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.?’
May I obtain a U.S. issued credit card if I have an excellent credit history in another country?
Yes, you might be able to use your past excellent credit history to obtain a U.S. issued credit card. However, it will take some time and effort on your part. Many people come to the U.S. with a positive credit history. Normally, this credit history is not transferred to the U.S. As a result, when you apply for a credit card the creditor will not see your excellent credit history. They will then deny you credit based on the fact you supposedly have no credit history established. Getting a social security number is the first step you should take. You must have a social security number to get a U.S. issued credit card. Next, contact Experian, Equifax and TransUnion (the three major credit reporting bureaus) to see if they will transfer your excellent credit history from your home country. This usually does not happen, but in some cases it can. For example, TransUnion does transfer Canadian credit histories to the U.S. If you can get your credit history transferred, this will make it much easier for you to get a U.S. issued card. If you find that you cannot get your credit history transferred, you will have to start from scratch and build a new credit history in the U.S. You can look into applying for secured credit cards, bank-issued credit cards and other credit cards that can get you started. These cards may charge fees or high-interest rates, so be sure you understand all the terms before applying. Whenever possible, try to apply by phone. This way you can explain your situation in person and possibly get approved or denied on the phone. If denied, you can apply in writing and state in your letter application that you have an excellent credit history in another country. If possible, include a copy of your credit report with the application. The creditor may then be able to approve you after some investigation. If there has been no response in 30 days, contact the creditor to check on your application.
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.
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.
Previous Balance. As the name suggests, this balance is simply the amount that you owed at the end of the previous billing period. Payments, credits, or new purchases made during the current billing period are not taken into account. Some creditors also exclude unpaid finance charges in computing this balance. If you do not understand how the balance on your account is computed, ask the card issuer. (An explanation of how the balance was determined must appear on the billing statements the card issuer provides you and on applications and pre-approved solicitations the card issuer may send you.)
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.
What is APR?
Annual Percentage Rate. The "annual percentage rate," or APR, is disclosed to you when you apply for a card, again when you open the account, and it is also noted on each bill you receive. It is a measure of the cost of credit, expressed as a yearly rate. The card issuer also must disclose the "periodic rate" -- that is, the rate the card issuer applies to your outstanding account balance to figure the finance charge for each billing period
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 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.
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.