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.
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.
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.
Using You Credit Card Card Abroad
taking your credit cards with you on your next overseas trip can make traveling easier. You dont have to carry as much cash or get foreign currency you may not use, and you have a record of all your purchases. Most major credit cards are accepted worldwide, and in many countries credit cards are widely accepted. If your credit cards are lost or stolen and used by a thief, you generally cannot be held responsible for more than $50 in fraudulent charges. That makes carrying credit cards safer than carrying a lot of cash. Some credit card companies will replace your cards (sometimes overnight) if they are lost or stolen while youre traveling another plus.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.