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A good summary from WSJ on top flat-rate cashback card offerings. I still prefer my Fidelity Investment Rewards card which rewards me with 1.5% no-hassle cashback.

“Capital One Financial Corp. is offering a new card that will hand out a flat 1% cash refund on card spending, plus another 0.25% annual bonus each November. It’s significant because, while other cards offer more generous cash-back terms, those cards often come with restrictions or additional requirements. The Capital One card aims to simplify the terms and requirements to win consumers. For instance, two Fidelity Investments-branded credit cards pay back a higher flat 1.5%; Emigrant Savings Bank’s EmigrantDirect.com offers plastic that can yield 1.4%. Some cards from issuers like American Express Co., J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Morgan Stanley’s Discover credit-card unit offer higher refunds at certain merchants than others; used in the right combination, a consumer could clear 1.25% with those cards …”     Full Story




WSJ discussed the controversial practice of paying off home equity loans using your credit card. It did give a balanced view — this practice is not for the general audience, but if used properly, it can save you some interest payments.

“The result: If used under the right set of circumstances, Mr. Schatsky says, transferring home-equity debt to a credit card can save homeowners big money. When the numbers are right — meaning the interest rate is lower and you can afford the credit-card payments — card debt is safer than owing money to your mortgage lender, says credit expert Gerri Detweiler. That’s because, if you’re delinquent, the lender can’t move to foreclose on your home. That said, such maneuvers aren’t for everybody. Here’s what you need to know. • Higher Payments. Turning your home-equity loan or line of credit into credit-card debt will quickly backfire if you can’t afford the new payments. And they will be higher. That’s because home-equity loans or lines of credit …”     Full Story



Credit card companies are more willing to reduce your credit card rate by a few percentage points than you think. All it takes is to ask the right question — according to this WSJ report, more than 75% of such requests are accepted.

“eightened competition in the credit-card industry is giving card holders greater muscle to negotiate lower rates. While most credit-card companies say little publicly about their willingness to negotiate sweeter deals, some are agreeing to cut interest rates by several percentage points for their best customers. That can add up to thousands of dollars in savings over a year. … About a third of credit-card users have pressed for a lower interest rate, according to a September survey by Synergistics Research Corp. More than 75% of those who asked to pay less said they got their rate reduced. “Card issuers have few choices. They either agree to lower rates or lose relationships,” says Genie Driskill, chief operating officer of the Atlanta research firm. … At Bank …”     Full Story



WSJ’s Aleksandra Todorova identified five trends in the credit card business. It is no surprise that most of the new trends involve getting more money from consumers in one way or another.

“Balance transfer fees: Low-rate balance transfers can be a great money saver. Consider this: Transferring a $10,000 balance from an 18% APR card to one with a 5.99% APR — a common offer these days — will save you $6,253 in interest over the life of the loan, assuming a $200 monthly payment. You’ll be debt-free three years sooner. Disappearing rewards? Americans love rewards. But as more consumers use credit cards in supermarkets, drug stores and gas stations — some of the most popular categories for bonus rewards — credit-card issuers have started pulling the offers back. Case in point: This year American Express eliminated the double points for everyday purchases on its charge cards, while Citibank scaled back some of its popular cards, including …”     Full Story



The Citi® Driver’s Edge® Platinum Select® Card, issued by Citibank, is designed for those with very good credit who would like to earn rebates toward the purchase or lease of any new or used car, foreign or domestic.

The card provides a rebate of 6% for supermarket, gas station, and drugstore purchases during the first twelve months, 3% thereafter, and 1% on all other purchases. Cardholders can also earn Drive Rebates at a rate of $0.01 per mile driven. Up to $1,000 in rebates can be earned toward a vehicle during any twelve consecutive months, and any unused rebates expire in five years. The maximum amount of rebates that can be redeemed is $5,000 per vehicle. Rebates can also be used for the payment of maintenance, service, or repair performed on a vehicle. Rebates can also be converted into ThankYou Network® Points and redeemed through the ThankYou Network.

Read full review of this featured card or apply today!

