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  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months--then a variable purchase APR applies, currently 10.99% - 22.99%. A 3% fee applies to each transferred balance.
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  • Earn 20,000 bonus miles when you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days - that's enough to redeem for a $200 travel statement credit
  • Earn 2X miles on travel and dining and 1X miles on all other purchases
  • Miles don't expire as long as your account is open, active and in good standing
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  • 0% intro APR on purchases & balance transfers for 14 months--then a variable purchase APR applies, currently 10.99% - 22.99%. A 3% fee applies to each transferred balance.
  • Over 5,000 cardmembers rated 4.8 out of 5 stars* and now Discover "Ranked Highest in Customer Satisfaction with Credit Card Companies in a Tie" by J.D. Power*.
  • 5% cash back for online shopping and department store purchases on up to $1,500 - Oct. through Dec. 2014 when you sign up*. 1% cash back on all other purchases.
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  • Earn 40,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days - that's enough to redeem for a $400 travel statement credit
  • Earn 2X miles on all purchases - Miles don't expire as long as your account is open, active and in good standing
  • Get 10% miles back to use toward your next redemption every time you redeem for travel statement credits
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  • Unlimited 1% cash back gas rewards
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  • Ask the Readers: What’s your embarrassing money moment? (49 comments)

    This article is by staff writer April Dykman. A few weeks ago, I had an embarrassing money moment. I was in a checkout lane. The cashier had just scanned several heavy boxes that held my to-be-assembled bookshelf, and my debit card was declined. Being declined while in the checkout line is one of those little anxieties that I can’t seem to shake, even though it’s only happened to me twice and both times were issues…

  • No, credit cards are not evil (86 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. A little over a month ago, my husband and I were getting ready for a five-night trip to Jamaica. And as usual, we went to great lengths to budget for anything and everything. For starters, all but $97 of our airfare was paid with points I earned with my Chase Ink Bold Business Card, and that expense was taken care of months before. The fact that we…

  • 5 signs you might be a credit junkie (17 comments)

    This guest article was written by Beverly Harzog. Beverly is a nationally recognized credit card expert, consumer advocate, and author of Confessions of a Credit Junkie: Everything You Need to Know to Avoid the Mistakes I Made (Career Press, November 2013). She runs a popular credit card blog on her website, www.BeverlyHarzog.com. She’s appeared on Fox News, ABC News Now, CNN Newsource, and is a frequent guest on syndicated radio shows across the country, including ABC…

  • What Are the Best Financial Accounts and Tools Available? (49 comments)

    Note: This article is from J.D. Roth, who founded Get Rich Slowly in 2006. After a year off, J.D. is once again writing here at GRS. His non-financial writing can still be found at More Than Money. As a personal-finance blogger, it’s my responsibility to keep up-to-date on the latest in the financial industry. Whose advice is worth heeding? (And whose advice sucks?) What are the current tax rates? Where’s the best place to save…

  • Ask the Readers: Do you review your credit card regularly? (62 comments)

    This story and Ask the Readers question comes from Madeline Roche, who blogs at Ballingonabudget.org. I recently celebrated my one-year anniversary with my first and only credit card. Instead of popping some bubbly, I paid my $69 annual fee. Though not astronomical, this charge was unexpected and motivated me to evaluate my relationship with the little piece of plastic. I had pretty clear goals when I applied for the card, and there was no better…

  • Redeeming your credit card rewards — what do you do with them? (50 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Kristin Wong. I recently came across an interesting statistic. According to a poll from Harris Interactive, 41 percent of people rarely or never redeem their credit card rewards. It almost hurts to know all of those rewards are going to waste. A more recent study found that 73 percent of Americans are enrolled in rewards programs but have no idea how many points they have. That used to be…

  • Spare change: Identity theft edition (32 comments)

    Several years ago, my husband and I went on our annual family camping trip in Terlingua, Texas, right outside of Big Bend National Park. As usual, on our way out, we stopped in Alpine to gas up. My dad paid with a credit card, and we got on the road and headed home. But a few days later, some unusual charges appeared on his account. The credit card company caught it first, and Dad assured…

  • Spare change: Credit card edition (42 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. They got me during my freshman year of college. I was walking back to my dorm, just an unsuspecting university student, and a guy with a clipboard approached. One quick application and a t-shirt later, and I had a Visa credit card and a $1,000 credit line. I never meant to be irresponsible with it, but a few purchases here and a few purchases there, and before…

  • Ask the Readers: How can I help my father get financially set? (74 comments)

    Dealing with family members who aren’t as financially savvy or frugal as you are is a common problem. Reader Mike in New Hampshire wrote to tell us his dilemma, and he wants your thoughts on what he should do. Here’s his story (and here is the update to his story): In college I majored in Communication and Journalism, so when it came time to choose electives to meet the requirements for math and science I…

  • Your credit score and credit card rewards: 10 tips (29 comments)

    This is the second post from Hilary Stockton, who is the founder of TravelSort, which helps savvy travelers earn millions of miles without flying, redeem them for first-class flights, and stay in luxury hotels at wholesale prices. Follow her on Twitter @TravelSort. I often get asked about the impact on one’s credit score of churning or signing up for multiple rewards credit cards, especially by those new to earning a million or more frequent flyer miles and points via…

  • Avoiding credit card traps (12 comments)

    This is a guest post from John Ulzheimer. John is a recognized expert on credit reporting, credit scoring and identity theft, and is the Senior Columnist at Credit Card Insider. He is twice Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) certified by the credit reporting industry’s trade association and has been an expert witness in more than 100 cases involving credit issues. Formerly of FICO and Equifax, John is the only recognized credit expert who actually comes…

  • Ask the Readers: Would you give a child a credit card? (122 comments)

    I’m personally a proponent of making teenagers authorized users on credit cards. My thinking is that it gives the parent the opportunity to teach their kids about managing credit while they’re at home and how to read a credit card statement (explain what the different interest rates mean, how fees are applied, etc.) while starting to build a credit file for their children. Of course, I don’t have kids, so I have never had to…

  • 8 reasons you should throw away your cash-back credit card if you love to travel (40 comments)

    This reader post is from Hilary Stockton, who is the founder of TravelSort, which helps savvy travelers earn millions of miles without flying, redeem them for first-class flights, and stay in luxury hotels at wholesale prices. Follow her on Twitter @TravelSort. My husband and I used to think we were savvy, using a cash-back credit card for most of our spending. But given how much we enjoy international and luxury travel, it was actually a huge mistake….

