Late fees, these days, may take a toll on your financial health. It would be especially unfortunate to pay a late fee if your total credit card bill is less than the amount of late fee. To avoid this situation, consider paying a minimum due on your bill if you do not have enough cash on hand to pay off the whole bill on time.
When should you turn a credit card offer down, and when should you accept?
For the new college student, it can be relatively easy to get a card. It will seem people are everywhere with offers. You will get offers in your mail box, and see VISA, MasterCard and Discover card tables at many school events. The solicitors at these tables will not only ask you to fill out quick and easy credit card applications, but they will also offer you free gifts and incentives just for doing so. The gifts are often yours to keep, even if you choose not to accept their credit card.
Secured vs. Unsecured Cards
As a new college student you might be too busy finding your way around campus to worry about credit card management. But the sooner you learn the ins and outs of credit cards, the better. By the time you find your way to the campus post office and check your mail box, there will be plenty of approved credit card offers waiting just for you.
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.
Do I have a right to know whats in my report?
Yes, if you ask for it. The CRA must tell you everything in your report, including medical information, and in most cases, the sources of the information. The CRA also must give you a list of everyone who has requested your report within the past year?—two years for employment related requests.
What is Consumers Liability for Unauthorized charges?
"If you have a problem with merchandise or services that you charged to a credit card, and you have made a good faith effort to work out the problem with the seller, you have the right to withhold from the card issuer payment for the merchandise or services. You can withhold payment up to the amount of credit outstanding for the purchase, plus any finance or related charges. If the card you used is a bank card, a travel and entertainment card, or another card not issued by the seller of the defective merchandise, you can withhold payment only if the purchase exceeded $50 and occurred in your home state or within 100 miles of your billing address. If these conditions do not apply to you, you may want to consider filing an action in small claims court -- an informal legal proceeding that can be used to settle disputes. While the maximum amounts that can be claimed or awarded differ from state to state, most small claims courts hear cases involving amounts ranging from $25 to $2,000. Some states have recently raised their limits to $5,000. Check Check your local telephone book under your municipal, county, or state government headings for small claims court listings. " * Shop around for credit card terms that are best for you. * Make sure you understand the terms of a credit card plan before you accept the card. Review the disclosures of terms and fees that must appear on credit-card offers you receive in the mail. * Pay bills promptly to keep finance charges as low as possible. * Keep copies of sales slips and promptly compare charges when your bills arrive. * Protect your credit cards and account numbers to prevent unauthorized use. Draw a line through blank spaces above the total when you sign receipts. Rip up or retain carbons. * Keep a list of your credit card numbers and the telephone numbers of each card issuer in a safe place in case your cards are lost or stolen.
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.
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.
I?’'m trying to find a credit card where I can co-sign for a friend. She has a permanent job, but no credit history.
Any credit card that allows for a cosigner is a card your friend can consider applying for. When an application asks for a cosigner, it does not limit whether or not that cosigner is a friend. Both you and your friend need to remember that if you do cosign an account for her, both of you will then be responsible for keeping the account current. This means that if she stops paying, you will be expected to pay. However, if the account goes into default or accrues penalties for any reason, it will be recorded on both of your credit histories. Cosigning for your friend should be taken seriously and carefully thought through. You must be sure that you can afford to pay on the account if your friend does not. Since you will not have any control over how much she spends, you need to be prepared for the largest sum possible. In addition, any late fees or other penalties your friend accrues on the account will have to be paid by you once the creditor asks you to pay on the account. The cosigner rarely gets any kind of monthly statements, so you may not know there is a negative situation with the account until a creditor contacts you. You can sometimes get the lender to agree, in writing, to notify you if your friend begins to miss payments. This can notify you early if there is a problem. In each state, cosigners do have rights, so find out what your rights are as a cosigner before signing on the dotted line. You may be able to negotiate the terms of your liability on an account with the lender before cosigning. Explore this option ahead of time. Lastly, keep copies of all paperwork you sign in case these papers are needed in the future.
Annual Percentage Rate
All cards have an Annual Percentage Rate (APR) and many have an Annual Fee. The APR is what makes creditors money off your charges. For each penny you charge, interest accrues monthly until you pay that penny off. Cards can have APRs as low as 0% (although 0% is only offered during a short introductory period) and as high as 29%. It is up to you to know what the APR on your card is and whether or not it is a fixed rate, or if it can be changed at any time. You might only charge $20, but you will also owe your creditor the interest that accrues on that $20. However, if you pay off your complete balance by the due date, no interest will accrue.