Take a good look at your Pre-Approved Credit Card Offers
Chances are you have received offers in the mail asking if you would like to open credit card accounts. Frequently, these offers say that you have been "pre-approved" for the card, with a line of credit already set aside for your use. Typically, these offers urge you to accept quickly, "before the offer expires." However, before accepting a credit card offer, understand the cards credit terms and compare costs of similar cards to get the features and terms you want.
When should credit card payments be credited?
A card issuer must credit your account on the day the issuer receives your payment, unless the payment is not made according to the creditors requirements or the delay in crediting to your account does not result in a charge. To avoid delays that could result in finance charges, follow the card issuers instructions about where to send payments. Payments sent to other locations could delay getting credit for your payment for up to five days. If you lose your payment envelope, look on the billing statement for the address for payments or call the card issuer.
Correcting Billing Errors
Federal law provides specific rules that the card issuer must follow for promptly correcting billing errors. The card issuer will give you a statement describing these rules when you open the credit card account and, after that, at least once a year. In fact, many card issuers print a summary of your rights on each bill they send you.
What type of information do credit bureaus collect and sell?
Credit bureaus collect and sell four basic types of information. Identification and employment information Your name, birth date, Social Security number, employer, and spouses name are routinely noted. The CRA also may provide information about your employment history, home ownership, income, and previous address, if a creditor requests this type of information. Payment history Your accounts with different creditors are listed, showing how much credit has been extended and whether youve paid on time. Related events, such as referral of an overdue account to a collection agency, may also be noted. Inquiries CRAs must maintain a record of all creditors who have asked for your credit history within the past year, and a record of those persons or businesses requesting your credit history for employment purposes for the past two years. Public record information. Events that are a matter of public record, such as bankruptcies, foreclosures, or tax liens, may appear in your report.
Avoid a Late Fee Punishment
Remember the times in your childhood when asking your parents for forgiveness calmed their anger and compelled them not to punish you. If it worked, it just might work once again, only this time with your credit card issuer. Being late on a credit card payment is now a ?“punishable offence,?” that will cost you at least $15. However, if you?’ve been ?“good?” on your previous payments, you will most likely get a break from your credit card company. Usually, if you call and ask for ?“forgiveness,?” your card issuer will oblige. If your only excuse for being late on your payments is that you?’ve never been late before, this will probably work as well, as most banks usually forgive first-time offenders.?’
I would like to re-build my credit. I filed for bankruptcy three years ago. How do I find a lender that will give me reasonable annual fee and interest rate?
Its true: after filing for bankruptcy, credit can be difficult to obtain. And what makes things worse is that your credit score will drop even lower each time a company disapproves your application. That means its doubly important that you apply for a card that youre likely to get rather than risk a turn-down. Youre definitely "at risk" at this time?…a target for unscrupulous lenders with big promises and shady deals. Many lenders will try to entice you with "super-low interest rates for those who filed for bankruptcy." It all sounds good until they come up with some questionable reason why you dont qualify and then try to convince you to sign up for a card with high rates and fees. Beware! Other companies may offer low teaser rates, but then hike the interest after a short period of time. And if you miss a payment -- look out! Some impose outrageous fees for late payments, sticking you with a $25 fine when youre late on a $5 payment. Heres a secret credit card companies dont want you to know: Late fees represent as much as one-third of the income of some credit-card issuers.
Many credit cards allow cash advances When you get a cash advance off your credit card, you either use your card to get cash from your bank teller or ATM machine, or you use one of the paper checks that came with your credit card. A cash advance can help you when you are short on cash and desperately need it, but it can also cost you much more than a regular charge on your credit card. There is usually an initial fee just for getting a cash advance and a higher interest rate on the cash amount borrowed. These fees add to your balance owed and can make your balance grow more each month than you anticipate. For these reasons, you should limit cash advances to emergency situations.
Precautions for Overseas Trip
Before you go overseas, make a list of your credit cards and the international phone numbers to call in case they are lost or stolen. U.S. toll-free numbers cannot be reached directly from overseas, so make sure you have a number that can be reached from abroad. At the end of this brochure is a place for you to write down the phone numbers of your credit card issuers. Leave one copy of the list you make with a trusted friend or relative and keep the other copy with you, in a safe place separate from your cards. That way youll be able to quickly contact your credit card companies for replacement cards if you lose yours. If your cards have credit limits, check how much credit you have available and pay down balances or request higher credit limits if you need more.
What is "Grace Period"?
A free period -- also called a "grace period" -- allows you to avoid the finance charge by paying your current balance in full before the "due date" shown on your statement. Knowing whether a credit card plan gives you a free period is especially important if you plan to pay your account in full each month. If there is no free period, the card issuer will impose a finance charge from the date you use your credit card or from the date each credit card transaction is posted to your account. If your credit card plan allows a free period, the card issuer must mail your bill at least 14 days before your payment is due. This is to ensure that you have enough time to make your payment by the due date.
I wanted to get a credit card but I do not have any credit history. Are there other ways to build a credit history?
To someone seeking credit for the first time, it may seem like a vicious circle: You cant get credit without a credit history, and you cant establish a credit history without credit! Frustrating, isnt it? Interestingly, some institutions only look only at your salary, job and the other financial information that you put on the application to determine if you qualify for their card. However most will be interested in your track record -- How have you handled other debts -- and will ask to see your credit report.
To get the story on you, institutions will turn to information provided by credit-reporting agencies or credit bureaus like Equifax that collect, store and quantify information about borrowers. The records show your credit history -- how much credit youve received and how faithfully youve repaid. Fortunately, even if youve never had a Mastercard, American Express, Visa, Discover, or other major credit card, you can still build a good credit history:
?• Open a checking account or savings account or both. Although not part of your credit history, your accounts may be checked by potential lenders as evidence that you have money and know how to manage it.
?• Cancelled checks can be used to show that you pay utilities or rent bills regularly, a sign of reliability.
?• Apply for a department store credit card. Stores dont ask for credit histories as often as major credit card institutions, so you should be able to get a card based on your annual salary. Then, repaying your store bills on time becomes a major ""positive"" in your credit history.
?• Look for a financial institution that will allow you to deposit funds to serve as collateral for a credit card. Some institutions issue a credit card with a credit limit equal to the amount on deposit. These cards are relatively easy to obtain and as with your department store card, paying these bills on time will enhance your credit history.
?• If you dont have a credit history because you?’re new in town, request a summary of any credit record kept by a credit bureau in your former town. Dont know whom to contact? Ask the bank or department store in your former town for the name of the agency it reports to.
You may already have a great credit history and not realize it. If you do, its time to ""comparison shop"" the credit card companies and find out who has the best deal to offer you.