  • 6 financial products that made the nice list (and 6 that didn’t) (37 comments)

    How great would it be if you could get a better return on your savings? What if you could get a rate 300 times higher? Of course that’d be great! Who doesn’t want more money? But if you just opened a money market account with the local big bank branch, or you signed up for a credit card to get the free T-shirt, you might be leaving money on the table or paying sky-high fees….

  • Churning credit cards for a fun profit (97 comments)

    This guest post from Holly Johnson. Holly is a 32-year-old wife, mother of two, and frugal lifestyle enthusiast. She blogs about saving money, frugal habits, and whatever is on her mind at ClubThrifty.com. Note: We’re not encouraging people to go out and sign up for credit cards, especially if you have debt or plan to carry a balance on a card. (The interest you pay will wipe out any rewards benefits.) But if you can…

  • Reader Story: How I almost got screwed by the CARD Act (154 comments)

    This post from Danielle Rodabaugh is part of the reader stories series. Danielle is the chief editor of the Surety Bond Insider, an online publication published by SuretyBonds.com, which tracks developments within the surety industry. A graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, Danielle has a special interest in developing finance policies, entrepreneurship and online marketing. Want submit your own reader story? Here’s how. That day started out as a typical day at…

  • Honey Progress Report: Credit Card Payoff Edition (127 comments)

    This article is from new staff writer Honey Smith. I’ve been at GRS for well over a month now, and I’ve learned a lot. At this point, I’ve been able to implement some changes to my spending. I can now provide an update on the effect those changes have had on my bottom line — namely, that I’ve paid off the outstanding balance on my credit card! I have also been giving serious thought not…

  • Ask the Readers: Which Credit Cards Do You Use? (237 comments)

    Though I steer clear of writing about credit cards at Get Rich Slowly, I use them all the time. I used to be an anti-credit card zealot. Because irresponsible use of credit cards had led me to tens of thousands of dollars in consumer debt, I thought they couldn’t possibly be used for good. My attitude toward credit cards has changed over the years. First, my wife showed me that it was perfectly possible to…

  • Building Your Credit Score: Are Credit Cards Your Best Option? (95 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Tim Sullivan. I recently had dinner with my friend and fellow 20-something, Gwynn. When the check came, I put down plastic; she put down cash. The following conversation followed: Gwynn: Would it be easier to just take the cash and put it all on your card? Me: No, I’ll just have him split it. I tend to do this awesome thing where I take the cash, thinking I’ll get…

  • Does Suze Orman’s Prepaid Debit Card Make Sense for You? (59 comments)

    This post is by staff writer Sarah Gilbert. Suze Orman is famous for her personal, easy-to-digest, and friendly personal finance advice. Many of us less famous (far less famous, in the case of this writer) finance writers admire her general approach, which boils down to “spend less than you earn.” Who can argue with that? So imagine my amazement at the news this week that Suze will be offering a branded prepaid debit card. Prepaid…

  • Everything You Need to Know about Using Credit Card Bonuses for Free Travel (86 comments)

    The following guest post is by Craig Ford. Craig blogs at Help Me Travel Cheap where he helps newbies turn credit card sign-up bonuses into free travel. To entice you to sign up for a credit card most credit card companies offer a sign-up bonus. The sign-up bonus is the life blood for a growing population of American travelers. They scour the web looking for the best credit cards with sign up bonuses. They get…

  • No Balance Transfer Fee Credit Card: Slate from Chase (41 comments)

    Occasionally, Get Rich Slowly will feature reviews that alert you to new product offerings that you may be interested in. While we haven’t covered a specific credit card offer in a while, this afternoon we’re alerting you to a limited-time offer that has just been released by Slate® from Chase has a 0% introductory APR on balance transfers with an introductory offer of no balance transfer fee on the amounts transferred during the first sixty…

  • Why Pay Debit Card Fees? Changing Banks, or Not (167 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sarah Gilbert. Bank of America will soon be charging $5 per month for consumers who use its debit cards to access the money in their accounts. This fee, to be charged whether you use your debit card once or several dozen times, is a direct response (a kind of “up yours,” if you ask me) to the recent limits on what banks can charge merchants for debit transactions, and…

  • Reader Story: My Falling Credit Score (and Why It’s Not the End of the World) (88 comments)

    This guest post from Matt is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity and with all sorts of incomes. This is a rare reader story that appeared elsewhere first. I saw it on Matt’s blog last week and asked if I could reprint…

  • How I Got Suckered into Opening a Store Credit Card (153 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. Remember, dear readers, when I warned you about store credit cards last year? I told you about a study that found that 35 major New York City stores had an average interest rate of 23.83% on store cards, when the national average APR for a regular credit card was at 14.78%. (Radio Shack had the worst rate at 28.99% APR, with Best Buy and Staples falling closely…

  • Free Round-Trip Tickets with British Airways Card (or, J.D. Discovers Travel Hacking) (102 comments)

    Yesterday, I met with a group of local Portland bloggers to plan for world domination. Over the past year, we’ve met regularly to organize an upcoming conference for readers of Chris Guillebeau’s The Art of Non-Conformity. Usually our conversation is focused on gift bags and tour groups and the absolute racket that is event catering. ($15 cups of coffee? Give me that job, please. I could get rich quickly.) Somehow last night, the discussion turned…

  • What’s a Credit Score? An Intro to Credit Reports and Credit Scores (43 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and getting her kids to eat kale at Childwild.com. A good friend of mine recently asked me what a credit report is and how he could get his hands on his. My friend has a PhD. He’s a smart guy, and generally savvy about life. If he was asking me this question, he can’t be the only one wondering. So I…

