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 Any time you use a debit card money is withdrawn right out of your checking out.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.
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.
Shopping Around for the Right Card
When shopping for a credit card, you probably will want to look at other factors besides costs- such as whether the credit limit is high enough to meet your needs, how widely the card is accepted, and what services and features are available under the plan. You may be interested, for example, in "affinity cards" -- all-purpose credit cards that are sponsored by professional organizations, college alumni associations, and some members of the travel industry. Frequently, an affinity card issuer donates a portion of the annual fees or transaction charges to the sponsoring organization, or allows you to qualify for free travel or other bonuses.
My Credit Score is 602 which I guess is not very good. Is their a card that I might get with a lower interest rate?
The higher your credit score, the better credit card offers you will be eligible for and receive. This includes the credit cards with the lowest interest rates. In other words, the interest rate you receive is directly related to your credit score. The credit score scale ranges from 300 to 850. Most people have scores between 600 and 800. A score of 720 or higher gets you the most favorable interest rates. According to Myfico.com, someone with a credit score of 720 to 850 will have an Annual Percentage Rate (APR) on their mortgage of 5.649 percent, while someone with a credit score of 675 to 699 will have an APR of 6.311 percent. This small difference can cost you much more than you think. Fortunately, there are many ways to raise your credit score. First, check your credit report at least once a year and correct any incorrect information you find on your credit report as quickly as possible. Second, have as few open credit card accounts as possible. For accounts you do have open, keep the balances as low as possible. And of course, make all of your payments on time. By following these guidelines, your credit score should rise each month and make you eligible for lower interest rate credit cards.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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