Credit Column

Whether you love it, hate it, or love hating it, credit is a part of our capitalist experience and one that is a double edged sword. Use it responsibly and you’ll discover that the leverage it provides can enrich your life considerably. Use it irresponsibly and you’ll discover that the leverage it provides can put you in a deep hole of debt that can take years to recover from.


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What You Need to Know about Applying for a Credit Card as a College Graduate

Visa Credit CardNow that you have graduated from college, it’s time to start considering how you will organize your finances. A credit card can help you build your credit history, making it easier for you to qualify for larger loans, like mortgages. On top of that, a good credit report can mean that you save money in insurance premiums and receive other financial benefits.

As your consider taking the next step in your financial life, here are some things you should know about applying for a credit card:

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8 People Who Can Access Your Credit Report

Credit fileSomewhere, in the vast reaches of the digital world, your credit report sits. Your credit file includes information about your address (and previous addresses), as well as a list of all your credit accounts and your payment histories with those accounts. Actual amounts of debt you have may be revealed. In some cases, employer information is included, although employment dates and salaries may not appear.

Not all of the information contained in your credit report is used to calculate your credit score, but the information in your credit report can still be of use to the people who are looking into your history. So, who can access your credit report, and why? You might be surprised at how many people are allowed to look at your credit file.

Here are 8 of those people who are allowed to take a peek at your credit history:

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5 Ways Credit Cards Could Be Messing Up Your Life

Credit Cards and Your LifeNormally, when we think of credit cards, we think of convenience. While we might think that they can lead to debt if not used responsibly, many of us mostly see them a financial tool.

With credit cards, it’s possible to earn rewards, as well as easily make payments without the need to carry cash around. But are credit cards too convenient? And could their use actually cause more damage than good?

Here are 5 ways that credit cards could actually be leading to a worse quality of life:

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How to Find the Right Credit Card Rewards Program for You

Credit CardOne of the best ways to put your purchases to work for you is to use a rewards credit card. There are a number of credit cards out there that can provide you with cash back, free travel, discounts, and even merchandise.

The key is figuring out which credit card rewards program is likely to work best in your circumstance.

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Should I Accept a Credit Line Increase?

I was talking with friends over the weekend when one of them asked me a question I’d, surprisingly, never saw before (I would also later see it on Reddit). My friend received a letter in the mail from his credit card company that “congratulated” him on his good credit behavior. It also increased his credit limit by about 25%. Nominally, it wasn’t a huge increase but it was a large enough number that my friend thought about it.

A little bit of background (self-reported, I only asked because I told him I was going to write a post about it) – he has no credit card debt, has pretty good credit, has a car loan and a mortgage. The letter he received wasn’t written in a way that asked him if he wanted the increase, it simply told him that it was increased. (in theory, he could call them and ask to have it reduced but the default was acceptance).

So should he accept it?

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Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard: $400 Cash Bonus

When was the last time you saw a credit card offer this rich a sign on bonus? It’s been many many years. While I’m not one for travel credit cards, I know there are a lot of folks out there who see a 40,000 bonus mile offer like that and begin salivating. It’s not common but Barclaycard is trying to make a splash and by offering 40,000 bonus miles after you make $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days, they’re certainly doing that.

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Discover it® Card Review

I’ve started seeing advertisements for a Discover it® Card and having never seen it before, I was curious what it was. Other than a different looking card, it’s actually not much different than their base Discover More card. If you recall, the Discover More card was as straightforward a card as they come – bonus cashback on rotating categories, no annual fee, and a few other little features that most credit cards offer.

So I was surprised when I saw the Discover it® card because I thought maybe there was something special. There is… kind of. The biggest draw of the card is that it offers an 18 month 0% APR balance transfer (3% fee) on top of the types of features you expect from a Discover card – no annual fee, no foreign transaction fee, and 5% cashback on rotating categories (first 1st quarter of 2013, it’s on restaurants and movies).

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CFPB Requires Credit Card Issuers to Refund Money to Consumers

Visa Credit CardThe Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is a relatively new government agency, but it is already taking names and busting heads. One of the more recent decisions made by the CFPB is to require some credit card issuers to refund money to consumers.

The CFPB points out that some of the marketing practices used by Capital One, Discover, and American Express deceived customers in terms of what they could expect from certain products. In some cases, consumers were misled into buying products or services. The result is that a total of $435 million in refunds is on the way to some customers.

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