Monday, May 19, 2008

Should You Get a Credit Card?

If you don’t have a credit card, you may be wondering if getting one is the right move for you. After all, we have all heard the horror stories involved with credit card usage – it is certainly very easy to let spending get out of control and to find yourself buried in debt. At the same time, there are many benefits associated with using a credit card as well. Therefore, in order to determine if getting a credit card is a good move for you, you should explore the pros and cons of credit card ownership.

Benefit #1 of Credit Card Ownership: Convenience

One of the greatest benefits of having a credit card is the fact that they are so convenient to use. Credit cards are accepted almost everywhere and are much easier to keep track of than cash and checkbooks. When it comes to pumping gas, you don’t even have to go inside when you have a credit card!

Drawback #1 of Credit Card Ownership: Debt

If you aren’t careful about your spending, it is easy to get yourself buried in debt. Once you add finance charges to your debt, you can find yourself paying hundreds of dollars each month for the convenience of credit card usage. Research has proven that people spend more when they use credit cards – so be careful and monitor your spending if you decide to get a credit card.

Benefit #2 to Credit Card Ownership: Protection

Having a credit card provides you with extra protection that you don’t get when you make purchases with cash, checks, or even debit cards. In fact, you are legally obligated to pay only $50 if someone takes your credit card and makes purchases with it. In many cases, the credit card company will waive the $50 as well. In addition, several credit cards offer purchase protection, extended warranty coverage, and even insurance coverage when you rent vehicles or when you travel.

Drawback #2 to Credit Card Ownership: Taxes

When it comes to taking out a loan, using a credit card isn’t necessarily your best option when it comes to saving money. Even if you happen to get a pretty good interest rate on your credit card, you may be better off using a home equity loan if you are taking out a big loan. This way, you can deduct the interest fees on your taxes. The finance charges you pay through a credit card are not deductible.

Benefit #3 to Credit Card Ownership: Rewards

Most credit cards offer some sort of rewards program. If you pay your credit card bill off at the end of the billing cycle, you can completely avoid finance charges while earning rewards with your credit card. Depending upon how much you spend, you could potentially earn hundreds of dollars each year with rewards credit cards.

About the Author: Shannon Kietzman is a well known author and trusted resource. Shannon regularly writes for . For more info and to order your credit report with FREE credit score please visit

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Thinking About Transferring a Balance? Know What You are Getting Into Before You Complete the Transaction

When you receive an application from a credit card company in the mail, it may include an invitation to transfer your credit card balances to the new credit card. Or, you may even receive periodic invitations from your current credit card to complete a transfer at a low interest rate. You may be tempted to complete one of these transfers, and it is possible that performing a balance transfer is a good decision, but you need to know exactly what you are getting yourself into before you go ahead with the transaction.

Pay Attention to the Fees

While the credit card may be offering a balance transfer rate that is much lower than the interest rate you are currently paying, there may be a number of fees associated with the transfer as well. Generally, these fees are determined by calculating a percentage of the amount you are transferring and, while there may be a cap on how much you can be charged for a balance transfer, you can still end up paying over $100 to transfer your credit card balances. When all is said and done, the money you save on interest may be less than the money you are paying toward fees. Therefore, before you complete a balance transfer, be certain to find out about the fees that you will have to pay for the transaction.

Consider the APR

When you receive that enticing offer from the credit card company, the interest rate will likely be quite low. As a result, it will seem like a great idea to transfer your balances. Don’t just look at the introductory rate, however, as the ultimate rate of the credit card may be much higher than what you are currently paying. For example, you may receive a card with an introductory rate of 0% on balance transfers, but it reverts back to the standard 19.99% interest rate after the introductory period is over. Some cards will keep the low interest rate in place until the balance is paid off, but this is not always the case. Therefore, either make certain you pay the card off within that introductory period or don’t bother to make the transfer. Otherwise, you will likely spend more in finance charges if the ultimate APR is higher than what you are currently paying.

Find a Great Deal and Make a Plan

Some people try to evade their credit cards by jumping from one card to the next. Bouncing from one card to the next in an effort to keep your finance charges down will not pay off in the long run. Sure, it will help keep your finance charges, but the only way to take care of the problem is to work out a plan that allows you to get the debt paid down. So, rather than trying to work out a plan for transferring your balances over and over again, work on creating a plan that will allow you to get the debt paid off completely.

About the Author: Shannon Kietzman is a well known author and trusted resource. Shannon regularly writes for . For more info and to order your credit report with FREE credit score please visit

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Credit Card Fees You Didn’t Know About

Do you know that you are paying for the convenience of using a credit card, even if you don’t make your purchases in plastic? Or, do you realize that using a rewards credit card to make a purchase actually cuts into the profits of the merchant you are purchasing from? Most consumer do not know that using a credit card actually costs merchants each time that card is swiped. In fact, credit card use has been a very touch subjects for many merchants and several of them are banding together to try to bring about a change.

Understanding Interchange Fees

When a place of business decides to provide its customers with the option to pay with a credit card, that business has to set up an account with a credit card processing company. The transactions then filter through that company in order to ultimately land in the merchant’s bank account. Along the way, however, several fees are taken out of the transaction. Among these fees are interchange fees.

Interchange fees are set fees that banks charge for completing the credit card transaction. These fees are typically assessed as a percentage of the transaction amount, with the average fee being 2%. Therefore, if you purchase an item for $10 at a store, $0.20 of that transaction is paid to the bank in the form of an interchange fee.

Effects on Pricing

Although a $0.20 fee for a $10 purchase may not sound like a whole lot, these interchange fees really add up for merchants. This is particularly true with smaller “mom and pop” establishments that already have very small profit margins. If they purchase an item for $8 and sell it for $10, for example, the $0.20 interchange fee leaves them with only $1.80, but much of this goes toward paying employees and otherwise keeping the establishment running. Therefore, many smaller businesses are claiming that interchange fees – which continue to go up – are effectively running them out of business.

For smaller stores dealing with interchange fees, they are faced with a conundrum: they can choose to stop accepting credit cards, but they may cause them to lose a great deal of business, or they can simply accept the credit card fees. In an effort to try to break even, many of these merchants choose to raise their prices to compensate for the interchange fees. Of course, if they raise them too much, they will no longer be competitive and business can suffer.

Rewards credit cards pose an even greater problem for some businesses because the costs of providing cardholders with these rewards is often passed onto the merchant. American Express is notorious for having hire interchange rates because of its rewards program, which is precisely why some businesses choose not to accept American Express credit cards.

About the Author: Shannon Kietzman is a well known author and trusted resource. Shannon regularly writes for . For more info and to order your credit report with FREE credit score please visit

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