Credit and debit cards can both be used for shopping but operate differently. Credit cards impact your credit score but debit cards donâtâread on for more.
Credit and debit cards can both be used for shopping but operate differently. Credit cards impact your credit score but debit cards donâtâread on for more.
Credit cards exceptional financial instruments. They allow you to buy without any cash and earn rewards while at it. Another interesting feature is the option of adding another person as an authorized user to your card. However, credit card usage does have a huge impact on your creditworthiness. So, does removing your name from a […]
The post How Removing Your Name from a Shared Credit Card Affects Your Credit Score appeared first on Credit Absolute.
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Weâve seen the same deal for various other merchants. There was a $75 offer for Nike, but I think a lot of people will prefer $50 at the gas station.
Hat tip to Milestomemories
There’s nothing fun about declaring bankruptcy, but those who emerge from it can be thankful for the opportunity to rebuild their personal finances without the burden of debt. Unfortunately, bankruptcy also does damage to your credit, making it difficult to get approved for credit cards and other lines of credit. Since credit cards are a good way to build or rebuild credit, we have the details for some credit cards to get after bankruptcy.
Secured credit cards generally have lower credit score requirements and often can be obtained post-bankruptcy. While they do require an upfront security deposit to open, they otherwise work just like traditional credit cards and can help you rebuild your credit. When choosing a secure credit card, look for one that lets you build toward unsecured credit status and reports to all three credit bureaus so it helps you positively impact your credit.
Secured credit cards are often considered bad debt credit cards because they’re targeted to people with poor or no credit. But you can also find credit cards that are approved for people with less-than-stellar credit and don’t require a security deposit. In return for the chance to get positive reporting on your credit report via one of these cards, you might have to pay an annual fee or deal with a high interest rate.
Thereâs no single best credit card to get after a bankruptcy, but there are many options to consider. Carefully review the details of relevant credit card offers before making a decision for yourself.
Card Details +
Annual Fee: $35
APR: 17.39% (variable)
Why we picked it: This card helps you build credit while still offering a fairly low interest rate and a refundable deposit for as little as $200 (some restrictions apply; see cardholder agreement for details).
The details: There is no credit check necessary to apply, and you can apply in less than 5 minutes. Your responsible use of the card is reported to all three credit bureaus each month. And when you need extra credit, you may be eligible for a credit line increase.
Drawbacks: There is an annual fee, which isn’t necessarily bad in exchange for building credit.
Card Details +
Annual Fee: $29
APR: 19.99% Variable APR for Purchases
Why we picked it: With responsible use, this card can be a good place to start working to rebuild your credit. There is no minimum credit score required for approval, and it also reports to all three credit bureaus each month.
The details: You can secure your credit line by putting down a fully refundable deposit of $200 to $2,000 during the application process. When you pay off your balance, you can receive your deposit back. Its expedited processing option lets you receive your card more quickly, and you can apply in minutes with no negative impact to your credit score.
Drawbacks: While the APR isn’t super high for a bad-credit credit card, it’s still high enough to run up hefty interest charges. You’ll want to pay the balance off as often as possible to avoid that extra expense. The card is not yet available in all states.
Card Details +
Annual Fee: $35 – $99*
Why we picked it: It is possible to be approved with poor credit and a bankruptcy on your credit report, but you don’t have to start with a security deposit. Plus, you can choose your card image at no extra charge!
The details: Prequalification doesn’t require a hard credit inquiry, so you can find out if you’re a likely candidate for this card without impacting your credit. You can access your account via mobile to manage it, helping you stay on track with positive payment history and balance management, and the card comes with decent fraud protection.
Drawbacks: The annual fee can be pretty high depending on the terms you’re approved for. The interest rate is also fairly high, so you might not want to carry over large balances between statements.
Card Details +
Annual Fee: $0 – $99*
Why we picked it: You can prequalify for this card without impacting your credit, and thereâs no security deposit required.
The details: The APR is fairly steep, so you probably want to limit what balances you carry over each month. How much the annual fee is depends on your credit profile. However, it doesn’t require a security deposit.
Drawbacks: A potentially high annual fee and less-than-stellar APR make this a potentially expensive way to build credit.
Card Details +
Annual fee: $39
APR: 25.99% (variable)
Why we picked it: Thereâs no deposit required, no penalty APR, and no hidden fees.
The details: What you see is what you get with this card. With responsible use, you can strengthen your credit history.
