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Are Credit Card Annual Fees Ever Worth Paying?
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The number of credit cards without annual fees are on the decline although it is still possible to find credit cards that don’t charge an annual fee. As of 2009, Synovate Mail Monitor discovered 35% of credit card offers sent to consumers were cards with annual fees, higher than it’s been in the last decade.

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Getting Out of Debt2
Effective Ways to Get Out of Debt Fast – the Easy Way

Unfortunately, drowning in debt is the way of life for many Americans. Even though the Census Bureau reported a decrease in the percentage of households with debt between 2001 to 2011, the median household debt increased to a shocking $70,000. Consumer debt continues to be an issue, mainly due to society spending more than they earn. It is a long, grueling process to get out of debt, but it can be done. Having that weight off your shoulders is an incredible feeling. I personally have followed these two simple suggestions below to get myself out of debt and I can say with excitement that I am finally debt free.

Find Out Where Your Money Is Going

Is every dollar you spend strictly going toward your mortgage and groceries? Of course not – which is great news! This means there is more room to cut costs and pay down debt. Start off by creating a spreadsheet to keep track of your spending. Don’t be relaxed with this. Don’t round to the nearest dollar, or skip entering any expenses. I enter even the smallest expense, such as a $1.50 fee for e-transfers. Get into the habit of entering your expenses into your spreadsheet at the end of every day with the day’s expenses. After doing this, you’ll see where your money is going and it will be easier for you to cut costs.

Cut Costs

Sounds pretty obvious, doesn’t it? If it’s so obvious, then why aren’t people doing it? Because society doesn’t know how or doesn’t want to accept a downgrade in lifestyle. Many people want instant gratification and don’t know how to hold off on spending to reap the rewards and greater gratification in the future. If you take anything out of this, remember this – the difference between the rich and the poor is the ability to invest in the future. If you’re in debt, cancel the cable and sign up for Netflix. Stop eating out. Cancel your long distance plan and use services like magicJack and Skype. With every penny you spend, check to see if there is a free or low-cost alternative.

I think another key factor in being successfully debt free is never giving up. It’s a long road, but I guarantee the relief felt at the end will make everything worth it.  Getting out of debt isn’t complicated and it doesn’t have to be so overwhelming.

Your First Credit Card
Your First Credit Card: A Guide

When you turn 18, establishing good credit with your first credit card is essential for your future financial success. Building credit is often overlooked and buried at this age. Young adults are often preoccupied with things like college and first apartments. However, establishing your credit at a young age is equally paramount and shouldn’t be overlooked.  Since I have been through many different credit situations (both positive and negative) I would like to share with you some tried and true tips on snagging your first credit card.

1. Shop around and take your time

Chances are, the second you turn 18, credit card companies will be throwing offers your way left, right, and center. I remember the excitement I had when I saw my first few credit card offers come in the mail. As embarrassing as it is to admit, I signed up for all of them! I notably regret not taking more time to research credit cards with lower fees and higher rewards. There are an ample amount of credit cards to choose from, so take your time and shop around for a credit card with low fees and quality benefits, such as cash back rewards.

Check out Credit Card Companies Soliciting College Students on Social Media to read more about credit card companies soliciting students.

2. Do your research

While shopping around for your first credit card, it is important to do a lot of research. Find out what the terminology means and exactly what you’re signing up for. I even suggest going into a bank and speaking with the manager or a representative to obtain a clearer understanding of the credit cards they offer. Also, check out student credit cards that are specifically designed for students.

3. Keep a low limit

For your first credit card, I would suggest keeping a low limit of around $300. Keep in mind, credit card companies can automatically raise your limit without prior notification. If your limit does increase, that doesn’t mean there is more room for spending. Spend only what you are able to pay back that month.

4. Keep a low balance

At this age you shouldn’t be relying on your credit card for living expenses and shopping. Actually, you should never rely on credit, but it’s particularly important at this age while you are trying to establish good credit. My suggestion is to set up a pre-authorized payment for a cell phone bill and pay the balance off monthly.

