A credit card works differently. With a credit card, someone has given you a fixed line of credit. Say, $1000. Anytime you use your credit card, the amount is deducted from your credit line. Then each month you will get a bill. You can either pay all that you owe or only pay a required minimum of the balance due. What you don?’t pay will stay on your account and collect interest each month until it is paid off. This might sound like a great thing: buy now, pay later. However, the interest can quickly multiply and cost you much more than you ever spent to start with.
How important is the Balance Computation Method for Finance Charges?
If your plan has no free period, or if you expect to pay for purchases over time, it is important to know how the card issuer will calculate your finance charge. This charge will vary depending upon the method the card issuer uses to figure your balance. The method used can make a difference, sometimes a big difference, in how much finance charge you will pay -- even when the APR is identical to that charged by another card issuer and the pattern of purchases and payments is the same.
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.
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.
some credit cards also have annual fees, which can run as high as $75-$100. Fortunately, the majority of credit card offers for students have an annual fee of $0. Think of it as membership fee, which is tacked onto your balance once a year just for having the credit card. You are expected to pay this fee, and it will collect interest as part of your balance owed. However, if you pay your balance owed by the due date, you will not have to pay any interest
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.
What is the difference between an additional card and co-signer card?
An additional card is a card you get on your personal credit account with another person?’s name on it. This means that the person now has access to your credit account as if it is their own account and can charge as much as they want without your permission beforehand. In addition, this person is not held accountable by your creditor for making any payment on the account. This responsibility falls on you, the account holder. As a result, no matter how much this person charges on your card, you have to pay for it?—even if the person promises to pay you back and doesn?’t. A cosigner card is a credit card someone applies for and gets a cosigner to sign on. Essentially, it is the applicant?’s credit account, but if they stop making payments, the cosigner is then responsible for the account. The history of the account goes on both person?’s credit reports. The cosigner will have to make special arrangements with the creditor before cosigning to get monthly statements on the account or reports of late payments. Otherwise, the cosigner will not have access to the account information. If you do cosign on an account, remember that you assume equal liability.
Why Does APR fluctuate?
some credit card plans allow the card issuer to change the annual percentage rate on your account when interest rates or other economic Indicators (called indexes) change. Because the rate change is linked to the performance of the index, which may rise or fall, these plans are commonly called "variable rate" plans. Rate changes raise or lower the amount of the finance charge you pay on your account. If the credit card you are considering has a variable rate feature, the card issuer must tell you that the rate may vary and how the rate is determined, including which index is used and what additional amount (the "margin") is added to the index to determine your new rate. You also must be told how much and how often your rate may change.
Do you know if secured deposits earn interest? If so, what is the range and what does it depend on?
some secured credit card offers do include interest on your initial deposit. In addition, some of these secured credit cards also allow you to add more money to this deposit in order to collect more interest. However, these features do not apply to all secured credit card deposits. Your card application and terms should state whether or not the secured card you are applying for has this feature. The amount of interest is usually comparable to the amount of interest you?’d get with a savings account and varies with each card. The rate can also vary from month to month, so check with your credit issuer about the exact amount. While these secured credit cards may offer you interest accruing perks, these cards normally have annual fee requirements and higher interest rates on your balance owed. As a result, the interest you earn may not even cover the amount of interest and fees you owe back. Take the time to do the math on what a secured card will cost you and earn for you in reality. This could determine whether or not the secured credit card is a viable option for your financial future
Every credit card has a credit limit. It can be anywhere from a few hundred dollars to $250,000. There are even cards, such as the MBNA Quantum Card, that has a credit limit of $1 million. This limit is all you are allowed to spend. Once you charge the full limit on your card, your card can not be used until the balance is paid down some. The more you charge on your credit card, the higher your minimum monthly payment will be. Some cards do not prevent you from charging over your credit limit. If you do so, you will find your next monthly bill has over the limit fees added to your balance. You will then be required to pay the total amount over the limit and all the penalty fees in order to avoid even more over the limit fees the next billing cycle. (Change to: You will then be required to pay at least an amount you charged over credit limit and all the penalty fees, in order to avoid even more over the limit fees the next billing cycle) As you can see, your credit card bill could easily grow out of control if you get over the limit. The moral is, stay under your credit limit!