  • Love Your Credit Card? Vote for It! (27 comments)

    In July, I asked Get Rich Slowly readers to share which credit cards they use and why. I promised to compile the over 200 responses to see if there are any patterns from you money-savvy folks. I still haven’t made time to do so. (Even though it stays at the top of my list every week.) In the interim, the folks over at Card Ratings dropped a line to say they’re doing something similar. This…

  • The Dangers of Store Credit Cards (58 comments)

    This post is from staff writer April Dykman. When I was a freshman in college, I did two very bad things (ahem — two bad things related to personal finance). Bad thing #1 First, I opened a VISA credit card. There was a guy at a booth on campus, and being too naive and timid to tell him to buzz off, I stopped and listened to his pitch. Next thing I knew I was filling…

  • Ask the Readers: How to Negotiate with Credit-Card Companies? (55 comments)

    A reader calling herself Florida Girl dropped a line recently to share her story of financial woe. Though she’s beginning to get a handle on her finances, she’s struggling to cope with the cost of her past choices. She needs help. I’m struggling to keep up with the minimum payments on my credit cards. Unfortunately, I’m paying for past mistakes. I no longer shop and spend recklessly, but the aftermath of my past life left…

  • The Kardashian Kard: A Credit Card Targeted at Teens (53 comments)

    This is a guest post from Beverly Harzog, who is a spokeswoman and contributing editor at credit card comparison website CardRatings.com. When I first heard about Kim Kardashian’s new prepaid credit card targeted at teens, I wanted to scream. If you have a teenager, you understand why. As a parent, I’d rather Kim not get involved when it comes to teaching my kids about money. Now, I’ll admit that part of my reaction comes from…

  • Credit Cards That Grow Your Assets (72 comments)

    This is a guest post from Robert Brokamp of The Motley Fool. Robert is a Certified Financial Planner and the adviser for The Motley Fool’s Rule Your Retirement service. He contributes one new article to Get Rich Slowly every two weeks. My better half and I are two days into the process of re-evaluating our best rewards credit cards for 2012, contemplating switching to a card with better rewards. For us, it comes down to…

  • 5 Habits of Highly-Effective Credit Card Users (71 comments)

    This is a guest post from Beverly Harzog, who writes about credit cards and personal finance at Card Ratings. Harzog is the co-author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Person-to-Person Lending. When I was in my early twenties, I was a credit card mess. I’d go shopping with my credit card in hand and not worry about how much I spent until the bill came. At that point, though, I’d start worrying a great deal…

  • Are Discounts Coming for Paying in Cash? (64 comments)

    This post is from GRS staff writer April Dykman. A couple of weeks ago, J.D. highlighted research that showed that rewards cards cost the poor (in higher prices overall) and benefit the rich (who are more likely to use the cards). But what if retailers offered you a discount if you paid in cash? It might not be so far-fetched. In Will Financial Reform Kill the Rewards Card?, Brett Arends writes that a provision in…

  • How to Use a Credit Card (Without Going Into Debt) (62 comments)

    Last Friday, we had a great discussion about the socio-economic implications of credit-card rewards programs (or lack of implications, depending on your viewpoint). The conversation wasn’t nearly as tedious as my description makes it sound. In response to that article, Califia e-mailed: [Could you provide] a quick elaboration of this statement from your recent post: “I’ve gone from anti-credit-card to pro-credit-card — but only for those who can use them responsibly.” How do you define…

  • Do Credit Cards Take from the Poor and Give to the Rich? (148 comments)

    My philosophy on credit cards has changed completely in the last five years. I’ve gone from anti-credit-card to pro-credit-card — but only for those who can use them responsibly. I think they’re a great convenience, and I like getting cash back when I use mine. But not everyone thinks this cash-back feature is a good thing. In fact, my inbox is a-flutter with folks who want me to comment on the recent credit-card study from…

  • Ask the Readers: Which Credit Cards Do You Use — and Why? (219 comments)

    I’m always reluctant to cover credit cards here at Get Rich Slowly. There are other sites that do it better. Besides, I’m still not wholly convinced they’re a good idea. Plus, my wife — who is always right — told me the other day, “I don’t like it when you write about credit cards. Credit cards are boring.” Still, in today’s world, effective use of rewards credit card is an important part of personal finance….

  • Anatomy of a Credit Card Statement (32 comments)

    With the changes included in the Credit Card Act, credit card companies are now required to give users more info on their monthly statements. My colleague over at Five Cent Nickel has whipped up an informative graphic that provides an anatomy of a credit card statement: Credit card statement changes from Five Cent Nickel These changes are designed to help credit card users become more aware of the costs associated with using credit. While I…

  • Beyond Credit Card Debt (54 comments)

    This post is from staff writer Sierra Black. Sierra writes about frugality, sustainable living, and getting her kids to eat kale at Childwild.com. I made my last credit card payment this week! That final payment ends more than ten years and $20,000 of credit card debt. Getting out of credit card debt is a familiar story to readers of Get Rich Slowly. You wake up to that fact that your finances are a sinking ship,…

  • Credit-Card Regulations: A Win for Consumers? Or an End to Credit? (36 comments)

    This is a guest post from Adam Jusko, founder of IndexCreditCards.com, an information and comparison site for credit card offers that maintains a list of over 1200 cards. I’ve mentioned Index Credit Cards many times before, most notably in my post from 2006 called “The Only Credit Card Guide You’ll Ever Need”. This is an update to Adam’s guest post in January that explored what the Credit Card Act means to average Americans. The final…

  • How Much Does Canceling Credit Cards Affect Your Credit Score? (112 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Adam Baker, whose own blog paid homage to the movie, Fight Club, with the post Tyler Durden’s Guide to Personal Finance. While I generally check my free credit report every 4 months or so, the last time I checked my credit score was November 2008. At that time, it was right at 740. Earlier this week, I checked my credit score again. I was pleasantly surprised to find out…

  • Just Saying “No” to Credit Cards (110 comments)

