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Find the latest credit card articles and news on the best credit card rates. With timely credit card articles, consumers can learn how to choose the best credit card with the best credit card rate that fits their needs. Review helpful credit card articles on introductory credit card rates, credit card balance transfer rates, rates on credit card rewards and more. Listed credit card articles contain guides, tips and advice about credit cards use and credit card availability. Learn how to obtain the best credit card rates and get the maximum benefits from credit card use. Credit card articles provide step by step details on how to compare credit cards. Use the credit card articles to help compare and find the best prepaid credit card, credit card for bad credit, student credit card, credit card cash back offers and more. Keep up to date with credit card articles on all the most popular credit card categories from low rate credit cards to business credit cards. Current credit card articles offer up to date information to consumers before they apply for a new credit card.

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Can You Get a New Credit Card without a Job or Income

Little Things in a Credit Report that get a Credit Card Denied

Why Having and Using a Credit Card is So Important

New Debt Repayment Strategies to Help Reduce Debt and Build Credit

Understanding Today’s Credit Card Rates

Top Reasons to get a Secured Credit Card?

The Three Biggest Dangers with Prepaid Cards

Why the Advisors are Wrong about Store Credit Cards for the Holidays

Best Three Tips When Falling Behind on Your Credit Card Payments

Best Tips for First Time Credit Card Users

Top Credit Card Do’s

Top Credit Card Don’ts

Get the Best Secured Credit Card

Using Prepaid Credit Cards to Control Your Spending

The Best Credit Card Rates and the Economy

Credit Cards for Bad Credit and Reestablishing Credit

Credit Card Fundamentals and Finding the Best Credit Card

Credit Card Reward Promotions and Credit Card Choices

Analyzing the Best Introductory Credit Card Rates

Credit Card Offers and Sensible Card Selection

Business Credit Card Advantages

Credit Card Use and Credit Abuse Rises with Credit Ease

Finding the Right Credit Card with the Best Credit Card Rate

How to Apply for a Credit Card

Too Many Consumers are Ignoring Credit Card Rates

New Gift Card Facts

A Brief Review of Secured Credit Card Options

Credit Card Choices and Alternatives

Common Credit Card Mistakes Part Two

Credit Card Rewards Cards Need to be Chosen Carefully

Finding the Best Credit Card During the Holidays

Common Credit Card User Errors

What are Student Credit Cards

More Positives for Credit Card Holders

A Look at Hidden Costs of Credit Cards

Searching for the Best Credit Card Rate

Avoid Extra Costs and Losses with Credit Card Use

Credit Cards Understanding the Limits

Top Five Reasons to Use a Credit Card

Credit Card Offers Online

Credit Card Rewards, the Credit Card Grace Period and Paying Bills

Different Credit Cards for Different Transactions

Why Credit Card Use Spirals Out of Control

Plenty of Credit Cards but Which One to Choose

Reducing Credit Card Balances

Credit Card Due Dates

Before You Get a New Credit Card

Cleaning Up Credit Card Charges

What Can A Credit Card Counseling Profit Company Do For You?

Credit Cards and Budgeting

Shopping for a Prepaid Credit Card

Credit Cards, Saying Goodbye to the Pocket Full of Change

Credit Cards, Credit Issues and Damage Control

Credit Card Interest and Credit Card Payment Calculators

Useful Tips for New Credit Card Holders

Credit Card Options for Those with Poor Credit

The Importance of Credit Card Interest Rates

Credit Card Offers and Credit Card Shopping

Credit Card Check Problems

No Credit History, Credit Cards and More

Credit Cards Online

Shopping for a Business Credit Card

Business Credit Card Benefits

Why Your Credit Cards Could be Declined

Staying on Track with Credit Cards for Young Adults

Credit Cards for Foreign Travel

Credit Cards Can Help Establish Credit

Categories of Credit Cards

Zero Interest Credit Cards

Reducing the Costs of Credit Card Debt

How to Transfer a Credit Card Balance

Department Store Credit Cards

Fine Print In Credit Card Agreements

Credit Cards and Credit Building for Students

Discipline and Credit Card Debt for Beginners

Getting the Most from Credit Card Rewards

Finding the Right Credit Card

Credit Cards 101

General Tips Regarding Credit Cards

Disputing Charges on Your Credit Card

Credit Card Offers and Terms

Comparison Shop for Credit Cards

Credit Cards for Everyday Expenses

What is a Credit Freeze?

Credit Cards for Good

Frequent Flyer Credit Cards for Your Needs.

Identity Theft Protection

How To Cancel Your Credit Card

How Credit Cards Work

How Many Credit Cards

Hazards of the Credit Card Cash Advance

Credit Cards for Small Purchases

Unauthorized Credit Card Use

Understanding Monthly Credit Card Statement – Part 2

Understanding the Credit Card Statement

Credit Cards and the Importance of a Credit History

The World of Credit Cards

The Ultimate Guide to Airline Credit Card Rewards

The Ultimate Guide to Credit Card Balance Transfers

The Scoop on Student Credit Cards

The Other Side of Credit Card Rewards

The Ins and Outs of Prepaid Credit Cards

Credit Card Cash Back Offers

Students And Credit Cards

Small Business Credit Cards

Shopping the Prepaid Credit Card Market

Secured Credit Card Tips

No More Change with Credit Cards

Prepaid Debit Cards

Credit Card Minimum Payments

Managing Finances with a Credit Card

Credit Cards and Lack of Credit History

Credit Card No No’s

Using Credit Cards Prudently

Limit Credit Card Debt With Rewards Credit Cards

Credit Card Scams

Credit Card Safety

Credit Card Reward Programs Basics

Credit Cards and Your Credit Level

What To Do If You Lose Your Credit Card

About Credit Card Balance Transfers

Why Fixed Rates Are Not Fixed On Credit Cards

Credit Card Insurance

Credit Card APRs

Choosing the Right Credit Card Processor

Credit Card Charge Offs

Cash Back Credit Cards

Credit Card Cardholder Protections and Rights

Beginning Credit With a Student Credit Card

Credit Card Balance Transfer Nitty Gritty

Credit Card Balance Transfer Essentials

Bad Credit Card Options with Unsecured Credit Cards

Credit Cards Asking For A Lower Rate

Analyzing Merchant Account Fees

All About Credit Card Rewards

All About Credit Card Balance Transfers

What Airline Mile Travel Credit Card is the Best

A Brief Look at Prepaid and Secured Credit Cards

Can You Get a New Credit Card without a Job or Income

Although a job is not required to be approved for a credit card, most prospective card holders will find it is very difficult to get approved for a new credit card without either a job or a source of income.

One of the main catalysts pushing credit card companies to involve income verification for credit card approvals was the passage of the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 (CARD Act).  Prior to the Passage of the CARD Act, a number of credit card companies were already tightening their lending standards to reduce delinquency rates and credit card charge offs following the financial crisis of 2007-2008.  But, the CARD Act imposed direct restrictions on credit card approvals without income verification.

Within the terms of the CARD ACT is Section 150, Consideration of Ability to Repay.  This section states, “A card issuer may not open any credit card account for any consumer under an open end consumer credit plan, or increase any credit limit applicable to such account, unless the card issuer considers the ability of the consumer to make the required payments under the terms of such account.”

Income requirements for credit card approvals were loosened up a bit after some backlash over the CARD Acts impact on non-working spouses, partners, and family members.  Concerns that the rules unduly limited the ability of spouses and partners not working outside the home to obtain credit cards based on the income of their spouse or partner led to an amendment.  A rule was subsequently implemented that removed the requirement that issuers consider consumers’ independent ability to pay for applicants who are 21 or older.  Instead, issuers may now consider income and assets to which such consumers have a reasonable expectation of access.

As a result of the CARD Act and its amended rules, most credit card applications request income information from the applicant but allow family income sources to be included.  Applications for new credit cards will generally allow applicants to include personal income such as full-time, part-time, seasonal jobs, self-employment, interest or dividends, retirement, and public assistance to qualify.  In addition, the applications for most cards allow the applicant to include shared income, which is money from somebody else that is regularly deposited into the applicants financial account or into a joint account that person shares.

Credit card companies are not required to obtain direct proof of income such as pay stubs and tax returns.  Instead, credit card issuers are permitted to use “statistically valid” data, or scoring models, to estimate income and assets.

The end result for most consumers means a source of individual or family income is required to get a credit card approval.  Proof of the income stream or source is up to the credit card issuer to prove or otherwise validate.

Little Things in a Credit Report that get a Credit Card Denied

As some credit card applicants have experienced, there are some seemingly innocuous pieces of information in your credit report that can result in the credit card application getting denied.  Many of these little dings in a credit report that impact on a credit card application are the result of trivial or marginal actions conducted by the individual consumer.  Awareness of these actions can help supplant a turned down application with a credit card approval.

Closed Accounts

One of the most common actions that can damage an individual’s credit score and therefor hurt their chance of getting a credit card application approved is closing credit accounts that are used infrequently.  Closing unused credit accounts may seem like a responsible thing to do but this action can actually end up reducing your credit score.

Closing a rarely used account that has a long track record in your credit report can have the effect of reducing the average length of time that your credit accounts have been open.  The length of your credit history is one of the components used to determine a credit score with longer credit histories generally leading to higher credit scores.

In addition, closing an account means the overall amount of available credit has been reduced.  Reducing available credit causes an increase in an individual’s credit utilization ratio, another fairly significant component in credit score models.

Credit Report Errors

Simple errors in an individual’s credit report often surface as a cause for credit card denials.  Bestcreditcardrates.com has often referred to credit reporting errors as the silent killers of credit applications.

Common errors found in credit reports include information that is not the applicants because of similar names, addresses, and related information that mixed into the wrong credit report.  These errors can be the result of similar family names or unrelated individuals.

Outdated information is often reported on accounts after the legal deadline for removing them from a credit report has passed.  Outdated data can be compounded by misreporting on collection accounts and multiple collections accounts covering the same debt.  Inaccurate payment status is a similar issue that can be common when old accounts are not updated.

Credit Inquiries

Those nasty little credit inquiries can sneak up on a credit card applicant and whack enough points off their credit score to pose a problem.  Each time a new credit card application is made, or any other type of credit request, the creditor will access or pull the applicant’s credit report.  This access results in a credit inquiry being added to the credit report.

Multiple credit inquiries will have negative impact on your credit score.  The impact of inquiries will vary depending on the overall credit profile of the applicant but, multiple inquiries will certainly reduce an individual’s score and the dip maybe enough to turn an approval into a denial.

Avoid the Little Credit Reporting Pitfalls

To avoid having these little surprises hurt your chances of getting a new credit card, check your credit report for accurate and timely information.  Checking your own credit report does not count as a hard inquiry that reduces your score and everyone is entitled to a free credit report annually from each of three major credit reporting agencies.  Furthermore, under the FCRA, both the credit reporting company and the information provider are responsible for correcting inaccurate or incomplete information in your report.

Why Having and Using a Credit Card is So Important

Most consumers have become aware of the importance of good credit.  Everything from car loans to mortgage loans are based on individual credit histories, as are insurance rates and sometimes even job applications.  Credit, for better or worse, is a reality of modern life.

The common thread among these businesses is that are looking to extend credit, engage in a long term financial contracts with a consumer, or offering an employment opportunity, is they all want to see an individual with a responsible credit history.  The fact is that most creditors want to know whether their customer is likely to be a good credit risk.

Both poor credit and no credit can pose a problem for those applicants entering into any of these contractual relationships.  Most creditors are reluctant to grant credit to consumers who have limited or no credit and have not established a track record with other creditors first.  In addition, many creditors will not extend credit to consumers with a history that is undermined by delinquent payments, repossession, judgments, or bankruptcy.

Having a credit report that has a good foundation of credit building will help immensely when it comes to placating the businesses and creditors that in your credit background before offering their products or services.

The only way to establish credit and build a strong credit history is to obtain and use credit.  One of the easiest ways to do this is by using credit cards.  Every time a consumer uses their credit card and then pays their bill on time, they are helping to build a strong record of good credit.

Consumers that have limited credit, no credit, or poor credit will find a variety of different options in the credit card marketplace.  Everything from student credit cards to secured credit cards are available to those with limited credit and highly qualified candidates will find a plethora of low rate credit cards and rewards credit cards to choose from.

This positive credit history will help pave the way for other objectives or goals a consumer may have in their personal life, like buying a home, a new car, or seeking a new job.  Like it or not, establishing good credit, usually grounded with a solid credit card payment history, is one of the essentials of contemporary living.

New Debt Repayment Strategies to Help Reduce Debt and Build Credit

As long as you have consumer debt, it pays to take a fresh look at your tactics for repaying and reducing your outstanding debt load.  Getting out of debt provides most consumers with breathing room that can not only save money but, reduces stress and help people focus on prioritizing lifestyle goals.

Changing your spending habits is generally regarded as option one and is often the most critical course of action when it comes to reducing debt.  By curtailing conspicuous consumption and making fewer purchases that produce little value or have limited rewards will result in more funds that can be allocated to discharging debts and alleviating those onerous interest charges.  Rule one, don’t follow the path of U.S. government, cut your spending first to free up needed cash flow.

The snowball method is one method of debt repayment that has been popularized recently by some personal finance personalities.  The snowball method encourages borrowers to pay off their smaller debts first regardless of the interest rates or interest charges associated with the account.  By paying off debts with the smallest balances first, borrowers will often become more motivated by their debt reduction success and therefore, be less likely to fail at their mission to reduce their overall debt burden.

Using a variation of the mortgage acceleration process to pay off debt faster is gaining traction as a tool to reduce more than just mortgage debt.  The most common debt acceleration tool for mortgages is to split the required payment into multiple payments each month (often just two payments or biweekly payments for mortgages).  This technique works just as well for credit card balances and car loans.  Making multiple small payments during the payment cycle can be easier on a tight budget.  Multiple payments can be made as cash becomes available and your debt gets eliminated faster as the smaller payment exceed the contractual minimum obligation.

Another recent popular method of debt repayment combines savings with accelerated debt payments.  This technique is often referred to as paying yourself first.  The method entails paying into your own savings and investment accounts first while simultaneously paying off your debts and, of course, not incurring any new debts.  The goal is to put emphasis on savings and debt reduction to build a long term plan.  Like the snowball method, paying yourself first is designed create rewards along with debt reduction.

Borrowers with moderate to large amounts of debt should always take a close look at getting a rate reduction to pare back debt via lower interest charges.  While not always considered one of the big tactical moves to reducing debt, cutting the interest rates on debt can lead to some measurable savings over time.  Sites like Bestcreditcardrates.com offer a plethora of low rate credit cards and balance transfer credit cards to help consumers find credit cards with the terms that fit their budget.

Consumer debt is burden that can impact all aspects of life.  A little extra effort finding a manageable way to reduce that debt is well worth it.

Understanding Today’s Credit Card Rates

Understanding today’s credit card rates is a critical part of the credit card selection process.  Sure, credit card rewards are great and the type of credit card selected can be important but understanding the ins and outs of credit card rates can help save a lot of money. 

Even after new credit card rules were passed via the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 or Credit CARD Act of 2009, understanding current credit card rates and terms is not an effortless undertaking.  In fact, even crazy Senator Elizabeth Warren made a remark about the complexity of credit card rates by stating that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s “next challenges will be about further clarifying price and risks and making it easier for consumers to make direct product comparisons.”

The interest rate on a credit card is the price the card holder pays for borrowing money to make transactions with the credit card account.  The interest rate or rates are stated as a yearly rate, called the annual percentage rate (APR).  Credit cards can have either a fixed interest rate or a variable rate. 

With a fixed rate credit card the rate, or APR, will not fluctuate with changes to an index.  The rate will generally remain fixed for a period of at least one year, this can change only if certain circumstances take place such as the account holder misses two consecutive monthly payments.  After the initial one year period, the credit card issuer can change the interest rate for new purchases as often as the credit card agreement allows.  The card issuer must also give the consumer 45 days written notice of a rate increase and unless the card holder is falling behind with the payments, the changes to the rate will apply to new purchases only.

A credit card with a variable rate or variable APR will experience rate changes when there are changes in an underlying index.  Almost all variable rate credit cards today use the Prime Rate as the index to determine future rate changes.  The rate on the credit card will generally not be the Prime Rate but the Prime Rate plus a margin which is a preset number added to the Prime Rate to create the actual credit card rate used for transactions.  An example might be the Prime Rate plus 7.5%.  Rate changes for variable rate credit cards can also change if the account holder is delinquent, just like fixed rate credit cards.

Most fixed rate credit cards are offered with one set rate for purchases, a set rate for balance transfers, and one for cash advances.  Variable rate credit cards are frequently offered with tiered rates or a range of rates for each transaction type.  An example of the tiered rates may include a offer for a new credit card that has a purchase rate of Prime plus 6% to 10%.  The APR offered to a particular card applicant will be determined by that applicant’s credit profile or credit score. The higher the credit score, the lower the APR will be.

In addition to the different rates offered for purchases, balance transfers and cash advances, some credit card offer low teaser rates or promotional rates.  Promotional rates have predetermined time period during which time transactions can be made that rate.  special promotional rates may be for new purchases, for balance transfers or other specific types of transactions.

When a promotional rate is offered, the credit card company has to let the account holder know how long the rate lasts and the rate that will be in effect when the promotional rate expires.  When the promotional rate expires, the card issuer can automatically raise the rate in accordance with the agreement without sending advanced notification.  Promotional rates, when available, must apply for a period of at least six months.

The cardholder agreement is one of the best sources of information regarding credit card rates and terms.  The cardholder agreement is essentially a contract between the consumer and the credit issuer that will include details about the credit card terms and conditions.  Consumers can usually get a copy of the agreement on that card issuer’s website, and or it can be requested directly from the card issuer.

Top Reasons to get a Secured Credit Card?

For consumers that have poor credit or are in need additional credit, there are some very good reasons to turn to secured credit cards.  Secured credit cards offer a number of benefits to consumers that have poor credit and have been turned away from the traditional credit market. 

Secured cards operate the same way as standard credit cards with one exception; the account holder is required to make a deposit with the credit card company that will be used as security in case of default by the card holder.  The deposit or security is usually in an amount that is equal to all or part of the card’s credit limit.  Otherwise, secured cards and traditional cards are used in the same manner and offer the same benefits for purchases and related transactions.

The obvious, top reason to get a secured credit card is to build a good credit score.  Most credit card companies that offer secured cards report the activity on the card to the major credit bureaus including the balance, payment history, and term.  The account activity that is reported to the credit reporting agencies is the basis for building a good credit history and a good credit score.

Helping to establish or reestablish credit is definitely one of the top reasons to get a secured credit card but consumers will also find that access to credit for financial transactions is also a very compelling reason to get one of these cards.  Unlike prepaid credit cards, secured credit cards give the card holders an actual credit line.  The credit line can be used for store purchases, reservations, online transactions, and a variety of other financial dealings.

The third reason to obtain a secured credit card is to build an in depth credit profile.  As credit markets tighten, many consumers are finding it more difficult to obtain low rate car loans, mortgages, and other major credit related products.  By building a deeper credit history and credit profile with a secured credit card, consumers will find it easier to obtain bigger credit opportunities over time.

There are quite a few secured credit cards available today.  Each card can vary based on the rate offered, conditions for approval, and the credit card fees.  Review the terms carefully before apply for a new credit card to ensure you get the best card possible with the best credit card rate.

The Three Biggest Dangers with Prepaid Cards

The three biggest dangers with prepaid cards is quite simple, it’s the fees, fees, and then the fees.  There are certainly other concerns that consumers should be aware of when it comes to acquiring and using a prepaid card but the high fees is the most pervasive problem affecting numerous card users.

The fees for getting and using a prepaid card can include a fee to open the account and get a card, monthly maintenance fees, transaction fees, ATM fees, fees for adding funds to an existing account, card replacement fees, balance inquiries, and more.

Not only are there a number of different fees associated with prepaid card use but each card issuers charges a different set of fees with varying amounts based on their liking. Each prepaid card company discloses different information with big differences between issuers.  The plethora of fees and lack of a uniform disclosure or fees structure makes it difficult for consumers to do a quick and easy side-by-side comparison of the cards available.

With the increasing use of prepaid debit cards, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) is working on a number of different undertakings to help protect consumers.  Along with protective regulations to assist prepaid card holders, the CFPB is trying to simplify prepaid card packaging.  The CFPB is working with credit card companies, prepaid card issuers, and consumers to find a better means of revealing the card fees and costs of using these payment tools.

Prepaid cards offer many conveniences and can be a smart option for many consumers.  Prepaid cards provide consumers, businesses and governments with the efficiency, security and flexibility of digital payments through a non-credit payment option.  Card use has grown by leaps and bounds over the past five years.  Prepaid cards are also a fast growing source of income for the major credit card companies.

With the wide variety of cards available and the different fee structures it is important for consumers to shop around before choosing the prepaid card to match their budget and needs.

Why the Advisors are Wrong about Store Credit Cards for the Holidays

It’s common to hear financial pundits and financial advisors to tell holiday shoppers to steer clear of store branded credit cards.  This advice is juts nonsense.  Store credit cards can offer a number of benefits and discounts that are worth getting and the reasons to pass on the savings offered through these cards are, for the most part, just plain insulting.

The Street.com tells readers, “opening up a store card can lower your credit score.”  This is certainly possible, but not worth worrying about or even considering when judging whether to open a new store card or not.  The credit score controversy arises when applying for a credit card, store branded or otherwise, which requires the credit card issuer to make an inquiry into the applicant’s credit history.

An inquiry placed on a credit report for new credit can lower a credit score.  But, inquiries represent only a fraction of the factors that go into a credit score model.  According to myFICO, the consumer division the Fair Isaac Corporation which is the company that invented the FICO® credit risk score that lenders use, credit report inquiries play a very small role in credit scores.

In fact, the myFICO web site clearly states that it is a myth that a credit score will drop when someone applies for new credit.  MyFICO expounds on this point with the simple statement, “if it does, it probably won’t drop much.”  In addition, new credit that is opened after the inquiry determines only 10% of a FICO Score based on the information presented under the myFICO web site.

Inquiries do not carry very much weight in the credit score models and should not carry very much weight in the mind of the consumer when considering new credit options regardless of what credit terms a consumer is evaluating.

Advisors also like to remind consumers that the short-term discount that comes with opening a new store credit card is not worth the high interest rate these cards have.  Foxbusiness.com recently published an article that says store branded credit cards usually have high interest rates which could lead to spending even more than the original total without the card’s discount.

However, with 20 percent discounts common on new store credit cards, the credit card holder will have to keep the balance outstanding for quite some time before the interest charges erode the 20 percent savings.  A purchase of $1,000.00 in merchandise with a 20 percent new credit card discount leads to a savings of $200.00.  If the $800.00 is financed for one year on that new card at an interest rate of 25 percent the finance charges would equal just under $113.00.  The consumer still saves money even if they pay the balance off over a term of one year.

Finally, the washingtonpost.com just insults all consumers with this quote,” just keep in mind that a discount today could mean money problems later.”  The implication is that consumers will spend more with greater access to credit and run up more debt than they intended to along with harming their credit.   The web site goes on to give pointers to consumers who get a sales pitch with this little gem as a rebuttal to the store clerk selling the credit card, “correct me if I’m wrong, but getting new credit can lower my credit score, and that means I have to pay more for other things I may get on credit in the future, such as a home or car.”

So, consumers should not apply for new credit because they can’t budget, the money saving just isn’t worth it, and their credit will be ruined because they applied for a credit card.  I guess, if you have a credit card at 22 percent and there is a new offer for one at 10 percent it wouldn’t be prudent to apply for the new credit card because you will just go crazy spending money and the inquiry will ruin your credit.  What bunk.

Wow, more crap advice regarding consumer finance on the internet.

Best Three Tips When Falling Behind on Your Credit Card Payments

While it is very important to maintain timely payments on your credit cards, unexpected budget shortfalls can cause a squeeze that requires hard choices on how to allocate limited funds.  Following some tried and true tips can help reduce the burden that comes when falling behind on these payments.

The first tip to lessen the hardship is to address the problem head on and not ignore the issue.  By far, the most common scenario with payment problems is card holders ignoring the debt and letting the problem spiral out of control.  Instead, let the credit card company know about your payment problems.

Once a credit card payment is delinquent, the credit card company can impose late fees, increase the interest rate and cancel any rewards earned on the card.  These may not be the biggest tragedies when paying bills becomes difficult but, in some case the credit card company will work out a reduced payment plan to help their customer get through tough times without added costs.  Ignoring the problem will never solve it.

Tip number two is to work on a payment reduction plan.  This tip sounds simple enough but can require some work to put into action.  If heavy credit card balances are bringing you down you may consider a balance transfer to a new credit card, a consolidation loan, or obtaining money from other sources.  With the transfer to a new card, the credit card issuer pays off your other card balances and transfers the debt to the new card.  After the credit card balance transfer, you are offered a longer time period of time to pay off the transferred debt with the potential for a reduced or zero percent interest rate.

Consolidation loans can be tricky, often the terms are less than desirable so be prepared to investigate what the local banks or credit unions have to offer before leaping into these loans.  Loans from other sources such as 401Ks and secured loans are also viable options but, borrowers of these loan types should evaluate their long term plans and future savings needs before signing on the dotted line.

Finally, revamping your budget and getting expenses in line is crucial to making less money go further.  Too often, consumers that fall behind on the debt payments are late to the game when it comes to corralling their expenses.  The inability to meet payment obligations is either too much debt or a reduction in income.  Either scenario requires a tighter budget.  And while some consumers have a hard time with the difficult choices of living with less, once the expenses are cut, the feeling of relief that comes with making ends meet is worthwhile.

Everyone makes mistakes or has the potential to fall on hard times.  When trouble making credit card payments hits home, it’s time to roll up your sleeves, don’t ignore the problem, and see what tips can help you get through these troubling times.

Best Tips for First Time Credit Card Users

First time credit card users can follow some straight forward and easy to follow guidelines to avoid falling behind in their monthly credit card payments, racking up an unmanageable balance, and making their credit card a burden instead of a convenience.

Stay within a budget.  New credit cards are not a ticket to spending money, period.  Credit cards provide numerous convenient services but the number one no-no is using a card that stretches your budget past its breaking point.  If you spend a certain amount of money before having a credit card, the amount of spending should not increase after getting a new credit card.

For a first credit card, select a card that has fewer bells and whistles to avoid the temptation of spending more to earn those perks and rewards.  Obtain a credit card that has low interest rates and no annual fee as your first objective.  As a first time card user, the goal is pay the balance each month and paying an annual fee is an unnecessary expense for any cardholder that is not searching for extra benefits and convenience services.

Avoid overspending and charge disputes by keeping track of your credit card transactions.  All cardholders should keep track of their card use and compare their records to the monthly statement.  The regular habit of reviewing your transactions will help avoid any errors on the account by merchants or others, bring to attention unauthorized use, and control spending.

Use the credit card to build your credit profile and credit score.  Having a good credit record is important when the times to get a new credit card and for larger expenses down the road such as a car loan or mortgage loan.  Borrowers with great credit histories will find getting credit easier and the interest rates charged will be lower.  Don’t miss the monthly payment and don’t drive the credit card balance up too high.

Avoid using a credit card for cash advances.  Credit card cash advances generally have the highest interest rates and charges when it comes to credit card use.  In addition to the high rates, cash advances also have a minimum fee that must be paid on top of the interest charges.

Review and understand all the credit card terms and conditions.  Even if you don’t think some terms are important or you think you may never use certain services, make sure you are aware of all of the fees, how interest charges are calculated, the monthly payment due date, and the services offered by the credit card issuer.  These terms and conditions may not only come into play when you use the card now but, by reviewing these terms and conditions you are getting a lesson on credit that is good well into the future.

Follow these credit card tips and become a responsible new credit card holder that will enjoy the benefits credit cards offer without incurring high costs and unwanted headaches.

For more advice and additional credit card resources review all of the latest credit card tips.

Top Credit Card Do’s

Following the top credit card do’s and avoiding the don’ts can help credit card shoppers and credit card users avoid costly mistakes.

Do review your needs before applying for a new credit card.  When looking at new credit card offers, first ask yourself why?  Why do you need a credit card and what will use the credit for.  By assessing your needs, it will be easier to review the credit card offer or offers that best match your lifestyle, budget, and spending habits.  Just because one card is popular does not make it the right card for your wallet.

Do read the credit card offers and all of the terms and conditions.  Low credit card rates are great but, if the card has an exorbitant annual fee to go with that rate, where’s the value.  Credit card rewards seem to be everywhere, but they frequently come with conditions that may not work well with your spending habits.  Credit card shoppers and users should do enough research to make sure they are receiving the best offer for their needs.  With the abundance of credit cards available in today’s market, reading the terms and conditions is important to find the right card and avoid the duds.

Do choose a card based on your credit score and credit history.  The chances of getting approved for a new credit card are greatly increased if the card you apply for is one that has a credit profile requirement or range of credit scores that closely matches yours.  By comparing credit card statistics and reviews, you can get a better understanding of what credit profile goes with a particular credit card offer.

Do pay attention to how you use your credit card.  Be mindful of the amount being charged on your card or cards, watch the timing and amount of the monthly payments, and try to keep an eye on the credit utilization rate.  A good credit history has been increasingly important for consumers searching or new credit access and it certainly impacts credit costs.  Cardholders should try and keep their overall credit card balances under 30 percent of their available credit limits, the credit utilization rate.  A low credit utilization amount will help build a good credit score and keep the credit card debt at a manageable level.

Top Credit Card Don’ts

Don’t ignore the terms of the credit card agreement and credit card offer.  Read the fine print before applying for a new card.  Credit card agreements contain important terms and key information about the interest rates, account fees, and terms for earning rewards and bonuses.  Finding out about the terms in advance will help avoid paying high rates or unwanted fees down the road or obtaining a credit card that simply don’t want or need.

Don’t purchase or charge for services and products that you can’t afford.  New credit cards frequently have the ability to seduce the card holder into charging items that they are unable to pay for with cash.  Simply, do not overspend by buying items with a credit card that you are unable to pay for with cash or that cannot be paid for by paying off the credit card balance at the end of the month.

Don’t let the credit card balance get maxed out or unmanageable.  Account holder should pay off all of their credit card in full every month and avoid any interest charges or an increasing balance.  If a credit card balance starts to grow, nip the purchases and spending in the bud and try to pay more than the minimum payment to reduce the accrued interest amount and control future payments.  Try to keep credit card balances below 30% of the available credit card limit to maximize the value they add to your credit score.

Don’t take cash advances.  Credit card cash advances often have different interest rate over what is applied for purchase transactions.  The credit card cash advance interest rate is generally much higher.  Cash advances also do not have grace periods and may have added fees.  Even if the credit card balance is paid in full at the end of the month, the card holder will have interest charges for any cash advances that can be exorbitant and burdensome.

Don’t miss a monthly payment.  Credit card delinquency can lead a lower credit score and more costly credit terms down the road.  Just one missed payment can impact a credit history and will remain on a consumer’s credit report for several years.  Of course, an individual’s credit score will also benefit from the use of a new credit card if there are regular on-time monthly payments over time.

Credit cards provide a number of conveniences advantages such as, purchase protection, payment safety for large purchases, building credit, and more.  However, when credit card holders ignore the credit card don’ts, they often find that their debt becomes a huge burden, their credit suffers, and their lifestyle gets depressingly impacted.

Get the Best Secured Credit Card

Secured credit cards have soared in popularity recently as more and more consumers are choosing these credit cards to establish a good credit history or obtain a new credit card after many credit card companies have ratcheted up their minimum qualification standards for unsecured cards.

Obtaining a secured credit card can be a quick means to improving an individual’s credit profile and credit score.  For young borrowers and new credit card applicants that find getting a traditional unsecured card is too difficult, many will find these cards easy to obtain and will also find they will help with building a good credit history.

Unlike a standard credit card, these cards require a refundable security deposit held by the credit card company to establish a credit line or credit limit.  Unlike many standard credit cards, these credit cards are also frequently peppered with higher fees, interest rates and other charges.  While it is important to be vigilant when shopping for any new credit card, due to the above average fees often associated with these credit cards, it can be costly for those card applicants that are not especially vigilant when shopping and getting a secured credit card.

Key components to review to ensure an applicant is getting the best secured credit card include the following:

The secured credit card credit line qualifications.  Each credit card issuer will establish the guidelines for the minimum amount needed to establish a credit card limit and the procedures for increasing that limit with or without supplying additional funds for security.  In addition, it is important to know how the security deposit is held.  Some banks that offer secured credit cards will place the deposit in an interest bearing savings account while other offer no benefits or return on the security deposit.  The security terms are what separate these credit cards for the vast majorly of credit cards available in the market place.

The annual fees.  Most secured credit cards have annual fees that are above the national average for unsecured cards.  As long as the payment history and activity on the credit card is reported to the major credit reporting agencies by the issuer, there is no reason for the card holder to pay higher fees to have the card.  It may be important to use the card to build a credit history but there is no reason to pay exorbitant fees to use a credit card that is virtually risk free for the issuer.

The credit card rate for purchases, balance transfers and cash advances.  While many applicants for secured credit cards are eager to get their hands on a new card, ignoring the credit card rate is a sure fire way to get burdened with high monthly credit card payments.  The secured credit card works like a traditional credit card with a minimum payment based on the credit card balance and the card rate.  To keep the costs and the payments low, getting the lowest credit card rate is essential.

Secure credit card issuer references and reputation.  Not all secured credit card issuers have the same level of customer service and reliability.  One way to avoid regret with a new card is check the reviews on the card issuer to see if there are substantial complaints or glaring issues.  There are a number of less than reputable credit card companies in the secured credit card market, avoid the undesirables and stick with those companies that have a clean bill of health. 

For all the issues to watch out for, there are number of secure credit cards on the market that are offered by reputable companies that promote secured credit cards with competitive terms, costs and rates.  Take a little time and get the best secured credit cars for your needs.

Of course, before applying for a new credit card, read the fine print and the credit card agreement carefully.  Most credit card agreements can be found online along with the card application for easy access and comparisons.

Using Prepaid Credit Cards to Control Your Spending

Credit cards provide numerous conveniences for consumers that extend far beyond allowing card holders the ability to use credit to make big purchases as well as purchases for everyday consumables.  For many people, shopping with a credit card presents a personal finance and budget issue. 

The biggest personal finance problem that can arise with credit card use is debt that runs amok.  Over indebtedness with credit cards is usually brought on by the failure to properly control spending in relation to a budget.  Getting caught up in overspending can be especially problematic for families that use multiple credit cards. 

Most all credit cards offer the freedom to overspend.  However, with the help of a prepaid credit card consumers can learn how to control their buying habits and work within their allotted budget.  A prepaid card requires you to stay within your spending limit because it only allows you to spend an amount of money that you put on the card.
 
A managed spending limit that is the hallmark of prepaid credit cards is a great feature for a wide variety of situations and budgets.  With a preset limit that comes with all prepaid cards, families, young adults and even business owners and workers cannot overspend because the preset limit on the card forces them to consider their transactions and learn to shop on a budget or stay within certain boundaries.

Many consumers are often unaware of how much money they are really spending and the total cost of the credit card debt they are accruing.  With a prepaid credit card, the excessive credit card debt is not an issue; users of these credit cards can manage their spending routinely by reloading the cards at set intervals and predetermined time periods.

Prepaid credit cards have the benefit of giving users the protection that comes with not caring cash and or the ability to get stuck with too much credit card debt.  Prepaid credit cards are accepted almost everywhere, just like traditional credit cards.  Most prepaid cards carry one of the big payment processing companies services such as Visa or MasterCard and the cards can be used anywhere cards with those services attached are accepted.

Prepaid credit cards can also be beneficial for consumers that have no credit history.  The credit card issuers for these cards don’t require a credit check on the consumer applying for the card and there is no deposit requirement.

Overspending can be difficult to overcome but the use of a prepaid credit card can help.  By using prepaid cards instead of traditional credit cards, consumers that don’t want to be tempted into additional debt don’t have to be scared away from using credit cards. 

Whether a consumer chooses a traditional credit card or a prepaid card, it pays to be smart about you use your credit cards.  Excessive spending will cause a problem for any household whether it is prepaid or not.  Unless your budget can afford the purchases you are making, don’t make the expenditures on your credit card.

The Bestcreditcardrates.com database of credit card offers includes prepaid credit card offers along with low interest rate credit cards, cash back credit cards, rewards credit cards, balance transfer credit cards, credit cards for bad credit and secured credit cards to help consumers compare and search for the best card offer.

 

The Best Credit Card Rates and the Economy

While bank lending rates and interest rates continue to move lower in the second half of 2011, credit card rates seem to be standing still.  There a number of factors in play that influence the cost of credit including the interest rates charged for credit cards during an economic contraction. 

Lower interest rates during a recession or economic contraction is a normal occurrence.  The health of the economy is one of the biggest factors that affect interest rates by influencing the supply and demand for credit. 

The primary factors influencing most bank interest rates during an economic slowdown are the demand for credit and actions to manipulate interest rates by the Federal Reserve.  The demand for credit by business generally declines in a recession, as business spends less on new buildings, equipment, and inventories.  Also, the Federal Reserve acts to reduce interest rates during recessions, in order to stimulate economic activity.

The interest rate charged on a credit card is the price of the credit to the consumer that uses a credit card.  Credit card rates are set in a competitive market place and usually follow the forces that push and pull other bank lending rates.  The credit card interest rate is determined to a large extent by the supply and demand of loanable funds. 

Current credit card rates are not quite following generally interest rate trends based on the existing economic environment.  Even though the economy is slow, a number of credit card companies have recently raised interest rates despite the lack of demand for credit and the recent rate cuts by the Federal Reserve. 

There are many different factors that can contribute to the price of credit beyond just the supply and demand for credit.  Interest compensates lenders for the effects of inflation and the risks they take.  There is no certainty regarding how much rates and prices will go up during the time that a borrower has the lender’s money.  Other lender risks are the chance that the borrower won’t repay the loan or credit card fully, on time, or at all.  The higher credit card rates seen in credit card offers recently is partially due to the banking system making up for previous losses in credit card portfolios. 

Not only have previous losses in loan portfolios impacted bank profitability but the instability this causes in the banking industry and the credit market induces many financial institutions to guide the interest rates they offer on loan products including credit cards higher.

As with most competitive marketplaces, some banks will raise their credit card rates higher than others.  But with little competitive stimulus to drop interest rates, banks and credit card companies are using this opportunity to turn in higher profit margins.  The end result has been that while the general level of interest rates has fallen many credit cards have rates have not moved and some rates have actually increased.

The best advice for the consumers is to comparison shop credit card offers to find the best credit card rates available.  The current credit card rates can be compared to the credit cards you currently hold to see if switching credit cards is in your best interest.  Anytime you are going to pay for the use of credit, it is a good idea to shop around and review the credit terms available.  This is especially true for credit cards that often charge higher interest rates than other consumer credit options.

Credit Cards for Bad Credit and Reestablishing Credit

There is quite a variety of credit cards available for consumers that have bad credit and consumers that wish to use a credit card to establish a good credit profile.  These types of credit cards are for consumers with clear needs yet divergent credit backgrounds.  The credit card programs for these consumers are designed by the credit card companies to specifically meet the needs of these individuals but, not all of these types of credit cards are created equal.

Obtaining one of these credit cards is often dependent on your credit history or credit score.  Getting a credit card in general, is heavily dependent on the credit card applicant’s credit rating.  A good credit score will help ensure that the a card applicant gets access to the best credit card deals available while the opposite is true for those consumer with a bad credit history.  However, it is possible even with bad credit, to obtain a credit card.

Credit cards for bad credit as well as credit cards intended for credit repair are available from several credit card companies.  These types of credit cards generally fall into three different categories: unsecured credit cards, secured credit cards and prepaid credit cards. 

Unsecured credit cards for consumers with bad credit are commonly limited to consumers that have less than perfect credit but not credit that is all bad.  These credit cards can be good for general use and for help rebuilding credit histories since they often report the card holder’s payment history to all three major credit reporting agencies monthly.

Unsecured credit cards for consumers with less than perfect credit operate like any other unsecured credit card but will come with some limitations that are not commonly found on standard credit cards.  Generally, the credit limit will be lower for these cards; at least until the card holder has developed a history of responsible use and timely payments.  The credit card interest rate is almost always going to be higher than the average credit card rate.  Credit rewards programs and promotional offers are limited for these cards.  Approval for these credit cards is still heavily dependent on the applicants credit history, fair to good credit is the norm and poor to bad credit will often not be sufficient to gain approval.

Secured credit cards are an option for consumers with bad credit that have very limited credit history requirements.  These credit cards operate just like traditional unsecured credit cards and can be used to make purchases, reservations, cash advances and develop a credit payment history.  Applying for a secured credit card is one of the best options for those having bad credit card history.  The credit limit on these credit cards are determined by the amount of security deposited into the account established by the credit card company.  The security deposit may or may not earn interest but it is a refundable security deposit if the account holder chooses to close the account.

The final card category for poor credit situations is the prepaid card.  These cards also function similar to traditional credit cards with the exception that the spending limit is determined amount of money deposited into the card account.  Prepaid cards are not technically credit cards; there is no credit extension with the account.  The amount that is available to spend or use on other transactions is determined by the amount deposited less any withdrawals or purchases made against that deposit. 

Since there is no extension of credit with a prepaid card, there are also no monthly payments and no credit history to develop.  These cards are good for the basic functions that traditional credit card provide such as, a convenient form of payment, the ability to make phone and online purchase transactions, the ability to make  transactions anywhere the network such as Visa or  MasterCard Debit is accepted.  These cards often have a 100% acceptance rate based on credit and income, there is no credit check required to obtain a prepaid card.

Credit card use has become a very useful and handy means of payment.  Having poor credit history may cause a number of credit card companies to deny you credit but there are still plenty of options available.  To get the biggest bank for your buck with a new credit card regardless of your credit, you need to shop and compare card offers to find one that’s right for you.

Credit Card Fundamentals and Finding the Best Credit Card

Credit card shoppers need to be well versed on the fundamentals of how credit cards work and how they are used before choosing a new card.  Credit cards can be used for a wide variety of purposes, but their use can involve substantial costs and risk if not chosen and used properly.  Knowing how credit cards work combined with knowing your credit card needs will greatly facilitate the hunt for the best credit card.

Before the credit card selection process begins, it is important to make sure you understand the basic terms used in the credit card industry.  The following list includes the most common terms used in credit card marketing and is required in credit card disclosures:

Credit Card Annual Fee:  This is the amount the credit card account holder will be charged each year for having the credit card.  There are a number of credit cards available that have annual fees as well as those that have no annual fees. 

Annual Percentage Rate (APR):  The interest rate charged on the outstanding balance on your credit card.  Credit cards may have different APRs for credit card purchase transactions, credit card cash advances, and credit card balance transfers.

Introductory Credit Card Rate:  An introductory credit card rate is a credit card promotion for a low credit card rate that increases after a certain time period.  Credit card shoppers should fully understand how long the introductory rate will last, which type of credit card transactions the rate applies to and what the standard credit card rate will be.

Late Payment Fee:  The fee amount charged by the credit card company if the monthly credit card payment is received after the due date.

Credit Line or Credit Limit:  The credit limit or credit line amount for a credit card is the maximum dollar amount that can be charged on a specific credit card account.

Once you are familiar with the terms used in the credit card industry, it is time to look at the credit card offers that are presently available.  Credit card companies will offer various interest rates, fees as well as various types of rewards and perks making for a crowded field of card choices. 

Credit card shoppers should select the credit card that satisfies their requirements best after reviewing all of the offers that match their need.  For consumers that are a frequent traveler, it may be a good choice to select a new credit card that offers the best travel rewards.  Credit card shoppers that frequently carry a balance may opt to narrow their selection down to lowest credit card rate.  There are a number of different categories of credit cards to look at, try to match the card with your needs and spending habits. 

While you search the many credit card offers, be aware that the credit card companies will approve your new credit card primarily on your credit history and credit score.  A credit score is a number that is based on the data in your credit report that helps financial institutions including credit card companies determine how good a credit risk you are and how likely you are to repay your debt.  Maintaining and establishing a good credit score is essential to obtaining the best credit card that fits your needs.

Once your new credit card is approved and delivered, it’s time to use the credit granted wisely.  The use of the credit card must be controlled by you so that the monthly payment and the credit card balance remain at a level that fits your budget.

To review a variety of credit card offers and credit card rates by category, please see low interest rate credit cards, cash back credit cards, rewards credit cards, balance transfer credit cards, prepaid credit cards, credit cards for bad credit and secured credit cards.

Credit Card Reward Promotions and Credit Card Choices

While banks and credit card companies are not reducing interest rates during the first half of 2011, they are expanding their credit card rewards and promotional offers.

In today’s credit card market, there are so many credit card promotions to choose from, consumers have to research the promotional offers just as much as the credit card rates and fees to find which credit card may be the best credit card available. 

With so many credit card options available in the credit card market it is difficult for many card shoppers to differentiate which credit card is best.  Most customers end up basing their credit card selection on new promotional material they have received or seen or narrow their selection down by finding the best credit card rates available.

While this may work for a short term analysis of potential credit cards, the new credit card promotions are making the choice for the bet credit card more complicated.  Along with the standard credit card rewards based on points for credit card purchases, credit card companies are offering higher points for select categories of purchase transactions as well as sign up bonuses that deliver credit card rewards for receiving a new card or making a certain number of transactions with the card in a limited period of time.

The key to finding the best credit card to suit your needs when the amount of promotions has escalated is to look at the credit card costs, the rewards offered and how you use your credit card.  The starting point for new card shoppers has to be how they plan on using the new credit card.   Will you be shopping for a new credit card used for everyday purchases, for travel and entertainment activities, to help manage your debt with a lower credit card rate or balance transfer? 

