What Are Rotating Credit Card Bonus Categories?

Top view of woman hand holding credit card and doing shopping online.

Having a credit card is important to financial independence and security. However, if you want to credit card to work for you and not against you, you have to use it wisely. The first step is making sure that you choose the right credit card for you and your needs. Once you have researched all the credit card options, you can select the one that is right for you. Even when you select the best one for you, you must use your credit card wisely so that you do not find yourself buried in debt.

Rotating Credit Card Categories Explained

A number of credit cards offer rewards when you make purchases in certain categories, or at specific retailers. There can be different types of cash back rewards with different types of credit card options. Some of them are fixed, while others have rotating credit card bonus categories. One type of cash back is a flat cash back rate on all purchases and there is not limit to the rewards. Another type of cash back reward is a tiered program. In a tiered program, some purchases earn more cash back than others. These tiers usually remain the same and do not change. The third category is a rotating bonus, which we will talk about a little further down.

With the cash back rewards that do not rotate, the rewards rate remains the same all year long. These cards offer unlimited cash back, which means there is no limit on how much you can earn in rewards. You can earn rewards on every purchase you make regardless of the amount you spend. A card with tired rewards usually breaks down so that you get 3 percent on groceries, 2 percent on gas, and 1 percent on every other purchase.

What Are Rotating Bonus Categories?

The third category we mentioned above is rotating credit card bonus categories. This is when a credit card offers different cash rewards on a quarterly basis. These cash back rewards are usually 5 percent on the amount you spend in specific categories or with a specific retailer. There is usually a flat reward amount for all other spending. Some example of categories may be grocery stores or gas stations, or it might be a specific retailer like Amazon.

These bonuses are typically a little higher and only last for a quarter, which is 3 months. Sometimes, the credit card will give you a heads up about which category or vendor is coming in the next quarter. If you plan to make a large purchase in this category, you might want to wait until the next bonus quarter.

What Are Some Common Bonus Categories?

When looking for rotating credit card bonus categories, you will find that each of these credit cards offers something slightly different than the other. They may rotate through the categories differently, but you will most likely find that they have similar categories.

Most of these types of credit cards have gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants at some point in their rotation. You can usually find their scheduled rotation somewhere in the information about the card. If you find that you go to the gas station more in the summer, you might want to find a card that offers bonus cash back during the summer months.

You will also find cards that offer cash back for Amazon, Walmart, Home Depot, and Walgreens on their lists. You may even be able to find cards that offer rotating bonus categories on gym memberships and PayPal. Some newer categories include streaming services. Some cards may have an overarching category of streaming services, while some may specifically state Hulu or Netflix.

Is There A Downside To Rotating Categories?

When looking for rotating credit card bonus categories, you may want to know if there are any downsides to this type of credit credit. It is easy to see the high percentage cash back and be pulled in. If the credit card you pick requires you to activate your cash back savings, then it is on you to take that step. Your credit card company may or may not remind you of the new categories and that it is time to sign up. Another potential down side is if thee quarterly cash back options are not in alignment with your spending habits, it may not be the right fit for you.

The categories may not be in an area where you spend money or perhaps the timing does not line up. If you spend more money on gas in the summer months, but the credit card offers cash back bonus for gas in January, that may not be the right match for you. One more thing to consider is the potential cap on spending. If you are spending money that you might not spend just to get the bonus but you have reached your spending limit, you may be spending money for no reason.

What Are the Perks of Having a Cash Back Credit Card?

There are some benefits to having a cash back credit card. The money you get back is a percentage of your purchase. That translates into cash. You usually have the choice of getting a check mailed to you, money deposited into your bank account, or you can use the cash back to make a payment on your credit card. If you use your credit card for all purchases it can be a substantial amount of money. When you have a card with rotating credit card bonus categories, you can maximize on the amount of money you get back.

We will show you with numbers how cash back will work.

If you have credit card that gives you 3 percent back on all purchases, it could work this way: If you spend $1,000 per month, 3 percent of $1,000 is $30. If you spend $1,000 per month for an entire year, you can earn $10 each month, which is $120 per year cash back for purchases you were planning to make anyway.

What Cards Have High Credit Card Rewards Rate?

When considering rotating credit card bonus categories, it is helpful if you know which cards offer the highest rewards rate. You might want to start with these cards and create your list from there. Chase and Discover offer 5 percent cash back on specific categories each quarter. They do have a cap of $1,500 spending per quarter. That means that you receive the 3 percent cash back only up to $1,500 of purchases per quarter. If you spend more than $1,500, you will not receive cash back on that additional amount. In addition, they offer 1 percent cash coach in all other categories. You do have to activate the rewards each quarter. It is not automatic.

Citi cards offers a similar card called the Citi Dividend Card. This one is not available to new applicants. This card pays 5 percent back on items in specific categories and 1 percent back on all other items. There is not limit on how much you can spend, but the maximum cash back you can receive per year is $300. The Amalgamated Bank of Chicago (ABOC) gives 5 points per dollar spent up to $1,500 in specific categories, which change every quarter. The rest of your spending gets 1 point per dollar. There is no activation required to gain access to the cash back.

How Do I Pick The Right Card?

Understanding the cash back that comes with your credit card is important, but that is not the only reason to select a credit card. There are some other details to which you should pay attention. You should know the credit limit that comes with the credit card you are researching. The credit limit may make a difference depending on what your credit card needs are. If you want to make large purchases, you will want a credit card with a higher credit limit. You want to know the fee schedule for your credit card.

Most credit cards have late fees or missed payment fees. You want to know what those fees will be. You want to do everything you can to make sure you pay your credit card in full and on time, but things happen and you will want to know the fees associated with missed payments. The annual percentage rate (APR) is also important when selecting a credit card. This is the amount of interest you will pay if you do not pay your card in full each month. The higher the APR, the more interest you will pay each month. While your goal should always be to pay your credit card in full each month, we know that is not always possible. You should aim for the lowest percentage rate possible.

What Other Benefits Can a Credit Card Offer?

There are other bonuses that your credit card may offer. It depends on the credit card that indicates the bonuses you might get. If it is a store credit card, you often get special sales and incentives. You may also get loyalty points when you shop in the store and use the credit card. Some cards offer airline points. Every time you use your credit card, you get points for each dollar you spend and those points translate to savings on airline tickets. This credit card may also offer you travel insurance or protection on your purchases. Some credit cards offer gift cards as a reward for your purchases. You may even get gifts that are offered based on how much money you spend.

How Do I Use A Credit Card Wisely?

No matter what credit card you choose, you should always use your credit card wisely. If you are able to go to online card shops or go to stores in person to shop, you still should not spend more money than you have. It is easy to spend the money since it does not come directly from your bank account. You still have to pay the credit card bill each month. You should pay the credit card bill in full each month. If you cannot pay the bill in full, you should pay as much of it as you can.

When you accrue interest each month, it becomes harder to pay your credit card bill. This is how people get buried in credit card debt. Even if you cannot pay your credit card bill in full, you want to make sure that you pay at least the minimum amount and pay it on time. If you do not pay the minimum, you will be charged a fee. You want to avoid fees as much as possible. If you do not pay your credit card on time, it can have a negative impact on your credit score.

Conclusion

Picking a credit card is an important choice. It is easy to be lured in by the perks and cash back programs. You also want to make sure you pay attention to the credit limit and the annual percentage rate. You want to make sure that you selecting the best credit card for you. If you plan to use it often, you want to make sure that it is a perfect fit. You want to always remember to spend wisely. Just because you have the credit card does not mean you should always use it. You still must be mindful that you can pay your bill each month.

What Are the Advantages of Going Cashless: Millennial Mindset

A man scanning a QR code on mobile app

A cashless society can seem like something of the future but society is already moving in this direction. There are several powerful forces that are behind the move to a cash-free society, including large financial service companies and governments. Even the critics of a mainstream financial system also favor doing away with cash.  There are several nations that already making the push to eliminate cash with the push coming from both the government and consumers. India and Sweden are two examples of nations going cashless.

Advantages of Going Cashless

We are living in a “hi-tech” world and today money flows faster than ever. Carrying money around or to be afraid to lose your money when you travel is a past. There are many more advantages of going cashless for both an individual and a business.

Advantages of Going Cashless for Individuals

There are plenty of advantages of going cashless that individuals should be aware of.

Convenience

The ease of conducting a cashless financial transaction is one of the biggest motivators to go digital. You won’t need to worry about carrying cash around or line up for an ATM withdrawal. It can be safer if you are traveling. You also have the freedom to perform a transaction whenever and wherever you want. You don’t have to be present to pay as you would if you were handing over cash.

Track Spending

You can pay with cash without there being a record. If transactions are on the record because you are going cashless then it’s easy for people to keep track of spending. This can be useful when filing income tax returns and if someone has some additional scrutiny on how they spend money. It can also be easier for budgeting.

Better Budgeting

One of the advantages of going cashless is that it’s easy to see exactly where your money is going so that you can keep tabs on your spending. Various tools and apps will help you analyze your spending patterns and give you signs over the months. Having a better budget can open up a lot of different financial goals for you, whether that is buying a house, getting out of debt, saving for an emergency fund or retirement, or getting involved in investing.

Lower Risk

If you lose your cash, it can be impossible to get it back. However, it can be easy to block a mobile wallet or credit card remotely if you lose it. A loss of cash can cause a great inconvenience, especially when traveling. Some futuristic cards are even evolving to use biometric ID capabilities, such as eye scans and fingerprints, which are much harder to copy, so cash can be a safe option. If you cancel your card before any fraudulent transactions are made then you won’t even lose a penny. Even if there are fraudulent transactions made, the card company will usually reimburse you for purchases you didn’t make.

