Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Barclays eyes Oyster credit card

A new contactless credit card combined with a London transport Oyster card, is to be launched by Barclays bankn.

It will combine standard chip-and-pin technology for credit card payments alongside that of the Oyster card.

But it will also allow customers to pay for low-cost items in shops without the card having to touch a reader or the user having to enter a pin number.

If the trial of the new cards is successful, they will be rolled out later in 2007 to Barclaycard customers.


The idea is that users will be able to use the "wave and pay" card to in shops with special new card readers, such as newsagents, pubs, and coffee bars, as well as car parks and vending machines.

The card owners will simply have to wave the card close to the reader and will not need to use either a signature or a 4-digit pin number.

Any transaction over £10, however, will still need a pin to verify it.

"In addition, users will on occassions be asked to enter a pin for purchasers below £10," said Barclaycard's Ian Barber.

"The system is chip and pin and uses the same technological protocols as a standard credit card."


Contactless chip cards have inspired security concerns, particularly with their use in official documents such as passports.

Some researchers claim already to have cracked the encryption used to safeguard the information on the chips to be used in US passports.

Mr Barber, however, said that the system Barclays was using - to standards established by credit card group Visa - was distinct from the US systems, and was secure.

Testing period

The trial will start with Barclays staff using the new cards and card readers inside their banks and other bank buildings. Visa Europe is helping organise the trial.

It will then be extended to a few shops such as certain coffee bars.

The trial will combine two distinct elements; one for the combined credit/Oyster card and the other for the contactless technology.

Mr Barber stressed that the Oyster and credit or debit accounts would still remain separate.

"If you tap the yellow Oyster pad at a tube station, to buy a ticket money will be deducted from the Oyster account," he said.

"But if you pay for a coffee and a newspaper in a shop that will come from your credit or debit account."

Exclusive deal

The bank is confident that the combined credit/Oyster card will be popular, particularly in London.

But it will be relying on the trials of the wave and pay option before deciding on a definite commercial launch which would have national appeal.

The bank has struck a deal to try out the new cards and contactless readers with TranSys, the company that runs the Oyster card system with Transport for London.

The deal gives it the exclusive right, for three years, to put Oyster cards on its Barclaycard credit cards and Barclays Connect debit cards.

Other banks and credit card issuers are expected to adopt the "wave and pay" technology in due course.

How To Get a Loan With Poor Credit

By Michael Louis

Poor credit loans are becoming more popular. Poor credit can happen to anyone. Maybe you need a poor credit loan because you missed a couple of payments on a prior loan, let your mortgage get in arrears, had a judgment against you or maybe even problems with your credit cards. Sometimes bad credit is due to circumstances that are out of your control, such as a divorce.

Until recently, a bad credit score would have made it close to impossible to get a loan. However, an increasing number of lenders are realizing bad credit is not the end of the world. Many lenders have come up with an array of secured poor credit loans.

A poor credit history does not necessarily mean you won’t be able to obtain a loan. In fact, homeowners are very likely to obtain a poor credit loan.

Poor credit loans are easy to apply for and can even be done online. Even with a low credit score and problems with prior loan payments, poor credit loans are available to homeowners. The equity in your house can be used to secure a poor credit loan.

Your credit score, also known as a FICO score, informs lenders what type of credit risk you are. A high score says that you pay your payments on time. However, a low score says you are at a greater risk for letting payments go unpaid.

Since credit scores mainly focus on the previous two years of your credit history, you can increase your score pretty quickly. Although it can take close to a year to see good results, it will be worth the wait.

If you are looking to increase your credit score there are some easy steps you can take. First, start by contacting the top three credit bureaus, TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. Analyze each report for both accurate and inaccurate information. Often, people will find simple mistakes on their credit report. Mistakes can unnecessarily lower your credit score and cost you more money in interest. Therefore, it is very important to make sure you report is correct.

After your have your report correct, begin making monthly payments on time. This alone will improve your credit score. A late payment will quickly knock down your credit score. Therefore, always pay your bills on time.

Next, take measures to decrease your debt. At least 50% of your credit should be unused. For example, if you have a $30,000 limit on your credit cards, you do not want more than $15,000 charged on them. In fact, the less that is owed, the higher your credit score.

