No. of Recommendations: 1

You wrote, Leave all your cards at home. If you use a card to earn points leave them all at home except that one. any CC purchase should require forethought, and in that case, you can put that card in your wallet before you go out for the day. If you wallet is stolen you only have to replace one card.

I think that's generally good advice; but I've been caught off-guard with this before. Most CC companies track purchases looking for suspicious purchasing activity. Discover regularly denies retail purchases made out of your home state unless you notify them in advance. I was caught that way once -- they suspended my account when I tried to get a room in Clayton, New Mexico once. Citibank has suspended my account for buying gasoline for two vehicles at the same station minutes apart -- I was in Austin, Texas, not in my home city.

I've found I either have to carry two cards if I plan on making credit purchases or I have to call the CC company in advance to let them know. Regardless, when I travel I call the CC companies I plan to use and let them know my plans. At first I was embarassed to have to do this; but the CC companies seem to take it in stride and just ask me my intended destinations as if it's the most natural thing in the world.

In general, I'd say keep two cards in your wallet -- a rebate card and a backup. (Especially if you plan to use the card for a dining expense. I can hardly imagine the embarrasment of being declined and not have an alternative, if I was going out to eat.) Of course, all this assumes you already have good control over your spending habits. If you're having control problems and needing to stay cash-only, then by all means don't take any CCs.

An indirectly related point is recording a shipping address. CC companies regularly decline purchases sent to addresses other than the billing address. But for most people it's usually safer and more reliable to have mail-order (or online) purchases sent to your employer rather than having them left at your doorstep or with a neighbor. Many employers have their own shipping and receiving departments. If you call and request it, the CC company will record your employer's address as a valid alternate address, allowing you to ship purchases directly to your work. Not that you should abuse such a privledge; but trying to receive packages from UPS or FEDX when no one's home can be a pain. And sometimes an online purchase is just the cheapest way to go.

- Joel
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