Build Up Your Credit

Having good credit makes it easier to get a loan and it takes a while to get a good credit score. In order to start building your credit, it is best to begin making purchases on a credit card. When you start putting purchases on your credit card today and then pay off your balance in full each month, it’s easier to make some big financial decisions in the future.

Rewards Points

Businesses may reward you for going cashless. For example, Starbucks will give you a free drink after you earn a certain number of rewards points, which you get by paying with their mobile app. Many credit cards also offer you rewards on your purchases.

It’s Cleaner

Nobody is cleaning the cash and bills and coins are covered in bacteria. With today’s payment machines, you are likely the only one touching your credit card.

Advantages of Going Cashless for Society in General

While there are plenty of advantages for individuals, there are also advantages for society in general.

Less Crime

Cash is easy to steal. Illegal transactions typically take place with cash so there isn’t a record of the transaction and the seller can be sure they are getting paid.

Paper Trails

Financial crime is much harder with a paper trail. It’s hard to evade taxes and hide income if there is a record of the payments you receive. Money laundering is harder if funds are always available.

No Cash Management

Top 10 cashless countries

It costs money to make coins and print bills. Businesses need to be able to store money or get more when they run out, as well as deposit cash when they have too much on hand. Moving money around and still protecting the large sums of cash could become a thing of the past.

International Payments

When going to a foreign country, you may need to get the local currency. Payments are easier if both nations will handle cashless transactions. Instead of having to figure out a different form of currency, a mobile device can handle everything for you.

Advantages of Going Cashless for Businesses

There are plenty of advantages of going cashless that businesses might enjoy.

Faster Service at Checkout

Using cash can slow down how fast you can serve your customers and this then increases your staff overhead. If your customer is getting out their wallet or purse to sort their bills and get change, things take longer. A credit card or contactless payment option is quicker and more efficient. Human error can be costly when it comes to making change. Giving out incorrect change adds up over time and this issue is removed when you go cashless.

Easier Financial Management

Adding up cash and then checking it against receipts and taking it to the bank adds up. You also need to collect and store change. Debit and credit card transactions are automatically reconciled and paid into the bank account. This frees up finances and reduces the administration overhead on staff.

Save Time and Money

Even though businesses do have to pay a fee for a credit card transaction, there is the fee to pay employees to count cash. These extra hours add up and by going cashless, you can actually scale up instead of spending time and money on cash management.

Reduced Risk of Theft

It may not be an issue for your business, but one of the main advantages of going cashless is that it lessens the opportunities for theft. There are plenty of stories of employees lifting a little extra money from the register, as well as criminals breaking in. A cashless transaction system reduces the chances of money loss.

Appeal to Customers That Don’t Carry Cash

Millennials and the younger generations are more attracted to digital wallets and other payment methods and aren’t likely to carry cash. By emphasizing that you appeal to these customers, you are seen as a more innovative business, which can make you more attractive to these customers as they look for products and services.

Businesses do need to be mindful of going completely cashless since it can be seen as discriminatory. It may even be illegal in some states and cities. There are common reasons why people may not have a bank account, which makes it harder to go cashless. However, if a business does want to go cashless to take advantage of the benefits then it’s still possible to accept cash while encouraging plastic and cashless payments. For example, install a cashless kiosk that can help speed up the ordering process or have one cashless location. Another tactic for the encouragement to go cashless for your customers could be to implement a rewards program for customers that pay with a card.

What Does a Cashless World Look Like?

Without cash, payments will be electronic. Instead of coins and paper money to exchange value, you then need to authorize a transfer of funds to someone else or another business. The logistics for a completely cashless society are still developing but there are already some hints on how this can evolve.

Debit and credit cards are some of the most popular cash alternatives that are being used today. Cards online aren’t enough for a fully cashless society so mobile devices are also a primary tool for payments. Online card shops and finance sites can help you choose the right card for your needs.

Electronic payment apps, such as Venmo or PayPal, are useful for P2P payments. In addition, there are some bill splitting apps that allow friends to split bills in a fair and easy manner.

Mobile payment services and mobile wallets can provide cash-free and secure payments. In developed nations that don’t use cash as often, a mobile device is usually the most common tool for payments.

Cryptocurrencies are joining the discussion. These can be used for money transfers and then introduce innovation and competition that can keep costs low. There are currently risks and different regulatory hurdles that can make them hard to use for most consumers so they aren’t ready for widespread use.

Disadvantages of Going Cashless

While it’s important to note the many advantages of going cashless, it’s hard to talk about the advantages of going cashless when there are also some disadvantages to be aware of.

Privacy

Payments electronically do mean less privacy. You could trust the organization that handles your data, and you may not have anything to hide, but payment information can turn up in ways that are hard to protect. Cash allows you to spend money and get funds anonymously so you have more privacy.

Hacking Concerns

Hackers are the bank robbers of the electronic world. In a cashless world, it can be much scarier if someone invades your account since you don’t have different ways to spend. Even if you are protected, there are still inconveniences after a breach.

Technology Issues

Outages, innocent mistakes, and glitches can cause issues and may even leave you with no ability to buy things that you need when you need them. Merchants won’t have a way to accept payments from a customer if their system malfunctions. Even something as simple as a phone battery that dies means you are penniless.

Inequality

Those who are poor can have a harder time going cashless. They won’t have expensive devices that are often used for payments and those that operate in an informal economy don’t have ways to receive aid or get paid.

Fees

If you are forced to just choose between a few payment method options then you can’t expect financial institutions to give you a good deal. Payment processors could cash in on high volumes and eliminate savings that come from less cash handling.

Overspending

When you buy something with cash, you feel the pain of every dollar you spend. With an electronic payment, it becomes easier to just swipe without noticing how much you are actually spending and you will need renewed efforts to manage spending so you don’t overspend.

Negative Interest Rates

When money is electronic, the government charges banks a negative interest rate. They may pass this on to customers in the form of a fee, but there is then no longer any cash to pull from. Dropping the interest rate is usually a move to stimulate the economy but this means there is less purchasing power.

How to Start Going Cashless for Individuals

With so many advantages of going cashless, you may begin to wonder how you should start to go cashless.

Have Different Options

You want to make sure that you have multiple options, such as credit cards or debit cards, in order to make your purchases. It also helps to have cards from different credit card companies in case a store doesn’t accept Visa or American Express. Some stores don’t accept certain brands because the processing costs are higher.

Choose a Bank with a Good Mobile App

You want a bank that has a great online service. This will make it easier for you to check your balance or even make purchases using your app. The better the technology, the more options you have to manage your money. You also want to be prepared with payment apps, such as PayPal and Venmo. These apps help you pay family and friends and you can even use them at some businesses that don’t accept cards.

Be Prepared to Be Turned Down for Certain Purchases

Some vendors or stores will still only accept cash. Others may not accept card payments for purchases that are less than a certain dollar amount. There could be a fee to use a credit or debit card instead of paying with cash.

Consider Carrying Some Cash for Backup

Even if the goal is to go cashless, in today’s world you still may need to consider carrying some cash. Your child’s teacher may not accept a credit card to pay that bill so your child can go on a field trip. Having access to a debit card or ATM should give you some options to get the cash you need in a pinch.

Consider Your Budget

The cash/envelope budget is a popular way to get started on a budget and to better keep track of your money. This doesn’t mean that you can’t have a successful budget without using cash. If you have been using this budget and want to move toward being completely cashless then you need a system that works for you. If you don’t already have a paper and pen or electronic budgeting system in place, now is the time to start.

Going Cashless for Businesses

Before businesses should go cashless, one of the most important things to know is the customer and if they would be comfortable with this change. By going cashless, it’s possible to lose the elderly or low-income customers whose only form of payment is cash. Some businesses have been able to go cashless successfully, while others have received boycotts and complaints. It’s best to have some workarounds for customers if all they have is cash so you don’t need to lose them as a customer. Businesses should begin preparing for a cashless society and start to take debit and credit card payments, which has never been easier.

Ways to Go Cashless

There are different ways to go cashless.

  • Mobile Banking: You can use your smartphone to access your bank anytime from anywhere. When you use the app to check your balances, you can also make credit card payments on the go. Mobile apps don’t store your account information so it is secure and safe to use
  • Debit and Credit Cards: These are probably the easiest ways to go cashless. There are built-in safety features that make them safe to use
  • Mobile Wallet: A mobile wallet on your phone is an app that you use to pay retailers, service providers, and e-commerce sites
  • Online Payment Services: Online payment services offer one-stop solutions for different types of payments. For example, you can pay your taxes, credit card bills, or other bills
  • Online Banking: Checks are not the only way to pay through your bank account. Online banking services give you several options to send money

In Conclusion

Going cashless can be seen as the future and there are plenty of advantages of going cashless. Not only are there advantages for individuals but there are also advantages for businesses and society as a whole. While there are plenty of advantages of going cashless, it still helps to be aware of the disadvantages of going cashless and what can be done to make it much safer.

How to Prevent Credit Card Fraud: Swipe and Beware

Those horror stories you see on the news about someone’s credit card getting stolen and the thief racking up thousands in debt happen every week. Credit card fraud is scary. It does not need to happen to you though. You can protect yourself. As you prepare for the holiday shopping season, you need to prepare for the inevitable crush of shoppers, the fights over the last of an item and most importantly, you need to protect your credit card.

Most of my shopping gets done online since I stay pretty busy writing, so I am pretty ratchet about protecting my credit card information. Still, a few years ago someone did nab my information and I had to clean up a ton of problems on my credit report. Sometimes, I think I got invited to write here because I have learned so much the hard way. It happened to me and I can tell you how to protect yourself and how to clean up the mess if it has already happened to you.

