Credit Card News

Credit Card Application Guide

November 1st, 2009

credit card application guideMany people will head down to the local office of the banks or credit card companies when they want to apply for a credit card. If there is a long queue, they will have to wait in line for their turn to submit their applications. Alternatively, they can call up their customer service hotlines and request for an application form to be mail to their home addresses.

As more and more households have access to the Internet, these card issuers begin to offer online credit card applications. This method allows them reach a broader base of potential customers, especially the younger generation that is more computer savvy.

Since everything is computerized and automated, the processing of the application is usually much faster and more efficient. By simply clicking a button to bring up the application form, you can fill it up on your computer screen and then click another button to submit it. Unless there are issues with your credit history or errors on the form, you can expect to get your application approved in matter of days instead of weeks.

However, online security remains the primary concern for many Internet users. Contrary to belief, online application is actually very safe and secure. The card issuers spent huge amount of money each year to ensure that their computer system is secure and hackproof.

To have a safer experience, you should only make your online application from your personal computer. Avoid public places such as an Internet cafe. In fact, you should not be doing any high security transaction from any computer located in public places.

When filling out your credit card application, there are some important details that should be considered aside from your name and contact information like the query should you accept every offer or not, the possibility of hidden fees that can be quite expensive and the like

When you apply for a credit card no matter if it is online or through regular mail you have to fill in a series of personal information and answer a few questions. As with any other type of applications it is important to fill in all the spaces with accurate information especially since you sign the application and agree that the information submitted is true. Even if you fill in credit card applications online and you get approved it does not mean that you have instant access to the line of credit. But an application that is correctly filled in will definitely shorten the period of time from the moment you got approved and until you actually receive the money. If you fill in your credit card application online you should make sure the site is secure and you have a firewall. Remember you will be asked to provide personal information about yourself and your household, employers contact and others.

That credit card application can be found all over the Internet and at your local bank. The Internet is a good place to fill out an application for a credit card; however you need to be aware of the scams websites. If you want to be totally safe, you can go to your bank to see if they have available credit card you can apply for. When you find a company that has online bank, you can find applications for there credit cards through there website. The next time you want to apply for a credit card thats worth the time and can be explained about the charges, you should get one through a bank.

Bill My Parents: A Credit Card Alternative For Teens

April 20th, 2009

billmyparentsLooking for more secure credit card alternatives for your teen than a prepaid card like Facecard? After all, you still don’t have much control about how they use a Mastercard-branded piece of plastic when left on their own. Take a look at BillMyParents, a new payment method that gives you more control over your kids’ spending.

Kids getting credit cards is pretty scary, especially with the barrage of things they can do with it that are totally without your consent, from things as benign as getting expensive fashion wear to concerning activities like paying for a doctor consultation. BillMyParents looks to go around that, making it mandatory for parents to approve transactions before letting it go through.

The service is only starting and, as such, is very limited. At the moment, the only transaction available is buying products from Amazon. If it does roll out in a huge manner, though, and offers its services away from the web, it can be a game-changer.

How much better would you feel if every purchase your teenager did had to go through you? When they hit an upscale store, for instance, you’d get a notification on your cell phone that you’ll have to approve before the sale is closed. Same with purchases they try to make at the bookstore or any place else.

I have no doubt this thing will go beyond online shopping (as is BillMyParent’s current path) eventually, as the idea seems that good. BillMyParents (which is owned by San Diego-based company Socialwise) currently charges $0.50 per transaction – a totally acceptable fee in exchange for complete peace of mind.

Credit Card Payments With An iPhone

April 6th, 2009

iswipeYou’re either going with the flow or allowing yourself to be left behind – that’s really the gist of what’s happening right now in the world of technology.  The world of credit cards is no exception, with more and more people looking for more mobile ways of doing business.

A new iPhone app called iSwipe allows merchants to accept credit card payments with their mobile device, making it possible to process orders with nothing but your iPhone in tow.  The end result is nothing short of convenient.

When you’re out on a trade show, for instance, you can accept orders right on the show floor, without needing any extra equipment.  If you’re selling products door-to-door, you can similarly process payments right there and then.  No need to make a call to the office or wait until later in the day before you can process orders – all of it can happen right as the buyer decides.

You don’t need to think long and hard before figuring our how much this can benefit your business, especially if you’re a freelancer or a similarly small operation.  If you’re a consultant who relies on check payments from your clients, for example, you can now include credit card payment as an on-the-spot option.  If you run a party plan business like Tupperware – same thing.