Drawbacks: There is an annual fee and the variable APR can be a bit steep. You may also need fair credit to qualify.
Card Details +
Annual fee: See Terms*
APR: See Terms*
Why we picked it: All credit types are welcome to apply, and the pre-qualification process wonât impact your credit score.
The details: Surge can be used anywhere Mastercard is accepted. , and the card reports to all three major credit bureaus.
Drawbacks: You need a checking account to apply. Because the card is specifically for people with less-than-perfect credit scores, interest rates and terms may be a bit high.
After a bankruptcy, improving your finances and rebuilding your credit should be a priority. Do some research and pick a credit card that helps you achieve that goal. If you feel that you can’t responsibly manage credit right now, you should wait until you’re in a better place to submit a credit card application.
Since secured credit cards require an upfront security deposit, you’ll need to determine how much money you can afford. Most secured cards will give you a credit line that equals the amount of your original deposit.
While high APRs and annual fees are common with all of these credit cards, you should compare rates across several cards to find the ones that are best for your spending habits.
Some cards for bad credit are designed to exploit people using unfair terms or policies that make it difficult to rebuild your finances. You may even start receiving multiple credit card offers in the mail after your bankruptcy is discharged. Watch out for red flags to avoid getting burned.
And remember: A credit card can only build credit if you use it correctly. You should keep your credit card balance below 30% of the available credit limit and make all your payments on time to help build your credit.
The post Easiest Credit Cards to Get After Bankruptcy appeared first on Credit.com.
Signing the back of your credit card is an important security step for protecting your cardâs information if it should fall into the wrong hands. Merchants are supposed to check that the signature on the card matches the signature on the sales receipt as a security precaution. If a card has no signature on the back, they arenât required to process the ensuing payment.
Should You Sign the Back of Your Credit Card?
Signing the back of your credit card is always better than not, without exception. Itâs another step provided by your credit card company to try and keep your personal information as safe as possible. When used in conjunction with the card verification value (CVV) on your card, it creates a line of defense should a fraudster try to swipe your plastic.
While the signature itself doesnât protect you, the ability for a salesman to match it to your existing official signatures is where its value lies. This is done most commonly with your driverâs license, or if youâre abroad, your passport is a fine stand-in. In other words, taking a few seconds to sign that little black or white strip could be the difference between your identity being stolen and not.
Hereâs a look at how the major credit payment networks handle unsigned cards:
Mastercard urges merchants in its payment network not to accept charges from customers with unsigned credit cards. On the back of every Mastercard, it even says ânot valid unless signed.â
The company tries to instill in merchants that they should not process customer transactions unless the customerâs signature appears in the signature space on the back of the card.
If the card has no signature, merchants are to request the customer sign the card. A merchant also will need to see a confirming form of identification.
At Visa, merchants must verify that the signature on the back of any card matches the customerâs signature on the transaction receipt and any identification. They want to know you are who you say you are and recreating the same signature on demand when you sign for a credit card transaction is one way to do it.
Visa considers an unsigned credit card to be invalid. The words âNot Valid Without Signatureâ appear above, below or beside the signature panel on all Visa cards. Turn over the card and youâll see it. And like Mastercard, Visa urges merchants not to accept unsigned credit cards.
When a customer presents an unsigned Visa card to a merchant for payment, Visa requires a merchant to check the customerâs identification by requesting a government-issued form of ID.
Where permissible by state law, the Visa merchant may also write the customerâs ID serial number and expiration date on the sales receipt. (Beginning in California in 1971, the recording of personal information during credit card transactions has become illegal, with the passage of the Song-Beverly Credit Card Act.)
Visa also instructs merchants to ask the customer to sign the card, within full view of the merchant. They then check that the customerâs newly written signature on the credit card matches the signature on the customerâs ID. If a customer refuses to sign a Visa card, the card is considered invalid and cannot be processed. Merchants will then be forced to ask the customer for another form of payment.
Discover keeps things very simple. The company urges its cardholders to sign the backs of their Discover cards as soon as they activate them. This is because the signature makes the card valid and a cashier may decline the transaction if the card is not signed.
American Express also urges retailers to compare a customerâs signature on the back of an American Express card with the transaction sales receipt. And if an American Express card is presented unsigned, the clerk is to request a photo ID of the customer with a signature. Following this, they must request the customer sign the back of the American Express card and the sales receipt while the clerk is holding on to the customerâs photo ID.
