One of the odd, if not perverse effects of the recession and new consumer protections is that credit card companies are having a hard time justifying cheap (often zero-interest) credit to people with near-perfect credit ratings. The profit centers for credit card companies, people who ring up fees, get cash advances and carry a balance have been subsidizing those who carefully manage their credit. But if a near-perfect credit rating these days makes you a worse-than-normal bet for credit card issuers, what good is a credit rating?

Radio host Dave Ramsey has long said that worrying about your credit rating is generally a bad idea. Rather, he suggests working toward holding cash positions that make self-financing (paying cash) the most reasonable option for any non-home purchase.