Tips for Preventing Credit Card Fraud

Whether you shop in-stores or online, your credit card information remains at risk. You can keep it safer though. It just takes a few extra steps to avoid credit card fraud. You have to learn to be on the lookout for scammers and thieves. It is all in the preparation you make. Start with these tips to get yourself well prepared to shop.

• Tuck your credit cards into your purse or wallet and wear it close to your body. This makes it tough for thieves to snatch.
• In busy shopping centers or malls or in busy outdoor shopping markets, carry a small purse to make it tougher to steal or pick-pocket.
• Take only the credit or debit card you will actually use that day like the zero APR credit card you plan to use for that new stove. Leave everything else at home, especially your cash advance credit card.

• Quickly use your credit card and then put it away. The less time it gets exposed, the less likely your numbers can get stolen. Thieves can use their cell phone to photograph your credit card while it is out getting used.
• Keep your cards in a separate location from your wallet or purse. If you get pickpocketed, you only lose the cash in the purse or wallet.
• During a transaction, keep your eye on your card. Make sure you get it back before you walk away.
• Save your receipts, so you can compare them with your statement.

• Make sure that you have your credit card with you before you leave the shop or restaurant.
• Do not sign a blank credit card receipt. Write a zero into each unused blank or draw a line through it so no person can add to the receipt. Verify your total before signing it.
• Be just as vigilant when you stop for gas. Check the gas pump or ATM before you use it to make sure a credit card skimmer has not attached anything to the pump.
• Credit card thieves sometimes place credit card skimming devices onto the credit card readers at gas pumps or ATMs. This attaches over the regular credit card swiper and stores all data. Immediately report any such device to the gas station manager and go to a different gas station or ATM.

At-Home Tips for Safer Credit Cards

You also need to be extra careful at home. Handle your financial statements carefully.

• Shred anything correspondence with your bank routing number and account number on it or your debit or credit card number on It.
• Do not throw your credit card statements in the trash without shredding them first.
• Throw the shredded pieces away in different trash cans to thwart thieves from taping pieces together.
• Whether you phone your credit card company or they phone you – do not give your credit card number over the phone.

• When you phone your credit card company’s customer service, use the toll-free phone number on the back of your credit card.
• Do not return calls to a phone number left on your voice mail or sent via email or text message. It could be fake. Always phone the telephone number on the back of the card.
• Avoid sharing your phone number with anyone who calls you. You should ask to call them back at the number on the reverse of the card. Get their employee number or extension, so you can reach them directly.
• Make it simple to cancel your credit cards by keeping a record of your account numbers, expiration dates and the credit card fraud hotline for each company in your safe or in a safe deposit box. You need it to be in a location that only you can get to the information.

• You should be the only person to use your card. Do not lend it to your children, spouse or roommates.
• Do not leave your credit cards, shopping receipts or financial statements lying around the house or office.
• Open financial mail promptly and reconcile statements with the purchases you’ve made.
• Let your credit card issuer know immediately if your address changes.
• Let your credit card issuer know immediately if you are going on vacation or will be traveling.
• Never write your account number on the outside of an envelope.

Online Credit Card Safety

Your workplace may have a litany of rules for getting online and opening e-mails. Follow them at home, too. For real. They are doing that to keep their servers and systems safe. By following the same rules at home, you can do the same for yourself. You can keep your credit card, bank and investment account information safe, as well as your computer system. Start with these tips.

• Be wary of phishing emails. These appear to be from a company you genuinely do business with, but really come from a scammer. Avoid clicking on links in an email appearing to come from your bank, credit card company or any other business that you use. PayPal often gets spoofed in emails. Read the information provided in the email, then take action on it by going to the financial institution’s website on your own – typing the URL of the site into your browser yourself.
• Use caution when you use your credit card on the Internet. Enter your number only on sites you know are secure and legitimate.
• Use websites that use https:// to indicate there are secure.

• Look for the lock icon in the lower right corner of the browser.
• Create a really strong password for the card issuer’s website. Make it hard to guess. Keep it safe by not writing it down.
• Also, create really strong passwords for any website where you store your credit card number like Amazon or Walmart.
• A strong password contains upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and special characters.
• Before you shop with a company for the first time, conduct an online search to read reviews and complaints. This includes online card shops. Use easily checked, reliable sites like Loanry.com or Cashry.com.

What to Do if You Lose Your Card or It Gets Stolen

As soon as you realize your credit card is missing, call your credit card issuer to cancel it. This prevents fraudulent charges. Make a list now of the phone numbers of your credit card companies’ customer service numbers. This makes it easy to find them when you need them.

You are liable for the first $50 charged after the card was stolen. This could be more if you do not report it quickly.
Carefully review your billing statements every month for unauthorized charges. One of the first signs of credit card fraud is unauthorized or duplicate charges. Any charge you see that you know you did not make; you should report to the credit card company right away.

Your credit card issuer can tell if it was an innocuous mistake or if you need to close your account and open a new one to avoid credit card fraud. Does that sound like a lot to go through just to keep your credit cards safe?

When I went through my problem with identity theft, the thieves had first borrowed my address. Once that happened, their information merged in with mine. Many organizations use the information from credit reporting bureaus to verify identity elsewhere. Want to know how bad it can get?

I could not set up a Federal Express account to schedule deliveries to my home because FedEx uses a credit bureau to verify your identity. They want to make sure they are delivering to the appropriate address for your packages and all the others that should go there. Problem was, I was and am the only person to have ever lived in that house. When the verification asked me which of the four people had been my roommate at my lake house, I was at a loss. It took months to clear everything up and I still do not have a FedEx account.

Report Losses and Credit Card Fraud

Call the card issuer as soon as you realize your card has been lost or stolen. Many companies have toll-free credit card fraud hotlines and 24-hour services handle these issues. If you think that your card was used fraudulently, you typically must sign a statement under oath that you didn’t make the purchases or open the account in question.

Why You Need to Call the Cops
You might not think of unauthorized credit card charges as a form of identity theft, but they are. Right after you cancel your credit cards, call the police, says the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).

You also need to inform the credit reporting agencies and add a 90-day credit card fraud alert to your credit cards and overall credit report. It may seem overkill but you also need to inform the Federal Trade Commission which tracks this type of crime. The fraudulent charges to your account could be part of a larger crime spree.

“You may have to contest the charges or demonstrate to a credit card company that you are 100 percent innocent. Having the report doesn’t hurt. It’s a smart backup,” says Rob Douglas, editor of IdentityTheftInfo.com

When you report it to the credit reporting bureaus, request a credit freeze on your credit file. You need to call each of the three bureaus and make this report and make a request for the credit freeze. The freeze prevents the opening of any new credit accounts in your name. The freeze typically lasts 90 days. Sometimes there is a charge for the freeze, but you should be able to get it for free by sharing the police report with them. Realize that this freeze will also mean you cannot open new accounts during the 90-day period.

Something you will not read in other articles on this topic which, unfortunately, I can interject from hard won experience is that your credit card companies will all take this so super seriously that you will find it hard to live a normal life for the first few weeks after your identity gets stolen or the credit card fraud charges appear. That is because the credit card companies will bend over backwards to make sure you are you.

After I reported my credit card fraud charges and that hinky credit card account for the store I had not shopped at in 15 years, every credit and debit card I had was put on notice due to the freeze. So was my bank.

The first week passed uneventfully, and then I had to buy groceries. It was in Target while trying to pay for my purchases that I first experienced what you will if you ever have to put a freeze on your accounts. Not only will it stop thieves from misusing your accounts, but you will have problems, too. You have to prove you are you to use your credit cards.

I rang up my card company who explained that since I had requested the freeze, I had to prove I was me in order to use my cards. I laughed and said, “Well, you know that charge attempt from two minutes ago for X amount of money. Yeah. That is really me and I have about ten people behind me in line. How do I prove I am me, so I can check out and get my groceries home before my ice cream melts?”

After I literally had to violate nearly every direction I just gave in this article by reading out my full card number in line, plus providing my Social Security number and having called from my cell phone which is my official account phone and came up on their computer systems and providing my account PIN, they re-activated my card.
I swiped it and eureka! I could pay.

Customer service let me know that theirs was not the only account lock I would need to unlock before using anything. Every card I needed to use, I would need to call the company to unlock it and prove I was me due to the freeze. That meant that I had to do that two more times, but at least I knew to do it before I tried to swipe. The credit bureau will be so busy trying to take their report and gather crime fighting information that they will probably forget to tell you this detail. They did with me. I was clueless until standing in that line wondering why with my awesome credit and money in the bank, I could not pay anybody.

Reporting Your Identity Theft

While we’re on the topic, reporting identity theft and fraudulent charges does not work quite the same as reporting typical theft like the stealing of a motorcycle. Rather than phoning the 911 line, you should call the non-emergency or business phone number of the local police department. Tell them you need to report a financial crime. If the officer balks at taking the report, you should let them know that you do not expect them to conduct an investigation, but that you are filing it to clear your name and help with the process of reporting it to the credit card companies and credit reporting bureaus. If they continue to balk, request to speak with their supervisor.

Here are five really important reasons to report credit card fraud and identity theft to the authorities.

• You help yourself psychologically because it is cathartic. You provide yourself some emotional resolution. Making a police report lets you take back some measure of control that was stolen from you.
• Your report provides you proof of the event. Some creditors will request the police report number.
• The report means you get the credit report/file freeze for free.
• The police might solve the case, especially if you are able to provide the suspect’s name and contact information.
• As mentioned, your data provides a piece of information that can lead to the solution of larger crimes.

An investigation could solve a credit card fraud. The more information you can provide, the more likely it is that the police will actually investigate. Cases get scored numerically based on available data provided. The reports that rank the highest by providing the most detail and information get the most attention. If you have identified a suspect or have an actionable activity to investigate, your case stands a better chance of getting investigated. But if a bank just got robbed though, the financial crimes folks will already be busy investigating that. If there already exists a higher-scoring credit card fraud case, they probably won’t investigate you aggressively.