Even though you have a bad credit score, there are still lenders out there willing to loan you money. Although there are steps you can take to increase your credit score, a loan may be needed in the meanwhile. Therefore, poor credit loans can be very useful.

Michael Louis is always on the look out for a good deal and enjoys sharing his secrets. Did you find these tips useful? You can learn more at All About Mortgages

Lower Your Rate By Refinancing Your Car Loan

By Kate Ross

Refinancing a car loan is the best thing to do for those eager to reduce the monthly payments that expensive car loans imply that sometimes force consumers to keep doing sacrifices every month in order to honor their obligations. By refinancing you can bring some ease to your budget and to your life.

Disadvantageous Car Loan Terms

Those closing on deals for people with bad credit seldom get good loan terms and instead usually have to suffer disadvantageous loan stipulations that turn car loans into very onerous transactions. That’s why refinancing is a good choice once you can improve your credit or once market conditions push interest rates downwards.

Bad credit car loans usually charge higher interest rates that can sometimes be close to abusive. Moreover, the repayment schedules are not so stretchy and thus, the monthly payments tend to also be higher than those of regular car loans. This means that the income requirements for bad credit car loans can be incredibly strict as compared to traditional car loans.

Effects Of Car Loan Refinancing

The main reason why someone would want to refinance a car loan is to obtain a lower interest rate and so, lower the monthly payments of the car loan. A single point reduction in the interest rate can save you hundreds of dollars over the year and thousands over the whole life of the car loan.

Nevertheless, you should be extremely careful as with any loan (and a refinance car loan is after all a loan), there are costs and charges associated with the approval process that need to be at least compensated with the reduction of the interest rate. Otherwise the refinancing looses the economic sense as you may be getting a lower rate but paying an overall higher price for the money due to the additional charges and administrative costs.

If there is a no-cost refinancing promotion, you should go for it since these are the best options. The rate may be a little higher than other offers but as long as it is lower than your current rate, you’ll be saving money and getting better loan terms. Besides, you won’t have to worry about additional costs and fees that can turn the refinancing process useless.

Another Reason For Refinancing

There is another reason why someone may want to refinance a car loan. Though you won’t always be able to get a lower rate by refinancing, you can still get lower monthly payments by playing with the loan extension. A new repayment program including a longer repayment schedule will provide you with lower monthly payments that can be easily afforded without hassles though the loan may turn out a little more expensive in the long run.

Kate Ross is a professional consultant with fifteen years in the financial field. She helps people in the process of securing personal loans, mortgage, refinance or consolidation loans and prevents consumers from falling into financial scams. Smart tips and interesting articles on this subject and other financial related topics can be found at

Car Loans After Bankruptcy? Is It Realistic?

By Kate Ross

Undoubtedly, it is possible to get a car loan after bankruptcy. But, how long do you have to wait before applying? What are your chances of getting approved? How can you boost your possibilities of obtaining your loan? All these questions are asked by those who have gone through a bankruptcy when contacting lenders. However, answering them is not that simple.

Advantages Of Car Loans After Bankruptcy

The secured nature of car loans contributes greatly to the approval process of applicants with past bankruptcies on their credit reports. The car to be purchased is used as collateral of the loan and in case of default; the lender can recover his money by forcing the sell of the vehicle so he can claim his investment from the purchase price.

Collateral greatly reduces the risk involved for the lender in the financial transaction and thus contributes to increase the chances of getting approved. The main reason why applicants with bankruptcy get rejected is because the risk they represent is too high. Thus, anything that reduces the risk, increases the likelihood of approval.

Requisites for Approval

One of the main requisites for approval when you’ve gone through a bankruptcy process is a suitable income to face the monthly payments on the loan. You need to be able to prove that you have a steady income by showing copies of paychecks or tax presentations if you are self employed. This requisite is very important and if you can’t show proof of a steady income, forget about obtaining a car loan after bankruptcy.

Also, even though it is obvious you won’t have a good credit score or history, there will still be credit requirements that you’ll need to meet in order to get approved. From the day your bankruptcy has been discharged on, your credit history must be impeccable. Any delinquency, even if it is a small one, would otherwise scare lenders away and compromise your chances of getting approved for your car loan after bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy Requirements

As regards to your bankruptcy, a prudential time must have passed since it was discharged in order to apply for any kind of loan. Most lenders will fix this period on two years and some lenders will raise it up to ten. Nevertheless, given that these loans are secured, it is possible to bypass this requirement provided that you have a suitable income. You’ll be required, however, to face higher interest rates due to the high risk involved in the transaction.

