NEWS 
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Dynamics Inc. Card 2.0: Multi-Use Secured Credit Cards

One of the biggest misconceptions about credit card security is that the sensitive information is located on the front of the card. While your card number, your name, and its expiration date are important bits of information, the magnetic strip contains that information and more. Dynamics Inc. has created a prototype of a card that would secure the magnetic strip of the card whenever you weren’t using it, requiring you to enter in a passcode before you could activate the card.

They’ve debuted two products:

  • Hidden: Ten of the 16 digits of your credit card number are printed on the card, with an additional six “hidden” on a display. After you enter in your special passcode, the remaining six digits are displayed. When the card is activated, the magnetic strip on the bag will populate with your data and it is erased when the unit is “off.”
  • MultiAccount: Instead of carrying two cards, you only need one. You select the card you want by pressing the button and the magnetic strip on the back is populated with the pertinent data.


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 Taxes 
5
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Deducting Credit Card Reward Donations

For years I’ve been accumulating reward points in Citi’s Thank You Network with my Citi mtvU credit card, usually turning them into student loan checks for ACS. With my student loans paid off and the conversion rate weaker (it used to be 2,500 point for $25, now it’s 3,300 for $25), I’ve been looking for an alternative in the gift card department. Unfortunately, none of the cards are really appealing and I thought we could convert the points into a charitable donation but I wasn’t sure how the deduction worked.

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 Personal Finance 
13
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How to Deal with Losing Your Wallet While Traveling

Costanza WalletAfter our inaugural Financial Contingency Plan series post, How to Recover From a Lost Wallet, a lot of you suggested I write an addendum to the post to cover the case where you lose your wallet while traveling. Whenever you’re traveling, one of the biggest headaches you can run into, besides an airline losing your luggage, is losing your wallet or having it stolen. It’s happens more than you like and while we loathe to think about it, a little pre-planning can make your life a lot easier later on.

The first step is to do everything I suggested in the first post and then, when you travel, make these arrangements.

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 Bank Deals 
2
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AT&T Universal Rewards $50 Bonus

AT&T Universal Savings and Rewards CardThis offer is no longer available.

The AT&T Universal Savings and Rewards Card was my very first credit card. I applied for it in my first week on campus at Carnegie Mellon University because I was offered a t-shirt, not because I was some credit savant building my credit history and carving out a good credit score.

One of the great benefits of the card was some free long distance minutes, which was crucial back in the days when I didn’t have a cell phone and had to call home with my dorm room phone. Nowadays, the benefits of owning the card have vastly improved, with a nice $50 statement credit after you make a mere $50 in purchases within 3 months and rewards points you can spend in the ThankYou Rewards Network.
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 Personal Finance 
15
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Don’t Change Yourself, Change Your Financial System

How old are you? Unless you’re under the age of 20 or 25, chances are you will not change.

I don’t care how much willpower you think you have, the vast majority of people will not change their habits once they’ve become an adult. This is why the government created rules to prevent cigarette companies from marketing to minors (Joe the Camel?).

In fact, your only chance of changing usually comes on the heels of a very “shocking” event. How many stories have you heard of people getting their finances on track because their brother’s house was foreclosed? How many people lose weight because their doctor warns of impending health problems? While I don’t wish a “shocking” event onto anyone, sometimes we all need one to get us back on course!

In the absence of a shock, what can you do to help your finances? Don’t try wholesale changes to yourself or the way you do things, change your financial “system” so that it works better with You. Below are a few ideas to help you do this.

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 Credit 
17
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Does Settling Credit Card Debt Hurt Your Credit Score?

Reader Dan told me a story of his friend who was considering settling an outstanding credit card debt but wasn’t sure of the credit score implications:
(Dan): my friend owes like $1100 on a credit card, and he had the balance for like two years and didn’t pay a dime, because he felt he was being taken advantage of
(Dan): well, he went to lease a car last weekend and found out the importance of credit
(Dan): he had bad credit and his new wife basically had none
(Dan): I told him step one would be to clear his balance
(Dan): he called just now, and he mentioned (in IM) something about them offering to settle for like, $700?
(Dan): does settling affect your credit score?

There are a few things going on here at once but in general, settling a debt will improve your credit score. It sounds counter-intuitive but it’ll make sense in a few sentences.

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 Credit 
34
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Cash Only Consumers Pay For Credit Card Rewards

Visa Signature CardI’ve been fortunate never to have fallen down the hole of credit card debt. For those that have, it’s a very difficult situation since lenders, of all types, make more money the longer you’re in debt. Credit card debt is especially dangerous because it’s so easy to accumulate and the interest rates are so high. Consider the hoops you need to jump through for a mortgage, which is backed by an actual home, and the requirements of a credit card seem almost comical.

When experts recommend debtors go cash only, I think it’s prudent advice. I think it’s important to recognize your weaknesses and only do things that improve your life. If you can’t use a credit card without falling into debt and paying double digit interest rates, don’t use them.
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 Personal Finance 
16
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How to Recover From a Stolen Credit Card

Lost Credit CardIf you’ve prepared for losing your wallet, recovering from losing just one credit card is actually quite simple. What’s not as simple is discovering when you’ve actually lost a single card. In our current age of electronic commerce, it’s very easy to “lose” your credit card without actually losing the card. Card skimmers can steal your credit card’s data without you ever knowing it. Ecommerce companies, with lax data security, can experience data breaches that result in your credit card data being stolen.

While credit card companies are becoming very savvy in detecting fraud, as they are on the hook for most of it, they can’t catch everything.

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