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.
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.
I'm a foreigner and need a credit card to establish credit. I have a Social Security number, but I?’m not a U.S. resident. Are there any cards that I may apply for and get approved?
There are many cards you can apply for, as long as you have a social security number. However, you may find it difficult to get approved because you do not have a credit history in the U.S. To start building a credit history in the U.S., you need to obtain credit from a credit card company or bank that reports to all three of the major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion). You might have to consider credit cards with higher interest rates, security deposits, lower credit balances or application fees. Read all the terms and conditions thoroughly to protect yourself from a card that will cause you more harm than good. If you have a checking or savings account, apply for your bank?’s credit card. They may approve you since you have a financial history with them. Also, they may add a stipulation that late or missed payments will be withdrawn automatically from your checking or savings account. Remember: always avoid any credit card offers that charge high fees. There are plenty of options out there to help you establish credit. You do not have to go into high debt to do so. Once you establish a positive credit history, you can then get approved for credit cards that cost you less and offer you more.
Annual Percentage Rate
All cards have an Annual Percentage Rate (APR) and many have an Annual Fee. The APR is what makes creditors money off your charges. For each penny you charge, interest accrues monthly until you pay that penny off. Cards can have APRs as low as 0% (although 0% is only offered during a short introductory period) and as high as 29%. It is up to you to know what the APR on your card is and whether or not it is a fixed rate, or if it can be changed at any time. You might only charge $20, but you will also owe your creditor the interest that accrues on that $20. However, if you pay off your complete balance by the due date, no interest will accrue.
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 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.
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.)
What is the difference between an additional card and co-signer card?
An additional card is a card you get on your personal credit account with another person?’s name on it. This means that the person now has access to your credit account as if it is their own account and can charge as much as they want without your permission beforehand. In addition, this person is not held accountable by your creditor for making any payment on the account. This responsibility falls on you, the account holder. As a result, no matter how much this person charges on your card, you have to pay for it?—even if the person promises to pay you back and doesn?’t. A cosigner card is a credit card someone applies for and gets a cosigner to sign on. Essentially, it is the applicant?’s credit account, but if they stop making payments, the cosigner is then responsible for the account. The history of the account goes on both person?’s credit reports. The cosigner will have to make special arrangements with the creditor before cosigning to get monthly statements on the account or reports of late payments. Otherwise, the cosigner will not have access to the account information. If you do cosign on an account, remember that you assume equal liability.