    For nearly a decade, I lived without a personal credit card. In 1998, I destroyed all my cards and canceled my accounts in a last-ditch effort to curb my compulsive spending. It worked (sort of), and it wasn’t until 2007 that I finally felt like I was responsible enough to use credit wisely without going into debt. (And so far, it’s been smooth sailing.) What was it like without credit? Surprisingly easy, actually. Though a…

  • Ask the Readers: How Do I Pick the Best Credit Card? (128 comments)

    Sometimes I get questions that are out of my league. In the past, I’ve just sort of ignored these, but I’d like to try to answer more of them. To do this, I’m going to start asking for tips from some of the experts I’ve met through GRS. For example, my good friend Mac from Get Fit Slowly (where I may eventually write again some day), came to me this week with a question about…

  • What the New Credit Card Laws Mean to YOU (100 comments)

    This is a guest post from Adam Jusko, founder of IndexCreditCards.com, an information and comparison site for credit cards that maintains a list of over 1200 cards. You can follow Adam on Twitter for quick credit tips and opinions. I’ve mentioned Index Credit Cards many times before, most notably in my post from 2006 called “The Only Credit Card Guide You’ll Ever Need”. Last May President Obama signed into law a sweeping set of rules…

  • Suze Orman Jumps Aboard the “Pay With Cash” Bandwagon (188 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Adam Baker. Baker recently listed the Top 10 Money Movies of the Decade. For years now, Dave Ramsey has recommended ditching credit cards and paying with cash. (Specifically, Ramsey advocates the use of an envelope budgeting system.) In fact, this anti-credit card stance is one of the biggest problems critics have with his philosophy; they often point out that “responsible” credit card use would yield a higher credit score….

  • How to Establish a Credit History Without Losing Your Shirt (45 comments)

    This is a guest post from Adam Jusko, founder of IndexCreditCards.com, an information and comparison site for credit cards that maintains a list of over 1200 cards. You can follow Adam on Twitter for quick credit tips and opinions. I’ve previously featured IndexCreditCards as “The Only Credit Card Guide You’ll Ever Need” as a source for credit card offers Among recently-passed credit card regulations is a command that issuers stop giving credit cards to adults…

  • Your Credit Report Card (69 comments)

    Mark Frauenfelder is the co-founder of my favorite sites, Boing Boing (which is a “directory of wonderful things”). Mark’s also a GRS reader. He dropped me a line the other day to tell me about a new project he’s been following. Today, Credit.com is launching a free new online financial tool called Credit Report Card. This tool is designed to provide users with a quick snapshot of their credit reports. According to the site’s FAQ,…

  • Are Debit Cards Evil, Too? (118 comments)

    This post is from GRS Staff Writer Adam Baker. In addition to writing for Get Rich Slowly, Baker blogs over at Man vs. Debt, where he often discusses traveling and the cost of living abroad. A couple weeks ago, the New York Times featured an article entitled “Overspending on Debit Cards is a Boon for Banks“. While I usually favor personal finance blogs over the larger online media networks (call me partial), this piece was particularly…

  • A Call from Capital One (79 comments)

    I don’t often post follow-ups to previous articles, especially after just a few days. But following Tuesday’s post on two-cycle billing, a couple of things happened that deserve mention. Understanding Grace Periods Several readers suggested that what I experienced was not two-cycle billing but the lack of a grace period. Special thanks especially to Kitty, who linked to the American Express document on understanding grace periods. Kitty writes: If you didn’t pay your previous month’s…

  • A Small Mistake (129 comments)

    Important note: Despite what the credit card company told me, and despite my own mis-information, this story below apparently does NOT relate to two-cycle billing. Instead, my frustration stems from the way some credit card companies handle their grace periods. Thanks for all of the commenters who pointed out the error. Here’s a follow-up to this situation. For almost a decade, I refused to use a personal credit card. I knew that I couldn’t control…

  • How to Earn Free Plane Tickets and Cash Back by Shopping Online (100 comments)

    This is a guest post from April Dykman, an avid GRS reader, and a writer and editor by trade. April is a potential Staff Writer for Get Rich Slowly. In her first article, April described how she discovered freedom from mindless spending. April is an active commenter at this site. When my husband and I went to Italy in 2006, we spent $2500 on plane tickets. We’re planning to spend much less for our next…

  • Your Secret Credit Scores (21 comments)

    During yesterday’s episode of The Personal Finance Hour, Jim and I spoke with Liz Pulliam Weston, financial columnist and credit score expert. Weston provided background on how the credit scoring system works, and offered tips for how to maintain (and improve) your credit score. During the show, Weston mentioned a past MSN Money article in which she wrote about 8 secret scores that lenders keep. These lesser known (and confidential) scores are also a part…

  • The Personal Finance Hour, Episode 13: Credit Scores with Liz Weston (13 comments)

    Join us this afternoon for the 13th episode of The Personal Finance Hour. Today, Jim and I will be joined by a special guest, money writer Liz Pulliam Weston. Weston, “the most-read personal finance columnist on the Internet”, writes regularly for MSN Money, and is the author of Your Credit Score: Your Money and What’s at Stake. We would love to have you call with questions and share your own experiences! There are four ways…

  • Should You Write ‘SEE ID’ or Sign Your Credit Cards? (153 comments)

    Last week I had lunch with Hardy, a Get Rich Slowly reader here in Portland. We chatted about life (and personal finance) over burgers and fries. He generously offered to pay the bill. When the waitress returned with the credit card slip, she asked to see his driver license. “What was that all about?” I asked. “Asking for my ID?” said Hardy. I nodded. He flipped over his credit card and showed it to me….