If you are still on a bankruptcy process, it is almost impossible to get approved for any kind of loan. Unless specifically authorized by the court due to exceptional reasons, you are not allowed to take loans during a bankruptcy process. Besides, it is impossible to think of a lender that would be willing to lend to someone being currently in bankruptcy

Kate Ross is a professional consultant with fifteen years in the financial field. She helps people in the process of securing personal loans, mortgage, refinance or consolidation loans and prevents consumers from falling into financial scams. Smart tips and interesting articles on this subject and other financial related topics can be found at

The Truth About Equity And Repossession

By Kate Ross

These questions are to be asked and need thorough explanations with many legal concepts that are beyond the nature of this article. However, we can clarify some concepts and explain the basics about equity and repossession so you are well informed when searching for a suitable loan for your budget.

Understanding Equity

Equity is the difference between the home value and the outstanding debt guaranteed by the property. A home with a value of $100,000 and a mortgage loan of $70,000 has still $30,000 worth of available equity. This ideal portion of the property’s value can be used as collateral for a home equity loan.

With only a few differences, home equity loans are almost exactly as home loans. They are secured loans which can be guaranteed by the same property as a home loan, they charge a fixed or variable rate that is usually low compared to other types of loans and also provide longer repayment programs that can last up to 15 or 20 years.

Understanding Repossession

Repossession is a legal action the lender is entitled to when a property is used as collateral for a loan. This action lets the lender claim his money by forcing the lender to surrender the property. A proper definition would be: Repossession is the legal process by which a borrower in default is deprived of their interest in a property. The process usually means the property is sold or auctioned off with the proceeds going to the lender.

Basically, the legal action is feasible only when the borrower has defaulted on the loan. As long as the monthly payments are made on time, the lender can’t do anything. Some other loan terms may trigger the availability of the action but these loan conditions are not usual.

The process provides the lender with an alternative method for recovering his money which reduces the risk of the transaction significantly with excellent consequences for the borrower: low interest rate, higher loan amounts, longer repayment programs, lower monthly payments, etc. The only risk being the possibility of loosing the property in case of default.

Difference With Home Loans

The only difference between repossession on home loans and on home equity loans is a matter of preference. Since the mortgage is logged first, in case of default, the mortgage loan lender is preferred over the home equity loan lender. Thus, the property is sold and the money is first used to repay the mortgage loan. Only after that is completed, the home equity loan lender can make use of the remaining money to recover his investment. And that’s the main reason why, though home equity loans carry very advantageous loan terms, they are still a bit inferior than home loan terms.


Kate Ross is a professional consultant with fifteen years in the financial field. She helps people in the process of securing personal loans, mortgage, refinance or consolidation loans and prevents consumers from falling into financial scams. Smart tips and interesting articles on this subject and other financial related topics can be found at

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Keep Away From Credit Card Debt!

By Sarah Dinkins

Each day, you are bombarded with credit card offers in your mail, and every time you are drowned in debt or in scarcity of finances, you are tempted by these offers. So, you end up applying for those credit cards, as you think that they will solve all your problems. When life seems difficult and unending debts mount-up on you, applying for credit cards seems the only option to help you out in paying back the loans. But to tell you the truth, you are at a fault, as in the process of enhancing your previous debts, and in the process to afford a luxurious life style; you end up drowning in credit card debt.

Being Wise

When you apply for credit cards, the most important thing that you have to remember is to use it wisely. Credit cards often make you to spend more on luxuries, and in return you land up in heavy debts.

You can avoid credit card debt by keeping an eye on your credit card report. It is advisable to make a note of all the transactions that you have made through your credit card. Maintain a record and make a habit. This can help you to keep a check on credit card frauds and other identity thefts.

Eliminating Debt

You can clear your credit card debts by clearing your initial debts first. If you want to stay away from credit card debts; analyze your financial position before hand to see if you are in the position to pay back the monthly payments on the credit cards. If you continue making your monthly payments on time, you will never get involved in any credit card debts.