The iSwipe employs the services of three common payment gateways to facilitate payment processing via the iPhone, namely Paypal, Authorize.net and CyberSource.  You can download it from the App Store to give it a try.

Citibank Now Charges Foreign Transaction Fees For Internet Transactions

April 1st, 2009

CitibankA word of warning to Citibank credit card holders: your no-tax internet shopping days may be over.  If recent reports are correct, Citibank is now charging foreign transaction fees to customers who use their cards over the web to order from international companies.

If you’re in the US and order shirts from a Hong Kong supplier, for instance, you’ll get slapped an automatic 3% foreign transaction fee, even when you’re billed in dollars.  Do you host your websites with a UK-based hosting company?  Your monthly hosting bills will now come with an additional 3% tacked on to it.  If you’re a Citi card holder, better check the address of the merchant you’re buying from before making any purchases online.  Otherwise, you could suffer through considerable charges.

Since many people shop online almost as much as they do in physical stores, that means a whole lot of credit card holders will end up affected by this change.  Can you imagine how much money the credit card issuer stands to make on this?

While I totally understand Citibank trying to recover their losses during these trying times, this is really a bad way of going about it.  I, for one, use my Citi card for a lot of recurring business-related international bills and have already begun using a different payment method.  Will Citibank make more money if I actually stop using their card, as well as thousands of other people who don’t appreciate a three percent tax?  I doubt they will.

Suze Orman’s Latest Advice: Pay Only The Minimum On Your Credit Cards

March 22nd, 2009

suzeormanFinancial guru Suze Orman has her own share of fans and critics alike.  However, her latest advice does sound a bit too much like it’s designed to bring out the ire of most other financial advisors.

While she used to advice credit card holders who keep large balances to try and pay down their debts as much as they can, she has now changed her tune.  According to Suze, it is now a priority to put your money in an emergency cash fund instead of using it to pay off your credit card debt.

Her advice about your credit card bills?  Pay only the minimum balance.  With the uncertainty of the current financial environment, Suze feels that everyone should realign their priorities towards preparing for the worst and the best way to ensure your readiness is to have a minimum eights months of spending money tucked away somewhere.

Credit card companies are about to fold.  At least, that is Suze’s theory.   Even if they don’t, she predicts more and more credit card companies will close customers’ accounts, reduce their credit limits or pretty much make their credit cards undependable within  the near future.  When they do, you’ll lose your sources of emergency spending in a heartbeat, leaving you out in the cold in case of an unforeseen exigency.

Many financial experts are up in arms over Suze’s new pronouncement.  Personally, I think the whole advice is a recipe for disaster.  She’s basically telling people to put their cash in accounts that can earn 2% interest, all while allowing their credit card balances to balloon by up to 20%.  Still, only the future knows what the future will bring.  Think long and hard before following advice, even if it is from such a well-known expert as Suze.

Always Read Your Account Statements: It’s For Your Own Protection

March 19th, 2009

creditcardthiefThis week, Australian police arrested several people involved in credit card theft.  The perpetrators allegedly stole credit card information off people from different countries via phishing sites (basically web pages that pretend to facilitate transactions yet only exist to gather your information), used them to buy luxury products (like electronics and tools) and sold the goods on Ebay.  Police believe the group is massive and has been in operation for years.

Since they practically got the products at no cost, the group sold them at slashed down prices, which allowed them to turn it over very fast.  Using the system, the crime ring has survived unscathed for a long time before being recently caught.

While this news happened just two days ago, the same story has been repeated so many times.  Not only do credit card scams exist, they are seriously rampant and can leave you victimized if you don’t watch out.  As such, you should exercise vigilance, always checking your credit card statements to see if there are transactions that you aren’t aware of.

In case you find any invalid entries in your statement, call the card company immediately and inform them of the fraud.  Even if it’s a $5 charge, always err on the side of caution when it comes to potential identity theft.  Believe me, the hassle of calling up your credit card issuer, requesting a new number and obtaining a new card are well worth the potential turmoil that awaits you if your account is really compromised.

Credit card fraud is a serious problem.  Take it seriously.

Help With My Credit, A Resource For Consumers

March 2nd, 2009

creditA new resource formed by leading credit card issuers and payment networks called Help With My Credit was recently launched, designed to assist consumers having trouble making their credit card payments.  Launched last week, the service offers a toll-free phone number (1-866-941-1030) that consumers can dial into to express their credit card concerns.

Depending on the counseling you need, you will be forwarded to either specially-trained customer service representatives from participating creditors or credit counseling agencies, who will provide the necessary assistance.  They also provide a website dubbed HelpWithMyCredit.org which details the goals of the service, along with specific advice to consumers about managing their debt.

