Banking 
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No-Penalty CD (Certificates of Deposit) Rates

Ally Bank was the first online bank to offer a no-penalty certificate of deposit and now it appears that the idea is catching on. Discover Bank will announce tomorrow that they are making their 12 month CD a no-penalty CD, where you can withdraw your funds should you involuntarily lose your job. All new and renewing account holders will get this benefit (existing account holders won’t, I assume because neither party can change the terms before maturity).

What is a No-Penalty CD? If you read my Certificate of Deposit Zoo post last week, then you’ll know that no-penalty CDs are ones where you can withdraw your deposit before the CD’s maturity date without any interest penalty. Normally a CD will charge you 3-6 months worth of interest to close it early, no-penalty CDs let you close your account.

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 Credit 
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Lowest Foreign Transaction Fee

In a couple months, my wife and I will be taking an extended vacation to Europe. It’ll be a fantastic trip, one we’ve been looking forward to for months, and with the dollar strengthening and the economy across the world weak, we figured we could take advantage of lower prices to get some traveling done.

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 Business 
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Best Business Credit Cards

My friend Matt started a business and wanted to know what the best business credit card was. I’ll list what I consider the best options below but in general here’s what I look for:

  • No annual fee: If you’re a startup, you want to keep costs as low as possible until you get your revenues up. Having to pay a hundred dollars a year, as little as that sounds, is a hundred dollars you can’t put back into your business to grow it as quickly as possible. Just as I wouldn’t get a consumer credit card with an annual fee, if I was a startup I’d avoid a card with an annual fee. Fortunately there are plenty of options.
  • Rewards: I look at rewards from two angles. First, I want to get better than 1% rewards or cash back in categories that I will be spending a lot in such as office supply, advertising, etc. Second, if I’m getting points, I want to ensure the reward catalog has products I would buy with my own money. I don’t want gift cards to chain restaurants I never visit. I don’t want electronics or DVDs I can buy for cheaper online.
  • Promotional APRs: Many businesses have been built on the shoulders of consumer credit card debt. I don’t advocate going into debt to start a business, but if you’re going to then it’s best to get a credit card that will give you 0% APY for six or twelve months on your purchases or balance transfers. These offers are becoming rarer because credit card companies are reducing their risk but they still exist.
  • Don’t use your consumer credit card: You can use a consumer credit card as a business card but be sure to use it only for business expenses (even this is suspect, depends on who you ask). If you don’t properly separate the two “worlds,” then you could run into liability issues down the road. Be sure to check with a business attorney or your accountant though.


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 Credit 
8
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Notifying Credit Cards of International Travel

My wife and I will be going to England to visit good friends of ours and so after researching the best international credit card, we settled on a Capital One card.

Now came the somewhat mind-numbing task of notifying our cards of international travel so that we wouldn’t get declined. The process for each was pretty straight forward but I’ve listed instructions for all the cards I called up. I imagine they all do pretty much the same thing but it’s always good to get concrete information.

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 Credit 
44
comments

0% Credit Cards: No Interest Purchases & Balance Transfers Offers

Smiling Girl, Happy with 0% Credit Cards0% credit cards are all the rage these days and this list will help you identify the best deals out there. Consumer spending is down, fears of a recession are up, and retailers are scrambling to entice regular people like you and me to enter their stores and buy more stuff. One group of companies you’ll also find lining up to offer you special offers is the credit card industry.

Credit card companies don’t necessarily want you to go into debt to them, though that doesn’t hurt their bottom line. They want you to keep on spending because they earn money on processing transactions. If you review the annual statements of any credit card issuer, most of the income they derive from credit cards comes in the form of data processing and service fees. So, in order to keep spending up as long as possible, more and more are offering great offers such as 0% APY for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers.

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 Credit 
56
comments

Best International Credit Card

This Thanksgiving, my wife and I will be heading to London, England, to visit good friends of ours who are working there. Given the recent economic unrest, it seems pretty foolish for us to try to play any games involving exchanging money so we’ll try to convert as little as possible directly, instead we’ll resort to using credit cards as much as possible so we orphan (leave in pounds sterling) as little cash as necessary.

When it comes to using credit cards abroad though, it’s gotten a little more complicated than your classic “foreign transaction fees.” It turns out that in addition to the issuers and banks charging you a fee, some merchants will add a “Dynamic Currency Conversion” fee on top of everything else. That can be as high as five percent!

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 Credit 
17
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Best Cash Back Reward Credit Cards

I’m often emailed by readers to list what I feel are the best reward credit cards currently available. I personally think that “best” is such a subjective term, the best set of reward credit cards really depends on your spending profile. If you spend a lot in a particular category, you’ll want to get the best card for that category and make sure it has a place in your wallet. If you don’t know what you spend a lot on, you might as well save yourself the hassle and get one that works in all scenarios.

The best cash back credit card is the one that maximizes your reward earnings and converts those rewards into cash or products that you would buy at a favorable exchange rate. Many cards offer high reward points on the front end and then effectively reduce your rewards by converting them at a horrible exchange rate when you redeem them. It’s important to look at both sides of the equation.

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 Credit 
2
comments

0% Balance Transfer Card Guide: 2008 Edition

0% Balance Transfer Offer EnvelopeThe reports of the death of 0% APY balance transfers are greatly exaggerated.

Many years ago, no fee 0% balance transfers were a dime a dozen. It would be difficult to find a credit card that didn’t offer a no fee 0% balance transfer as the cheap and easy credit flowed like wine at a Great Dionysia Festival. You couldn’t open your mailbox because it was stuffed full with special promotional offers from all your good friends at the major credit card companies.

The fee-free frenzy gave way to new terms like app-o-rama and balance transfer arbitrage. People would go on credit card application binges so that they could get as many cards as possible (an App-o-rama) just to take advantage of the balance transfer offer. It was not unheard of for someone to get $30,000 (and that’s just a conservative figure) in balance transfers just to put it in a high yield savings account earning 4-5% APY (that’s the arbitrage).

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