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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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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Will your holiday shopping affect your credit score?

Shopping CartI had an interesting question hit my inbox the other day – it was a little long so I won’t paste it here but the basic question was whether holiday shopping will have an effect on your credit score. The reader’s concern was that he’ll be doing a lot of his holiday spending on credit cards, in order to maximize his credit card rewards, and he plans on buying a house next year and doesn’t want to do anything to jeopardize his credit score. 1% rewards sounds great unless it costs you 1% on a mortgage!

My first inclination was to answer that there was no way your holiday shopping could affect your credit score… but it might actually affect your score.

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Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card Promotion: 50,000 Points for $2000 Spend in 3 Months

This offer is no longer available.

Southwest is easily one of my favorite airlines and so far even that allegiance hasn’t pushed me to sign up for their credit card. This latest offer might change my mind though because this latest promotional offer for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card is worth nearly $800 in Wanna Get Away Fares (that’s their cheapest option fares when you book online). $800 can get me almost five flights between Baltimore Washington International (BWI) and my parent’s house on Long Island (ISP).

The deal is this, apply for the card and then spend $2,000 in the first three months to receive 50,000 bonus points worth $800 in Wanna Get Away? fares. There is a $99 annual fee that is not waived for the first year, so you effectively get $701 in Wanna Get Away? fares but each year you renew you get 6,000 bonus points. Those points are worth $100 in fares so it’s a wash if you fly on Southwest (which would be the primary reason to get this card anyway).

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5 Credit Cards with Awesome Perks You Didn’t Know About

Credit CardBy now, many of us are well aware of most of the pros and cons associated with credit cards. Indeed, you are probably aware of common credit card perks, like rewards programs and even rental car collision coverage. However, there are some even lesser-known perks that come with various credit cards, depending on which card you get.

You might surprised at some of the awesome perks that are available to you, if you just pick the right credit card:

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