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Articles about credit cards


How to Save Money with 0% Intro Purchase APR

The competition from credit card companies is at an all-time high. Credit card companies want your business and most are willing to wave fees and interest just to get you to sign up for their card. With these types of offers you can step in and take advantage to save money.

0% introductory APR is a great way to pay down existing credit card balances, or even to use as short term financing for buying holiday gifts or even a vacation. A true 0% APR should allow you to make purchases and carry a balance on your account each month during the introductory period without incurring interest or finance charges.

It is very important to avoid the “catches” that credit card companies often associate with 0% introductory purchase APR. Here are the tricky clauses you should carefully monitor.

Balance Transfers Only

0% introductory APR can mean many different things; however, in order to protect yourself from incurring unwanted finance charges, look carefully at the terms of the introductory interest rate. It could be that the credit card issuer agrees to charge no interest at all for all new purchases and any balance transfers into your new account for the limited introductory period. Or it could mean that you qualify for 0% interest on only balance transfers. This clause would allow you to transfer an existing credit card balance and incur no finance charges month to month during the introductory period, but any new purchases you make will be charged a finance fee each month.

Transfer Fee

Many credit card companies who offer 0% intro APR may actually charge you a fee for transferring a credit card balance. The transfer fee is a percentage of the balance, usually around 3%, with a maximum of $50 up to $75. The transfer fees may wipe out any potential savings you intended to make on the introductory offer. In order to take advantage of 0% introductory APR, make sure you do not have to pay a transfer fee.

High Annual Fees

Credit card companies may entice you with 0% introductory offers only to charge you high annual fees. The fees could range anywhere from $20 to $75 and higher. Be careful to avoid 0% APR offers with annual fees.

Cash Advances

Many people enjoy the convenience of cash advances with their credit card. However, know before you make a cash advance on your new 0% intro APR credit card whether finance charges apply or not. Usually 0% APR does not apply to cash advances.

Minimum Purchase Required

Often you may find that a credit card company expects you to make a minimum purchase on your new card each month in order to keep the 0% introductory APR. Beware! You should not be required to make minimum purchases in order to reap the benefits of an introductory offer.

What Is the Permanent Interest Rate?

And finally, always look carefully at what the permanent interest rate will be after the introductory period expires. You could find that you’ll end up with a high interest rate of 20% or more. Read the terms carefully before you apply for the 0% introductory APR and make sure that the permanent interest rate will be a reasonable one.


Pros and Cons of Hotel Point Credit Cards

Credit card rewards programs can include earning points toward free stays at major hotel chains. With each purchase you make with the hotel rewards credit card, you earn point related to how much you spend. You can accumulate and redeem those points at participating hotels for free stays. Hotel rewards cards may be a great way to help save money on vacations, and they may be an asset if you travel frequently for business.

However, like any rewards credit card, there are limitations and exclusions on how you can redeem points for your benefit. Here are some of the pros and cons related to using hotel points credit cards:

PROS of Hotel Rewards Credit Cards

Get free stays at major hotels The biggest benefit of a hotel rewards card is the ability to use points to stay at major hotels, such as Sheraton, Westin, Marriott, Hilton, or other high class hotel chain. Where you may normally only be able to afford a cheaper hotel, free stays at luxury hotels can be great for when you take a family vacation or just a romantic night out with a loved one.

Stay anywhere in the world Most hotel chains have locations around the world where you can redeem points for free stays. If you are looking to travel abroad, hotel rewards could be a great way to experience the best class hotels internationally.

Priority check in Your points may entitle you to a priority and speedy check in when you arrive.

Room upgrades With certain hotels, you may be eligible to redeem your points and get offers for free or nominal fee room upgrades. Instead of an ordinary single room, you might enjoy a suite or a room with a view.

CONS of Hotel Point Credit Cards

Hotels may change policies at any time Just when you thought you had enough points accumulated to redeem for a free stay, you find out that the hotel chain has raised the number of points required. This could happen at any time and could be due to company financial results or even due to increased demand.

Restrictions on locations A major hotel chain with locations internationally may limit the locations you may use your points. For instance, your points may only be good for free nights in any hotel in the contiguous United States, which would exclude free nights for your vacation to Hawaii.

Restrictions on hotel class. Major hotels also have different ‘classes’ of hotels. Some classes provide suites only, while other locations provide general or “express” stays. Your hotel points may be only redeemable for certain locations with a lower category.

