Once you become a student, you?’ll hear this question almost every time you go to pay for something. If you don?’t know the difference between debit and credit, learn fast. A debit card (sometimes also called a check card) is basically cash, not credit. Any time you use a debit card money is withdrawn right out of your checking out. When you pay for an item, your checking account balance goes down. Be sure to keep track of what you spend. Even though you might have $100 in the account today, you might have written a check for $50 yesterday that hasn?’t posted yet. If you spend $60 with your debit card, your check will bounce when it makes it back to the bank. This can lead to all kinds of fees and penalties.
A credit report is a history of your credit reported by credit bureaus. This report shows your credit history, including payment history and total debt owed. It can be accessed by anyone considering lending you money. It may also be accessed by employers, car dealers and landlords. This report shows your ability (or lack of) to pay on debts owed. A good credit history can help you buy a house one day, get a low payment plan on a new car you want buy, or simply convince a prospective landlord to rent you an apartment. If your credit history shows late payments and other negative items, you can find yourself unable to do any of these things. Or, for example, you may be able to finance a car, but it will have very high interest rates and cost you a lot more money
Don't be Late, Pay the Minimum
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.
What can you afford using your credit card
However, there are times when it might be wiser to use a credit card. For example, any time you make a purchase online, you should try to use a credit card. Why? If there ever is a case of someone stealing your credit card number and charging on it, you will usually only have to pay up to $50 of the stolen amount. If someone steals your debit card number and uses it, you will rarely get any of that money back. Some banks do offer theft protection on debit cards as a courtesy, but they are not legally obligated to refund the money stolen. It is up to the customer to close their account in order to stop withdrawals. Check with your bank to find out what their liability policy is on debit card theft. If you do use a credit card, you can always pay off your balance immediately and avoid ever paying any interest.
Pay by Phone
If you are in doubt whether your payment will arrive on time, you may call your credit card issuer and make a payment by phone. It may cost you anywhere from $5 to $30, but you will avoid paying a much more costly late fee. To make a payment by phone, all you need to provide is your bank?’s account and routing numbers, printed on the bottom of your check and a check number you wish to use. Remember, however, that you will not be able to use a check, whose number you had used for credit card payment.
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.
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.
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.
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.?’
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.