Writing âSee IDâ on a Credit Card
Writing âsee IDâ or âcheck IDâ on a credit card might seem like a great way to protect from fraud. But it actually may invalidate the card. This is because only your valid signature that a merchant can match with a signature on a sales receipt is acceptable. In some cases, the merchant may ask you for another card to make your purchase. To save yourself from a slower-than-needed transaction at the cash register, sign your credit card as intended.
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The post Should You Sign the Back of Your Credit Card? appeared first on SmartAsset Blog.
Sending cash to friends and family? Before you reach for that credit card, grab a calculator. Itâs time to do a little math.
With most everything you purchase online or through apps, credit cards have the edge. With plastic, you have chargeback rights. If youâre overcharged or receive the wrong item, broken merchandise or nothing at all, your card issuer will make it right. And if you use a rewards card, you collect points or miles, too. Win-win.
But itâs different story when youâre sending money through peer-to-peer platforms. Many of them (like Google Pay, Popmoney and Zelle), donât allow consumers to use a credit card to send cash.
Others (like Cash App, PayPal and Venmo), allow credit cards but also charge a fee for the privilege â often about 3%.
See related: How to choose a P2P payment service
Choose a credit card to send money and you might also end up paying additional fees to your card issuer. Thatâs because the combination of some peer-to-peer apps with certain cards are coded as cash advances, rather than purchases.
For many cards, that cash advance code triggers a higher interest rate that kicks in the moment you make the transaction, as well as a separate cash advance fee thatâs often $10 or 5% of the transaction â whichever is higher. (Currently, the average interest rate for cash advances is 24.8%, while the average APR for purchases is 16.05%.)
So the combination of peer-to-peer service fees, credit card cash advance fees and that higher interest rate (with no grace period) could make sending a few hundred dollars a bit more costly than youâd planned.
The real kicker: Unlike other venues, you donât have chargeback rights when you use credit cards to make peer-to-peer money transfers.
When you present your credit card in an online or brick-and-mortar store, thereâs a merchant involved â and the law provides chargeback rights for your protection in case you donât get what you were promised in the deal. But in a peer-to-peer money transfer, thereâs no merchant, so currently the laws donât give consumers any chargeback rights, says Christina Tetreault, manager of financial policy for Consumer Reports.
âThe chargeback right requires a merchant,â says Tetreault. âOne of the hoops a consumer has to jump through is to try and work it out with the merchant.â
If you use a peer-to-peer service and send the wrong amount or send the money to the wrong person, most platforms advise that the only way to get it back is to contact the recipient and ask them to return it. And thatâs often the same whether you use a credit card, debit card, bank account or funded account on the platform.
âBe doubly sure when youâre sending the money that youâre putting in the correct information,â says John Breyault, vice president of public policy, telecommunications and fraud for the National Consumers League. âItâs still a buyer beware world when it comes to peer-to-peer.â
If youâre sending money and want to use a credit card, it pays to do a little sleuthing first. Check out the peer-to-peer site. Does it allow users to send money with a credit card? If so what, if any, fees does it charge?
On some platforms (PayPal is one), you could see similar fees for using a debit card â while sending from a bank account or funded account on the platform is free.
The good news is that many peer-to-peer platforms clearly disclose it when thereâs an extra charge to use a credit card, says Tetreault. With Venmo, for example, youâll get a pop-up message.
Harder to decipher: Will credit card transactions on the platform be treated as a cash advance? If your preferred platform doesnât post this information, you might need to contact customer service. (And how quickly and easily you get an answer can tell you a lot, too.)
Ask your card issuer the same question: Are peer-to-peer money transfers on the platform youâve chosen treated as a cash advance? If they are, whatâs the interest rate, and whatâs the cash advance fee?
âWhat I would suggest is to ask that question, via email, of your financial institution,â says Tetreault. âIt may be in their FAQs. And you want to save that email. If you have it in writing, if thereâs an issue later, youâre better positioned to contest that fee.â
But âthe hard truth is you may not be able to find out ahead of time,â she says.
Another solution: Opt to use a credit card issued by a credit union.
âWith credit unions, the APR is usually the sameâ for purchases and cash advances, says John Bratsakis, president and CEO of the Maryland and District of Columbia Credit Union Association.
Likewise, with American Express cards you pay your regular interest rate and no cash advance fees on peer-to-peer transfers, says Elizabeth Crosta, vice president of public affairs for American Express.
And credit cards from U.S. Bank register peer-to-peer money transfers as regular purchases â with no cash advance fees or cash advance APRs, says Rick Rothacker, spokesperson for the bank.
