Wednesday, September 9, 2009
*Will you carry a balance every month or almost every month? If so, a lower interest rate is better for you. If you transfer a high balance credit card to a lower or 0% APR credit card (often an introductory period), you will save even more.
*Will you be paying the credit card balance off every month? Then you will want to apply for a credit card without an annual fee. Finance charges may be higher, but since you pay the balance off every month, you won�t be charged. Look for credit cards that offer grace periods, usually between 25 to 30 days, before credit interest begins.
*Will you be shopping for credit card balance transfer? Be sure to check out the transaction fees and the introductory periods. Occasionally your credit card company will offer you a credit card debt consolidation with convenience checks so that you can transfer one or more credit card balances, but be sure to check out the transfer guidelines.
*Will you need cash advances? Apply for a credit card that offers a lower APR and lower transaction fees. Be sure to read the fine print on their requirements. Some credit card companies impose a transaction fee and a cash advance fee plus the interest rate. Some credit cards charge a higher rate for cash advances than regular purchases.
*Will you be traveling frequently, and charging your trip expenses? If this is your situation, then a cash back credit card reward program may suit you best. Be sure to consider your interest rate first, however. Rewards should come secondary to your spending habits and the cost of the credit card itself. Cash rebate cards offer you a cash back refund at the end of the year that you can use anyway you choose. Other credit card reward programs offer purchase points or redeemable rebates. Airline credit cards offer you miles as credit for every dollar you spend, sometimes offering you double or triple miles.
Whatever credit card offer you apply for, be sure to carefully consider the terms of your credit card, including the interest rate (APR), annual fees, transaction fees and balance transfer fees. Those hidden charges can add up quickly and cost you more than what you bargained for, so choose your credit card wisely.
If you have not yet established a credit record for yourself or you are in the process of rebuilding your credit, getting a credit card can greatly help you. The fact is, credit cards are one of the best ways to build a credit history and increase your credit worthiness.
If you wondering why you need to build your credit, consider the following reasons:
1. Having a credit history makes it far easier to obtain utilities like gas, electricity and phone services in your personal residence. Without a credit history, you may be asked to put down a large cash deposit to ensure that you will pay all your bills on time.
2. If you plan to ever buy a house or condo, the higher and more extensive your credit history is, the better the rate you will obtain for your mortgage.
3. If you ever want to get a degree and borrow money to pay for it, having a credit history will make it far easier to qualify for a good loan.
4. If you ever want to open your own business, you need a positive credit history in order to obtain a business loan or line of credit.
In short, you have much to gain by establishing credit for yourself as soon as you can. The earlier you begin building your credit history, the more advantages you will create for yourself for any future plans you may have.
You can build credit in many ways, such as having a department store credit card, or taking out a small loan at a bank and paying it off, but having a credit card is actually a far more effective way to build your credit. The simple reason for this is that you can use a credit card to pay for all your regular and ordinary expenses for which you might be paying cash, and in the process, you are literally building your credit record.
For example, at the very minimum, you might as well use a card to pay for all your grocery purchases, gas station fill-ups, and clothing purchases. By paying off these purchases in full when you receive your credit card statement each month for as little as two years, you can be taking advantage of hundreds of simple opportunities to build yourself a credit history without any risk or pain.So if you do not yet have a credit history or if are trying to improve your credit, don�t wait any longer to apply for a credit card and begin using it as often as you can on your ordinary daily purchases. Many banking institutions are seeking new credit card business and are eager to find new applicants who need to build their credit history. They are especially interested in college students, young professionals, and people seeking cards in order to get special benefits such as airline miles or bonus points, and so you can find many attractive deals online from banks catering to your needs
Cash Back Credit Cards
These cards return money to you in the form of checks. Many of the cards offer deals like 5% cash back on purchases at grocery stores, drug stores, and gas stations. In most cases, the stores are the major chains where you probably shop anyway. On top of that, these cash back cards usually offer 1% cash back on all other purchases. Some cards offer even higher cash back percentages for specific gas stations or for buying specific grocery or drug store products.