How the credit card will be used will narrow down the card category and the promotional offers that are best suited for your needs.  There is little value in obtaining new credit card with a 0% balance transfer offer when you use a card for everyday purchases that has the balance retired in a short period of time.

The credit card costs can be broken down into two different groupings; the credit card annual fee and the credit card interest rate.  The credit card annual fee is easy to quantify based on the required disclosed annual fee, if there is one, on the card offer while the credit card rate can be little more challenging.

Credit card rates are marketed by the majority of credit card companies based on a range of rates.  It is becoming rare to see a credit card company promote a credit card with one interest rate.  Instead, credit card companies market their cards with a range of rates and approve a specific credit card rate for the consumer based on the information in their credit card application.  The industry nomenclature to describe the approved rate is to base the credit card rate on the card applicant’s creditworthiness.

To ascertain the lowest credit card rate, consumers will have to review the range of rates offered by the card companies or company and try to evaluate the credit card offer based on their credit profile or credit history.

After evaluating your credit card needs and the credit card costs it’s time to look at the new credit card promotions and rewards.  Credit card promotions are generally very specific.  Low rate credit card balance transfer offers are based on the rate and time period the rate is good for and are usually not combined with high levels of rewards.  Bonus reward offers on the other hand usually have limited interest rate promotions but offer a higher level of credit card rewards for either using the card quickly or by making purchases in select categories.

Selecting the right credit card offer should involve weighing all three credit card criteria including your credit card needs, the credit card costs and the rewards that can be obtained with the card.  The right credit card for you may be simply the lowest credit card rate or it may the card that offers the greatest rewards for travel or other purchase transactions.  The wrong credit card is often the card that is selected based on just one criterion alone or chosen from the card company with biggest advertising budget.

To review credit card offers and credit card rates by category, please see low interest rate credit cards, cash back credit cards, rewards credit cards, balance transfer credit cards, prepaid credit cards, credit cards for bad credit and secured credit cards.

Analyzing the Best Introductory Credit Card Rates

Zero percent introductory credit card rate balance transfer offers have been around for years.  Some years, the credit card companies seem like they can’t send enough of these offers out and other years costs and credit cut backs restricts the offers.  Either way, zero percent introductory credit card rate offers are available for those consumers that want such a deal.  But, buyer beware when it comes to these credit card deals.

Zero percent credit card offers may appear like a great deal, but there are significant catches to the terms of these credit card deals.  There is fine print in these offers which every new card applicant should be aware of and may surprise some card shoppers that fail to review all of the credit card terms.

Although many credit card balance transfer offers lure you in with long term 0% interest rates, the actual term of the zero percent introductory rate period can vary wildly.  The term of the offer will vary between card issuers as well as between credit cards with the same credit card issuer or credit card company. 

Credit card companies will often promote a tiered scale for introductory credit card rates with the most credit worthy customers getting the longest low rate introductory period and consumers that qualify for the card offer but with less than the top tier credit profile receiving a shorter low rate introductory credit card term.

The unfortunate result is that the credit card applicant does not how long the low rate offer will good for until the credit card company approves the terms based on the information contained on the application.

Credit card introductory offers also require the new cardholders to follow exacting terms and conditions to either maintain the low rate offer or maximize their benefits.  For instance, credit card companies will often end the introductory APR if any required minimum monthly payment is 60 or more delinquent.  In addition, credit card balance transfers are generally required to be performed within a designated time frame after the account is opened in order to qualify the advertised low rate.

One of the most significant conditions to review involves the costs of balance transfer transactions.  Gone are the day of no or low fees to make the balance transfers.  Although the introductory credit card rate may be at zero percent, the cost to perform the balance transfer is far from zero.  Most every low credit card has a transaction fee for each balance transfer.  The standard fee is $5.00 or three percent of the amount whichever is greater.  That is equal to $120.00 if you make $4,000.00 in balance transfer transactions. 

Before applying for a low rate introductory credit card offer, make sure you understand all the term and conditions including the credit card rates and transaction costs.  Not all introductory credit card offers are created equal and not all low rate offers are worth applying for.

To review credit cards and credit card rates by category, please see low interest rate credit cards, cash back credit cards, rewards credit cards, balance transfer credit cards, prepaid credit cards, credit cards for bad credit and secured credit cards.

Additional credit card resources can be found at Chase business cards and Chase Freedom card.

Credit Card Offers and Sensible Card Selection

Since credit cards have become such an indispensible financial tool for consumers, credit card offers continue to flood the market in good times and bad.  Credit cards are a prevalent form of payment today and this is not likely to change in the near future.  Even when credit card use starts to contract in a difficult economy, credit card debt is counted in the 100’s of billions of dollars.  Based on these numbers, choosing the right card can have a big impact on the condition of your personal finances.

Credit cards provide a valuable system to obtain and use credit to make purchase transactions, they also provide a means to build credit, credit cards provide a convenient means of making financial transactions and provide a number of benefits from added security to rewards for usage.  For most consumers that are searching and selecting a new credit card to capitalize on some of these benefits, the interest rate charged on a new credit card is generally regarded as the single most important component of the card choice.  But the best credit card rate is not the only factor to consider when selecting a new credit card.  The credit card rate may not even be the most important factor in your credit card choice. 

Before credit card shoppers jump on board the credit card rate search game, it is important to step back and think about the way you plan on using your credit card.  How a credit card is used is a serious matter when it comes to finding the best credit card with the best credit card rate. 

Always approach a new credit card as a tool to be used for convenience, not a way to buy things that you cannot presently afford.  Credit cards can be expensive loans, no matter how low the credit card rate is.  When that credit card is used and the credit card debt grows, you will have to pay what you owe back to the credit card company with interest.

If you have a history of paying your existing credit cards off promptly and in full, then you are likely to do the same with a new credit card.  This factor has huge implications for which credit card you ought to choose because credit card companies offer a variety of perks and benefits or credit card rewards that are earned regardless of whether you carry a balance or not.

Remember to be honest with yourself.  If you do run up a credit card balance and carry a sizeable credit card debt that your choice of cards should change accordingly.  Credit cards with zero percent balance transfers rates are prevalent.  Consumers that carry balances should shop for the best credit card rate period, starting with long term introductory credit card rates.

Consumers that are moderate credit card users but make expenditures in select categories should review the credit cards rather are available by category.  Frequent flyers should evaluate new credit card offers in the travel rewards category.  Individuals that run a small business and make numerous expenditures for their business should focus on business credit cards and the benefits that can be found with these card types.  Consumers that use their credit cards for purchases of select or specific categories of goods and services should capitalize on the cash back credit cards that pay above average rewards in those categories.

Other credit card factors to consider are the benefits and the costs.  What are the credit card rewards compared to the credit card annual fee and the credit card interest rate.  Often, credit card shoppers skip all credit cards that have an annual fee but this may very well be the best credit card to match your needs if the credit card rate and rewards more than compensate for the higher fees.

Credit card companies can provide a number of different  services, not all rewards and benefits are created equal among the myriad of credit cards available in today’s’ market place.  Don’t overlook the simple fact that the credit card company is in it for the money and they will do their best to charge fees and lure the card holder into carrying high rate balances.

Selecting a credit card and getting the best credit card deal for yourself and how you live means breaking out the calculator and crunching some numbers to make sure that you know what you are getting into and how much it could cost you in the worst case scenario.  Do your homework before clicking the online application and make sure you get the best credit card that fits your budget.

Business Credit Card Advantages

There can be numerous advantages to having a business credit card for either occasional use or to cover regular monthly expenses.

Business credit cards operate just like a consumer credit cards when it comes to making transactions with the card.  A business credit card can used for online transactions, in store purchases, phone orders and reservations just like a standard consumer credit card.  Business credit cards also offer rewards and rebates just like consumer credit cards and even offer online credit access for easy financial management similar to many consumer credit cards.

However, there are some key advantages to having a business credit card for small business owners and designated employees.  

Business cards are opened under the name of the business as well as the name of the cardholder.  This helps keep strict business and business related transactions separate from personal purchases and transactions.  With a segregated business account, business credit card account holders can simplify their bookkeeping.  Business managers and account holders can simply use their monthly or quarterly credit card statements to review purchases and expenses for the business.

Business credit cards are a great tool to maintain for unexpected expenses and credit needs.  With a business credit card, the business has now created a line of credit that can be used for any worthwhile purpose.  The business credit card can be used as a rotating credit line that is used regularly for purchases or held for more infrequent needs such as large purchases or tight cash flow conditions. 

Once the business credit card is acquired and the credit limit is maintained, the account holder doesn’t have to make a bank request or engage in special procedures to access the available credit.  With the business credit card, the account owners can have access to credit when they need it and pay back the balance over time or all at one when the cash flow is available.

Obtaining a business credit card allows the account holder to get additional credit cards for managers or employees or other designated individuals.  The business credit cards for other parties can facilitate transactions without the need for separate approvals per transaction.  The credit card holder or business owner often has the option of placing restrictions on the additional business credit cards to keep a control on spending.

Business credit cards are also available with rewards programs and other credit card promotions that can be advantageous for the account holder.  Business credit card holders that have chosen a card with a credit card rewards program can reap the benefits of the program as they see fit.  This means they can share the rewards or perhaps not.  In addition, business credit card rewards are generally based on net purchase transactions not the outstanding credit card balance. 

Business credit card holders can earn rewards by simply using the credit card for every day purchases and pay the balance off monthly and therefore incur no interest charges yet earn the credit card rewards that are available with the card.

Each business credit card marketed today has a different set of terms, conditions and features.  As with a consumer credit card, business credit card shoppers need to select a credit card that offers the lowest rates and costs and largest rewards.  Credit card companies and banks offer numerous options for new business credit cards so it is important to choose the best credit card with the best credit card that matches your business and personal needs.

Applying for a new business credit card has never been easier with safe and secure online credit card applications.  The business credit card reviews at Bestcreditcardrates.com provides the resources to help you narrow down your choices and make the selection process quick and easy.

Additional resources can be found at Chase Business Cards.

Credit Card Use and Credit Abuse Rises with Credit Ease

Too much credit and debt use by consumers, businesses and governments can cause significant problems when it comes to long term financial management. While this statement hardly seems shocking, the recent credit problems across the globe show how credit access and debt problems can come from sources that many would not expect.

For consumers, credit cards have become as hazardous as they have ubiquitous and convenient. The convenience of credit has made it easy for consumers to spend beyond their means. It doesn’t take a finance professor to figure out that spending beyond ones ability to repay will cause debts to increase and budgets to tighten.

Easy access to new credit cards has one of the most common causes of excessive consumer debt. And though it seems as if credit cards have already reached into every consumer’s pocket, the end of debt pile up has not been reached. Obtaining new credit cards has certainly become more difficult with the credit crunch however, using and abusing an existing credit card has not changed.

Changes in credit card laws has restricted the credit card fees and credit card interest rates that credit card companies can charge but does little to out a damper on the use of credit cards and the expansion of credit card debt.

And the expanded acceptance of debit cards and prepaid credit cards is contributing to over spending. While debit card and prepaid credit cards do not by themselves increase debt, since these accounts are debit accounts, they do facilitate spending and more importantly, over spending. Combined increased spending with debit transactions and credit card use contributes to strained personal budgets.

With the increased credit card debt and the inability to find a quick fix to reduce debt, consumers have to learn how to manage their debt wisely and control their spending through all the available new spending channels in order to maintain a prudent financial lifestyle.

Managing expenditures wisely an limiting use of debit cards as if they were credit cards can help consumers control their spending and credit card debt.

Consumers that are covering expenses with their credit cards need to evaluate the credit card use as well as the credit cards they hold. By evaluating your credit cards and shopping and comparing new credit card offers, it is possible to get more bang for your buck when you use your credit card as well as reduce the costs of holding credit card debt by finding the credit cards with the best credit card rates.

Finding the Right Credit Card with the Best Credit Card Rate

When you are looking for a credit card it’s best to think before you sign on the dotted line. There are only about a zillion cards to choose from, each with various pros and cons, so it really pays to do your homework and figure out a few basic things first. A little thought up front can save untold distress later. Don’t let the vast array of credit card options and credit card rates make you dizzy, just take it one step at a time.

First of all, consider what your object is. Why do you want a credit card and how to you plan to use it? Beyond the no-brainer of, “I want to buys things now and pay for them later,” there are other issues to consider. For example, do you want to pay off your balance every month? Then you should find yourself looking for the best over all deal on credit card rates and fees. Or, maybe you want to carry a balance on your card and you’re looking for the least expensive way to do that. Some other common goals are; wanting to get a cash advance with a reasonable rate, to transfer balances from higher interest rate cards to ones with lower rates, wanting long grace periods for making payments, no annual fees, low introductory rates, or even various perks cards can offer, like frequent flier miles. Each of these options can help you or cause you surprise trouble in various ways.

Let’s take a look at the idea that you will pay off your balance every month. This is one of those things that can be like New Year’s resolutions; we make them and then promptly break them. Examine honestly your past track record with things like this. If you have a history of paying things of promptly and in full, then you are likely to do the same with a credit card. This factor has huge implications for which credit card you ought to choose because credit card companies charge differently depending on your payment profile. So be honest with yourself. Better that, than to rack up huge fees from the credit card company because you changed the game mid-play. Don’t forget, credit card companies do provide you with a service, but they are in it for the money.

If you are going to pay your balance in full every month then it is probably best to search for a card with no annual fees because the rate you pay is usually much lower than cards where you will carry a balance. You should know that if you do intend to carry a balance or if you know that it may happen despite your best resolutions to the contrary, that you will pay higher rates of interest and also sometimes have to pay annual fees because what you are really doing is borrowing money. There may be late fees and other penalty charges as well.

When comparing credit cards, look at all the potential fees before making a final selection. It might be cheaper for you to pay an annual fee on a card with a lower interest rate than paying higher interest on a no fee credit card. Selecting a credit card and getting the best credit card deal for yourself and how you live means breaking out the calculator and crunching some numbers to make sure that you know what you are getting into and how much it could cost you in the worst case scenario.

To review credit cards and credit card rates by category, please see low interest rate credit cards, cash back credit cards, rewards credit cards, balance transfer credit cards, prepaid credit cards, credit cards for bad credit and secured credit cards.

Additional credit card resources can be found at Chase business cards and Chase Freedom card.

How to Apply for a Credit Card

Credit card use has become such a common form of payment in the U.S that understanding how to apply for a credit card is essential for most all consumers. Although the credit card application process is a relatively easy process to grasp it is none the less a wise idea to be familiar with the mechanics of a credit card application to ensure you obtain the best credit card and best credit card rate to suit your needs.

The goal with understanding how to apply for a credit card is to find and apply for a credit card that best suits your individual needs. Fortunately, there are an abundance of credit card companies marketing a number of different credit card types and programs to choose and apply for. Credit card promotions allow shoppers to apply for a credit card with a mail in credit card application, an online credit card application as well as an application completed over the phone making the process convenient and quick.

Credit card companies assume financial risk with the possibility of default or delinquent payments from card holders and use the credit card application as a screening tool. Credit card companies review the application looking for new card holders that are not likely to miss their payment obligations. The credit card applicant’s credit report which is accessed based on the data obtained in the credit card application is the fundamental source of information for credit card companies to determine the credit worthiness of an applicant.

As part of the credit report and credit worthiness evaluation, credit card companies will look analyze the applicant’s credit score. The most common credit score used in lending is the FICO score. The FICO score is a credit score developed by the Fair Isaac Credit Organization that is used to determine how likely it is that an individual will meet their financial obligations. The higher the FICO score, the more likely an applicant will be approved for a new credit card. In addition, the higher the credit score the more likely the applicant will receive the best credit card rate offered the card company. Conversely, the lower the credit score, the higher the interest rate will be on a credit card and the higher the likelihood the application will be rejected. .

Since the credit report and credit score of the applicant is the most important factor for most credit card approvals, prepaid credit cards and secured credit cards generally do not rely on the credit history of the applicant to determine the application approval, knowing your credit score in advance of the credit card application process is an important first step. When it comes to choosing a credit card, the card shopper should apply for a credit card that matches their credit background. By matching the credit criteria of the credit card company with your credit history, you can avoid a high denial rate from card companies looking for a stronger credit history or avoid getting approved form a credit card company with a less than ideal credit card rate.

With the large scale of credit card companies competing for new card holders, applying for a new credit card requires a little research to get the right credit card. To match the credit criteria of the card company, read credit card reviews or use comparison web sites such as www.bestcreditcardrates.com or www.selectcdrates.com to obtain general descriptions on a number of different credit cards and credit card types. When searching for the best credit card and best credit card rate, compare the different features such as the credit card interest rates, credit card fees, credit card rewards programs, the credit cars grace period, and more before filling out the credit card application.

To review credit cards and credit card rates by category, please see low interest rate credit cards, cash back credit cards, rewards credit cards, balance transfer credit cards, prepaid credit cards, credit cards for bad credit and secured credit cards.

Additional credit card resources can be found at Chase business cards and Chase Freedom card.

Too Many Consumers are Ignoring Credit Card Rates

Most credit card holders in the U.S. pay little attention to the credit card rate on the card they use. The generally accepted rationale for the lack of concern of the credit card interest rate on existing credit cards is that when the card holders make purchases using their cards they fully intend to pay back the full amount charged and any concern for the credit card rate would be superfluous. Unfortunately, the credit card holder subsequently changes their mind when the bill comes in and the new credit card charges begin to accrue interest.

A number of studies have shown that credit card users frequently incorrectly estimate the amount of spending accomplished with their credit cards. As a result of the lack of attention to the credit card rates and accumulating credit card debt that comes with the failure to pay off the new charges, consumers also erroneously estimate their growing card debt at any given time.

Over time consumers forget their current credit card contract terms and conditions including the credit card rate. The abundance of different credit card offers with limited time introductory credit card rates and cash back reward offers makes the terms on credit cards rather complex and more difficult to keep track of the plethora of terms and rates.

Consumers often justify their position regarding the mistake of using credit cards with uncompetitive credit card rates as financially insignificant. Consumers also view their use of above average rates credit cards as easily fixable since they often find or receive several low rate credit card offers or balance transfer credit card offers frequently.

Over time card holders ignore the new credit card offers and lower credit card rates and use their current credit card for present consumption. Consumers habitually display self-control difficulties when it comes to paying off their new monthly credit card charges and the issue grows worse with the cumulative credit card charges over time and the lack of attention to the credit card debt levels.

The solutions for these issues is to closely monitor credit card use and obtain the best credit card with the best credit card rate to match your spending needs. The best credit card may be one that has the best travel rewards and travel benefits for those consumers that may be a frequent flyer or traveler. For other card holders, a simple low rate credit card with no bells and whistles will save the most amount of money. And for the disciplined credit card user, a credit card with a low introductory credit card rate that has an extended period will provide a great deal of savings on current interest charges.

Almost regardless of a consumer needs, there is a credit card program available to fill that need. In order to maximize the value of theses credit card programs, a consumer needs to find the lowest cost credit card which is often the one with the best credit card rate.

The trick to obtaining the best credit card deal is to secure the new card and stay away from the credit card that was replaced to avoid shifting spending to a new credit card and simply piling on more credit card interest charges and credit card debt.

To review credit cards and credit card rates by category, please see low interest rate credit cards, cash back credit cards, rewards credit cards, balance transfer credit cards, prepaid credit cards, credit cards for bad credit and secured credit cards.

Additional credit card resources can be found at Chase business cards and Chase Freedom card.

New Gift Card Facts

With the large quantity of gift cards being exchanged during the holiday season it is time to review the rules that govern these cards. New Federal Reserve rules that were implemented in 2010 provide certain protections for consumers that both purchase gift cards or use gift cards.

Gift cards are subsection of prepaid credit cards. The difference with a prepaid credit card is the prepaid card can be reloaded. The rule changes cover store specific gift cards which can be used only at a particular retailer or store and universal gift cards such as a MasterCard, Visa, American Express, or Discover branded gift card that can be used wherever that branded card is accepted.

One of the best protections that comes with the new gift card rules is that the funds available on the gift card will be functional for at least five years from the date the card is purchased

For those consumers that purchase a gift cards with fees attached, all of the fees for the card must be clearly disclosed on the gift card or the gift card packaging. Disclosures on the packing for the gift card means the gift card rules issued by the stores and merchants must be either printed on the card, disclosed at the point of sale or be offered on a website and toll free number for customers. Any of these disclosures of the fees are acceptable, not all have to apply.

The new rules also disallow fees that card issuers may charge for dormant cards or inactive gift cards for at least one year. Gift card buyers can still be charged a fee to purchase the gift card as well as other fees, including fee to replace a lost or stolen card.

While the new Federal laws covering gift credit cards offers more consumer protections when it comes to expiration dates and hidden fees, the new rules are far from perfect. One other bright spot remains with state rules regarding gift cards for single merchants or retailers that have more restrictive regulations than Federal law, in which case the protections of that state will apply. Some states, for instance, prevent card issuers from charging any fees or inactivity, nonuse or anything else on retail cards.

The new federal laws that govern gift card are not perfect, they do have a number of limitations. The most important rule governing credit cards and gift card use is the informal rule that states consumers need to stay informed. Read the fine print on any gift card or credit card offer and check with the store policies when appropriate to avoid any unintended losses.

To review credit cards and credit card rates by category, please see low interest rate credit cards, cash back credit cards, rewards credit cards, balance transfer credit cards, prepaid credit cards, credit cards for bad credit and secured credit cards.

Additional credit card resources can be found at Chase business cards and Chase Freedom card.

A Brief Review of Secured Credit Card Options

Consumers that have a hard time getting approved for a credit card generally fall into two problem categories. Either the credit card applicant has a very poor credit history or the credit card applicant has no credit history.

Without a good credit history, or at least fair credit history, credit card companies have no basis to evaluate whether a card applicant is likely to pay their balance on time. Without a good record to work with, the credit card issuer is generally reluctant to approve the card applicant.

For those consumers that cannot obtain a standard credit card there are alternatives. One alternative may be to apply for a secured credit card. With a secured credit card, the credit card applicant makes a deposit in a linked bank account such as a savings, money market, or certificate of deposit which is held as security for the credit card. The bank will then have the right to draw on the collateral if the credit card holder defaults on the terms of the payment agreement.

In some cases, the bank holding the security and issuing the credit card will pay interest on the account. Unfortunately, with a number of secured credit card issuers they offer no interest or compensation on the deposit held as collateral for the card.

There are a number of advantages to the secured credit card for consumers that have difficulty obtaining a standard credit card. The primary advantage of the secured credit card is access to a credit card to make any number of purchase transactions including online purchase transactions as well as transactions by phone. Secured credit cards look the same as unsecured credit cards and are used and treated in the same manner.

Secured credit card holders can also use the card to develop a new, clean credit history. Secured credit card holders that make transactions and pay their monthly credit card payment on time can establish a new on time payment history. For those card holders that are considered about building a good credit history, they have to make sure the credit card company report the payment histories to the major credit reporting agencies. Once a secured credit card holder demonstrates a good payment history, they may be able to apply for a traditional credit card or maybe upgraded to an unsecured credit card by the secured credit card company.

Potential secured credit card applicants should compare card issuers to be sure they choose a secured credit card with the greatest benefits and least costs. Since a secured credit card works just like traditional credit cards, some cards will have annual fees, there will be interest charges for outstanding balances, late payment fees will apply and similar such costs will apply to secured credit cards.

Credit card fees and credit card rates for secured credit cards can vary measurably between different credit card companies. Since the creditworthiness of the applicant has very little to do with the card approval, spend time to compare secured credit cards that are currently available to obtain the credit card with the best credit card rate and terms.

To review credit cards and credit card rates by category, please see low interest rate credit cards, cash back credit cards, rewards credit cards, balance transfer credit cards, prepaid credit cards, credit cards for bad credit and secured credit cards.

Additional credit card resources can be found at Chase business cards and Chase Freedom card.

Credit Card Choices and Alternatives

Credit cards offer a number of useful services for consumers. Credit cards are useful as alternative form of payment that is widely accepted as a way to make transactions in person, by phone, or online. In addition to be a form of payment transactions, credit cards offer the account holder access to a revolving line of credit, which provides access to money up to the available credit limit. But some consumer do not have access to credit cards and a number of consumers have found that these standard credit card features have led to a path of increased and unmanageable consumer debt. For these consumers, there are alternatives to credit cards that may be appropriate for their borrowing needs, either in addition to a traditional credit card or in place of a standard credit.

Alternatives to traditional credit card use include bank debit cards tied to a checking account, charge cards, store retail cards and prepaid credit cards or prepaid debit cards. Each of these credit card alternatives has their own set of advantages as well as certain drawbacks.

Check cards or bank debit card are usually supported by the Visa transaction network or MasterCard transaction network and allow users to make transactions just like a credit card including the use of ATMs. These cards are not credit cards and do not have a credit limit. The limiting resource is the amount of funds the card holder has available in the checking account that the debit card is drawn on.

Prepaid credit cards are similar to bank debit cards. With a prepaid card there is no credit facility, the card holder can make transactions up to the amount deposited on the account of the prepaid card. The card can be used to make standard credit card type transactions but unlike a bank check card or bank debit cards these cards have fees to set up the account and load the card with usable funds.

Charge cards allow the account holder to make purchases using the card just like a credit card but require the charge card account holder to repay the outstanding balance in full each billing period. The credit limit established on a charge card varies with some cards have no preset limit. However, the ability to use the card will be terminated if the card holder fails to make the required payment. While some credit cards have an annual fee, most all charge cards come with an annual fee.

Store credit cards or retail credit cards are usually established so consumers can make purchase transactions at one specific retailer. These credit cards typically have lower credit requirements to obtain the card. Retail credit cards generally do not have an annual fee. As an added benefit, many retail credit cards offer discounts on purchases made through the retailer with the card. As a disadvantage, the credit card interest rates are generally higher than on other cards.

These credit cards substitutes may all be suitable for consumers to be used in addition to a standard credit card or in place of standard credit cards. When selecting a credit card, regardless of the type of card, it important to investigate the terms of the card and whether the card mmets your needs.

To review credit cards and credit card rates by category, please see low interest rate credit cards, cash back credit cards, rewards credit cards, balance transfer credit cards, prepaid credit cards, credit cards for bad credit and secured credit cards.

Additional credit card resources can be found at Chase business cards and Chase Freedom card.

Common Credit Card Mistakes Part Two

One of the most common credit card mistakes that can drive a consumer off the path of good credit management is choosing a card that does not match their shopping and credit needs. Having a credit card with less than ideal terms is an absolute no-no. Finding the best credit card with the best credit card rate takes only a few minutes with credit card shopping and comparison web sites such as Bestcreditcardrates.com and Selectcdrates.com these sites provide tools to compare different credit cards easy by laying out the terms and conditions for a variety of credit cards by card category. Don’t assume that credit card rates, credit card grace periods and credit card reward features are the same or even similar among the wide spectrum of credit cards that are currently available.

An obvious mistake by consumers that leads to out of control credit card use is using too many credit cards. There are a few good reasons why a consumer would benefit from using more than one credit card. The main benefit to using more than card to mange is to manage the credit card rewards program or use credit card rewards cards with a low or zero percent introductory credit card rate cards. But far too many consumers use more than card just to spread out their credit card debt. Having numerous credit cards available to use makes overspending with the cards tempting and easy.

Along with too many credit cards that are not managed properly, simply incurring too much credit card debt is key issue regarding credit card problems. Some consumers face too much credit card debt due to unexpected events that cause unforeseen financial hardship such as loss of a job or health issues. Other consumers face too much credit card debt due to over spending and over use of their credit cards.

The ease of credit brought on by all the competitive credit card industry places a tremendous amount of buying power in the hands of the average consumer. The consumers that are dragged in to the business of easy credit are bringing on their own troubles and making it harder to control their spending and manage their finances. If you’ve got a serious debt problem, there may be corrective steps you can take involving your credit cards.

Minimum payments, paying late fees and incurring unnecessary credit card charges are yet other mistakes that make credit cards burden not a benefit. Making a late payment on your credit card bill allows the credit card company to impose a hefty late payment fee. For the credit card holder that has to pay a late payment fee they also have to pay the monthly interest charges that will only grow larger as the credit card balance grows larger. Additional fees that make reducing the credit card balance more difficult include over the credit limit fees and returned check fees.

When you pay only the minimum on your credit card bill, you’re simply taking more time to pay off your debt which leads to more money in credit card interest charges. Consumers that are consistently delinquent could see a significant increase in their credit card interest rate as well as a reduction in their credit limit on the card.

Running up late fees, having access to too many credit cards and having the wrong credit card to meet your needs are all problems with credit card that can be avoided. Good credit card choices can flip a credit card debt burdens into credit card benefits.

To review credit cards and credit card rates by category, please see low interest rate credit cards, cash back credit cards, rewards credit cards, balance transfer credit cards, prepaid credit cards, credit cards for bad credit and secured credit cards.

Additional credit card resources can be found at Chase business cards and Chase Freedom card.

Credit Card Rewards Cards Need to be Chosen Carefully

As credit card rewards become more ubiquitous and credit card companies promote their value and benefits, consumers need to shop and compare the best credit card reward card before obtaining a new credit card.

When shopping and comparing rewards credit cards, first choose the credit card that it meets your needs, not just because of the rewards program offered. Reward credit cards offer a number of benefits for card holders but if they are not matching your needs for shopping and costs, the benefits of the card will be lost. Even existing rewards credit card holders should evaluate the need for their card; a card holder should never let the enticement of the rewards being promoted tie them to a credit card that no longer meets their needs.

When searching for a new rewards card make sure it matches both your spending habits and credit card use habits. Card holders that usually carry a balance on their credit card would not gain any benefit from a new credit card with ample rewards options but an above average credit card rate. Always compare the credit card rates, finding the best credit card rate on a new card is often a greater benefit than a card with generous reward pay outs.

For those consumers that expect to pay off their credit card balances in full each month, the credit card interest rate is of little significance. For these consumers, shopping for the right rewards credit card should focus more clearly on the reward benefits and other credit card features.

Once the search for the best credit card begins to center in on just rewards credit cards, look for a credit card that will earn rewards at the retailers and service providers you use the most often. Some credit card rewards program earns points on all purchases while others may offer additional rewards for certain categories of transactions, such as gas or groceries and some credit card reward programs run a combination of overall purchases rewards and bonus rewards for select categories.

The key take away for evaluating rewards credit cards or almost any category of credit cards is to weigh the costs against the benefits. For instance, some rewards credit cards charge an annual fee, while others will not. Anytime a credit card has an annual fee, the card holder will have to consider whether they will earn enough from the rewards program or a lower credit card rate to justify the cost of the annual fee.

Always review the terms and conditions for earning and redeeming the credit card rewards with a particular credit card before completing the credit card application. Be aware if your points are subject to an expiration date as well as caps on the maximum amount of reward points that can be earned.

Rewards credit cards are promotion and marketing tools used by credit card companies to attract new card holders and encourage credit card use. In order to make these cards worthwhile and earn the rewards, card holders have to make purchase transactions. Card holders should always be mindful about the amount of shopping they are doing with their credit cards along with the interest charges and credit card debt they may be accruing while earning the credit card rewards. Consumers that are enticed into spending more than they would without the credit card will find out quickly just how much the free rewards really cost.

To review credit cards and credit card rates by category, please see low interest rate credit cards, cash back credit cards, rewards credit cards, balance transfer credit cards, prepaid credit cards, credit cards for bad credit and secured credit cards.

Additional credit card resources can be found at Chase business cards and Chase Freedom card.

Finding the Best Credit Card During the Holidays

Finding the best credit card that suits your needs can sometimes be tougher than finding a job. Unfortunately, too many credit card shoppers fail to put enough time and effort into finding the best credit card with the best credit card rate for their needs. The result is high credit card rate and less than favorable terms that often leads to more debt without any benefits.

The wide availability of credit cards coming from almost every leading financial institution and the variety of credit card features makes for a whirlwind of credit card offers that can be very confusing to digest. The dizzying array of credit card offers drives many consumers to follow the crowd. And when the credit card offers are not chosen wisely, the credit card holder will likely end up with greater debts in the long run.

Finding the best credit card is not the result of magician’s play. First a consumer to shop and compare the best credit card rates. For credit cards, simply look for the lowest APR. You may also want to find the best rate for credit card balance transfer options. If the interest rates are low enough, then chances are high that you can extinguish your debts in a shorter time. It will also be easier to make any new monthly credit card payments and maintain a good credit history.

Find the credit card that also combines the lowest credit card rate and offers the best rewards, especially if you are a frequent traveler or credit card user. Any significant credit card user should be gaining some benefits while indulging in lots of purchases and traveling long distances. A credit card with suitable reward points allocated to traveling and discount coupons for new purchases will be worthy of keeping in your wallet. But check out if the credit card has some limitations on redeeming those credit card rewards like restrictions on how the credit card rewards are earned and at one rate they are accumulated.

Many credit cards have attractive bonus points which you can acquire once you obtain a new credit card and use the card. Some credit cards offer exclusive discounts and offers on select purchases. Choose the one which suits your lifestyle. These points can be accumulated and exchanged in return for gifts or cash discounts but at a specific rate that is not the same on all credit cards.

When you are in holiday mode, you will naturally indulge in a few extra purchases. Once the season is gone, you may not want to end up in the misery of an abundance of credit card debt. A few tips can help you to avoid such a situation without compromising the fun and celebrations.

Don’t be a miser, but be smart in spending and how you use credit. Spend in the right way, right place and on the right products. Plan a budget and stick to it. Find a credit card that will give you a credit limit, a rate and rewards that fits your budget. This will also help you to keep a track of your spending within your budget. Remember to pick up a credit card which does not burden you financially and is aligned in the right way with your financial needs.

List out the major things of your purchase and find a credit card which offers reward points, discounts or other special gifts for such purchases. Be sure that you can repay the debts within the next month. Use the credit cards more like cash. Since the credit card companies are very competitive, they are more than willing to promote more benefits for the holiday season to entice new customers. Look for the introductory credit card rate promotions that have zero percent for purchases and balance transfers, or extra reward points for new credit card transactions.

Do not apply for credit cards without a plan of action. Each new credit card may lower your credit score. Hence don’t request additional credit cards unless you need a new card or the new cards have better terms or a better credit card rate.

Make a plan to use your credit cards wisely and go ahead and enjoy the holidays with your well managed new credit purchases.

To review credit cards and credit card rates by category, please see low interest rate credit cards, cash back credit cards, rewards credit cards, balance transfer credit cards, prepaid credit cards, credit cards for bad credit and secured credit cards.

Common Credit Card User Errors

Lack of financial knowledge can cost you dearly, especially with credit cards. Know the ins and outs of your credit card and credit card services fully to ensure the security of your personal identity and to maintain a good credit score. There are some common misconceptions among credit card users which can often lead to the greatest financial errors regarding credit card use.

One of the biggest misconceptions is that the credit card companies can change the APR rates. The new credit card rule changes have only added to the confusion about credit card rate changes. This is done when you default on the payment or had a late payment that is more than 60 days late. These financial mistakes over late payments make you vulnerable for such harsher steps from the credit card companies. Your credit card company cannot increase the credit card rate for the first 12 months after opening a new credit card account unless it is a variable rates and the index changes and most cards are now variable rates or there is an introductory credit card rate that is expiring or the account holder is 60 days or more delinquent on the account.

Be sure to put your signature on the back of the card. There is a white box allotted for the purpose. This is the only form of identification needed by the credit card companies and the retailer when you make a purchase.

If you want to keep a good credit history, be sure to make the monthly credit card payments on time. Your credit score should never go down from credit card payments when you monitor the payment requirements. Your credit score can also get affected if you have exceeded the credit limit and fail to pay the sum within the specified period. Credit bureaus will deduct points when calculating the credit score if you are closer to the credit threshold. In such cases, it will be better to ask for a revision of your credit limit to increase the limit and avoid uses the maximum.

If you have been provided the credit card, and you fail to activate it, still it will be counted towards your credit history. Not activating the credit card does not restrain you from activating your credit account. Activate the credit card, sign the credit card and keep control over where it is and how it is used.

The person who made the application will be responsible for the payments and purchases made through the credit card. Even if there are other users authorized for access to the same credit card, the credit reports will reflect the credit card debt and payment activity in the name of the originator of the credit card.

If your credit card is lost or stolen, immediately inform the loss to the creditor. Otherwise you would be liable for any unauthorized purchases. The customer service departments of the credit card companies will immediately block or cancel the credit card to avoid unwanted activity. Your liability in this case will be reduced to $50.00 for a lost card. The companies will usually send you a new credit card with a new account number immediately.

Identity theft and credit card frauds are increasing globally. Hence it is necessary to safeguard the credit cards, account numbers and other vital personal information. Some merchandise prints the entire details of the card in their sales receipts. Be sure to destroy such receipts.

You can withhold your credit payments to the credit card company for defective or inferior service according to the Fair Credit Billing Act provides . But make sure you inform the credit card company and you have to pay for the other items of the bill as usual. The credit card company cannot enter any bad credit history in such case as long as the case is on dispute.

Finally review your credit card billing statements every month to make sure of the absence of any unauthorized purchases. If an error is noticed in the bill, inform the creditor and give it in writing to the company at the earliest to avoid unnecessary hassles in future.

To review credit cards and credit card rates by category, please see low interest rate credit cards, cash back credit cards, rewards credit cards, balance transfer credit cards, prepaid credit cards, credit cards for bad credit and secured credit cards.

What are Student Credit Cards

Student credit cards can offer financial independence for college students. Student credit cards can help ensure that students build and maintain a good credit history which will be of use when they apply for additional credit and financial services in the future.

Unfortunately, college credit cards prove to be a twin edged tool posing greater threats when students fail to manage the added credit card debt. However, the situation can be avoided by paying attention to the greater details to the terms and conditions on the credit card application as well as selecting the right student credit card to match the student’s financial needs. One should particularly look for the expiry of the APR rates given.

Having a good credit history is necessary for young adults to meet some bigger financial targets like a house or a car in future. Most employers and other financial service providers will verify a client or applicants past credit history. Without a good credit history, it will be difficult to apply for loans whether for education, housing or any other purpose. A credit card especially a student credit card is one of the first stepping stones to developing a strong credit profile.

Before applying for a new credit card, is it essential to ensure that the student is aware of the conditions and terms associated with the card. A little financial knowledge and an awareness of the interest rates and conditions can help the credit card applicant use these cards wisely.

Many student credit cards are offered with a low introductory credit card APR and some cash back or credit card reward options. Some companies offer gifts and reward certificates in categories that appeal the college students. Hence, many of these credit card promotions sound exciting and the offers are simply irresistible for college goers.

New student credit card applicants most remember to check the credit card rates to compare credit card offers and closely investigate the period of the introductory offer on promotional credit card rates. Many introductory credit card rates on student credit cards are for a relatively short term.

After the introductory credit card rate period, the credit card rate shoots up to even 18-20 %. It is very easy for the college going students to increase their spending habits within the six months. But after the offer period, the debts increase steadily which may throw the student into a spiral of uncontrollable debts. With the lower income sources of the student community, this becomes more than a disaster.

But for the prudent student credit card user there is surely a way out to handle the resources of the credit card in a sensible manner. New student credit card holders should spend the funds available with a college credit card only in necessary circumstances. The most important part or good credit card management is handling the card holder’s expenses wisely. Avoid over indulging in a spending spree once you get access to a credit card.

Student credit cards are a great way for young people to establish a credit history. When used in a responsible way, a good credit history will develop and this will be an added advantage in the future. Plan a budget ahead of spending and stick to it. Carefully go through the conditions before you apply for a student credit card. Opt for the student credit card with the best credit card rate and best terms.

To review credit cards and credit card rates by category, please see low interest rate credit cards, cash back credit cards, rewards credit cards, balance transfer credit cards, prepaid credit cards, credit cards for bad credit and secured credit cards.

More Positives for Credit Card Holders

Those who have been put into financial hardship by excessive credit card may believe that ‘credit cards are the root of all evil’. However, even when evaluating the negative consequences of too much credit card use, credit cards have to be considered a double edged sword, when used wisely they can help battle tight financial budgets and provide benefits to the card holders.

For effective use of any tool, you need to know how to operate it correctly and effectively. Credit cards are money management tools that also need to be operated correctly and effectively to get the greatest benefit from their use. With a cautious approach in credit card spending habits, you can keep the debt devil at bay and use credit cards to your advantage.

Perhaps no other monetary instruments have gained notoriety based on the hidden dangers associated with its use than consumer credit cards. However, there are some positive aspects that can be harnessed by ‘swiping plastics’ while employing prudent financial management.

Most credit card companies are competitive and hence offer a number of promotional offers to attract new credit card users. The most common credit card promotions are credit card rewards and bonus points which can be redeemed for cash or other benefits. These offers vary widely and cover all aspects like travel, purchase, gifts, jewelry, fuel etc. To reap the benefits of the credit card rewards and bonus points, a card holder can make standard purchases and other transactions without even keeping a balance on the card. To exploit the marketing power of the credit card companies, simply make the purchases with the card to earn the rewards and once the shopping is done and make the full payment to bring the credit card balance back down to zero.

Be sure to check for the zero interest rate introductory credit card offers before obtaining a new credit card. More and more credit card companies offer a reduced interest rate or even a zero percent interest on new purchases to attract new credit card customers. In order to garner this benefit, you simply need to repay the sum of credit card charges within a specified period and pay no interest for the charges made.

With some of these credit card offers, by simply making every day purchases through the credit card you will earn reward points and you may not be charged interest during the introductory rate period. The important thing is to make the monthly credit card payments promptly.

With prompt monthly payments and controlled credit card balances, you will be earning a good credit history which will improve your chances of better financial terms when you opt for a loan or additional credit in the future.

The credit card is also a helping hand in times of trouble in more than one way. You can consider a credit card an emergency resource of money which will help you to face unforeseen circumstances and expenses. This is a must for frequent travelers. You will surely not want to end up in a foreign country without access to money.

The Fair Credit Billing Act makes it mandatory that you are not supposed to be billed for purchase of defective items through a credit card. This comes handy when you make online credit card purchases. This is yet another benefit found with the prudent use of credit cards.

The credit that is offered to you with credit card use is the equivalent of a short term loan. It gives you confidence, flexibility and healthy money management options. Suppose there is a discount sale and your payments are due to arrive only after the close of the sale. You can make your purchases with the credit card and repay the charges once the monthly billing is complete which may allow you to pay the card before the grace period expires and result in no credit card interest charges.

A credit card is a power financial tool for managing money. Before you choose a new credit card, however, ensure that you know all the pros and cons of the specific credit card. Choose wisely to ensure you have obtained the best credit card with the best credit card rate to suit your needs. Take a little care to spend within your budget, and don’t forget to pay off your monthly balances promptly. This will help control these plastic tools in the most efficient way to manage a stress free financial life.

To find more information on specific credit card offers for low interest rate credit cards, credit card reward programs, credit cards for balance transfers, student credit cards, business credit cards, credit cards for bad credit, prepaid credit cards, secured credit cards, gas credit cards or cash back credit credit cards see the following pages: balance transfer credit cards, credit cards for bad credit, prepaid credit cards, cash back credit cards, secured credit cards, student credit cards, business credit cards, rewards credit cards and gas credit cards.

A Look at Hidden Costs of Credit Cards

Though all credit card rates and costs are disclosed to credit card applicants as part of the credit card application or credit card agreement, some card holders fail to watch out for some of the costs and charges associated with credit card use that can sneak up over time.

The biggest cost surprises with credit cards are the credit card fees. The most common credit card fee is the late payment fee. Though credit card lat payment fees are generally not a surprise to the credit card account holder that is late on their monthly credit card payment but the size of this fee is often very surprising. Of course, adding the regular scheduled payment and the late payment fee can put a pinch in anyone’s monthly budget.

The most common surprise fees are the fees for different transactions made with the credit card. These credit card fees include credit card balance transfer fees, credit card cash advance fees and ATM fees. Even credit cards that offer low rate balance transfer rates or zero percent balance transfer rates may have balance transfer fees charged for each balance transfer transaction.

A sample of a common credit card balance transfer fees may be disclosed as either $5.00 or 3% of the amount of each credit card balance transfer, whichever is greater.

Credit card convenience checks, which are often included along with the low rate credit card balance transfer offers, will often be charged as a cash advance fee. Since credit card issuers treat these convenience checks as cash advances, the card holder may incur a 3% fee, with a $5.00 to $10.00 minimum amount regardless of the amount of the convenience check.

An example of this cash advance fee, credit card companies may charge post the fees as either $10.00 or 3% of the amount of each cash advance transaction, whichever is greater.

Credit cards used for foreign transactions may be hit with a separate fee or charge. The credit card companies established this fee and will charge more for a transaction because they are in a foreign currency.

An example of a foreign currency transaction fee may read; 3% of each foreign currency transaction in U.S. dollars.

Credit card annual fees are another fee that may be imposed by credit card companies but would be hardly considered a surprise fee since most consumers are well aware of these charges before they accept a new credit card with the fee. What may come as surprising is the amount of the annual fees on some premium credit cards and credit cards for consumers that have less than perfect credit.

Unfortunately, too many cards carry an assortment of fees and charges that consumers may not discover until they find those credit card fees on their monthly statement. These credit card fees can be avoided or at least be made aware of if the credit card applicant reads the card agreement carefully before applying for a new credit card. In addition, credit card applicants should consider how they intend to use a credit card and review their own spending habits before choosing the right card.

Consumers should review the credit card choices available and evaluate all of the costs incurred when evaluating which credit card to choose. See the enclosed listed credit card data tables with the best credit card deals by category to find the best credit card with the best credit card rate to meet your needs.

