Imagine if a stranger asked you one of the following questions:
- Can I borrow your credit card to make a quick purchase? I don't have any cash on me.
- Mind if I take your car for a quick trip to the grocery store. I don't feel like waiting for the bus.
- Do you mind co-signing with me on the new house I want to buy? My credit isn't the greatest.
My hope is that if a stranger asked you any of these, your response would be an emphatic, "Heck no!"
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 me. I discovered the magic of rewards points sometime right after college, when I finally started to take an interest in my financial situation. I wondered what the large number looming above my account number was, and, next thing I knew, years of unknowingly accumulating rewards points turned into a $100 statement credit.
Since then, I've been taking full advantage. I use my credit card like a debit card, budgeting and paying off everything I spend. My card doesn't carry a fee, and I don't rack up consumer debt -- I just earn points. And as modest an amount as it may be, I always get a little excited when I periodically redeem my rewards.
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 credit cards. It's definitely important to protect your credit score, and no one should sign up for a slew of new credit cards without taking the time to understand how your credit score works and whether you should be applying for new credit cards at all.
1. Only sign up for new credit cards if:
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 from the credit industry.
The Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 (CARD Act) was enacted to protect consumers from unfair and predatory credit card practices. The reforms put into place through the Act have done a good job to curb and reduce some questionable credit card practices — retroactive interest rate increases, over-limit fees and shrinking grace periods, just to name a few. And while consumer advocates have applauded the Act's influence on credit card industry practices, there are still some loopholes of which to be aware. Here are the ones you need to know: Continue reading...
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 put this into real-world practice.
But reader HKR told us recently how she's added her stepdaughter on her credit card. Here's her story and her question for you.
OK, I know this is going to sound crazy, but I just got my stepdaughter a credit card for her eighth birthday.
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. We now strategically apply for travel credit cards that offer attractive sign-up bonuses and we direct our spending to the credit cards that offer the best category bonuses for the type of purchase we're making. Here's why:
1. Travel first class or business class internationally
Thanks to four credit card applications, we were able to book two first-class round-trip award tickets on Cathay Pacific to Bali, via Hong Kong, for this past summer. These tickets retail for more than $20,000 each, which we would never pay cash for, but the experience was fantastic and was a memorable part of our vacation. And because we know how to use credit cards to our advantage, this isn't just a once-in-a-lifetime experience—we plan to travel first class or business class internationally at least once a year, with the miles and points we're earning. And thanks to using miles and points for award flights, we're able to use our trip budget for some incredible hotels, restaurants, and unique local experiences that otherwise would have been a stretch to afford, if we had to pay for airfare. Continue reading...
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 control your spending and pay your bill on time and in full every month, Holly's money hack may work for you. Also keep in mind that your credit score takes a hit each time you open a card, and whatever balance you have on your credit card as of the statement closing date will be reported to the credit bureaus. If you pay the balance in full before the statement closing date, your balance will be reported as $0.
Almost two years ago, we began our journey out of debt. Like the average American family, we had car loans, student loans, and consumer debt. At one point, we were making minimum payments on several credit cards and a loan I took out to buy a Kirby vacuum. I'm serious.
However, getting pregnant with our second child made us realize that we needed to get our finances together quickly. Once we committed to new financial goals, we cut out nearly everything from our life that was "enjoyable." We said goodbye to cable TV and dinners at restaurants. We quit shopping for fun and only went to the store to get groceries and absolute necessities. Our new budget was cut down to the bare bones...so much so that I hesitated to buy almost anything.
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 the cards, get the bonuses, and turn a single credit card application into a vacation that most of us only dream of taking.
[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 and balance transfers, and a $0 annual fee.
The Slate® from Chase eliminates a major drawback
The Slate® from Chase is one of the first cards we've seen heavily promoted in a long time that allows you to transfer higher-rate balances with a $0 introductory balance transfer fee. Specifically, with the Slate® from Chase card, there is a $0 introductory fee on transfers made within 60 days of account-opening. If you transfer a balance after the first 60 days, the ongoing balance transfer fee is either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
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 it because it addresses an issue people often wonder about.
A couple years ago as I was getting a credit report from Experian (I was about to buy a new car and wondered where I stood credit-wise), I signed up for one of their monthly tracking features. I justified this because I'd had a credit card number stolen and wanted to watch my credit records for a while, even though I knew the $15/month was a bit of a waste. Over the past year or so, I've watched my credit score start lower than I remember it being and go lower, and I've come to the realization that it's largely a joke.
The Same Old Story
My credit history is pretty ordinary: I started out in 1993 with one of those credit cards that come with a free t-shirt and frisbee in college, mostly because I was amazed anyone would give me credit. The introductory $500 limit quickly went to $2000 when I put some ski trips on the card, and I always carried credit at about 35-40% of the card's limit. Continue reading...