See related: How do credit card APRs work?
Take a good look at the reason youâre using a credit card, too. If you want chargeback rights, thatâs not an option. If youâre doing it for the rewards, will the value of those points or miles be eaten up by extra fees or a higher interest rate you have to pay to use the card?
And if youâre using a card because you donât have the cash, that might be a good reason to rethink the idea of sending money in the first place.
Thatâs a huge red flag, says Bruce McClary, vice president of public relations at theÂ National Foundation for Credit Counseling.
âThe need to convert credit into cash is what really gets my attention â because that hints at a lack of savings,â he said. âItâs a reality a lot of people are facing, especially now.â
Cash advances arenât as expensive or risky as payday loans and car title loans, but they should be among your last resorts. If you’re looking for short-term relief, you could ask your credit card issuer for help, or find out if you qualify for a personal loan. You could also borrow from a family member or trusted friend, but be wary of the potential relationship toll if you can’t pay them back.
Fifty-two percent of Americans report that the pandemic has damaged their finances, according to a recent survey by the NFCC. More than a fifth of those had to tap savings for everyday expenses, while 16% increased their credit card spending.
And thatâs a sign of financial stress, says McClary. âIt means that, in some situations, they have run out of savings.â
There are ways you can use your card to get cash, though.
Some rewards cards from issuers such as Chase, Bank of America and US Bank let you deposit cash-back rewards directly to your bank account.
And Wells Fargo also will let you deposit its Go Far Rewards directly into another Wells Fargo customerâs account, says Sarah DuBois, spokesperson for the bank.
Many credit cards let you convert rewards into retail gift cards. So a pile of points can help a friend or family member buy much-needed groceries or a few holiday presents.
Or simply âbuy a gift card for someone,â says Bratsakis.
Retailer-specific gift cards and gift cards issued through local and regional retail associations and malls often come with no fees â meaning every dollar you spend goes toward your gift.
While you can get a cash advance or use convenience checks from your card issuer, both those options often come with fees and higher interest rates. Not a smart money move, especially in the current economy.
While some lenders may offer convenience checks with deferred interest, thatâs not the same as âno interest,â says Bratsakis. Also, if you donât pay the loan in full, will you owe the full interest retroactively?
âThatâs where consumers have to be careful,â he says. With a convenience check or even a cash advance, âthatâs usually where consumers can get themselves into trouble if they canât pay it off and get hit with deferred interest.â
See related: What is deferred interest?
When it comes to peer-to-peer payments, cash really is king. You can then put it into a funded account with the money transfer platform or your bank account. And most peer-to-peer platforms let you do this for free.
âThe safest way to use these services is to send money person-to-person and be diligent about getting all the details correct so it doesnât go to the wrong person,â says Tetreault.
Only send to people you trust and know in real life, she says. âAnd before sending money make sure you understand what, if any, fees you might incur.â
Credit cards are a great tool for building credit. They’re easy to use, offer flexibility, and sometimes even reward you for using them. Most also directly impact your credit score and are used by many people to begin building their credit profile.
But what if you donât want a credit card or are having trouble qualifying one? Donât worry. There are other plenty of other ways to build a strong credit history. Here are ten options for building credit without a credit card.
The easiest way to start building your credit without getting a credit card is to sign up for ExtraCredit and add your rent and utility payments to your credit profile. With ExtraCredit, you can use the service to add bills not typically reported to the bureaus and get credit for bills youâre already paying. We help strengthen your credit profile by adding your rent and utility payments as tradelines to your credit reports with all three credit bureaus. Continue paying those bills on time, and rent reporting can help you add more to your credit history and help you work your way up to a good credit profile.
Authorized user status is a great way to begin building creditâas long as you and the primary cardholder are on the same page. As an authorized user, you can use the primary cardholder’s credit card and piggyback off their credit card activity. Even if you never use the card, card activity can still be used to positively impact your credit. Youâll want to verify with the credit card company that they report card activity for authorized users. Otherwise, you’ll be wasting your time.
This method comes with some risks, though. Your credit report will reflect how the card is used, even if youâre not the one using it. If you or the primary cardholder racks up an excessive balance or misses payments, that activity could end up damaging your credit instead of helping it. Only become an authorized user if you are both committed to practicing smart credit-building habits.
Credit builder loans arenât widely publicized, but they are a great way to build credit without a credit card. Smaller institutions like credit unions are generally more likely to offer credit builder loans specifically to help borrowers build credit.