To find more information on specific credit card offers for low interest rate credit cards, credit card reward programs, credit cards for balance transfers, student credit cards, business credit cards, credit cards for bad credit, prepaid credit cards, secured credit cards, gas credit cards or cash back credit credit cards see the following pages: balance transfer credit cards, credit cards for bad credit, prepaid credit cards, cash back credit cards, secured credit cards, student credit cards, business credit cards, rewards credit cards and gas credit cards.

Searching for the Best Credit Card Rate

Credit card rates have ticked down modestly this year and the best credit card rates available are now better than they’ve been for quite some time.  New bank credit card rates are moderately lower for purchase transactions and are measurably lower on credit card balance transfer transactions especially with regards to the promotional side of credit card offers.  Credit card companies are definitely stepping up their efforts with new credit card promotions to attract new credit card holders.

Since the vast majority of lowers credit card rates are in the form of promotional offers or introductory credit card rates, consumers need to read the terms and conditions of all offers before deciding on a particular credit card.

Credit cards are generally found to be a very convenient method of paying for standard shopping items and paying for travel as well as emergency needs, but when interest rates on the credit offered can reach low levels, even as low as zero percent, the value of this source of credit becomes even more attractive.

With many low rate credit card offers, the credit card companies often tighten the approval standards before issuing a new credit card with the best credit card rate.  In fact, most new credit card applicants that read the terms of the offer will see that the majority of new credit cards are based on a variable credit card rate and have tiered approval rates.  The tiered approval rates means that the credit card issuer may offer a rate as low as 7.90% but this rate is for the best qualified credit card applicants and the rate an applicant may be approved for could be several percentages higher than that rate.

On the tiered credit card rate offers, only after the credit card application is approved will the applicant know the rate they are able to obtain.  And the credit card companies that offer the best credit card rates generally have far more restrictions and limitations than is found with standard credit cards and standard credit card rates.

With the growing list of low interest credit cards offer it still behooves many consumers to review the new card terms and conditions to see if they will benefit from the current promotional push.  Before applying for a credit card, it is still important to understand why you need a credit card.  There are a variety of credit cards available with different rates, conditions and benefits.  Some credit cards are specially targeted for consumers for specific purposes such as travel credit cards, balance transfer credit cards, rewards credit cards and prepaid credit cards. 

The credit card rate alone may not justify switching credit cards or applying for a new credit card.  Before selecting a new credit card, review your credit card charges to see how you use your current cards.  With the plethora of credit card types combined with lower rates, this is may be one of the best opportunities to obtain new credit card to save money in the long run.

To find more information on specific credit card offers for low interest rate credit cards, credit card reward programs, credit cards for balance transfers, student credit cards, business credit cards, credit cards for bad credit, prepaid credit cards, secured credit cards, gas credit cards or cash back credit credit cards see the following pages: balance transfer credit cards, credit cards for bad credit, prepaid credit cards, cash back credit cards, secured credit cards, student credit cards, business credit cards, rewards credit cards and gas credit cards.

Avoid Extra Costs and Losses with Credit Card Use

Credit card ease of access and the general convenience of credit card use can sometimes lead to these pieces of plastic being a dangerous tool.  Though credit cards are generally considered safer to use for purchase transactions than cash or checks, they can still pose problems for the credit card holder.

The two main dangers posed by credit card use are unwanted credit card charges and excessive credit card indebtedness.  For those consumers that will incur some credit card debt, they should be aware of all the options available and limit the costs and potential losses that arise with credit card use.

The first step to avoiding unnecessary credit card costs is to apply for the best credit card with the credit card rate.  Lowering the cost of holding credit card debt is a sure fire way to reduce costs.  When reviewing credit card rates and terms it is also important to make sure that the credit cards being compared have the lowest interest rates as well as the lowest fees.

To make sure that the credit card you hold or the credit card you may be applying for has the best terms, read the fine print of the cardholder’s agreement carefully to understand all associated credit card fees, annual fees, over the limit charges, late payment fees, cash advance fees, credit card balance transfer fees and ATM fees.  The credit card rate and terms can be found as part of the online credit card application which can make for quick comparisons between multiple credit card offers.

In choosing the best credit card with the best credit card rate to use, don’t ignore the benefits offered by credit card rewards.  Be careful to review the reward options attentively before making the choice on the right credit card rewards program.

Using credit cards for everyday use can be a great way to rack up credit card rewards and stay protected from the risk financial loss inherent in using cash, but for those credit card user that use credit cards for everyday purchases the key is to have a plan to pay off the balance at the end of each month.  Without a plan to pay off all credit card purchases, the typical end result is increasing credit card debt levels.  Frequent credit card users should be careful to watch all credit card transactions to make sure that the amount of charges is not surpassing a reasonably budgeted sum.

It is generally unwise to use credit card cash advances, since the costs of these transactions which includes fees and credit card interest charges are the generally the most expensive credit card transactions.

Once the best credit card is selected for use, keep a close eye on how it used.  Credit card fraud is rampant and shows no signs of letting up.  Guard your credit cards, always knowing where they are and that the numbers are not exposed to wandering eyes.  Furthermore, check your receipts.  Make sure the credit card charges are accurate on the receipt as well as the monthly credit card statement.  The simplicity inherent in credit card transactions makes it easier for card holders to innocently put the receipt in the shopping bag without reviewing the actual charges. 

With a few sensible credit card selection guidelines and credit card care procedures, credit card holders can minimize the costs associated with credit card use.

Bestcreditcardrates.com  lists credit card offers from the leading credit card issuers and banks, including Discover cards, Chase credit cards, American Express credit cards, Citi credit cards, Capital One credit cards, Visa credit cards, MasterCard credit cards and more.   Credit card offers can be found for low rate credit cards, balance transfer credit cards, student credit cards, business credit cards, credit cards for bad credit, prepaid credit cards, secured credit cards, gas credit cards, cash back credit cards and more.

Credit Cards Understanding the Limits

Credit cards can unquestionably offer a very convenient method for making purchase transactions.  While credit cards provide many conveniences for purchase transactions ranging from increased security to interest free credit with extended grace periods, credit card also pose certain hazards to credit card users.

The key to good credit card use and credit card management is to understand the benefits and the limitations of card use.  Knowing the limitations that the credit card in your wallet possesses can save a lot of financial trouble or burdens in the future, especially during holidays times when credit card use expands.

To start down the path of good credit card management, the credit card holder should know the credit card terms of the card or cards they use.  Understand the current credit card rate, the length of time for the grace period, any promotions or credit card rewards that can be obtained by using the account.  Other terms to review may include the interest rate after the expiration of the introductory credit card rate time period or the amount of the annual fee.

By understanding the credit card terms, you know the true cost and benefits that are offered by the card and can better evaluate whether it is time to switch to a new credit card with a better credit card rate or more lucrative credit card rewards.

While reviewing the terms of the credit cards in your wallet, take the time to review the credit card balances owed.  Just because a credit card has an available credit card limit, doesn’t mean that this gives the card holder access to free money.  Credit card debt is represents a loan that you must repay.  By understanding the terms and the balances, a credit card holder can have a proper appreciation of the cost of making another transaction using a credit card.

Always try to pay off the total credit card balance each month.  Credit cards can be extremely costly if a credit card balance is constantly maintained.  Consumers that always pay off their credit card balance will avoid getting into serious credit card trouble while enjoying the protection and security of credit card use along with the added benefits of credit card promotions and credit card rewards.  And don’t forget, improper credit card management can lead to late payments.  Credit card late payments fees add a considerably additional charge to the monthly payment, not to mention the damage to an individual’s credit score that can come from late monthly payments.

There is nothing inherently wrong with owning more than credit card, in fact, with the wide variety of credit cards that are available for low rate credit card balance transfers and credit card cash back offers on select purchases, in may be beneficial to hold and use more than one credit card.  But too many open credit cards provide a greater opportunity for poor credit card management and potential debt problems.

Before using a credit card, decide what it will be used for and what level of debt, if any, will be manageable based on your income and budget.  Always be aware of your spending limits before taking a credit card out of your wallet to make a purchase transaction.  Consumers should treat all spending with a credit card like their regular monthly expenses and establish a budget to stay disciplined.

Bestcreditcardrates.com  is an online credit card marketplace that provides credit card offers, credit card promotions and reviews, credit card tips and tools, credit card news, and services that enable consumers to find the best credit card with the best credit card rate to match their needs.

Bestcreditcardrates.com  lists credit card offers from the leading credit card issuers and banks, including Discover cards, Chase credit cards, American Express credit cards, Citi credit cards, Capital One credit cards, Visa credit cards, MasterCard credit cards and more.  Offers can be found for low rate credit cards, balance transfer credit cards, student credit cards, business credit cards, credit cards for bad credit, prepaid credit cards, secured credit cards, gas credit cards, cash back credit cards and more.

Top Five Reasons to Use a Credit Card

Putting a credit card in your wallet is a convenient way to avoid carrying cash while maintaining the ability to make purchases quickly.  Credit cards offer a convenient form of payment and also offer some safe guards that are not available for those consumers that pay with cash.  Credit card holders can also that participate in various rewards programs offered by credit cards that can earn airline miles or a variety of other rewards for purchasing items that generally would have been purchased with or without a credit card.

Based on this foundation, there are some very good reasons to use credit cards for most purchases as long as the credit card debt and credit card payments are handled responsibly.

Too many credit card holders pay little attention to the safety that credit card purchases afford.  Safe and secure payments can be one of the primary reasons to pay with a credit card as opposed to cash or check.  Paying with a credit card makes it easier to avoid losses from fraud.  The maximum liability under federal law for unauthorized use of your credit card is $50.00.  If you report the loss before your credit cards are used, the Fair Credit Billing Act states that the credit card company cannot hold an individual responsible for any unauthorized charges.  If a thief uses the credit cards before the card are reported missing, the most the account holder will owe for unauthorized charges is $50.00 per card. 

And even with disputed charges, when the purchase is made with a credit card the credit card company acts as a cushion between the merchant and the payment.  The money doesn’t come out of the account until the account holder pays the bill.  In addition, for those consumers that still use checks, the information on a check contains more personal information than there is on a credit card

One of the key benefits of credit cards in today’s competitive card market is the credit card rewards and bonuses available with new credit cards.  Credit card applicants with good credit can get approved for credit cards that offer a variety of rewards including cash back offers and travel miles rewards.  In addition, quite a few credit cards offer new signup bonuses that include extra rewards and benefits.  Some cards offer a one percent cash back bonus program while others offer up to five percent.  Those points are then redeemable for products, travel or cash. I always take the cash.  When looking for a credit card, compare these reward programs and pay the card off monthly to get the rewards for free.

Credit card use offers free credit with extended credit card due dates and grace periods.  If you pay off your balance every month, you are essentially getting an interest free loan from the credit card companies.  Credit cards usually have a grace period of at least 21 days, after which the credit card payment is due.  During this time, if the credit card balance is paid in full each month there are no interest charges on the account.  Zero percent introductory credit card offers extend this value by providing consumers a means to borrow at 0% for a set period of time. 

The ability to build a strong credit history and good credit score is an attribute found with credit card use.  A long credit history with timely payments is one of the foundations of a good credit profile and good credit score.  Credit card use can be one tool to build a good payment history in your credit report.  The alternative is not using a credit card and it’s hard to build a credit history without actually using credit.  Using a credit card to build credit and increase your credit score can be a good use of credit cards.

Credit card gives card holders the opportunity to reduce the amount of cash they hold.  If you have to obtain cash each time you need to buy something, it can be time consuming and risky.  A credit card allows you to act quickly when you need to make purchases.  A credit card can also provide a convenient way to pay for traveling and reservations so that you don’t have to carry a large amount of cash with you.  A credit card, used properly, affords card holders the ability to obtain instant access to money in case of an emergency. 

There are many more benefits available to consumers that choose to use credit cards responsibly.

Bestcreditcardrates.com  is an online credit card marketplace that provides credit card offers, credit card promotions and reviews, credit card tips and tools, credit card news, and services that enable consumers to find the best credit card with the best credit card rate to match their needs.

Bestcreditcardrates.com  lists credit card offers from the leading credit card issuers and banks, including Discover cards, Chase credit cards, American Express credit cards, Citi credit cards, Capital One credit cards, Visa credit cards, MasterCard credit cards and more.  Offers can be found for low rate credit cards, balance transfer credit cards, student credit cards, business credit cards, credit cards for bad credit, prepaid credit cards, secured credit cards, gas credit cards, cash back credit cards and more.

Credit Card Offers Online

Now that the dust has settled over problem credit card portfolios with many of the largest bank credit card issuers, online credit card offers are on the rise.  Credit card companies use online credit card offers as one promotional tool to acquire potentially valuable customers.

For credit card companies that allure of online credit card shoppers is that these card shoppers often hold their cards for an extended period of time and actively use the cards they obtain.  In addition, credit card companies can obtain new credit card customers at a potentially reduced cost with online marketing and credit card promotions.

For the online credit card seeker, the benefits can be numerous.  Online credit card shopper’s benefit from the promotions the credit card companies run to acquire new card holders.  Credit card deals online can be plentiful and are easy to compare among the current array of credit card offers and the various promotions between card companies. 

One of the clear benefits of online shopping is the ability to quickly review and compare multiple offers, regardless of the product.  With credit cards, comparing and reviewing multiple credit cards by the consumer can be accomplished efficiently.  Due to the ease and convenience to compare multiple credit card offers, the online credit card seeker can afford to be more demanding about the terms and conditions of the credit card they want.  The end result is a consumer that is more likely to obtain the best credit card with the best credit card rate to suit their needs.

The online credit card shopper can not only quickly compare numerous credit cards but can also compare of a variety of card features.  Credit card shoppers can not only search the new credit card promotions for features such as low credit card rate balance transfers but they compare that offer to standard low rate credit cards as well as other features such as credit card rewards and transaction benefits.  Credit card shoppers online can view more than one or two factors that may be important in their choice of a credit card issuer.

The Internet is a great resource for credit card seekers because it empowers them to shop for cards on their own time instead of gathering and sorting through mail or print offerings.  This leads to one of the benefits of the Internet that appeals to both the credit card issuer and the credit card shopper, the ability to reduce the cost and time to obtain a new card.

For the credit card shopper, online options don’t stop at just comparing the best credit cards.  Consumers interested in obtaining a new credit card can apply directly online for a credit card.  Often online credit card applications involve quick approvals with the application completion taking only minutes to execute and submit.

Bestcreditcardrates.com  is an online credit card marketplace that provides credit card offers, credit card promotions and reviews, credit card tips and tools, credit card news, and services that enable consumers to find the best credit card with the best credit card rate to match their needs.

Bestcreditcardrates.com  lists credit card offers from the leading credit card issuers and banks, including Discover cards, Chase credit cards, American Express credit cards, Citi credit cards, Capital One credit cards, Visa credit cards, MasterCard credit cards and more.  Offers can be found for low rate credit cards, balance transfer credit cards, student credit cards, business credit cards, credit cards for bad credit, prepaid credit cards, secured credit cards, gas credit cards, cash back crdit cards and more.

Credit Card Rewards, the Credit Card Grace Period and Paying Bills

Credit cards are not just for making quick purchases in lieu of cash or checks or for those times when there is a short term cash crunch or for making big ticket purchase transactions.  Credit cards can also easily work as an efficient and effective bill paying machine.

Almost all bank credit cards offer a bill payment feature.  Most credit card holders think of the bill paying feature as a method to pay the monthly credit card bills.  While it’s true, that is an element of the credit card bill payment feature, the more attractive feature is the ability to use the credit card to make online credit card payments to a whole variety of bills and household expenses.

Along with the convenience of automatic bill payments, among the more beneficial features of the online bill payment options with credit cards are the grace period that allows for an interest free short term loan as well as the ability to earn credit card reward points and bonuses.

With automatic bill payment by the use of a credit card, the card holder can set up automatic monthly payment for utility bills, insurance, subscriptions, loan payments and more.  In the meantime, the credit card bill itself can be set up for automatic payment from your bank account. 

Individuals can benefit from the grace period or due date that allows the account holder to incur no credit card interest charges as long as the credit card balance is paid in full each month before the due date.  Typically, credit card grace periods or due dates are 21-25 days after the close of each billing cycle. In effect, the free credit period means that you can utilize other people’s money free of cost.

Credit card account holders that pay their bills automatically can earn a variety of different reward points depending on the type of rewards credit card used.  Reward points on the credit card can be earned for just about any net purchase transaction regardless of the nature of the transactions.  Paying your grocery bills or taxes can earn credit card reward points just like buying a new washing machine would.  These credit card reward points are earned based on the terms of the credit card.   

Credit card rewards points earned from paying these every daily bills can be exchanged or redeemed for cash back on the card account or for merchandise and accessories or travel miles. Since recurring monthly household charges can be substantial, the reward earning may also be significant.

The reward points are earned and credited as per the credit card company’s policies. Since the credit card rewards program have become such big business, some bank credit cards have increased their promotions by offering bonus reward points for opening a new credit card account.

Be careful not to roll over the outstanding credit card balances that accrue with recurring monthly payments month to month.  By paying all your bills in full, once you are running on autopilot, you can avoid being charged interest.  Credit card companies will charge interest from the billing due date on the existing outstanding amount.  The credit card interest charges can unnecessarily add to the costs of managing your bills.

To find more information on credit card offers for low interest rates or credit card reward programs or credit cards for balance transfers see the following lists at low interest credit cards, rewards credit cards and balance transfer credit cards.  Additional credit card databases at Bestcreditcardrates.com include: prepaid credit cards, cash back credit cards, secured credit cards, student credit cards and business credit cards.

Different Credit Cards for Different Transactions

Most consumers have and use credit cards.  Unfortunately, the vast majority of consumers do not use their credit cards efficiently.  For those consumers that are comfortable using credit cards and are going to take on some credit card debt, it can be very beneficial to make smart credit card choices in selecting and using the credit card.

Standard credit card offers a consumer a simple credit limit that can be accessed with the use of the credit card.  The credit card debt accumulated with the card use is then paid back at with a minimum monthly payment at a set interest rate.

Along with the standard credit limit and interest rate, credit cards are frequently marketed with additional features such as credit card reward points, credit card cash back, credit card travel miles, fraud protection, insurance and more.

Many consumers pay little attention to the added features and distinct categories of credit cards available and simply use the card that is most convenient.  Taking action to employ credit cards for distinct different transaction types can be a clever use of a credit card rather than using any ole credit card in your wallet. 

An example of specific or targeted use credit card transaction may include using a gas branded bank credit card for gas purchases only in order to obtain the maximum credit card rewards that come with that type of purchase. 

Some people will use their credit card for everything they purchase.  Some credit card users will look into their wallet and evaluate whether they need three or four credit cards and consider reducing the number down to just one or two.  But with prudent credit card use, having multiple credit cards that serve different purposes may be more rewarding financially.

There are a number of different credit card reward programs available and some people are taking advantage of that by selecting the credit card reward cards that match their purchase and then use the car for major purchases that earn the biggest rewards. 

Credit cards have changed in the market to three distinct categories.  Low rate credit card that offer very few bells and whistles, credit cards for consumers with less than perfect credit which may include prepaid credit cards and secured credit cards and credit cards with reward programs including travel rewards credit cards and cash back credit cards.

Consumers should start the process of maximizing returns by moving their credit cards to a credit card company that is offering the lowest rates and best rewards for the type of purchase they are making.

Low rate credit cards can often be the best credit card for those consumers that carry a balance but frequently the consumers that apply and use the very low rate credit cards, pay off their credit card balances monthly.  This same consumer can use a higher rate card that has very a very attractive reward program, still pay off the balance monthly and enjoy the benefits of provided by the credit card company.  A 5% cash back bonus on $1,000 in net purchases is $50.00.  The rewards are earned for net purchases, not balances held.  The consumer is free to pay off the entire balance within the grace period and incur no interest charges.

 As long as consumers are going to use credit cards, which have inherent security protection that alone make this form of payment appealing, the extra frequent flyer miles or cash back rebates or gifts earned for using these cards is a great bonus that can be earned just by paying for everyday expenses like weekly groceries and monthly bills.  Of course, prudent financial management is needed to go with the credit card use to avoid over indebtedness.

To find more information on credit cards with low interest rates see a list of low interest credit cards or to see more credit card offers for credit cards with reward programs refer to the rewards credit cards list.

Why Credit Card Use Spirals Out of Control

Some people will use their credit card or credit cards for everything they purchase at stores or online while other consumers use a credit card for only specific types of purchases or during specific times.  Either one of these uses for credit cards can lead to unruly credit card debt.

A key warning sign that a consumer is taking on too much credit card debt is they are not paying down a portion of the principal credit card balance each month while adding to the monthly credit card debt with more charges and even increased credit card late payment charges.  Credit card interest rates can already be enough of a burden when it comes to reducing credit card debt, but adding credit card late payments is often a much bigger issue than many credit card holders realize.

If consumers can repay their monthly credit card charges the continual balances aren’t necessarily a significant problem.  The problem occurs when consumers use the credit card as a supplement to income and the risk of not being able to pay down the new credit card debt rapidly increases.  

It’s a fact that most consumers obtain a new credit card with the intention of limiting credit card use and feel confident that they will pay off their card balance each month and not keep a revolving credit card debt.  Unfortunately, many of these new credit card users start to find that they’re not paying their balance off and thereby accruing interest each month on top of new transactions that are adding to the balance.

During the credit boom that occurred over the past ten years, many credit card users were rolling their credit card debt into new credit cards with balance transfers or onto mortgages with refinance transactions.  These credit card holders are finding that they no longer have that option available and the credit card debt is becoming a bigger burden to repay.

Clearly, a significant contributing factor to too much credit card debt is the economy and the lack of job creation making it more difficult for people to pay their bills including credit card payments in a timely fashion.  With a slow economy consumers are having more trouble meeting their financial obligations. 

When consumers are depleting their savings without a resource for additional income, they often use their credit cards for everyday expenses after savings and other resources run dry.  If consumers in this position don’t find additional resources to pay their bills, delinquencies result which compounds the debt and payment burden.  That’s when consumers become overextended and begin making only minimum payments or become delinquent with their monthly payments and run deeper in the red.

To avoid the credit card interest charges, credit card users need to stop using credit cards for everyday purchases without a plan and the funds to pay off the credit card balance at the end of each.  For consumers that have high levels of credit card debt but can still make their monthly payments, it may help to switch credit cards.  A credit card that has the lowest credit card rate for any of the available categories of credit cards can save consumers hundreds if not thousands of dollars per year.

Before the credit card debt situation gets out of control in may behoove even the cash strapped consumer to shop and compare credit card offers to find the best credit card rate and reduce their monthly carrying costs.

To find more information on credit card offers that have low rates see the following credit card listings: low interest credit cards, cash back credit cards, rewards credit cards, balance transfer credit cards, credit cards for bad credit, prepaid credit cards and secured credit cards.

Plenty of Credit Cards but Which One to Choose

Even with a reduction in bank credit and tighter lending standards, there is an abundance of credit cards that consumers can choose to apply for.  Between the new low rate credit card balance transfer offers to a plethora of credit card rewards and credit card cash back offers, the market is full of credit cards.

With the number of credit card offers starting to rise, too many consumers are not prudently shopping and comparing new credit cards to see which credit card best fits their needs.

When it comes to shopping for a new credit card there is more to the process then just signing on the dotted line and accepting a new card even if it has no annual fee or upfront costs.  Three key credit card components to review are the credit card interest rate, the credit card fees and the credit card rewards or other benefits offered.

There is nothing more important in a credit card then the credit card interest rate or the amount of money it will the account holder to use the credit card.  Too many credit card holders fail to see just how costly caring a credit card balance is by holding credit cards that above the average arte or are at least higher than comparable card that they could obtain. 

Consumers that are shopping for new credit card and even those consumers that are simply carrying significant balances on their cards should spend some time determining the best possible credit card rate available.

Similar to shopping for the best credit card rate, consumers should also compare the best credit card fees.  Comparing credit card fees may not be as straight forward as it sounds.  It may seem prudent to simply accept a credit card that offers no annual fees.  But, sometimes the annual fee can come in conjunction with a very low credit card rate or lucrative credit card rewards program.  When there are comparable credit card available and one has no annual fee while then other charges a fee, the choice is clear – no annual credit card fee. 

Sometimes there are limited options to avoid annual fees such as with credit cards for consumers with less than perfect credit.  Watch out for fees gone run amuck including annual fees, one time only account set up fees, additional card fees, membership fees, and more.  Credit card fees can be expensive.  The lower the credit card fees are, the better the credit card.

Credit card rewards are used by credit card companies to attract new customers and keep existing customers active with their cards.  Credit card rewards give account holders something back in return for using the card.  Credit card rewards may be trivial bonus amounts or substantial rewards.  Credit card rewards can include air travel, gas, or even in cash back. But, there is something to know about reward cards.

Compare rewards offers carefully to avoid paying a higher interest rate for limited benefits.  When applying for credit cards with reward program, pay attention to the rate at which rewards are earned.   Credit card rewards programs vary significantly, with different percentages of pay back based on the amount of net purchases made with the credit card.  Search for the credit card offer with the best possible rate of return with the rewards.

Account holders can always maximize the credit card reward benefits by paying off the balance each month and thus avoid the credit card interest charges and still earn the rewards offered with the card.

Bestcreditcardrates.com helps consumer’s research credit card offers to help find the best credit card with the lowest credit card rate to fit their needs.

Reducing Credit Card Balances

For many credit card holders the number one issue pertaining to their credit card use is not using or choosing the right credit card but reducing their existing credit card balances.  For these credit card holders, their credit card balances need to be managed better and the balances need to be driven down.

A common problem for consumers that are trying to manage or reduce their credit card debt is the simple lack of understanding regarding the credit cards and credit card debt they own.  The first step to tackle the task of reducing credit card debt or to even select the best credit card to use is to dig out the most recent statements for all credit card bills and determine exactly how much is owed and what the interest rates are on each of the credit card statements.

The information regarding the current credit card balance should be easy to find as should the credit card rates and terms.  If any of the data is difficult to ascertain, call the credit card company and get that information and while you are speaking to the customer service representative request a rate reduction or ask if there is anything else they can do to help you.  The credit card company is a service provider, make your service provider do their job – don’t be intimidated about asking for a lower rate or better terms.

The next step to maximize your returns is to switch to the best credit cards available with the best credit card rates in order to reduce the monthly interest charges.  A number of credit card companies continue to offer zero percent balance transfer rates for six months or longer.  For a credit card holder paying 19.9% on a total credit card balance of $6,500.00 the savings in interest charges per month will be slightly over $107.00.  That means over $100.00 extra dollars per month can be paid towards debt reduction during the zero interest rate period. 

Now it’s time to avoid new charges that are not paid off monthly.  There is nothing wrong with using a credit card for the many benefits that they offer such as payment and purchase protection, credit card rewards offers, security and more as long you don’t accumulate more debt.  The key is to retire the new charges as soon as they come in.  Unfortunately, too many consumers are not aware of their expenditures an engage in far too much conspicuous consumption simply because the credit card is available.  If you don’t actually have the money, don’t spend it.  The key is to break the habit of using credit cards without a connection to the real cost of what you are buying.

To avoid less obvious unwanted usage, go to any online accounts or other bills that have recurring charges to a credit card and delete the credit card numbers to avoid unneeded expenses.

To get started on reducing existing credit card debt, one the best methods is to make the minimum payment on each credit card balance, then make an extra payment each month on whichever debt has the highest outstanding credit card interest rate and reduce that balance until it is gone and move on to the next highest interest rate until all debts are paid off.

Stick to a plan of using the cheapest credit available with the best credit card rates, avoid new debt and reduce costly debt to free up more cash flow and enjoy life without the burden of worry over excessive interest charges.

Credit Card Due Dates

Managing the credit card due date is one of the most valuable benefits of many credit cards that is often ignored.  Managing the credit card due date and credit card grace period can turn a good credit card into the best credit card. 

The credit card grace period is the number of days between the closing date and the upcoming payment due date.  During that time, account holders can make purchase transactions that are interest free as long as the credit card balance is paid in full.  The number of days for the grace period can vary from one credit card to another.

Most credit card companies assess steep penalties for late payments.  They charge a fee for each late payment and will often increase the credit card account interest rate as well.  The late payments and rising credit card interest rates receives the most attention from credit card holders and financial advisers.  But with good financial management, not only will credit card holders not have to worry about any potential late fees or a higher credit card apr but prudent credit card use can be turned into a an interest free short term loan with rewards.

All credit card bills have a due date.  If your credit card payment does not get posted by the due date, the account is almost guaranteed to be assessed a healthy late fee.  For this reason alone, it is important for credit cardholders to watch their payment due dates.  For account holders that are having a hard time managing the due dates on credit cards or other financial obligations, some credit card companies allow their customers to set their own due dates or at a minimum change the due dates they have be given. 

Once the credit card due dates are properly established and managed within an individuals budget its time to use the grace period to gain a benefit from credit card use.  When the credit card company sets a grace period that may be 25 days in length, the account holder can make purchase transactions up to the available credit card limit and then pay that amount back before the grace period ends and earn all the rewards that may be offered by the credit card based on the transaction amount made during that billing cycle and pay no interest on the charges.

For instance the Chase Freedom credit card earns a 5% cash back bonus on purchases made in categories like gas, home improvement and department stores.  The 5% is earned on net purchases and the credit card holder can make these purchases during the month, exercise the 21-day grace period that comes with this Chase Bank credit card before paying the charges back, earn the rewards and pay no interest as long as the balance is paid within the 21-day grace period.  This option is available on a number of credit cards available today.

For those credit card holders that already have balances on a credit card, it is not possible to make transactions that are interest free.  But these card holders can take the time to obtain a new credit card with a nice rewards package and decent grace period and make all new charges on the new credit card while slowly paying off any other credit cards with existing balances as soon as possible.

It is always wise to be too careful when it comes to credit and credit card use, and that means taking the time to read all the fine print.  Check the monthly statement to see what the current credit card balance is, what the grace period is and the credit card rate.  Make certain you understand the terms when you’re shopping around for a new credit card.  The new credit card doesn’t have to have a better credit card rate or rewards program, but by using a new credit card for all new transactions without carrying a balance you can make purchases for a short period of time interest free and earn rewards bonuses.  Just remember to manage paying down the old credit card balances.

Before You Get a New Credit Card

There are number of questions that consumers should answer before applying or accepting a new credit card.  By answering these questions, a credit card applicant can become confident that they are obtaining the best credit card to suit their needs.

The most fundamental question to ask before moving on with a new credit card is what is the credit card rate?  Unless the credit card users intends to always payoff the monthly credit card balance before the expiration of the grace period and avoid incurring any finance charges, the credit card rate or credit card APR is the biggest cost in using a credit card that has a recurring balance. 

When determining the credit card rate it is essential to investigate whether the credit card has a teaser rate or introductory rate.  Introductory credit card rates can be valuable for either a balance transfer to lower an existing credit card rate or for short term large purchases that can be repaid within the introductory rate period.  But it is unwise to choose a credit card based solely on the introductory interest rate if that credit card is going to carry a balance for some time after the introductory period ends.

The other essential question to ask about the costs of the credit card is whether or not the card has an annual fee.  An annual fee works for the credit card holder if the credit card rate is significantly below that of a comparable credit card with no annual fee but with a higher rate or for a credit card that may have a rewards program that can be exploited to more than cover any annual fees.

Answers to questions regarding other credit card costs such as credit card cash advance charges and late payment fees should be answered but these questions should not be as essential in deciding the best credit card since these are charges that should be avoided.  Credit card cash advance fees and late payment fees are unnecessary fees that should be avoided at all accosts and that should have little to do with determining what credit card is best suited for an individual.

Once the questions regarding the costs of the credit card are answered, the next set of questions should revolve around the potential rewards or benefits of the credit card.

Measuring credit card rewards offers may not turn out to be an easy task.  Credit card reward programs have been increasingly complex over the years.  Credit card rewards programs may include cash back on purchases, points toward airline travel or merchandise or gift certificates or other similar benefits that may involve earning goods and services. 

Reward points earned are often calculated at different rates depending on the credit card.  Credit card rewards may be earned at the rate of one point per dollar spent or can run as high as 3 points per dollar spent.  Some rewards have restrictions as to what types of purchases earn the points and some points that are redeemed for merchandise are redeemed through catalogues with prices that are higher than prices that can be found in some retail stores.  For that reason, many credit card holders redeem their rewards for gift certificates at retail stores that can be used for any merchandise. 

It is imperative to be aware of the rules and restrictions, including limits on how rewards are earned and much can be earned as well as how the credit card points can be redeemed or deadlines that may be imposed for taking advantage of the rewards offered. 

A question regarding the benefits of the credit card may also involve the credit card credit limit. How much is the credit limit may be a key factor in deciding whether to obtain a certain credit card.  Unfortunately, this question can be difficult to ascertain since the credit card limit is most often established after the credit card application is reviewed by the credit card company.

The bottom line for consumers is to find answers to these questions and more to help determine whether a new credit card is truly the best credit card to obtain.  Understand the features of credit cards, credit card rates and any bonus or reward programs thoroughly.  Before any consumer signs up for a new potential debt obligation, that is an inherent part of credit card use, think carefully about whether it will be useful and beneficial.

Comparing credit card features and costs can be done efficiently and quickly with web sites such as Bestcreditcardrates.com that list the various credit card offers by category and displays the costs and features in an easy to read format.

Cleaning Up Credit Card Charges

When credit markets tighten and consumers grow increasingly weary of their debt levels, especially credit card debt, this is the time to clean up any lose ends and unnecessary charges with the credit card accounts.

One of the fist steps to clean up frivolous charges is close some of those enticing credit card accounts.  More credit report information sources and financial gurus talk about the potential damage to someone’s credit score if they close out a credit card instead of simply letting it remain open but unused. 

It is generally accepted that a credit score weighs the current credit position and the length of time that credit has been available, therefore closing out a long time account can have some detrimental impact.  However, the impact from having the account closed is rather small.  More important than the loss of the long term rating from the closed credit card account is the damage that may come from excessive credit card debt at high interest rates on an account that is used simply because it is available for use.  Potential damage to a credit score and more importantly damage to an individual’s household budget.

For credit card holders that no longer want to use their credit card anymore, the best step is to contact the credit card company to close down your account.  By closing the account, the chance that the credit card will be used or that someone else will improperly use the credit card or account number and use it to make purchases is eliminated.  This procedure will also make certain the account information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands and you become the victim fraudulent credit card charges or even worse, identity theft.  Card holders should also shred the credit card and any access checks linked to the credit card account. 

Closing the credit card account will have an impact on someone’s credit score but before anyone accepts the conventional advice, evaluate what your needs are and make an informed choice on what is right for your credit and debt position.  Unruly credit card debt and burdensome credit card payments will probably out weigh a lower credit score.

Consumer should also spend some time and review all the charges that come on their credit cards to stop those frivolous recurring charges to the credit card account.  Recurring charges like magazines that are not read, credit monitoring services that are of little value and more.  When closing the account, the account holder will need to contact any company or creditor that automatically bills to the credit card account.  Numerous credit card holders place accounts such as the telephone bill, newspaper and magazine subscriptions, online services, credit card services such as credit alerts and insurance automatically charge your credit card.  The credit card account holder will need to contact each company to ask them to stop billing the credit card account and make arrangements to pay the bill with alternative payment methods or terminate the services altogether.

The big step in reducing unwanted charges is to pay down those credit card balances to avoid excessive finance charges.  This is of course easier said then done, but ignoring the credit card balance does nothing to help develop a plan, no matter how long, to reduce the burden of excessive credit card debts and payments. 

A two part solution for reducing the credit card balance is to work on a household budget to control additional debt and mange the resources that are available as well as consolidating the existing credit card debt.  Numerous credit card companies continue to offer 0% credit card rates on new credit cards for a short period of time.  Even though the introductory credit card rate may be for a relatively short time frame, a 0% rate for six months on a $6,000.00 credit card balance can yield some very significant savings.

To manage a household budget, credit cards can be employed to facilitate the process, but a budget must be adhered to like the law.  All income has to be accounted for as well as all expenses, no matter how small.  Using one credit card for all transactions can help to easily monitor the monthly expenses as well as offer the bonus of obtain credit card rewards for all the transactions.

From time to time, credit card companies may decide to change the terms on individual credit card accounts and credit card offers.  For example, the credit card company may change the APR on an existing account, or change or add fees.  The change may be for a variety of reasons.  They may be increasing fees or interest for all their credit card customers.  Or they may be changing the terms on an account holder who has paid late or have gone over their credit card limit.  Card holders should read all notices sent with the credit card statement or sent separately by the credit card company and use this opportunity to change credit cards and improve your financial position if the credit card terms change is less than favorable.

Card holders that may have questions or don’t like the changes to their account, should contact the credit card company immediately.  Be sure to compare the current credit card rate and terms to those are currently available in today’s market, it may very well be time to open a new credit card with more desirable terms.  Far too often, credit card holders fail to capitalize on changing market conditions and credit card industry competition by finding a new low rate credit card.

What Can A Credit Card Counseling Profit Company Do For You?

Credit cards normally have annual interest rates between 13% and 26%.  If a credit card holder makes only the minimum credit card payments they will be still paying on them for several years.  If you have the reached the point where you are so far in credit card debt because of too much credit card debt and you can’t see any way out, you may want to consider a non profit credit counseling company.  

When you take advantage of the services of a non profit credit counseling company you may be able to reduce your credit card rate, eliminate late fees and in some cases reduce the overall amount of debt.  Your creditors will get their money and you will save or at least repair your credit rating.  If your credit card debt is becoming too much of burden to handle, now is the time to take action before your credit situations becomes worse or your home goes into foreclosure or you have to resort to bankruptcy.  Everyone wins and you will reduce the length of time it will take to get out of debt.

Non profit credit counseling companies may be the way for you to pull yourself up out of the crushing weight of your bills and be able to breathe freely again knowing you are taking steps to pay off your debts and hopefully have some spare cash.  And even if your credit history becomes poor and your credit score plummets, there are still credit cards available to use for necessities and to reestablish a good credit history.

Secured credit cards, prepaid credit cards and credit cards targeted for individuals with a less than perfect credit history are options available.  Secured credit cards are available that don’t even require a credit check, work just like regular credit cards and report your credit history with the card to the major credit reporting agencies.

Non profit credit counseling companies will work with your creditors to bring down your payments.  Credit counselors will work with the credit card companies to reduce your debt and interest charges where they can.  They can stop the phone calls from bill collectors.  Most credit counseling companies will handle the debts and payments so you pay one payment to the company and they will see that the bills are paid on time.  You will receive a monthly statement of the bills that have been paid and when they were paid from the credit counseling company and you will still receive statements from your creditors as well. 

One important thing to remember is that, as with any type of business, you need to do your homework before you enter into an agreement with a debt consolidation company or credit counseling company.  There have been some of these companies who have taken the money from clients and done very little to help lower the credit card debt and charge a high monthly fee for their involvement.  Others have not paid the bills on time and the client’s credit score and credit history turns even worse.  Do some research before handing anything over to one of these firms.

Make sure you are clear about how much they will charge for a fee.  You will also need to make it clear that you expect the money to be disbursed to your creditors as soon as they receive it.  Debt consolidation can be a godsend but you need to make yourself clear and make sure they are clear about how they do business.

In the long run, as long as you are aware of the problems with some of the bad operators you have the advantage.  A reputable non profit debt consolidation and credit card counseling company can help you get back on track with your credit, your credit cards and other financial problems you may be having.

Credit Cards and Budgeting

Credit cards offer conveniences that are hard to pass up are in fact, hard to do without.  But good credit card use that capitalizes on the credit card conveniences such as easy payment on online transactions and the benefits of credit card services such as credit card rewards programs requires good budgeting skills.  Good budgeting skills that not only help control excessive credit card debt but maximize the value credit cards offer.

Many consumers would fail to see how budgeting could be that important when simply employing credit cards for normal purchase transactions yet others may even squirm when they hear the word budget. 

Budgeting is a process that summarizes how income and expenses are allocated.  A budget ultimately creates guidelines for spending.  This is where a credit card user can benefit yet has to remain disciplined.  Too many credit card users fail to budget and ignore the long term ramifications of credit card use with the end result of high credit card debt often at high credit card rates.

Without the proper allocation of the inflow and outflow of money that is measured with a budget, income may fall short and debt may become unruly.  With proper budgeting and monitoring of a budget, savings can increase and the maximum benefits of credit card services can be obtained.

A well developed budget will help increase awareness of how and where household money is spent.  The budget will help direct and control spending and this in turn will help to avoid unneeded credit card interest expenses and inefficient use of credit card that do not optimize the extensive benefits that are available in many credit card programs.

The goal when creating a budget is to lay a foundation that will help you allocate what portion of your income is required to cover each expense and how that expense should be paid.  When you create a budget you are controlling your money so that it doesn’t control you and your lifestyle.

A good budget process will put controls in place to allocate money on the things that are most important to you and not unnecessary consumption.  Often, the number one problem of high credit card debt is unnecessary expenditures on consumption.  During the budget process, money has to be allocated to large purchases or expenses that are either needed or budgeted for replacement.  Credit card use may very well be allocated for these transactions.  Purchasing large ticket items that are properly budgeted with a credit card may provide more protection if the item should break, not work as advertised, fail to meet expectations as well as help earn credit card rewards.  The key is to purchase those items that are in the budget so the credit card bill can easily be paid off.

Many cards have grace periods that last as long as 25 days.  With the grace period you’re given an interest free loan for a month before you have to pay off your credit card charges.  Money in your savings or checking account will be allowed additional days to earn interest until it is used to pay off the credit card bill.  This strategy is only successful if you pay your credit card balance in full each month.

Credit card use also allows the user to track their personal expenses for a budgeting by using the credit card statement to closely match purchases and costs.  Purchases can be identified by category so you’ll know where your money is going.  Record keeping will be easier than if you used cash or a variety of different payment methods. 

The ability to have one statement with the credit card account in which to analyze monthly expenses helps to make the necessary adjustments in your budget as well as your spending habits.  Monthly reviews of your credit card transactions that are all in one easy to read format make analyzing the budget easier and will keep you ahead of any changes so that you aren’t overextending yourself financially.  Adjustments, that almost always occurs. 

Of course, credit cards are also an invaluable source of payment for sudden unwanted expenses such as car repairs or broken house repairs.  The credit card affords quick access to credit that can be paid back with funds that may not be as liquid at the time of the expenses but can be available later.  As long as credit used in this manner is employed prudently, a good credit history and a measurable and available credit card limit can be a budgeting asset.

A budget helps you make sure your income matches your expenses which will help meet your goals.  The purpose of a budget is to gain financial control and financial freedom.  You may have to eliminate some of the comforts and unplanned expenses that you may have been indulging in the past. 

Budgeting with prudent credit card use can lead to better money management that allows you to enjoy a comfortable life with a lot less stress by knowing that you are controlling your money.  It may take time to manage your expenses, but with a good budget, discipline and the right tools you will succeed.

Bestcreditcardrates.com  is an online credit card marketplace that provides credit card offers, credit card promotions and reviews, credit card tips and tools, credit card news, and services that enable consumers to find the best credit card with the best credit card rate to match their needs.

Bestcreditcardrates.com  lists credit card offers from the leading credit card issuers and banks, including Discover cards, Chase credit cards, American Express credit cards, Citi credit cards, Capital One credit cards, Visa credit cards, MasterCard credit cards and more.  Offers can be found for low rate credit cards, balance transfer credit cards, student credit cards, business credit cards, credit cards for bad credit, prepaid credit cards, secured credit cards, gas credit cards, cash back crdit cards and more.

Shopping for a Prepaid Credit Card

Prepaid Visa or MasterCard credit cards are pre-funded cards that work just like standard issued credit cards.  A prepaid credit card account is opened by depositing money into the card account and is often able to be reloaded with new funds once the initial funds are depleted or run low. 

Some of the greatest benefits of the prepaid credit card is that prepaid credit or debit cards do not require a credit report or credit history, any employee verification or previous bank records.  Often the credit card approval is instant once proper identification is process by the credit card issuer.  The credit card approval can be secured quickly entirely online.

Once you have money in your account, the card applicant is issued a prepaid credit card that can be used anywhere one would use a regular credit card.  The cards can be used anywhere Visa or MasterCard are accepted and at many ATMs worldwide.

The best part of the prepaid credit card is that you can use the card as little or as much as you want and you won’t be in debt.  The money is yours and once it’s gone, you can’t spend any more until you make another deposit.

Before choosing a prepaid credit card or debit card you may want to consider the following tips.

First, you have to know what kind of credit card rates and fees you are going to get involved with by signing up for a particular card.  There can be prices as high as $150 attached to simply the application fee to sign up for the new credit card, without even mentioning the charge that is likely to accompany your statement on a month to month basis.  Other factors certainly influence the decision on which prepaid card to select, but this can play a big role, especially when you take into account the wide potential variance of these kinds of fees from credit card company to company.

Second, you’ll want to know where your new card will be accepted.  Not all prepaid credit cards have universal acceptability.  If you have limitations on where your card will be accepted, make sure you decide if that is where you are likely to use it the most, or if it is going to hamper you by not being taken by more vendors.  A quick check to see that the prepaid credit card has either the Visa or MasterCard logo will assure wide card acceptance.

How much money can you put on the card at once may be an important feature to investigate.  Most of these types of cards do have a limit as to how much can be loaded on the card.  They usually go up to $2,500, but be sure to check it.

