The October 2007 issue of Consumer Reports contains a credit card roundup, including an overview of the worst and best credit cards based on responses from 36,000 readers. The best cards generally came from credit unions, and the worst from large banks. “Almost anyone can join a credit union these days,” the magazine says, “and it might be a good idea, if only for a good credit card.”
There’s also a reminder that it pays to speak up when you’re unhappy with your credit card company. A simple phone call can often yield big results:
Readers who called their card issuers to negotiate a lower rate succeeded more than 50 percent of the time. And 79 percent of readers who tried were successful in persuading their card issuer to waive a penalty fee. In another recent survey the Consumer Reports National Research Center found that 57 percent of people who bargained with their banks or card issuers over fees saved $50 or more.
Finally, I liked the Consumer Reports guide on when to pay with credit, debit, check, or cash. Their recommendations:
- Use a credit card for large purchases because they offer the best purchase protection. Pay off our balance each month.
- Use a debit card if you don’t mind having the money come out of your bank account immediately, and as a way to be sure to avoid interest and fees. A debit card offers some protection, but not as much as a credit card.
- Use a check if plastic isn’t an option.
- Use cash at any time. There’s no risk of identity theft and it’s accepted everywhere, but you have little protection in case something goes wrong with the transaction.
The rest of the issue features an energy savings guide (with overviews of light bulbs, thermostats, and space heaters), information about vacuum cleaners, and the “Drive your car to death, save $31,000″ article that was all over the internet last weekend.
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