Let Creditry Help with Managing Your Credit

You do not have to go it alone. You can get help safeguarding your credit. Use Creditry.com to help stop credit card fraud. This service helps you monitor your credit. It also helps you manage your credit.

When you stay on top of your credit and its use, you are safeguarding your identity. It is up to you, the consumer, to stop crimes from occurring. You can severely limit a perpetrator’s access to your private information simply by protecting your information. Limit with whom you share information about yourself. Limit where you use your credit and debit cards.


Also, limit what you share with others privately and publicly. Rather than using apps like Foursquare that reveal the address of the stores and restaurants you frequent, use Twitter or Facebook. You can still tout your favorite brands that way, but people will only know that you go to Starbucks, not the specific one you frequent. How does that help? It helps because your credit card companies note changes in your behaviors like you suddenly going to a location of a chain that you typically do not, however, it would be easy for a fraudulent charge to sneak by them if it was made at your usual location.

You can also protect your financial information by using store reward programs and apps to pay for items in-store. While at home on your super safe computer, load your Starbucks card with money to pay for the week’s coffees. In the coffee shop, you never have to expose your credit card. You can pay via the app on your cell phone or with the gift card you tied to your rewards account. Many shops and cafes now offer this type of app or card. You can even do this with Uber, pre-purchasing UberCash which then earns you a ride discount.

Final Thoughts

You can do a lot to protect yourself from credit card fraud. It begins with your vigilance. Use sites like Creditry and options like store apps to protect your credit cards. Keep on top of your finances. Look at credit card statements as soon as they arrive. Learn the vigilance necessary to protect yourself and, if something does go awry, report it to the police immediately. Stay on top of it and keep it on their front burner. Make sure you help educate others about what it takes to remain safe and protect yourself from credit card fraud. You are your first and best defense.

Use Creditry and Loanry to your advantage. You can even use Loanry to shop for the right credit card.

Your Ultimate Guide to Credit Card Refinancing

We all have credit cards. Many of us use them, but we do not know the best way to do so. According to USA Today, Americans owe over $1 trillion dollars in credit card debt and that number continues to increase. USA Today states that about 40 percent of those who use credit cards are able to pay the balance due every month.

The other 60 percent have a staggering amount of credit card debt. There are tons of reasons why people owe so much in credit card debt. We will touch on some of those reasons as you continue reading. We are also going to talk about your options when you find yourself drowning in credit card debt, including credit card refinancing. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about credit card refinancing.

What Does It Mean To Refinance Credit Cards?

Credit Card Refinancing

Credit card refinancing is when you choose to take your debt from one or many credit cards and transfer it to another credit card. The overall goal is to save money on the interest you are paying on your current credit card debt. Typically, when you transfer money from one credit card to another, the new card gives you 0 percent interest on the transferred balance. Credit card refinancing can save you money in the long run. It helps decrease the amount of money you have to pay each month. If the interest does not build, you have an easier time of paying off your credit card debt.

Another way to refinance your credit cards is to get a refinancing loan. This is an actual personal loan that you use to refinance your debt. As with anything else, there are positives and negatives to obtaining a personal loan to consolidate debt. Some of these refinance options can be handled online with online applications. Today, it is much easier to file for credit cards and loans online with online card shops.

What Are Credit Cards?

In order to really understand how to use credit cards properly, you need to have a basic understanding of credit cards. I do not think many people truly understand how they work. They know they want to buy something, so they use their credit card. Then a bill comes every month and they pay what they can. Not knowing how this is truly impacting them is dangerous. So, let’s dig into the details of credit cards a little bit.

A credit card is a plastic card that has your name and credit card number on it. They have a magnetic strip on the back and a chip on the front. You can either swipe the card, or insert it so the chip can be read. When you swipe or insert the card into a merchant’s machine, it can read your name, account information, and other pertinent information to determine if your purchase is approved. A bank, such as American Express, Chase, or Discover secures the credit card. Individual businesses, or stores, such as Amazon, Best Buy, Target, also have a store credit card. While most credit cards can be used anywhere, they can only be used in that particular store. In its most basic form, a credit card is a loan from the bank.

Credit Card Basics Spelled Out: Credit 101

Bank gives you a credit limit

The bank gives you a credit limit and you cannot borrow beyond that limit. You can pay off the amount you borrow by a specific date each month. If you cannot pay the full amount, there is a minimum payment you must make. Any amount that you do not pay is subject to interest charges. If you do not make the minimum payment or make the payment late, the bank assess a fee. Only paying the minimum amount or getting hit with a lot of fees puts you in a dangerous place. You may run the risk of drowning in debt and need credit card refinancing. Keep reading for more about that.

When you use the credit card, that decreases the amount available to you. As you pay off the amount you owe, that increases the amount available to you. I will give you an example to illustrate how it works.

Your credit limit is $2,000. You purchased $500 worth of items. Your credit limit is currently $1,500. Your minimum monthly payment is $25. You owe $500, but can choose to only pay $25. If you only pay $25, you still owe $475 and will pay interest on that amount. If you pay $500, you owe $0 interest. If you pay $500, your available credit goes up to $2,000. If you only pay $25, your available credit is $1,575.

For better deals, you can shop for a credit card online! It’s easier and faster because you can find all the information you need in one place. Loanry helps you with that. Consider our suggestions below:

How Does Interest Work On A Credit Card?

I mentioned above that if you do not pay the balance in full each month on your credit card, you have to pay interest charges. That is typically how credit cards work. Some credit cards offer specials where you can get 0 percent interest for a set period of time. I am not talking about credit cards offering special deals. I am talking about a typical credit card interest scenario. It is important to understand how an APR credit card works.

For a typical credit card, they offer a grace period which is a period of about 15 to 30 days between when you purchase items and your monthly due date. Your due date is the same date every month. That means, if you pay off your credit card by your monthly due date, you do not have to pay interest. Interest is calculated on the balance you owe. Every credit card has a different interest rate they charge to your credit card. The initial rate they offer you is based on your credit score. Some credit cards have interest rates as high as 20 percent.

Let’s take an example

Let me show you what that looks like with real numbers. This is an example, the numbers may not be what you really see with your credit card.

Your credit card has available credit of $5,000. You have charged $2,000. Your available credit is $3,000. Your minimum monthly payment is $75. You can pay $500. Your new available credit is $3,200. However, you must consider the interest. Your credit card charges you 10 percent interest. That means you are charged 15.9 percent interest on $1,500 since that is the balance that is left. This is how you determine how much interest you owe. There are a few calculations that take place when determining interest.

First, you take your interest rate (15 percent or 0.1599) and divide that by the number of days (365) in the year:
0.1599 / 365 = a 0.00044 daily periodic rate

Then, you multiple the daily rate (0.00044) by your daily balance ($1,500):
0.00044 x $1,500 = $0.66

Lastly, multiply the number above by the days in your billing cycle (30):
$0.66 x 30 = $19.80 interest charged for this billing cycle

The bottom line is not paying off your full balance causes you to accrue interest and you pay more money. Over time, this amount adds up and may cause you to have such a high amount of debt, you may consider credit card refinancing.

What Are The Benefits of Credit Cards?

First, I am going to focus on the good things about credit cards. They can help you build your credit. If you are young, or do not have much in the way of credit, a credit card is a great way to begin to build your credit. You should be mindful that the only way you can build good credit is to use a credit card wisely and pay it off every month. Credit cards also provide revolving credit for you. You can keep a credit card forever. As long as you pay the bill timely and more than the minimum amount, you always have credit available to you. You can keep this for times when you have emergency expenses.

Credit cards offer you convenience because you are able to purchase something today even though you will not have the money for it until next week when you get paid. Credit cards provide you the opportunity to purchase the item when you need or want it, even when you do not have the money. Some credit cards offer rewards and incentives, and if used properly, you can actually earn money by using them. You can receive points that allow you reduced prices for airline tickets, dinner, or other items you buy. This translates directly to savings for you.

You can also use them to do credit card refinancing. Some credit cards offer special deals if you transfer the balance of a high interest credit card to a new lower interest one. This can save you money on interest charges, especially if you have 0 percent interest for a set period of time on balance transfers.

Pros and Cons of Credit Cards: Swipe?

What Are The Downsides of Credit Cards?

I would like to touch on the negatives to credit cards. They are another bill. Whenever you use your credit card, you still have to pay for your purchase. That becomes a bill at the end of the month. It is easy not to think about at the time of purchase because you do not have to pay any money in the moment. You will have to pay for it, eventually. There is that pesky interest that I keep mentioning. I keep bringing it up because it is important for you to remember. If you do not pay the bill in full, you have to pay interest on your daily balance. This is something you can avoid, but you must pay the bill in full to do so.

One thing I have touched on only a little bit is your credit score and how credit cards can impact it. Using credit cards improperly can cause your credit score to decrease. When you use credit cards properly, they can help you build your credit. The opposite of that is also true, improper use of credit cards can negatively impact your credit score. Late and missed payments are the most common ways credit scores are negatively impacted. This is true for loans, general bills, and credit card payments. Just using your credit cards can also impact your credit.

The higher your credit card balance, the more credit you are using and this is a negative mark for your credit. Also, the more credit you use the higher your debt to income ratio becomes which also negatively impacts your credit. Carrying a high amount of credit card debt may also put you in a position where you may need to consider credit card refinancing.

What Else Should I Know About Credit Cards?