You’ll want to know the method for getting a balance on the card or the process for getting the card funded.  Some of the prepaid credit cards are not the most user friendly and require you to mail money in or stop at one of their stores to place money into your account there.  The simpler option is to find a prepaid credit card with a quick load method online or going through whomever you do your banking with.  Keep an eye out for a high fee for putting money on the card as well.  A lot of these cards will have an amount they charge for doing just that, but try and find the lowest load fee you can.

You should also check into what kind, if any, reward program your prospective prepaid credit card offers.  Some of them offer points systems, just like regular credit cards do to redeem for various goods or services.  Don’t forget that basic rule of shopping though, if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is.  If a card is offering you service that accompany holding it like any permanent discounts or services, make sure you read the fine print to see if they are charging you extra monthly fees for these premium benefits. 

Find out what kind of statement issuing service the card has.  In the age of technology not everyone is mailing regular statements anymore, and often just offer up electronic versions instead.  If you’re not computer savvy and need a paper statement, some cards may actually charge you a fee to receive those statements in the mail.  There is a chance as well that you will have to notify them each month of your desire to receive a physical statement.

Finally, be sure to investigate the liability protection on your prepaid credit card in case it is lost or stolen.  The regular terms that apply to normal credit cards don’t always play in the prepaid world.  Sometimes they can have a clause that you must notify them within a certain amount of time or you lose any protection from unauthorized charges.  You will want to read the terms and conditions carefully for any clauses that talk about liability and stolen cards.

A prepaid credit or debit card can be a good choice for managing your finances at low cost.  Be sure and approach these credit card applications like any other credit card application or financial service and be cautious while selecting the best credit card to match your needs.  Review all of the terms carefully of course, but for this point, check out what kind of fees you will pay to sign up as well as how much they will charge for ongoing use of the card.

Credit Cards, Saying Goodbye to the Pocket Full of Change

People have been debating for quite a while now, since the onset of the credit card really, about just how far away we are from reaching a totally cashless state in our day to day business.  The fact is that despite the people who might want to resist it, we are getting closer to that mark every day.  In fact, it is entirely possible for an individual to go cashless without even any inconvenience to themselves.

When you start dwelling on the nearly universal acceptance of various forms of plastic you start to see how this is possible.  Cashless operation was possible with the credit card only, but what about the onset of the debit card?  Think about how you can pay right at the gas pump with a card or self checkout aisles for credit cards in supermarkets and large department stores.  You can tip electronically, negating the need for cash in a restraint.  It’s not even a strain to imagine this cashless world; it actually exists for someone who prefers to live that way.

Just like with anything in live you have ups and downs to the options of being a cash user or non-user.  The downside to cash is that you have to be there to give it someone.  You can’t fly someone cash over the internet or send it in the mail, (unless you’re willing to have it stolen).  However, with cash, you retain a degree of control over your own life beyond the credit card user.  Your purchases are not traced, information about your spending habits is not being distributed, and perhaps very importantly, you are not subject to becoming a victim of identity theft, which is becoming a growing concern.

Going plastic can be convenient, but if you’re talking about a credit card you have to be careful and smart in its use.  Too many people get the blank check mentality when they have a credit card with a high limit and tend to overreach their bounds.  This is easily circumvented by a little planning and a budget, but if you don’t do those things watch out!  It’s very easy to become one of the statistics as someone with a debt load that is too high and damaging their credit and finances because of high interest rates.  However, when you have a credit card you are protected much better against your money being stolen.  Most credit cards have liability clauses that ensure you won’t be held responsible for charges made on a stolen card.  However if someone steals the $500 in your money clip, you are never going to see that money again.

Make sure to weigh your options carefully as you make the decision whether or not going plastic only is the way for you.  You have to be very careful when using your credit card to not overspend.  The problem is that if you do, you will become saddled with interest for as long as you carry a balance on the credit card, and this can add up to very large amounts depending on the amount you’ve spent and how long it is before you can pay it off.  If you don’t spend more than you can afford to pay off each month, the credit card gets on even footing with cash, and the decision on whether or not to go cashless becomes a matter of personal taste and convenience.

Credit Cards, Credit Issues and Damage Control

Having access to credit and having credit, especially good credit, has become much more important in lending and the credit card business.  Credit reports and credit scores now affects a significant amount of a consumer’s buying decision.  Having good credit helps individuals obtain the best credit card rates, can help get the best mortgage rate, or car loan rate and more.   It has also become increasingly important when it comes time to search for a new job or new apartment or obtain insurance as well.  Having bad credit or a bad credit score makes all things financial much more difficult. 

By taking steps sooner rather than later to repair your credit report and bad credit score you can make obtaining credit far easier.  If you are experiencing credit problems and maybe having difficulty getting approved for a new credit card, there are many plans o action you can take. 

First, obtain a copy of your credit report to be completely aware of your situation no matter how bad you think it may be.  Every individual is entitled to one free credit report from each of three big credit reporting companies annually.  To obtain a free credit report, head on over to www.annualcreditreport.com.  That is site designated by the industry per a government mandate so consumers can obtain a copy of their credit report for free. 

Keeping up with your current payments is the first step of damage control for bad credit.  Always pay your current bills on time.  This will at least maintain the credit score that you currently have and help it steadily rise.  For those individuals that have late payments and can’t afford to pay the bills they currently have, it’s time to squeeze the budget further.  A debt consolidation loan could be one solution.  Stopping any unnecessary bills for truly unneeded conveniences will help the drain on expenses.  This is when it is time to take a deep look at the cause of the problem so repair can begin.

Once you have your credit report and your budget is getting in better shape it times to address any problem accounts in your credit report.  First, dispute those debts and credit accounts that are wrong or have inaccuracies in them.  The big element in credit disputes revolves around the legal obligation of the credit reporting agencies to look into the matter and remove the data if it is inaccurate or the creditor fails to respond to the credit reporting agency.  For more details on how to fix credit errors and credit scores visit www.freecreditscorehelp.com

To help create a more positive credit report and further boost your credit score, adding credit accounts to your credit report is easy and quick course of action.  One of the quickest means for accomplishing this task is to obtain a new credit card.  If your credit and credit score is really bad, the best option may be a secured credit card.  For individuals that have less than perfect credit there is still some credit card companies that accept credit card applications that don’t require the best credit. 

Be sure to shop and compare the credit card rates and credit card offers before applying for a new credit card.  More importantly, make sure that the credit card category you are shopping in is for those consumers with slow or poor credit. 

The appeal of a secured credit card is that these credit cards can be opened with a very small deposit and can be used immediately to develop a new, on time payment history.  In addition, you can find a secured credit card that pays interest on the deposit used as security to obtain the credit card. 

Improving a credit report and credit score by even small quantities will make credit card companies and all types of lenders more interested in offering good interest rates and approving your credit request.

Credit Card Interest and Credit Card Payment Calculators

Once a credit card holder runs up a large balance on their credit card, paying back the credit card debt is not only a burden on the monthly budget but can lead to excessive amounts of additional costs.  Credit cards can be very expensive for those consumers who carry a balance and then make only the minimum credit card payment or a payment that is only slightly higher than that amount.  Making only the minimum payment on credit card balances has cost consumers tremendous sums of money in credit card interest charges year after year. 

To help consumers better understand the advantages of paying off the balance on their credit cards as quickly as possible, it can be very helpful to employ the use of a credit card calculator.  The credit card calculator can quickly analyze the impact of making the minimum credit card payment as well alternative payment amounts. 

These calculators are designed to show the credit card holder how many months it will take to pay the credit card balance and how much interest will be paid during that time.  Using the calculator can also show what it will take to pay off an existing credit card balance, and any changes to the payment amount that would be necessary to pay the account off in a certain amount of time.

Of course, if you pay off your credit card in full each month, the balance would be zero and there would be no need to use the credit card calculator.  If you do not pay the balance in full and you carry the credit card balance over from the prior month, this is when you need to understand the true cost of credit  and should use the calculator.

The credit card calculators determine the amount of months to pay off a credit card based on the input of the credit card interest rate the current credit card balance.  In the credit card statement, the credit card company will disclose the credit card interest rate and the current credit card balance as well as the minimum payment which will the data needed for input in the credit card calculator to obtain accurate results.

Depending on an individual’s budget and financial situation, the credit card calculator user can change the data entered to see how they can minimize their interest charges over time.

One of the true benefits of these credit card calculators is to show how borrowing for day to day expenses can get many people into financial trouble.  The purpose of the calculator is to get the right information to the credit card user so they can help gain control of their finances.

Useful Tips for New Credit Card Holders

When consumers receive a new credit card they need to be vigilant on how they use and handle the new credit card.  Careless handling of credit cards can put a consumer in considerable trouble.  Credit cards need to be handled with care to avoid loss, theft as well as excessive use which can lead to excessive and burdensome credit card debt.  Credit cards can certainly offer a lot of freedom for financial transactions including purchases with credit, building a string credit profile and making credit card online purchases, but it can also carry a certain amount of risks.

Here are some important suggestions and advice on how to keep your credit card safe and secure and avoid incurring too much credit card debt through overuse.

For new credit card holders and young adults, avoid lending your bank credit card to anyone, even friends.  This action risks running up a large credit card debt quickly as well as impairing your credit privileges with the credit card do to quickly running up to the credit card limit.  This may also pose a credit rating risk since your available credit will be relatively low relative to your credit card debt which often reduces an individual’s credit score.  The credit card account information should be valued.  Keep the account information to yourself.

Be careful about providing or giving out your credit card account number over the phone, whether to someone you know or a business to conduct a transaction, unless you know you’re dealing with a known and trustworthy business.  Never give the credit card number or expiration date over the phone, unless you know who you are dealing with as well. 

All consumers and credit card users should always keep copies of their credit card sales slips and compare charges when your credit card bill arrives.  Report errors or discrepancies in your monthly credit card statement as quickly as possible.  It is essential to promptly resolve and report any questionable charges to the credit card company.

Don’t carry your credit card or debit card PIN number in your wallet or purse or write it on your ATM or debit card.  Don’t write the card PIN anywhere other than a secure place at your home.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s on a deposit slip or other papers at the office or school or the bank since these could be easily lost or seen from someone nearby.  If a person gets your card he will also get your PIN number.  This can create a big trouble with unauthorized credit use or even worse, identity theft.

Keep an eye on ATM or debit card transactions before you enter the PIN or before you sign the receipt.  The accounts use by debit card or ATM transaction will be quickly transferred out of your checking or other deposit account leaving little room to rectify an incorrect transaction.  Remember to check your account activity periodically to correct any unforeseen banking and credit errors.  This can be especially important for those consumers that engage in a lot of credit card online transactions or who bank online.

Never sign a blank credit receipt, check or any debit slip.  It is always a good practice to check off blank regions or boxes on a bill or receipt to avoid having vendors alter the documents after they have already been signed.

After receiving a replacement credit card or new credit card, destroy the old credit card by cutting through the account number before disposing of the card.

Always remember where you hold your credit cards and whether they are held in a secured place to preserve them from theft as well as keeping them from the temptation of over use.  Keep your Personal Identification Number (PIN), a secret.  Change your PIN if you are not sure who in your family or among your friends has access to the account.  This includes any ATM PINS, debit cards and credit cards.  However, make sure you do not forget to remember your PIN number.

For those consumers that do not give consideration to how they take care of their credit card and credit resources the outcome is likely to be credit trouble of one kind or another.  Improper credit card handling carries the risk of identity theft, loss of credit privileges or becoming deep in debt.

Credit Card Options for Those with Poor Credit

For those consumers that have poor credit or a bad credit history, they still need a method to buy things without cash or a check, and there are some options that are available with bank credit cards.  Obtaining a new credit card, whether you have a good credit or bad credit, should involve a little bit of research to compare the credit card apr’s and credit card fees as well as the various attributes of the credit card.

The first option for those with less than perfect credit is to get a check card, also called a debit card, in association with a bank checking or savings account.  This is a fairly standard item to have with most new checking accounts, but it isn’t an actual credit card because you don’t have access to any credit.  You can only charge an amount that is already present in your checking or savings account with the bank.  This card allows the account holder the convenience of charging a purchase online, in a store, or at a restaurant similar to using a credit card.  In addition it has the added advantage of teaching the account holder the important fundamental of credit use – don’t spend money that you don’t already have.  This is a lesson that you will profit from as you attempt to repair your credit and rebuild a strong credit profile.

However, spending wisely is only half of the equation.  The best way to get back on track with credit is to make monthly scheduled credit card payments on time.  If you haven’t learned to do this you are severely handicapping yourself financially.  It is possible to get a credit card that allows you to improve your credit with on time payments, but these cards aren’t free.  They are called secured credit cards.

Secured credit cards require collateral for approval.  With secured credit cards, a security deposit is needed to secure the credit card.  The amount of the security deposit usually equals the credit limit for that particular credit card.  Generally, secured credit cards are for people with no credit or poor credit who are trying to build or rebuild credit history. 

The credit card limits for these cards can begin at a low dollar amount, usually around $250.  In order to get the card you usually have to pay them that amount up front so that the company has no risk.  They don’t trust you!  However, with steady on time payments they will learn to trust you and your credit limit will be increased with no additional security deposit required.  However, the increases won’t be large, and unless you continue to make payments on time you will lose the card completely, which puts you in a worse position than when you started.  A secured card is a very serious and very helpful tool to improve credit, but it takes time and diligence.

If you apply for a secured card be careful about all of the credit card terms and conditions.  There may be additional credit card fees that get lumped onto the card right away, and you’ll feel discouraged if you didn’t expect them.  All credit cards aren’t the same, and some of them try to take advantage of people who are desperate.  However, if you get a reasonable credit card with a reasonable credit card rate and fees and use it responsibly by paying all of your monthly credit card bills on time, you can receive a credit card limit increase down the road.  The extra fees and low credit lines will be worth it if it helps get your overall credit back on track.
 
Another option for those who can’t or won’t get a secured card is a prepaid credit card.  Like a check card, prepaid credit cards aren’t actual credit cards.  You purchase the credit card by paying the amount of money that you want on the card, plus some extra amount that the issuer gets for providing the card.  Then, you can only spend the amount of money you have put onto the card, which can be $100 or $1000.  The prepaid credit card can be used like any other credit card for transactions at a local merchant or for credit card online purchases.  

Although most prepaid credit cards do not charge finance fees, other credit card fees may apply, including: monthly fees, start up or application fees, over limit fees, ATM fees and more.  Be sure to thoroughly look over the terms and conditions for each specific credit card offer before applying.  Regardless of your previous credit history, shop smart and compare credit card offers to obtain the best credit card rates to fit your needs.

The Importance of Credit Card Interest Rates

One of the first lessons to learn in financial management and credit is to manage your debt and manage your debt payments.  In order to manage credit and debt it is essential to understand the relationship between the cost of credit and interest rates.  Understanding the relationship between the cost of credit and interest rates is especially true for credit card interest rates.  Due to the fundamentals of risk-based pricing, credit cards as unsecured means of credit often have the highest interest rates for consumer borrowing.

Contrary to what many financial pundits say, credit and debt can be very useful tools.  Purchasing a home and operating a business is almost impossible without credit and debt.  It would be surprising if so much as one member of the Forbes 400 did not have significant debt at some point in their career including credit card debt.

Since credit and debt is going to be a tool almost everyone will use the important aspect is to manage it properly.  One key aspect of good debt management is to appreciate the importance of the interest rates and to choose the interest rates on credit wisely. 

For consumers that may have too much credit card debt with credit card balances that have become out of control, the less money that goes to paying interest on your credit card debt the more of it goes toward paying off the actual debt, and any established credit card debt reduction goal can be reached faster.  Saving on the interest paid on credit cards is an easy and rewarding way to save money. 

The opposite reaction is when someone has credit card rates that are too high.  Higher credit card interest rates can dramatically increase your credit card debt.  Comparing credit card rates to find a good deal and learning how the credit card companies charge interest on credit card balances is essential.

The more sophisticated marketing tools that have been developed and used by credit card companies allows the bank credit card issuers the ability exercise a form of price discrimination with interest rates, segmenting the market into different categories.  These marketing techniques of the credit card companies in the credit card market have created greater price distribution of credit card interest rates, providing an important reason for consumers to shop around for the best credit card rates.

Many consumers do not search for low credit card interest rates generally because they expect to use the cards only for certain situations, rather than as a regular source of credit.  Because these consumers significantly underestimate the chances that they will accumulate a substantial outstanding credit card balance, they pay unreasonably high credit card rates.  In addition, consumer that have less than perfect credit are usually less willing to search  for the best credit card rates due to fear of being turned down and thus accept higher credit card rates than may be appropriate based on their credit profile.

Cutting the credit card interest rate by even a few percentage points will enable most credit card holders the ability to put more toward paying off the credit card debt each month.  While a savings of $10 or $20 dollars a month may not sound like a lot, putting all of those savings toward paying off your debt can be a big help.  The larger someone’s debt is, the greater the savings from bringing down the credit card interest rates.

Consumer’s also often choose to use bank credit card debt with high bank credit card interest rates when their financial conditions are less than ideal such as during times of high unemployment.  Obviously the number of credit cards has a significant impact on the dollar savings in the interest payment.  Consumers that have multiple credit cards tend to carry larger outstanding balances, which consequently increases the payoff to search for the best credit card rates.

Over the last several years, amounts on credit cards have grown faster than any other type of consumer loan, indicating consumers’ intentional use of credit cards as a means of financing transactions.  In this situation, searching for interest rate information on credit cards is critical for many consumers since the use of this form of credit is expected to continue and be sizeable.

Many consumers often view the simplicity and flexibility of credit card borrowing more positively than other types of loans.  Yet, these same consumers do not put enough effort into shopping and comparing credit card rates and credit card fees.  Managing credit, debt and debt payments requires careful review of the credit card interest rates.  Ignoring credit card rates can be a quick path to unmanageable debt levels.

Credit Card Offers and Credit Card Shopping

Credit card companies frequently use all varieties of attractive offers to acquire new customers.  Low teaser rates are a common marketing tool used by the credit card companies to obtain new credit card customers.  Low credit card rates, credit card rewards programs and credit card balance transfer offers and preapproved direct mail solicitations are some of the most common marketing techniques used. 

Often these credit card offers are just teaser offers.  Teaser offers that either have limited time periods or credit card offers that are available to only the best credit card applicants.  Now, more than ever it is important for consumers to improve their credit scores and shop around for the best credit cards available to avoid being drawn in to the clever marketing and questionable products.  It is easy to be swayed by teaser rates of as low as 2.9% to 3.9%.  But these credit card rates may last for only short period, be available on limited credit card transactions such as balance transfers and are often dependent on the credit card applicants’ credit profile and existing credit card debt and then the consumer ultimately may be approved for a less than ideal credit card.

The basics of credit and debt management have to be adhered to make sure the credit card application a consumer fills out is the best credit card to meet their needs.  Remember, that a new credit card with a new credit card limit does not give someone access to free money.  Credit cards are extensions of credit by a bank credit card company that has a profit motive and these credit card offers involve a loan that you must be repaid with interest.

To help compare and evaluate your existing credit cards, as well as new credit card offers, it is a good idea to set up a checklist of the credit card attributes such as the credit card terms and credit card rates.  In order to do this, it is essential to always read the fine print with all credit card offers.  It is easy to compare the fine print of credit card costs and charges by shopping for credit cards online.

Consider evaluating the following features of a credit card offer and credit card programs.

Compare the Credit Card Interest Rate.  Check to see what the credit card’s APR is.  The APR is a measure of the cost of credit and is expressed as a yearly interest rate.   Be sure to compare the credit card rate on cash advances, credit card balance transfers as well as how the credit card interest rate is calculated.  Take a look at the grace period for credit card purchases.  A grace period is the time between the date of a purchase and the date when interest starts being charged on that purchase.  If the card has a standard grace period, the card holder will have an opportunity to avoid finance charges by paying the current credit card balance in full each month.

Closer Review of the Introductory Credit Card Rate Offers.  Anytime a bank credit card is making an introductory credit card rate or teaser rate offer one key component is the length of time the credit card rates are offered.  Teaser credit card rates whether they be for the credit card balance transfer or initial purchases, generally last for a limited time period often only a few months.  Be sure to investigate the time period for the offer and what the regular interest rate will be when the introductory period expires.

Compare the Credit Card Fees.  The first task is to determine whether the credit card has an annual fee.  Many credit card issuers charge an annual fee for granting credit, typically $15 to $55.  Some credit card companies charge no annual fee.  Most consumers now are shying away from credit card fees, but, a small annual credit card fee may be a reasonable trade off for a much lower credit card rate.  Don’t move on too fast and take a look at the other fees that are associated with the credit card such as credit card cash advance fees, credit card balance transfer fees as well as late payment fees and over the credit card limit fees.  Understand not only when these fees will be charged but how much they are as well.

Look at the Terms of Credit Card Approval.  Always be careful with credit card offers that promote preapproved credit.  Most all preapproved credit offers have requirements such as income and debt limits as well as credit checks.  On these credit card offers, consumers still have to apply for credit and the credit card company will access your credit report.  And each time someone applies for a credit card, the card company obtains a copy of your credit report.  Frequent inquiries into an individual’s credit report have the possibility of adversely impacting their credit score.  When it is possible, try to get a feel for the level of established credit history or credit score needed to obtain the new credit card.  This credit history shows how responsible you’ve been in paying your bills and helps the bank credit card company settle on how much credit to offer.  Before you submit a credit application, get a copy of your credit report to make sure it’s accurate.

New credit cards and new credit card limits do not give someone access to free money.  Unfortunately, the precise costs and features are often not obviously displayed in credit card ad campaigns.  The more you do to evaluate a credit card offer before applying, the sharper your credit management skills will be.  More than ever, it is important to shop around for a credit card that can save you money on interest and fees.  When choosing a credit card, shop around and compare these important features.

Credit Card Check Problems

Managing credit card debt has become a heavier burden for more and more consumers.  Both consumers and the credit card companies are wrestling with the problem of increasing credit card late payments and delinquencies.  The credit card delinquencies create a number of problems for consumers including reduced credit card limits, an adverse credit rating in their credit report and additional credit card fees and credit card interest charges.

A recent problem compounding the issue of excessive credit card debt and credit card interest charges is the misuse or poor understanding of bank credit card convenience checks.  The FDIC has recently published a notice regarding the potential problems consumers are facing with the use of these credit card services. 

Credit card holders have to aware that even though the credit card companies issues these checks like dog treats that have the potential to push the user into higher levels of debt and extra credit card fees that can a be a real burden to pay.  The number one problem with these credit card convenience checks is that the user is not aware of their credit card balance and the use of the convenience check pushes the credit card holder over their credit card limit.  More importantly, consumers who know what their credit card balance and credit card limit often fail to check the limit for credit card cash advances, which is the category the convenience check use often falls under. 

During periods of tough credit and restrictive credit card standards, many credit card companies are actively reducing the credit card limits on even their good paying customers.  It is important for consumers who are using the credit card convenience checks to find out what the current credit card limit is in case the credit company reduced the amount you may borrow on your credit card through credit card cash advances right before you make a transaction with the credit card check.

If a credit card holder use the checks and the credit card services so heavily marketed by the credit card companies and subsequently find out that the convenience check puts the credit card balance over the credit card limit, even if it has just been reduced, the bank credit card issuer may not pay the amount of the funds on the check.  The returned credit card check could now, very well cause overdraft fees from your bank if you have used the check with your bank funds or returned check fees from where the check was sent or even over the limit fees from the credit card company that issued the convenience check for your use.  This creates the possibility of a perfect storm of higher fees and rates brought on by one credit card transaction.

It is equally important to understand the credit card interest rates and credit card fees associated with then use of these checks.  For most credit card checks there is a separate transaction fee that may be the equivalent of to 3% to 7% of the amount of each check.  In addition, the interest rate on this credit card loan can be much higher than the credit card rate on your standard credit card purchases.  If the credit card check has an introductory cash advance offer, be sure to know what the time frame is pay this amount back and other conditions that may apply.  For some credit card convenience checks the bank credit card company begins charging interest on the amount of the check when the check posts to the credit card account, even if the credit card company normally allows a grace period on credit card charges for standard purchases and transactions.

Another twist on credit card convenience checks is the loss of some consumer protections that are standard with normal credit card purchases.  As an example, normal credit card purchases are protected under the Fair Credit Billing Act that allows the account holder to withhold the payment for defective goods, with conditions.  This same protection does not exist with the use of credit card convenience checks.  And finally, these credit card checks often are not counted towards credit card rewards programs or rebates.  As inconsequential as that may first appear, credit card rewards used properly is one of the true benefits of good credit card management.

Credit card convenience checks are thrown at many credit card customers like Monopoly money but, these checks can also thrust many consumers into greater debt as well as long term credit problems.  These credit card services can be very expensive if not used properly.  Always make sure you know your credit card rates, credit card balance and credit card limit before using these products.  For those who do want utilize these services, shop and compare the best credit card terms and conditions and find the best credit card first.

No Credit History, Credit Cards and More

Having no credit history limits you because it makes you a kind of non-person in the world of credit, and that makes it difficult to borrow money for a car, credit card, a home, or for another good purpose like starting a business.  No credit history is often considered better than a poor credit history.  However, this has changed over the past few years and no credit history is now often no better than a poor credit history. 

Without a credit history, a potential borrower seeking a loan or new credit card has no credit score or profile for the lender to automatically review.  And this is the heart of the problem.  Bank credit card issuers, mortgage lenders and most banks now utilize automated underwriting or loan approval models.  A consumer without a credit history and credit score can not be evaluated by a computer model and is more often than not denied credit rather than approved.

For consumers who do not yet have credit, the first steps should involve working on general financial issue.  First, be sure to obtain a bank account.  Your bank account balance or transaction history doesn’t go into your credit report, but any application for credit including a credit card application will ask you for bank account information.  Not having a bank account will not necessarily lead to the credit card application being denied or a car loan denial.  But, not having a bank account will certainly increase the chances of being denied and may very well impact the interest rate on the terms of borrowing.  Credit card companies prefer to review and applicant with a bank account in order to approve the best credit card rate.

If you already have an account at a bank, that’s great.   If you don’t have one and really want to work on building credit, see if you qualify to open an account at a credit union or your local bank.  These financial institutions typically have a more personal approach than a big regional bank or national bank and they often have more of an interest in educating you about maintaining good credit. 

Next, you should apply for a credit card.  To avoid being denied the credit card, which will indeed establish credit for you – of a negative kind – apply only for a credit card that is likely to accept you.  You may be able to do this at a bank or a credit union where a personal banker will show you which product is right for you.  On the other hand, you may find the best credit card online that suits your needs.  Get some guidance from a bank or a web site that evaluates and compares credit cards.  The credit card companies themselves aren’t entirely reliable when it comes to full disclosure about your likelihood of acceptance or the costs and benefits of the credit card services.  They are working for their own benefit first and yours second.

Now comes the important part. 

Once you have a credit card it is important to use it wisely.  Here are the things to remember about credit card use.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking of a credit card as money to spend.  It isn’t your money and you have to pay it back.  A credit card is a convenience and a tool.  It makes things easier and it allows you to do things like online purchasing that you would otherwise struggle to do.  Making purchases with a credit card online is just the beginning; a good credit card history lays the ground work for access to additional credit.  Credit that doesn’t have to be used but is available when the opportunity arises. 
 
Use the credit card.  Be prudent, but you only establish credit when you actually use the credit card to make purchases.  The important thing about using the credit card is to know when to stop.  One thing that lenders look for in credit card use is how much of your available credit card balance on the card is gone.  The rule of thumb is to use only a third of your available credit or credit card limit.  So, if you have a credit card limit of $3000, try not to exceed a credit card balance of $1000.  This kind of care demonstrates creditworthiness.  Ah, creditworthy!  That’s how you want lenders to think of you.  If you are creditworthy you’ll eventually be able to borrow much more than that $1000 with which you begin.

Most importantly, pay on time.  Let’s put that in capital letters.  PAY ON TIME.  Nothing damages your credit more than late or missing payments.  We cannot stress this concept enough; make the credit card payments on time.  Pay on time. 

A corollary to this concept is to pay most of the full credit card balance each month if you can.  This has two benefits.  One, it shows lenders that you are serious about your credit.  Two, it helps you to avoid credit card finance charges.  This is an important concept that is especially important when you first get your new credit card.  Eventually you will have a major expense that may be unexpected and you will not be able to pay off the entire amount at once.  That’s part of the convenience of having the credit card, and it’s another good reason to keep a lower balance.

If you are denied credit, don’t just walk away.  Find out why.  Reasons may include income, employment or credit history.  If you are denied credit, you can request a free copy of your credit report to see if there is erroneous data on it, and have corrections made.  All of this is important information that will help you to understand your credit situation and help you build a strong credit foundation for the future. 

Credit is important, a credit history is more important.  Whether you want or need credit now, access to credit is an important facet to financial independence.  A good credit history will facilitate access to big ticket items like a home mortgage or even better credit terms or a better credit card rate.

Credit Cards Online

The Internet lets almost any consumer easily compare credit cards, fill out the credit card application online and receive an immediate credit card approval.  Shopping and comparing credit card offers online has become one of the most efficient and effective methods to obtain a new credit card.  The ability to go online and view the offers side by side from a number of different credit card companies and the various features of the credit cards help to make a well informed decision before filling out a credit card application.

Consumers that shop for a credit card online are generally more demanding credit card customers than the general population of credit card users.  Surveys show that online credit card applicants are satisfied shoppers since most of those consumers that apply for a credit card online eventually got hold of new credit card and began promptly using the credit card they obtained online.  Shopping, comparing and obtaining credit cards online appear to be a successful choice by consumers.

The Internet is a great resource for consumers searching for a new credit card with a different feature or simply better credit card interest rates.  Online, credit card searchers are allocating their time when they want to shop for cards on their own time instead of culling through junk mail offerings.  This also delivers a benefit to the credit card companies since its allows those companies the ability to reduce the cost and risk of one-to-one target marketing and therefore reducing the cost of acquisition for the online credit card issuers.

When shopping and comparing credit card offers online, a consumer can find the best credit cards available in categories such as low rate credit cards, credit card rewards, business credit cards, student credit cards, credit cards for people with poor or no credit and more.  The credit card offers found online will all include a summary for each credit card describing the credit card rates, fees, and ultimately what type of credit card user will gain the most benefit from any individual credit card offer. 

Once the category of credit card is selected, a search can begin among the hundreds of cards in the online databases for those cards with low interest rates or the credit cards offering no annual fees or other attributes that the consumer may find important.

These are a number of key features to look for in credit card offers online that can be easily reviewed and evaluated.  In addition, the features found on the credit card online databases and searches indirectly offer the consumer the advantage of increasing the chances of getting approved for the right credit card for that individuals needs.

Before someone gets started searching for the best credit card and the best credit card rates they should decide upon their needs and what the credit card will be used for.  Often this requires the consumer to compare credit cards based on their debts and spending habits along with their payment patterns.  If a credit card applicant can understand their needs while searching the various credit card programs they are much more likely to select a credit card which is best suited for them.

Shopping for a Business Credit Card

Business credit cards are available from a number of different credit card companies.  Business credit cards come with a variety of features including varying credit card interest rates and are available to businesses both big and small.  Business credit cards are not designed by credit card companies just for big, established companies.  Credit card companies specifically market these types of credit cards to small and midsized companies.  Not only do the credit card companies promote and market the credit card services to small companies but there are a number of benefits that a small company can realize with the use of a business credit card. 

Business credit cards are used by all size of businesses from one man sole proprietorship’s to large multinational companies to make a number of credit and budget tasks simpler.  The features of a business credit card can help with tracking monthly expenditures and bookkeeping as well as provide convenience, credit and the credit card rewards that come with certain attributes of these credit card services.

Shopping and comparing business credit cards can be straight forward and easy.  When shopping for a business credit card it can be as simple as shopping for a standard personal credit card.  The business credit card shopper should compare the available credit card offers.  Potential new credit cards can be evaluated based on the credit card APR, credit card fees, the credit card reward programs that are available and the needs of the business.  The selection of credit card rewards may include airline miles, hotel points, or standard reward points that can be converted into purchases or credits on the card.

Shopping for a business credit card often involves shopping for the credit card rate.  Credit card companies not only offer a wide range of credit card interest rates but just like consumer credit cards the bank credit cards for businesses often promote low introductory credit card rates to attract new credit card applications.  If you do obtain a credit card with an introductory offer, be sure you know when it will end so that you can adjust your budget as needed.

If you choose a business credit card with the right reward program, you can enjoy more benefits from your spending.  Reward programs vary from credit card cash backs, credit card gas rewards, hotel rewards, travel rewards, etc.  Simply view the various credit cards online and select the one that best matches your business’s spending and needs. 

If you own or operate a small business there are numerous benefits that can be obtained by searching for the best small business credit card to meet your needs and provide you with rewards or other advantages that come with the variety of credit card services associated with these cards.  While searching for the best credit card it is imperative to determine how your credit card will be used. 

Selecting a credit card without evaluating its potential use may lead to filling out a credit card application that is less than ideal for your needs.  When comparing credit cards for business or personal use in order to choose the type of card you need you have to consider what those needs are.  Some business credit card reward programs will have slightly higher interest rates, if credit card rewards is not a primary goal than shopping for the best credit card rate may be a better search parameter.  If establishing additional credit is the primary goal and frequent use is not expected then the credit card rate will not be the main search parameter. 

Business credit cards can offer lots of opportunities for people looking for all kinds of deals on credit cards that offer rewards or cash back or a great interest rate.  These credit cards can be used for low rate credit, back up credit, service features and more.  Compare and shop carefully to find the best credit card to meet your business needs.

Business Credit Card Benefits

Business credit cards are heavily marketed by a variety of credit card companies.  Business credit cards often offer many of the same features that are available on consumer credit cards.  These credit card offers are by and large made available to all sizes of businesses from the one employee home based business to large conglomerates.  For someone who owns or operates a business a business credit card can provide a great deal of benefits and services. 

One of the main advantages of a business credit card is that they can be extremely useful for keeping track of certain expenses.  Having a credit card for business purposes can help a business clearly determine where certain expenses are going.   Keeping the business expenses organized on one monthly statement that can be paid at a predetermined time each is a great credit card service that is an innate feature of a business credit card. 

A business credit card presents a simple and helpful process to separate expenses and at the same time provide a detailed itemization of expenses in a variety of categories, all the while keeping tax records of the expenditures.

For a number of businesses, a key benefit of a business credit card is that it offers a different payment plan option.  Most business credit cards are set up like consumer credit cards and the credit card holder or responsible party can make monthly credit card payments on the accumulated credit card debt just like a personal credit card.  Business financing and credit can be a very important facet of small businesses.  Business credit cards can be a great tool for a business to broaden their credit line and available credit.  The credit card limit is essentially additional available credit to be used by the business or entrepreneur as needed.

A business credit card can be used for building a credit history for a small business as well.  Businesses, more so than consumers, need well established credit in order to get access to bank loans and lines of credit.  Building a good credit history for a business takes time but a business credit card can be used as a starting point to build a credit profile and payment history.

A business credit card can help businesses deal with day to day financial demands and those unplanned expenses.  Credit cards for business can be a great resource for handling unanticipated expenses.  A small business can often experience irregular cash flows that can be ameliorated with the help of a credit card.  

There are numerous benefits for small and large businesses that can be obtained with a business credit card.  Whether the business is big or small, the greatest benefits from the credit card services come from searching for the best small business credit card to meet the needs of the credit card applicant and provide that person with rewards or other advantages.  Be sure to shop and compare credit card rates and credit card offers thoroughly before filling out the business credit card application.  There can be a number of differences between business credit card offers including the credit card rewards programs found on consumer credit cards.

Why Your Credit Cards Could be Declined

Having your ever credit card declined just when you are about to make a credit card purchase can be one of the most infuriating problems.  Often, the credit card users believes there is plenty of available credit on the credit card and puzzled as well as embarrassed by the refusal of the merchant and the credit card company to accept the charge.  

If a credit card transaction is declined, the merchant could advise the customer the reason for the transaction being declined.  The customer, however, in a majority of the cases, is not informed about the cause for denial.  They are trying a legitimate transaction and are now simply confused as to why the credit card was declined.

Going over the credit card limit is one of the more common ways to have a credit card transaction declined.  When credit card delinquencies rise, credit card companies are much more conservative on how they handle credit card transactions that exceed the card holders established credit card limit.  Always make sure you know exactly how much credit you have available, and if you’re reaching your credit card limit it may be time to look at your credit card use and spending habits.  When your credit card debt rises, it’s time to sit back and avoid bigger debt and payment problems. 

Declined transactions on a credit card that indicate that you have exceeded your credit limit can also cause future credit problems.  Exceeding your credit limit will generally reduce your credit score.  A lower credit score will make it more difficult to obtain the best credit card rates in the future or obtain the best rates on other loans such as car loans or mortgage loans.

Late payments are also a common reason for credit cards being denied at a point of purchase.  Even if you have plenty of available credit on your credit card, if a credit card holder doesn’t make their monthly payment on time the credit card company may very well place a hold on the credit card that prevents further transactions.  Generally, the credit card payment has to be at least 30 days late however, this is not always the case.  A late payment allows the credit card company to stop further purchases and reduce the credit card limit as well as possibly raise the credit card interest rate.

Often the cause of a credit card transaction denial is the credit card company will deny the purchase if they think someone else is using your credit card or there is suspicious activity.  If you are making a lot of purchases, uncharacteristic of your normal spending habits, or if you just went out of town and used your credit card frequently for unusual purchases, this could flag the credit card company.  The credit card may restrict future credit card transactions until they confirm the card is not lost, stolen or other suspicious actions. 

These are measures that are designed to protect you against problems such as identity theft but it may present a problem until the credit card company can verify the activity with the cardholder.  An example that could trigger a freeze like this would be multiple jewelry purchases while on vacation or perhaps multiple purchases using the credit card online in a short period of time. 

To protect credit card companies and the account holders from fraudulent charges, most all of the bank credit cards have a limit on how many purchases or how much money can be charged on a credit card in a single day.  If you exceed this credit card limit, the credit card company may block your account from any further activity as a precaution and future credit card transactions could be declined.

If you plan on making several out-of-the ordinary purchases on a card, consider calling the issuer beforehand and letting them know.  So all it takes to rectify the situation is a quick call to the company and they should be able to unfreeze your credit immediately.

An expired credit card is a frequent cause of a transaction denial as well.  Many consumers are inundated with credit card mailings and ignore the credit card envelope that contains the new credit card to replace the expiring one.  It is fairly easy to accidentally skip over these renewal letter and notices and then not paying attention to when the credit card expires.

One final reason a credit card can be denied is because of a malfunction.  The credit card magnetic strip can be damaged and therefore not able to scanned or read which may cause the card to come back declined.  Again, having a back up credit card to use may be helpful to avoid the unnecessary consumption of time and inconvenience.

For responsible credit card users with good credit who keep up on their credit card payments, it can be a complete mystery as to what has caused the merchants system to report the transaction is declined.  By understanding the reasons cards come back declined it may be easier to get around these issues in the future.

Credit card denials can be very inconvenient and even embarrassing.  Credit card denials are not an infrequent occurrence and should not cause a lot of grief.  Stay current on your credit card payments and try to stay away from the credit card limit and then always have a back up credit card to complete the transaction.

Staying on Track with Credit Cards for Young Adults

Young people are a constant target of credit card and loan offers.  Lenders know that college students and working young adults don’t always make the most responsible financial decisions.  Credit card companies want to grab you as a customer to gain your money and loyalty before someone else does first.

Recent college graduates are often already in a lot of debt before they even begin their careers.  This typically consists of student loans and credit card debt.  The key to a financially secure future is to manage your credit use and to pay the debt off as soon as possible.  Even though you’re making more money, don’t immediately raise your standard of living when you land that first job.  Start off on the right foot by maintaining a cheap lifestyle for a while and paying off your college debt before you incur more debt with credit cards, auto loans and more.  Focus your efforts on building your career.

1.  Make a Financial Plan

Financial independence creates a complete new set of opportunities for financial freedom and promise.  But don’t let the access to easy credit such as credit card offers create speed bumps on the way to your financial goals. 

Imagine your life five years from now.  What are your goals?  Don’t start off on the wrong foot by making bad money decisions that will come back to haunt you in the future.  Sometime in the next decade, you will probably want to buy a house and perhaps start a family.  Maybe you’re interested in taking a trip around the world.  Establishing a good credit history and credit score while paying off debts and saving for the future will make these things possible.  Saving money might not sound like fun now, but you will reap the rewards before you know it.  With sound budgeting and smart use of financial tools like credit cards and debit cards, you can still have fun while meeting your financial responsibilities.

2.  Get a Financial Mentor

When you’re just starting out, the financial world sounds rather confusing.  Is there someone in your life whose money management skills you admire?  This should be a person who you trust to lead you on the right path.  They need to be experienced in financial affairs and have a good understanding of different types of investments, insurance, loans, credit, and making responsible decisions.  There will be a blizzard of marketing material coming your way from lending institutions.  Credit card companies will solicit debit cards, credit card reward programs, zero interest credit cards that will all look to good to pass by. 

Ask questions and do your homework before leaping into more debt.  Ask your financial mentor for help when you have questions or are unsure of what your next step should be.  If none of your family members or other trusted people in your life fit the bill, consider seeking a professional such as a credit counselor.

3.  Pay Attention to Student Loans before Taking on More Debt

Falling behind on student loans is a big mistake that many young adults make. Taking on more debt with a slew of new credit cards is only going to make debt reduction a more difficult chore.  If the loans are large, paying them off can look like a daunting task.  However, student loans don’t go away.  The government and private student loan lenders can eventually garnish your wages and take your tax returns to get the money you owe them.  Like any other bill, falling behind on student loans shows up on your credit report and stays there for seven years.

Contact your lender if you can’t afford to make the payments on your loans.  They are generally very willing to work out a plan or even defer loans for a while, depending on your situation.  Remember than the interest will continue to grow, regardless of whether or not you’re paying attention to it.  Saving on the interest expense of all debt will help keep your financial house in order whether that’s student loan interest, credit card interest or a car loan interest rate.  Explore options for lower interest rates including credit card rates if you find the rates you are paying are not competitive.  Manage the cost of the credit always.

4.  Avoid Too Many Credit Cards and Too Much Debt

A lot of young adults use credit cards as a regular source of money to live beyond their means.  They continually open credit card accounts and max them out to at or above the credit card limit.  When the minimum payments for all of these credit cards combined is more than you can afford in a month, you’re in trouble.

Credit is most certainly a useful tool that can enhance your lifestyle when managed properly.  If you have a problem with overspending, avoid using credit cards as much as possible.  Instead, get into the habit of having a reasonable amount of cash on you for regular purchases.  Save the credit cards for a true emergency or to help build a strong credit history and credit report. 

First, remember not to overspend.  Don’t bring the credit cards near their credit card limit.  Second, stick to a sound and reasonable budget.  Avoid the minimum credit card payment trap.  This is particularly true for young people and new credit cards.  This may also be useful for paying other loans or it may not be as necessary but with credit cards, making more than the minimum payment is a necessity to keep credit card debt in check.  Avoid the late fees that can come with too many credit cards or too much debt.  Avoid any late fees but especially credit card fees to ensure they’re not adding to your debt. 

5.  Read the Fine Print

There are a lot of things a young adult needs to know about when they are just starting.  Information needs to be acquired on finding out what is the difference between a credit card, a debit card, student credit card and all those credit card reward programs and features.  What is a credit history and a credit score and what do they mean for my financial goals and independence.  A young adult will need to know the interest rates and what the late fees are on all of their debts.  Information that is all readily available for anyone to read about, just make sure to read about it.

Before entering into any type of financial obligation, be sure that you understand all of the terms and details of the agreement.  This includes everything from credit cards and loans to cell phone contracts and apartment leases.  Be aware of all fees, deadlines, clauses, and interest rates.  A zero percent introductory interest rate might sound like a deal you can’t pass up, but what happens if you make a payment one day late?  That zero could turn into a twenty overnight.  Will the length of your cell phone contract reset if you make a minor change to your plan?

6.  Stay motivated

Commit to achieving your financial goal and figure out what’s going to keep you motivated to stay on track.  Knowing how to build good credit, how to prevent debt and credit problems, and how to develop and stick to a budget so when you are starting out you begin on the right path.  Keep doing your homework and credit and credit cards can help you achieve your financial goals trouble-free.

Credit Cards for Foreign Travel

Choosing the right credit card to use for travel abroad can seem like an arduous task.  Don’t overlook the importance of doing some research in this matter.  The credit card you decide to use could make or break your trip if you get into a troublesome situation in a foreign country.  Making the right choice can also save you a lot of money and offer a number of benefits that make your trip more fun and relaxing.  For example, you won’t have to worry about currency conversion when using a credit card.

The good news is that it only takes a little planning to save yourself from potential hassles and safety risks while traveling abroad.  Choosing the best credit card doesn’t have to be complicated.  Credit card companies like to cater to travelers because they know they will spend money.  Make a game of comparing the various deals and special offers available to you.

Avoid Debit Cards

Debit or bank cards are not the best option for use when traveling abroad because they offer less security.  Credit cards are legally required by the United States government to protect holders against unauthorized purchases.  However, debit cards do not offer the same safeguard.  If your debit card is lost or stolen in a foreign country, your bank can choose whether to hold you responsible for any purchases that are made with it.  Likewise, an inaccurate charge is more likely to be fixed on a credit card than a debit card. 

Look For a Card with Perks or Bonuses

Credit card rewards for travel comes in all shapes and sizes.  Frequent flyer miles can be great for cutting the expenses of traveling abroad.  Choose a credit card with good frequent flyer benefits to use in the future on your next trip overseas.  If you tend to fly a lot, make sure to research what various credit card offers in this area.