So you’re not quite ready to obtain your first credit card?

After reading those tips, maybe you decided you’re not quite ready for the responsibility of your first credit card. If you aren’t quite ready, or maybe you simply don’t qualify, talk to your parents about being added as an authorized user on one of their credit cards. Make sure their card is in good standing and that your parents have a good credit score.

Another option for your first credit card would be to apply for a secured credit card.This is an excellent option for young adults and as long as you make your monthly payments the credit card company will return the secured funds to you.

headache
Credit card applications – how to reduce the headaches

As handy and convenient as credit cards are, the same cannot be said of credit card application forms. Here is your guide to avoiding headaches when completing credit card applications.

There is something about filling in a form, especially one that involves numbers, that can drive the sanest man or woman crazy. While tax forms probably win top prize for frustration and the use of colorful language, credit card applications have been known to cause their share of headaches.

At the risk of offending those readers who make their living developing and selling headache medication, we would like to help reduce your headaches when filling in your next credit card application.

Preparation.

The first step is to be prepared. As with any complicated process – and seeking credit is complicated, no matter how simple one might try to make it – it pays to be prepared. There are three key steps to being prepared.

The first step is to know your self – specifically, your financial self. Before even trying to decide what type of credit card to apply for, you should get a-hold of copies of your credit reports. This is actually a very easy thing to do – probably the easiest part of all. There are three credit agencies in the United States, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. By law, they are all required to disclose your credit report to you.

Go to this page on the Federal Trade Commission’s website for more information: http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0155-free-credit-reports

The second step is to decide what type of credit card you want to apply for. What features do you want? Are you looking for a rewards card? If so, do you want cash back? Travel points? Some other type of reward? Are you more focused on a low interest rate? Or a balance transfer? Depending on what is in your credit report, you might find you need to focus on cards for people with poor credit.

There are plenty of articles on this website about the various types of credit cards. Here is some suggested reading:

Which are the best credit card for your profile?

A closer look as cash-back rewards cards.

The truth about 0% APR cards

The third step is to decide which offer you wish to apply for. You will see current available offers already organized into categories in the upper left side of this page, so that makes it easy to compare similar cards. Don’t jump at too-good-to-be-true offers and teasers you read about in magazines or in your mailbox. Take the time to compare the offers.  Logically.  Carefully.

Believe it or not, this preparation has already helped you avoid the biggest headaches and greatly increased the chances that you will be approved for the card of your choice.

The next step is to sit down with a cup of coffee or whatever makes you feel calm and relaxed. Yes, start out calm and in control and you will probably sleep better at night and save money on headache medication . Then start at the top of the application and just keep filling in.

Three more steps to go.

Besides the actually “filling” part, there are three other important things to do with credit cards applications:

1. Read the fine print. Each card is different and each one has different terms. It is important that you know how interest is calculated and when it kicks in. It is important to know if there are annual fees or late payment penalties. Make sure you understand what you are signing up for.

2. Stop. After filling in one form, do NOT fill in multiple forms. Two is not better than one, and five is certainly not better than three. Filling in multiple credit card applications in a short period of time often sends up a red flag in your credit report. This can reduce your chances of being approved by any credit card issuer. It can increase your actual APR (interest rate) if you are approved. And it can make getting other loans in the future (car loans, for example) more difficult (and possibly at a higher interest rate).

3. Be patient. Credit card approval is rarely immediate. While you are waiting, you will have time to drink plenty of coffee, read the fine print (if you did not read it earlier) and stay away from the temptation to fill in another application.

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Cash-back credit cards – how to choose a winner

Of all the credit card offers competing for your attention, few are as seductive as the cash-back credit cards.  And with good reason.  A cash-back credit card is like putting everything you buy on sale – everything!

So even if you find a great deal on designer shoes at 40 percent off, you still get cash back on that purchase.  And when you go on a trip, every penny you spend on airfare, hotels, car rentals, restaurant meals…it all earns you cash back.