As I have highlighted above, credit cards are an amazing tool at your disposal. There is a simple credit card that is simple to use. However, you have to use them responsibly. Credit cards can be a constant source of temptation for you. If you know that you have credit available on your credit card, you might feel compelled to make purchases. You may not need these items, or possibly cannot even afford these items, but because you have available credit, you purchase the item anyway.

This is can lead you down a dangerous path of quickly getting over your head with credit card debt. If you begin to feel like your credit card debt is out of control, you may want to consider credit card refinancing. You have to be aware of your own spending habits and will power when it comes to credit cards. There is no one to police you, but yourself.

Another consideration is identity theft. It is much easier with credit cards, especially with online purchasing. You probably have heard that gas pumps are the worse with stealing credit card information. Gas providers try to stay ahead of those who are out to do harm, but they always seem to be one step ahead of the technology used to prevent them from stealing information.

Face our today world!

Today, there is technology where a thief just has to be within a certain proximity of you and can steal your credit card information. You have to be alert about when and where you use your credit card. When shopping online, make sure you are using a secure checkout process. In the website address, you will see a lock that is closed to indicate to you the website is secure. If the lock is not there, or it is open, do not make a purchase on that site because it is not secure.

According to creditcards.com, 16.7 million people were impacted by fraudulent activity in 2018. Most credit card companies help protect you from fraudulent activity. Many of them will send you a text or email when a purchase is made, so you know immediately if there is fraudulent activity. Credit cards also have mobile apps that enable you to lock your credit card from use if you believe it is lost or stolen. Credit card companies are working hard to protect you and them from fraudulent activity.

Are There Options Other Than Using Credit Cards?

When it comes to credit card debt it is especially important that you remember even though you are not paying money upfront, you still have to pay. If you know that you may not have the best control over your impulse to shop if you have credit cards, you might want to think of alternatives. You can open a savings account and put money in there for extra things you might like to have. Some people call this a rainy day fund. It could be for vacation, emergencies, or just an occasional shopping spree.

It is money set aside for just that purpose, so you are not spending money needed for bills. You are not raking up credit card debt. This way you do not have to worry about negative implications to your credit rating. You will not have to worry about bills coming in at the end of the month.

Saving money for your needs is a great alternative to getting yourself further into debt. If you have ever felt like you were drowning in debt, you know what a terrible feeling that is. Anything that you can do to prevent yourself from getting into the downward debt spiral, is a smart financial move. If you have been deep in debt previously, you want to do everything you can to prevent that from happening again. If you are currently in debt, you want to get out of it as soon as you can. You may feel like it is impossible for you to save money when you are working hard to pay your current bills. This is the time when you may consider credit card refinancing.

What Is Bill Consolidation?

I mentioned a little bit about debt and bill consolidation above, but I want to dig in a little deeper. The major difference between credit card refinancing and bill consolidation is what debt is being paid. Bill consolidation does not just have to be credit card debt. It can be any type of debt that you have. It is consolidating all of your debt into one manageable payment. Often, you are paying off high interest debt with a lower interest loan or credit card. When you are considering consolidating debt, you need to understand what components make up your debt. This helps you determine which debts you want to consolidate and how to do that.

In the following sections, I touch on the positives and negatives about credit card refinancing. It is important to fully understand the pros and cons of consolidation when you are considering it. When you consolidate your debts, you take on more debt initially. No matter if you obtain a loan to pay off your debt, or open a new credit card to consolidate credit card debt, you are adding to your debt to income ratio.

What Are The Benefits to Bill Consolidation?

There are many obvious advantages to consolidating your debt. The biggest one is taking all of your debt with many different payments and consolidating into one payment. This allows you to focus on paying off one payment instead of many different payments. This also allows you to focus on paying off your debt faster. You know exactly what amount you have to pay each month. It does not change based on usage like a credit card does. The interest rate is fixed and does not change based on how much money you pay each month.

VIDEO: How to Consolidate Credit Cards Using a Personal Loan 

Credit card refinancing may also be able to give you a lower interest rate. This is not always the case. However, when it is, it can significantly lower the amount of money you pay over time. When you have a lower interest rate, it decreases the amount of extra money you are paying on top of the actual money borrowed. When you think of interest, you should think of it as a fee the bank, or lender, charges you to borrow money from them.

What Are The Negatives of Bill Consolidation?

There are some negatives that you should consider with credit card refinancing. One major thing you should be mindful about is the interest rate. You should make sure that the interest rate you are given during consolidation is actually lower than what you are paying now. If you end up paying a higher interest rate, you may end up paying more money. When you consolidate your credit, you may have a long repayment time frame. It may take you up to five years to pay off the consolidated amount. Keep in mind that it may take you longer to pay off your debt if you do not consolidate it.

Unlike a loan, there is no time limit to how long it takes you to pay off your credit card debt. In fact, if you only pay the minimum, it could take you over 10 years to pay off credit card debt.

Another major negative to consolidation is you feel like you have managed your debt. Since you have consolidated to one payment, you may feel like you have paid off more debt than you really have. You still have the same considerable amount of debt. You just have one payment. You need to be mindful that you do not get yourself back into the cycle of credit card debt. You actually might want to consider cutting up all but one credit card. Then you might want to hide that credit card so you have it for emergency purposes only.

How Does My Credit Impact Debt Consolidation?

VIDEO: Debt Consolidation for Bad Credit Explained 

I have not talked too much about your credit score before now, so let me give you some helpful information. Your credit score directly impacts the interest rate you receive during credit card refinancing. That in turn becomes a direct impact on the money you pay each month. Your credit score may seem like it is not that important, but it is a huge deal. Your credit score is prominently displayed on your credit report. Your credit report is a detailed listing of all of your activities involving credit. It shows your payment history, how much debt you have and how you use it.

It shows the age of your credit. It shows all of your late or missed payments. It even shows loans on which you have defaulted. All of these items listed on your credit report impact your credit score. It is built, or destroyed over time and gives lenders an indication of your credit worthiness. It takes hard work to build your credit score. However, it only takes one or two missed payments to send it downward.

What Is Considered Bad Credit?

Now that you know how easy it is to negatively impact your credit, let’s focus on what is considered bad credit. A typical credit score range from 350 to 850. Most people have a credit score somewhere between 600 to 750. Good credit falls somewhere between 670 to 800. Anything below 570 falls into the danger zone of bad credit. When you have bad credit, it is much harder to get a good interest rate. You may find it is difficult to be approved for a loan. Lenders feel those with bad credit scores may not be the best candidates for credit card refinancing at a lower interest rate.

Conclusion

I have given you a lot of basic information about credit card refinancing. It is easy to feel like you have no control when you are buried in debt. There are websites that help you focus on getting your debt under control. They can help provide guidance for credit card refinancing so you can feel like you are making sound decisions. When making financial decisions, it is best to have all the information and make rational decisions. This will go a long way to helping you become debt free.

Pros and Cons of Credit Cards: Swipe?

As with almost everything in life, there are both pros and cons of credit cards. Nothing is quite perfect. The question is do the pros outweigh the con? I do not think that the answer will be the same for each person, as everyone has a different financial situation, different characteristics, different strengths, and weaknesses. Therefore, anyone who is considering applying must understand the pros and cons of credit cards so they can answer that question for themselves.

Good and Bad Facts About Credit Cards

This article is a pretty comprehensive list that you can use to make credit card decisions. You may be in limbo about whether or not you should apply for one, and that is completely understandable. Some people do really well with credit cards while others are drowning in credit card debt. What is the difference between these people? It is usually that one group handles them responsibly and the other does not.

One advice

When looking for a credit card, make sure you do so by considering only reputable lenders.

Loanry helps you find reputable lenders and connects you with them. How? By leaving your information in the form below, you are giving us enough to work with so we can match you with lenders who may be willing to give you a credit card. You are not obliged to accept offers, but if you want to get them in the next couple of minutes, start here:


Many times, the way a person treats a credit card is based on the knowledge of credit cards or the lack thereof. Knowledge is power, in my opinion, so understanding credit cards gives me more power over them than they have over me. Below is a list of the pros and cons of credit cards to empower you as well.

The Pros of Credit Cardspros and cons personal loans

Ah, yes, the pros, aka the bright side to the cloudy day. When you are truly breaking down the pros and cons of credit cards, it is hard to ignore the following characteristics:

They are Convenient

Let’s be honest: a credit card can be one of the most convenient things ever. You can make purchases before you get paid, and you can purchase items online. You do not have to carry cash, so you decrease the chances of losing your money. And, it is so much quicker to swipe a card than it is to count out cash or write a check- yes, some people still do that.

They Provide Revolving Credit

Credit can have the capability of staying open forever, so long as you are paying the bill. If you pay your balance, it will be there the next time you need it, so you have an ongoing loan available. That is always nice, especially if you find yourself struggling around a certain time every month. If you get paid on the 1st of each month but find yourself need milk and gas on the 27th, you can use the credit card to get you through. Pay the balance when you get paid on the 1st and you will have it again on the 27th if times are tough again.

They Can Help Build Your Credit

Credit cards are a great tool for building your credit if you handle it responsibly. The best way to use a credit card is to have it cover small expenses or bills that you have the money for. Then, immediately pay it off. So, for instance, if you need $20 in gas and have the money on your debit card, use your credit card to pay instead.

When you get home, use your debit card to pay off the $20 on your credit card. This shows you using your credit but you still are not paying anything extra. There is a common myth that you need to let your credit card add debt in order for it to build your credit. That is very simply not true- your credit just needs to be used. And, in fact, the faster you pay the debt, the better it looks.

So, repeat that pattern of using your credit and immediately paying as often as you can. And do try very hard not to use it for something you cannot afford. Otherwise, all of your hard work will go down the drain, and your credit will be messed up instead.