Many credit cards offer special deals when you spend money with their partners.  Just by using a certain card to make a purchase at one of these specified places, you can be eligible for various gifts, bonus credit card cash back offers, savings, or money back.

Call Customer Service

If you’re signing up for a new credit card for use while traveling abroad, let the companies know this and see what they can offer you.  Before filling out the credit card application compare the features and credit card services of more than one credit card.  As was already mentioned, credit card companies know that travelers will spend money.  They may offer you special rewards to convince you to work with them.
 
Research Fees for Using Cards Abroad

Certain companies charge a different credit card interest rates when you use your credit card in a foreign country that uses a different currency.  Check out your card’s policies and look for the best credit card rate possible for overseas transactions.

Also, some credit card companies charge fees for currency conversion in foreign countries.  This is calculated as a percentage of the purchases you make.  Your best bet is to avoid these altogether if possible, as they can add up quickly.  Make sure to ask about this and do comparisons when researching various credit cards or check the credit card online before choosing the best credit card for your travels.

Credit Cards Can Help Establish Credit

Credit cards can be a very useful tool to establish credit for young adults, those with previously damaged credit or adults that have had limited credit histories. Developing a good credit history and establishing good credit habits and is essential to understanding how to manage personal and business finances.  Developing a good credit history and building a history of using and paying credit is important to gain access to credit in the future for more substantial purposes.

Credit cards can be very helpful to teach consumers how to use consumer credit wisely and provide a foundation to establish good credit.  Good credit and a good credit history will extremely beneficial when a consumer is ready to buy a new home, a car or any other significant purchase where the cost of credit can be substantial. 

For young adults just starting out with their own personal finances and adults that need to establish a good credit history, the responsible use of credit cards is one easiest and fastest ways to help establish good credit.  A good credit card history and a good credit report can start with a good credit card that easy to apply.  Always make sure you shop around for the best credit card rates and terms that match your needs and don’t fall into a trap of using more credit than you can afford to pay back.  Credit cards are a convenience and must be used properly which includes paying attention to credit card limits and total credit card debt.

Credit cards are available for people with perfect credit to those with bad credit.  Bad credit cards can be obtained in the form of an unsecured credit card or a secured credit card.  And there is a number of variations of credit cards in between with various credit card rates that generally reflect the credit profile or credit history of the consumer applying for the card.

Managing your credit card, the credit card bill and the credit card payments is very important.  Setting up a budget and following a budget is a key component to using credit cards to make sure you pay the credit card on time and staying away from charging up to your card’s credit limit.

As soon as someone can obtain the right credit card, whether it is a small secured credit card or a high rate unsecured credit card or a student credit card, make sure that you keep up with the monthly credit card payments and in a short period of time you’ll have a good enough credit rating to obtain more credit or better credit terms and even work for buying a car, or purchase a home.  Whatever type of credit card someone chooses to get started you must always pay the credit card on time and manage the debt wisely.

There are numerous benefits gained by searching for the right credit card.  These benefits include the almost immediate advantage of a lower interest rate, reduced finance charges and more savings.  Additional indirect rewards include learning better money management, increased financial knowledge, practical budget experience and the value of using credit accordingly.

Categories of Credit Cards

Credit cards come in a variety types with varying credit card rates, credit card limits, credit card fees and credit card reward programs.  It is important to know the different card types before choosing the best credit card that meets your financial needs.  Prior to filling out the credit card application and deciding which credit card is right for you it may important to know the basic categories of credit cards.  These are the main category of credit card types without further differentiation into the various elements that may come with an individual card such as reward attributes, interest rates, fees, and other particular services and features promoted by the credit card companies.

There are four basic types of credit cards each with their own individual features, rates and cost.  The most common type of credit card is the bank credit card that has a revolving balance and predetermined credit card limit.  Visa credit card and MasterCard credit cards are the most common and widely known of the standard bank credit cards. 

With a bank credit card, each time the credit card is used for a transaction the credit card issuing bank pays the merchant for the product or service in the transaction, less a predetermined service charge.  These credit cards are widely accepted and give the store merchants the ability to sell their goods and services on credit as well as giving consumers access to credit to purchase a wide assortment of goods and services.  The credit card company that issues the credit card makes their profits from the credit card interest rates and fees.  The credit card type, Visa credit card or MasterCard credit card, make their money from the transaction fee or service charge deducted from the funds sent to the merchant.

The credit card holder making a transaction with a bank credit card is using credit up when they make a purchase which places a balance or increases an existing balance on the credit card and reduces the available credit on the card.  The available credit is increased or made available again once a payment has been recorded by the credit card company.  A finance charge accrues on the outstanding balances during each billing cycle based on purchases, the existing credit card balance, the credit card rate and credit card payments.  Credit cards will have a minimum payment that must be paid by a certain due date to avoid late payment penalties.  The terms and credit card rates will vary between credit card companies. 

Each issuing bank sets its own credit card policies regarding credit card rates and credit card fees, credit card limits, the qualifying conditions to get the credit card and other features.  Visa and MasterCard do not themselves issue the bank credit cards.  Visa and MasterCard serve as a clearinghouse for the participating banks that issue the cards and use the Visa or MasterCard name and logo.  The credit card transactions are all handled and administered by the issuing credit card company or bank.

Bank credit cards do generally have advantages over the other credit card types with more features and attributes such as credit card rewards programs, credit cash advances, credit card cash rebates, credit card balance transfers and more.

The next credit card category contains charge cards or travel and entertainment cards.  Charge cards or travel and entertainment cards include cards such as like American Express, Carte Blanche, and Diners Club.  Charge cards were originally established for the card holder to make transactions monthly and then pay the balance on a charge card in full at the end of each month.  These cards are also widely accepted and a large variety of consumer goods or services can be bought using these cards.  Since the balance accrued on these cards is paid in full each month, they generally do not have an interest rate that determines the finance charge or minimum payment.  Late payments on the card are subject to fees.

Store cards or department store cards are the third category of credit cards.  The credit cards are also often referred to as limited purpose credit cards, merchant credit cards or sometimes affinity credit cards.  The use of these credit cards is generally limited to transactions involving a specific merchant; examples of these credit cards include such a Sears’s credit card, Macy’s credit card or even a gas or oil company credit card.  Department store credit cards are offered by most of the major retailers and a number of smaller merchants as well. 

Department store credit cards or merchant credit cards are used and function much like bank credit cards with exception of where they made be used for transactions.  These limited purpose credit cards will have a preset credit limit with a minimum monthly payment and a credit card interest charged on current credit card balances.   The credit cards usually will not charge an annual fee, have relatively low credit limits and generally have higher credit card rates than bank credit cards.

Secured credit cards are the final main category of credit cards.  These credit cards can also be classified as a sub category of bank credit cards however they differ in one significant manner.  These credit cards are almost identical to bank credit cards however; the credit limit is established by a secured savings account.  Secured credit cards are usually established with either the Visa credit card or the MasterCard services and logo.  Charge cards and store cards do not offer secured credit cards.  

With a secured credit card, the credit card account holder uses the card the same way as a standard Visa credit card or MasterCard.  The secured credit card holder receives a monthly statement for purchases and transactions and charged a finance charge for the balance.  Credit rates and fees will vary between credit card companies.  If the monthly payment is not made the amount due may be deducted from the deposit held on account to obtain the credit card.

Secured credit cards have a credit limit and are established based on the amount of money the credit card holder has deposited into the savings or deposit account of the credit card company issuing the secured credit card.  The credit card limit may be the amount of the funds held on deposit or an amount above that.

Secured credit cards are commonly used by consumers with a bad credit history.  Secured credit cards are also options for those consumers who need to stay on a budget.

Zero Interest Credit Cards

Zero interest cards are creative promotional products from the credit card companies that promise no interest for a temporary length of time.  These credit card offers are marketing strategies designed to lure customers to a different credit card by offering to have your present outstanding balance transferred to their card at zero percent interest rate.

Zero percent interest rate credit card offers can provide a great way to reduce monthly credit card payments in addition to reducing debt far faster.

Since these credit cards are promotional offers to attract new customers, usually the period of zero interest rates offered is about six months.  However some of the credit cards out there will offer this zero interest for the life of the loan.  If you manage these credit card offers properly, you could treat yourself to a one-year, interest-free loan.  Of course there is a big catch for this.

The terms and conditions for these credit cards can be varied.  One important condition is that not everyone qualifies for the zero-percent rate promised on the marketing material.  These credit card offers are reserved for consumers with very good credit and generally those that have very little debt.

Common terms and conditions for most of these zero interest cards include being required to make all monthly credit card payments on time.  The zero interest bank credit cards can jump to some outrageously high interest rates if you miss one payment or even if you miss one payment to another credit card company or are late with any of your bills.  The last part refers to the default rate provision that basically covers the credit card company’s ability to raise the rate should you be delinquent at another creditor.  Other conditions apply to how long the promotional low credit card interest rate lasts and what purchases and transactions qualify for the lowest rate.

For the best conditions on these credit cards, the promotional zero percent interest rate would stay on the credit card for the entire time it takes to pay off any transferred balance from other credit card.  However if the zero rate credit card is used for a balance transfer, any payments that you make on the card are first applied to reduce the transferred balance.  Often, the amounts you charge presently on your new credit card are subject to the interest rate set by the credit card company for new purchases.

There are often a number of credit card offers with introductory credit cards at low interest rates or zero percent interest rates available and it can sometimes be difficult to sort through them and choose the best credit card for your needs. General points of interest that should be evaluated on zero interest rate credit card offers include:

How long does the introductory zero percent interest rate last?
What is the credit card interest rate or credit card apr after the teaser rate expires?
Which credit card transactions does the teaser rate apply to; credit card balance transfers only, new credit card purchases, cash advances?
Does the credit card charge a transaction fee for the credit card balance transfers?
What is the credit card interest rate if there is a missed payment?
What is the amount of the late credit card payment fees or fees for exceeding the credit card limit?

A zero interest rate credit card is only worth your while if you are able to meet the terms and conditions and you have a use or need for this particular type of credit card.  Always check to make sure whether there are any minimum present monthly card usage requirements.  Avoid running up additional charges on the credit card and if you can and pay off the transferred balances quickly without being late on a payment to the card issuer to get the most out of the offer.  If you are carrying a high interest rate credit card balance now and you qualify for these credit cards, you can consider transferring the balance to a 0% introductory offer credit card and make use of these promotional deals to save more money.

Reducing the Costs of Credit Card Debt

Credit card debt is perhaps the largest reason why so many Americans go into debt every day.  The major drawback to using credit cards is that too many people overextend themselves and find they are in a vortex of high interest credit card debt.  It can be far too easier to apply and be approved for a credit card than it is reduce the credit card debt that often comes with that easy to get credit card.  Credit cards that may have high credit card limit and may also have a high credit card rates.  The end result can be the beginning of significant debt problems that comes from easy credit.  Debt problems that lead to tight family budgets and potentailly late credit card paymnets.  And the mishandling of a credit cards and credit card payments will more than likely harm an individual’s good credit rating.

However bad as this sounds, there are ways that you can avoid the credit card debt trap so that you can exercise better debt management.  For starters, you can keep your credit cards to a limited number.  If you want to have a card that you can use everywhere, try limiting yourself to a bank credit card like a Visa credit card, MasterCard, or American Express card that are accepted most everywhere.

Another good step is to limit what you use you credit cards for.  There is no real reason why consumers should be using your credit card to make daily purchases like groceries.  If you prefer not carry cash around cash, you can obtain debit card which works almost the same as a credit card, however, it is direct cash purchases and bypasses incurring debt to make a transaction.

The best way to get rid of existing debt is to eliminate or pay down the balance with the highest annual percentage rate first.  Once one credit card is paid off, an individual can move onto the debt with the next highest interest rate and pay that down.  Pay attention to the credit card with the lowest interest rate; consider transferring a higher interest rate credit card debt to that one.

In may be helpful to get the highest credit card rate cards in line by getting a new credit card with a low interest rate.  Reducing your credit card rates with new low rate card can be a good tool to reduce the monthly costs of your credit but it requires discipline to make sure the new credit card is not used for more consumption.  Review and compare the best credit card rate offers to find a new credit card that has a lower rate and better terms.

A disciplined credit card user can also take advantage of the promotional offers many credit card companies for low rate balance transfers.  The best individual to use a new balance transfer is someone who is dedcuiated to paying off their debt and has a plan for paying it off within the low rate balance transfer period.  With a low rate balance transfer credit card, the money saved in interest could then be applied toward the credit card balance, therfor further reducing the outstanding balance even further.  Examine the credit card offers closely and look for a good credit card rate for balance transfers.
 
Avoid making late credit card payments.  Pay late even once and any low teaser credit card rates will increase dramatically.  You may also be charged a hefty late charge fee as well.  Try to pay more than the minimum monthly payment and set up the credit card account on automatic bill payment if your budget allows.

Now it is time to break the habit of paying only the minimum required credit card payment each month.  Paying the minimum credit card payment only prolongs the interest charges and the discomfort of a tight monthly budget.  The longer a credit card holder takes to repay the credit card debt, the more interest the credit card companies make, and the less cash the credit card holder has in their pocket.

The key to an effective debt reduction plan and credit card control plan is to stick with the strategy all the way through.  Staying organized and sticking with a plan is a fundamental to debt management good spending habits.  This will probably mean a change in lifestyle and spending habits.  Keeping your credit card debts under control is not easy but credit is a useful tool that can be used to our benefit without unwanted discomfort.

How to Transfer a Credit Card Balance

It seems like everyone is looking to transfer credit card balances these days. There are certainly a number of reasons why this could help your financial situation if it’s done the right way.  Perhaps there is a high-cost feature of your current credit card, such as a high credit card interest rate or high credit card fees, which you could get rid of by transferring the balance to a better card with lower costs and a lower credit card APR.  You can also consolidate your debt from multiple credit cards onto one card.  This will most likely lower your total monthly credit card payment and make managing the credit card debt far easier.

If you can find a great zero percent balance transfer credit card or low initial credit interest rate credit card offer, consolidating credit or transferring a balance will save a lot of money in the long run.  There are better and better incentives being offered by credit card companies who are competing for your business.  Use this to your advantage.  By doing a little research, you can make these incentives and benefits work for you through.  Transferring your credit card balance can help you get out of debt sooner.  Find the best credit card rates and the best credit card terms before jumping into a large balance transfer.

The following tips can help to make smart decisions regarding credit card balance transfers and make the process of transferring your these balances go smoothly.

Find a New Credit Card

First, you need to research the options available to you.  Check out various credit card companies and discover what they can offer you in your current financial situation.  Of course, to make the process of transferring balances worthwhile, you’ll want to find a new credit card with an interest rate that is much lower than what you’re currently paying.  Every individuals situation is different, some new credit card shoppers may have constraints such as a poor credit history others may simply need the highest credit card limit possible.

If you are only going to transfer the balance of one of the credit cards you already have, choose the one that has the highest interest rate and balance.  Store credit cards are generally associated with the highest interest rates.

Compare and Keep Track of Information

If you don’t have a copy of the agreement and terms of your current credit card, you need to get one to compare benefits.  The information you’ll need to have handy is the toll-free customer service phone line, your account number or credit card number, the balance on the card, its annual percentage rate, and the due date and grace period for your bill.

For the new card you wish to transfer your balance to, you also need to know all of the information mentioned above.  In addition, consider the different between the introductory interest rate and what it will reset to.  Know when the expiration dates are for the introductory annual percentage rate as well as the balance transfer interest rate.  Be aware of any fees associated with the new credit card.

If the new card is advertised as a zero interest card, be especially careful to read the fine print and check for any “catches” or hidden fees.  If it is only available for a limited time, make sure that you complete the necessary steps to receive the zero percent interest rate before the expiration date.  After comparing terms execute the credit card application.  The credit card application has been greatly streamlined over the years to make the process fast and easy.  Almost all application can be completed with credit card online.

Steps for Transferring Your Credit Card Balance

It is important to make the minimum credit card payment on your old credit card at least a week before it’s due.  Problems could occur if this payment is not received on time.  You will need to continue making the minimum payments for your old credit card on time since it may also take a while for the balance transfer to be processed.

Next, there should be a balance transfer form to fill out for your new credit card.  Fill it out completely and be sure that you understand all the details and have accurate numbers and figures.  Call the customer service phone line for the new card if you need any type of assistance.  The credit card companies offer these credit card services for your benefit; make sure you utilize all the benefits.

The new credit card company should let you know when your balance has been transferred.  Call the customer service line of your old company to confirm that this has gone through.  When you receive your next statement from the old company, make sure it has a zero balance.  Then, you can either close the old card or leave it open. Keeping the old card open may boost your credit score a little.  If you do wish to close the account, some companies will do so over the phone.  Other credit card comapnies require that you cancel the credit card in writing.  It may be an option, if you can resist using the credit card, to retain the paid off credit card since having a lot of available credit with very little open debt is generally good for a higher credit score.

Shop and compare the best credit card rates and use the balance transfer deals to obtain the maximum return for your financial situation.

Department Store Credit Cards

Did you ever get invited to a party that you know you shouldn’t go to?  You love being invited and the very idea of a party sounds great, but you know that there’s a good possibility of bad behavior and a hangover.  That’s probably the way you ought to think about retail store credit cards.

You stand in line with a handful of socks at the local department store, and when you get to the register the delightful salesperson asks you if you like to save an additional fifteen percent on today’s purchase by applying for a store credit card.  What could be more innocent and enticing?  You don’t have anything else to do anyway.  The credit card application is short, the credit card processing is fast and you receive a discount on the purchase your about to make.

A short time later the new credit card arrives in the mail and when you see the credit card interest rate you wonder what you could have been thinking.  The credit card APR on a store card is typically over twenty percent while your regular standard Visa credit card or MasterCard credit card clocks in between ten and fifteen percent.  You weren’t hit over the head and lose your senses, and you never drink – while shopping for socks – but some deep impulse to bond with the retailer must have come over you.  So you put it in your wallet and put it out of your mind until you’re driving past the mall and see the store and think of how easy it would be to pick up another pair of socks, or a lawn tractor.

Industry estimates say that the market for store credit cards surpasses $100 billion annually so many consumers clearly are wooed by the suave proposal of the cashier and the enticing initial discount.

Still, smart personal finance practices dictate that ownership of these credit cards holds many pitfalls.  In addition to the high interest rates, the cards can be addictive.  Once you have one from one store, maybe a Sears credit card, you want the next one and you apply for a credit card at one more store to get the initial purchase discount at that establishment.  Once you have Macy’s you want Nordstrom’s.  With the strong push from the sales counter to take the charge card right there on the spot, the temptation is too much for numerous shoppers. 

Own a number of these high interest cards and not only do you look more suspect to lenders, but keeping track of them all can become difficult and late or missed credit card payments can damage your credit score.  Credit card debt can start adding up quickly.  A lower credit score from too much credit card debt or missed credit card payments will impact the interest rates you pay for other borrowing.

Issuers of store credit cards demand higher minimum payments than bank credit cards, and that is partly because they insist that you pay down the principal and also because the interest rates are so much higher.  As with all credit it is best to use less than a third of your available credit card limit since trouble with store credit cards is often worse than trouble with a regular Visa credit card or MasterCard credit card.

Customers who sign up for store credit cards may also find that their personal information is shared with other companies or that they are placed on mailing lists.  Many retail outlets routinely provide data to third parties looking to offer you special products, promotions or services.  Buyers’ personal information and purchasing habits represent another source of revenue to retailers, annoying consumers who are already flooded with offers they don’t need or want.

That instant fifteen percent savings may not be worth the problems and expense a store credit card may cause.  Choose the best credit cards wisely, since these products are generally used more than once.  To save yourself some real money, throw yourself a party, the kind where you decide how much trouble there will be.

Fine Print In Credit Card Agreements

Credit card agreements – all of those papers that come along with the new credit card – are well known for having fine print that outlines terms and conditions in language that can be difficult for the average consumer to understand.  Often what you don’t know regarding the terms disclosed can hurt you.  However, that doesn’t mean that you are responsible for knowing all of what is there.  The basics of the terms and conditions should be understandable and if not, don’t accept the card.

The overwhelming quantity of fine print in credit card offers must be listed as part of the agreement for legal reasons.  The credit card industry includes a lot of mandatory disclosures as well as some out of the ordinary clauses in the terms and conditions.  And, this trend has increased over recent years, with the advantage going to the credit card industry.  The more fine print to clutter the terms and conditions and the more likely the average consumer will ignore all of them.

Although certain people may consider some of the clauses sneaky and unfair, they are perfectly legal as long as the card issuer discloses their rights and intents in the terms and conditions.  And, by signing on the dotted line, you assume an understanding of what is entailed in the terms and conditions.  It is not necessary for you to become a professor of finance to understand these terms but you should be familiar with the most important terms and conditions consumer who fully understands what is included in the terms and conditions of any credit card offer that you apply for.

The first place to start is what is called the Schumer Box.  The Schumer Box, is an easy-to-read table that includes fees, rates, and penalty fines.  The Schumer Box was instituted by legislation to make certain credit card terms easier to read, the Schumer Box format is named for Senator Charles Schumer who introduced the legislation in Congress.

The Schumer Box includes:

Annual fee (if applicable)
Annual percentage rate for purchases (APR)
Other APRs (for balance transfers, cash advances, default APRs)
Grace periods for purchases
Finance calculation method
Other transaction fees (for cash advances, credit card balance transfers, late payments, and exceeding the credit limit)

Thanks to the standard format provided by the Schumer Box, comparison shopping for credit cards is a bit easier than it was prior to the enacting of the legislation. 

However, there are many more items not included in the box that are also helpful for the cardholder to be aware of.  These items appear in the terms and conditions of your credit card as mandated by law as well, however since they are not part of the Schumer Box you may find them buried in with the multiple lines of pine print in the credit card agreement.  Some of these conditions are rather draconian and it is important to understand what there meaning is.

The following descriptive conditions are from actual credit card solicitations or agreements are a reminder of the many variations and pitfalls lurking inside your card.

“Disputes relating to the account are subject to binding arbitration.”  The inclusion of this phrase in the terms and conditions protects the credit card companies from lawsuits and class action suits.  If the cardholder has any problem or dispute regarding their credit card account, they are limited to an arbitration hearing.  The arbitrator is chosen and hired by the card issuer, and the cardholder’s legal options are severely restricted. 

“Balance transfer fees are added to the purchase balance and are subject to the APR for purchases.”  This phrase states that the fees you pay for a credit card balance transfer are added to your any balances from purchase activity and you are charged interest on this combined total.

Many card agreements that have low introductory credit card interest rates will have a clause clarifying that the introductory rate does not apply to bank and ATM cash advances.  You can owe a lot more money if you aren’t aware of this and think these actions also fall under the low teaser rate.

For those who ever wondered why one credit card company raises there rate after you were delinquent on another credit card.  This is what is known as the universal default clause and acts as a way for the issuer to raise the credit cards APR for delinquencies on other accounts.  Look for a phrase in the agreement that’s states, if the card holder is reported as delinquent on an account with any other creditor, we may increase the credit card APRs on your account up to the maximum Default APR.” 

While reading credit card fine print disclosures is not most consumers’ idea of a good time, it can save serious aggravation and money down the line.  So, be an informed consumer and make sure you know what’s involved before completing a credit card application for a new credit card.  Find the best credit card the first time by reading the application and disclosures and get the best terms available.

Credit Cards and Credit Building for Students

Everybody has to start somewhere, right?  Well, part of the trick in establishing credit is that it’s kind of a catch-22.  You need to have some to get some.  Remember the old line that you can never be too thin or too rich?  My grandmother used to say things like that all the time.  But at least in that case, you could go on a diet to improve your situation, even though you couldn’t make money squirt out of your ears, it was certainly better than nothing.  With credit though, you have to work around the apparent obstacles to get what you want.  There are a number of possibilities.  The main thing is to make sure, especially because you are young, that you do sound research and don’t let yourself get taken for a ride.

If you are in college or even high school, then you probably already know this.  Credit card offers to students has become like the latest viral outbreak.  The offers are everywhere.  Credit card companies have special deals for young people with no to little credit history.  So the good news is, that this could be your in.  The problem is that generally speaking, young people are not very savvy about how they handle their cash let alone credit.  You must be clear about what a credit card is and what it is not.  It is not free money, or extra money.  It’s just a card that says the credit card company has given you this piece of plastic which, when you use it, they believe you will pay your bill.  So use some sense be restrained in using your shiny new credit card.  Because though no one will come break your legs when you credit card payment doesn’t arrive on time, you still need to pay it.  Your credit history will follow you around like a dog that will never go away.  Whether that dog is an attractive, well-mannered animal or a gnarly mongrel depends on you.  Just know this, the dog will always be there.  And bad credit like a bad dog has the potential to eat you out of house and home.

One other option is that if you and your family are close and get along sweetly, you may ask if you can be placed on one of your parent’s credit cards as an Authorized User.  This lets you take advantage of their good credit history.  This only works if the company they use will report your activity to the credit bureaus.  Not all of them do.  So first, ask the folks and if it’s okay with them, then they will have to find out how the credit card services of the credit card company handles it.  So while it might be fun, there is absolutely no credit history advantage to using their credit card if it will not be reported.

Lastly, you can apply for a secured credit card.  This is a simple deal in which you do have to have some money up front in order to make it work.  Basically, it works like this: you put up three hundred bucks to credit card company Z, they will give you three hundred dollars as a spending limit.  What you get in return in the beginnings of a credit history.  Be careful here too.  Though there is a strict limit, you can blow past it amazingly easily and end up with a $1000 bill from credit card interest and late fees and so on.

So there you have some of the basics.  Check it out.  Consider well and then proceed.  Just remember, keep a budget and never ever spend more than you can afford to pay.  Credit card companies all charge interest on the money they loan you and often the rate is so high, that it isn’t worth it.  A $16.00 pizza can turn into a $100 debacle unless you pay that bill as soon as it comes and avoid unwanted credit card debt.  Before accepting any old credit card offer, search for the best credit card that fits your lifestyle and credit background.  The smoothest process is to look into the credit card online and compare features.  The best credit card with the best credit card rate may take just a little bit of research to acquire, but the rewards are worth it.

Discipline and Credit Card Debt for Beginners

That first credit card is either a blessing or the beginning of the end and it is up to each person to decide which.  It seems so great at first; you just flash your credit card and go home with a carload of the things you haven’t been able to afford until now.  But when your statement comes and you realize that you can’t pay off the credit card debt for that month and you’re going to start accruing interest, you start to realize that all that fun stuff is costing you far more than you were willing to pay.  Even worse, you can be wrecking your credit score, which can affect you for years to come.

The main rule to keep in mind when you get your first credit card is both the simplest and the most important.  Don’t carry a credit card balance.  Just don’t do it if you can help it.  If you avoid carrying a credit card balance you build a stable credit rating for yourself and get yourself on the right track.  The next best step is to maintain a small and manageable balance.  Decide in advance that you will never have a balance at the end of the month greater than $250.00.  That’s $250.00 of purchased goods or services that you would not have been able to afford prior to the acquiring the new credit card.

You just need to not spend any more money on the credit card than you would in cash on a regular month, and then instead of spending that cash, apply it towards the credit cards balance.  This might seem strange, it might make you wonder what the point is of having a credit card, but it will build credit and keep you out of trouble.  You always have that credit there for extremely unexpected situations, but just don’t abuse it and pay that balance every month.  If you don’t you’ll be paying far more for what you bought than it is really worth.

The spiral you can slip down with your first credit card if you start carrying a balance is a very dangerous one.  Since you don’t have any established credit you will probably have a higher credit card interest rate than many people with similar cards.  So first you have to deal with that on your balance.  To make matters worse, if you really overextend yourself and can’t meet your required minimum you will get an extra fee.  That extra fee might be enough to tip you over your limit which will earn you, you guessed it, another fee.  Now the credit card payment is higher as well as the credit card interest rate and credit card APR.  You can actually wind up watching the balance on your card go up from month to month, all the while watching your credit score go down and down.  A low credit score can have a very serious effect on your future if you ever want to get a car loan or a mortgage, so avoid all the troubles and use your credit card responsibly.

It probably sounds like it can’t happen to you but it does happen to more and more Americans each year.  Don’t give the credit card companies all your hard earned money in fees and interest. Just make your payments on time, and always pay as much as you possibly can off of the balance.  Over limit fees and late payment fees are significant charges that only compound ones financial problems.  Following those simple rules should keep you out of trouble.

This might sound like more trouble than it’s worth, but if you use your credit card and stick to the guidelines above; you’re building credit.  That will help you immeasurably in the future.  It never hurts to develop your money management skills, and a first credit card is often a test of how wise we can be with handling our money.  Credit card use often drives consumers into financial duress, but this doesn’t have to be the case.  Prudent use not only enhances a consumer’s prospect for better financial opportunities in the future but also allows someone to use the credit card, as valuable resources to improve their life not hinder it.  So pass the test and secure a good credit rating for the future.

To help mange the credit card bill, make sure you have the right credit card.  Starting out with a credit card that has a high interest rate can be easily corrected.  Review the credit card offers and fill out a credit card application for a credit card with a better rate.  The best credit card that is available for your needs may very well shave a significant amount of money off the credit card payment.  Never under estimate the value of having a card with the best credit card rate.

Getting the Most from Credit Card Rewards

Rewards credit cards are credit cards through which a person can earn bonuses each time their credit card is used.  For example, they might get cash back or points that can be redeemed to purchase merchandise.  Often these rewards can be paid out frequently or they can acquire at the end of the year.  Reward points can come in many flavors from the ones that are redeemable for merchandise, airplane travel or gasoline.  Either way, credit card rewards can be an excellent tool for gaining extra perks while keeping one’s credit intact. 

Before examining all the credit card services and rewards available with this credit card product, be sure you holding the best credit card for the job.  To get the most out of credit cards rewards programs, shop for the best credit card with the best credit card rate.  Check the credit card offers thoroughly to see which one is best for your budget.  You can check the credit card online to see what options are available and fill out the credit card application online as well.  Some credit card companies will even offer bonus rewards when you get the new credit card.

These are some simple suggestions on what a person can do to get the most out of their credit cards rewards.  With an outline or plan, a credit card holder can gain the most from the credit card services and manage their personal debt and credit card debt along the way.

1. Use the Rewards Credit Card for Everything

Nowadays almost everything can be paid with a credit card.  This includes utility bills and even the mortgage payment.  The only time a rewards credit card should not be used is if a company imposes a convenience fee for credit card processing.  And when the rewards card is used, particularly for higher balances, a person must make sure they make their credit card payments on time.  This is because a finance charge could render any rewards points earned during the month useless.  Remember, if you are buying items like groceries, these are purchases you are not going to forgo, so use the benefits that come with the rewards card and charge these staples.

2. Invest the Cash Back Money in a High-Interest Savings Account

Granted, most of the cash back earned from credit cards rewards tends to not be that much, but even small amounts add up.  Instead of spending that money on a small purchase, consumers should consider putting it in a high interest rate savings account, such as a high yielding certificate of deposit or a money market account.  Many accounts require a relatively small initial investment especially if an automatic recurring deposit is established.  Money market accounts, certificate of deposits and money market funds can be obtained through this site, www.selectCDrates.com.

3.  Set Your Purchases on Autopilot

Consider putting purchases on your reward charge card that are recurring charges.  Utility bills, monthly dues, insurance, and payments that are predictable, already established and paid by another method before you convert to a credit card rewards autopilot system.  This process allows you to monitor your bills and have the payments all on one itemized monthly statement that can be paid at the time your credit card statement arrives.  This allows you the freedom to deposit your paycheck in an interest bearing money market account and pay just one large payment per month instead of several small bills.  The trick here is to make sure the credit card balance doesn’t get out of hand due to frivolous purchases.  Earning credit card rewards will quickly lose their value when the cost of earning those rewards leads to high credit card debt.

4.  Obtain a Card for an Additional Authorized User

If only one spouse has a rewards credit card, they can request that the credit card company provide them a companion card so the other spouse can make purchases on the credit card as well.  This increases the amount of cash or credit card rewards points that can be accrued.  Sticking with a plan to use the credit cards together will not only maximize the benefits but help control the household budget and spending.

6. Use the Merchandise for Incentive Marketing Purposes

Some rewards credit cards offer generous high-ticket items for individuals that can acquire a lot of credit card rewards points.  If a person is operating a website or a business, they can offer a sweepstakes in which the lucky winner will receive the high-ticket merchandise earned through the rewards credit card.  Of course in order to be eligible for the prize, website visitors must provide their email address.  With an email address, a webmaster has additional marketing power, since they can send advertisements through a more private venue.

Finding the Right Credit Card

Credit Card Basics: Finding the Right Card

When you are looking for a credit card it’s best to think before you sign on the dotted line of the credit card application.  Credit card applications, there are only about a zillion cards to choose from, each with various pros and cons, so it really pays to do your homework and figure out a few basic things first.  A little thought up front can save untold distress later.  Don’t let the vast array of credit card services and credit card options make you dizzy, just take it one step at a time.

First of all, consider what your object is.  Why do you want a credit card and how to you plan to use it?  Beyond the no-brainer of, “I want to buys things now and pay for them later,” there are other issues to consider.  For example, do you want to pay off your credit card balance every month?  Then you should find yourself looking for the best over all deal on credit card interest rates and fees.  Or, maybe you want to carry a balance on your card and you’re looking for the least expensive way to do that.  Some other common goals are; wanting to get a credit card cash advance with a reasonable rate, to do a credit card balance transfer from higher interest rate credit cards to ones with lower rates, wanting long grace periods for making payments, no annual fees, low introductory rates, or even various perks cards can offer, like frequent flier miles and other credit card rewards.  Each of these options can help you or cause you surprise trouble in various ways.

Let’s take a look at the idea that you will pay off your credit card balance every month.  This is one of those things that can be like New Year’s resolutions; we make them and then promptly break them.  Examine honestly your past track record with things like this.  If you have a history of paying things of promptly and in full, then you are likely to do the same with a credit card debt.  This factor has huge implications for which credit card you ought to choose because credit card companies charge differently depending on your payment profile.  So be honest with yourself.  Better that, than to rack up huge fees from the credit card company because you changed the game mid-play.  Don’t forget, credit card companies do provide you with a service, and credit card services are almost indispensable, but they are in it for the money.

If you are going to pay your credit card balance in full every month then it is probably best to search for a card with no annual fees because the rate you pay is usually much lower than cards where you will carry a balance.  You should know that if you do intend to carry a credit card balance or if you know that it may happen despite your best resolutions to the contrary, that you will pay a higher credit card interest rate and also sometimes have to pay annual fees because what you are really doing is borrowing money.  There may be late fees and other penalty charges as well that drive the credit card apr through the roof.

When comparing credit cards, look at all the potential fees before making a selection.  It might be cheaper for you to pay an annual fee on a card with a lower interest rate than paying higher interest on a no fee card.  Selecting a credit card and getting the best deal for yourself and how you live means breaking out the calculator and crunching some numbers to make sure that you know what you are getting into and how much it could cost you in the worst case scenario.  Obtaining the best credit card is not as tricky as you may have thought.

Credit Cards 101

Before you go taking the plunge into the world of credit cards, you should get a little education.  Think of this as credit cards 101.  Learn what these terms means and you will be able to unravel the mysterious world of credit card lingo and go a long way to keeping yourself out of credit card trouble.  Print this alphabetical list out and post it somewhere convenient in your home office so that next time the phone rings with an offer or you’re sorting through the mail and find one, you’ll be armed and ready.
 
Average daily balance – Remember learning averages back in grade school and that math teacher who told you how much you would need to know math as you grew up?  Well, they were right!  The average daily balance is how the credit card companies figure out how much you owe each month in finance charges.  That’s how much it’s costing you to borrow money from them.  They take the sum of how much you spent each day so they can get a total balance due, then they divide that by the number of days in your billing cycle.  Then that number is multiplied by the card’s monthly periodic rate, which is just your annual percentage rate broken down in twelve months.

Annual percentage rate – The good news is that companies must, by law, divulge what they are charging you.  This way you can shop around and compare credit card interest rates and find the best deal.  The short hand term for it is APR and you’ll see it often when you examine all the fine print the credit card companies send you.  The credit card APR is the amount of interest, including fees and other costs they may be charging you for your loan.  All lenders figure out their APR using a standard method.  They take the average compound interest rate and multiply it over what’s called the term of the loan.  A card with an APR of 22% will charge you 1.9 percent every month on the amount you borrow.  That can really add up!

Cash Advance – This is when you use your credit card to get cash.  It’s an out and out cash loan.  You should use it only in an emergency, as cash advances tend to cost you a great deal.  Each credit card company makes their own determination of the fees and costs for cash advance.  Some will charge you a one-time, flat fee others charge a percentage of the cash taken.  And just to confuse you even more, some credit card offers a kind of either/or scenario in which they will charge you either a flat fee or a certain percentage, which ever is more.  Some lenders put a ceiling on how much the customer can be charged for this service, but in any event, cash advances are costly.  You will also need to know whether the credit card charges you for the cash advance fee in your next billing cycle or not.  If not, they will most likely take the fee out of the amount you are borrowing.  So, let’s say you need $1,000 dollars right away.  If the fee is taken out of your loan amount, you will need to ask for a little bit more to cover the cost of the loan up front.  Otherwise you may end up holding less money in your hand then you need.  Be aware that you will be charged interest on your credit card cash advance from the very second you take that money out.  Unlike when you make purchases, generally, there is no “grace period.”  Remember, these folks are in business to make money!

Cardholder Agreement – This is where you will find all the really fine print about your credit card.  This will be printed as part of the credit card application.  Specifically how much it costs and when you have to pay.  The Federal Reserve requires lenders to declare what the credit card APR is, if there are annual fees, what formula they use for calculating your minimum monthly credit card payment, and your rights in case there is a dispute.  Most people only read this information when they first sign up for their credit card.  This is a bad idea because the credit card companies can change the rules any time they want.  They do have to give you written notice but that may be buried in that envelope you threw away because you thought it was only junk mail.  The rules about these agreements are different in different places.  The main thing to remember is that if you want to check up on them, you have to check the rules for the bank in which the card originates.  So, you may live in Nevada but the rules that apply to you, may come from Georgia.  Be smart and bust out your magnifying glass and read all the fine print!  You can check this with the credit card online.

Default – When you fail to pay on your loan, it’s called going into default.  This is something you don’t ever want on your credit report.  When you default on a loan from a credit card, the company will call you day and night trying to get their money back.  It’s not nice.  Do what ever you can but don’t let this happen to you.  An ounce of prevention; don’t spend more than you can afford.

Finance Charges – In a nutshell, this is the price you pay for using your credit card.  It includes the interest and all other fees the company charges for use of the card.  Finance charges may vary for different kinds of uses, i.e.: credit card cash advances vs. purchases.  Again, we recommend the magnifying glass.

Grace period – This is the amount of time between when you make your purchase, also known as the “transaction date” and the date on which you are billed, in which the credit card company does not charge you any interest.  Without a grace period, you begin to pay credit card interest the minute the transaction is made.  Typically lenders offer grace periods of 20 to 30 days.  If you are someone who always carries a credit card debt however, guess what?  No grace period for you.

Introductory Rate – This is an enticement; a below market credit card interest rate to get you to sign on with the credit card.  You need to be wary of the old bait and switch here.  Also, the low rates are called Introductory for a reason.  They don’t last long.  Six months is fairly typical.  If you go for it, make sure you know when the low rate and ends and get out of it before the lender jacks the rate up on you.  You can get out of it by transferring your credit card balance to another low rate care or just pay your bill in full.

Minimum Payment – This is the least amount of money you can pay on your balance due and not default on your loan.  The minimum amount due varies from credit card to credit card, and is highly individual.  Usually, it is a percentage of the total amount you owe.  It’s smart to remember, that the banks are always going to want to hedge their bets.  So if they aren’t sure if you can pay, your minimum credit card payment may be higher than someone who owes the same amount but that the lender has more confidence in their ability to pay.

Over your spending limit/Over your credit limit fee – Generally, credit cards come with a spending cap in place.  Some may be as low as a few hundred dollars and some may soar into many thousands of dollars.  Whatever the limit is know that when you cross it, you pay.  Big time.  The credit card company will reward your indulgence with a significant fee in addition to the balance owed.

Periodic Rate – No, this isn’t the periodic table!  It’s all about the rate of interest your credit card is charging you over a set period of time.  The two key periods most credit card company’s deal with and that you need to know about are daily and monthly.  In each case, it tells you what your credit is costing you for that set period of time.

Pre-Approved – This is language tat the credit card companies use to make their potential customers feel like they’ve won something special.  In fact, it means almost nothing beyond the reality that you have a credit record out there and the company found you.  Best to throw these items into your shredder.

General Tips Regarding Credit Cards

There are so many different options out there in terms of the credit cards that are available today.  With the growing popularity of online shopping, credit cards are becoming more and more the preferred way for many customer and businesses to complete transactions.  Because of this the options available are growing all the time, and so there are many credit cards that offer very attractive rewards programs and teaser rates as incentive to draw people to their card over the offerings of other credit card companies.  For these reasons, the right research is imperative so you can find the best credit card that is a very good fit for your financial situation and your buying and credit desires.

There are more than one type of credit card offer available and a wide variance in the credit card interest rates that are offered on these different types of cards.  A common incentive to get people to sign up for a card is a low rate during an introductory period that could range from a quarter of a year up to a year.  The options available in terms of credit card interest rates will be influenced by how solid a credit history you have, but if you have really good credit you can find opening rates as low a zero percent for a fixed amount of time on certain transactions.  Depending on your circumstance having a credit card that will charge zero interest for a period of time may be very useful and beneficial to your situation.  This especially comes into play if you need to make a big ticket purchase on short notice, and a zero percent introductory rate card can give you the flexibility to do that without being punished by exorbitant interest rates.  This is particularly useful, when you can pay down the credit card balance before you complete the zero percent period, you will have not lost any money and proved that you are good at managing credit card debt.  

The other best credit card rates often come if you find offers involving the movement of a debt load from one credit card company to another.  The company wants your business and so will give you a break on your interest for a set period of time as a reward for transferring your debt to their company.  Credit card balance transfers introductory rates are separate than teaser rates offered on normal purchases.  Pay strict attention to the actions that apply for the low offer rate and compare to your intentions on how to best use the credit card services.

You have to be careful with introductory rate offers though, and look ahead to what the credit card rate will be in the future.  If you know you can’t pay down the balance before that new rate kicks in and it is higher than normal, it may in fact pay to take a credit card with a worse introductory offer but with a better standard interest rate.  You have to figure the math on your repayment schedule and how much debt you plan to amass on the credit card.

You have to check on top of the interest what kind of annual fees you will have to pay for using any given credit card.  Borrowers with excellent credit may be able to find cards without annual fees, but if that doesn’t apply to you look for one with a low fee that still fits your other needs.  Evaluate the annual fee with the benefits of the type of card and choose a new credit card if you must.  Credit card rewards annual fees are generally higher than standard credit cards.  Once that fee is evaluated compare it to the credit card interest rate.  A higher annual fee with a low interest rate on a credit card that an individual uses habitually may be the better choice.

There are also many cards that offer credit card rewards and incentive programs of all shapes and sizes.  These vary greatly but there are more common types such as miles to be spent on air travel or credit card cash back offers.  Others have point systems that can be cashed in for various goods and services.  These reward systems are always subject to their own sets of terms and conditions so be sure to check how those fit into your particular situation before leaping into a contract or credit card application with any one particular company.  This applies to both the point and mile systems, so check and see how many points you get per dollar, any kind of expiration limitation, and if there are earning caps on the credit card rewards before you decide which is the best credit card for you.  

The credit card cash back systems will have their own regulations on how they work.  You may earn a flat percentage or possibly bonus cash back if you spend your credit dollars at certain locations.  For example, a card that provides bonus cash back at certain gas stations might be very practical for someone who uses their credit card primarily to purchase gasoline.

Regardless of what your credit or financial situation there is probably a credit card to suit your needs.  Do your research and look at the credit card online factoring in the credit cards terms, your situation, and your credit history before making the proper selection for your situation.

Disputing Charges on Your Credit Card

There are many possible reasons why you might want to dispute the charges to your credit card or credit cards.  The good news is that there is something called the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA), that’s the federal law protecting the rights of consumers in these matters.  If you are feeling very motivated and really want to know all the ins and outs of this act, you can go the web site for the Federal Trade Commission and read more.
http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/credit/fcb.shtm

It’s actually pretty interesting and there’s nothing so empowering as having some real knowledge in these kinds of situations.  Credit card companies already make enough of a profit, don’t help them out by paying for something you don’t have to.  Credit card services are your services.  So, if the credit card company’s telephone agent says something that isn’t quite right, you will know it and be fully able to set them straight.  (Wouldn’t that be a refreshing change?)  The bad news is that sometimes, sorting these little errors out can take some time and patience on your part.

Here is a short list of the typical reasons for disputes:

You bought something and it’s just no good.  Maybe it broke right away or it’s unsatisfactory in some other way, not performing as promised.  Plain and simple, your purchase just isn’t living up to it’s buzz.

Maybe you just never bought the product, plain and simple.  Someone got a hold of your credit card and is now out there shopping till you drop.  (A few years ago, someone bought several Lobster-Grams using my card along with several bouquets of flowers.  Talk about playing the field. Wow!)

You bought something, mail order or used your credit card online and the goods never arrived.  You sure don’t want to pay for something if you never even got it.

The old double billing.  In a nutshell, you bought one gizmo; they accidentally charged you for two or three.

Here’s the skinny on how the FCBA says you should handle an error correction with a credit card company.  You have to write a letter to the special division in their company that handles disputes; usually it will be called “billing inquiries.”  You will find that information on your bill somewhere.  So, bust out your magnifying glass and find that address.  It’s important that you send it to that department and not the address where you send you credit card payments because if you do that, nothing will happen.

