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.)
Be wary of credit card application
A credit card works differently. With a credit card, someone has given you a fixed line of credit. Say, $1000. Anytime you use your credit card, the amount is deducted from your credit line. Then each month you will get a bill. You can either pay all that you owe or only pay a required minimum of the balance due. What you don?’t pay will stay on your account and collect interest each month until it is paid off. This might sound like a great thing: buy now, pay later. However, the interest can quickly multiply and cost you much more than you ever spent to start with.
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.
Every credit card has a credit limit. It can be anywhere from a few hundred dollars to $250,000. There are even cards, such as the MBNA Quantum Card, that has a credit limit of $1 million. This limit is all you are allowed to spend. Once you charge the full limit on your card, your card can not be used until the balance is paid down some. The more you charge on your credit card, the higher your minimum monthly payment will be. Some cards do not prevent you from charging over your credit limit. If you do so, you will find your next monthly bill has over the limit fees added to your balance. You will then be required to pay the total amount over the limit and all the penalty fees in order to avoid even more over the limit fees the next billing cycle. (Change to: You will then be required to pay at least an amount you charged over credit limit and all the penalty fees, in order to avoid even more over the limit fees the next billing cycle) As you can see, your credit card bill could easily grow out of control if you get over the limit. The moral is, stay under your credit limit!
When should credit card payments be credited?
A card issuer must credit your account on the day the issuer receives your payment, unless the payment is not made according to the creditors requirements or the delay in crediting to your account does not result in a charge. To avoid delays that could result in finance charges, follow the card issuers instructions about where to send payments. Payments sent to other locations could delay getting credit for your payment for up to five days. If you lose your payment envelope, look on the billing statement for the address for payments or call the card issuer.
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.
College and Student Credit Cards
College students receive the least stringent credit card offers of any other group. This group of consumers is the only group that can get a credit card (in many cases instantly) without even having a job. This can work in your favor, if you make wise decisions. Not only can you get a great credit card and a free gift, you can also build an excellent credit history. But it all depends on you. If you do decide to get a card, take your time in choosing. Don?’t just choose any card that comes your way. Before you choose any credit card offer, make sure you understand what a credit report is, how it will affect you, how a credit limit works, what an APR of a card is, what annual fees apply to the card you are considering, and how cash advances work. Knowing all this before you get a credit card will give you a more secure financial future. Listed below are the most important terms you need to know before you apply for a credit card.
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 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.
Take a good look at your Pre-Approved Credit Card Offers
Chances are you have received offers in the mail asking if you would like to open credit card accounts. Frequently, these offers say that you have been "pre-approved" for the card, with a line of credit already set aside for your use. Typically, these offers urge you to accept quickly, "before the offer expires." However, before accepting a credit card offer, understand the cards credit terms and compare costs of similar cards to get the features and terms you want.