Credit Cards Can Get You Through Tough Times- and Some Not So Tough Ones, Too

If you need gas before you get paid, a credit card can handle it. Emergency room trips and co-pays? Pull out your card. Impromptu date night? All you have to do is a swipe. Really, a credit card can help you through pretty much anything, as long as the amount is within your credit limit.

The Promotions Can Be Awesome

Sometimes, you can find a credit card that offers 0% APR for 6 months or more. These promotions offer a great opportunity to make payments on a purchase without paying interest. I once worked in a mattress retail store where we sold some pretty expensive mattresses. (If you have not been mattress shopping for the last ten years or so, prepare yourself or you will go into sticker shock.)

This retailer is linked with a couple of finance companies, and they would often run promotions for 0% APR for 36 months, or 24 months. Once they offered it for a full five years. These promotions were awesome to me because I am a proponent of good sleep and good mattresses. The promotions gave me the opportunity to guide my customers to a much better mattress than what they could normally afford.

So, if you want to make a large purchase with a credit card, look for one that offers 0% interest for a set period. Doing this is really no different than putting it on layaway since you are not paying any extra. Just be sure you pay the money back before the interest kicks in.pros and cons of credit cards

Some of Them Offer Rewards

I am sure you have seen the commercials. Capital One offers great airline miles, Discover offers double cash back, and so on. Many credit card companies offer great perks for using their card. You might earn some free gas, or over time have enough cashback for a nice night at your favorite restaurant. The rewards may differ, but you should be able to find a card that offers you something you like.

The Cons of Credit Cards

I have always been told that you cannot appreciate the good things unless you know and experience the bad things. In response to that, we will now look at the second portion of the pros and cons of credit cards, otherwise known as the downs.

They are an Ongoing Source of Temptation

While those credit cards are there for you when you need them, they are also there for you when you don’t. For those who feel the need to spend money, having available credit lying around is too much of a temptation. When you are broke, it is easy to tell the difference between what you need and what you do not. When you have money to spend, those lines can get a little blurred.

If you know you will be too tempted to use your credit card, you need to take some precautions. Find a spot to hide it- just do not be like me and hide it so well that even you cannot find it. More so put it out of reach, and out of sight. Maybe you could put it in a lockbox or hide it behind a picture frame. Basically, anywhere that it is not so easy to grab yet easy enough you can get to it when you need it is a good place.

I cannot really remember when but some amount of years ago, there was a commercial about impulse purchases and credit card debt. The lady was standing in her kitchen when some ad came on her TV. She rushed to the freezer to get her credit card out- she had literally frozen her card. She went through a series of things trying to break and melt the ice before the commercial with the phone number went off.

Fortunately for her, she could not get to her card in time, and she could not see the numbers because the ice blurred them. This commercial still goes through my mind when I consider impulse purchases. While the ice was a drastic measure, it was also an effective one.

The idea behind this is that when temptation arises, you cannot immediately give in. You actually have to put in some effort. Hopefully, by the time you have got the card in your hand, you have decided whether what you are going for it is really worth it. Most often, you will probably find it is not.

Credit Card Payments are Another Bill

I hate bills. I hate them with a passion- as my granddaddy used to say, which always seemed a bit redundant to me since the definition of hate is actually passionate dislike. Anyway, I really hate bills. I, unwillingly, came to terms with the fact that some bills are never going to end. At least not unless I decide to live completely off of the land. If I already have to deal with the necessary bills that I despise, why would I want to add another unnecessary one? Though having a credit card in your wallet is not necessarily costing you, using it does.

The Interest- Need I Say More?

I probably don’t need to, but I will anyway. Though sometimes necessary, interest is never fun. Technically, it is money that you do not get to enjoy in any way. It is simply the fee you have to pay for borrowing the money. I understand why credit card companies charge interest. They are loaning you money and taking a risk in doing so.

What I do not understand is why consumers put themselves into a position to owe interest when it is not necessary. Using your credit card because your baby runs out of diapers or your power is about to get cut off is one thing. It may still not be fun but at least it is justifiable. Using that card to go to a Lakers game you cannot afford is just adding a bill. When it is at all possible, save the money for your purchase instead.

They Can Destroy Your Credit

We talked previously about the fact that credit cards can build your credit. Though that is true, they can also destroy your credit if you are not responsible to them. And this is a major factor when comparing the pros and cons of credit cards. Interest gets calculated and added each month to your bill. If you do not pay that interest and some of the principle, your debt will grow. The more money you owe on your credit card, the higher your credit utilization- which is something you do not want.

Smart Money Tip!

Credit utilization should be around 30% or less. If the interest on your credit card grows, your credit utilization could show as high as 100%- way above the sweet spot. If you must use your credit card, use as little of it as possible, and pay as much as you can.

Sometimes They Come With Fees

As if paying interest is not enough, sometimes credit cards come with additional fees. Some of these fees include annual fees, monthly service fees, late payment fees, return payment fees, foreign transaction fees, balance transfer fees, cash withdrawal fees… I will stop there but you get the idea.

You cannot judge all credit cards by the fees of another because not all cards charge fees. Those that do are adding to the bill. It is important to check terms and conditions for any associated fees and make an educated decision according to that information. If there are any fees attached, weigh that fee against the benefits of the card. I would not mind paying a $29 annual fee if I received $200 or more in cash back on groceries. Visit some online card shops, look into a few cards, and judge on a case by case basis.

Identity Theft is Easier with Credit Cards

There was once a time when every transaction was taken care of in-person and with either cash or some form of trade. Back then, it was hard to steal someone’s identity. Well, maybe it was not so much hard since someone could use your name. However, they could not clean out your bank account with a keystroke.

Even if they used your name and acted terribly across the nation, who would know? There was no way to track someone digitally so your boss would not run your name and find out you have credit issues. In this digital age, though, it is all too easy to steal someone’s identity and destroy them. Every time I turn around I hear about some new way that it is happening.

And credit cards do not help the matter. Do you know how easy it is for someone to skim credit card information off of gas pumps now? I think it says something about the state of our world that we need tamper indication seals on gas pumps. And worse, tech-savvy people, or just those with the right equipment, have to do no more than get close to you to transfer your credit card info to their device.

Online ID Theft Can Be Worse

So if you carry credit cards around, be cautious. When you make an online or mobile purchase, check-in the web address bar for the lock emblem- that tells you the site is secure. If that is not on the checkout page, back it up and find one that does. Also, if you choose to pay at the pump, check the seal. It is usually a yellow or red color and specifically says, “If this seal is broken, do not use and inform the cashier”.

The wording may differ from place to place, but it means the same thing. If that tape is broken, there is a really good chance that someone has tampered with the card reader. Anyone that is authorized to work on those card readers will have more tape to attach when they are finished.

Credit Cards Usually Have Very Confusing Terms and Conditions

The phrase “terms and conditions” makes my head hurt long before I have even looked at them. I love to read, but all of those tiny, dry words are not my forte. I just need straightforward, basic words. If a person has to read a sentence more than two times and use a dictionary to understand what the words mean, it is simply too much. It is even worse when you put the effort forward to read them only to be met with confusing terms.

Unfortunately, it is really important that you know them, so what do you do? You have a few options. The first is to get on the credit card company’s website and visit the Help section and the FAQs. The information you find there will probably tell you what you really need to know. You can even Google the card itself and see if there are any easy to read posts about it. Or you can call the credit card company and have someone sit on the line with you and break down the terms and conditions.

The Rewards are Sometimes Complicated, Useless, or Both

I love rewards. Who doesn’t? Rewards are awesome- well, they can be. A credit card that gives rewards definitely catches people’s attention, but what happens if they are rewards you care nothing about? If I have a credit card that gets me airline miles, it is wasted. Why? I will be honest- I do not fly. Nope, not doing it.

As many times as people have tried to talk me into it, I have not changed my mind. And, yes, they have quoted me the statistics about flying being safer than driving. Well, I happen to feel like I would survive a crash closer to the ground than I would with a plane plummeting towards the earth, but I digress…

The point is that if the rewards are not relevant to you, why would you care about them? Give me cashback on groceries. With a household of six to feed, including a teenager and two more kids that are almost there, I buy a lot of groceries. Earning some cashback from that would be marvelous.

Even worse, some rewards programs are so complicated, users have no idea what they even have. What good does that do anyone? If rewards are important to you, you can card shop for some that you can use and understand. If you do not care about rewards, just look for a simple credit card. There is no need for complicated if it is not benefiting you in some way.

Credit Card Debt Can Easily Get Out of Control

Like a fungus, interest just continues to grow and spread until credit card debt has taken over your life. Does that sound extreme? Sadly, it is all too real. That is why there are so many debt consolidation companies- they would not be popping up everywhere if there was not a market for them. And that market is bigger than people like to admit, and it is everywhere.

A week ago, I was driving down the road with the radio on, and suddenly a loud booming voice came over the speaker. A man was explaining that we do not have to have credit card debt and that we should call so this company could get us out of it. The commercial itself did not surprise me. What did is the fact that the guy specifically mentioned my area.

On a very real note, I live in a smallish town surrounded by even smaller towns. It is small enough that when I heard this commercial, I looked around wondering, “Since when do we have enough people living here to justify a target market?” I literally spent the rest of the day trying to determine how much money this company could make off of this little town. The answer- apparently enough for the company to dedicate resources to reaching out to us. Completely shocking.

On a serious note, though, debt is indiscriminate. It cares not about your age, religion, race, socioeconomic status, or whether you play quarterback in high school or playing the trumpet. It hits everyone. If you are not careful, it will knock you out of commission. All it takes is one missed payment or even one low payment, and it can take a turn for the worse. By taking the time to understand the pros and cons of credit cards, you are equipped to make wise choices concerning them.

