- Choosing a credit card
Understanding a credit card offer requires knowing the terminology used by card issuers. Evaluate the offer's interest rate structure, outstanding balance calculation method, fee schedule, and grace period policy. Transferring an existing balance from card to card may reduce your finance charges, but read the fine print of the introductory offers you receive. If you're turned down for a card, make sure your credit report is accurate, then plead your case with the issuer. Various federal laws may help you protect your rights.
- Credit traps for the unwary
Credit cards can be trouble, but if you know what to watch for, you can avoid getting in over your head. Even as credit cards make our lives easier, they can spell financial trouble with their fees and high interest rates. If you're making just the minimum payments every month, you may be covering little more than the monthly interest charge. And if you're not careful, transferring your balance to a new, low-rate card--surfing--may also soak you.
- Deciding which credit card to get
- Understanding merchant rewards programs
Offered by merchants of all types, rewards programs are marketing tools that encourage brand-loyalty purchasing through price discounts, bonus points and/or coupons toward future purchases, donations to your favorite charity and even cash rebates. Sometimes the programs can be extremely complex; here we try to simplify it.