smart spending

7 money-related things to give thanks for

Longer billing periods, free credit reports
Longer billing periods, free credit reports © photastic/

Another card-related gift: Consumers have at least three weeks to pay credit card bills, says John Ulzheimer, consumer credit expert for

The windows of time between when bills arrived in the mail and when payments were due "were shrinking until lawmakers passed the Credit CARD Act," which became effective in 2010, he says.

What you need to know: Card issuers must give consumers at least 21 days from the day bills are received to the day they're due. Bills have to be due on the same date each month.

Also on the thank-you list:, a website that makes it easy to pull your three credit reports every year, says Ulzheimer.

What you need to know: Whether you go to the site, call (877) 322-8228 or deal directly with the credit bureaus, every consumer is entitled to three free credit reports (one each from credit bureaus Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) every year.

Not many people are giving thanks for this one. Only 4 percent of consumers get their free reports every year, Ulzheimer says.


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