  • Want to See Your Credit Report for Free? FreeCreditReport.com vs. AnnualCreditReport.com (50 comments)

    Mark Frauenfelder (founder of the awesome Boing Boing) has a piece at PC.com that asks: When is a free credit report not a free credit report? The answer, of course, is: When it comes from FreeCreditReport.com. FreeCreditReport.com, which has raised the ire of many, does allow people to look at their credit reports free for seven days, but then automatically enrolls users into a $15/month credit monitoring service. This last fact is a problem. Frauenfelder…

  • How to Dispute Credit Card Charges (37 comments)

    In yesterday’s USA Today, Kathy Chu offered tips to help consumers with disputes on credit card charges. This is a nice companion piece to this morning’s GRS post about thwarting credit-card company tricks. “No industry statistics are available about how often such disputes are won by consumers,” Chu writes. “But to maximize their chances, consumers should know how to navigate the maze of rules governing credit card disputes.” She shares five ways to increase your…

  • 5 Credit Card Company Tricks — and How to Thwart Them (56 comments)

    This is a guest post from Justin McHenry, president of Index Credit Cards, a credit card comparison and information site. Index Credit Cards was named “most comprehensive” by Reader’s Digest in its October 2008 issue, and regularly cited by both old and new media. True or False? Credit card companies lure you in with big promises, but bury the nasty stuff in fine print. It would be hard to find many people that disagree. Unfortunately,…

  • Follow-Up on the 63-Page Credit Card Agreement (34 comments)

    Several months ago, I took my own advice about how to choose a credit card and signed up for an American Express card from Costco. This is a business card and not a personal card. (I carry only one personal credit card.) In early October, I complained that I wasn’t willing to activate the card until I had read and understood the enclosed agreement, which was the equivalent of 63 normal typewritten pages. Many readers…

  • Credit Cards Can Pay You Money? (56 comments)

    This is a guest post from Sonia Coleman. It originally appeared in slightly different form at her blog, Coleman Unlimited. Last night I had to call my bank to follow up on a rebate check for my new Fujitsu ScanSnap that bounced (it’s that “crisis” thing again, I guess). It’s a great scanner, but I am a bit annoyed at having to do double to paperwork due to their third-party rebate service having insufficient funds….

  • Credit Card Companies Are Closing Unused Accounts (89 comments)

    Several GRS readers have written lately with the same credit card problem — but not the one you’d expect. Perhaps in an effort to cut costs, credit card companies are beginning to close their customers’ unused accounts. Nicole shared a typical experience: I’m 26 and have a solid 8-year credit history. Despite really wanting to get rid of some of my old credit cards that I never use, I’ve held on to the accounts since…

  • Like a Drug: Suze Orman on Credit Cards (42 comments)

    I recently participated in a conference call with Suze Orman, who is working to promote Best Life Week. This series runs on The Oprah Winfrey Show all this week, and is intended to help viewers “jumpstart 2009 and make it the best year ever!” Hyperbole aside, it was great to have a chance to speak with Suze Orman, who will be sharing money tips with Oprah viewers this Thursday. I tried to ask her about…

  • Three Reasons Cash is King (53 comments)

    This is a guest post from Danny Kofke, author of How to Survive (and Perhaps Thrive) on a Teacher’s Salary. Times are tough. Many are finding it more difficult to stretch their dollars. I know this first-hand because I am a school teacher, and my wife is a stay-at-home mom with our two young daughters. Despite earning a modest income, we have managed to own all of our possessions (including two cars!) except our house,…

  • Data Mining and Credit Profiling: How Lenders Lure You to Borrow (33 comments)

    Although responsibility for every penny of debt ultimately rests with the borrower, lenders have developed tempting baits to lure consumers into their traps. A recent New York Times article by Brad Stone describes a system that works against Americans, not for them. Using sophisticated data-mining algorithms, banks and other financial institutions craft tailor-made offers that many find difficult to resist. Stone writes: The American information economy has been evolving for decades. Equifax, for example, has…

  • The 63-Page Credit Card Agreement (48 comments)

    Taking my own advice about how to choose a credit card, I recently signed up for an TrueEarnings® Card from Costco and American Express card because I can earn cash back virtually everywhere I go — 3% cash back for gasoline purchases at U.S. gas stations, including at Costco, up to $4,000 per year in purchases (1% thereafter), 2% cash back for purchases at U.S. restaurants, 2% cash back on eligible travel purchases, including at…

  • 10 Aggressive Tactics to Turn the Tables on Credit Card Companies (56 comments)

    This is a guest post from Katrina Ramser, a freelance writer who contributes to various websites, newspapers and magazines. She also writes about swimming at SquidKid. Did you know an average of six credit card offers are sent to each American household in typical month? That’s five billion advertisements a year. If you had a company where one-third of your profits came from penalty and non-penalty late fees alone, you too would be able to…

  • Research Reveals Credit Cards Encourage Spending (61 comments)

    Conventional wisdom says that people spend more when they use credit than when they use cash. But is it true? In The Money Answer Book, Dave Ramsey writes: When you pay in cash, you can “feel” the money leaving you. This is not true with credit cards. Flipping a card up on a counter registers nothing emotionally. If you use plastic instead of cash you will spend 12 percent to 18 percent more. This is…

  • How and When to Cancel a Credit Card (79 comments)

    Update: After feedback from readers, I’ve made some clarifications to this post. My recommendations have not changed, but I’ve tried to emphasize the effect closing a credit card can have on your credit score. My recent two-part series on responsible credit card use (Five essential credit card skills and How to choose a credit card) prompted several readers to ask the same question: What’s the best way to cancel credit cards in order to minimize…

  • How to Choose a Credit Card (63 comments)

    A credit card can be a useful tool or it can be a dangerous weapon. Most of this depends on you — the best credit card in the world won’t help if you spend beyond your means. American adults carry thousands of dollars in average credit card debt. I lived a decade mired in it and I don’t recommend it to anyone. If you’re responsible, however, a credit card can be both convenient and efficient….

