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 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.
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.
How can I find out what, if any, international surcharges credit card companies apply on top of the 1% exchange fee already charged by either MasterCard or Visa International charging or currency exchange in foreign countries?
Paying with a credit card is safer than carrying large sums of cash. If your credit card is stolen, you can stop charges on the account and get a new card. However, if your cash is stolen there is little you can do. Some credit cards offer valuable travel-related perks too. American Express offers its cardholders help finding an English-speaking doctor, an accident insurance policy and car rental insurance. Check with your credit card issuer about cardholder travel benefits they might have. When you use any credit card internationally you are charged a 1 percent fee by the credit card issuer (Visa or MasterCard). Most people are not aware of this fee. It is imposed at the currency exchange level as part of the transaction. You can find the current currency exchange rate at http://www.xe.com/ucc or by calling your bank. But in addition to this fee, some credit card companies have begun to charge an additional 2 to 5 percent fee for international credit card transactions. For example, American Express charges a 2 percent fee for international transactions with its card. Check with your credit card issuer to learn more about its fees before you make international charges.
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.
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.
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?’'m trying to find a credit card where I can co-sign for a friend. She has a permanent job, but no credit history.
Any credit card that allows for a cosigner is a card your friend can consider applying for. When an application asks for a cosigner, it does not limit whether or not that cosigner is a friend. Both you and your friend need to remember that if you do cosign an account for her, both of you will then be responsible for keeping the account current. This means that if she stops paying, you will be expected to pay. However, if the account goes into default or accrues penalties for any reason, it will be recorded on both of your credit histories. Cosigning for your friend should be taken seriously and carefully thought through. You must be sure that you can afford to pay on the account if your friend does not. Since you will not have any control over how much she spends, you need to be prepared for the largest sum possible. In addition, any late fees or other penalties your friend accrues on the account will have to be paid by you once the creditor asks you to pay on the account. The cosigner rarely gets any kind of monthly statements, so you may not know there is a negative situation with the account until a creditor contacts you. You can sometimes get the lender to agree, in writing, to notify you if your friend begins to miss payments. This can notify you early if there is a problem. In each state, cosigners do have rights, so find out what your rights are as a cosigner before signing on the dotted line. You may be able to negotiate the terms of your liability on an account with the lender before cosigning. Explore this option ahead of time. Lastly, keep copies of all paperwork you sign in case these papers are needed in the future.
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.
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.