Your letter must include certain basic information to avoid a busload of confusion; your name exactly as it appears on your credit card, your address, credit card number and expiration date, and the exact nature of the error.  You should also include copies of any supporting documents you may have; things like receipts, cancelled checks, packing slips, purchase orders, anything relevant.

Use the letter to clearly and methodically state your case, not as a rage against the machine.  State the dollar amount in question, the exact reason why it’s inaccurate, and a request that the company look into the matter and follow through by correcting the mistake and crediting your credit card account for the mistaken charges as well as any interest and fees associated with the error.  Itemize the list of your supporting documents then mail it off and wait.

While the investigation is underway, you do not have to pay the disputed amount.  You of course, are obliged to pay any other money you owe including any credit card interest, finance charges or fees not associated with your dispute.  As long as you pay the other portion of your bill, you won’t have any problems with the credit reporting bureaus.  Due to another federal law, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, you cannot be penalized for disputing an error in your bill.  The company is able to report that you have challenged a bill but this fact on its own is not enough to keep you from being granted in the future.

Credit Card Offers and Terms

When you receive a credit card offer, it usually comes with a dizzying number of catches and conditions buried in pages of tiny print.  These hidden clauses can cost you an unexpectedly high amount of money.  The best way to avoid this is to be aware of the most prevalent credit card catches.

Annual Fees – Many credit card companies require an annual fee for the privilege of having an account.  Ranging from $35 to $50, these fees are usually charged with subprime credit cards that are issued to borrowers that have bad credit.  Additionally credit cards that offer credit card rewards like  points or airline miles may also charge annual fees.  The “Schumer Box” in the fine print of the offer will include the exact amount of any annual fee.  If your credit card rewards card charges an annual fee, make sure that any rewards you receive will exceed the value of your annual fee.  If it doesn’t, find a new credit card, and its easy, shop for a new credit card online with no annual fee to earn the rewards.

Bill Payment Fees – If you enjoy the convenience of paying your credit card online or by phone, make sure that your credit card company doesn’t charge a fee for these options.  If your credit card company charges these fees, make sure that you mail your payment well before the statement due date.  Online payment fees range from $5 to $10 and are an unnecessary expense.

 Grace Period – A 20 to 30 day grace period is common with many credit cards.  A grace period allows credit card customers to pay their bill in full without incurring credit card interest charges.  If you use your card a lot and pay each bill in full, make sure that your credit card has a long grace period.  Without a grace period, you will be charged interest as soon as you charge a purchase.

Introductory Rates – Many credit card companies offer great introductory rates for the initial months of an account.  Credit card interest rates as low as 0% can be a boon as long as the borrower understands all of the terms and conditions of the offer.  Make sure you know how long the great introductory rate lasts.  It is also important to know if it applies to credit card balance transfers and new purchases.  If you make a late credit card payment, your introductory rate may be canceled by your lender.  Also make sure that you don’t have to pay retroactive interest on purchases that haven’t been paid off before the introductory period ends.
 
Penalty Rate – As many as 75% of credit card companies will charge you a penalty rate if you make a late credit card payment.  Just one missed credit card payment can cause your interest rate to jump dramatically, up to an average of 23%.  With an average credit card rate of 9-18%, this represents a considerable increase in your monthly credit card payment.  It can take up to six months of on-time payments before most credit card companies will lower your APR if they ever do.  Making sure you have the best credit card available comes to light in situations like these.

Universal Default Clause – Not only do you have to worry about making on-time payments to your credit card companies, this increasingly common practice allows credit card companies to raise your interest rate if you miss a payment on any open account.  Even if you are late making a payment on an unrelated loan, your credit card APR could increase.  Paying all of your bills on time each month can help you avoid this extra expense.

Credit cards are one of the cheapest and easiest ways to borrow money, even with extra fees.  Make sure that you avoid the catches and traps buried in the fine print and pay your bills on time, and you can enjoy the convenience of using credit cards.  Research your options using www.bestcreditcardrates.com.

Comparison Shop for Credit Cards

It’s easy to find someone who wants to give you a credit card, but you have to be smart to get a good one.  Credit companies and credit card offers crop like weeds.  Choosing the best credit card requires smarts.  Let’s get smart.

Always take a look at the Schumer box.  What’s that?  By federal law – sponsored by Senator Charles Schumer – all credit card offerings have to include a box that includes nine different kinds of information about the credit card.  This box will appear on the credit card offer and is required to highlight certain provisions regarding the terms and conditions of a credit card offer. 

Here are some of the key pieces of information about the credit card and its required disclosures that will allow you to compare one credit card offer with another.

The Annual Percentage Rate or credit card APR.  This is confusing because card issuers can have introductory credit card interest rates that become a higher standard rate.  And then they can raise the credit card rate if you miss a credit card payment.  If there is an introductory rate, both the introductory rate APR and the credit card APR that applies after the time of the introductory rate.  Some credit cards have variable interest rates.  Make sure you know what the variance is based upon.  The variable rate information regarding how it is determined must be disclosed. 

Assume that you just can’t compare the APRs on two credit cards because there is a story behind the numbers.  They can also charge different interest rates for purchases, credit card balance transfers, and credit card cash advances. 

Other APR’s.  The credit card APR for activities such as: Cash advances, Balance transfers and the Penalty rate if you are delinquent on the account.

The Grace Period.  This is the number of days you have to pay your bill in full without getting a finance charge. 

The Finance Charge.  This is the dollar amount you pay to use credit, and it depends in part on your outstanding credit card balance and the annual percentage rate (APR).  Some credit cards have a minimum finance charge.  The minimum fixed finance charge must be disclosed on the agreement. 

Card issuers use different methods to calculate your outstanding credit card balance.  Your outstanding balance may be calculated over one or two billing cycles; including or excluding new purchases in the balance and by using the adjusted balance, average daily balance or previous balance.

The Outstanding Balance Computation.  As we said above in the section on finance charges, credit cards use different methods to come up with your outstanding credit card balance.  You may read it and scratch your head, but makes sure that you read it. 

The Actual Company Offering You Credit.  Sometimes this is not the same credit card company who is marketing the card.  If you recognize one name and not the other, it may make a difference.

The Annual Fee.  Some credit cards require a fee to be paid every year.  Why?  Because they can.  If you can get a credit card without an annual fee, get a new credit card.  You’ll probably save at least $50 a year.  Otherwise, the annual fee is an amount charged for each 12 month period for having the credit card.

The Minimum Payment.  Different issuers use different calculations to determine the credit card minimum payment.  It’s good to know what the minimum payment is, but if this become important to you, you are struggling.  If you are only making minimum credit card payments you are probably paying a lot in finance charges.  In this case, pay attention to the credit card interest rate and credit card apr.  If those numbers are too high, it is time to find a new credit card.

The Credit Limit.  The credit limit tells you the total amount of credit that you have.  Know what’s best for you.  A low credit limit may be good for you if you are undisciplined in your spending and need to be reined in.  This can have an advantage of keeping your credit card debt low.  A high credit limit is good for your credit rating if you do what you are supposed to do and always keep the balance under a third of your total available credit.

Fees for Credit Insurance.  In addition to the credit card, companies also try to sell you insurance for a lost card, or insurance for disability, or insurance to pay your balance in the event of your death.  Most of the time insurance isn’t necessary, but if you are interested be sure you know what it will cost.

In addition to the items appearing in the Schumer box required with the credit card offers, you may have other interests in a credit card.  If you have good credit you may qualify for accredit card rewards card.  Credit card rewards can include credit card cash rebates on purchases, credit card online account access, frequent flyer miles, additional warranty coverage, car rental insurance, travel discounts, concierge services and more.

It always makes sense to pay attention to the details of the credit cards you apply for.  Always read the fine print and shop and compare for the best credit card.

Credit Cards for Everyday Expenses

There are reasons that using a credit card to pay for all the bills you face every month can work to your advantage.  Simply having a credit card that you put all of your purchases and expenses on can make things very straightforward by having all of your expense in one easily traceable place.  If you are clever and careful in this approach and in the management of your credit card debt, using your credit card for all of your monthly expenses will be more efficient, as well as using your credit card rewards program to its utmost.  There is also the convenience of one credit card payment at the end of the month.  Maximize your charge card benefits, easily review your transactions and write one monthly check. 

In order to be able to use this method effectively you have to have a spending plan in place.  With a budget that is carefully outlined you can make sure that you never end up overextending yourself on the credit card.  You have to know how much your predictable or recurring costs are, like your standard monthly bills that usually don’t fluctuate too much.  After that you can outline a predicted amount that you will spend on the things that cost a little bit different each month.  These are things like meals and entertainment.  Once you have your expenses outlined you have to measure this against your income to decide exactly how much you can spend on each of these items.  You should also keep an eye on exactly how much you have spent on your credit cards to make sure you are not exceeding the limits you have set for yourself.

The best way to take care of paying bills is to set up an auto pay system with a credit card online to have the bills automatically applied to the card as they come due.  When you are trying to select the best credit card that works best for you, you should take into consideration where you make most of your monthly purchases.  This way you can select a credit card that is accepted at the places where the majority of your money is spent and obtain one with the best credit card rate.

The convenience in terms of tracking your monthly expenditures is simplified when you put all of your payments on your credit card.  When you only have one statement that tracks all of the purchases you’ve made you don’t’ have to track all the purchases you’ve made through a normal checking account or cash purchases.  The only thing other than your credit card statement you need to track is the simple payment from your primary account to pay off the balance on your card.  Even in a pinch use the credit card services with the inherent attribute to defer payment for a few weeks.

You also are helping reduce the possibility of banking error by paying for all your transactions with a credit card.  Usually you have a long and complicated checking account statement to reconcile against your spending, but when you buy everything with your credit card you simply have to follow your credit card payments.  With a credit card online, checking the statements, charges, credit card interest rate, credit card apr and the balance is convenient and easy to do.

Credit card companies provide a number of cards that have a variety of reward programs in place and there is a lot of possibility to find a credit card that will provide valuable rewards, especially when you are maximizing your use of the card by charging your monthly expenses to it.  The options here include cash back cards, which offer you a percentage of any money you spend in cash back.  This can earn a great deal of money back from purchases especially if you are careful and never carry a balance on the credit card from month to month.  If credit card cash back isn’t what you’re looking for, there are travel cards that enable you to earn miles that you can apply towards flights, as well as credit card rewards that earn you points which are redeemable for goods and services.

Finally, you have to watch all the terms and conditions carefully when signing up for a credit card.  The interest rates, annual fees, and introductory interest periods can vary greatly from credit card to credit card.  You have to compare these credit card interest rates, charges, and fees against the potential rewards, and then check in with your own financial situation and spending habits to decide which of these cards is going to work best for you.  Once you’ve done that, it is simply a matter of wisely managing your new found credit.  Never be late on the credit card payments, try to make the most of any rewards earnings that are available to you, and try to carry as small a credit card balance as possible.

What is a Credit Freeze?

With the rise of identity theft, a “credit freeze” is a tool that can allow you to block your credit file from anyone who tries to open a new line of credit or credit card with your vital information.  Anyone who has spent months, if not a year, unraveling fraudulent use of their credit will tell you that the inconvenience of putting a credit freeze on your credit file is far outweighed by the peace of mind.  It is important to understand how a freeze works, what it cannot prevent, and how it can affect aspects of your financial life.

What It Is

It is a block on your credit file to prevent identity theft.  It’s intended to prevent criminals and fraudsters from opening new lines of credit including credit cards if vital information has been compromised.  It cannot undo the damage done.  It is free if you have a police report that documents a recent unauthorized use of your credit profile. If you want to do it to prevent identity theft, there will be a small fee.

What It Means

New creditors, employers, and landlords will not have access to your credit report.  If they make a request to view your credit report, they will simply receive a message or a code that indicates that the account has been frozen.  So if you do this those who are trying to get unauthorized use of your credit profile for something like a credit card will not get access and you too will not be able to obtain any new credit for a new cell phone, a car loan or anything else while the freeze is in place.  The credit freeze stops unauthorized access to credit services with your name but it also hinders your credit access including new credit card services.

How it Works

To execute a credit freeze, you must write to the individual credit bureaus at the addresses listed below.  Send your letter by certified mail.  If you’re married, you and your spouse will need to send separate letters and payments to place a freeze on your accounts.  There is no method to freeze all three credit bureaus in every state – though that should happen soon.  So you need to contact each one and pay a separate fee. 

When the credit bureau receives your letter, they have five business days to place the freeze on your account.  They will give you a PIN number from your creditors, which you will need to lift the freeze in the future.  You‘ll have the option of lifting a freeze temporarily or permanently, on one account or all accounts.  If you choose to lift a credit freeze, you can do so by phone, using your PIN number.  The credit bureaus have three business days after receiving your phone request to lift the freeze.  If you think about this, waiting three more days to buy a car is not that inconvenient.

A credit freeze will not lower your credit score.  If you’ve been the victim of identity theft recently, you should seriously consider a credit freeze until you get things sorted out; as it will prevent further damage to your credit profile and credit score.  New credit activity will be impacted.  You, your existing creditors, collection agencies working on their behalf, credit card companies and government agencies are still able to access your credit report after it has been frozen. 

Equifax Security Freeze
P.O. Box 105788
Atlanta, GA 30348

Experian Security Freeze
P. O. Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013

TransUnion Security Freeze
P. O. Box 6790
Fullerton, CA 92834-6790

Credit Cards for Good

Credit cards are bad, right?  They entice you into running up monstrous amounts of credit card debt from which you can never recover, and then they swallow your children and keep your grass from growing.  Get real.  Of course credit cards aren’t bad when they are used properly.  In fact, for some purchases, a credit card can be the best option you have.

The most obvious advantage to using a credit card is the protection that it offers the consumer.  A lost or stolen credit card is virtually unusable for the thief, and if he does manage to charge something, you can dispute the charge, and most likely never have to pay it.  Try that next time you lose some cash.  In a more extreme example, an airline goes out of business, and you are left holding a three hundred dollar ticket.  If you paid by cash, you most likely will not get your money back, but a credit card company can reverse the charges.  

Some credit cards even come with limited but useful rental car insurance when you are traveling.  Still others offer no extra cost travel insurance, which can cover unfortunate mishaps that may happen while you are on vacation. 

Frequent flier miles, material credit card rewards, and even credit card cash back incentives make using a credit card a wise choice for those people that are able to responsibly pay off the total credit card balance each month. 

Well over half of Americans carry at least some balance on credit cards, with many of them holding onto several thousands of dollars of credit card debt.  These people probably should not be using credit cards.  Unfortunately, people in debt tend to charge more to credit cards, and get more in debt.  This is especially bad when you use your credit card for daily expenses, like many people do already.

You get a grace period with a credit card.  Sometimes referred to as ‘float’, you can use a credit card to make purchases when you know the money is on the way.  For example, let’s say you have a $300 bonus check from work coming, and you want to buy something with it.  Use a credit card that offers a 1% cash back bonus to purchase it.  Take the $300 and put it into an interest bearing account until you have to pay the credit card off.  You’ve earned your 1% on the purchase, plus any interest paid on the deposit. 

Using a credit card simply makes sense if you can use the extra perks and credit card services some of them offer.  You may not be able to use the store coupons or flight coupons, but everybody can use some cash back. 

Most credit cards offer start up offers to entice you into signing up.  There is no shame in taking full advantage of these credit card offers.  Gas credit cards often come with a hefty percentage off gas purchases or any other purchases.  Once the introductory offers expire, you can simply close the account, or if you like the credit card interest rate, use it wisely.  Just remember to PAY IT OFF EVERY MONTH.

Playing the system for maximized credit card rewards only works if you only buy what you need.  If one credit card company offers you a 10% cash back bonus if you buy thirty tire irons, you probably would do better to save the cost of thirty tire irons.  It works for more practical examples as well, such as buying a bigger television than you were looking for because of the bigger credit card reward.  You’ve still spent a $1000 too much to get maybe $100 in bonuses. 

Watch out for limits on the rewards and refunds you can get.  When you reach the limit, stop.  It’s that simple.  Read the fine print on your credit card agreement.  Make sure that you can use the rewards.  The credit card may offer a free vacation, but it will make you book a ski trip in August. 

As always with credit cards, watch out if you are deep in credit card debt.  A credit card, no matter how wisely managed, is not going to dig you out of debt.  Often people in debt are tempted to over use a credit card, and this definitely does not help their situation.  Some credit counselors suggest cutting up credit cards to prevent you from using them in an injudicious manner. 

Of course, never using a credit card is often a pain as well.  When you go to a cash economy, you lose many of the consumer protections that are offered by credit cards, not to mention the ease of online shopping. 

Make sure to have the best credit card available.  A credit card with a high interest rate is of little value.  Shop and compare for a credit card online.  Once you find the best credit card, fill out the quick and easy credit card application.  There is no reason to be stuck with a bad credit card when there are credit card offers for low rate cards, high reward credit cards, credit cards with low rate balance transfers and more.

The bottom line is that you have to learn how to control your spending.  Follow the basic rule to financial freedom.  Don’t buy something if you can’t afford it.  It’s as simple as that.  If you can afford it, go ahead and use the credit card, it’s not like your soul will be sucked into a steaming void if you do.

Frequent Flyer Credit Cards for Your Needs.

Choosing a frequent flyer credit card to meet your individual needs will depend on a few things.  Firstly, are you only interested in gaining miles with a singular account?  If that is so, then your choice will probably be fairly straightforward.  There is a more broad option though, as certain credit card companies will have more than one card option that contributes miles towards the same airline.  If that is what you are leaning towards, there are further elements which can influence your decision as to which credit card will be right for you:

Investigate what kind of bonus the credit card offers for signing up.  The incentive miles for new members to sign up for the card stretch all the way from 10,000 to 17,500.  They average out at around 15,000, but that usually ends up contributing a significant portion of the required miles towards your first ticket.

Figure out the number of miles you get on every dollar that you spend.  There are offers out there for credit cards that will let you earn double the miles depending on where you spend your dollars.  For example, it might be a mile per dollar spent under normal circumstances, but if you spend 5 dollars at X supermarket, instead you’ll earn 10 miles rather than the normal 5.  Don’t concentrate all of your attention on the bonuses and offers included in the credit card.  Important factors such as the credit card interest rates, credit card APR and the introductory APR should be weighed as well.  Check if there is an annual fee.  Review the conditions for other activities like credit card cash advances, late fees, and credit card balance transfers.

Compare the amount you predict yourself to charge to the credit card in a year against their ceilings for miles earned in single year.  Some will surprise you and be lower than you might think, so if you would earn more than say 25,000 miles in a year, make sure to find a card with a higher limit.  Use the higher limit by making frequent purchases for recurring household expenses and then pay these expenses off monthly when the credit card payment arrives.  This way, the consumer is gaining the maximum benefit out of the credit card services without running up a recurring credit card debt. 

Check out if the terms outlined in the cards service agreement mention an expiration point for any miles you earn.  Certain credit cards out there will let your miles expire if you don’t use any of them within a three (or other amount) year period.  Credit card services will vary between credit card companies.  Decide if you are likely to accumulate enough miles and use them to negate that, or if you need a no expiration on miles type of credit card rewards.  The terms and conditions may list a clause which places a fixed term on how often you have to cash in your points, either buying a ticket or redeeming points within a certain amount of time before they cancel your existing point balance

Be aware of how many of the points you are going to need before you can cash them in for a flight or the types of flights you can cash in for.  The final thing to figure into your decision is if the credit card only allows its miles to be redeemed with that specific airline, or if there are other airlines that they have partnership agreements with to allow transfer of the miles you’ve earned.  Use the above factors to help select a frequent flyer credit card that’s right for you. 

Unless you make a lot more purchases than the average consumer you should probably limit yourself to one credit card that suits you best.  If you decide that more than one is really the best option for you, engage specific tactics to use credit cards that combine to offer you the best credit card rate and the best credit card rewards for your spending.  Before filling out a credit card application for a new credit card, shop and compare.  Review as many offers as possible, viewing the credit card online is often the most convenient, about frequent flyer reward cards as well as airline branded airline mile credit cards.

Identity Theft Protection

Back in the good old days before the Internet and electronic everything, stealing someone’s identity was a very cloak and dagger, Sherlock Holmes sort of affair.  These days however, it is a commonplace problem.  If you’re not sure what identity theft is, here is basic definition.  Identity theft is when someone, (usually someone unknown to you but not necessarily) takes your personal information and uses it to pretend to be you.  They may go shopping as you, fill out a credit card application or do even more nefarious things, like engage in all kinds of criminal activities, masquerading as you.  Because they have access to all your personal information combating identity theft after the fact can be a tedious and horribly frustrating enterprise.  The best way to fight it is to be proactive and protect your self before the crime.

Here is a quick and handy list of several things you can do to avoid becoming the next identity theft victim.

1.  Get a shredder and use it every day.  They are really inexpensive to buy and will completely eliminate the dumpster diver from stealing your personal information.  You know all those offers you get in the mail from credit card companies and all those things?  Any documents that you no longer need, old checks, tax info, your old mortgage papers…Shred’em.  It’s fun.

2.  When surfing the Internet for goods and services never ever give out your personal information to anyone you do not know.  Never give your credit card number to anyone except a business you are conducting transactions with.  If you get emails from someone you don’t know, ditto for them too.  N’er do wells who try to get you to hand over your personal info through emails and the like are doing what is called, Phishing.  It’s bad, very bad.  Scammers are getting more and more smooth in their delivery, so check everything out before you hand over your life.  Or, else?  You may be very sorry and poorer later.

3.  Don’t be a fool with your social security number.  You may not know this, but in fact the social security number was never intended to be used as the one stop shop of personal identity.  Now however, everyone wants it for everything you do.  That being said, take these precautions: don’t tote your card about with you in your wallet or purse.  Don’t print it on your checks or put it on your driver’s license.  If your health insurance company wants to use it you can ask them for another number instead.  Keep documents that have your number on them in a secure place.  A safe deposit box at the bank isn’t worst idea in the world.  And then you can get that James Bond feel when you go into the little room in the bank.  Who ever thought security could be so thrilling?

4.  Did you know that you have the right to ask any credit card companies or banks you do business with to limit how they share your information?  It’s true.  Many companies offer opt out plans but you have to tell tem what you want or you may become fair game.

5.  Make your computer a safe place to work and play.  Passwords are the bugaboo of many people.  None-the-less, they should not be something that a child of three could guess if they knew you even just a little bit.  The strongest passwords are at least eight characters long and are a combination of letters, numbers and symbols.  Use virus protection, firewalls and spyware protection and set your security settings for something better than, “Come On in! The water’s fine!”  If you don’t recognize something, Don’t Click!

6.  Just say NO! YOU can opt out of getting all those pre-approved offers for credit cards and insurance and ten thousand other things you won’t need, ever.  Call this number 888. 567. 8688 or got to this url: https://www.optoutprescreen.com.  You can choose to opt in or out of receiving credit card offers and more and best of all you can choose to opt out for five years or forever!  What more could you want?

7.  Review your bank statements and credit cards invoices on a regular basis.  Aside from theft, you need to be mindful of common everyday credit card balance and checking account errors that can happen.  After all, behind all those computers are people like you earning a living and they can make mistakes from time to time.  If you find an error follow up immediately and make sure it gets corrected.  You can check your credit card online or your bank account statements online for faster and more thorough updates.

8.  Don’t take candy from strangers!  If you get requests via any media or through personal interaction and they feel right to you, trust your instincts and hold back.  Ask questions.  If you feel the information being requested in not appropriate to the transaction, say no thanks and walk away.

9.  Check your credit reports out.  Once a year everyone is entitled to one free credit report from the major bureaus.  You can ask for them one a time or all together.  Again, if you find anything that doesn’t match reality, as you know it, don’t hesitate but get on the phone with any the appropriate firms.  As always, follow any phone conversations with something in writing.

10.  And, last but not least, some terrifically handy link care of the government, for more info about how to access your credit report fro free: https://www.annualcreditreport.com/cra/index.jsp

How To Cancel Your Credit Card

If you become aware that you’ve got a less than favorable credit card in your possession, or if you think you have too many credit cards, or if that credit card company upsets you in some way, it’s a normal impulse to want to cut the card in half, pay off the balance, and kiss them goodbye.  Before you do this and apply for new credit card,consider your actions.

That’s not necessarily a good idea.  It’s true that having ten or more credit cards may actually hurt your credit rating, but by the time you have them, that damage is already done, especially if you occasionally miss a credit card payment.

Additionally, closing open accounts can actually hurt your credit score.   Lenders take a hard look at the ratio between the balances on your credit accounts and your total available credit.  If you do have credit card debt, try to keep it to less than 30% of your available credit.  Go ahead and keep those lines of credit open (but don’t be tempted by untouched lines).  When you close open accounts, those credit lines are no longer factored into your ratio.  Thus the percentage of debt/available credit will increase, and people who evaluate your credit won’t like that.

Furthermore, the longer you have a credit card the more it says about your good credit history going way back, so it’s especially foolish to cancel a card that goes way back.

If you really do want to get rid of a particular credit card, there are a few things you want to consider.

First, do not inform the credit card company of your desire to close the account until you have a credit card balance of zero.  Some credit card companies will actually raise the interest rate to the maximum allowable rate because they can, and because they have nothing to lose.

Second, once the balance is zero, call the issuer on the phone and tell them that you’d like to cancel.  Confirm that your balance is zero and that there are no pending transactions or fees or credit card interest charges.  Then ask them to cancel the credit card.  At this point they may try to sweet talk you into staying.  They may offer you a lower rate or some other more favorable terms.  If they sweeten the pot enough, you may even want to stay.  If you remain convinced that the card must go, ask to whom you can send a letter verifying your request.  Make a note of the person’s name you have spoken to, and the time and date of your call.  Most of the time these processes go smoothly, but we didn’t say ALL of the time.

Third, notify the credit card company in writing.  Include your name, address, and the credit card number.  Reference the phone call that you made.  You don’t need to explain why you are canceling.  Tell them that you’d like your credit report to reflect the fact that you initiated the closing of the account.

Fourth, wait a few weeks and check your credit report.  Verify that the account was closed at your request.  If it indicates anything else, or if there is no mention of it at all, you may need to call the credit card company and ask them again to notify the credit bureau.  Or, the credit bureau may have an online procedure for correcting the information.

Closing an account is a tedious task, but done well you save yourself future trouble.  When it is time to acquire a new credit card, pay attention to the terms before executing the credit card application to avoid getting an unwelcome credit card that you may subsequently cancel.  Choose the best credit card the first time in the hopes of steering clear of bad credit card later.

How Credit Cards Work

The credit card, that little piece of plastic that people love and hate at the same time, gets used millions of times all over the world.  It almost never fails, yet hardly anyone has appreciation for the process a credit card goes through for each transaction.  Well, for those who are curious read on, as this article will thoroughly explain how credit card services works.

What gives life to a credit card is the magnetic strip that runs along its side.  To the eyes of the consumer this strip looks like a thick black line.  The strip consists of thousands of magnetic particles, each of which are very small.  The data associated with the credit cards get stored within these particles.

Organization of the data is done through three special tracks within the magnetic strip.  The first two tracks store general information about a person’s account.  Examples include their credit card number, the expiration date on the credit card and the person’s name.  Any extraneous information that is deemed to be more specific gets stored in the third track. 

When a person makes purchases from a credit card through brick-and-mortar stores, data from their card gets sent to its associated bank through a point-of-sale terminal.   What is a point-of-sale terminal?  It is an electronic device that contains a magnetic strip reader.  The magnetic strip reader records information from the credit card’s magnetic particles each time a clerk swipes it.  The data that is acquired then gets sent out through a network connection. 

Once a card reader reads the credit card, the information imbedded in the magnetic strip is transmitted to the credit card merchant processor.  The account information is read along with verification that the account has the necessary amount available credit and is in good standing.  Upon authentication of this data, the purchase transaction is approved.

Most modern-day point-of-sale terminals will also include a signature capture pad.  With this feature a person must provide their signature before the point-of-sale terminal can send off data to the bank affiliated with the credit card.  By requiring a signature before a purchase can be made, credit card companies are at an advantage when it comes to fraud detection.  This is because if a credit card has been stolen and the signature given doesn’t match the owner’s, credit card companies automatically know that theft has occurred.

What if a credit card purchase is made on the phone or online?  In these situations no physical swiping can occur, so the information that is normally transferred through a card’s magnetic strip must be obtained through written or verbal communication from the customer.  This includes asking the customer for their credit card number, its expiration date and in some cases the validation code.  The data is sent either through a telephone call or credit card online.  Either way, the process is electronic, so approval can be sent instantly. 

Where does the future lie for credit card technology?  Credit card manufacturers seem to want to go more towards eliminating the need for the magnetic strip in the first place.  This is already occurring for Internet or phone purchases, so it just needs to be expanded for purchases that are made in-person.  The technology that is being used to experiment with this concept involves creating contactless credit cards.

Contactless credit cards do not have a magnetic strip.  Instead, data is stored in a smart chip.  A contactless card reader reads this smart chip similar to the magnetic strip reader.  From there the process is the same as if the card contained a magnetic strip; any relevant data gets sent to the bank.  If there are enough funds, the transaction will get approved. 

The technology behind the inner-workings of credit cards is still evolving to make transactions convenient and secure.  Of course, there are times when it can succumb to system failure, but for the most part credit card technology is highly effective.  And it will continue to be so, as long as people find the need for them.  Of course, the best credit card for you will probably have very little to with the transaction mechanics and more to do with the credit card interest rate and features.

How Many Credit Cards

If you have found it difficult to say no to credit card offers you may have as many as ten credit cards or more bulging in your wallet or purse.  When you get an offer of better credit card interest rates, attractive benefits, or lower fees you may jump at what seems to be a good deal, but that often leads to a lack of control.

Most Americans carry five to ten cards.  Some handle them well, always paying on time and keeping low credit card balances.  Most of us struggle from time to time and that’s where the risk comes in.  Credit agencies warn that the more credit cards you have, the bigger risk you carry for racking up heavy credit card debt and damaging your credit.  

However, if you think that you have too many cards and want to cut back, be careful.  Credit agencies like long relationships.  If you’ve had a credit card for a long time but it has poor terms, keep it but use it sparingly and pay it off in full each month.  Cutting a credit card that you’ve had for a long time can actually impact your credit negatively even if you think that you are doing something positive.  There is little damage to be done by keeping the card active bit using sparingly or not at all.

Most experts say there’s no single magic credit card number.  Rather, the question of how many credit cards you should have can be answered by scrutinizing how much you spend and how much you can pay off.  Take a hard look at your individual credit card balance and total credit card debt.

The wisest move may be to have three to six credit cards.  Have a Visa credit card, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express, as they are the most commonly accepted credit cards.  Don’t distract yourself with store issued cards with high credit card interest rates just because the introductory rates are low or they offer you twenty percent off on your first purchase.  These are simply distractions and most of us need to stay focused if we are going to use credit wisely and maintain a high score.

However many cards you have, always attempt to pay them off regularly, or if you can’t pay them off, find a credit card that has a low interest rate to use for emergencies when you need new automobile or home repairs.  It’s also a good idea that your other credit card has reward points or air miles something that gives you something back. That card doesn’t have to have a low interest rate if you pay it off every month.

Another rule of thumb to remember is to keep your debt ratio under 30%.  If your credit card has a $5,000 limit, don’t carry a credit card balance of more than $1,500.

Creditors and the credit scoring systems don’t like to see a card almost maxed out.   They look at high debts relative to available credit as a risk.  Someone who is using too much credit and if they don’t have trouble paying off the credit card debt there is the risk they are more predisposed to payment trouble.  If your credit card has a limit of $6000 and you need to make a $5000 purchase most retailers won’t blink if you ask them to spread the purchase over two cards.

Another aspect to consider is that of your total debt to credit ratio.  If you have total credit of $30,000 over six cards and owe a $15,000 balance, it isn’t a good idea to try to get rid of one of those credit cards.  When looking at your credit lenders would rather see that $15,000 spread over six cards than five.

Establishing and maintaining credit is critical to your financial well being over time.  Don’t have more credit cards than you can reasonably manage.  Only you know what the right number is.  When its time to obtain a new credit car, be certain this is the right credit card with the features you want.  Obtaining the best credit card the first time can help alleviate the need to apply for more credit cards in later years.

Hazards of the Credit Card Cash Advance

It’s two days before pay day and you are broke.  Your brother is out of town so you can’t ask him for $50, and you are worried that the very attractive co-worker you’ve been flirting with will ask you to lunch and you’ll have to come up with a lame excuse.  So, the dreaded credit card cash advance is tempting you.

Get a grip.  This is one of the last things you want to do.  Let us count the ways in which this is a bad idea.

First, there is usually a fee for a credit card cash advance.  Did we say usually?  Always!  Typically this fee is 5% of the amount that you want.  So, if you want that $50, it will only cost you a measly $2.50.  Let’s go do it.  Wait, it isn’t $2.50.  There’s a minimum fee of $10.  So, the only way to get around an exorbitant fee is to withdraw the amount of which $10 is 5%.  Careful calculation nets a withdrawal of $200.

You didn’t want that $200, but now it will show up on your next credit card statement, not with the other transactions but in its own special section called Cash Advances.  Swanky. 

Swanky is expensive however.  Not only will you be charged a credit card interest rate that is higher, but you’ll probably blow through the money because that’s what you do with the money in your pocket.  That attractive co-worker thing was just a fantasy, and so you stop in the grocery store and salve your wounds with things you normally wouldn’t buy.  You get the Haagen Dazs rather than the store brand.  You aren’t going to put this money temporarily into your savings account.  You’ll blow through it like a hurricane.

And the worst news is yet to come.  Not only is there a fee, and not only will you feel compelled to spend it, but the interest rate on cash advances is significantly higher than your credit card interest rate for purchases.  You may pay 12% on purchases and twice that amount on cash advances.  Yes, cash advance interest rates can exceed 20%.

But that’s not the worst news.

When you purchase an item with your credit card you have a grace period during which you don’t pay interest on the amount of that purchase if you pay the credit card payment for this amount in full.  So, if you pay your credit card balance completely and on time, theoretically you won’t be paying any interest charges.  Not so with cash advances.  Cash advances begin to cost you money the moment you pull the funds from the ATM.

But that’s not the worst news.

The worst news is that a handful of the credit card companies apply your monthly payment to the least expensive money that you owe them first.  That is, if you owe them $3000 for purchases at a 12% rate and $500 for a cash advance at a 20% rate, they apply your $1000 payment to your purchases, and until you have completely paid off your purchases you will not pay off any of the $500 cash advance for which you may be paying – at 20% – $100 a month.

Now that’s truly ugly.

You should not use credit card cash advances unless it is a real emergency.  To alleviate any pain from the cost of credit card cash advances; check to make sure you have the best credit card rate to keep these costs down.

Credit Cards for Small Purchases

If you have a credit card you probably are using it more and more.  Most people are, and some of those purchases are for relatively small amounts of money.  In the credit card business these small purchases are referred to as micropayments.

A significant volume of micropayments is for internet transactions, primarily for music.  Online music vendors sell individual songs for $.99 or less.  But the greater significance of these micropayments is that they teach credit card holders the behavior of using their cards for small amounts.  Once you’ve used the credit card to buy a song, it suddenly seems normal to buy a pack of gum in a convenience store or a milkshake in a fast food restaurant. 

The numbers of these small purchases is booming yearly, and it creates problems for both consumers and retailers.

For a retailer the increased use of credit cards is in some ways a godsend since it is fair to assume that some of these sales would not be made if the credit card couldn’t be used.  On the other hand, credit cards cost retailers money because they have to pay fees to accept the Visa credit card or MasterCard for each transaction, and for very small transactions these transaction costs can eat up all of their profits.  In the extremely competitive retail store arena, profit margins are already constantly getting squeezed lower and lower.

So, retailers often impose a minimum purchase, often $5, for anyone using a credit card.  One day you go out and want some gum, and you want it so badly that you forget to go to the cash station first.  You end up at the convenience store but learn you have to spend at least $5 to use your credit card.  So you get a can of soda and a bag of chips and you still need to spend more, and when you see that box of a dozen donuts and you get that, but by now you’ve spent $7 instead of the $1 you intended to spend, and you are also going to swallow a thousand calories of junk food.  Ugh. 

You can debate this idea, but it’s likely that you’ll spend more money if you can use a credit card for small purchases.

Spending more money is good for retailers.  They want more money.  However, there is that transaction cost and on top of that it’s often more labor intensive to take in all that money and process the card, the signature, and the paperwork.

Pressure is on the credit card companies to come up with less expensive ways for retailers to take small payments and offer the credit card services, and eventually they will.  In the short term, they’re happy to collect the processing fees and let the retailers worry about the cost. 

Retailers, especially online retailers, often try to aggregate sales in order to avoid individual fees on small transactions.  They can do this because there are two parts to each transaction, the authorization and then the actual transfer.  They authorize your payment, but they may hold up the transfer in the hope that you will make another purchase soon that can be paired up or aggregated with your earlier purchase. 

With literally billions of small transactions happening annually, everyone will eventually be asked to pay a fair amount to support the process.  Until then, it’s probably smart to scrounge around under the seat of your car for a dollar rather than pay $7 for a pack of gum.  Responsible use of a credit card including their use for small purchases will help keep your budget inline and make for smaller credit card payment.

For those customers who already have a large credit card balance in may be time to apply for a new credit card.  Credit card applications online are straightforward and it is easy to find credit card terms for low rates or extended grace periods.  Analyzing monthly credit card transactions including monthly purchases both big and small will facilitate the understanding of which credit card services fulfill the card users need for the best credit card.  While searching for the optimal credit card terms don’t lose sight of which credit card companies are offering the best credit card rate.

Bestcreditcardrates.com  is an online credit card marketplace that provides credit card offers, credit card promotions and reviews, credit card tips and tools, credit card news, and services that enable consumers to find the best credit card with the best credit card rate to match their needs.

Bestcreditcardrates.com  lists credit card offers from the leading credit card issuers and banks, including Discover cards, Chase credit cards, American Express credit cards, Citi credit cards, Capital One credit cards, Visa credit cards, MasterCard credit cards and more.  Offers can be found for low rate credit cards, balance transfer credit cards, student credit cards, business credit cards, credit cards for bad credit, prepaid credit cards, secured credit cards, gas credit cards, cash back crdit cards and more.

Unauthorized Credit Card Use

So someone has made off with your credit card information.  That is bad news indeed. Maybe you knew it right away because they took your actual credit card or maybe you only found out later when your statement came and suddenly there were purchases for one hundred fifty lobster grams and more shoes in sizes not your own from a variety of on-line footwear vendors.

Never fear.  In a nutshell, you can legally only be held responsible for fifty dollars of all that stuff.  (That’s a federal law!)  Here is what you need to do.  Take immediate action beginning with a phone call to your credit card company telling them exactly what happened.  Whatever you do, do not procrastinate on this.  Can you believe some people wait for over a year to report a “theft”?  How seriously do you suppose the company takes it then?  (Not very, in case you weren’t sure.)

So, you call your credit card company and tell them what happened.  Make sure you get the name of the person you spoke to and take some notes on what was said, any promises made on either end.  If your whole wallet was taken, obviously you may need to make several of these scintillating calls.  When you are all done with that, follow up to each credit card company with a letter.  Remember Hansel and Gretel?  It’s always good to leave a paper trail.  Think of it as a little proactive prevention on your part.  In your letter, include all your information from the phone call, including the name of that person on the phone, a copy of your latest bill if you have it, with the fraudulent charges on it.

Most times the company will take the items off your bill right then and there so you won’t have to pay for all those lobster grams (they’re expensive!).  Last of all, follow up thoroughly with the credit card company.  Check your new bills as they come in and make sure those charges including any credit card interest charges are gone.  IF not, you may have to make some more calls.  If your credit card company is uncooperative its time to find a new credit card.  Finding the right credit card services is painless and with the plethora of credit card offers available it will easy to find the best credit card to serve you not the credit card company.  But it’s worth it.  You don’t want someone else’s c rime messing up your credit score do you?

Understanding Monthly Credit Card Statement – Part 2

Continued from Part 1:

We can’t imagine that many people take out the previous month’s statement and compare the two, but it’s worth doing for a number of reasons.  Credit card companies can change just about anything they want to change in your agreement with you, from the credit card APR to the calculation of the monthly minimum credit card payment, and all they have to do is give you advance notice in writing.  Sometimes these notices go unnoticed.  Here are a few things to compare on a month-to-month basis –

The APR.  The annual percentage rate can change if you have a variable rate credit card, and you should know if it changes.  It can also change on a fixed rate card if they give you fifteen days notice.  If your credit card interest rate goes up for any reason it can cost you a lot of money.  If the rate goes too high, it may be tie to find a new credit card.

The Minimum Payment.  One hopes that the minimum credit card payment is never an issue, but in reality it is for many of us from time to time.  Minimum payments have risen in recent years because federal law now mandates that the credit card minimum payment cover some small portion of the principal owed, not just the credit card interest.  Rising minimum payments can put some consumers into trouble, and recognizing trouble is the first step in dealing with it.

The Grace Period.  The grace period is the amount of time you haveto pay the full credit card balance or a partial payment before interest begins to accumulate on new charges.  This number doesn’t change often but if it does it can cost you money over time.  It’s also just a good idea to be aware of the concept.  The more aware you are, the more money you can save.

The Credit Limit.  If you’ve been a responsible credit card user you may get a bonus: a higher credit limit.  Don’t be so fast to expand into this new territory, however.  People looking at your credit like to see that you use only a third of the credit available at any one time.  It’s also sadly possible that you’ve been reined in by the issuer because your payment history has been spotty.  Compare your limit from month to month so that you are aware of your status.  Chances are you’ll be informed in other ways, but when you have the statement in your hand take a close look.  View the credit card online if you can, this is more convenient since you can do it on your time and as often as you like.

The Name, Address, and Account Number.  If you have moved or if you’ve lost a card, or if you old card expired, check once in a while to make sure that this information has been properly updated.  Check the name and the billing address along with the credit card number to avoid any potential problems including identity theft.

Here are some ugly things that appear on the statement, but you still have to look at them.

Cash Advances.  Credit card cash advances are sometimes necessary but they are also expensive.  The credit card APR for cash advances is really high, and in some cases you have to pay off your balance for purchases before any of your payment goes to pay off the cash advance.  They really have you there.  If you’ve taken a cash advance and look at the numbers on the statement you are unlikely to do that again.  If you really want a credit card cash advance or even a credit card balance transfer, look for a new credit card that has the best credit card rate for these services.

Finance Charges.  Under this heading you will see what you pay for the total balance that you carry from month to month.  It’s important to look at this number and think about what you could do with this money if you weren’t spending it in interest.  Over a lifetime people who carry high balances pay a LOT more in finance charges.

The Late Fee.  If your payment was late, that’s always bad.  It’s bad for your credit rating, and if that isn’t enough they’re going to charge you a significant fee.  Take a moment to think about this when you look at your statement. 

The Over-the-Limit Fee.  This one is also bad because in addition to the fee and the hit your credit rating will take, you also have no credit available because it means you have used more credit than you were allowed.  This calls for serious action of some kind because it means you are in control of your finances.  If you can lower your expenses or get some credit counseling, that’s wise.  The over-the-limit fee is a real call for action.

Finally, let’s turn our attention to a happier topic, the category of credit card Payments and Credits.  This is a list of the payments you’ve made, and you ought to take a minute to savor that.  You may also have received a credit for something you returned to a store, for example, or some other miscellaneous reason.  It’s easy to lose track of these credits during the course of a month, so be sure to look for them on the statement. 

The receipt of the monthly statement in the mail or email ought to be something other than an exercise in agony.  It’s a time for you to understand clearly the state of your finances and the cost of using your credit card services.  It’s a time for sober thoughts regarding your financial successes and failures, and what they mean for your future.  It’s also an opportunity to fix any problems and retrieve any money that seems to have wrongly slipped away.

Understanding the Credit Card Statement

If you go to the mailbox and find your credit card statement, and immediately get the last month’s statement and sit down with them and compare the credit card APRs to make sure you didn’t get an increase, and look at all of your purchases to make sure the charges are legitimate, what are you doing here?  You don’t need any help.

I’m looking for the guy who opens the statement a week after it arrives and looks immediately at the minimum credit card payment option.  I’m looking for the guy who takes a week to look at the statement, then takes a week to write the check, and then takes two weeks to mail it because he can’t find a stamp, and he misses the due date.

You need to be here.

Every credit card has a different statement with a different layout, but most of them have the same information.  Credit company companies offer different credit card services and it seems, at times, like their mission is to confuse their customers.  Learning to carefully read the credit card statement when it arrives is one of the most useful ways to learn credit card responsibility.  The numbers are sobering, and we all need a bit of that.

Let’s consider the different credit card numbers that appear on your statement and what they mean.

If you are going to look at one number first, find this one – the Payment Due Date.  Paying on time is the single most important factor in maintaining good credit.  Pay late or miss a payment entirely and you may find that your credit card interest rate increases, and your credit rating slips.

Once you know when the payment is due, the next number to seek out is the Balance Due.  If there is a corollary to the “pay on time” rule it’s this – pay off the entire credit card balance when necessary.  Look at the number and decide if you can reasonably and responsibly pay the entire amount.  Many people can’t pay the entire amount, but it’s expensive to pay interest on a high credit card balance.

There will also be a heading called Previous Balance.  Compare that number to the current Balance Due.  Are you gaining ground or losing ground?  If you are gaining ground, that should encourage you to gain even more.  If losing ground, was there an important reason for this, or did you just spend too much?  It’s good to take stock of this situation at least on that day of the month when you receive the credit card statement.