A quick bit of math will prove how valuable this cash back proposition can be. Let�s say you�re a family of four with two cars. You spend $600 a month at grocery stores, $100 at drug stores, and $200 at gas stations. If you pay for these purchases using your credit card instead of cash or a paper check, that�s $900 per month on which you get 5% cash back. That comes out to $45 per month returned to you. Let�s say that in addition, you use your card to make another $500 in other purchases that qualify for 1% back; that adds another $5 to your coffers, for a total of $50 per month, or $600 per year back to you. Not too shabby for just using a credit card.
Rewards Credit Cards
Some credit cards offer you rewards such as bonus points that count toward gift certificates redeemable at top name stores, such as Best Buy, Home Depot, and Macy�s. Other cards offer you rewards in the form of Frequent Flyer Miles to use on any airline.
Let�s say you use your card to charge $1000 per month on items that you normally would pay cash for. Rather than simply spending your money, now you also get gift certificates to buy merchandise, or frequent flyer miles to tune of 12,000 per year. And some of the cards also offer you a bonus the first time you use the card � so in the case of miles, you can get an extra 15,000 miles, for a grand total of 27,000 miles in one year -- enough for a free ticket to anywhere in the US.
Maximizing Your Card Usage
Of course, the key to taking advantage of such cards begins with choosing the one that best fits your normal purchasing habits. Compare online credit card offers and find the offer that makes sense for your lifestyle. If you have a large family and buy lots of groceries, maybe the 5% cash back cards are the best. If you fly often and can benefit from the frequent flier miles, apply for those cards.
Then be sure you maximize your card usage to boost your returns. Use your card everywhere you can. Arrange to pay your regular bills using your credit card, such as your gas and electric utility bills, your doctor and dentist bills -- as many regular monthly bills as possible using your credit card.
Still More Amazing -- Sign Up Perks
What�s truly mind-boggling is that many banks are also offering great incentives to sign up for their card. You can find offers where you not only will you get cash back and/or rewards, but the bank also has 0% APR financing for 12 months on new purchases and sometimes on balance transfers, and to boot, no annual fee.
All in all, today�s credit card issuing banks are hungry for your business and have become highly competitive in creating promotions to attract you to apply for their card. It is truly impossible to imagine why anyone would not apply to get one of these cash back or rewards credit cards when you have everything to gain, and nothing to lose.
First, banking institutions that offer online credit card applications use the most up-to-date technology to ensure that their web sites are protected against intrusion and data theft. This technology is known as SSL, which stands for Secure Sockets Layer, a transmission protocol that �encrypts� any data sent between the bank and your computer, such as all the personal information you need to fill out when applying for a credit card.
What exactly is encryption? It is a sophisticated mathematical process that disguises data by altering the bits of information in ways that are undecipherable to others. You have probably done encryption in your childhood days when you sent messages to friends in school using a secret language such as reversing the alphabet, so that A meant Z, and Z meant A. That early game was actually a form of encryption.
In the early days of the Internet, encryption used 40-bits, which meant that a character of data could be transformed into another character in any one of 2 to the 40th power ways, which is approximately 1 trillion ways. But as large as that number is, computer security experts realized that people, including criminals, who had access to very powerful computers could crack 40-bit encryption in a short period of time, ranging from a few days to a few seconds depending on the power of their computers.
Therefore, in the late 1990s, a much more powerful type of encryption was introduced using 128 bits. This means that each character of data can be altered in any of 2 to the 128th power ways, a code which represents an astronomical number of possible variations that would take on the order of 20,000 years to break using today�s fastest computers. The use of 128-bit encryption has thus completely altered the safety of data.
Two Encryption Keys Required
Furthermore, today�s encryption methods use what is called the �two-key� algorithm whereby the sending computer and the receiving computer use both a �public� key and a �private� key to encrypt and then decrypt any data exchanged between them. The process is complex to explain, but suffice it to say that the two-key approach makes it impossible for all intents and purposes for an outside party such as a criminal to capture and interpret any data transmitted between two computers over an Internet site using SSL technology � because the criminals will not have both keys.
