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Credit Cards


  • Entrepreneurs Face Credit Challenges When Purchasing a Home (0 comment)

    Plenty of Americans have that entrepreneurial spirit. Being your own boss and setting your own hours is liberating, and millions of Americans have made the leap. But there are special credit challenges to be aware of, especially in the first two years of striking out on your own. Self-employed Americans by the numbers According to a 2014 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 14.4 million Americans are self-employed. (When you factor in part-time independent…

  • Plan a better vacation with a credit card offer (14 comments)
    This article is by editor Linda Vergon.

    The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express has a new offer available now that could help you plan a bigger, better summer vacation if you act quickly. This card was recently given a 2016 CardRating’s Editor’s Choice award as one of the best travel credit cards available. (CardRatings.com is one of our partner sites.) Turn regular purchases into vacation perks New cardholders that make $3,000…

  • How to use credit cards wisely (55 comments)
    This article is by GRS contributor William Cowie.

    Fire can be one of the most destructive forces on earth, and yet some say civilization began when we figured out how to harness its power. Credit cards are the same. Ask any long-time reader of Get Rich Slowly if credit cards are good for anything, and you might get a response like: “They’re to be ripped up and burned in an atmosphere-polluting bonfire of relief!”…

  • How to use a balance transfer card for holiday debt (28 comments)

    Have you received your credit card bill for December yet? If so, you’re not the only one. As this Federal Reserve Board chart shows, Americans accumulate about $30 billion in credit card debt in the last quarter every year – and then attempt to pay it off in the first quarter of the New Year. The problem is they rarely succeed at paying off the entire balance. By the end of the first quarter every…

  • 8 ways credit cards may cost you more than they should (21 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Richard Barrington.

    You pay for convenience. That’s the simple reality of economics. Having a cab — or even an Ubermobile — pick you up is more expensive than catching a bus. Eating out costs more than making a meal yourself. So, when you consider the tremendous convenience credit cards offer, it should be no surprise that consumers end up paying a hefty price to add convenience to their…

  • Budget smart now – enjoy great holidays later (16 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Richard Barrington.

    Let me say for the record that I hate rushing the holiday season – the appearance of Santa Claus in the stores as soon as the Halloween decorations are cleared out, hearing Christmas carols before the first snow has fallen, that kind of thing. So why am I writing about holiday shopping when temperatures are still pushing 80 degrees at  the end of September? Well, I’m…

  • Ever used a zero-percent credit card offer to make a purchase? (38 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Ryan Takach.

    Imagine a scenario where you’ve got the money to make a large discretionary purchase and you’re given the option to finance it through the retailer at interest or open a credit card with an introductory zero interest rate. What would you do — pay cash or just finance it? Note: See also How to Choose a Credit Card for tips on finding the right credit card…

  • Act fast for double cash back rewards from Discover (14 comments)

    This article is by Curtis Arnold, CardRatings.com editor-in-chief. It’s not often that a credit card company offers to double its usual rewards on a range of its plastic for an entire year — but that’s precisely what Discover is doing for new customers with its current limited-time offer. How the offer works Discover’s eye-catching offer applies to cash-back cards including: Discover it® card-Double Cash Back your first year, Discover it®-Double Cash Back your first year,…

  • Alternatives to the multi-generational survival tool (32 comments)
    This is a guest post from former GRS staff writer Donna Freedman.

    A whole lotta folks are way too comfortable with credit card debt, according to the “Generations Apart” study from Allianz Life. Nearly half of the Generation Xers and Baby Boomers surveyed consider plastic to be “a financial survival tool.” Guys, guys, guys: The credit card is not a superhero. Sure, one swipe saves the day, but it’s only that day. What will…

  • How we saved big with a balance transfer (18 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson.

    When my husband and I started dating in 2004, he moved across the country to go back to school and live closer to me. Yep, much to our surprise {insert sarcasm here}, his bachelor’s degree in theater arts hadn’t helped him land his dream job. Therefore, he decided to do something different instead and chose to pursue a bachelor’s degree in mortuary science. As it is…

  • What’s your position on debt? Read this first (62 comments)
    This article is by staff writer William Cowie.

    You hear it all the time, here and many other places: Debt is bad — evil, even — you know, like smoking and drinking and gambling. Yet, despite overwhelming evidence that smoking is bad for us, almost one person out of every five still smokes. And in the past year, that number has not declined significantly. The government even has campaigns to get people to stop…

  • Should you travel in your 20s? (60 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson.