Typically, you borrow a small amount, which is put into a CD or savings account and held until the loan is paid off. You make payments for a set amount of time until the loan is paid. At that time, you can access the funds, including any interest earned from the savings account. And if youâve made all your payments on time, youâve been successfully building your credit all along.
These loans often have low interest rates and are accessible to those with poor or nonexistent credit. That’s because you provide all of the collateral for the loan in cash, so it’s not a risk for the lender. Credit builder loans arenât great if you need the money nowâsince you need to pay off the loan before you can actually access the fundsâbut if you have time to build up your credit, theyâre a great place to start.
Similar to credit-builder loans, passbook or CD loans are offered by some banks to existing customers using the balance you already have in a CD or savings account. You build credit as you pay down the loan, and you can access your balance once the loan is paid off. These are very similar to credit building loans, but they use funds you already had in savings as collateral. Interest rates are typically much lower than credit cards or unsecured personal loans as well. Make sure your bank will report payments to the three major credit bureaus before opening this type of loan.
Peer-to-peer loans are made by an individual investor or groups of investors instead of traditional financial institutions, with the accrued interest going back to the investors. While they may sound sketchy, P2P loans are completely legitimate and can be set up through a reputable P2P service like LendingClubâunlike borrowing money from your cousin.
P2P loans will typically accept borrowers with lower credit scores than traditional lenders, but their credit requirements and interest rates will vary depending on the lenderâand their rates and fees may be higher than other personal loans. Before you take out this type of loan, ask whether the service reports your timely payments to the credit bureaus so you can get a positive impact on your score.
If youâre a student looking to build credit, you may consider a federal student loan. Most federal student loans donât require any credit history. Private options, on the other hand, often require good credit scores or a cosigner. Donât take on student debt just to build your credit, but if youâre already considering a student loan, they could be a good way to get started. Federal student loans show up on your credit report, and if they’re paid on time, they can help you build a positive payment history.
Some lenders offer unsecured personal loans to individuals with no or bad credit. These involve borrowing a fixed amount of money and making fixed payments every month. If you donât have an established credit history, you will likely be charged a higher interest rate. You may be able to get a co-signer to help your odds of approval for lower rates.
Donât bother with payday loans. These will not help you establish credit history and will just end up costing you money in the long run. Alternatives like OppLoans do report payment history to the credit bureaus, but their rates are typically higher than traditional personal loans.
Most traditional auto loan dealers report all your payments to the credit bureaus. And since auto loans are secured by the vehicle, they’re less risk for the lender than unsecured loans. That means you might be able to qualify for them even if your credit isn’t stellarâthough that might come with the expense of higher interest. If you make your loan payments on time, you might be able to positively impact your score and refinance later, though.
Getting a mortgage with no credit history is difficult but not impossible. If your goal is just to start building credit, a mortgage may not be the best place to start. But if youâre ready for home ownership and the possibility of building your credit with a mortgage, you have options. First-time homebuyers may consider FHA mortgage, for example, which is available to individuals with a thin credit file. Smaller lenders like credit unions tend to be more flexible and may help you qualify for a mortgage as well.
Your credit score might take a hit when you first assume a huge debt, but it will rise over time with regular monthly payments. Concentrate on making those payments on time to continue building your credit.
Most credit reports do not contain entries regarding your rent payments simply because landlords don’t bother reporting that activity. But credit bureaus will incorporate timely rent payments into your credit report if that information is submitted to them. If you’re evaluating a rental or you currently rent, ask the landlord if they will report your rent payments. You might also be able to use online rent payment applications to ensure this information is reported.
Want to get credit for your on-time rent payments? Sign up for ExtraCredit. Our unique Build It feature will submit rent and utility payments to the three credit bureaus on your behalf, so you can get credit for paying those bills on time. In fact, weâll look for your past payments to make sure they are submitted so you get credit for previous rent and utility payments as well.
Whatever option you choose to build credit without a credit card, you must make payments on time consistently. Late payments deal severe damage to your credit score. Avoid financial obligations that put you at risk of making late payments or defaulting.
You also need to keep in mind your account mix. If you only have installment loans and no revolving credit such as credit cards, you won’t have an ideal account mix. Account mix makes up about 10% of your credit score.
Your credit utilization ratioâor the amount of credit you have tied up in debtâmight also suffer if you have no credit card or other form of revolving credit. However, in most cases, no credit utilization is better than high credit utilization.