  • Credit Card Basics: Five Essential Skills for Mastering Plastic (43 comments)

    The latest issue of Consumer Reports (October 2008) has an article about the new credit card jungle. The faltering economy and the ongoing mortgage crisis may be affecting your credit cards; issuers are raising rates, changing terms, and lowering credit limits. The magazine notes: “Now is an essential time to do a credit-card checkup to make sure your accounts haven’t changed for the worse.” I like the idea of a credit-card checkup, but I don’t…

  • Ask the Readers: The Psychology of Credit Cards? (105 comments)

    Cory is a young man who wants to do the right thing. He’s been making smart financial choices, and he wants to continue to do so. But he’s worried that using his credit card is too easy. He’s come to ask GRS readers for help: I’m 21. For three years, I’ve had a debit card and loved it. No more borrowing my parents’ credit card to make purchases! I can use it anywhere, just like…

  • Reader Survey: How Did You Get Into Debt? (187 comments)

    Last week, National Public Radio’s “On Point” program highlighted credit cards, consumers, and a nation in debt. I was honored to be a guest on the show. Harvard Law professor Elizabeth Warren, an expert on the credit card industry, was the main guest, however, and she had a lot of great things to say. (I admire Warren and her work, including the personal finance book, All Your Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan.) After hearing…

  • The American Way of Debt (182 comments)

    On Sunday, The New York Times published a series of articles on The Debt Trap, exploring the surge in consumer debt and the lenders who made it possible. The main article profiles a Philadelphia woman who made some bad choices, bought into the myth of easy credit, and now finds herself struggling with insurmountable debt. “I regret not dealing with my emotions instead of just shopping,” she says. Through compulsive spending and an unaffordable mortgage,…

  • A Six-Year-Old with a Credit Card (49 comments)

    I hate junk mail. As a test once, I signed up for a subscription to Entertainment Weekly using the name of our cat, Simon. Sure enough, Simon started to receive his very own junk mail — not that he could read it. When we moved in 2004, Simon stopped receiving mail. Simon never received any credit card offers, but I suspect that’s just because we never gave it enough time. CBS 2 Chicago has a…

  • Life Without Credit Cards (78 comments)

    For some people, best credit card deals are useful tools. For others, they’re a gateway to debt. My first step toward controlling my spending was to cut up my gas cards and move to a cash-only system. It was nearly a decade before I felt I could trust myself with a personal credit card again. You might believe that credit cards are a necessary part of modern life, but it’s just not true. During my…

  • Ask the Readers: What’s the Best Way to Compare Credit Cards? (43 comments)

    In October, Michael wrote with a question about credit cards. Because I try to discourage credit card use, I haven’t posted it. But my attitude is beginning to soften. Michael’s question now seems perfectly reasonable, and I suspect other readers have similar concerns. He writes: I have a credit card account which I got with Wells Fargo when I started college. I’d like to switch over to a card with some sort of bonus (miles,…

  • The Wise Use of Credit: Money Lessons from 1960 (18 comments)

    “To develop a better understanding of the wise use of credit, let’s spend a few minutes with a certain individual we’ll call Mr. Money.” Here’s another short video from Sutherland Educational Films designed to teach young adults about their finances. In this installment, Mr. Money teaches John and Judy about the ins and outs of credit. To earn credit, first you have to develop your character. You have to be trustworthy. Second, you have to…

  • Using a Home Equity Loan to Pay Off Credit Cards (49 comments)

    This is a “dueling bloggers” post between me and Jim at Blueprint for Financial Prosperity. Read his post about not using home equity to pay off unsecured debt, and share your thoughts about this issue with us! You’ve spent the past few years being dumb with money. You realize that now. Your credit cards are maxed out, you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck, and you cannot see a way out. You plan to sell some stuff and to…

  • Ads I Hate: Life Takes VISA (71 comments)

    My first two “Ads I Hate” posts seem to have struck a nerve (1, 2). You folks really hate the consumerist mentality these ads promote. From the e-mail and comments I received, it seems that you especially loathe the “Life takes VISA” ad campaign. Nick pointed me to this ad featuring the New Orleans Saints: I think the point of is pretty clear: all the hip folks use VISA, and only the outdated preppy man…

  • Credit Crisis: Personal and Global Perspectives (37 comments)

    This morning’s discussion about credit cards and emergency funds was interesting. Many commenters noted that if you have a history of using credit responsibly, a credit card can actually make an acceptable buffer in case of the unforeseen. JenK made an analogy I like: “Credit cards, like knives, are not risky in and of themselves. People chop onions and peppers all the time without cutting themselves — though someone with a history of cutting might…

  • A Credit Card is Not an Emergency Fund (84 comments)

    Sometimes I wonder: Have I always had personal finance conversations all the time? I don’t often initiate them, but money seems to be a constant topic, even when people are unaware that I write about it every day. Just this morning, for example, I met with a fellow who needs some boxes to ship his woodworking products. (By day I am the sales force for my family’s small box factory.) My customer gave me a…

  • Mystery Checks in the Mail (15 comments)

    Earlier this month, Julie warned us that Macy’s had flipped her store card and sold her data to Citibank. I recently experienced something similar. A few months ago, I received some “advance checks” in the mail from Bank of America. You know the ones — the kind of checks your credit card uses to entice you so take a cash advance. The problem was, I don’t have an account with Bank of America. I did…

  • Ads I Hate: Barbie Shopping Boutique (23 comments)

    Russell Heimlich passed along the following ad that seeks to plant the seeds of consumerism in our children, making the task of financial literacy more difficult further down the road. “You never run out of money!” Indeed? Here’s what The Consumerist had to say when they wrote about this toy last Monday: Fashion Fever Shopping Boutique, the correctly named Barbie toy, features a built-in credit card swiper and a life-size credit card for young children…

  • Credit Card Advice from Consumer Reports (30 comments)

    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…

  • Video: Credit Cards in the Blender (5 comments)

    Here’s something light and easy for a summer Sunday afternoon. Until today I’d completely missed out on “Will it Blend?”, which is apparently the 20th most popular series of clips on YouTube (based on subscribers). Several months ago “Will It Blend?” destroyed 24 credit cards. “We have some really good news,” says Tom, the host. “We just got out of debt,” says his wife. “And so what are we going to do to stay out…

  • A Quick Trick for Tracking Credit Card Expenses in Quicken (29 comments)

    Some readers are worried about my change in stance regarding credit cards. Misuse of best rewards credit card was the chief reason I came to be buried in debt. For years after coming to my senses, the only way for me to cope with credit cards was not to have one. I still believe that this is the proper course of action for anyone who hasn’t gained control of her finances, and I would never…

  • How Those Evil Credit Cards Can Be Good for You (96 comments)

    This guest post from Justin McHenry is sure to be controversial. Though I just spent three weeks using a credit card while on vacation, I’m still wary of them. McHenry has some thoughts for people like me. When people ask me what I do and I tell them I run a credit card comparison site, they generally look away, as if I’ve just said I’m a pimp. Or a crack dealer. Or a crack-dealing pimp….