Online Credit Card Applications - No Safer Method
In short, SSL technology virtually guarantees that if you fill out a credit card application over the Internet using a bank�s secure application page, all your personal information can never be stolen or broken into.
Compare this to a paper credit card application which you send via the US Post Office. Think about how many mailboxes are broken into each year and how many pieces of mail are somehow lost � and you will now realize that applying for a credit card over the Internet is actually the most secure method you can find.
So if you want or need a new credit card in order to expand your credit capabilities or to get bonus points or travel rewards, the best thing to do is to go to one of the web sites that allows you to compare credit card offers, then click through to the secure web site for the bank you choose to fill out their online credit card application. You will also benefit from this because your application will be processed within minutes and you can often get an immediate approval rather than waiting weeks as you do when you mail in a paper application.
All in all, rest assured that computer security experts are working hard to protect consumers from crime and identity theft as Internet banking, e-commerce, and credit card payments are increasingly processed online.
A credit card can be a valuable piece of plastic to own. To get the most out of yours, though, you'll want to be aware of the terms and conditions that come with it. Before you apply for a new card, make sure you have a solid understanding of what you're signing up for. Here are five common terms to watch for on credit card applications.
Annual Percentage Rate
Often appearing on the credit card application as APR, the annual percentage rate refers to the cost of credit. In other words, the APR represents the interest you will need to pay on any outstanding balances you have on the credit card. It is expressed as a yearly rate. Some credit cards advertise a low interest rate. Others, especially those that offer reward programs, may charge a higher APR. Consider your priorities and whether or not you will carry a balance as you look at the APR.
If a credit card application offers the option of a balance transfer, it means that you can bring over an existing balance from a different card. Why would you want to do this? You may be carrying a balance on a card that has a high APR. By switching the balance to a card with a low APR, you could save a good deal of money in interest. Credit cards that offer a balance transfer usually include a certain time period during which no interest will be charged to the balance. Check to see how long the offer lasts, and pay off the balance during the allotted time. You'll save a bundle in interest fees.
The grace period, or free period, is the number of days that you are given to pay off a balance without getting charged interest. Grace periods usually run between 20 and 30 days. If you make a purchase, and then pay it off during the grace period, you will not owe any finance charges. If your card does not have a grace period, finance charges will start to accrue as soon as you make the purchase.
Most credit cards include additional bonuses for signing up. These often consist of an initial time period during which you will not be charged interest. The offer usually lasts between six and twelve months, and can be used toward purchases or balance transfers. Check to see what the offer applies to, and what the regular interest rate will be. Eventually, you will have to pay the normal interest rate on the card.
Variable vs. Fixed Rate
Many credit cards come with a variable interest rate. This is usually attached to the prime rate, which is what banks use to lend to their best customers. As the prime rate shifts, so does the interest on your credit card. A fixed rate, on the other hand, is one that will not shift. The credit card company still has the right, even with a fixed rate, to make adjustments, but they need to let you know before they do so.
All of these terms can help you pick out the right credit card for your situation. Take the time to read through the terms on the application. By doing so, you'll have a full understanding of your credit card. Once the plastic arrives in the mail, you'll be ready to start using it.
It's important to have credit card education before applying for credit or making any other major financial decision. In our education center we well inform you about any aspect of credit card education. We publish new credit card articles weekly so be sure to check back often.
- New Credit Card Laws and Your Rights
Recent changes in US credit law are set to loosen the stranglehold many credit card companies have over their customers and wrestle some of the power back in favour of the consumer. The law (passed on the 20th August) is the first step in what is being seen as the biggest overhaul of the credit card industry in two decades.
- Alternative Credit Card Types
Believe it or not, there are a variety of credit cards and alternatives to the traditional credit card. Understanding the various options in alternative credit card types is essential to selecting an appropriate card for your particular needs.
- Understanding Credit Card Terms (Glossary)
Understanding credit card terms is a good way to stay one step ahead. If you can read a credit card application and understand the terms of agreement on your card – you'll be in better shape to use your cards responsibly and avoid falling into the credit card debt trap. Here's a glossary of the most common credit card terms to help you with your credit card education:
- How Much Your Credit Cards Are Really Costing You?