If youâre ready to try building your credit with a credit card, try a secured credit card. These cards are often available to people with bad or no credit, and they typically start with smaller credit limits that can help you learn responsible money management habits.
Card Details +
The post 10 Ways to Build Credit Without a Credit Card appeared first on Credit.com.
It would be easy to fill up a wallet with just credit cards. A card to maximize airline miles. A card targeted at your favorite hotel chain. A card that gives you cash back on groceries. Even a card that earns you points when you spend at NFL games. So, where to begin? And where to end?
The short answer: you should have at least two – ideally each from a different network (Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, etc.) and each offering you different kind of rewards (cash back, miles, rewards points, etc.). How many credit cards is too many? That depends on the individual – you should never have more than you can handle.
Experts say the number of cards one should have varies according to individual and circumstance. “Generally speaking, there is no one perfect number,” said Ethan Dornhelm, a vice president at FICO.
While the number varies by generation, credit score and other factors, the average American has three credit cards and 2.4 retail store cards, according to a 2020 survey by the credit reporting agency Experian.
To ensure a mix of credit cards and keep your credit score climbing, credit expert John Ulzheimer suggests asking yourself two questions about the cards in your wallet:
Credit utilization – how much credit you’re using each month, on average, of all the credit available to you from all your cards combined – accounts for 30% of your credit score under FICO’s traditional model.
If you can add another credit card while keeping your overall spending the same, you’ll lower this ratio – and boost your score.
See related: What is a good credit utilization ratio?
That former number sounds about right to John Corcoran, a hotel industry executive in Aspen, Colorado.
He’s got two for personal use – both airline mileage cards – and a third for work. He added the second mileage card solely for the points bonus, and is thinking about dropping it before the $90 annual fee comes due. “I don’t like credit cards,” he said. “I don’t like debt.”
On the other end of the spectrum is Naomi Sachs, an international business executive in San Rafael, California. Sachs estimates she has 20 or 30 cards “sitting in a sock drawer, unused” – generally retail cards she signed up for to lower the cost of a purchase at that store or credit cards she acquired for the points boost.
Sachs is carrying around in her wallet about 10 more cards, of which she uses two or three with regularity. As for cash? Maybe there’s a $20 bill in there somewhere. Debit? “I don’t put anything on debit, ever, ever,” she said.
Instead, she charges strategically, and checks her card balances a few times a week to stay on top of her finances. “I aggressively try to maximize my spend, for almost every single dollar, every single time,” she said.
Credit expert John Ulzheimer suggests two things that can help you determine the number of cards that is right for you. Always keep your overall credit card utilization low, and secure access to more than one credit card network.
While merchants in the U.S. accept the big four card networks – especially Mastercard and Visa, and, to a lesser extent, American Express and Discover – you can still find places where some of them are not accepted. Costco is one example. The warehouse club switched in 2016 from American Express as its card partner to Citi, so now the only card Costco accepts in-store is Visa.
And if you travel abroad, you should pack credit cards from a variety of card networks. While Visa and Mastercard are most universally accepted, and American Express signs are increasingly common in store windows across the globe, you will inevitably wind up in a place that doesn’t accept the type of credit card you have with you.
Beyond those two key elements, Ulzheimer explains, many approaches are valid, so long as they work for you.
See related: How to use your credit card wisely
Want to get more specific? Here’s a list of some particular situations you may find yourself in, and some experts’ thoughts on how that might affect what kinds of cards, and how many, you may want to carry in your wallet:
Start with one card, a secured card if necessary, then add a second card when you can prove to yourself that you are making your payments on time and paying your bill off in full each month, says Netiva Heard, a credit counselor in Chicago.
“It’s a learning period,” she said. “That’s why you start with just one card first, to get adjusted to those good habits.”
Cards that don’t offer rewards “are a complete waste of your time,” Heard says. She recommends thinking about what rewards would benefit you the most, and whether you want to pay an annual fee to get them.
Cards that don’t charge an annual fee generally come with lower introductory bonuses than cards that do and may not be as generous with rewards points on day-to-day spending. But be careful that you don’t sign up for more rewards cards than you can manage to juggle.
Heard advises most people to keep no more than three to five credit cards total in their wallets. Ulzheimer said two rewards cards seems like more than enough – one for airline points and one for cash back.
You should stick to the number of cards you already have, at least temporarily. Don’t open even one new credit card within at least six months of applying for a so-called installment loan. Opening a new card will lower your score by a few points due to the hard inquiry on your credit, “and you want it to be in the best shape possible when you go out to get that expensive loan,” Ulzheimer said.