That’s at least one good thing coming out of the whole economic mess: credit card companies actually reaching out to help consumers for a change.  Faced by the prospect of a large number of default accounts, they’ve finally wisened up and are finally getting the word out on how consumers may be helped.  I say it’s high time!

Currently involved in the program are credit card issuers Citi, Bank Of America, Capital One and Discover Card, along with payment networks Mastercard and Visa.  Three national non-profit credit counseling agencies are also participating in the initiative, namely Take Charge America, Money Management International, and Novadebt.

When consumers place a call to the toll-free line, operators will give them a choice whether to talk to a customer service representative from their card issuers or, if they prefer not to work with the banks directly, to a one of the three credit counseling agencies.  With the added help, banks are hoping that consumers will be able to better manage their debt as well as explore additional avenues of settling it.

noel Posted in Credit Card News

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American Express Now Regrets Issuing You All Those Cards

February 28th, 2009

111In what can only be described as a pretty desperate risk management directive, American Express is now offering customers $300 to pay off their balance and close their account by April 30th of this year. You read that right. They want you to pay your debt in full and cut the card. In exchange, you’ll get three a gift card with three Bejamins worth of spending power for your trouble.

With the economic downturn, more and more credit card holders are defaulting on their credit cards. If you carry multiple cards and keep running balances on each one, chances are now pretty good that you’ll end up defaulting on payments at some point. American Express is looking to nip that in the bud, hopefully, while you still have a source of income.

I’m not sure if this happened before but it does create a pretty odd situation. Put simply, they want to drive customers away. However, present circumstances have probably altered the definition of a high-risk customer and with the economy as it is, trying to prevent a disaster before it happens might be most prudent.

American Express appears to be sending the offer to all customers that fall into the above criteria – multiple cards with balances. If you’ve been looking to cut off some credit cards to better manage your finances, this actually sounds like a good offer, allowing you to keep a small amount of cash in the process. It could prove a disaster for your credit score, though. Remember, closing a line of credit can lower your score. Now, imagine closing two or three credit cards before the end of April – you can just imagine the possible repercussion.

Experian Closes Its Doors To Consumers

February 23rd, 2009

For a long time, consumers who wanted to improve their ability to secure a loan will work towards improving their scores with the three credit bureaus.   Since the bureaus offered access to the credit reports, people can take a look and see where they might have been getting a bad mark.

That may soon change as Experian, one of the three, has decided to cut off consumer access to their database.  Starting last Feb. 14, 2009, the company no longer has a standing agreement with FICO Score creator Fair Isaac Corp., which sold reports to end users based on Experian’s database.

With the severance of the agreement, Experian scores will now only be available to lenders and financial institutions who can use it to determine whether a consumer should be approved for a loan.  Of course, there’s still TransUnion and Equifax, both of whom maintain relatively the same information as Experian and will still be available.  Problem is, wouldn’t one credit bureau restricting access to its information provide a lead for the other two to follow suit?

If it does, that means an even tougher time getting loans for consumers who already have a difficult road ahead of them as it is.  How can you fix your credit rating, after all, when you have no idea what parts of it need fixing?

TransUnion, for its part at least, has made a statement that they will continue to provide access to their loan and payment records for consumers.  Hopefully, their position stays that way for a long time.

noel Posted in Credit Card News

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Citibank’s ThankYou Network And Their Expiring Reward Points

February 6th, 2009

While Citibank’s ThankYou Network brings with it many benefits, they have more than a few unattractive features that can really turn you off from using them as much as you want to.

The biggest beef, for me, is the need to continually take account of my accumulated points. Most of Citibank’s credit cards add an expiration date to points earned, which varies according to the specific terms and conditions of the particular account you own.

In exchange for the continued hassle of tracking your reward points, however, Citibank usually offers a better system for earning points. Unless you’re vigilantly keeping tabs on your rewards, though, they can all go away in an instant.

The second problem with the ThankYou Network is the redemption rate on the rewards points. Like other networks, the ratio usually gets better with the more points you’re going to redeem. Since the points expire, however, you can’t wait the few years that most average credit card users need in order to qualify for redeeming top-value items. As a result, many end up redeeming their points at rates that are frequently in the 50% to 70% range, instead of the ideal $1 for every $100 you spend, lest lose the privilege entirely.

In general, the ThankYou Network is a great rewards program for heavy credit card users who accumulate points fast and plenty.  If you’re not a heavy a credit card user, you might want to shop for a different issuer than Citibank or, at least, find a Citi offer with non-expiring points.