Using Credit Cards For Holidays

Yes, you read that right! Though many financial experts usually suggest that you limit the use of your credit cards, there are still some advantages to using your credit card on your holiday. With the summer holidays fast approaching, I am sure that many of you have plans to take a break from the mundane activities that you engage in all year round. However, with the economic crisis hovering above everyone's heads, there are more to consider when it comes to planning your holidays.

For one, statistics show that more and more people are breaking away from the custom of patronising travel agencies and their packages. Instead, they are coming up with their own holiday plans - DIY holidays, I guess we can call them. With the various options available to us, this activity comes as no surprise. Budget airlines, online bookings, and so on - these could really cut down on our holiday costs. Yet this also has a downside to it, namely, the fact that travel protection is not always included in DIY bookings. If you book holiday packages through a licensed travel agency, you are guaranteed cover by the Air Travel Organisers' Licensing (Atol). If you plan your own trip, however, you may not be covered.

Is there a way out of this dilemma? You bet! Use your credit card!

Using your credit card to purchase airplane tickets, hotel accommodations, and other purchases for your holiday is a good idea because if you suffer from "misrepresentation" by the travel firms that you deal with, the credit card company will be jointly responsible to cover the cost. That is, if your purchase is more than Ј100 and less than Ј25,000.

More than this, you can actually find good deals for credit cards when it comes to travel related purchase. For example, look for introductory card deals wherein you wouldn't have to pay interest for a specific period of time. There are many of these promos going on. What happens is that you make a purchase and you do not pay interest on your purchase for say, 10 months. Of course, after this period, you would have to pay for the full APR. Also, it is important to note that you have to pay your bill in FULL in order to avoid additional charges.

Another thing to look for are cash back cards. Using these cards will actually put some money back in your hands every time you make a purchase. Considering that relatively large amount of money that you will probably be spending on your holiday, it is a good idea to use cash back credit cards.

More so, there are cards which operate jointly with specific airlines and hotel bookings. If you use these cards, you can get perks such as discounts, rebates, and the like.

You can also use your credit card for purchases while on the trip. In most cases, it is a good idea since you will be sure to get a better exchange rate. However, you have to make sure that your credit card company does not charge extra for international use. Many cards actually do charge a fee although there are some that do not.

By Nancy Sinha

How To Deal With A Bad Credit

The rich gets richer, the poor gets poorer. This is usually true but it’s not always the case. Just because you are under huge debts doesn’t mean there’s no getting out of it. Just as because you have a bad credit doesn’t mean you cannot make a loan anymore.

People in bad credit usually borrow again in order to pay for their current debt. Theoretically speaking, this is simply adding fuel to the fire. But if you find a better rate than your previous one, your new loan may eventually save you. It is a misconception that people with bad credit history can no longer avail a mortgage or refinancing. It is understandable that there could be circumstances that may put you in a financial crisis. It could be that you are given excessive interest rates, or maybe your spouse or supplemental card holder is an obsessive compulsive buyer. It could also be that are facing bankruptcy. But whatever reason it is that you may have, you have every right to succumb to any means, at least just and legal, that might bail you out of deep financial trouble.

You don’t need to feel helpless for being in such position. There is always a solution to any problem and opportunities are just as countless. There are banks and lenders that specialize in giving second chances to bad credit. The look into your situation and provides you with better solutions that you may approve of.

However, here are some tips in treating your bad credit.

Refinance. You may avail of loans or remortgages even if you have bad credit. Finding a lending institution that specializes on this might be able to provide what you need. Refinancing or remortgaging might save you from your debt if you find one that offers a significantly lower rate than the first one.

Seek for expert advice. There are people who are trained and experienced in financial counseling. You will be amazed to hear about the different options that may help you out. Not only will they be helpful on that, but they will also uplift your spirit after feeling bad about your position. You may also contact your bank and tell them that you are having difficulty in paying them.

Spend less. As much as possible, avoid purchasing items that you don’t need. Luxurious items include entertainment gadgets, jewelries, clothes and expensive food. Cut on your daily consumption like turning off the refrigerator when you don’t have much stored in it. Also, avoid unnecessary services like going to a spa, parlor or having a homeroom service. If you can do chores by yourself, do them. Cutting on food could mean diet and doing household chores is an exercise.

Follow through your income and expenses. Compare and adjust whichever is more flexible. If you have already tried trimming down your expenses, get a second job.


How to Choose the Best Rewards Credit Card

Read the Fine Print

I know that you have heard this a million times but how many of you out there have actually read the fine print of your current credit card. The answer is very few. Reading the fine print on a credit card offer can save you money and headaches further down the track. So when choosing your next rewards credit card be sure to scroll through the fine print and examine all the pertinent facts before signing up.