Since the average American family has several thousand dollars of credit card balances to deal with, it's probably a good idea to have an idea of how much those credit cards are really costing you. At first glance, you might think they're costing you $40 a month, or whatever your minimum payment is – but the reality is, credit cards cost you a whole lot more than you actually spend using them if you carry a balance from one month to the next.
- A Plain English Guide to Credit Card Reform
Do the credit reform rules have you confused? Here's a quick guide to the coming changes and what they will mean for you.
- Credit Card Protection Plans: Valuable or Waste of Money?
In previous years, whenever someone was approved for a credit card they would be asked to purchase “credit insurance”. Most people declined the coverage. These days, it has been re-packaged and labeled a credit card protection plan. Are they worth the extra money each month or is it just another way for credit card companies to make money off cardholders?
- Why Credit Card Rates are Rising
Consumers have been seething over the latest rate and fee increases by credit card companies. And it appears that it is not so much over the fact that there are increases, but the fact that communication about these changes has been slow in coming which has left card holders in the dark. There are stories out there that prove this phenomenon.
- How to Minimize Corporate Credit Card Abuse
Corporate credit cards make it easy for employees to charge their travel and meal expenses. But how can you ensure they're not being used for personal fun? This article tells you how to prevent corporate credit card abuse by employees.
- Not Everyone Included in New Credit Card Laws of 2010
Consumers are looking forward to the implementation of the July 1, 2010 credit card rules which are designed to prevent some of the nastier tactics of credit card companies. Because the credit card industry has such a long time to “prepare” for the new laws, many consumers in the meantime are getting slammed with higher interest rates, changes in due dates and decreased credit limits as the credit card issuers look to reduce their risks and prepare for the changes.
- How to Manage Multiple Credit Cards
If you're like the “average American”, chances are you've got as many credit cards as you have fingers! Most American's have between five and ten credit cards. Credit cards have been considered necessary for many years now, particularly for people who like to make purchases by telephone or the internet, and people who like to travel. Have you ever tried to reserve a restaurant, hotel, or book a flight without a credit card? It's downright impossible!
- Should You Consider Credit Insurance for Your Credit Cards?
One of the options available for those with credit cards is credit insurance. The unfortunate thing is that some cardholders may already be paying for credit insurance and might be totally unaware of its existence on their account. This is unfortunate because credit card insurance can cost between $20.00 and $30.00 a month. It would be wise to examine your monthly statement to make sure that you know whether or not you are paying for credit insurance on your credit cards.
- Credit Cards As Overdraft Protection
A large percentage of the population is currently struggling to keep up with their debt repayments. To err is human, though, and it is not uncommon for someone to make a simple mistake that ends up costing big bucks! You already know that making a payment a day or two late will result in a late fee – often one that is higher than the minimum amount owed on a credit card. If you make a late payment or skip a payment all together, chances are you will also experience an interest rate increase on that account – as well as any other credit card account you have (under the Universal Default clause).
- How to Talk to Your Kids about Credit Cards
Schools don't do it. The government and banks don't do it. It's up to you to teach your kids about credit cards. Here are some tips to help you get started.
- Live Thrifty Without Cutting Up Your Credit Cards
When times get tough, American stop charging. But you don't need to give up your credit cards in order to live a frugal life. Here are some tips for being a thrifty card holder.
- Taking Responsibility For Your Credit Cards
The Credit Card Industry is taking a hard hit right now. With the Housing crisis in full swing and the economy questionable to say the least, the burden of financial insecurity is common place. There are those who are managing to survive the onslaught of foreclosure and delinquent credit issues. To those, I tip my hat. For many however, the situation has gone from bad to worse. With less money in their pockets they have turned to their credit cards for coverage. Although many credit card companies have lowered their interest rates of late, there is little doubt that they will once again rise. After all, credit card companies have to make money as well. We have built our financial society around profit. Everyone, the credit card companies and the customers, must take responsibility for credit card debt.