Restrictions on high or low season You may also find that hotels will not allow you to redeem points to locations with high demand, such as beach resorts in the summer. If you wish to use a specific location with high demand and restrictions, be prepared to redeem your points for off-seasonal stays.

Hotel point credit cards can be very rewarding, especially for a family that would like to enjoy an annual vacation, or for a business owner who must travel frequently. Make sure you read the fine print to ensure that the hotels for which you wish to redeem points will not restrict your vacation plans.


Are Reward Points Credit Cards Worthwhile for You?

If you are an established credit user and make frequent credit card purchases, you may benefit from obtaining a “rewards” card. Rewards credit cards are programs that allow you to earn points whenever you use the credit card for purchases. These points can be redeemable for a wide number of ‘rewards,’ such as free airfare, free shopping gift cards, free meals at restaurants, and more.

Choosing the Appropriate Reward Points Credit Card

A rewards card used the right way can be most beneficial to you. A good strategy in finding and obtaining rewards card is from a credit card company that offers no annual fee, low interest, and does not apply finance charges until after a grace period. With good credit, you can obtain a rewards card with these benefits easily.

A rewards card with these advantages can allow you to make purchases throughout the month to increase your points. When your billing cycle ends, simply pay your existing balance in full before the grace period expires. With this strategy, you can earn a high number of points that you can redeem sooner and have no finance fees or annual fees. In essence, the credit card pays you the rewards to use their card!

Of course, not everyone has perfect credit, but you can still reap the benefits of a rewards card. The first thing you may want to consider before choosing a rewards card is the reward itself. What do you value most? Are you a frequent traveler? Would you benefit from free airfare or hotel stays? Or would you prefer to get free gasoline or free shopping when you earn points? Your rewards value will help you determine what rewards card is right for you.

Free Airfare

Many credit card banks team up with airlines to offer points toward frequent flyer miles redeemable for free airfare. If you are already a member of a frequent flyer club, this rewards program can help you earn points faster. However, if you do not fly frequently, an airlines rewards card could take you five years or more to actually earn enough points to redeem for a free flight. Be sure you can get the full advantage of frequent flyer miles before you sign up for this type of rewards card.

Free Gas or Restaurant Meals

Do you like to eat out frequently at major restaurant chains? Are you willing to accept free gas? This type of rewards card may be right for you if you drive or eat out frequently.

Free Merchandise

If you like to shop, a rewards card that offers to redeem points for free gift cards at your favorite department stores, such as Macy’s or Neiman Marcus, may be the right choice for you. Generally, you earn points when you use your charge card, and when you reach a certain point level, you can request a gift card be sent to you from the credit card company.

Cash Back

Some consumers just like to have a percentage of their credit card spending in the form of cash back as their reward. Many credit card companies will offer to give you cash back, usually up to 1% of your spending. When you reach enough points, you can request a check be sent to you, or even have the cash appear as a credit on your next billing statement.


Pros and Cons of Instant Approval Credit Cards

With today’s technology, you can obtain instant access and approval for credit cards online through the internet. Credit card companies will take you through a step by step application process where you complete all the pertinent information. Using the social security number you provide, the company can instantly check your credit score with the three major credit reporting agencies. If your credit score is within an acceptable range, you can get instant approval notification.

However, if there are additional issues with credit that the company needs to research further, or if your credit score is too low, you may receive notification right away of your denial.

Instant credit card approvals do offer convenience. But are they the right way for you to apply for a new credit card? Here is a look at some of the pros and cons of instant online credit card applications.

PROS of Instant Approval Credit Cards

Obtain the best credit cards. Usually, reputable credit card companies will have online applications that offer excellent perks. You can get rewards cards, no annual fee cards, and 0% introductory APR cards all online.

Instant knowledge of your status. You don’t have to wait for a notification to arrive by mail to let you know whether you’ve been approved or denied. Often, it is convenient to know right away what the credit card issuer’s decision is.

Start using right away. Some credit card companies may even provide you with a temporary credit card number that you can start using right away for internet purchases. Apply, get approved, and start shopping!

CONS of Credit Card Instant Approval

You may not know what you’re getting until after you apply. Credit card companies may not provide you with the full details of the terms upfront before you apply online. This can cause surprise and dismay when you get the credit card with the terms, or your first bill with an outrageous interest rate or high annual fee. Always know the full terms of a credit card before you apply.

