The major 2015 credit card change you need to know about

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Magnetic stripe credit cards are going to start getting phased out. Here’s what you need to know.   All that plastic in your wallet might look a little different come this time next year. That’s because by the end of 2015 a projected 70% of all U.S. credit cards and 41% of U.S. debit cards1 will come equipped with an embedded microchip based on the global “EMV” smartcard standard.   At this point, you might be wondering what exactly an “EMV smartcard” is, or why the U.S. is suddenly making the shift to this new credit card standard. And you’re probably wondering what this all means to you, anyway. So here’s everything you need to know about the upcoming nationwide shift to new credit card technology.   Meet EMV   EMV—which stands for Europay, … [Read more...]

Should I Transfer My Credit Card Balance to Another Credit Card?

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If you’ve been stuck on the credit card debt treadmill for a while, struggling to make anything more than the minimum monthly payments, you’re probably looking for a way out.   Maybe at some point this brilliant idea occurred to you (maybe it was in the middle of the night and it came to you in a dream and you shot straight up like they do on TV and said it aloud): “I know what I’ll do! I’ll pay off my credit card with another credit card.”   Yes, you can use one credit card to pay off your balance on another—though it isn’t all that simple and comes with a few caveats.   First thing: You can’t actually pay off credit debt with credit. Unfortunately, none of the major credit card issuers allow credit card debt payment by credit card.   And … [Read more...]

How to ask for a credit limit increase
(and make sure you get it)

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Ever since the financial crisis, credit issuers have become increasingly judicious about giving out credit limit increases. It wasn’t unheard of to be granted an astronomical increase to your credit line by merely asking.   Now issuers are being a little more thorough when processing requests for limit increases. There’s no surefire way of getting that credit limit increase you want, but there are steps you can take to give yourself the best chance of receiving one when you ask for it. This guide can help.   1. Ask yourself why   There are good and bad reasons for wanting a credit limit increase.   One good reason is wanting to improve your credit utilization ratio in the hopes of raising your FICO® Scores. If you have a $2,000 balance on a credit card … [Read more...]

Black Friday Shopping the Smart Way

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Another Black Friday is upon us. This year some retailers are electing to open their doors to the inaugural waves of holiday season shoppers as early as 6:00 am Thanksgiving morning. Don’t be surprised if in the near future the sheer gravitational force of Black Friday pulls the entire Gregorian calendar a full day ahead.   While every year the holiday shopping season seems to be getting an incremental head start on the holiday season itself, one thing always remains the same: if you want to make it to the new year with your financial health (and sanity) intact, you’ll have to be smart about how you shop.   Here’s your guide to smartly and safely navigating this year’s Black Friday landscape.   Shopping online? Shop safe. Good news! Getting the best … [Read more...]

Your holiday shopping credit card guide

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The end of Halloween can only mean one thing: It’s time to start thinking about holiday shopping. Sure, all the merriment and festivities are fun. But let’s be honest, the holidays also have a tendency to strain your budget, rack up credit and cause financial stress.     This year, try to do things differently. Plan ahead and optimize your spending. Having the right credit card for your shopping goals is a good place to start. Here are a few questions to ask yourself.     Do you already have credit card debt? Consolidate and pay cash. If you already have credit card debt that you’re struggling to pay off, then don’t even consider adding to the problem. It’s not worth it. Your goal this holiday season is to spend responsibly and stay in budget. Find … [Read more...]

The Home Depot Data Breach: 3 Things You Can Do Now to Protect Yourself

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As you have probably heard, Home Depot announced that their payment systems have been hacked, resulting in what might be one of the biggest data breaches yet. Between Target, Neiman Marcus, Goodwill and now this, it seems that hackers aren’t losing any speed nor audacity.   If the rise in breaches and identity theft hasn’t gotten your attention yet, it should. Every time you hear of a major data breach at a place where you shop, you should be taking steps to protect yourself. Here are three ways you can take action now.     1. Request a new credit card If you regularly use your credit card, it’s time to request another one. The service is usually free and this simple step can save you the pain of fraud resolution. Just make sure you have a backup payment method … [Read more...]

Paying Cash May Cost You More in the Long Run

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The NY Times recently featured an article that talked about Americans who are trying to make a conscious effort to use cash instead of plastic.  The catalyst for this paradigm shift isn’t driven by a need to conserve funds or to avoid finance charges as you might immediately suspect.  Some consumers are choosing cash over credit to insulate themselves from the risk of being a cyber-crook’s next victim.  It seems like a sensible solution on paper until you realize that misguided precautions along these lines are eventually going to hurt your credit score if you are too stringent in your new “cash only “payment habits.   Credit scoring is really a “use it or lose it” situation.  It’s important to remember to use your credit frequently even if you fully intend to pay off the … [Read more...]

Your Beginner’s Guide to Playing the Credit Card Game

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The credit card game is a little bit like a choose-your-own adventure. Do you want airline rewards? Take the path to your left. More interested in cash back? The door is behind you.  Sure you might meet some villains along the way, but there’s a treasure chest at the end.  If you act responsibly rather than impulsively, you can take advantage of some great rewards. To get you started, here’s a beginner’s play book.   Step 1: Choose your goal If you have credit card debt already, you’re best bet might be credit debt consolidation. Look for a card that has a lower interest rate than your current credit cards and that waives the balance transfer fee for the first few months. Consolidating your credit card debt can help you manage your monthly payments, save on interest rate costs … [Read more...]

5 Ways to Start Getting Out of Debt

Jeff Rose from Good Financial Cents shares five ways to start tackling your debt now:   … [Read more...]

A Diet for Your Debt

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Are you still feeling the impact of the holidays? That extra helping of turkey or that second or third cookie might have inspired you to make a resolution about losing weight.   But that's not the only place where we could use a little trimming. Our credit might also feel bloated and overweight after a Christmas season of extra spending. And when we get that credit card statement in the mail, it feels the same as adjusting your belt buckle – not good! So if you've been making a weight-related New Year's resolution, perhaps it's time to put your credit on a much-needed diet as well.   If your credit card statements are bulging, one of the first things you should do is make a plan to pay them off as quickly as possible. After all, failing to pay off your Christmas debt … [Read more...]

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