“Citi® Driver’s Edge® Platinum Select® Card • Earn Rebates for Every Mile Driven • 6% Rebates on Gas Station, Supermarket, and Drugstore Purchases for 12 Full Months, 3% Rebates after, and 1% Rebates on All Other Purchases • 0% APR on Balance Transfers for 12 Full Months – a Balance Transfer Fee Applies with this Offer • Rebates Can Be Applied Toward Car Maintenance, or to Buy or Lease a New or Used Car • Rebates Can Also Be Applied to the Thank You Network • No Annual Fee”     Full Story



As reported by CardWeb, OptionXpress and Chase are launching a new cash reward card. At 1% cashback, the offer is not impressive at all. (And it is no different from the 1% cashback ShareBuilder card.)

“With the Dow now hovering at 12,000 a credit card tied to a brokerage firm might be a good deal. optionsXpress, ranked as the top online securities broker by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance in 2006 and by Barron’s in its last four annual surveys, has teamed with Chase to launch a VISA card. The new “optionsXpress Platinum VISA” offers points toward cash deposits in the cardholder’s brokerage account. Cardholders earn one point for every dollar spent on net retail purchases. For every 1,500 points earned, cardholders can redeem for a $15 deposit to their optionsXpress brokerage account. Additionally, the card offers a 0% APR introductory offer for up to 12 months and no annual fee. “     Full Story



Interesting creation from American Express. It is unlikely one will use it, but it is always good to have the piece of mind.

“American Express has introduced a new benefit to reimburse cardholders for the cost of tickets purchased due to a covered incident. The “Event Ticket Protection Plan” will reimburse cardholders if they cannot attend an event due to medical emergency, cancellation of the event, transportation accident or jury duty, subpoena, death or call to active military duty. The free benefit is available to consumer and business “Gold,” “Platinum” and “Centurion” cardholders. “Gold,” “OPEN Gold” and “Executive Business” cardholders are covered up to the maximum limit of $1,000 per eligible occurrence. “Platinum” and “OPEN Platinum” cardholders are covered up to the maximum limit of $2,000 per eligible occurrence. “Centurion” and “OPEN Centurion” cardholders are covered up to the maximum limit of $5,000 per eligible occurrence.”     Full Story



It is not always wise to close your credit card accounts, and when you decide to do so, you should do in a proper fashion. Here are some good tips:

“Don’t close old card accounts. Even if you don’t use a credit card that you’ve had for ages, consider keeping it open. Closing an older account will hurt your credit score, because your credit history will appear shorter than it actually is. Consider calling the card issuer to see if you can get a better rate, and cancel an account you’ve opened more recently. Don’t cancel many card accounts at once. If you want to pay down debt, gradually pay off each card and close each account as you do. Lenders like to see how you manage a number of accounts, and a sudden drop in card use may result in a sharp drop in your credit score. Consolidate wisely. Rolling all your debt on …”     Full Story



Kiplinger’s Personal Finance put together some interesting card choices for every purpose you can think of (cashback, low-rate, travel rewards, gas reward, etc.). Of course, it is important you make up your mind and stick to one or two programs to maximize your credit card returns. More importantly, you should pay off balance every month. Otherwise, your benefits will come from your own interest payments.

“BEST GASOLINE CREDIT CARD BP Visa: “5% rebate on all BP purchases, including car washes and items at its convenience store. In addition, you get 2% back on most travel and dining purchases and 1% on the rest of your spending” BEST CASH-REBATE CARD American Express Blue Cash: “You earn 1% on gas, grocery and drugstore purchases, plus 0.5% on all other spending up to $6,500. After that, your rebate jumps to 5% on gas, groceries and drugstore products (excluding purchases at Costco and similar stores) and 1.5% on everything else.” BEST CARD FOR TRAVEL ABROAD Capital One Platinum MasterCard: “Capital One’s no-fee Platinum MasterCard charges neither, which makes it our top choice when you travel overseas.” BEST AIRLINE REWARDS CARD Citi PremierPass Elite: “You …”     Full Story



WSJ reminds us that if you are late paying a company credit card bill, or the company is late to reimburse you by paying to the card on your behalf, you are still on the hook for a creditworthiness downgrade.