  • Why I Applied for a Credit Card (and Why It’s Not the End of the World) (38 comments)

    Credit cards ruined my life. Between 1989 and 1998, I accumulated nearly $25,000 in credit card debt. During that time, I added about $2,500 of new debt every year (over $200 each month). I was a compulsive spender. Eventually, the debt load became so great that I was forced to face the problem. I cancelled my credit cards, rolled the debt into a home equity loan, and haven’t carried a personal credit card for the…

  • They’ll Give a Credit Card to Anyone These Days (38 comments)

    Because of Opt-Out Prescreen, I no longer get credit card offers at home. From time-to-time, though, I get them at work. A few weeks ago, I received an offer that puzzles me: Seems pretty normal, huh? Well, let’s look more closely. Here’s the address: And the fake card: (Why do they include fake cards, anyhow? Do they really induce more people to apply?) I have no idea how anyone found a database in which my…

  • A Review of MAXED OUT, a New Film About the Credit Industry (33 comments)

    Maxed Out is a new film that examines the credit industry — its profitability and its effect on consumers. It’s a sort of Super Size Me, but with credit cards instead of hamburgers. Here’s the trailer: The film discusses the role of banks, of government, and of consumers in creating an industry that is, in the words of Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren, “obscenely profitable”. Here’s how the press kit describes the movie: Maxed Out…

  • Ask the Readers: Credit Emergency! (42 comments)

    Jana writes in with a credit emergency. She’s been following Get Rich Slowly, and is learning how to handle her own personal finances, but she has a friend who is in a predicament beyond her realm of knowledge. (And beyond mine, as well.) Can any of you offer advice? She writes: Kerry is a 23 year old living in Utah. She works a full time job, pays rent on an apartment, and has a car…

  • Radio Interview with David Koch, Australian Financial Expert (2 comments)

    I recently did my first radio chat about personal finance. I crashed and burned. I had terrible stage fright, and turned into a brain-dead zombie who could only repeat one thing over-and-over. It was a learning experience, one which makes me all the more appreciative of the work done by Rodney Olsen, a regular Get Rich Slowly reader. Olsen is the host of the morning show at a radio station in Perth, Western Australia. He…

  • Getting Out of Debt: Oh What a Relief it Is! (22 comments)

    JLP at All Financial Matters recently shared the story of how he got out of credit card debt. It’s not exciting or glamorous, but then paying off debt never is. We paid off our last two credit cards nearly a year ago. It was an amazing feeling to write those two final checks. Our debt came mostly while we were in college. We also stupidly charged up stuff right after college. Most of our debt…

  • Reader Comment: It’s Not Wrong to Avoid Debt (19 comments)

    Marie recently made a terrific response in Ask the Readers: What if you have no credit history? This thread is a month old and most people probably missed the comment, so I’m featuring it here. I am a bit shocked that someone would be so irresponsible as to tell someone else to “suck it up and get a credit card”. Are there hassles about not having a score? Yes. But there are a lot more…

  • I Do Not Use Credit Cards (73 comments)

    I don’t like credit cards. Many smart people — including my wife — use them wisely and never have problems. I’m not one of those people. Most of my money woes stem from credit card debt acquired when I was first out of college. Eventually I wised up — I have not carried a personal credit card in more than five years. NCN at No Credit Needed has posted a detailed list of the reasons…

  • How One College Student Handles Credit Cards (25 comments)

    I’ve been blown away by your responses to the new Ask the Readers feature, especially to yesterday’s question about what do do if you have no credit history. Here’s a story Derek e-mailed me about his first-hand experience safely building his credit score. I am a college student, and I have a credit card. My parents and I have worked out a system for protecting me from possible credit card debt. Our system only worked…

  • The Secret History of the Credit Card (repeat) (17 comments)

    I originally shared this piece on June 12th. I’m reposting it because many PBS stations are rebroadcasting this show tonight. How did the United States become a nation of debtors? When did credit cards become popular? Did you know that many modern credit card policies are the creation of one man? The Secret History of the Credit Card was a 2004 “Frontline” presentation from the Public Broadcasting System. The program examines the nation’s use of…

  • You Can Learn a Lot From a Rich Girl (8 comments)

    A reader pointed me to at post a Violent Acres. “You Can Learn a Lot From a Rich Girl” [profanity] is a cautionary tale of how anyone — even the wealthy — can find themselves struggling with debt. Driving home from the bar one evening, my friend Marilyn confided in me that she was afraid. In six months, she would be graduating from grad school and her parents were going to cut her off financially…

  • In Praise of the Debt Snowball (69 comments)

    During my twenties, I accumulated nearly $25,000 in consumer debt. I had a spending problem. With time, I was able to get my spending under control (mostly), but I still owned overwhelming debt. How could I get rid of it? The personal finance books all suggested the same approach: Order your debts from highest interest rate to lowest interest rate. Designate a certain amount of money to pay toward debts each month. Pay the minimum…

  • The Only Credit Card Guide You’ll Ever Need (23 comments)

    I don’t like credit cards. They’re a dangerous trap, especially for the young. Many smart people disagree with me, though, and have learned to use credit cards to their advantage. This guide provides solid credit card information so that you can make smart choices. I’ve structured this as a series of questions and answers. There’s sure to be a lot missing. Please let me know what else should be included here, and I’ll add it….