The reason why credit card companies offer cash as a reward is pretty simple.  They are making it worth your while to use plastic instead of cash when you buy even just a cup of coffee or a magazine.  And it is worth your while to use real cash as little as possible and put everything on your credit card (as long as you pay off the balance every month).

But there are so many credit cards offering cash-back rewards.  How do you pick a winner?  How do you pick the one that will leave you with the most cash and the least debt over the long run?

Show me the money

The most obvious thing to look at is how much cash do you get back.  That is pretty simple.  Or is it?

Another thing to look for is an annual fee.  Some card have one, some cards don’t.  An annual fee will reduce the cash-back you receive, so best to avoid it if possible.

Now you’ve got my interest

If you are someone who tend to carry interest on his credit card, then the advertised APR will be of “interest” to you.  Your actual APR will vary, depending on your credit history.  12.99-21.99% is a typical APR right now.  But some are a little lower or a little higher, so it pays to pay attention.

Even more important is that there is a grace period for new purchases during which no interest is charged.  This is of no import if you pay off your balance each month.  But if you carry a balance, the difference between the six-month interest holiday of the Discover it™  card and the 14 month-month interest holiday of the other Discover it™  card is a big deal.

So it’s not just about the cash you get back.  There are other factors that can make that cash go a long way or reduce what you collect. You need to understand all the factors and consider what is right for your financial situation and your spending habits.  Because the right card for your neighbor might not be the ideal card for you.

Time is Money
8 Credit Card Benefits That Will Save You Time and Money

Am I right in thinking that many of you aren’t taking advantage of the numerous credit card benefits available to you? Personally, I was shocked when I discovered all of the credit card benefits I had been missing out on for all of these years! Start saving both time and money now by contacting your credit card issuer to discover the numerous credit card benefits available to you.

Credit Card Benefits You May Be Missing Out On

Car Rental Collision Damage Waiver Insurance

This credit card benefit is huge and widely available. How many of you have been purchasing insurance for your car rentals? As long as you decline the insurance offered by the car rental company and complete the entire transaction using your eligible credit card, either your Visa or your MasterCard will cover physical damage and theft. You may also have the opportunity to be reimbursed for any towing charges incurred.

Roadside Assistance

Have you ever been locked out of your vehicle or have had a car breakdown in the middle of nowhere? Maybe you’ve run out of gas on your way to the gas station? These are all very common, yet stressful situations. By contacting your credit card issuer, you may find out you are covered for roadside assistance. Pay the very reasonable service fee which, is billed to your credit card, and have access to tows, jump-starts, gas delivery, and lockout assistance.

Lost or Damaged Luggage Reimbursement

That dreaded moment when you find out your luggage has been lost. I know it’s not quite the same as having your belongings back in your possession, but with an eligible credit card you may qualify for the reimbursement of your checked and/or carry-on luggage and it’s contents, as long as your tickets were paid for in full by your credit card.

Hotel Burglary Insurance

If the unfortunate event of hotel burglary occurs, your belongings may be protected. As long as your hotel room was paid for in full using your eligible credit card, the cost of any items damaged and/or stolen may be reimbursed.

Extended Warranty and Purchase Assurance

Stop wasting money by purchasing extended warranties from manufacturers. Purchase an item in full using your eligible credit card and enjoy peace of mind with an extended warranty on your product. Also, if your item has been damaged or stolen within 90 days of the date of purchase, you’re covered.

Price Protection and Satisfaction Guarantee

Similar to a price match service, Price Protection reimburses the difference in price if you find your purchased item is being sold at a lower price within 60 days. If you buy that new dog bed everyone is raving about and the comfort doesn’t meet your dogs standards, you may be protected with a Satisfaction Guarantee. As long as you make a claim within 60 days, you may be refunded for the product up to a certain amount.

Simplify Your Life With Numerous Credit Card Benefits

There are a wealth of credit card benefits available to cardholders. Credit card benefits vary depending on card type and issuer, so be sure to contact the issuing financial institution to find out how you can save money with Visa and MasterCard benefits.

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