“Employees beware: That corporate credit card you have could be costly. Even if it isn’t your fault, a late payment could, in certain circumstances, result in a penalty fee or lower your credit score and bump up the interest rate on your credit cards. “People have no idea that one late fee can trigger financial disaster and 30% interest rates, not just on that card but on other cards,” said Ed Mierzwinkski, consumer program director for U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a consumer watchdog in Washington, D.C. … Employees who file late can owe fees and have their credit rating downgraded. But employees also pay the price when reimbursements are late or their company is late paying the bill on their behalf.”     Full Story



If you ask my opinion, I would recommend you keep as many credit cards as you can manage (without missing a single payment). I have 20 active credit cards, and this enables me to get the best deal possible (in terms of cash back, balance transfer and shopping discounts).

“According to Steve Bucci, president of Money Management International Financial Education Foundation, the average person carries 11 “credit vehicles.” Typically, seven are different types of cards and four are installment loans for cars, furniture, student loans or mortgages. Some credit experts see people with 45 or more credit cards — many of them are high-income earners. Some are people who think that the more credit you have, the better, says Bucci, who also writes The Debt Adviser column for Bankrate. He says a good rule of thumb is to keep two to six credit cards. “Make sure the credit cards you have are Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Discover, because merchants will take almost any of them,” he says.”     Full Story



Anyone with what is considered a permissible purpose can look at your report. These companies, groups, and individuals include: – Potential lenders – Landlords – Insurance companies – Employers and potential employers (usually only with your written consent) – Companies you allow to monitor your account for signs of identity theft – Some groups considering your application for a government license or benefit – A state or local child support enforcement agency – Any government agency (although they may be allowed to view only certain portions) – Someone who uses your credit report to provide a product or service you have requested – Someone that has your written authorization to obtain your credit report Full Story



Personal information. Compiled from credit applications you’ve filled out, this information normally includes your name, current and recent addresses, Social Security Number, date of birth, and current and previous employers. Credit history. The bulk of your credit report consists of details about credit accounts that were opened in your name or that list you as an authorized user (such as a spouse’s credit card). Account details, which are supplied by creditors with which you have an account, include the date the account was opened, the credit limit or amount of the loan, the payment terms, the balance, and a history that shows whether or not you’ve paid the account on time. Closed or inactive accounts, depending on the manner in which they were paid, stay … Full Story



A type of soft inquiry made to your credit report for the purpose of disclosing that a credit report was furnished in connection with a preapproved offer. If your credit history matches a creditor’s criteria, that creditor gets only limited information — not your full credit report. Full Story



If you reside in select states you have the right to place a security freeze on your Equifax Credit File. A security freeze will prevent us from reporting your Equifax credit file to third parties, such as credit grantors or other companies and agencies, except those exempted by law or those for whom you contacted us and requested that we temporarily lift the security freeze. Full Story



An instance in which your credit report is accessed without affecting your credit rating. Soft inquiries include your own requests for your credit report, promotional inquiries by credit card companies, and “checkup” inquiries by your existing creditors. A soft inquiry that does not affect your credit rating is used when Equifax Personal Solutions provides you with our products. Full Story



The ratio of the amount of a home loan to the appraised value of the home. For example, if you borrow $75,000 to buy a $100,000 house, the LTV is 75%. As a general rule, the lower the LTV, the more favorable the terms of the loan will be. Full Story



An indication on your credit file that a lender has obtained a copy of the report in order to evaluate your loan or credit application. An excess of hard inquiries within a six-month period may lower your credit rating. Full Story



If you suspect that you’re the victim of identity theft or credit fraud, you may contact the credit reporting companies and place a fraud alert on your credit file. Such an alert will prevent new credit accounts from being opened without your express permission. Full Story



A federal law that requires lenders and other creditors to make credit equally available without discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, age, sex, marital status, or receipt of income from public assistance programs. Full Story




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