  • How to Escape from Debt Hell (6 comments)

    Reader Russell Heimlich forwarded an excellent MSN Money piece on Escaping from Debt Hell. It’s hard to escape the news that Americans are drowning in personal debt, but you hear less about the many people who…have been able to dig out of debt. Ordinary people use a variety of methods to shake off their past credit mistakes. Some use credit counselors. Some take second jobs. Most live frugal lives until they’re back on their feet…

  • A Year’s Worth of Credit Card Applications (3 comments)

    How many credit card applications do you receive in a year? One cockeyed.com reader decided to keep track. From April of 2005 to April 2006, he noted every credit card offer that came to him. I received 141 applications with 100 of them containing the sample credit cards. I regret not keeping more complete records like available interest rates per time of year, frequency of offers from which company etc. I can tell you that…

  • The Credit Card Prank: Crazy Signatures (11 comments)

    Here’s an internet classic. John Hargrave at zug.com was frustrated that nobody ever checked his signature when he paid with a credit card. He wondered: how crazy could he make his signature before somebody actually called him on it. The answer? Pretty crazy. Here’s his regular signature, which he describes as “that of a homeless clown”: And here are some of the signatures that he used (and was not ever chided for). Note that the…

  • The Torn-Up Credit Card Application (3 comments)

    Think you’re safe from identity theft if you simply tear up your credit card applications and throw them in the trash? Think again. Rob Cockerham, who runs cockeyed.com (“the sixth-best website in the world”), receives a lot of credit card applications. Like me, Rob generally just tears them in half and throws them away. But he began to wonder: is this really enough? He decided to make a test. Instead of just ripping it in…

  • How Do Bad Credit Marks Go Away? (5 comments)

    One AskMetafilter user wonders how old bad credit marks go away: I had a few months in 2004 where I could not afford to pay my bills — mostly credit card bills. I have a few accounts that have 120 day delinquencies reported in 2004, but since about the end of that year, I have made on-time payments for 24 months or better. Is there anything I can do to get these accounts out of…

  • Pep Talk: Climb Out of Debt (8 comments)

    A reader at Lifehacker writes: Over the past few years, I’ve accrued some painful, albeit modest, debt. Since I trust Lifehacker readers with my life(hacking), I’d love to hear some tips and strategies for getting out of debt. So, any advice? First of all — and this is important — DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOU. You might notice that there’s some conflicting advice in this thread. “Pay off your highest interest rate debts first.” “No!…

  • 9 Things to Consider When Choosing a Credit Card (0 comment)

    Dumb Little Man is a smart little site, filled with all sorts of useful tips. Last week, DLM shared nine things to consider when choosing a credit card: The thirty-day rule: credit card companies can change your terms and conditions at any time with only thirty days notice. Transaction fees on balance transfers: if you’re moving to a new card with a lower rate, be sure this lower rate isn’t offset by a transfer fee!…

  • National Credit Score Index (1 comment)

    The National Score Index is a handy little web app that displays U.S. average credit scores by state (683 in Oregon) and for the entire country (677). Based on the most current data available in the industry, the Experian National Score Index provides the most up-to-date look at U.S. consumers’ credit and is a powerful indicator of the country’s overall financial health. The Experian National Score Index monitors several components of consumer credit behavior to…

  • Eight Things Every Credit Card User Should Know (6 comments)

    The official Get Rich Slowly stance on credit cards remains: don’t use them. If you do use them, at least take a few minutes to read this list of eight things a credit card user should know from the website for Frontline’s The Secret History of the Credit Card (discussed here yesterday). Note: Some of this information has changed as a result of the Credit Card Act of 2009. You can read about some of…

  • The Secret History of the Credit Card (9 comments)

    How did the United States become a nation of debtors? When did credit cards become popular? Did you know that many modern credit card policies are the creation of one man? The Secret History of the Credit Card was a 2004 “Frontline” presentation from the Public Broadcasting System. The program examines the nation’s use of credit and, more specifically, the methods used by credit card companies to obtain enormous profits. The Secret History of the…

  • How to Opt-Out of Credit Card Offers FOREVER (25 comments)

    Get Rich Slowly reader Eric H. forwarded a link to optoutprescreen.com. He writes: This website lets you opt-out for either five years or forever from annoying credit card solicitations by adding your name to the do-not-call/mail lists at the three major Credit Bureaus. This will reduce your junk mail and keep your credit report and social security number from the companies you don’t want to have it. Visit https://www.optoutprescreen.com/ or call 1-888-5-OPTOUT. As an added…

  • Anatomy of a Credit Score (21 comments)

    Your credit score plays an increasingly important role in your financial health. But what is it? And how does it affect what you pay for loans and credit cards? Your credit score is a single number that indicates your creditworthiness. This number is derived from various pieces of information contained in your credit report. Your credit report is accumulated by various credit agencies — credit card companies and banks and other financial institutions, who pass…

  • Is it Safe to Pay Bills with a Credit Card? (1 comment)

    Here’s an interesting money question from AskMetafilter: What are the potential downsides to using a credit card to pay my monthly bills, assuming I pay off the balance every month? I currently pay all my bills from my checking account and have recently thought about getting a credit card with some kind of rewards for this purpose instead. I won’t be carrying a balance on the card; I just want to try and get something…

  • From Zero Percent to Thirty Percent in Just One Month (6 comments)

    Here’s a nightmare credit card story. John, of New Falmouth, Massachusetts, said he answered an ad for Household Bank’s Platinum Mastercard, which offered a 0 percent introductory fixed rate for the first 12 months for purchases and balance transfers. John’s existing credit card charged just over 9 percent, not a bad rate these days. But being a thrifty consumer, John said he wanted to take advantage of the offer of 12 months without interest. So…

  • How Many Credit Cards Should You Carry? (16 comments)

    An AskMetafilter user wonders: How many credit cards do typical people have? For various reasons I have four credit cards. I always thought of this as too many, but haven’t cancelled mine since the crappiest one is also the oldest, and has no fee, and I want to maintain the age of the card on my credit report. Most people I know have one or two cards. But reading online forums on credit, I see…

  • Credit Card Index (1 comment)

    The official Get Rich Slowly position on credit cards is: DON’T USE THEM. Credit cards are a trap. They’re designed to make money for banks, not to be convenient for consumers. There’s a reason that credit card companies are making record profits. There’s a reason that banks are eager to offer consumers new credit cards. You have to question anything that a bank is eager to do for you; you can be sure it’s not…

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