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 Any time you use a debit card money is withdrawn right out of your checking out.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.
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.
Move the Due Date
Ever been short on cash right when your credit card bill is due? Still waiting for your payroll check? No problem. Call you credit card issuer and negotiate a new due date. Most likely, your request will be honored. A new due date will allow you to better manage your cash flows, so that you have enough cash (in bank, or on hand) to pay your bills.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Do I have a right to know whats in my report?
Yes, if you ask for it. The CRA must tell you everything in your report, including medical information, and in most cases, the sources of the information. The CRA also must give you a list of everyone who has requested your report within the past year?—two years for employment related requests.