That said, he added, installment lenders will pay the most attention to whether you’ve had a mortgage or auto loan before, if you paid it off on time and whether you tend to pay off your bills in general on time.
This is not a reason to get a new credit card, Ulzheimer said. “Opening a new card can actually backfire,” he said, because it will, at least initially, lower your score.
When you apply for a credit card, the issuer pulls your credit report, which triggers a hard inquiry. A hard inquiry can lower your score by five points, but it only affects your credit score for one year. After two years, the inquiry falls off your credit report. Note that applying for multiple credit cards at once can exacerbate the negative credit score impact of inquiries, at least in the short term.
A new credit card can also reduce your length of credit history, a key credit scoring factor that considers the average age of all your credit accounts. While length of credit history only counts for 15% of your FICO score, the effect can be significant if you only have one or two existing credit accounts.
On the other hand, if your new credit card has a high credit limit and you keep your balance low, the card can eventually boost your credit score by increasing your overall available credit.
If you need to close your credit cards to avoid using them, then do it, but know that every time you close a credit card, it can lower your score, he said – because it may reduce your available credit, thus increasing your aforementioned credit utilization ratio.
So, whether you have two or 20 cards doesn’t really matter. What’s important is that your cards give you access to more than one network and offer you the rewards that best meet your needs (which can change over your lifetime).
And, of course, you need to be sure you’re not juggling so many cards that you can’t keep track of all the payment due dates The whole point of having two to 20 or more credit cards is earning points or cash back on your everyday spending that you pay off every month. All the while, keep your credit utilization low so that your credit score climbs.
The Citi Sears card is our number #1 ranked store credit card. Readers often have a lot of questions regarding this card so I decided it was time for a dedicated post (you can read our basic review of the card here). The main reason this card is so popular is because of the frequent spending bonuses Citi sends out on this card, for example the current promotion is 10-20% back at gas, grocery & restaurants.
There are three versions or flavors of this card and the only real difference is the points currency they earn. The three are:
It used to be possible to sign up for the SYWR version of this card and then product change to either the Citi TYP or statement credit version of this card. The rules then seemingly changed so that the original card needed to be open for a period of 12 months before the product change could be processed. In recent times people have reported being unable to product change, although there have been some reports of it still being possible.
When people first sign up for the card they often report not receiving any targeted spending offers. There are two theories:
I think it’s probably a combination of the two in that no matter how much spend you put on the card in the first few months you still might miss out on the first few offers. Once you start receiving an offers you’ll usually have a lot of spend on the card anyway as the offers are so good.
This article is a work in progress, I’ll add any other relevant information and answer any questions people have.
Yes, the offers do stack. For example if you have the following two offers:
Then you could spend $2,000 at a gas station and earn $200 from the first promotion and an additional $90 from the second promotion. The dates and offers are just an example.
Most people get this card for the spending bonuses rather than the sign up bonus. I believe the highest bonus we’ve seen is $200 as a sign up bonus, but again the real deal is in the spending offers.
Credit cards can open numerous doors of opportunities, and many even offer great cash-back rewards. But credit cards can also give you a good defense against untrustworthy online sellers. In the event of a dispute with a merchant, it provides the ultimate ace up your sleeve: the chargeback.
If you didn’t receive something you ordered, if you received the wrong item, or you just feel otherwise wronged by a transaction, a chargeback can return the money you spend to your account when the merchant refuses to do so. To initiate a credit chargeback, you can file a claim with your credit card company against a merchant. If your card issuer deems your complaint has merit, it will remove the money you paid from the merchantâs account and put it back in yours. Your credit card company is kind of like a tough older brother, talking to the bully who took your lunch money and getting it back.
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A chargeback isn’t the same as a refund and shouldn’t be viewed as an alternative. A credit card chargeback should be requested only when a seller or merchant refuses to return your money of its own accord. If a product proves defective or never arrives on your doorstep, your first stop should be traditional channelsâthat is, the retailer’s customer service desk or phone number.
If, after that, the merchant refuses a rightful refund, you can bring in your bank. Your credit card issuer should have clear instructions for formally disputing a charge, with options including a phone call, a written letter or an online form. There are often time limits and other criteria that must be met so you canât request a return of funds for a purchase made years ago.