Not all online applications are “instant.” Although some companies may claim to give you instant notification, you still may get a notification that they need additional information before making a decision. Even those with high credit scores can receive this notice if there are legal judgments or other types of legal action showing on a credit report. Credit card issuers will need to gather more information about these documents before making a decision.

Multiple instant credit checks can affect your credit score. Every time a company checks your credit report, a notation is made with the reporting agency. Companies can see how many checks have been made into your credit in the last 30 days. Say that you have applied for four instant credit cards online in the same evening. Whether you were approved or not all, these checks all show up on your report, lowering your score and potentially impacting a future approval. Be sure to limit the number of times you allow someone to check your credit.

Instant approval credit cards can be convenient and easy, especially if you have excellent credit. However, it is important to read the fine print to ensure that the instant approval card is the appropriate one for your financial needs.


Does Life Truly Take Visa?

Have you checked what’s in your wallet lately? Most likely, you have at least one or a variety of credit cards ready at hand to make a purchase. This is because “life takes Visa.” Why else? “Because it’s everywhere you want to be and there are some things money just can’t buy…and for everything else there’s MasterCard.” But don’t forget, “it pays to Discover.” Why do consumers obtain and use credit cards? Are they pushed into having credit cards from marketing ads?

Marketing surely plays a part in determining which credit card to apply for, but there are many other reasons for consumers to have and use them. Here are some good reasons why:

Purchasing Convenience

The biggest advantage to having a credit card is that of convenience. Up to a few hundred years ago, consumers lugged heavy purses full of coins and dipped into it whenever they made a purchase. Nowadays, you can use a single piece of lightweight plastic to make purchases almost anywhere: department stores, rental cars, merchandise, services. You can even use your card to purchase a value meal at a fast-food restaurant. Truly, it is convenient to purchase on plastic and make one easy payment to your credit card company.

Reservations and Rentals

In some cases, it is an absolute must to use a credit card. Hotels and rental cars are an example. To make a hotel or rental car reservation, you must provide a credit card number to hold the reservation. Even during check in, most high class hotels will want a credit card number to charge “incidentals” in case you skip checking out. Rental cars are the same way. You cannot rent a vehicle without a credit card reservation and number on file during the rental period.

Obtaining Cash

Sometimes, we just need immediate cash. If your bank account is low and a need for cash arises, you can withdraw cash from your credit card via an ATM. Some credit card companies will even provide you with checks that you can use to make purchases or transfer credit card balances to make it easy.

Reward Yourself

Even with so many credit cards on the market, demand is high and competition is stiff. Credit card issuers will use enticements to obtain new customers. Some of those enticements can benefit the user with free rewards. Rewards cards are very popular, and credit card issuers partner up with many merchandisers and service providers to create a variety of rewards products. Using a rewards card, you can earn points with every purchase that you can redeem for free benefits like airline tickets, free shopping, free gas, free restaurant meals, and many more. With rewards, you get a great benefit, and if used properly and smartly, the credit cards end up “paying” you, while you never have to pay a fee.

Indeed, life in this current high-tech society can be much easier and convenient with credit cards. While credit cards are not a necessity, they do allow you to take full advantage of merchant rewards and purchasing conveniences.


Why MasterCard is an Asset for Your Pocket

Having a MasterCard in your pocket is “priceless.” If you are like many consumers, you most likely have at least two credit cards in your wallet, and one of them is a MasterCard credit card.

Credit cards come in many forms. Department stores provide them for easy and convenient shopping purchases; Target, Wal-Mart, Macy’s, and Nordstrom’s all provide a charge card. Gasoline companies do the same for quick and easy gas and convenience store purchases. However, you can’t use a Target card to buy gas, and you can’t use a gas card to purchase a sweater.

That’s why bank companies came up with the idea for a universal charge card. Thus, credit cards like Visa and MasterCard were born. These types of charge cards are accepted for payment at almost any merchant, and nearly anywhere in the world. If you have a MasterCard in your wallet, you can be sure you’ll have the purchasing power you need for anything from fast food to airline travel tickets.

What are some of the benefits of a credit card such as MasterCard?

Convenience

The biggest reason most consumers use a credit card like MasterCard is for the convenience. Since most merchants for goods and services accept MasterCard, it makes it convenient to charge items and services on the card, and you simply make one easy payment to the credit card company at the end of the month.