How Much is the Annual Fee?

Some credit card providers will charge as much as $90 for an annual fee. Especially with frequent flyer membership programs. If it took you three years to save up for a free flight then that would equate to $270 in annual fee charges. With this amount you could pay for a discount airfare within Australia. So the moral of the story is to check out the annual fee and see if it is worth the benefits you will received from your rewards program.

When Do Your Points Expire?

With this topic we can revert back to the first point....Read the fine print. Find out when your points will expire. There have been many cases where Australians have been working hard to save up their rewards points only to find that they have expired by the time they have gone to redeem them. So once again read the fine print and be sure to understand the fundamentals of the credit card providers reward program.

Does Your Reward Card Have a Cap?

A rewards program cap means that credit card providers can sometimes place a limit on the amount rewards you can earn in a one year period. Be sure to find out if a rewards credit card places a cap on points and find out what that cap is.

There you have it a few quick tips in deciding what rewards credit card to choose.


Things to Know About a Student Credit Card

Financial needs of college students are unique. Credit card companies have taken a notice of this and come up with student credit cards. It has become much easier to acquire student credit cards than ever before. Many students get calls or e-mails from several credit card companies urging them to purchase their credit cards.

If you are a student and get such calls to buy a student card, you need to remember that it is easy to accept the offer, but it is important to be careful while selecting the best student credit card. Choosing the ideal student card is about evaluating your requirements and weighing those needs against the offers that credit cards companies are providing.

Also, keep in mind that cards are very different from standard credit cards. You cannot use them to buy every other thing. So, begin by managing your finances wisely.

Basic Differences between Student and Standard Credit Cards:

Credit card companies do not charge any annual fee for student credit cards. However, if you are applying for normal cards, you have to pay speculated charges each year as annual fees.

To obtain standard cards, you need to be employed and there is a minimum income criterion for it. Whereas, to acquire student cards, it is not at all necessary that you be employed and there is no such minimum wage criterion.

You do not need to bring someone as signatory in case of student credit cards but in standard credit, you have to provide a co signer. Apart from this, there are zero percent introductory fees on student credit cards and after this introductory tenure ends, you will have to pay minimum APR (Annual Percentage Revenue). However, standard credit cards come with some introductory fees and have a high APR.

Students can access as well as manage their accounts online, without paying any initial additional charges. An exactly opposite rule applies for standard credit cards. You also get gifts or rewards as cash back, points, if you use student credit cards.

After selecting the right student credit card, do not hit the nearby city mall and use your card to buy everything that appeals you. Unnecessary splurging is the easiest way to hamper your credit. Buy only what you need and make sure to pay off the bills on speculated time. This will avoid accruing of late payment charges.

Maintaining a List:

You need to keep a track of all the purchases you made using student credit cards. Maintain a list on the computer and when the bills arrive, compare the amount (on bills) with the amount in the list. See if it tallies or not, because occasionally companies charge customers with double the amount for a product. If this happens, contact your company immediately and inform them.

These are certain important aspects about student cards, which one needs to know while applying for any card.

By Tom Tessin

Credit Without Penalty - Monitoring Your Grace Period

Credit cards have a time period in which you can pay off your balance without being charged interest. This is called a grace period. The grace period on most cards is 25 days, while other cards have shorter grace periods. Pay attention to your grace period to avoid penalties, fees, and higher APR.

Some cards offer low interest rates, but have annual charges. Others have no annual charges, no fees for cash advances, yearly account summaries, purchase security, insurance protection plans, a 25-day grace period, credit up to $35 000 and fixed rates as low as 9.9%. This is one of the better deals to be found, and you can apply for these cards on a secure site. Other cards offer APR up to 14.9% and some have only a 20-day grace period.

When you are applying for major credit cards online, it is important to consider whether it offers a fixed rate APR. Unlike variable rate cards, interest on fixed rate cards rarely changes. If interest rates do change the card provider must let you know in advance. Variable rates cards can change rates at any time, and providers need not inform you of changes beforehand. You may also want to check out tier rate cards, though few companies offer this option.

It is important and a credit essential to understand and monitor your grace period, since this helps determine how much you will pay each month. You may make a purchase of $150 but if you carry a balance beyond your grace period, you will end up paying a lot more.

Many card providers calculate your APR every day. In this case, if your card has a 9.9% APR and your purchase is $150, you could pay $170 or more the following month by missing your grace period.

Go online and search for the best deals when applying for a credit card. Apply only with reputable companies, as many credit providers will scam their clients.