One Last Word of Advice: Keep an Eye on Your Finances

Do not just pay your credit card bill when it comes in. Check it for any errors. The sooner you catch them, the easier they should be to fix. Also, look through your credit reports and check for any errors. If you see debts you do not recognize or addresses you have never used, or anything like that, contact someone immediately. The credit report should point you to the correct person to speak with about that charge.

After you have looked through the credit report, sign up for a free credit monitoring service. Your bank may have one you can use. If not, Creditry.com will alert you if there are any changes to your credit report. When you receive that notice, take a quick look to make sure it is something you did. You may not prevent someone from stealing your identity, but you can make it really hard and make them regret it.

Conclusion

I have always told my children that anything can be good, or it can be bad, depending on how you treat it. There are both pros and cons of credit cards. If you are responsible with a credit card, it can absolutely help you and open new doors for you. Those who are not responsible, though, will find themselves suffering. Yes, life happens and things go awry, but being responsible and making good decisions when you are in control is a big step in improving your financial state.

If you are still unsure about having a credit card, read over the list of pros and cons of credit cards again and imagine yourself in each scenario. Working through each, can you see yourself suffering or benefiting from them? Let the answer to that question guide your decision.

Credit Card Basics Spelled Out: Credit 101

“Money is a terrible master but an excellent servant.”

~ P.T. Barnum, entertainer and entrepreneur

“The desire of gold is not for gold. It is for the means of freedom and benefit.”

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, American author, speaker, and philosopher

“The handy thing about credit cards is they’re a great way to pay off your credit cards.”

~ Author Unknown

Relationship Status to our Credit Cards: It’s Complicated

Americans have a love-hate relationship with credit cards. We love the freedom they offer us, but other times hate that same freedom when we use it poorly. Credit cards make it easy to reserve hotel rooms long-distance, to purchase things online without leaving our homes, or to deal with practical needs during unexpected circumstances. They’re one of the easiest financial tools to get (often decorated with favorite logos or team colors) and one of the easiest to use in a wide variety of circumstances. Credit cards in many ways really do set us free.

And yet so many Americans end up feeling a sense of bondage towards that little rounded plastic rectangle in their purse or pocket. We choose the short-term rush over the long-term responsibility. We tell ourselves simple little lies about what we will and won’t do with this magical tool, then repeat those lies to ourselves again and again despite never quite following through.

It reminds me of trying to eat well. You know the routine.  We feel overweight (and maybe we are), but it’s not like science hasn’t yet unraveled the mysteries of obesity. Then we eat too much, of all the wrong things, and we exercise too little. We know how to do better. We just… don’t. Not 24/7 at least. Because that’s the trick with being healthy, isn’t it? You can eat right and demonstrate wonderful self-control for 23 hours a day. All it takes is that super-sized fast food drive-thru lunch and some snacking after dinner, though, to ruin it all. Time to shop the Big’n’Tall aisle.

Credit cards can feel that way, too. We can be so responsible for 28 days each month. All it takes are those moments of “weakness,” though, many of which seem so reasonable at the time, to mess it up. It almost seems unfair, like we should be charged on a sliding scale factoring in all the times we didn’t splurge. It’s funny, because we think we KNOW the credit card basics, just like we think we KNOW how to live more healthily. It’s just the DOING it part that’s tricky. And we’re not entirely wrong. Still, maybe it’s time to revisit those basics and make sure.

Credit Cards Made Simple

My wife is the most responsible credit card user I know. She uses her cards sparingly, and almost always pays off her full balance before the end of the month – meaning she pays zero interest, no matter what rate the card supposedly charges. Combined with various cash back programs or other incentives, she comes out ahead most months, all because she’s the credit card user we all want to be if we grow up. I knowcredit card basics; she lives them. Effectively. Every month.

I always carry a balance. It’s not like it used to be, though – my balances are manageable, if a bit higher than I’d like. I remember too well the years of multiple cards, maxed out limits, and juggling bills each pay period to decide who’d get paid this week. I didn’t care for it. Honestly, even the spending wasn’t fun anymore, because I stunk at using credit cards appropriately. At the time, I thought the issue was simply that I didn’t make enough money. In retrospect, I was immature, and rather ignorant.

I can’t help you with maturity, dear friends, but maybe we should revisit some credit card basics – their blessings and their potential dark side as well. Some of this you’ll already know, but that’s OK – it never hurts to go over it again to help us think clearly. Besides, no one’s watching. It’s just you and me, and I’m not going to tell anyone.

What Is A Credit Card?

Like I said, credit card basics.

A credit card at its most literal is a small rectangular piece of plastic with rounded edges and a series of numbers embedded on it, along with your name. The numbers and your name identify your specific account, and the card usually indicates quite proudly from whence it is issued – Visa, Discover, MasterCard, American Express, etc. (Debit cards look the same, but draw directly from your checking account.)

There’s typically a magnetic strip (the “mag stripe”) on the back, and more and more commonly a fancy little chip you can see from the front, both of which do the same basic thing. When you swipe or insert the car, the strip or the chip tell whatever machine you’re using your name, account info, PIN number, etc. It’s not so different from how cassette tapes or VHS used to work.

If you’re making a purchase using your credit card, the machine reads this information, then communicates with your credit card company (directly or indirectly) to find out if you have enough credit to buy whatever you’re trying to buy. (If you’re using a debit card, it merely calls your bank to find out if you have enough money in your checking account.) So far it sounds pretty simple, right? Now let’s go just a tiny bit deeper…

How Do Credit Cards Work?

A credit card is a form of loan you get from a financial institution like your local bank, credit union, online lender, etc. When you get a card through a different sort of organization, like Amazon Prime or Target, they have usually partnered with an existing financial institution to create a card designed to carry specific benefits when used at their business. Otherwise, they’re basically the same – a fancy form of loan.

Your credit limit is how much you can borrow at one time in total. You don’t have to borrow up to your limit, and you only pay interest on the amount you currently owe. In other words, unlike a traditional loan, your monthly payments are based on how much you’ve actually used up to that point, not on the total amount available to you.

Paying Interest on a Credit Card

Like any loan, you pay interest as well. The interest on most cards is expressed as APR (“annual percentage rate”). On most credit cards, you can avoid paying interest altogether if you pay within the “grace period,” which is usually between time of purchase and 20-30 days later or by the due date each month. Your credit card’s APR is computed not on your credit limit but on your balance – the amount you currently owe.

Another thing making a credit card different from a traditional bank loan is that as you pay back what you’ve borrowed, that money becomes quickly available to you again to use. For example, if you borrowed $1,000 from your local bank with a traditional loan to be paid back monthly at 7% interest, your monthly payments would be around $87. Halfway through the loan, you have an unexpected medical bill and need another $200 to pay it. Even though you’ve paid off half of the original $1,000, getting more money would require going back to the bank and asking for an additional loan. Even if they’ll do it, it’s a rather inconvenient way to get what you need.

Let’s assume that you have a credit card through that same bank instead, with a credit limit of $1,000 to start with. Typically, credit card interest rates will be a bit higher than those of traditional loans, but we’re talking credit card basics so we’ll keep it at 7% for simplicity’s sake. You spend the entire $1,000 the first month (remember, it’s just an example), then make regular monthly payments of around $87 without using the card again until six months have passed.

When that same unexpected medical bill comes in, you’ve paid down the card enough that you can use it to pay that $200 without having to do anything special. You have access to your full credit limit minus your current balance, whether you use the card twice a year or twice a week. It doesn’t get much more convenient than that!

Other Credit Options Besides Credit Cards

There may be some benefit to splitting the difference between these two options and establishing a line-of-credit with your lender of choice. It can be tougher to qualify for, but offers relative flexibility without all the pitfalls of a traditional credit card. That’s getting a bit outside of credit card basics, but it’s worth comparing a line of credit option over a credit card before deciding which way to go.

There are other possibilities, of course like a personal loan. Don’t be afraid to ask different lenders what they offer or suggest. You don’t have to take their offers – that’s up to you – but you can educate yourself. Local banks and credit unions usually have pretty straightforward information available on site or on their websites. Online lenders, one of the wonders of the 21st century, may be less well-known, but sometimes offer creativity and flexibility lacking among traditional financial institutions. Keep in mind that the internet is still the Wild West in many ways. That’s why companies like Loanry exist – to connect you with online credit card providers. What you do with that connection is up to you.

How to Compare Credit Cards

Whether its credit card basics or other forms of personal or business loans, ask those questions. Seek those options. It’s time-consuming to educate yourself, but it’s so worth it. I promise.

Why Would I Want A Credit Card?

The most basic reason is that the card company grants you replenishable credit. It allows you to pay off certain purchases over an extended time. But credit cards provide flexibility in other ways as well. As a recent Forbes article about credit card basics put it…

Credit cards are like DVRs for money. Digital video recorders allow users to “time-shift.” Television channels, at least for now, have regular schedules during which they air programs. However if you’re not free at 8:00 PM to watch The Big Bang Theory, your DVR allows you to watch the program from the beginning at your convenience.

Used as tools of convenience, credit cards are at their best. Used to live beyond your means, it doesn’t take long for things to go off the rails.

Interest adds up quickly, and could make a $100 purchase cost $200 in total or more rather quickly. When this happens, it’s more than just time-shifting; it’s as if waiting to watch your 30-minute recorded show would require 60 minutes of your life.

Other Benefits Of Responsible Credit Card Use

Protecting Yourself

Many credit card policies include fraud protection or other consumer assistance. It’s generally easier to dispute a charge on your card than it is to get other forms of payment corrected or reversed. If you ask your credit card company to reverse a charge for a legitimate reason, this gives you leverage. Either with the retailer or service provider with whom you’re having the dispute. While this benefit may not be the first thing you think of when selecting the right card for you or your small business, it’s a big one when you really need it.