Online Shopping

Online shopping is becoming the fastest and easiest way to get the items you want. Using the internet, you can make purchases for plane tickets, that vintage guitar on eBay, and even stock your bookshelves from Amazon.com. But without a major credit card with the MasterCard or Visa logo, your online purchasing comes to a halt.

Purchase Protection

By using a major credit card, you can get purchase protection. Most major credit card issuers offer a short-term insurance warranty against loss, theft, or damage. This is particularly useful for large item purchases, such as a wide-screen HD television. If it breaks or is stolen within the warranty period, you can get your money back through your credit card company.

Flexible Repayment

Using a major credit card for purchases allows you to make only one payment to the credit card company. And if you choose, you can finance your purchases over a period of time by making monthly payments until the balance is gone. Remember, it is always recommended to pay your credit card balances in full each month and to only charge what you can afford to pay. Nonetheless, the convenience of a major credit card allows for easy financing when you need it.

The credit cards you choose to carry in your wallet influence how you make purchases. You can choose to have many cards from gas companies to department stores to diner’s cards on top of major credit cards. However, with worldwide acceptance, a single major credit card like MasterCard may be all you need.


Finding the Perfect Rewards Card

In the credit card marketplace there are a million and one different rewards schemes out there to attract you to certain credit cards, but how do you find the perfect rewards card for you?

The various different reward cards out there all have their own ups and down. However, some give you a far better deal than others, and the savvy credit card shopper will know what to look for. There are two main types of reward cards available: those that are attached to your credit card and those that are attached to your retailer or a group of retailers. Retail rewards cards can be used regardless of the payment method you use.

The reward cards that are attached to your retailer are those that are like loyalty cards that you get from your local supermarket or department store. They also come in the form of credit cards, but they must be used in order to gain points. These types of cards haven’t been as prevalent in the rewards card market place of recent years, although they are still out there. They’re cards which you scan at the checkout and get point or discounts. With these types of cards, there is usually not variety. A retailer will usually have their set rewards system and that is it. If they’re free, then you may as well join because you don’t have anything to lose. And you never know you might get a-few freebies along the way. The same goes for credit cards, but they should be used sparingly in order to remain within your budget.

The other type of reward cards are those that are integrated or connected to your credit card, and it is these cards which offer the greatest variety. This is where you, as a customer, need to weigh up the pros and cons of each card to ensure you get the most out of the reward schemes.

When choosing a reward scheme, you need to decide what you want to gain from the reward scheme. Also, what you have to consider is how many points you get per dollar you spend. Ask yourself questions: What is the interest free periods on the credit card that offer the scheme? Do the points expire are a period of time? What are the rewards and how many points do you have to get to obtain these rewards?

These are all things you need to take into consideration when picking your perfect rewards card. You also need to take into consideration things such as transferability of point if you change your card to another provider with the same point’s scheme in place.

If you pick the right credit card for you with the right rewards system, they will give you some real advantages and benefits for participating in these schemes. So whenever you go on the search for a rewards card, you should always weigh up the pros and cons of each scheme when making your decisions, taking into account your own financial needs as you would when taking up any new credit product.


About Airline Credit Cards

In the credit card marketplace, we are all increasingly seeing airlines getting in on the act. They are offering airline credit cards and, for the consumer, this can mean a whole new range of exciting credit card products available to them.

Airline credit cards are credit cards that, when you make purchases on them, you get points or miles put towards your next air trip. If you make enough purchases, you might even get a free flight. These are essential credit rewards cards that have been geared toward the air industry. There are a million and one different deals and programs out there and the airline industry has added one more. The consumer needs to, like with any reward card, decide on what rewards package and credit card best suits their needs.

You need to take into account whether or not there is any expiration on the points or miles that you collect through making purchases. You also need to look at the amount of points required to get a flight and where those points will take you. Furthermore, look at what flights they offer as part of their rewards scheme, and if you as a consumer can pay for part of your flight if you don’t have the points to cover the other part of the flight. These are just the basic things you need to take into account when choosing an airline credit card.

Many credit cards offer things like purchases made for flights on that credit card get bonus points. Maybe if you pay for a ticket on the credit card, you get a companion ticket free. These are all things that can benefit you from an airline credit card, and things you need to take into account when choosing the right airline credit card for you.

Don’t think it gets any better? It does. Airline credit cards also allow you to connect your airline credit card with your frequent flyer program, which can be a real bonus if you’re a frequent passenger on airplanes. This can get you some really decent rewards.

