or disguise from the average consumer before discovering The Motley Fool - it's been an eye opener.

I've read several posts on the subject of having too much available credit, indicating that it can be quite detrimental to your credit rating and the willingness of financial lenders to risk a loan on you (mortgage, student loans, car financing, etc.). How much is generally considered "too much"?

Personally, I have three credit cards.

1. A Citibank Driver's Edge (recently Ford Citibank) that nets me 2% rebates on all purchases good toward the purchase of a new vehicle. I use this one for practically everything I buy, and pay the balance in full each month.

2. A Sears department store credit card. The account is open but has no balance.

3. A Phillips 66 gas station credit card. Like the Sears card, the credit is available but has no balance.

All totalled I have roughly $3500-$4000 of available credit. (I'm not too sure what the limit is on the Phillips card - I haven't used it in months, and when I did, I had at most 3 or 4 gas purchases on the statement that were always paid in full when the bill came.)

How much credit can one have before a lender would start raising his/her eyebrows at the amount? I realize that the answer would be heavily dependent on the potential borrower's income, but is there a general percentage? I.E., your available credit should be no more than X percent of your yearly income? I'm wondering if I ought to cancel the Sears and Phillips card. No sense keeping them if they could cause me problems.

On an unrelated note,
Citibank recently called me (at dinnertime of course) to offer me a free CreditWatch™ membership or somesuch. For only about $50 a year, I could get a credit report once per quarter. I yawned and explained that I didn't feel the need to check it more than once per year, and when I did, I could get a report from all three agencies for around $25 if I felt the need.
I perked up, though, when she said they'd be sending me a complimentary report as part of the trial membership, and I had thirty days to cancel.

Here's the funny part:
Me: "When does the free trial start?"
Her: "It would start today, sir."
Me: "Uh, when can I expect the information and free credit report to arrive?"
Her: "In approximately 2-3 weeks."
Me: "So, I have 30 days to evaluate the membership, but the details and fine print won't be here for the first 14-21 of those days?"
Her: "Uh...yes sir, but you can always call for an extension."
Me: "Uh-HUH. What did you say your name was again? And what number will I call should I decide to cancel?"
Her:" My name is (deleted to protect the guilty), and the number is in the paperwork, sir."
Me: "I want the number NOW, please."

I ended up accepting the offer, and when the paperwork came, I called that same day, thanked them for the free credit report (which turned out to be from Equifax) and told them I didn't think I'd be needing the membership.

My philosophy is, use and abuse credit card companies as they are ever eager to do unto you! :-)

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