Organizing Yourself

In a world in which we use cash less and less, responsible credit card use can help keep track of exactly where all of our money is going. For some folks, this makes it easier to modify their budget. Or also to adjust their spending habits, since the patterns are there in black and white, laid out in months of spending records.

This benefit assumes, of course, that you’re paying most or all of your credit card balance each month. Especially to avoid excessive interest charges or late fees. Otherwise, the best way to adjust your monthly budget would be to use your credit card less!

Rewarding Yourself

You hear it in the ads all the time. “Get 5% cash back!” “Earn extra miles when you fly!” “Double your points every time you use our card at one of our partner locations!”. Many of these promos are offered with full awareness that most people aren’t going to make enough use of them to offset the interest or other fees they’ll accrue using the card. They’re promos. They’re goal is to get your attention, secure your business, and make money off of you.

That said, responsible card users can benefit significantly by paying attention to those 5% cash back offers, or earning those extra miles, or using the right cards at the right locations. If you’re buying gas anyway, why not use the card that gives you bonus points for gas, as long as you pay a reasonable portion of the balance each month? If you shop at Target religiously anyway, why not sign up for one of their specialty cards and earn those rewards, as long as you carefully manage that balance? Credit card basics includes paying attention to the pros and cons of each card, both when you’re deciding what card(s) to get and when you’re using those cards in daily life.

Building Your Credit or Rebuilding Your Bad Credit

This is one of the best reasons to use a credit card and to use it responsibly. If you have a limited credit history, good or bad, or if you have a spotty credit history with some unfortunate stories on your credit report, credit cards can help make things significantly better over time or much, much worse almost right away.

Almost anyone can qualify for some sort of card, although with a limited or poor credit history that probably means a modest credit limit and a high interest rate – at least at first. Make a few small purchases, then pay them off in a reasonable amount of time. Make a few more, and pay them off. A year later, ask your card company for a better interest rate, or find a card with a lower rate and apply for it. Stop using the higher rate card, but don’t cancel or destroy it. (Having available credit you’re not using is one way to improve your credit score.) Repeat until fabulously wealthy and successful.

Rebuilding Your Really Bad Credit

If even a modest card with high interest is out of reach, you can start with a secured credit card. A secured card is one for which you deposit a set amount of money with the backing institution up front – let’s say $500. They issue you a credit card tied to that deposit. When you go to the store and spend $40, it operates like any other credit card except that you can’t spend above the amount you have on deposit.

I know, this sounds like a debit card (a “checking card”) or like you’re paying someone else interest and fees in order to spend your own money, right? And you are. That’s how it works. The reason you might choose to do this, however, is that same convenience and protection we discussed above. Plus, AND THIS IS A BIGGIE…

Smart Money Tip!

Payments on your secured credit card are treated just like payments on any other debt for purposes of credit reporting. If you make your monthly payments and avoid maxing out your secured credit card for a year or two, you’re on your way to qualifying for an unsecured credit card with a higher limit. Keep using that one responsibly and you’ll start to qualify for lower interest rates, not only on your cards but on any other sort of credit you may use. See how that works?

Of course the foundational element of credit card basics is using the card responsibility in terms of purchases and payments. That’s not the end of the story, however. Your credit card use, both good and bad, has larger ramifications. Your credit card use is never just about credit cards.

Consolidating Your Debts with Credit Cards

This may be the best use of a good credit card ever if the interest is better, but it comes with its own risks as well as its own rewards. Interest rates on credit cards can often be higher than personal loans. That’s why often it’s reversed where people take out personal loans to consolidate credit card debt. We’ve put together this helpful video to help you understand why.

VIDEO: How to Consolidate Credit Cards Using a Personal Loan

Let’s assume you owe multiple creditors money each month. Maybe you have a few medical bills, a couple of department store cards, that personal loan from your brother-in-law he won’t shut up about, and possibly one or two other obligations as well. You’re paying an outrageous rate on the department store cards, especially since you’re behind, and interest and penalties on the rest as well. (The only debt that’s not building back up as fast as you can pay it off is the one to your brother-in-law, but you’d almost rather he charge you interest than constantly bring it up at birthday parties, family holidays, etc. You can’t punch him, though, because you owe him money.)

Paying off all of those debts with one card at a lower interest rate can make your monthly payment situation FAR more manageable. You owe the same total amount, but now you’re paying one, smaller, easier installment each month, to one place that sends you one bill to keep track of. You eliminate lots of other late fees and interest charges, and it shuts up your brother-in-law (at least about this, for now). Plus, your credit record can start to recover because it’s easier to make one monthly payment than ten, and everything else will show as paid in full.

Avoid the Debt Cycle

But listen to me on this one, Grasshopper – this part is very important. The voice of long, painful, embarrassing experience is about to speak great truth to you. And I want you to be ready for that. You should probably be sitting down and taking notes for this part. IF YOU USE A CREDIT CARD TO CONSOLIDATE YOUR DEBTS, DON’T START ADDING UP NEW DEBTS ONCE YOU HAVE THE OLD DEBTS UNDER CONTROL. In other words, after you’ve reduced your total obligations to a single easy monthly payment, don’t spend more on that department store card. Don’t ignore that medical bill. And whatever else you do, don’t borrow more money from that brother-in-law!

The trickiest thing about improving your credit and reducing your debt is that it immediately qualifies you for more credit. This way, it opens up the possibility of more debt. No matter how desperate you may feel in the moment, going down this path again and again never works in your favor. It can’t. There’s even a technical term for this: “BAD.” If you start accumulating new debt after consolidating and getting a handle on the old debt, that’s what we in the financial world call, “BAD.”. Or sometimes, “REALLY BAD.”. This isn’t just an essential element of Credit Card Basics, this is Personal Finance 101.

Remember, your goal with any credit card or other form of loan is to make your life better. You’re trying to increase your flexibility, not to reduce it. You don’t reward yourself for losing 3 pounds by hitting the buffet and topping it off with an entire cake. Then don’t celebrate your debt consolidation by going back into unmanageable debt.

Incidentally, another alternative is to use a personal loan to consolidate your credit cards and pay off debt. It offers some definite benefits, and while there are still pitfalls, it might be a great option. Just thought I’d mention it, since we’re sharing.

The Dangers of Credit Card Use

It hurts me to even cover these. Indeed I think we know many of these already. But if you are like me, sometimes we need to hear it again. And maybe again after that. Then one more time.

Credit Cards Are Designed To Keep You In Debt

This is Credit Card Basics, Day One. They don’t have to keep you in debt any more than eating pizza has to make you gain weight. But card companies need a majority of customers to keep spending and keep paying interest. They don’t actually want more customers like my wife. (meaning customers who take advantage of the perks then pay their balance in full every month). And of course you’re not doing them any favors if you go bankrupt and can’t pay them at all. That’s no good, either.

But unlike other loans, credit cards are designed to keep you perpetually using and paying. Once we recognize that, we can decide how much of that works for us. I have several credit cards and I use them and like them and appreciate them because I’ve found a balance that works for me. That’s the key.

Interest and Fees Add Up Quickly

It’s so easy to lose track of just how much you’re paying. Especially when letting the bulk of your balance ride from month to month. Credit Cards tend to carry meaty interest rates, even if they start off quite low. If you have other options for paying for things, do your best to make that happen. Credit card basics say only use your card(s) when you’ve thought it through and believe it’s the best option.

Minimum Payments Aren’t Like Other Payments

When you pay your electric bill for the month, you’re caught up. You get electricity for another 30 days. When you owe your brother-in-law $500 and pay him $100, you only owe him $400 more. But if you make the required minimum payment on your credit card, most of the time all you’ve gained is a little time. Your balance doesn’t go down very much. Plus, it might go up – even if you don’t make any new purchases.

Minimum payments are designed to keep you paying interest and fees on the card without substantially lowering your balance. With a high balance, you’ll actually fall further and further behind each month making only the minimum payment.

I’m not pointing this out to make you feel bad. Some months are just like that, and it’s FAR better to make the minimum payment than no payment. But it’s not a long-term plan. You’re going to need a way to pay that balance down more consistently. Of all the credit card basics we’ve discussed, this one should be filed in your top two or three.

Credit Cards Allow Us To Be Impulsive

And now we’re back where we started. The best thing AND the worst thing about credit cards is how much freedom they offer us to spend when, where, and how we see fit at the time.

“With great power comes great responsibility.”

~ Ben Parker, fictional character (Spider-Man comics)

If I Want A Credit Card, Which One Should I Get?

That’s not an easy question to answer. It really depends on your wants and needs, as well as what you qualify for at this point in your life. But at least you’re asking the right question, because they’re not all the same.

I know it’s easier to just sign up for that one they sent you unsolicited in the mail. Or even easier to call that 800 number the first time you see an ad on TV. However, credit cards are kind of a big deal – for better and for worse. Research several, from different sources (including online card shops), and read through the terms. Ask questions without embarrassment or fear; any company unwilling or unable to talk you through the details doesn’t deserve your business.

If you’re interested in getting a credit card, Loanry is the best place to start credit card shopping. We partnered up with Fiona to connect you with reputable credit card companies, so take advantage of this and make the entire process a bit easier for you. By putting your information below, you can see whether you qualify for any of the cards with selected lenders:


That’s one final thing ALL credit cards have in common. YOU’RE the customer. YOU’RE the one who should end up happy with the card and how you use it. Some of that’s on you, of course. Hopefully you’ve been paying enough attention to have picked up on that by now. But it also means you have every right (and every responsibility) to choose your card(s) carefully from your available options. The more attentive and informed you are, the better choices you’re able to make. That applies to choosing your card(s) just as much as it does using your card(s).