Many of these credit cards also offer introductory offers, so once you spend a set amount of money, you get a large amount of bonus points as a reward for joining that credit card. This can also be an added bonus for joining an airline credit card, which could help greatly on your next trip away.

Overall, airline credit cards are a very good product for the frequent flyer or even for those who only fly from time-to-time. They can really help you, the consumer, save some serious dollar in a market where airline tickets are forever rising.


How to Use a Credit Card Without Going Into Debt

Using a credit card without going into debt is surprisingly easy. A lot of people have this perception that a credit card is a sure fire way to get into debt, but this isn’t the case if you’re a savvy credit card user who follows just a few basic guidelines.

The first of these guidelines is to always plan what money you’re going to spend and stick to it. This is an absolute essential part of using a credit card without going into debt. If you make a plan of what you’re going to spend money on, then you remove one of the biggest causes of credit card holders going into debt. What is that cause? The cause is impulse buying. That’s why you need to have a plan and stick to it.

Secondly, always ensure that you pay your credit card off during the interest free period; this will ensure that you won’t get charged the massive interest rates of 15-25%, which a credit card attracts. Getting charged interest on your credit card is just one of the sure fire ways to get into debt with your credit card, but not going over that interest free period is very easy. Just contact you credit card provider and arrange for direct debit of your credit card balance every month from your bank account. Make sure you have enough money in your bank account at the end of each month.

Thirdly, always ensure you set your credit limit as low as possible. This will ensure that any urges you might get to impulse buy will be quickly defeated with the credit limit in mind. Often, the bank or financial institutions will offer you sky high credit limits hoping you will get into debt and have to incur their sky high interest payments, but you can always opt to have a lower credit limit. This helps you to ensure that you won’t get into debt unless, of course, there is a minimum credit limit in place. However, these are still usually a lot less than what a bank will offer as a maximum credit limit.

Finally, but still an extremely important point in ensuring you don’t go into debt when you have a credit card, is avoid as much as possible impulse buying. If you see something and you think “wow, I really want that,” it’s usually best to go home, sleep on it, and make a decision in the morning. If you still want it, make sure it fits into your budget, and then go buy it. This takes the impulse out of impulse buying. This doesn’t mean that you have to miss out on the once in a life time deal. You can always carry some other funding source, such as cash around for those because impulse buying with cash won’t cause you to go into debt, whereas with credit it could.

So as long as you take into consideration the points outlined above and always carefully plan your finances with a financial planner, you hopefully won’t go into debt as the result of a credit card anytime soon.


Budgeting with Credit Cards

Budgeting with a credit card is much the same as budgeting with any other source of finance. There should be no difference in the way that you budget the money you spend on your credit cards from the money you spend with any other funding source.

Households should budget on a monthly basis because this allows you to plan how you spend the money you get from you income, regardless of how you get paid. A monthly budget is always a good idea. Long term budgets are also helpful, but these generally won’t include the day-to-day living expenses that we include in a monthly budget. A monthly budget should be divided into saving and spending. A lot of the time, everyday Americans don’t have that much left over after we take out all of our living expenses. However, it’s always good to have some money left over just in case. Also, you may need some extra money put aside for when tax time comes around in case you need to pay a tax bill, which needs to be included in your monthly budget.

When you work out you monthly budget, you need to take into account all your expenses. This includes living costs, rents, mortgage repayments, shopping, loan repayment, and everything that is an expense. You then need to take around 10% of that and have that as a surplus in your bank account. The rest you can save through whatever means you wish. The reason you should do monthly budgets is that the cost of living can change in a month, such as if the Federal Reserve lifts official interest rates. Also, when budgeting monthly or long-term, the advice of a financial planner can really help, as they can give you tips and tricks on how to most effectively budget your finances.

Once you have your budget worked out, then all there is to do is to spend the money you need to spend and save the money you need to save. The spending part is where a credit card comes in and, as a consumer, you should view your credit card just like any other source of funding. It shouldn’t be seen as something you can use when your bank account can’t afford to pay for whatever you’re purchasing. That’s why a budget is so important.

The most important thing people need to do when budgeting with a credit card is stick to your budget. See a credit card like any other non-credit finance like cash or debt card. The advantage is that you don’t actually lose the money until the end of the month, meaning your getting more interest, but, other than this, it should be seen exactly the same as any other source of money.