- Credit Etiquette for First Time Card Holders
Getting your first credit card can be exciting. Paying off the debt after you've overspent? Not so much. Here's a quick and easy guide to using credit cards responsibly.
- Understanding Frozen Credit
Credit freezes are often confused with fraud alerts, but they are really nothing similar. A fraud alert is when new creditors are alerted that you may have been the victim of fraud, and the creditor is required to take additional verification steps that prove they should be accessing your credit and opening an account for you before they can issue the credit. Fraud alerts also remove you from receiving prescreened offers for insurance and credit.
- The Credit Card Industry Could Face Tough Changes
If Congress has its way, credit card companies might be changing the way they do business.
- 21 Credit Card Hacks : The Credit Card Holders Survival Guide
Credit cards can be your best friend or worst enemy; it all depends on how you use them. Getting the most out of your credit card is often counter-intuitive or requires you to be aware of features that aren’t regularly advertised. This list of credit card hacks will provide you with the info you need to make the most of your credit cards.
- The History of Credit Cards
Credit cards might seem like a modern convenience, but they actually had their start many years ago. Enjoy this trip down memory lane!
- Why Credit Card Life and Disability Insurance is a Rip-off
Chances are, when you apply for a credit card you will be asked if you want to enroll in additional life and disability insurance. If you don’t choose to enroll, rest assured the credit card company will call you a few months down the road and try to get you again.
- The Pros and Cons of Having a Credit Card
Are you a credit card owner? If you are not, the thought may have crossed your mind. After all, you have likely received numerous credit card offers in the mail or you may have even been presented with credit card offers online. To determine if having a credit card is the best decision for you, you are advised to examine the pros and cons of having one. A few of the most influential pros and cons are outlined below for your convenience.
- How Credit Cards Work
You find something you absolutely have to have, slap down a piece of plastic and voilà – it’s yours! Life sure is good, isn’t it? But have you ever wondered what happens behind the scenes, from the time your credit card gets swiped (actually or virtually) until the time the purchase shows up on your credit card statement?
- Line of Credit or Loan?
When you need cash, is it better to obtain a line of credit or get a loan? The answer depends mainly upon your self discipline and what you plan on using the money for. If you want to make fixed payments over a specific period of time, then a traditional loan is your best option. If you prefer to have a line of credit that you can use whenever you need to as long as you have money available, then a line of credit is probably the route you want to take.
- Teaching Children about Credit Cards
It’s the 21st century, and most of the kids living in the United States are constantly watching their parents put a cute little plastic card into an automated teller machine and seeing the machine instantly spit out a wad of cash. It’s like magic! A machine that gives money whenever anybody wants it!
- What is a Home Equity Line of Credit?
As with regular types of mortgages on homes, the interest charged to the borrower of a home equity line of credit may be able to deduct a certain amount from their yearly federal taxes. Every situation is different, but it is a possibility. A certified public accountant should be able to tell any potential borrower if home equity lines of credit can be beneficial in terms of taxes.
- Understanding Credit Card Terms
Anyone who does not understand how a credit card works - including purchasing items with it, reading the monthly billing statements, and knowing the rules for payments - should not own a credit card. However, credit card terms and details on how to responsibly own a credit card are easy to learn.
- Making Sense Out of Your Credit Card Statement
Whether you are new to the world of credit cards, or a seasoned veteran, understanding the information in your credit card statement can be confusing. There is a lot of information packed onto a single page, and if you’ve never taken the time to review your statement in detail, it may be a good idea for you to do so.
- Purchase Protection
Most credit card companies provide purchase protection insurance for free, as an included benefit of owning their particular credit card. As competition among credit card companies is so fierce, creditors are attempting many different strategies in order to gain and retain loyal customers.
- Credit Card Usage Explained
How often have you seen someone going through their wallet searching for a credit card in the checkout line- and were shocked by the number of cards they had in their wallet? Credit cards can be used as a form of identification when applying for a major purchase, or when renting a car; and they can be used for convenient purchases that you won’t have to pay for until a month after you buy them