When shopping for a credit card, you probably will want to look at other factors besides costs- such as whether the credit limit is high enough to meet your needs, how widely the card is accepted, and what services and features are available under the plan. You may be interested, for example, in "affinity cards" -- all-purpose credit cards that are sponsored by professional organizations, college alumni associations, and some members of the travel industry. Frequently, an affinity card issuer donates a portion of the annual fees or transaction charges to the sponsoring organization, or allows you to qualify for free travel or other bonuses.
What is "Grace Period"?
A free period -- also called a "grace period" -- allows you to avoid the finance charge by paying your current balance in full before the "due date" shown on your statement. Knowing whether a credit card plan gives you a free period is especially important if you plan to pay your account in full each month. If there is no free period, the card issuer will impose a finance charge from the date you use your credit card or from the date each credit card transaction is posted to your account. If your credit card plan allows a free period, the card issuer must mail your bill at least 14 days before your payment is due. This is to ensure that you have enough time to make your payment by the due date.
I'm a foreigner and need a credit card to establish credit. I have a Social Security number, but I?’m not a U.S. resident. Are there any cards that I may apply for and get approved?
There are many cards you can apply for, as long as you have a social security number. However, you may find it difficult to get approved because you do not have a credit history in the U.S. To start building a credit history in the U.S., you need to obtain credit from a credit card company or bank that reports to all three of the major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion). You might have to consider credit cards with higher interest rates, security deposits, lower credit balances or application fees. Read all the terms and conditions thoroughly to protect yourself from a card that will cause you more harm than good. If you have a checking or savings account, apply for your bank?’s credit card. They may approve you since you have a financial history with them. Also, they may add a stipulation that late or missed payments will be withdrawn automatically from your checking or savings account. Remember: always avoid any credit card offers that charge high fees. There are plenty of options out there to help you establish credit. You do not have to go into high debt to do so. Once you establish a positive credit history, you can then get approved for credit cards that cost you less and offer you more.
Annual Percentage Rate
All cards have an Annual Percentage Rate (APR) and many have an Annual Fee. The APR is what makes creditors money off your charges. For each penny you charge, interest accrues monthly until you pay that penny off. Cards can have APRs as low as 0% (although 0% is only offered during a short introductory period) and as high as 29%. It is up to you to know what the APR on your card is and whether or not it is a fixed rate, or if it can be changed at any time. You might only charge $20, but you will also owe your creditor the interest that accrues on that $20. However, if you pay off your complete balance by the due date, no interest will accrue.
some credit cards also have annual fees, which can run as high as $75-$100. Fortunately, the majority of credit card offers for students have an annual fee of $0. Think of it as membership fee, which is tacked onto your balance once a year just for having the credit card. You are expected to pay this fee, and it will collect interest as part of your balance owed. However, if you pay your balance owed by the due date, you will not have to pay any interest
Every credit card has a credit limit. It can be anywhere from a few hundred dollars to $250,000. There are even cards, such as the MBNA Quantum Card, that has a credit limit of $1 million. This limit is all you are allowed to spend. Once you charge the full limit on your card, your card can not be used until the balance is paid down some. The more you charge on your credit card, the higher your minimum monthly payment will be. Some cards do not prevent you from charging over your credit limit. If you do so, you will find your next monthly bill has over the limit fees added to your balance. You will then be required to pay the total amount over the limit and all the penalty fees in order to avoid even more over the limit fees the next billing cycle. (Change to: You will then be required to pay at least an amount you charged over credit limit and all the penalty fees, in order to avoid even more over the limit fees the next billing cycle) As you can see, your credit card bill could easily grow out of control if you get over the limit. The moral is, stay under your credit limit!
When should you turn a credit card offer down, and when should you accept?
For the new college student, it can be relatively easy to get a card. It will seem people are everywhere with offers. You will get offers in your mail box, and see VISA, MasterCard and Discover card tables at many school events. The solicitors at these tables will not only ask you to fill out quick and easy credit card applications, but they will also offer you free gifts and incentives just for doing so. The gifts are often yours to keep, even if you choose not to accept their credit card.
What is Consumers Liability for Unauthorized charges?
"If you have a problem with merchandise or services that you charged to a credit card, and you have made a good faith effort to work out the problem with the seller, you have the right to withhold from the card issuer payment for the merchandise or services. You can withhold payment up to the amount of credit outstanding for the purchase, plus any finance or related charges. If the card you used is a bank card, a travel and entertainment card, or another card not issued by the seller of the defective merchandise, you can withhold payment only if the purchase exceeded $50 and occurred in your home state or within 100 miles of your billing address. If these conditions do not apply to you, you may want to consider filing an action in small claims court -- an informal legal proceeding that can be used to settle disputes. While the maximum amounts that can be claimed or awarded differ from state to state, most small claims courts hear cases involving amounts ranging from $25 to $2,000. Some states have recently raised their limits to $5,000. Check Check your local telephone book under your municipal, county, or state government headings for small claims court listings. " * Shop around for credit card terms that are best for you. * Make sure you understand the terms of a credit card plan before you accept the card. Review the disclosures of terms and fees that must appear on credit-card offers you receive in the mail. * Pay bills promptly to keep finance charges as low as possible. * Keep copies of sales slips and promptly compare charges when your bills arrive. * Protect your credit cards and account numbers to prevent unauthorized use. Draw a line through blank spaces above the total when you sign receipts. Rip up or retain carbons. * Keep a list of your credit card numbers and the telephone numbers of each card issuer in a safe place in case your cards are lost or stolen.
Secured vs. Unsecured Cards
As a new college student you might be too busy finding your way around campus to worry about credit card management. But the sooner you learn the ins and outs of credit cards, the better. By the time you find your way to the campus post office and check your mail box, there will be plenty of approved credit card offers waiting just for you.
When should credit card payments be credited?
A card issuer must credit your account on the day the issuer receives your payment, unless the payment is not made according to the creditors requirements or the delay in crediting to your account does not result in a charge. To avoid delays that could result in finance charges, follow the card issuers instructions about where to send payments. Payments sent to other locations could delay getting credit for your payment for up to five days. If you lose your payment envelope, look on the billing statement for the address for payments or call the card issuer.