Most American families have multiple credit cards, including a few VISA or MasterCard accounts, a few gasoline cards, and several retail credit cards for department stores like Sears. Managing around a dozen individual cards rapidly can become a hassle, and the time used writing a bunch of checks every month and the expense of mailing a bunch of payments every month often leads to frustration. One common solution is to consolidate all credit card debt onto a single credit card. Many credit card companies offer such services, and after taking advantage of this process a family will have only a single credit card with a single balance due. It sounds great, but there are potential pitfalls. First, the consolidated debt sometimes carries an additional charge or higher rate than the individual cards-so you should be careful and gather information before selecting which major credit card to use for consolidation. Second, after consolidation you should immediately destroy the zero-balance-due cards and cancel the associated credit accounts. If you don’t, sooner or later you’ll charge up a new lawnmower on your Sear’s card and a new set of clothes on your Neiman Marcus card, and you’ll be right back to square one-and after all, simplicity is what consolidation is all about.