Federal law provides specific rules that the card issuer must follow for promptly correcting billing errors. The card issuer will give you a statement describing these rules when you open the credit card account and, after that, at least once a year. In fact, many card issuers print a summary of your rights on each bill they send you.
What can you afford using your credit card
However, there are times when it might be wiser to use a credit card. For example, any time you make a purchase online, you should try to use a credit card. Why? If there ever is a case of someone stealing your credit card number and charging on it, you will usually only have to pay up to $50 of the stolen amount. If someone steals your debit card number and uses it, you will rarely get any of that money back. Some banks do offer theft protection on debit cards as a courtesy, but they are not legally obligated to refund the money stolen. It is up to the customer to close their account in order to stop withdrawals. Check with your bank to find out what their liability policy is on debit card theft. If you do use a credit card, you can always pay off your balance immediately and avoid ever paying any interest.
Take a good look at your Pre-Approved Credit Card Offers
Chances are you have received offers in the mail asking if you would like to open credit card accounts. Frequently, these offers say that you have been "pre-approved" for the card, with a line of credit already set aside for your use. Typically, these offers urge you to accept quickly, "before the offer expires." However, before accepting a credit card offer, understand the cards credit terms and compare costs of similar cards to get the features and terms you want.
May I obtain a U.S. issued credit card if I have an excellent credit history in another country?
Yes, you might be able to use your past excellent credit history to obtain a U.S. issued credit card. However, it will take some time and effort on your part. Many people come to the U.S. with a positive credit history. Normally, this credit history is not transferred to the U.S. As a result, when you apply for a credit card the creditor will not see your excellent credit history. They will then deny you credit based on the fact you supposedly have no credit history established. Getting a social security number is the first step you should take. You must have a social security number to get a U.S. issued credit card. Next, contact Experian, Equifax and TransUnion (the three major credit reporting bureaus) to see if they will transfer your excellent credit history from your home country. This usually does not happen, but in some cases it can. For example, TransUnion does transfer Canadian credit histories to the U.S. If you can get your credit history transferred, this will make it much easier for you to get a U.S. issued card. If you find that you cannot get your credit history transferred, you will have to start from scratch and build a new credit history in the U.S. You can look into applying for secured credit cards, bank-issued credit cards and other credit cards that can get you started. These cards may charge fees or high-interest rates, so be sure you understand all the terms before applying. Whenever possible, try to apply by phone. This way you can explain your situation in person and possibly get approved or denied on the phone. If denied, you can apply in writing and state in your letter application that you have an excellent credit history in another country. If possible, include a copy of your credit report with the application. The creditor may then be able to approve you after some investigation. If there has been no response in 30 days, contact the creditor to check on your application.
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.
Previous Balance. As the name suggests, this balance is simply the amount that you owed at the end of the previous billing period. Payments, credits, or new purchases made during the current billing period are not taken into account. Some creditors also exclude unpaid finance charges in computing this balance. If you do not understand how the balance on your account is computed, ask the card issuer. (An explanation of how the balance was determined must appear on the billing statements the card issuer provides you and on applications and pre-approved solicitations the card issuer may send you.)
Do you know if secured deposits earn interest? If so, what is the range and what does it depend on?
some secured credit card offers do include interest on your initial deposit. In addition, some of these secured credit cards also allow you to add more money to this deposit in order to collect more interest. However, these features do not apply to all secured credit card deposits. Your card application and terms should state whether or not the secured card you are applying for has this feature. The amount of interest is usually comparable to the amount of interest you?’d get with a savings account and varies with each card. The rate can also vary from month to month, so check with your credit issuer about the exact amount. While these secured credit cards may offer you interest accruing perks, these cards normally have annual fee requirements and higher interest rates on your balance owed. As a result, the interest you earn may not even cover the amount of interest and fees you owe back. Take the time to do the math on what a secured card will cost you and earn for you in reality. This could determine whether or not the secured credit card is a viable option for your financial future
Shopping Around for the Right Card
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.
Discover Student Card offers cash back bonuses that give you a certain percentage of all you charge back to you. Both these offers, like many others out there, benefit you much more than the credit card that gives you a free hat or keychain just for filling out an application. (Well, you cannot really compare apples and oranges. Keychains and free hats are given out by every card issuers advertising right outside of schools. These are not Rewards; these are free incentives just for filling an application. That same Chase Student card will also give out useless rewards, but it also gives Valuable Rewards like OnePass Miles).
Credit Protection Overseas
The Fair Credit Billing Act does apply to overseas purchases, which is one reason why you may choose to pay by credit card instead of cash or check. To dispute a charge under the Fair Credit Billing Act, you must write to your credit card issuer within sixty days of the postmark date of the bill on which the charge appeared. Complete instructions for disputing a charge are usually listed on your credit card bill.