Purchases or New Charges will give you a listing of every purchase you made in the past month.  Some people will urge you to save every receipt and scrap and review the numbers on them against the credit card statement.  You may not have the willingness to do this, but at least look at each transaction and see if it is as you remembered it.  If not, check it out.
This guide to understanding your credit card statement is continued in part 2.

Credit Cards and the Importance of a Credit History

Like it or not, we live in an electronic world in which the data trail we create behind us is a critical, direct link to our current and future financial success.  Though it certainly feels nice to carry a giant roll of bills in your pocket, the days when cash was king are long gone.  Credit histories are routinely checked when we apply for jobs, apply for a credit card, initiate service with providers of basic utilities, or try to rent or purchase a place to live.

There’s a wide array of things we inherit from our parents but a credit history isn’t one of them; that we have to build for ourselves.  Typically, there are three major groups of people for whom this is an issue: college students, teenagers, and freshly minted college graduates.  These are people at the beginning of their careers, on the edge of adulthood, who need to learn the basics of developing and maintaining good credit.  It is important to understand what credit is, where it is and how to create it.  Obtaining credit, managing credit including credit cards and credit card debt and keeping a good credit history has never been more important in our society.

Credit allows you to buy something now, from cappuccinos to cars, without paying any money the moment you take possession of the purchased item.  Each time you use a credit card of any kind, you are making a promise to pay later, usually within a prescribed period of time.

A credit history is the record of how well you kept those promises to pay.  Your credit history shows if you paid early, on time or late.  It creates a profile of you, your spending habits and reliability in paying your bills.  The credit card payment that is made monthly to chip away at the credit card balance is part of your credit history.  Companies such as credit card companies use your credit history to make determinations about whether or not they will do business with you as a consumer or even as an employee.  Your credit history can be found primarily with three major credit bureaus, Experian, TransUnion and Equifax.

It isn’t hard to build credit history but you want to make sure you build a good credit history not a negative one.  Good credit will always help you.  The best credit card rates and the best credit cards are going to be reserved for those individuals that have good credit.  On the other side are the bad credit cards and secured credit cards with high credit card interest rates.  Bad credit can take years to fix, and will present roadblocks that can make even mild mannered persons want to flip their lids.  Make sure as you build your credit history, not to get suckered in by deals that seem too good to be true.  They always spell trouble.  Take it one step at a time.  Whatever you do, don’t go around applying for credit cards like a maniac who’s had one too many Red Bulls.  This kind of behavior will immediately make you look desperate for credit and will lower your credit score dramatically, creating the exact opposite effect from what you want.  Check out a new credit card offer by comparing it to other credit card offers.  You can check the credit card online before filling out the credit card application to make sure you get the new credit card you need and avoid applying for numerous cards.

Don’t forget, building good credit is a process that takes time and every person’s situation is unique.  So, if your buddy suddenly has three credit cards and is shopping like mad, don’t go crazy with card envy.  Just take a breath and count your blessings.  Studies show that many times, people with lots of credit cards abuse them and end up with gigantic, crushing credit card debt.  You do not want to be that person.  Always remember, no one is giving anything away.

There are ways to build your credit score methodically and carefully.  You need to get that first credit card.  If you can’t get a major bank credit card, don’t despair.  There are options; you can apply for a secured card, where you put up the money before you use it and then demonstrate that you can use it wisely; you can apply for a department store credit card.  In this case you usually are granted a nominal credit limit, which puts a ceiling on the amount you can spend.  You can use the card for small purchases and then pay them off right away.  This shows you can handle credit responsibly, which raises your score and will help you obtain a major bank credit card down the road.

The kind of credit card you start with doesn’t matter.  Use it, pay it off, then after a few months, you can apply for something a bit more ambitious.  It is always better to wait than to rush.  Remember, repeated requests for credit will lower your score.  The best strategy is to get that first credit card, whatever kind you select, and use it for small purchases over time.  Pay your credit card bill on time, at the end of each monthly cycle without fail.  Think of each successful transaction, each purchase and payment to the credit card company, as a brick in the house of good credit that you are building for yourself.

The World of Credit Cards

Credit cards are a great way to build a person’s financial future.  However, it is not in a person’s best interest to sign up for just any credit card offer they find.  This is because depending on a person’s situation, they might be able to find a new credit card offer that can provide better rates, rewards or in some cases even both.  There are also credit cards that can help repair a person’s credit.  Indeed, the sky’s the limit when it comes to the types of credit card services available.  This article will discuss each of them in greater detail. 

1.  Credit Cards Designed for Balance Transfers

The balance transfer credit card is designed for individuals who are looking to lower the interest rate on an existing credit card.  How it works is simple.  The company offering the credit card balance transfer will allow for a 0% APR on balance transfers for a fixed period of time, (usually 6 months).  No credit card interest is charged, which usually means no monthly credit card payments until the end of the term.  When the 0% APR does end, a person is expected to pay at a more ‘normal’ credit card interest rate.

Credit card companies win with balance transfer cards because many customers don’t bother with trying to pay their credit card balances off.  This is particularly the case if they think the other company is providing a lower credit card APR even when the introductory 0% APR ends.  Yet, this is not the best way to go about handling a balance transfer card.  It is better to pay off the balance completely, so no credit card debt is acquired on the new credit card.  And by the fact that most balance transfer credit cards offer at least 6 months of 0% APR, a person has plenty of time to make sure their balances are paid in full.  

2.  Credit Cards with Lower Interest Rates

Credit cards with lower APR can either offer it throughout the time a person uses the credit card or on a temporary basis.  If it is the latter, the credit card APR will increase after the introductory APR period ends.  Low introductory APR’s are often most beneficial when used for big-ticket purchases.

3.  Rewards Credit Cards

If a credit card has a rewards program, a person is eligible to get something ‘extra’ each time they use their credit card.  One of the most common types of credit card rewards are those offering free airline miles.  Every purchase that is made on a credit card earns a person a certain amount of points that can be used towards airline travel.  The more that is spent, the more miles a person gets.

Then there are the rewards credit cards that offer cash back.  Some of these credit cards work similarly to credit cards offering airline miles.  This means that the more the card is used, the more credit card cash a person can get.  Other cash back cards determine their cash back amounts based on which merchant is used.  Either way, both types of cash back cards will usually offer 1% back. 

The final type of rewards credit cards offer credit card rewards for a variety of things.  These rewards could come in the form of merchandise, gasoline or store discounts.  Regardless, they will all work the same way: if a person accumulates enough points, they become eligible for their reward. 

It should be noted that some rewards credit cards do charge annual fees to cover the privileges that they offer.  This annual fee ranges from $40 to $100.  Shopping for a credit card online is a good process to find the best credit card in the rewards category that has low or no annual fees.

4.  Credit Cards Designed for Credit Repair

Two types of credit cards are available for individuals with bad credit: secured credit cards and prepaid credit cards.  Secured credit cards are available to persons with collateral, either a checking account or savings account or some other financial account.  Liquid funds in a bank account can be used as collateral and is perhaps the most common form of security for these credit cards.  In either case the amount of credit that is granted or maximum amount of credit card debt a consumer will have will depend on the value of the collateral a person has access to.

On the other hand, prepaid credit cards work based on how much a person invests on their credit card.  For example, if a person puts down $100 on a prepaid credit card, that’s how much they have available as far as their credit limit.  Prepaid credit cards are a great option for individuals looking to build up their credit without worrying about high credit card interest charges, though they still need to be careful since prepaid cards may have other fees associated with them.

5.  Business Credit Cards

Business credit cards work just like any of the credit cards mentioned in this article.  However, in order to be eligible for one, a person must have a legally established business.  As long as a person fits this criterion, business credit cards can be an excellent way to finance one’s enterprise.  They offer significantly higher credit card limits than regular credit cards and they keep personal funds separate from business funds.

6. Student Credit Cards

Student credit cards are a great credit card option for college students who have not yet established a credit history.  They do not offer as many benefits as regular credit cards, but with wise budgeting, they can still be quite an asset in helping a young person acquire a good credit score.  Student credit cards will often have higher credit card interest rates, comparing this type of credit card online is imperative before getting a new credit card to be sure that you are obtaining the best credit card rate.

Credit cards come in a variety of packages with varying terms, conditions and repayment programs.  Consider your needs and habits before focusing on the type of credit card that maybe best suited for you.  Be sure to read all of the terms and conditions for each type of credit card before applying.  An informed consumer is more likely to get the best credit card and avoid a bad credit card.  Shop and compare before filling out the credit card application so as not to end up with the latter.

The Ultimate Guide to Airline Credit Card Rewards

Before airline rewards credit cards were constructed, people had to earn frequent flyer miles through how much air travel they had.  After airline rewards credit cards, people could accumulate frequent flyer miles without stepping foot on an airplane.  Now what has happened is every time a purchase is made with the various types of airline reward credit cards airline mileage rewards get accumulated.  Once enough points were accrued, consumers can cash in and travel around the world for free.  Airline credit card rewards are now just one of the many credit card services offered by credit card companies.

So, how does a person that has just acquired an airline rewards credit card accumulate enough points to be able to get free airline tickets?  Well, first there’s the obvious factor… the airline rewards credit card must be used, and it must be used often. 

Depending on how much of a limit there is on the credit card, a person should spare no expense.  Virtually all types of expenses can be paid through these credit cards; even mortgage and utility payments and these purchases will count towards the flyer miles.  In fact, the more that can be charged the better, so a person shouldn’t be afraid to put larger expenses on their airline rewards credit card.  Of course, one should be responsible and not make purchases that are no prudent based on household income and existing debt levels.  Simply moving the monthly housing expenses to the credit card debt and in turn paying the credit card payment to eliminate the amount of debt incurred for the month, should have no impact on overall household budgets. 

Once enough points have been accumulated, a person is ready to redeem them.  However, this process may not necessarily be easy, especially as airlines are doing whatever they can to cut costs.  Individuals with airline points, no matter how many, are the last to be considered when it comes to airplane booking.  For this reason a potential flyer needs to frequently check various airlines for when free seats do open up.  They can do this by calling the airline or viewing the frequent flyer portion on its website.

If a potential flyer is unable to book a flight that they need, they need to consider the alternatives that are available to them.  This means making a thorough investigation of different routes they can take to their desired destination.  When they have come up with an alternate route that seems doable, they need to discuss it with the airline, to see if it is available for booking. 

What can a person do if they still can’t get a flight that suites their needs?  They might want to consider redeeming their airline credit card rewards for upgrades.  This could include being able to ride in first class either for free or at a significant discount.  It could also include being able to travel at a cheaper rate on international flights.  While either option may involve having to pay some money for a regular seat, at least the airline rewards are getting used.  Review the terms of the rewards for the credit card online to see what is the most effective method of using the accumulated credit card reward points.

As a person is trying to use their airline rewards, they must keep in mind that the points do not include costs associated with using the credit card.  Be sure to review the redemption terms, the annual fee and the annual credit card interest rate.  Airline rewards can be a good solution for people who are looking to save money on family vacations but it is important to make sure the credit card being used has the best credit card rate while gathering the rewards. 

The basic process involved with airline rewards credit cards involves first accruing the points through a variety of purchases then redeeming them for free airplane travel.  The hardest part, particularly in today’s time, will be the latter.  In fact, some people find the process of redeeming their airline rewards so annoying, they feel it would’ve been quicker if they had just bought the plane tickets normally.  Whether or not such an assumption is correct will depend on the individual.  Some people think the little bit of research required for properly redeeming airline rewards is worth being able to save hundreds or even thousands of dollars they would’ve had to pay had they bought their airplane tickets the ‘regular’ way.  If the credit card used has an onerous amount of restrictions, shop for a new credit card that has better terms.

Bestcreditcardrates.com  lists credit card offers from the leading credit card issuers and banks.  Credit card offers can be found for low rate credit cards, balance transfer credit cards, student credit cards, business credit cards, credit cards for bad credit, prepaid credit cards, secured credit cards, gas credit cards, cash back crdit cards and more.

The Ultimate Guide to Credit Card Balance Transfers

The most common way a credit card is used is through the card itself.  Each time it gets swiped, the available credit is reduced and a person is expected to pay a monthly payment based on the amount of credit used.  However, credit cards can also be used to receive cash or a balance transfer.  What is a balance transfer?  A balance transfer is when a certain amount of credit is transferred from one credit card account onto a new credit card account or an existing but different credit card account.  Balance transfers are marketed by credit card companies as convenient, easy and beneficial.  Easy and convenient that may be, but be careful regarding the perceived benefits before executing a balance transfer. 

Firstly, a person will need to investigate any fees associated with the balance transfer.  These fees tend to be one-time, but are added onto a person’s credit card account, which can be annoying.  These are fees that are put in place just for balance transfers.  These fees will accrue interest just like anything else purchased with a credit card.  For this reason, credit card holders need to make sure the transfer fee is paid once it shows up on the credit card account.  And since this fee normally ranges $50 to $75, it shouldn’t be much of a sacrifice trying to make this credit card payment and pay it off.  Watch and review if the transferred amount is not a significant sum of money and the transfer fee that fist appears rather inconsequential is now a measurable charge relative to the amount of money involved.

Secondly, a person needs to consider the credit card interest rate associated with the balance transfer.  Many credit card companies offer introductory credit card APRs of zero percent to encourage people to transfer balances.  However, the key word is introductory.  After a period that ranges from six months to up to 2 years, customers are charged at a more normal or sometimes elevated APR over that of standard credit cards.  So, the main key is making sure one can pay their credit card debt balance in full before they get charged interest. 

Of course, there are some situations, particularly for those with good credit, where even the new credit card APR is affordable, especially in comparison to what a person may have been originally paying for their first credit card.  If this is the case, a person can continue making credit card payments as they normally would have, and pay off the balance when they can.  Measuring the cost of the credit at this point is simply a personal evaluation of the needs and the credit card services.

Finally, a person needs to make sure that nothing has to be done to ensure that the introductory rate stays in place.  For example, many credit card companies may require their customers have a certain level of activity or use with the card to maintain that wondrous zero percent APR.  It is through this requirement that the credit card company gets their profit.  But for the consumer, it can defeat the purpose of why they may have gotten the credit card in the first place… which is trying to deal with existing debt in a more affordable way. 

Other requirements may be simpler, such as paying one’s bills on time.  To do this one must first make the credit card debt in the first place, so they need to immediately go on and transfer the balance.  Since the goal is to pay off the bill eventually anyway, trying to maintain monthly credit card payments shouldn’t be a problem.  However, don’t take this lightly, a late payment can trigger the termination of the credit card introductory rate, be grounds for a late fee, and enforce a clause to increase the overall rate of the card for all transactions.  It will certainly behoove any consumer using these credit cards to be certain they have the best credit card rate when doing a balance transfer.

The balance transfer can be an excellent way to lower debt for many individuals who have credit cards with high APRs.  They just have to make sure that in the process of doing a balance transfer they: investigate to see if there are any fees associated with the transfer, understand the interest rate, the length of time the rate is good for and conditions on repayment.  When in doubt, find a new credit card.  Shopping and comparing a credit card online is easy.  As long as these things are kept in mind, the balance transfer can be one’s ticket towards financial freedom.

The Scoop on Student Credit Cards

It is never too early to start thinking about a child’s financial future.  Before a child is 16, parents can instill financial responsibility through an allowance system.  After 16, parents are often encouraged to urge their teen to get a part-time job along with opening a checking account.  But things shouldn’t end there because nowadays teens can be introduced to another side of financial responsibility: establishing a decent credit history.  This is done through the power of student credit cards.

What is a student credit card?  A student credit card is a credit card specially designed for high school or college students.  Like traditional credit cards, a student credit card charges interest, has monthly payments and spending limit, (which is usually lower than what is offered for other types of credit cards).  Unlike traditional credit cards, many student credit cards may require parents to co-sign before the teen has access to it.  Student credit cards may also charge significantly higher APRs than what is typical for other credit cards as well as have lower starting credit limits.

While student credit cards are not perfect, for young people they might be the only way credit can be established.  This is for two reasons.  Firstly, if a person is under 18 they cannot get credit on their own anyway.  Secondly, even if an individual is over 18, if they have no credit history, a credit card company is very restrictive on the terms and availability of credit.  Student credit cards allow persons in both categories a ‘safe’ way to help build their credit histories.  It is safe because if they can’t pay their credit card balance, the credit card company hopes their parents will help cover the charges or be obligated to if they had cosigned.

But hopefully, things will not get to this point.  If a teen does what they are supposed to do and make their credit card payments on time, they will have a credit history that people twice their age would envy by the time they graduate college or even high school.  Imagine, if an 18 or 21-year-old could have a credit score of 700.  They would have no problems getting an apartment, car or student loans.  And all of these things could be acquired under their name, not with their parents as co-signers.  In fact, if student credit cards are used appropriately, a young person might be able to become a homeowner before the age of 25.

So, how does a parent get the process started for obtaining a student credit card for their child?  Online is almost certainly the easiest and most efficient way to shop.  There should be no surprises when it comes time to filling out the credit card application, since applying for student credit cards is no different than applying for traditional credit cards.  If the application is approved, the teen will receive their own new credit card in the mail.  This credit card will help pave the way for a successful financial portfolio.

Student credit cards can be used to help teach teens or college students how to be financially responsible.  They can also help build credit history, something that will be invaluable as the teen or young adult goes through their life.  Choose the student credit card carefully.  Credit card interest rates on student credit cards vary greatly.  For these credit card services, the best credit card can generally be chosen on interest rate or the credit card apr.  Checking the credit card online for available interest rates and features should be the first step.  Review the short credit card application completely before submitting and start on the right path to good credit card debt management and good overall credit management.

The Other Side of Credit Card Rewards

With credit card rewards, cardholders get various enticements just for making using the credit card and making purchases.  These rewards could be frequent flyer miles, gasoline credits, merchandise or cash.  So, on paper, it may appear that credit card rewards are better than traditional credit cards and credit card services.  Yet, there are issues associated with rewards credit cards, issues that may keep many consumers from acquiring one. 

First, credit cards rewards are often more expensive than traditional credit cards.  This is because the cost of these rewards is a financial cost for the credit card companies.  To cover their expenses, they simply charge more from their customers.  These costs can be seen through higher credit card APRs and annual fees.  The annual fees should be of particular interest to creditors, particularly if they are interested in cash-back credit cards.  This is because many times the annual fee associated with a rewards credit card is often more than the credit card cash back value a person receives throughout the entire time they are using their credit card. 

So, what can a person do to minimize their annual fee if they still want a rewards card?  The best solution involves paying the annual fee upfront.  That way they don’t have to worry about recurring monthly charges involving the fee.  However, it should be noted that the annual fee for rewards credit cards could have a fairly broad range from $20 to over $100.  These are amounts that may not be worth the trouble for individuals who do not use credit that often. 

Another problem associated with rewards credit cards is the fact that the conditions in which rewards are granted could change at any moment’s notice.  Credit card companies have every right to decrease the rewards that are available or to completely end the rewards program, if they find they cannot cover the costs associated with providing the awards.  For this reason creditors must make sure they read all of the fine print associated with their rewards credit cards.  This is the only way to really tell if a credit card company plans on changing or even ending their rewards program.  Credit card services will change, even after investigating the terms the credit card company can alter their offers.

Finally, many credit card rewards offer a limit on the amount of rewards points that can be obtained.  For rewards credit cards in this category, no extra points will be rewarded if the limit has been reached.  It doesn’t matter how many times the credit card is used.  To make things even worse, the points that are acquired may also have a timeframe for which they must be redeemed.  If they aren’t redeemed within this timeframe, they simply vanish. 

Rewards credit cards are not necessarily a panacea.  In fact, they may not be the best choice at all for individuals with low credit card balances and/or those who aren’t big on using credit often.  For others, they are a nice alternative, but a person should not go overboard thinking they will go so many ‘rewards’ for using their credit card too much.  And even if they do, the greater consequence is having an amount of credit card debt that they cannot afford to pay off.   With rewards cards in it especially important to evaluate how you intend to use the cards and then weigh this factor against the card offers available.  There is an overwhelming basket of reward credit card to choose from.  Don’t assume the rewards and the costs are the same on all of these offers choose carefully.  Choose the best credit card reward program that fits your lifestyle and budget.  Pay attention to the terms of the credit card offer and try to capture the best credit card rate.

The Ins and Outs of Prepaid Credit Cards

Prepaid debit cards, which allow a customer to spend, based on amounts deposited onto the card, are a relatively new invention in the world of credit cards.  They were established by credit card companies as these companies wanted to find a way to provide alternative financing for at-risk credit card consumers.  The at-risk borrower was generally considered to great a risk to extend credit card privileges to.  When they first came about, they were distributed in the form of secured credit cards.  Customers had to put down a certain amount of money for access to the credit card.  The credit card limit or credit card balance was directly related to how much was put down.

Soon after a customer had demonstrated responsibility with the credit card, the card limit would often be increased.  The credit card issuer has used the security of prepayment to let the customer establish a satisfactory payment history.  Now, the credit limit can be increased above that of the amount of funds deposited as security for the card.

When the concept caught on, credit card companies decided to convert their secured credit cards into the prepaid debit card that is popular today, (though the previous secured format is still available for those interested…they are just a separate type of credit now).  With the new credit card, customers would have a line of credit that worked like a prepaid phone card.  This means the amount of money they have accessible to them is determined by how much they pay upfront on their card.  Funds could be deposited with the credit card online, on the telephone or at a bank associated with the card. 

Why would a person opt to use a prepaid debit card over their ATM debit card?  Well, unlike an ATM debit card, prepaid debit cards allow a person to build up their credit history.  Credit reporting bureaus view prepaid debit cards in the same light as credit cards, despite the fact that the former does not charge interest fees.  So, individuals who have bad credit or no credit can use prepaid debit cards to substantially improve their credit and credit score. 

The prepaid debit card is also an excellent budgeting tool.  With an ATM debit card, a person has 100% access to all of their bank account.  It is not hard to spend over one’s intended budget when using an ATM debit card.  In fact, with most banks offering overdraft ‘protection,’ overspending with an ATM debit card could rack up all kinds of annoying NSF fees.  This does not happen with a prepaid debit card.  If a person does not have enough money to cover a purchase, it just won’t go through.  They will have to put more funds on their credit card to make it work again.

What are the disadvantages to using a prepaid debit card?  Well, the most obvious disadvantage is that a person has to pay to use it.  With credit cards a high credit limit can be granted regardless of any upfront money a person has available.  Another disadvantage is in the area of theft.  Companies offering prepaid debit cards often are much stricter in determining whether or not theft really occurred when a prepaid debit card gets stolen.

Yet, overall, prepaid debit cards are a great way to help establish a credit history without worrying about monthly credit card bills.  Credit card lovers may not like the fact that in order to use a prepaid debit card one must invest their own money, but if one really thinks about it, money investment is also required with ‘regular’ credit cards.  Sure, it’s not upfront, but it still gets taken out, as it can take years sometimes even decades before a typical credit card balance gets paid off.

Credit Card Cash Back Offers

The proper strategy in using your credit card with a cash back offer can ensure that you are earning the absolute maximum credit card cash back possible.  With the astonishing variety of competitive credit card rewards offered in the marketplace, use these credit card offers and programs to your benefit.  Take advantage of the payback of the best credit card based on your spending habits and financial budget.  To just touch on a few things to include in that strategy:

Use your cash back card to pay off your monthly bills.  Large portions of most people’s expenses are these steady monthly bills like phone bills, utility bills, cable and internet, and mortgage payments.  These offer a great opportunity to earn some extra cash back.  This will initially run your credit card debt up high, but these are your monthly expenditures so pay the credit card payment including the complete credit card balance monthly.

Make sure that everyone in your household is using a cash back card so that all money going out from the household is earning cash back.  If it is necessary, apply for a credit card and acquire a new credit card for just this purpose.

Find credit cards that offer extra cash back in areas you spend most on.  Credit cards that offer extra cash back in stores that you frequently spend in should be your priority.  Pay attention to the credit card services provided the credit card companies to maximize this benefit.

You can also find cards that offer extra bonuses at particular locations if you have a large ticket purchase to pay for in the future.  If you have renovations approaching a card that gives more than the regular amount of cash back at a lumberyard or renovation specialist store would be particularly practical for you.

Small business owners can try to find business credit cards for use by the business to give more than the low 1% rate on things that are regular expense of the business.  Any workers that have to make purchases for the company should use the credit card as well.  The more you can use it the better because business cards have the edge over the personal ones in that they don’t usually limit how much credit card cash back you can earn monthly or annually.

Don’t let a balance carry over when you’re using a cash back card, otherwise you’re completely negating the cash back that you’ve earned because you’re paying more than that back in the credit card interest.  You want to be making the card work for you not the other way around.

If you do have to carry a credit card balance you should try and have two cards.  Use the credit card with bonus cash back at the locations that you earn more than the standard 1% on, and try to find a card with a lower standard interest rate for any purchases you have to make at any other locations.  When searching for the best credit card with cash back features do not ignore the credit card interest rate.  The best credit card rate is usually the best credit card.

Students And Credit Cards

One of the most valuable lessons a student can learn is how to maintain good credit.  Often this critical life skill isn’t taught at schools and only indirectly is it taught at home.  So, a student’s first credit card is a good opportunity for a parent and child to learn, review, and practice the fundamentals of good credit.

Student credit cards offers are plentiful.  The terms and conditions are typically the same as credit cards being offered to the general public.  It is important to carefully review the types of cards available as some credit card companies will have higher fees, penalties and credit card interest rates on these cards.  By and large students may struggle with excessive credit card debt, yet do not appear to default in significant numbers, making these cards profitable for a card issuers.
 
An adult always must temper the child’s enthusiasm for simple spending.  At first a credit card seems like a big pile of money that is just begging to be spent, and that’s the wrong way to think of it.  Credit card services are certainly convenient but abusing these services can soon lead to a credit card payment that seems insurmountable.  A parent has to consistently and gently remind a son or daughter of two things.

One, the credit card isn’t a way to spend money that you don’t have.  It is a convenience, and it is a way to deal with special situations and emergencies.  It’s fairly typical for a parent to encourage a child to use the card right away, but a sober approach is important.  You don’t want to condition your child to associate the card with excitement or reckless spending.  When they use the credit card for the first time, encourage them to use it to buy a book for school; or a present for a friend; or a couple of new tires for the car they drive to school or work.  This teaches the child to look at the practical and positive aspects of credit card use.  Even if you intend to reimburse the child for these items, you have given them something much more valuable: a sober, responsible approach to credit card use.  If the first thing they buy with their credit card is concert tickets, or an expensive pair of jeans at the mall, you’re starting them down the wrong path.  While those things are expected purchases for a young person, the first things that they buy should be practical, modest necessities. 

Two, a credit card doesn’t exist in a vacuum.  It is part of a person’s credit profile that follows them, and in some cases, dogs them through life.  A young person often doesn’t know that the moment they enter into the world of credit they have a score – a credit score – a number associated with them that allows complete strangers to judge them and decide if they are a responsible adult.  It affects their ability to get a car, buy a home, get a job, or start a business.  While they are in high school these things may seem far off, but any negative mark on your credit can follow you around for seven to ten years.  Young people don’t typically think about these things, but if credit is explained to them they often respond positively and responsibly.  Most kids aren’t given that chance.  They’re given the credit card, some congratulatory encouragement, and a push out the door.

Establishing a good credit history at an early age can be quite and asset as the student matures and needs more significant measures of credit in the future to prosper.  The interest rate range offered on credit cards may be between 14% and 19% depending on credit history.  Bad credit cards are not something a young person should have.  As a student matures that credit history established while in school can either be very good or bad.  When it comes time for borrowing a few hundred thousand dollars for business or a home mortgage the interest rate range will be the equivalent of several hundred dollars of interest charges depending on that credit history. 

In the beginning a parent should give them the opportunity to understand the true purpose and the implications of their credit card, it’s time to practice the fundamentals of credit card use.  Supervision from an adult is necessary!  From the time they compare the credit card online to the time they fill out the credit card application, parental supervision will assure that the student understands the terms, conditions and the value of shopping and comparing to find the best credit card. 

It isn’t a bad idea to tell your child that the most important thing about a credit card is making the credit card payment on time.  Repeat after me!  Making the credit card payment on time.  Not the shopping, not the prestige, not the items that you buy, but making the payment on time.  This is the part of credit that they must understand.  The largest single contributing factor to maintaining good credit is making the payment on time.

There are other things to remember.  Try to avoid getting a credit card cash advance.  They are ridiculously expensive and often unbearable to pay off.  Don’t carry a balance on your card of more than a third of your credit limit.  Credit analysts want to see that you are managing your credit well, and if have a credit limit of $600 and keep your balance at or below $200, you are golden.  If you can, especially when they are first learning, pay your balance due in full!  This keeps the cost of having your card low because you don’t pay interest.  If a child is fixated on the minimum payment due and not the total balance, that’s a poor credit fundamental.  It’s a poor credit fundamental for adults, too.

And always make the payment on time! 

They may get tired and annoyed hearing about it, but they’ll remember it fondly ten years later when they qualify for a mortgage.

Small Business Credit Cards

During the infancy of credit card development and expansion, credit card companies pretty much ignored the small business market.  It was thought that since small businesses have a high probability of failing, it was not worth investing in them.  Then credit card companies woke up and realized they were missing out on niche market that was growing by the day.  This realization resulted in the small business credit card, a type of credit card any entrepreneur with a legally established business may acquire.  Some of the main features and credit card services that set small business credit cards apart from regular credit cards are: 

1. Management of Business Funds

As long as a small business credit card is used exclusively for business expenses, record-keeping is not only easy for the small business owner but also for the IRS.  This is because during tax time all a person has to do is provide copies of the statements acquired from their small business credit cards along with any additional receipts.  From these records the IRS can clearly see what can be deducted.  With a personal credit card, the small business owner must sift through which purchases went toward their business and which ones didn’t. 

2. Employee Credit Cards

While personal credit cards do allow for more than one person to use them, no small business owner in their right mind would trust their employees with a credit card that is associated with their personal funds.  This leads to another reason why a person should get a credit card, a small business card… the ability to issue separate business-related cards to employees.

3.  Higher Credit Limit

Personal credit cards have limits that hover around a few thousand.  Only extremely wealthy individuals or those with superb credit get to run their credit card balance or can get limits that are tens of thousands.  Everyone else must settle for a lower limit or, (if they’re a small business owner), opt for a small business credit card.  Since most credit card companies understand business expenses will be more expensive than personal ones, they allow for a significantly higher credit limit than they would if the card was designated for personal use.

4. Value Added Tax

Not all small business credit cards offer this, so entrepreneurs need to be on the lookout for this perk when applying for their cards.  But anyway, with value added tax, small business owners can recover any monies spent on foreign taxes.  This benefit is essential if a business owner does a lot of spending overseas.   Pay attention to make sure the credit card company has this credit card offer before applying for the card.

5. Insurance

Small business credit card tend to offer more generous insurance than their personal counterparts.  Examples of the types of insurance one can acquire with a small business credit card include: car rental insurance, travel insurance and purchase insurance.

6.  Earn Rewards

Earning reward points and benefits while making potentially necessary purchases for a business can be a very enticing motive.  Many card issuers design the credit card reward programs to benefit the small business needs.  Still, several issuers make available a variety of perks that used by any individual, regardless if the purchases used to earn the rewards were for business use.  Cash back and airline miles a long with general point redemption programs are some of the most common reward features.

A small business credit card is an excellent choice for entrepreneurs looking for a convenient way to make purchases for their business.  The list of advantages of small business credit cards are many, with there being virtually no disadvantages, (other than having to own a legitimate business to qualify for one).  When it comes time for selecting a credit card for a small business, weigh the needs of the business and compare the rates and fees of the various cards available.

Start by looking for a business credit card online.  Examine the features, since different credit card companies offer different features on their business credit cards, then fill out the short credit card application and approvals are almost immediate.  Aspects to review on the business credit card application will include credit limit, credit card interest rate and credit card apr, credit card rewards and credit card fees.  Of course, searching for the best credit card will most commonly involve searching for the best credit card rate.

Shopping the Prepaid Credit Card Market

Before choosing a prepaid credit card you should first find answers in regards to a number of important questions that will help you obtain the optimal credit card for your needs.  Shopping for a new credit card regardless of the type pf credit card should be done carefully to obtain the greatest benefit and the best credit card rate.

First you have to know what kind of credit card interest rates, credit card apr and fees you are going to get involved with by signing up for a particular card.  There can be fees as high as $100 to $175 attached to simply the credit card application fee in order to sign up for the new credit card, without even mentioning the charges that are likely to accompany your statement on a month to month basis.  Other factors certainly influence the decision on which prepaid card to select, but this should play a big role, especially when you take into account the wide potential variance of these kinds of fees from credit card company to company.

You can find out what kind of money you’ll pay to sign up in the cards membership terms and conditions.  Be sure to review all of the terms carefully of course, but for this point, check out what kind of fees you will pay to sign up as well as how much they will charge for ongoing use of the card.  When you figure those two factors together you’ll start to get the idea of how affordable (or not) using this particular credit card will be.

Second you’ll want to know where your new card will be accepted.  Not all credit card services are the same and reach the universal acceptability of the big two, Visa credit card and MasterCard.  If you have limitations on where your card will be accepted, make sure you decide if that is where you are likely to use it the most, or if it is going to hamper you by not being taken by more vendors.

How much money can you put on the card at once?  Most of these types of cards do have a limit as to how much can be loaded on the credit card.  They usually go up to $2,000 to $3,000, but be sure to check it.  Once you establish what the initial limit is on how much you can put into the credit card balance, check to see how easy the card issuer makes it to deposit additional funds onto the card and the possible charges for this procedure.  The simpler option is to find a card with a quick load method online or going through whomever you do your banking with.  Keep an eye out for a high fee for putting money on the card as well.  A lot of these cards will have an amount they charge for doing just that, but try and find the lowest load fee you can.

Find out what kind of communication the issuing credit card service has.  You’ll want to know the method for getting a balance on the card.  Some of them are not the most user friendly and require you to mail money in or stop at one of their stores to place money into your account there.  There is a chance as well that you will have to notify them each month of your desire to receive a physical statement.  The best method is one where you can access the credit card online. 

You should also check into what kind, if any, credit card rewards programs or ancillary benefits your prospective prepaid card offers.  As this segment of the credit card industry as expanded and become more competitive, many of the credit card companies offer points systems, just like regular credit cards do to redeem for various goods or services.  Quite a few of these programs were of dubious value but the market has changed and you may find a points program that has added value based on your use.  Don’t forget that basic rule of shopping, if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is.  If a card is offering you service that come with holding this card, such as any permanent discounts or services, make sure you read the fine print to see if they are charging you extra monthly fees for these premium benefits. 

Finally, be sure to investigate the liability protection on your card in case it is lost or stolen.  The regular terms that apply to normal credit cards don’t always play in the prepaid world.  Sometimes they can have a clause that you must notify them within a certain amount of time or you lose any protection from unauthorized charges.  You will want to read the terms and conditions carefully for any clauses that talk about liability and stolen cards.

Secured Credit Card Tips

People who have a poor credit history may not qualify of a regular credit card.  A secured credit card may be the only way for such people to enjoy the benefits of credit card use.  Fortunately, there are a number of credit card companies that offer secured credit card services.

A secured card requires a cash collateral deposit to set up the credit card.  This deposit becomes the initial credit line for the account.  The use of the card is entirely dependent on the amount of credit used against the total deposit on the account.  For example, if you put $250 in the account you can charge only up to $250. 

The issuer of the card sends you the card and you use it much the same way that regular credit cards are used.  However, you can only spend the money that you have already paid into your account.  When your available credit card balance reaches $0 you can pay in additional cash or pay down the balance on the account.  This differs from a prepaid credit card in which the account is drawn down as it is used and the only way to extend additional credit is supply more funds into the credit card account.

 If you develop a good track record in your use of the card, a bank credit card or other issuer may add to your credit line without asking for additional collateral.

Do a credit card online search at this site for secured credit card issuers and the terms they offer.  Secured credit cards have become a growing and competitive segment of the credit card industry.

Offers vary so be sure to shop around.  You aren’t just looking for a good deal.  You are looking to avoid a really bad deal.  Along the way, you will find the best credit card rates on these credit cards can be surprisingly low.

Some issuers will charge an application fee and others will not.  All secured credit cards have an annual fee, normally around $50, but they vary widely.  Make sure that you know exactly how much you will pay to receive the new credit card.  It is possible that with an application fee and an annual fee applied to the first month you will have very little available credit remaining.

There will also be fees for overspending your deposit and failing to make additional credit card payments on time, so normal good credit behavior will be important.  If you have had credit problems before you will have to be sure not to repeat the behaviors that created that situation.

The amount that you must deposit varies from card to card.  Most credit cards range from $250 to $500, and initially that will, as a rule be your credit card limit. 

With these credit cards it is especially important to watch out for really bad terms that can totally defeat the purpose of having the card.  Some issuers have low fees and provide reasonable service.  Others will try to impose more and higher fees, especially if you deviate even a small bit from the terms of your agreement.  The worst ones will charge outrageous monthly fees hidden in small print in the application or will harshly penalize a cardholder for overspending even by a small amount.  Be mindful of the credit card interest rate and the credit card APR.

As always it’s important to understand the terms of your agreement and live up to your responsibilities.  These cards are often used to reestablish damaged credit.  Be diligent on how you shop and compare and most importantly, how you repay the debt over time.  That’s the only way to improve your credit.

No More Change with Credit Cards

Credit card debt has been growing and growing for as long as the statistics have been recorded.  When we stand in line at the gas station and local mall we are accustomed to seeing the majority of customers pay with plastic.  In recent years we have seen a significant increase in charge card use at the convenience store, coffee shop and fast food restaurants.  As the frequency in which consumers utilize their credit cards in total and the dollar amount of the small purchases gets larger we appear to going down a path of all cashless transactions.  Credit card services and the credit card companies are the equivalent of the rise of the machines.

People have been debating for quite a while now, since the onset of the credit card really, about just how far away we are from reaching a totally cashless state in our day-to-day business.  The fact is that despite the people who might want to resist it, we are getting closer to that mark every day.  In fact, it is entirely possible for individuals to go cashless without even any inconvenience to themselves.

When you start dwelling on the nearly universal acceptance of various forms of plastic you start to see how this is possible.  Cashless operation was possible with the credit card only, but what about the onset of the debit card?  Think about how you can pay right at the gas pump with a card or self-checkout aisles for credit cards in supermarkets and large department stores.  You can tip electronically, negating the need for cash in a restraint.  It’s not even a strain to imagine this cashless world; it actually exists for someone who prefers to live that way.

Just like with anything in live you have ups and downs to the options of being a cash user or non-user.  The downside to cash is that you have to be there to give it someone.  You can’t fly someone cash over the internet or send it in the mail, (unless you’re willing to have it stolen).  However, with cash, you retain a degree of control over your own life beyond the credit card user.  Your purchases are not traced, information about your spending habits is not being distributed, and perhaps very importantly, you are not subject to becoming a victim of identity theft, which is becoming a growing concern.

Going plastic can be convenient, but if you’re talking about a credit card you have to be careful and smart in its use.  Too many people get the blank check mentality when they have a card with a high limit and tend to overreach their bounds.  In some circumstances, the credit card payment becomes hard to make on time and the credit card debt takeovers.  This is easily circumvented by a little planning and a budget, but if you don’t do those things watch out!  It’s very easy to become one of the statistics as someone with a debt load that is too high and damaging their credit and finances because of high credit card interest rates.  However, when you have a credit card you are protected much better against your money being stolen.  And if you have one of the credit cards with best credit card rate, the terms can be very manageable.  Most credit cards have liability clauses that ensure you won’t be held responsible for charges made on a stolen card.  However if someone steals the $500 in your money clip, you are never going to see that money again.

Make sure to weigh your options carefully as you make the decision whether or not going plastic only is the way for you.  And when you decide to get a new credit card, pay attention to the features and terms that interest you before you hit send on the credit card application.  You have to be very careful when using your credit card to not overspend.  The problem is that if you do, you will become saddled with interest for as long as you carry a balance on the card, and this can add up to very large amounts depending on the amount you’ve spent and how long it is before you can pay it off.  If you don’t spend more than you can afford to pay off each month, the credit card gets on even footing with cash, perhaps even superior footing.  Using credit cards is by all means not a forced event and those who enjoy the use of cash are not in danger of going the way of buggy whip.

Prepaid Debit Cards

Prepaid debit cards look like a credit card and can be used in most of the ways that credit cards are used.  Typically, hotels and car rental agencies will not allow you to use a prepaid debit card to secure your rentals, but most other purchases in stores, restaurants, and online can be made with a prepaid debit card just as with a credit card.

However, there is no actual credit involved in a prepaid debit card.  Instead, you have to pay the available balance on the card in advance.  For example, if you buy a prepaid debit card with $200, you can then spend $200 with that card before, but no more.  No debt is incurred since you have prepaid and you are using the funds out of a prepaid account.

Some cards allow you to continue to refill them on an ongoing basis.  The most advanced credit cards even will allow direct deposit of your paycheck and the ability to check your credit card balance online or by phone.  It’s known that tens of millions of Americans have no regular banking relationship and are willing to use pre paid debit cards to make purchases and pay bills instead of using a checking account.

Most often these cards are sought by people whose poor credit prevents them from getting a regular credit card and still need or want the credit card services.  Or, people who do not have a debit or cash card associated with a checking account.  There are a number of benefits for people whose credit is poor, and they include:

Budgeting monthly spending so that you only spend what you have.

Avoiding interest rate charges that apply to regular credit cards.

Debt avoidance.

Limiting your spending by loading only what you must spend.

Using the card to rebuild your credit if the issuer of the card reports your card use to credit agencies.

You can buy a card in a number of ways.  You can go and look for a credit card online and fill out the credit card application conveniently and review the various card features with their corresponding terms and conditions.  Drug retailers like Rite Aid, CVS, and Walgreeens will typically stock basic cards that you can fill up with cash right at the cash register.  Prepaid credit cards purchased at banks typically have more features but are no more valid that the ones you get at Walgreens.  Do a search for prepaid debit cards or go to a site like www.bestcreditcardrates.com.  Wal Mart has a significant presence in full-featured prepaid cards.

As always, read carefully before handing over cash for a prepaid card.  If you simply want a credit card for limited use, those are available everywhere.  If you’d like a card with more features, go to a bank and ask about options.  Remember that many times there are fees associated with the card.  The initial purchase of the card may cost $5.00 or some other small amount, and refilling the card may also cost money.  Using the card in itself may engender a fee, and it’s possible that a monthly maintenance fee will be charged by the issuer.  Most of these fees are less than $5.00 but you can be surprised if you don’t know about them in advance.  As with all financial matters, shop, compare and evaluate the terms before you choose the card that is best for your needs.

If the prepaid credit card is not your top choice, remember there are a number of credit card companies flooding the market with credit card offers.  These credit card offers include products that offer the best credit card rate to those that are simply bad credit cards and everything in between.  When reviewing the features of a new credit card be careful to find the features that meet your needs, not those of the credit card company.

Credit Card Minimum Payments

Our relationship with our credit card is a tricky thing and it is easy for some people to get into bad habits.  If you open up your monthly statement when it comes in the mail and the first thing you look for is the minimum credit card payment due, you’ve fallen into one of these bad habits.

Making minimum payments is one step on the road to credit card pain.  Along the way we all have days when finances are threatening, but making minimum payments is very expensive.  Let’s see why.

The minimum payment pretends to be your friend, but it is really the friend of the credit card company.  Most credit card companies require a minimum monthly payment of as little as 2%.  Check your agreement for how they calculate the number.  That number covers the company’s legal obligation to cover all fees, credit card interest due, and some principal.  It also allows them to keep you in a deluge of credit card debt to them forever at an interest rate of 15% or more if you are unable to pay more.  That’s an ugly thought.

As an example, let’s say that you have a $1000 balance on your credit card that has a high interest rate of 20%.  You used the $1000 for some good purpose like a big plasma television.  Now you have some money problems and fall into the trap of making minimum payments.  While it’s possible to pay less, let’s say that you pay 2.5% every month.  That 2.5% only represents a payment of $25, leaving you with a balance of $975.  Based upon a 20% interest rate your finance charge for the next month will be around $20 and you’ll make another tiny payment that means you still owe at least $950 for that television.  It’s easy to see that if you fall into the trap of making minimum payments, the payments can outlast the purchase.

Needless to say, many people carry a lot more debt on credit cards and struggle to make the payments.  While the minimum payment may give you some relief in the short term, it’s a very expensive proposition over time.  Before making purchases on that credit card, think about alternatives.  A good price on a purchase doesn’t mean much if you end up paying interest on the purchase amount for years and years.  Credit card services should never be used simply because they are there.  These services should be used sparingly, too often; too much credit card debt has ruined the finances of the average consumer.  Use the credit card services sparingly and pay attention to the credit cards you have.

If you have high interest rate credit cards, that credit card debt piles up much faster.  Consider applying for a new credit card.  Investigating a credit card online is easy and it maybe especially beneficial to dump a high rate credit card for one with a lower rate.  Check the terms before filling out and sending in the credit card application.  Good credit decisions can be made significantly easier with a credit card that is offering the best credit card rate.

If you find that you’re consistently having trouble making even your minimum payments, consider credit counseling.  A credit counselor can help you figure out how to restructure your budget or negotiate lower monthly payments with your creditor.  Or take a hard look at your spending habits and put yourself on budget.  Budgeting doesn’t have to be painful and almost any action will be less painful than contending with ever deepening debt. 