Once you establish a payment plan to pay your credit card bills, stick with the payment scheme, until all the debt is paid off. If you want to avoid falling in the trap of credit card debt, you have to take a hard look at your finances. Analyze realistically if you can use them to make the monthly payments on your credit cards each month.

The best way to escape or avoid credit card debt is not to have credit cards at all! As soon as you apply for the credit cards you are enamored by their aura, and the services that you can avail by using them, and that is the basic reason why you land up in heavy debt.

In case you find it impossible to make the entire credit card monthly payment at once, you should at least try to pay back the amount that is in excess to the minimum due. And if you are knee-deep in debt, then you can tell your credit card company to lower your interest rate. Believe it or not, your request can really help you out in reducing your debts.

Sarah Dinkins is an Expert Loan Consultant at where she helps people to repair their credit and to get approved for home loans, unsecured personal loans, student loans, consolidation loans, car loans and other types of loans and financial products.

Low Mortgage Rate Hunting!

By Sarah Dinkins

If you want to find out all about the best mortgage rate in town there are certain easy guidelines for you. First things first: get hold of all the knowledge about mortgages you can. This has to be followed by a good round of shopping for the most competitive and best mortgage rates in town.

A Time Consuming Research

Now, this may sound quite easy. However, it is a very time consuming task and will take a lot of effort on yours. People generally come to think about their mortgages after every five years or so. Now-a-days, however, the mortgage market is constantly changing. It actually changes almost every month. This implies a lot of work for you (the average consumer). So, you better get up and hit the market for mortgages.

There is a wide range of best mortgage rates. There are a lot of factors which contribute to fixing the best home loans like the location of the home, your past credit history, etc. Even what day of the week it is will make a difference! You must look forward to bag the best bank rate, one that is most affordable and reliable. In short, the best mortgage rate money can buy. The data regarding the best mortgage rates will be helpful in spotting the info on the best loan for a homebuyer. In the old days, homebuyers hardly had a choice apart from coping with fixed pre-defined rates. However, the choices now are numerous, albeit more complex.

Let’s talk about the resources to secure the best mortgage rates as a homebuyer. You have a variety of loans, ample number of brokers, lenders, bankers, and finance companies to choose from. It will be wise to shift through the vast information to find mortgage and mortgage rate.

Different Loan Sources

You must have worked hard for that house of your dreams. However, simply finding that won’t do. You must not short-cut the process of seeking the best mortgage rates in town. Finding the best mortgage rates ensures peace, and break from stress. There can hardly be anything worse than accepting a high mortgage rate which you are unable to pay. The financial anxiety it implies is overwhelming and the home you worked hard for may also be lost.

Traditional fixed rate mortgages and adjustable rate mortgages are both a viable option. There are also graduated-payment mortgages for buyers anticipating a pay rise, graduated equity mortgages to quickly earn equity on the home, and shared appreciation mortgages for homebuyers planning to sell the home soon.

There is a wide range of mortgages: No Money down Special, Fixed ones for 30, 20, 15 and 10 years. Among the jumbo categories there are 30, 15 years Jumbo. 5/1 ARM and 3/1 ARM are available in the ARM categories. These categories are dependent on interest rate and points.

Your current bank is the usual place to start your search for the best rate. Enquire with institutions after having known their profile. Give them only the info that they need to pass on advice for the best mortgage rates. While direct lenders finally lend you the money directly, brokers offer flexibility as they can choose from a number of lenders. Research the market, be patient and think with a clear head.


Sarah Dinkins is an Expert Loan Consultant at where she helps people to repair their credit and to get approved for home loans, unsecured personal loans, student loans, consolidation loans, car loans and other types of loans and financial products.

Student Credit Cards – Merits and Demerits

By Jin Kim

Credit cards for students have both advantages and disadvantages. Parents and students should be aware of the pros and cons of student credit cards. Some of the merits and demerits of using a student credit card are discussed below.

Easy solution to cash crunch: If you are staying away from your parents or living in a boarding school or in hostel, the student credit card will be very helpful. It is an easy solution to an unexpected cash crunch and becomes invaluable in times of emergency. The credit card can make you more self-dependent and free from worry of funds. It is like all time money.

Put a limit on spending: Student credit cards generally have very low credit limits and this will place a restriction on the total spending, forcing the student to think and plan their expenses. It will make users/students understand budgeting and let them think what is necessary and how money can be spent judiciously.