    When my mom was in her early 20s, she took a few months to travel abroad with a few of her college friends. I wouldn’t call it an around-the-world trip since they only visited a few regions, but I would call it amazing. So amazing, in fact, that my mom shared numerous stories of her travels with me as I was growing up. I remember those…

  • How to dispute credit card charges (13 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson.

    According to a 2013 Nilson report, credit and debit card fraud were the cause of over $11.2 billion in losses in 2012. And if you think that sounds bad, just wait; it’s expected to get much worse. As USA Today reported last year, hackers and scammers have turned stealing credit card numbers into an art form. By focusing on major retailers such as P.F. Chang’s, Target, and…

  • Best way to redeem travel points: Why hoarding points is a bad investment (17 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson.

    For most people, pursuing credit card rewards is a game of cat and mouse. You keep a watchful eye on your credit score, seek out the best offers, and strike when the iron is hot. But that is just one component of the hobby; the other part of the equation is that it can be extremely exciting to watch your point balances climb. Obviously, the more…

  • Do credit card rewards count as taxable income? (23 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson.

    Over the past 12 months, I have used credit card rewards to finance the bulk of our trips to Jamaica, Las Vegas, Denver, New Orleans, London, Paris, and St. Maarten. And in the process, I’ve also cashed in a five-figure sum of hotel loyalty points, airline miles and cash-back rewards. Of course, I blame part of this on my love of family travel, but it also has…

  • Honey Progress Report: 2014 wrap-up and 2015 goals (48 comments)
    This article is by staff writer Honey Smith.

    The new year is a time to look forward; but in order to do that, you need to know where you’ve been. Before I set my goals for 2015, I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss anything that happened last year. Updated reckoning for me in chart form: 2012-present Please note that I have consolidated some separate accounts of the same type into one category…

  • How to Get Out of Debt on a Low Income (38 comments)
    You’ve seen the get-out-of-debt advice: Quit buying lattes. Sell your stuff. It’s good advice, but it doesn’t apply to you. Because of your low income, a latte hasn’t touched your lips in years. And your stuff? You’ve been limping along for months now. No one wants what you have.

    You know Dave Ramsey says you need a bigger shovel to dig yourself out of this hole; but right now, all you have is a…

  • 30 Days to Better Finances (23 comments)

    Learning to manage your finances isn’t something most people would put at the very top of their “most fun thing to do” list, but we all know that we ignore money and budgets at our peril. Having a strong handle on what money is going in and what money is going out is an essential first step. But you don’t have to be overwhelmed. By setting aside between five and 30 minutes each day, you…

  • Is living without credit cards the best way to stay out of debt? (50 comments)

    This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. Americans might be more responsible now than they were in the early 2000s when it comes to the use of credit. At least, that’s what the evidence from a Gallup poll taken earlier this year seems to suggest. The Gallup poll, which was based on random telephone interviews with 1,026 adults, shows that a full 48 percent claim to pay their credit card balances in full when…

  • 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 (87 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…

  • Redeeming your credit card rewards — what do you do with them? (51 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…

  • 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 (30 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? (126 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 (42 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) (38 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….

  • 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…

  • 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)

    [Editorial note: This offer was last updated on July 13, 2016.] Occasionally, Get Rich Slowly will feature reviews that alert you to new product offerings in which you may be interested. While we haven’t covered a specific credit card offer in a while, this afternoon we’re alerting you to an offer by Slate® from Chase because you can save with a $0 introductory balance transfer fee, a 0% introductory APR for 15 months on purchases…

  • 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 (154 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) (103 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…

  • 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? (56 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…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • 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,…

  • 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 wrote: 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…

  • 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,…

  • Credit Card Companies Are Closing Unused Accounts (90 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…

  • Know Your Consumer Rights When it Comes to Credit Cards (56 comments)

    Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared in 2008 but was updated on October 12, 2016. If you have any questions about our content, we’d love to hear from you at editors@getrichslowly.org. Some 3 billion pieces of mail are sent to U.S. consumers each year from credit card companies, according to 2015 statistics highlighted in Business Insider. That’s a lot of marketing to wade through. And, as you know, it’s simply not enough to pay your…

  • 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 (80 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…

  • A Six-Year-Old with a Credit Card (50 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…

  • 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…

  • A Quick Trick for Tracking Credit Card Expenses in Quicken (30 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…

  • 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…

  • In Praise of the Debt Snowball (69 comments)

    Here’s how the Debt Snowball method worked for me: 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…

  • 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….

  • 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…

  • Anatomy of a Credit Score (22 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…

  • 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…