Before you request a chargeback, it’s important to note that some situations qualify and some don’t. The Fair Credit Billing Act is a federal law that dictates how credit card fraud and billing disputes are handled. It defines a number of situations as billing errors, including “goods or services not accepted by the obligor or his designee or not delivered to the obligor or his designee in accordance with the agreement made at the time of a transaction.”
In other words, if you order a product and it never arrivesâor if you refuse delivery because it’s not what you expected to receive or it’s been damaged before getting to youâyou’re entitled to your money back.
On the other hand, being unsatisfied with a purchase or a product isn’t a reason to request a credit chargeback. The National Consumer Law Center notes in its guide to credit card rights, “You cannot raise a complaint about the quality of merchandise or services you bought with a credit card in the form of a billing dispute.”
Your disappointment will probably help you get a refund, but involving your bank in petty grievances isn’t the way to go. Besides, cardholders who “cry wolf” too often and request too many credit chargebacks will have their requests taken less seriously and may even be put off for months.
A chargeback does not usually affect your credit. The act of filing a chargeback because of a legitimate cause for complaint against a business won’t affect your credit score. The issuer may add a dispute notation to your credit report, but such a notation does not have a negative effect on your credit. You may also be expected to make payments on the disputed charge until the investigation is completed, and late payments will affect your credit score.
However, if your complaint is illegitimate or determined to be fraudulent, your account can be closed by your credit provider, which can affect your score. Even if your charge is legitimate, sometimes the bank will side with the merchant, and then you’ll have to pay accompanying fees. Still, there usually isn’t any negative outcome for your credit score for simply requesting a credit chargeback.
As long as the credit card issuer follows the guidelines set out in federal law, it can set its own procedures for how to handle disputes. Take, for instance, the timeframe in which cardholders must contact their issuers, which is set by the FCBA at a minimum of 60 days. Some institutions may extend the timeframe allowed to dispute a charge, but they cannot go below 60 days.
Banks can also ask for documentation to support the cardholder’s claim, including any documentation that will help the issuer fully inform the merchant about the nature of the dispute. So, don’t dispute a charge unless you have some evidence to back up your claim.
Think of disputing your charge like you’re going to court. If you want to make a case against someone or some entity, you need solid, concrete evidence to even have that person arrested and charged. You’ll need some proof of the validity of your dispute for a credit card issuer to even consider your chargeback case.
Finally, it’s worth noting that some banks may go above and beyond the general dispute resolution guidelines to achieve optimal customer satisfaction. Some may even provide a courtesy credit to customers at a loss for the bank.
Every credit card company handles disputes and credit card issues in a different way. Visa, one of the largest credit card companies, changed its chargeback rules and techniques in 2018 in hopes to streamline and speed up the process.
Visa defines a chargeback as “the reversal of the dollar value (in whole or in part) of a transaction by the card issuer to the acquirer, and usually, by the merchant bank to the merchant.”
At one point, Visa chargebacks took over a month and a half to resolve. However, the process is now mostly automated, meaning customers and merchants don’t have to wait weeks for an issue to be settled.
The process Visa follows is mostly like other companies. When a customer disputes a charge, Visa asks the customer for information about the transaction. An acquirer can then forward that information to a merchant, giving the merchant the option to dispute the customer’s complaint with evidence of its own. The acquirer then collects all of the information and decides who is at fault.
Visa now addresses these disputes from an unbiased perspective, in contrast with its prior perspective as a representative of the customer. Visa’s automated systems act impartially and assign liability to whichever party it deems responsible.
A return item chargeback isn’t actually related to the act of disputing a charge through a credit chargeback. A return item chargeback occurs when a bank charges a fee to a cardholder or consumer because of a bounced or rejected check.
A bank will attempt to cash or accept a check for deposit, but the other bank will refuse to make the funds available or a problem will be encountered with the check itself. Thus, a fee will be charged to the writer of the rejected check.
These return item chargebacks will show up on a bank statement as a fee. Consumers want to make sure to avoid this by regularly reviewing their bank statements and always ensuring they have adequate funds before writing a check.
Chargebacks are a potent tool in the consumer’s arsenal, to the point that even threatening a chargeback may scare shady merchants into resolving the disputes themselves. After all, businesses can be seriously hurt if too many chargebacks are requested, even to the point of a bank shutting down its account. Every chargeback also costs merchants a fee, so it’s understandable that merchants want to avoid these if possible.
If the retailer still doesn’t blink, however, don’t hesitate to follow through and take advantage of this key aspect of consumer protection.
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