Credit is valuable tool to help with financial security if used properly.  Understand the terms of borrowing on credit and how the credit card payments are calculated should help you steer clear of long-term payment pain.

Managing Finances with a Credit Card

Credit cards can be both a blessing and a curse.  To the person who manages his finances well and has a detailed budget, the credit card is an invaluable tool.  It gives you ease of spending, reward programs, protection and simple traceability for all your purchases.  For the individual without a detailed budget however, the credit card and the subsequent credit card debt can be a black hole for your credit.  The best way to use a credit card is to know in advance exactly how much you can afford to charge to it.  That way you never overextend yourself and find yourself with a large balance at high interest, or with late fees.  Most consumers spend very little time managing their credit use and ultimately abuse the credit card services.  The charge cards are certainly very convenient, but you have to stick to your plan or you can find yourself in a very bad situation.

The first rule to managing you finances when you throw a credit card into the mix is to never spend beyond your means.  Simply put, decide what amount you will be able to happily pay off on the card when you get your monthly statement, and don’t spend more than that.  The credit card isn’t there to afford you a new lifestyle, it is there as a tool for you to use responsibly.  If you don’t watch this carefully the “I’ll just put it on the card” mentality can get the better of you and you can end up carrying a high interest credit card  balance that you find yourself unable to pay off.

Use credit cards to their utmost advantage.  If you’re already carrying card debt you should investigate the possibility of a new credit card that offers a 0% transfer of an existing card balance.  Lots of credit card companies do this to try and entice new customers over to their card, but it’s a great way to save you interest for a couple of months.  Take advantage of things like this and put the credit cards to work for you instead of working so hard to pay off the high credit card interest rates.

A very important understanding that you need to have in order to properly manage your finances with credit cards is the knowledge of your credit limit and what it means.  Your credit limit is not a blank check to spend that much money each month.  Don’t spend beyond what you can afford to pay off at the end of the month and you will avoid the sinkhole of interest that so many people fall victim too.  Once you start carrying a balance it can be a slippery slope back up because of the credit card interest and fees you will find piling up on you.

Finally, make sure you have a real budget, not just a vague plan in the back of your mind.  This is the best way to avoid getting into serious trouble.  When you are doing a personal budget, the key is to keep in mind fluctuating and varying expenses as well as your regulars like your phone bill.  For example, your grocery bill can be different from month to month, and you may need some budgeted for random home repairs that crop up from time to time.  Don’t forget any investments you’re making monthly as well, as they still come off of your gross income.  Once you have all of your expenditures carefully outlines, you will have a much more clear idea of what is safe to charge to the card, and what is an amount that is going to earn you the pleasure of paying the company a whole bunch of interest.

Credit cards can be dangerous, and debt can be a very hard lifestyle and habit to break.  However, for the responsible and well planned user, a credit card offers additional financial ease and freedom that can be a very pleasant experience to use.  To start on a responsible path, search for the best credit card rate before applying for a credit card.  A new credit card with features that match your needs at a low cost will help to manage your finances and maximize credit opportunities.

Credit Cards and Lack of Credit History

You don’t always get denied for credit on a credit card application because you have defaulted or proved yourself to be untrustworthy.  Sometimes it is less complicated than that, this can often happen because you haven’t had the opportunity to prove your trustworthiness as a borrower one way or another.  This can happen for a couple of reasons.  You might be young and applying for your first credit card, or maybe you’ve simply gone a long time in life with no reason to apply for a credit card or any credit until now.  This lack of information regarding your credit profile can be cause for rejection by credit card companies.

This can happen to you, but there are things to do to help increase the amount of information contained in your credit report.  Applying for a secured credit card that reports to the credit bureaus is one great way to remedy this problem and start building a credit profile.  Secured credit cards are fairly easy to apply for and can help build your credit while giving you the convenience of having the ability to use a credit card.  Anyone can apply for these credit cards online.  The credit card application is brief and the approval processes is easy.

If you are denied credit because of insufficient information, be sure to look into any borrowing you have done in the past and ensure that it is a part of your credit record.  In addition, certain credit histories aren’t a part of the standard report, and if you have a card and credit with one of these firms it is possible to make special request to have the information from them added to your credit file.  These could be gas credit card or specific store cards that you have been using. 

When it is time to apply for credit and you know there is very little information in your credit report for the credit card company to help make a determination of your capacity for repayment.  Help the application along by making sure the non-credit related questions on the application are answered with depth.  This could be a question regarding length of time at residence, type of residence, income, and type of employment or length of employment.  With limited to no credit there can be many instances where a strong income and long job time will help overcome the lack of credit weakness of the application. 

Many Americans have a hard time managing the credit cards they have.  For those without access to credit the problems can be equally as problematic for very different reasons.  Credit card debt sometimes ends up being too much other times it’s just too little.  To help overcome that scenario it is prudent to establish credit as soon as possible.  There are a variety of credit cards available for those with such issues.  Compare credit card offers and search for the best credit card that fits your credit history to enhance the chance of approval.   Read the offers carefully and decide which credit card services may apply to your background and be right for your needs.

Credit Card No No’s

In American society if a person wants to buy things that are more expensive, such as a house or a car, they must attain what is known as a credit score.  This is a score that allows lenders to determine whether or not a person is able to pay back their debts.  Credit scores range from 300 to 800 with the average scores being between 620 and 700.  If a person’s score is average or high, they have a good chance of getting the loans they desire.  Conversely, if their credit score is low, they will have to settle for subprime loans or simply wait until their credit gets better.  Fortunately, in the credit card industry there are a range of credit cards offered from those fortunate individuals with excellent credit to those with bad credit.  Bad credit cards are almost a sub category within credit card offers, and a rather sizeable one

However, there are certain things that can make anyone’s credit go down, even individuals who are lucky enough to get the big 800.  Here is our version of the top five things people need to avoid if they want to make sure their credit score stays high. 

1. Making Late Payments

Most credit cards define late credit card payments, as those made 15 days from the date the payment is due.  If a person can make their payment within this window, most creditors won’t consider the payment late.  However, if the payment is made after this timeframe, the late payment is considered late and a late charge fee will be attached.  Fortunately, this is not reflected on a person’s credit report until it is at least 30 days past due.  Keep in mind that a late payment is still better than no payment, but avoid being more than 30 days delinquent to keep the credit report clean.

2. Having too High a Balance

It is not a good idea to max out one’s credit card accounts, even if they have the ability to make the monthly payment.  High levels of credit card debt can really impact a credit score.  Not only does the practice of maxing out credit card debt eventually catch up with them, but it is also not favored by credit reporting bureaus.  While it is true they do want to see that payments are being made on a little bit of credit, too much credit indicates that a person may be living beyond their means.  One of the biggest negatives on a person credit report that does make timely payments is the ration of credit balances to available credit.  Try to keep your balance beneath one third of the available credit.

3.  Closing Credit Cards

Many people think closing their credit cards will make their credit score go up.  But it actually works the opposite way, since the more credit one has available the more lenders see them as being credit worthy.  Yet, the key word is ‘available’ credit.   If a person has 10 credit cards, and all of them are maxed out, lenders will think they are not in proper control of their debt.  Compare that to a person that has the same amount of cards with no more than 35 percent debt on them.  Lenders will see that person as being more responsible, since they have the credit available to them but they don’t need to use it.  Choose your credit card offers carefully.  To find the best credit card, look for the credit card online and review all the comparable credit card offers before filling out the credit card application. 

4. Signing Up for Department Store Credit Cards too Quickly

While having a few department store credit cards is actually good for one’s credit score, if one signs up for too many, one right after the other, things will not look favorable to the credit reporting bureau.  It is for this reason people must forego the temptation to sign up for a whole bunch of department store credit cards in hopes of getting discounts, free gifts or whatever other incentive that is being offered.  Obtaining numerous credit cards, regardless of the credit card type, will also mean that the individual had to fill out numerous credit card applications.  All of these credit card applications will result in a credit inquiry on your credit report and too many inquiries is not a good thing.  It doesn’t matter if the new credit card is the result of executing the application for the credit card online or through the mail or via phone, in order to approve a credit request the credit card company will have to access your credit report.

5. Judgments from Default

If you ignore the collection calls long enough after you stop making your credit card payments, the credit card company is not going to go away.  There may be lengthy delays between the times a credit card company contacts you about the credit card debt you may have with them.  Just because they delay does not mean they have given up the right to proceed with much harsher collection techniques.  The ultimate end all procedure is to now seek a judgment against the individual who has defaulted on the credit card debt by proving the matter in a judicial court.  If you do not defend the company’s claim that you owe the money and have in fact defaulted on the debt, the outcome is almost always the award of a judgment in favor of the credit card company against you the cardholder.  Judgments are one of the most severe individually damaging items on a credit report and show up on the category of public records.  This will not only have a significant impact on your credit score but will most certainly put an end to your credit card services and privileges on the defaulted account and possibly other credit cards you hold.

Using Credit Cards Prudently

A credit card is an incredible convenience that has immeasurable rewards and benefits, but it can lead some people into trouble because they don’t have good training in personal finance, or find they are living in difficult circumstances.  If we haven’t found ourselves in credit card trouble or having difficulty with the credit card payment, we probably know others who have.

The way you use your credit card is a serious matter that is taken for too lightly by many charge card users.  If you think you are below average in the way you use credit, seek help so that you can improve.  Read the basics about savings and budgets.  There are local agencies that offer free credit counseling in almost any city and neighborhood, and chances are that you have a friend or relative who is very good and disciplined with money who can help you stay on top of things.  Sometimes all it takes is to be responsible enough to do your homework and plan ahead on prudent credit card practices and good credit use.

Following are suggestions about credit card use that can help those who struggle with credit and credit card use.

Credit cards are like loans.  You have to pay what you owe.  You have to pay what for what you purchased and if you are not paying that purchase off immediately you will be paying a measurable amount of interest on that money.  Think of a credit card purchase as a loan that you have to pay back in thirty days.  If the funds used on the credit card are not paid back within the thirty days, monthly interest will accrue and your budget should be prepared for monthly credit card payments.

On the other hand, do not think of credit cards as loans that should be used for items of normal consumption.  Think of your credit card as a convenience, not a way to buy things that you can’t afford.  When you use your credit card think of it as paying with cash.  This is a habit of thought that will help you to limit your spending.

Track how much you spend on your credit card.  Always know your exact balance before going out, this sounds odd only if you don’t know how frequently you use your credit to make unnecessary purchases.  Little $20 purchases here and there add up.  Pay cash to keep yourself in touch with reality.  Make yourself think about how much you are spending.  Credit card services should be treated with far more reflection than the average consumers involve themselves in.

Always look at the receipts that you get in stores or restaurants for credit card purchases.  You’ll be surprised how often there are mistakes between what you thought you were paying and what the receipt says.  Often in stores there is a difference between the price on the item and the price in the store computer that ends up on your receipt.  Studying the receipt is also one of the most powerful ways to make the average consumer understand just how much money they charge and what the costs of individual items are in a purchase involving several items.  Careful review of receipts can be the starting point to a well-designed savings program.

Keep your credit card receipts and compare them with your monthly bill.  If there are any discrepancies, report them to your credit card companies immediately.

Don’t give out your credit card to friends and family, and don’t leave it lying around at home or in your place of work.   Have a place for it where it is secure and keep it there.  The less accessible it is, the less likely you are to lose it or use it.

Don’t owe more money than you can repay.  Watch those expenditures on the weekend.  Be careful of those easy to execute credit card online purchases as well.  Excessive use raises the balance on the credit card more often than single large purchases.  When the numbers become overwhelming this can damage your credit, and that hurts your chances of getting a car loan, mortgage, insurance, or even a job.

Most importantly, pay your credit card bill – and all of your bills – on time.  This is the single most important factor in determining your credit rating.  When debt becomes overwhelming, never ignore the problem.  The psychological pain from procrastination can be as much if not more than that of your credit rating.  If possible, pay your bill in full every month.  Over time monthly interest charges really add up.

It’s a really bad habit to pay off one credit card with another, especially if you use checks that a credit card sends you for which you have to pay an especially high credit card interest rate. This can send you into a tailspin of mounting credit card debt that can become insurmountable.  Balance transfers that improve your position will help, but be cautious and make certain it is an improvement, not a postponement.

Go out without your credit card.  Try to avoid the use of credit card services.  If you see something that you really want to buy, go home and get a credit card.  This gives you a little emotional distance and a cooling off period during which you will decide if you really want the item or not.

Pay with cash and think of your credit cards as a cushion.  A credit card can bail you out of many situations when you are out of cash or have an expensive emergency but it can lead to problems if you use a credit card for everyday purchases. 

One method to help reduce the monthly credit card expense is to apply for a credit card that has the best credit card rate that match your buying habits.  It may not be wise to exchange one credit card for another without cause, but it will certainly behoove most credit cardholders to switch credit cards for one with the best credit card rate.

Limit Credit Card Debt With Rewards Credit Cards

Rewards credit cards are an excellent way to get extra cash, airline miles or free merchandise.  And the process of getting these things involves a person doing what they would’ve normally done anyway…making purchases with their credit card.  However, it is this very act that could lead a person down a path of financial ruin if they don’t know what they’re doing.  That’s why this article has been created, to provide tips on how a person can reap the benefits of credit card rewards without having to encounter the hassle of excessive debt and avoid filling out a credit card application that does not match the cardholder’s needs.

1. Choose the Right Rewards Credit Card

It’s important that the rewards credit card a person gets appropriately addresses their style of spending.  In order to find the best credit card with the credit card services that meet your needs, knowing those needs is essential.  For example, groceries and gas are expenses that are automatically going to be spent, whether a person has a credit card or not.  This is why for the average person rewards credit card that offer discounts on gas or groceries could be invaluable.  On the other hand, people who travel a lot will benefit from an airline rewards credit card.

2. Know the Terms

Consumers need to make sure they read the fine print before charging up their rewards credit cards.  This is because many rewards credit cards may carry high credit card interest rates or credit card APRs, annual fees and other costs associated with their use.  The appropriate time to review these terms is at the time of the credit card application.  A consumer needs to know upfront how much their rewards are actually going to cost them before they get a credit card.

Additionally, consumers need to know how long rewards points last and if there are any point deductions if they send in a credit card payment late.  If there is a limitation on point usage, it’s best that customers redeem their rewards as soon as possible.  If they feel they cannot accrue enough points due to lack of sufficient credit card usage, they may want to rethink getting a rewards credit card period.  Searching for a new credit card online makes it painless to compare different credit card terms and offers.

3. Pay Balances in Full

It is a fact that in order to get the most out of a rewards credit card a person must use it frequently.  However, this does not mean they need to carry a balance.  The key is putting expenses on the card that are small enough to be paid in full before the actual interest is charged.  Don’t let the credit card payment become a burden.  This shouldn’t be hard if all of the major bills are put on there, since a person should have cash to cover these expenses anyway.  It’s only when extraneous purchases are put on a rewards credit card that a customer may encounter debt problems.

 4. For Larger Balances, Consider A Balance Transfer

What if a person decided to use their rewards credit card to make a ‘fun’ purchase?  Maybe they spent their money on a television or even a vacation.  Either way, they still do not need to hold onto a balance.  What they can do is transfer the existing balance onto a credit card balance transfer  offering a 0% introductory APR.  Most credit cards of this nature will offer the generous APR for 6 to 12 months.  This gives a consumer a considerable amount of time to pay down the debt they had previously acquired.  And with the rewards credit card clear, they can continue making smaller purchases to gain their rewards.

The credit card market has a tremendous variety of reward based credit cards available, including credit card cash back programs, credit card travel rewards, gas credit cards and more.  To gain the greatest benefits from these products and obtain the best credit card, potential card users should compare the terms and specific offerings of the credit card companies as well as analyze their own budget and spending habits.

Credit Card Scams

Your credit card holds mighty power, and there are some bad people who would like to take some of that power.  Credit card scams cover a wide variety of bad acts.

Identity theft was the top consumer fraud complaint received by the Federal Trade Commission in 2007.  Within the complaints regarding identity theft the number one form of identity theft involved credit card fraud.

While it may seem like innocent marketing to you, even legitimate credit card companies will attempt to scam you.  Anyone receiving a credit card will also be inundated with sales materials and phone calls inviting you to purchase credit insurance.  While this may be a good idea at times, one of the worst forms of credit insurance involves buying protection in case a card is stolen and the thief runs up a big bill.  But federal law already protects card users.  Consumer liability is capped at $50, and it is rare to have a credit card company even ask for that money if you have promptly reported the card missing or stolen.  So, to ask you to buy credit insurance against the possibility that your card is stolen is surely a scam.

Another scam involves phony credit card issuers.  Some scammers will promise credit cards with some pretty good-sounding terms and credit card services.  There’s just one catch: the only way you get that credit card is via a fee paid in advance, which they ask for to help process the paperwork or “to get you pre-approved” or some other bogus proposition.  Once you’ve paid the fee, you won’t hear from them or be able to find them again.  The main target of advance-fee scammers is a person who is desperate for a card with great credit card interest rates and terms.  That is, someone who can least afford to lose money. 

Instead of jumping on those scams, do your research.  Check for a credit card online.  Investigate the terms and conditions before filling out a credit card application.  Never pay a fee in advance to process the credit card application.  There are plenty of credit card companies that specialized in bad credit cards or credit cards for bad credit.

One alternative scam from telemarketers is to tell a desperate and uninformed victim that they don’t qualify for credit but that they can set up a debit card for their use those functions just like a credit card.  They ask for your checking account information or another form of payment so that they can set up the account, but once again the card never arrives.

Older consumers are particularly targeted by telemarketing cons.   Scammers attempt to find seniors who are trusting, looking for human contact, and in search of needed funds or a special deal.  If you have older relatives whom you think might be prey for telemarketers or other scammers, have a talk with them about never giving out credit card number, checking account, or other personal information like their social security number.

One piece of information that scammers increasingly want is the security code on the back of your credit card in the signature strip.  This is a three digit code that seems harmless and insignificant, but if the rest of your account information from a theft of data, or from a store or restaurant receipt, the security code is the key that unlocks your credit card for online purchases. 

Often the security code is asked for as part of a “security check” by a phony “Fraud and Security” department claiming to be from your credit card company.  These people have already got your credit card number and expiration date.  They’ll sound official and stern and tell you that some phony charges may have been applied to your card.  They’ll tell you that they don’t want you to repeat EVER your credit card number, even to them, but to prove that you have the card in your possession they’ll ask you to give them the three digit security code from the back.  Your credit card company will never ask you to do this.  These are scammers trying to get the missing piece of information from your card.

The variations on these scams are endless, so be aware, and practice common sense.

Don’t every give your social security number, mother’s maiden name, or account numbers to anyone who calls you.  People may sound official and claim to be from your bank, credit card company, or the IRS, but if they call you, don’t give them any information.  Only trust people when you have called them, and only if they are associated with a credit card or bank you have a relationship with.  Don’t call numbers that come to you in mailed solicitations and offer them personal information.  Most legitimate businesses don’t operate in this way, and it’s a very dangerous habit for a consumer to get into.

Most of all, if you get offers that seem too good to be true, or generous in ways that other marketers can’t match, they probably are too good to be true.   If you want the best credit card and the best credit card rate don’t respond to a company that is reaching out to you, do your research first and check what credit card offers are available before you apply.

Credit Card Safety

Responsible use of your credit cards goes hand in hand with safe use of your card.  Practice good fundamentals of credit card use and you minimize your exposure to identity theft, unauthorized spending, and other annoyances that accompany the loss or theft of a card.

Here are a few basics to get you started.

Sign your card on the signature panel as soon as you receive it.

Protect your cards as if they were cash.  In some ways they are more powerful than cash, so don’t leave them lying around, and keep them well organized in your purse or wallet.  It’s a good practice to treat them with respect.  Life without credit card services can turn out to be easier said than done.

Be sure that you get your credit card back after every purchase, and return it to place where you customarily keep it.  Don’t shove it into a pocket or drop it in the bag with your purchase.  If you aren’t normally careful with things you may have to try harder to develop these responsible habits.  You’ll be glad you did, and it may spill over to other parts of your life, like keeping track of your cell phone.

Report lost or stolen cards immediately to the company that issued you the card.

Don’t leave your credit cards in your car’s glove compartment or any other place that they are vulnerable, like a desk drawer at work.  A high percentage of credit cards thefts are from car glove compartments or other places that seem safe.

Never write down your personal identification number or PIN.  Memorize it.

Never tell anyone your PIN.  No one from a financial institution, the police, or a merchant should ask for your PIN.  You are the only person who needs to know it.  This is true of your credit card number as well, nobody needs to know what your number is other than a business you may be conducting a transaction with.

When selecting a PIN, avoid picking a number that is easy for others to guess – for example, your name, telephone number, date of birth, or any simple combination of these.

Don’t volunteer any personal information when you use your credit card, other than by displaying personal identification as requested by a merchant.

Always makes sure that sales vouchers are for the correct purchase amount before you sign them.  Don’t rely solely on the credit card merchant.  You’d be surprised at how many discrepancies there are between the amounts marked on the item and the amount the computer prints on your receipt.

Always keep copies of your sales vouchers and credit card receipts, and Automated Teller Machine (ATM) receipts.

Always check your billing statement to make sure the purchase amounts are correct. Immediately dispute any charges that you did not make by notifying your credit card provider.  If you don’t review the monthly statement and simply pay the credit card payment you will be less likely to review erroneous charges in a timely fashion.  If possible, access you credit card online, this allows easy access to the charges and monthly statements.

Always put disputes regarding your billing statements in writing immediately upon becoming aware of the disputed item; otherwise, you may be held legally responsible for the entire amount of the disputed item.  Many credit card companies have specific instructions for notifying them of a billing error dispute.  Read your credit card agreement and billing statements carefully for information regarding dispute notification requirements.  If you can’t make yourself wade through your agreement or discarded it, contact your credit card issuer by phone to ask about their dispute notification requirements.

Credit Card Reward Programs Basics

Credit card reward programs started springing up as a marketing tactic so credit card companies could help establish brand loyalty among their customers.  The basic premise was simple.  In exchange for using a company’s credit card, a customer would receive a variety of rewards.  The concept was so effective at both bringing in new customers and keeping existing ones that most of the other credit card companies caught on.  Now, so many credit card reward programs exist that trying to choose a specific one could be a daunting task for a consumer.

Well, before consumers get totally overwhelmed, they should keep in mind that all credit card rewards programs pretty much work the same.  This means purchases must be made in order to make a customer eligible for their rewards.  What these exact rewards are will depend on the specific credit card reward program the customer signed up for.  The reward program will be explained on the credit card company summary before filling out the credit card application.  Review the credit card offers before executing the credit card application.  Researching the credit card online will often be the most efficient method to compare credit card services.  The most common types of credit card rewards are detailed below.

1. Cash Back Reward Credit Cards

Just as the namesake indicates, cash back reward credit cards allow a customer to accumulate a small amount of cash each time they use their credit card.  This cash value ranges from 1 percent to 5 percent.  It is usually redeemable when a certain amount has been accumulated.  When a person is eligible to receive their cash, they might get it in the form of a check, store discounts or as a credit against their current balance. 

2. Point-Based Reward Credit Cards

Reward credit cards that work on a point-based system allow customers to accumulate special points each time they use their reward credit cards.  These points can be redeemed for a variety of things, ranging from gas, to airline miles to actual merchandise.  Although it will still take a while to accumulate enough points to get more expensive things, point-based reward credit cards still tend to offer more value than cash back reward credit cards. 

3.  Airline Miles

Most major credit card issuers offer a version of the frequent flyer mileage rewards program characteristically referred to as travel reward credit cards.  The airlines branded credit cards were the most pervasive and generous with mileage rewards.  However, more of the major issuers have offered the travel reward credit cards based on a point system.  The benefit of the point system is that these earned points can be used to redeem a ticket airline on a variety of airlines.  The airline credit cards offered frequent flyer miles on only their airline.

The general terms for both types of reward credit cards tend to work the same.  This usually means annual fees and higher APRs.  Additionally, if a person is late, the resulting finance charge could lessen the value of the points or cash they receive… if the credit card company still lets them receive it.  Indeed, if a person does sign up for a rewards credit card, they must make sure they not only use their credit card often but that they also promptly pay any bills that are generated.

If a person wants to make the task of finding the right rewards credit card easier and obtain the best credit card, they can try using online credit card comparison sites.  These are available in various categories on this site, www.bestcreditcardrates.com.  All a person has to do is type in “rewards credit card”, and they will receive several of hits relating to their search.  When using these sites, a person needs to pay close attention to: the rewards being offered, the annual fee, the credit card APR (also known as the interest rate) and the terms regarding reward points or cash back when payments are late.  A consumer can search by the best reward program or the best credit card rate.  Check available credit card products and credit card services to stay informed and save money.

Credit Cards and Your Credit Level

When you apply for a credit card, the credit card companies are going to look at a few factors in order to determine whether to accept or deny you.  The most prevalent of those factors is going to be your existing credit history.  What kind of credit history you have will depend on how you have managed debt and credit throughout your life.  Determined by what you’ve done in the past, you will have one of four general types of credit.

You might have excellent credit.  This means that when measured against how much money you are making you have very little existing debt relative to the amount of available credit.  The more money you are making the better the more debt you may have, but this again will be measured on the total amount of available credit you have.  Excellent credit would also certainly imply that you haven’t had problems with late or missed a credit card payment in the past.

If you were not quite in the excellent credit category you probably would be assessed as having good to average credit.  This means that maybe you have a pretty significant amount of debt when you weigh it against how much money you have coming in.  This might also include one or a few late payments on credit cards in the past 24 months, but you haven’t gone past 90 days delinquent or defaulted completely on anything.

The better credit you have the better chance you have of being accepted when you apply for a card.  There are several cards that you will be able to apply for and be accepted for if your credit falls under the scope of either excellent or good to average.

If you don’t fall in these categories you either have rather poor or no credit.  Bad credit or poor credit is when you’ve had a history of large debts and consistent failures to make timely payments.  Bad credit would also apply to anyone who has declared bankruptcy.  Bankruptcy and judgments are public records that are revealed on your credit report.  These records can be the most damaging to your credit profile in the short term.  Just because you have bad credit though does not completely exclude you from filling out a credit card application and receiving a credit card.  You just have to explore the options that are available to borrowers with bad credit.  Given that the credit card market is extremely competitive there is a vast array of options for those with impaired or less than perfect credit.

If you don’t have excellent, good, average, or bad credit, then you must just have no credit at all.  This happens mostly to younger demographics that haven’t had a chance to establish any kind of a credit rating because they have no history of borrowing.  There are options for people in this category as well; again it just takes a little bit of shopping around to find the best option depending on your credit circumstances.  Often, with borrowers that have a limited credit profile, greater weight is placed on income, housing and employment.  Shop for a credit card online and you will be able to find numerous credit card applications for those individuals with limited or no credit along with offers for bad credit cards.

Depending on which of the above credit categories you fall under, there will be several effects on any credit card application you make with a credit card company.  The first will be the determination of what kind of credit card you get approved for.  This would be the difference between the regular and gold options some companies carry, or possibly the requirement to get a secured credit card instead.  Your credit will also help determine how high of a limit you are approved for as well as the credit card APR your borrowing is assessed at.  That credit card interest rate can be different depending on how your application scores with the credit card company based on their parameters for weighting the factors in the credit card application.  Shopping and comparing several credit card offers can assist greatly to make sure you obtain the best credit card regardless of your credit profile.  Finding the best credit card rate is easy when comparing credit cards online.

What To Do If You Lose Your Credit Card

One of the worst things about losing a credit card is that you often don’t know it’s missing until sometime much later.  If you use it ever day you may realize it immediately but most people carry more than just a couple of credit cards and one could be missing for a while before you notice.

Of course there is the other situation where you don’t just lose one credit card, but you lose a purse or wallet that contains five credit cards.  The good thing about this situation is that you probably know when your wallet or purse is gone.

In either case, the most important thing is to contact the credit card company immediately upon learning that the card or cards are gone.  Most card issuers print their customer service phone number on your billing statement.  Locate a recent copy of your credit card statement to find the number to reach your card issuer.  When you contact your creditor, you should have your credit card number or account number along with the date you noticed your credit card was missing.  Also having the date and amount of your last purchase will help the card issuer determine if any fraudulent purchases have been made.  Even after you’ve contacted the credit card issuer by phone, it’s wise to follow-up with a letter.  The letter should state that your credit card was lost or stolen and include the account number, date of loss or theft, first date the loss was reported, and the last authorized transaction.  This letter will provide proof that you reported the loss should that fact ever come into question.  Alternatively, if you have access for your credit card online you may be able to use the website to report your missing credit card.

But you don’t have to rush home to look at your latest statement.  You can have someone at home look it up, or the information might be available in a store, or certainly on the internet.  A quick effort to call the credit card issuer is a sure sign that you are acting responsibly and trying to prevent big problems.

By Federal law you aren’t liable for more than $50 of charges that are made on your card between when it was stolen and when you report it.  As soon as the credit card company has been informed that a card has been lost or stolen, the credit card holder is no longer responsible for any unauthorized purchases.  Of course, if all six of your credit cards are gone, you are responsible for $50 times 6 cards, or $300.

It also makes sense to look at your credit report after the loss or theft of a card.  If your credit card company erroneously says that you have missed a monthly credit card payment on a credit card you have reported as missing, you would be dismayed but you probably wouldn’t be surprised.

In the wake of a theft or loss you also have to deal with all of the things that your credit card is connected to.  Most of us have recurring monthly charges on our card for club or web site memberships.  We may refill our automatic toll paying device for freeway driving with our credit card.  All of these connections and payments now need to be rearranged.  Take a close look at a recent statement to see how many of these entanglements you have.  It once seemed so helpful but now it’s a pain.  The best way to avoid a lost or stolen credit card is to remain aware of your card’s whereabouts at all times.  At any point in time, you should only carry the credit cards that you’ll need.  Leave the others at home.  Take the steps necessary to keep your credit cards in a safe and secure place.

Avoid putting cards directly into a pocket.  It’s easier for them to slip out.  Make sure your cards fit snugly inside the slots of your wallet or billfold.  If the slots have become loose or worn, consider purchasing a new, stiffer wallet that will hold your credit cards securely in place.

Take some time now to create a contact list including the name and number of all your credit card issuers.  Store the list in a safe place so you can easily reach your card issuers if a credit card is lost or stolen in the future.  For extra precautions in order to avoid being without credit card services, you may want to keep one of your best credit cards at home so you have access to a bank credit card should you lose your wallet or purse.  You may also want to consider a credit freeze to make sure no one fills out a credit card application with your stolen identity.

Bestcreditcardrates.com  lists credit card offers from the leading credit card issuers and banks.  Credit card offers can be found for low rate credit cards, balance transfer credit cards, student credit cards, business credit cards, credit cards for bad credit, prepaid credit cards, secured credit cards, gas credit cards, cash back crdit cards and more.

About Credit Card Balance Transfers

Expert creditors use a not-so-secret technique to get their credit card interest rate reduced among their credit cards.  It involves making a balance transfer on a credit card that has an introductory APR.  These credit card APRs can be extremely low or even zero.  In the case of the latter, a person may feel that they are paying with their own cash, since on paper no additional charges are being accrued.  However, it doesn’t often work that way with balance transfer credit cards. 

Firstly, all balance transfer credit cards will only offer an introductory APR temporarily.  For most this period will be 6 months, though there are a few that go as long as two years.  Either way, once the introductory APR ends, a person is expected to pay at whatever APR a credit card company designates.  This APR will usually be much higher than what one could get with a credit card that didn’t offer a balance transfer promotion.  Secondly, once the APR is charged, the remaining money will not go towards paying down transfers that had higher interest rates, at least initially.  This is because the first transfers that get paid down are those that had lower interest rates.  And even then, (as most people who use credit cards know), very little of the credit card payment actually goes towards the balance.  If it did credit card companies wouldn’t be the multi-million corporations that they are.

So, what’s the point of getting a balance transfer credit card if in the long run it won’t be much different than any other credit card?  Well, the key term to think about is ‘in the long run.’  For the short-term balance transfer credit cards offer incredibly low APRs, interest rates that cannot be matched even for the most generous of credit card companies.  But since it’s temporary, it’s important that the balance is paid off in full before the introductory APR ends.  So, in essence, balance transfer credit cards just give a creditor more time to handle their debt.  This fact cannot be dismissed lightly for those who are attentive to their budget.  Transferring a balance from one credit card that is charging an interest rate of 16.5% to a new credit card that has a balance transfer program at 4.9% for six months is a great deal.  The deal turns sour only when you don’t that transferred balance within the teaser period.

There is another thing that can be done with balance transfer credit cards, particularly those offering 0% APR.  Since balance transfer credit cards do allow for credit to be deposited into a person’s bank account, there’s an opportunity for a person to accrue their own interest, provided they have a savings account or a money market checking account.  When the introductory APR ends, the person will withdraw the funds from their account to cover the balance.  What is left over is pure profit… the interest paid from the bank.  Granted, it won’t be much, but it’s a great way to get a little bit of cash while trying to attain a good credit history. 

The only thing a person should be careful about to make sure they have the best credit card in either scenario are fees associated with balance transfer credit cards.  For example, many will charge up to $75 each time a credit card balance transfer is initiated.  If an individual is planning on using the credit card balance transfer to earn interest from their bank, they must make sure this fee doesn’t supersede their profit once they have to pay the balance back.  And those who want to use the credit cards to lower their credit card interest rates need to make sure they make transfers only once to limit these fees.  To find the best credit card rate, balance transfer solicitations should be reviewed carefully and compared to similar offers that may fit your budget and spending habits.  If you haven’t been lucky enough to get a new credit card application in the mail with a balance transfer solicitation, get a new credit card online.  Sort through the credit card offers by balance transfer attributes and choose a new credit card that is the best credit card for you.

Why Fixed Rates Are Not Fixed On Credit Cards

Credit card companies lure us with low or even 0% introductory interest rates and we sometimes lose sight of what happens when the introductory rate goes away.  When your honeymoon period of six months or a year is over, the so-called “go to” rate is then in effect.  This credit card interest rate is one of two things: Fixed or Variable.

A significant number of credit cards are variable or adjustable rate.  These rates vary in accordance with other interest rates, typically the Prime Rate plus a margin added to this index.  That is, if the Prime Rate is 6% and the margin is 5%, the rate on the credit card for that period will be 11%.   So, your variable rate credit card may be 4% or 9% higher than the Prime Rate, depending on how good a deal you qualify for.

During a period of rising rates you may have wished you’d had a fixed rate credit card instead.  The very name of the thing – fixed rate – indicates that it is stable, and that it must not and cannot and will not move.  But wait a minute, and not so fast.  Your agreement with the bank or other issuer says otherwise.  In fact the credit card company can raise your rate simply by informing you that they will do so.  It’s true.  Credit card companies can call the rate fixed as long as they inform you in writing before they fix it at another rate.  That seems wrong, and it’s likely that you won’t even take note of their notification.  It’ll be slipped into your monthly statement and you’ll discard it along with the rest of the mail debris.  Your checkbook will feel the effect, however.  If they give you thirty days notice in writing they can raise the interest rate.

Fixed rates don’t rise as quickly as variable rates do.  There is what is called a lag time as the bankers pretend to think about doing it or not doing it, and then when they decide to do it they have to write you that letter.  And of course on the other end, it’s a safe bet that bankers never once have revised a fixed rate down when the Prime Rate dropped.  They’re just not that generous, and you aren’t that lucky.  Credit card companies are in business to maximize their profits, not to reduce your monthly expense.

So, the fixed rate really isn’t fixed.  With this in mind, be attentive to the terms on the credit card application to identify those credit cards that are adjustable rate based and those that are fixed rate based.  Shop for the best credit card rate knowing that the rate may in fact change over time.  The best credit card for an individual may be determined by more than just the credit card interest rate.  When filling out a credit card application don’t ignore the other credit card services, such as rebate programs, rewards and credit card balance transfers.  Get a credit card that matches your needs and read the fine print to avoid being roped into a bad credit card.

Credit Card Insurance

If you have received a new credit card recently you probably recall being asked in an aggressive and persistent way if you are interested in adding credit insurance.  This can happen when you receive the mailing that delivers the credit card, and it often happens when you call to activate the card.  Sometimes follow up telemarketing ensues.  Most of us don’t really understand what this insurance is.  Some reject it without consideration, and some will buy it because insurance just seems like a good idea.

What is the right thing to do?  That depends upon what is covered, what it costs, and how disposed you are to want insurance.

First let’s describe the four primary types of credit insurance.

Credit life insurance pays off the debt you owe on the credit card if you die.  If you owe $2500 to a bank issued Visa credit card, the bank gets paid.

Credit disability insurance will generally cover the minimum monthly credit card payment should you become disabled.  This insurance will have the benefit of protecting your credit score by making your monthly minimum credit card payment when you become medically disabled.  Typically there is a specific time period after which payments will not be made, that is there is a maximum benefit.  As a rule, additional purchases after the disability will not be included and may not even be allowed.

Involuntary unemployment credit insurance will make your minimum monthly payment if you are laid-off or fired.  Purchases made after the involuntary unemployment would not be covered and again there is usually a maximum benefit amount.

Credit property insurance will usually pay off your credit card debt on items you purchased with the credit card.  The debt for these purchases will be paid as long as the items are totally destroyed by specific incidents that are listed in the policy. 

While all of this coverage offered by the credit card company sounds valuable, there are a number of things to consider.

One is the cost.  If your gut reaction to the monthly cost is that it’s too much money, it probably is.  Recognizing that this is a subjective response, it’s usually a pretty good indicator of whether we value what is being offered.  The cost per month is often relatively small, however, the coverage is often limited and does not cover a significant sum of money.  There is often more bang for your buck by procuring a stand alone policy to cover death, disability or property damage.

Another is the way in which the product is marketed.  This usually happens in a mailing with a tremendous amount of fine print, or it happens through a telemarketer who is obliged to give you some information but it’s your responsibility to ask about other things that you wouldn’t reasonably think of.  Neither of these situations is conducive to making well-considered decisions.  Bundling credit card services together makes the credit card offer more confusing for the consumer but is often a strategy for sales by the credit card company.

Yet a third is whether this coverage duplicates coverage that we already own in the form of life, property, or work related insurance.

Another is common sense.  If you are someone who carries a very small balance from month to month it doesn’t really make sense to have life or disability insurance.  Common sense would also tell you that if the sales proposition is more than you can take in and understand, it probably isn’t for you.  For example your coverage may be free for an introductory period but then it kicks in at a rate that seems high.  Or if the proposal seems manipulative – cash this $20 check and your coverage begins – the program probably isn’t strong enough to be sold on its own merits.

If you are interested in credit insurance, here are some additional questions to ask.

Can the insurance be canceled if you change your mind?  Do the rates ever increase?  Is the insurance affected in any way if you miss a payment?  Are there dollar amount caps or time limits on what is paid?

Credit insurance exists in that gray area between “seems like a good idea” and “I’m not really sure what I’m doing.”  Don’t buy it impulsively, and always get a little more information than you think you need.  Consider your existing policies, the cost, the benefits and why the sales are so aggressive before going forward.

One way sure fire technique to make certain the credit card balance doesn’t get out of control is to seek out the best credit card.  Find the right credit card online with the best credit card rate couldn’t be easier.  The credit card application is short and the choices of credit card offers are extensive.  You can help reduce credit card debt by obtaining the credit card services that best suit your needs not the credit card companies.

Credit Card APRs

The APR or annual percentage rate on your credit card can be a scary thing to consider.  It appears as a bold number and seems simple to understand, but it is anything but simple.

The APR is the interest rate charged for any credit that is extended to you on your credit card expressed as a yearly rate.  In the original offer for the credit card interest rates will be described in as fixed or variable, although in reality there is not a lot of difference. 

Variable rate cards will have their APRs tied to an index – normally the prime rate which is in turn closely follows the movement of the Federal Funds rate – plus a margin added to this index.  A variable rate will go up and down as short-term rates change in the larger economy.  If you think interest rates may be headed down, a variable rate card may be a good thing.  If your credit card balance is overly burdensome, a variable rate may be the better option.  The variable rate credit card will generally have a lower rate and therefore the credit card payment will be lower as well.  Since these rates are generally lower than fixed rate cards and if rates change dramatically as long as the balance isn’t a tremendous burden to payoff you can reduce that balance as rates rise.

You may think you avoid interest rate risk with a fixed rate card but you won’t.  Federal law allows card issuers to change any terms of the card, including the interest rate, with just 15 days advance notice in writing.  They won’t hesitate to change it as rates go up, but will be eerily silent when rates go down.  You have to read the letters and the odd notices that show up in your statement to avoid rate shock when your next statement arrives.  If you have several credit cards you’ll want to use the ones with the most favorable rates.  It makes a difference over time.  If you don’t have the option using different credit cards, it may be advantageous to obtain a new credit card.  Compare the different rate options and fill out the credit card application for one with the best credit card rate.

If you normally carry a balance on your credit cards, a low interest credit card is good for you.  The difference between a low 12 percent APR interest rate and a higher 16 percent APR interest rate is significant over time, and it’s really worth your while to maintain good credit and qualify for the best rates.  Take time to maintain good credit or repair any damages you may have already made; the difference in interest rates over time is more of an impediment than most consumers care to admit.  Living without credit card services because of bad credit can be more difficult than initially expected.

No one wants to get a cash advance on a credit card because it really costs a lot to do so.  That’s because the APR for a cash advance is different and considerably higher than the nominal rate APR for purchases.  So, if you need an advance for a good reason or a bad one, at least look at the APR for cash advances before you get it.  It may make you consider other options.

There are also different APRs for a credit card balance transfer.  Credit card companies will lure you onto their card by having a low initial APR to establish the account, and then have a significantly higher APR just for transactions involving a balance transfer.  The balance transfer APR is often an introductory rate that has a relatively short expiration time period.

Similar introductory rates for new credit cards can also seem sweet but then turn sour.  A credit card may have a tiered APR where different rates apply at different balances; you may pay one rate on balances up to $3000 and a higher rate for any part of your balance above $3000, for example.

Here’s the worst one.  The credit card company will just about always have in their agreement with you a provision that allows them to crank up the APR if you make a late payment.  They won’t hesitate to do it, either.  This rate is usually referred to as the penalty APR under the terms and conditions of the credit card agreement.  So always remember the cardinal rule of credit card use – always make the credit card payment on time.  It costs a lot of money to do otherwise.

If late payments have already resulted in the credit card interest rate rising, considering looking for a new credit card online.  Even with poor credit, there are credit companies that specialize in credit cards for bad credit.  It may surprise you on just how low a rate you can come by with a new credit card within the category of bad credit cards.  The best credit card rate regardless of your credit or circumstance is always worth shopping for.

Choosing the Right Credit Card Processor

Choosing a financial institution to handle credit card processing should be similar to choosing any financial institution a business elects to conduct business with.  Shopping and comparing the terms of credit card processing companies is not only a necessary part of a business’s plan to accept credit cards but may very well be an overlooked task that can slowly impact profitability either positively or negatively.  The rate charged for processing, extra fees for ancillary services and the overall service of the institution should be evaluated.  For a business just starting out, the costs of a processing may not seem like much.  As the dollar amount of charge cards processed increases, the cost difference of .25% or .50% of a number that may be in the 10’s of thousands or 100’s of thousands of dollars adds up.  To determine what banks will be appropriate credit card processors, small business owners should consider several factors. 

1. Fees

It is very important that a business look at the base fees a bank charges for credit card transactions.  On average, most credit card processors will charge around 2 percent for each purchase made.  Yet, the business manager must dig deeper to fully see if they are getting a good value with a credit card processor.  The best way to do this is for them to request a typical statement showing all of the fees associated with a variety of transactions.

2. Time

A business need to know how long it will take for the money generated from credit card transactions to show up in their merchant account.  This timeframe is known as processing time.  The best processing time will be 1 day, while the worst lag time can be up to 5 days.  Sometimes, longer processing times can mean a credit card processor is taking extra time to make sure the credit card transaction was not fraudulent.
 
3. Equipment Costs

Credit card processing machines can be quite expensive, as they range from $300 to $800.  Additionally, businesses must also factor in the costs associated with connecting the credit card processing machine to the network.  This is done through a telephone line or through the Internet. 

4. Payment of Fees

The fees associated with credit card transactions can be paid in two ways.  The first most common way involves instant payment by deducting the money as soon as a transaction has been initiated.  The other way involves an entrepreneur paying for an accumulation of fees at the end of the month.  The latter may seem more annoying, but it allows for much easier bookkeeping.  It also does the obvious, which involves putting more money into an entrepreneur’s wallet, at least initially.

5. Gift Certificates

If a credit card processor can handle gift certificate transactions, business can expect an additional payment that ranges 25 cents to 50 cents for each purchase.  These expenses are not much, considering the automatic publicity boost gift certificates give businesses.  Gift certificates have certainly become a larger facet of consumer purchasing patterns over the past five years.  A factor that should not be ignored by any size business.

The most important factors a business needs to be on the lookout for when considering a credit card processor include: fees, service time, equipment costs, the method for which fees are paid and finally whether or not gift certificate transactions can be handled.  Many business owners might consider the bank associated with their business credit card to use as their credit card processor as well.  However, this may be faulty thinking.  Just because a bank offers a good value for business credit cards does not necessarily mean it will be the best credit card processor.  A business should analyze its needs, consider the needs of the customers and shop for the terms offered by the processors that can best meet these requirements.

Credit card services are becoming essential for almost any size business.  Just like consumers, a merchant can locate the best services for a credit card online.  There are numerous credit card companies that are eager to handle new business.  Search and compare all credit card offers and be sure to examine the needs of your business with the services of the credit card merchant to find the best deal.



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