Not long ago several credit card companies were sued for illegally adding charges that they should not have. You must protect your self by investigating thoroughly before you sign agreements. Once you have your card, monitor your statements carefully. Even reputable companies will concoct evil plans to maximize their profits.

If you have a bad credit history be sure you watch the activities of your creditors. Your company is obligated to update your status with the credit bureaus twice a year. If you have made the necessary payments for six straight months your credit status should improve. Some companies, however, can be negligent in making their reports. Ensure that your good behavior is reported and rewarded. This is important when rebuilding your credit.

Only use your card when you need it, especially if you have bad credit. If possible, pay all of your bills on time. Use your credit card to avoid utility shut-offs, but if you have low-income status you may qualify for state support. Explore your options before using your credit card.


How to Get Out of the Credit Card Spiral

Once upon a time, before credit cards became available, we had to plan our spending and future expenses. To use all our money meant we had no holiday or no cash to see us through to next pay day. The ease of credit cards has made us sloppy and we no longer plan ahead because of it. Running out of cash no longer means running out of money -- after all you can go to the hole in the wall and draw some out. As a result we have become a nation of borrowers.

This easy access of credit has led us to forget about budgeting and only living for the day. When an 'unexpected' bill comes in such as an annual insurance we go into shock and reach for the credit card. But it really isn't unexpected at all we've just forgotten to do anything about it. So when unexpected bills do come in such as an emergency trip to the dentist the credit card once again takes a hammering.

How do we get out of this credit card spiral?

Start by setting up a budget and allowing for annual expenses. Anticipate emergency funds, allow for holidays and gifts. All your figures should be converted to a monthly figure.

Next open up an interest bearing account and set up an automatic transfer each month for the total monthly figure you have calculated.

Start a mini ledger and allow a column for each anticipated bill or expense. Enter the sum each month in the relative area. Sometimes your expense will need to be paid before there is enough showing in the ledger but there will hopefully be enough saved in the account to pay the bill. This should work unless you start your budget system at a time of extra heavy expenses.

If you receive an unexpected bonus pay this to the account setting up a new column for your dreams.

This method should make sure that you have enough for your annual expenses without groping for the credit card. BUT a word of warning: This account is for planned expenses and should not be considered a savings account. And remember that credit cards are a debt and not cash.

By Lyn Bell

What Are Charity Credit Cards?

If you're a person interested in supporting a non-profit charitable institution in your own little way, then perhaps getting a charity credit card will be best for you. With a charity card, you can support the charity of your choice at no extra cost and at the same time benefit from low interest rates. All you need is to just use your card when making purchases, that simple.

Giving to charity is a great way of helping people with special needs and organizations working for worthy causes. Somehow it gives you a feeling of fulfillment being able to give to noble causes in a very simple way and on a regular basis. You may not be able to personally visit the beneficiaries and officers involved but with a charity credit card, you can make a small donation that can go a long way.

Charity or affinity cards have been used by financial institutions for 20 years now to benefit non-profit organizations. This type of card bears the logo of the charity group but a philanthrophic in nature.

Charity credit cards work by taking a small percentage from your purchases, balance transfer or cash advances and donating them to charitable organizations. As long as you're using the card, a small portion of what you spend will be donated to charity. A typical donation rate is around 0.25 percent.

These cards usually carry an annual percentage rate (APR) from 15 to 22 percent. There are some, though, that offer lower rates. Many of them charge annual fees and provide lesser incentives compared to the regular miles or cashback rewards of other credit cards.

In the U.S., various charity cards exist most of them operated by MBNA. The cards have different categories depending on your choice - environmental, animal, health and gender among others. The most popular, though, are the American Express Red and the RSPCA card. The American Express Red is supporting the fight against poverty and disease in Africa and donates a maximum of 1.25 percent from your purchases. The RSPCA card, on the other hand, donates 0.25 percent to the animal charity.

There is also the Anne Geddes credit card that allots a portion of every $1 you spend to the Anne Geddes Philanthrophic Trust which focuses on child abuse prevention. The card implements a point scheme. Anne Geddes is a well known photographer who has a penchant for taking photos of babies.

You may also want to consider the Make-A-Wish credit card. This card donates $0.65 for every $1 you spend on the card. The Make-A-Wish Foundation is the largest international organization that grants the wishes of children suffering from life threatening illnesses.

If you're an environmentalist, the Ducks Unlimited World Points credit card may be ideal for you. Ducks Unlimited is a group that works to preserve land and nature. The card works two ways in that while it allows a user to earn reward points, it also donates a percentage of your purchases to this environment-friendly organization.

There are many other charity credit cards available that you can research on the web. Getting one of them is a good way to start your long desired and lifelong goal of regularly donating to your favorite charity.

By Gloria Smith