Parents can monitor children’s expenditure: If the student credit card is opened on joint ownership between student and parents, the bill will come to both of them. This way parents can know what way their son/daughter is spending. If parents find any unnecessary expenses, they can guide their children accordingly. It will help both the parents and students.

Incentives: Student Credit card providers woo students with various lucrative offers like rebates, cash back etc on the things students buy most, like books, CDs and clothes. You can take advantages of these offers. Moreover, student cards usually have very low APRs and other fees.

Credit record: Student credit cards are great opportunities for students to start building a good credit history. If you use your card wisely then you will build up a credit history that will help you to secure loans and mortgages more easily in future life.

Safe shopping: A student credit card enables you to shop safely and securely online. It is easy to carry and there will be no fear of losing money or becoming a victim of theft if you carry a credit card to the market. Even if you lose your credit card somewhere, you can inform the card company immediately and that will be made invalid. Later you can ask the company to issue another card in your account.

Easy to obtain: The other advantages of student cards are that they are fairly easy to obtain. There are hundred of banks and lenders offering credit cards without any charge. Moreover, the card providers do not ask for credit history of the applicants. Simply apply and the card providers will do everything till you get the card at your place.

Credit card can put you under debt trap: If misused, the credit card can put you under debt trap. If you do not pay your balance, then you will be charged high levels of interest and quickly create debt for yourself. These rates on student credit cards are often higher than that on other credit cards, and can outweigh the discounts and benefits you get.

Over-spending: There is also the danger that you will just spend too much money, and put yourself into debt that will harm your credit rating rather than improve it. Once you come under the debt trap, it would be difficult to manage your finances and this would harm your studies as well as put an unnecessary burden on your normal personal life.

Therefore, if you think there is any chance that you will not be able to handle the responsibility associated with a credit card, then, probably a student credit card would not be the best idea for you. is a free online credit cards review and application website. We offer credit cards selection from visa, master cards, discover, american express and many others. We have quite some categories and hundreds of credit cards selection to fit your need. Apply for a student credit card at now.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Cahoot loan rate soars by a third

Clare Francis at

Cahoot, the Abbey-owned online bank that used to pride itself on offering competitive rates, will be charging loan customers nearly three times more than Bank rate from a week on Tuesday.

The bank enraged customers last week when it announced it was increasing the rate on its flexible loan from 9.4 per cent to 14.9 per cent on December 19, having already raised it from 9.1 per cent last Wednesday. Bank rate is currently 5 per cent.

Someone with a £5,000 loan paid back over three years, will see their monthly payments jump from £158.40 to £170.82, costing them an extra £149 a year, according to Uswitch, a price-comparison site.

James Alexander of Zopa, a lending site that cuts out the banks, said: “This is another classic example of the banks doing the dirty on their customers.”

Stuart Glendinning at Moneysupermarket, a comparison site, said the move showed the downsides of flexible loans. “Providers can up the rate at any time. This move from Cahoot serves as a reminder that people should read the small print before taking up any financial product.”

In its letter to customers, Cahoot does state that they can move to a different deal without penalty. Customers can apply for an Abbey loan with a typical rate of 5.8 per cent. There is no guarantee borrowers will get this rate, though, because it will depend on your credit score.

A survey of 11,000 loan applicants who used Moneysupermarket found only 48 per cent applying for the Abbey loan had been offered 5.8 per cent. The remainder had been offered 6 per cent to 9 per cent.

The number of personal loans below 6 per cent is dwindling. Northern Rock, Moneyback Bank and the AA have all recently increased their loan rates for new customers.

Nick White at Uswitch said: “People planning to take out a loan in the next few months should act now.”

Student loan threshold changes

Student loan holders will now be able to earn a little more before having to make repayments.

The Government has announced a change in the income threshold for New Zealand-based borrowers based on the annual movement in the Consumer Price Index.

Student loan holders will now have to begin making repayments once they earn $17,800 dollars, an increase of just over $700 on the previous sum.

Homeowners struggle with mortgage debt

By Rebecca O'Connor

The number of homeowners struggling to meet their mortgage repayments has risen for the fourth year running as house prices continue to grow, figures revealed today.

Reports of higher levels of household debt from the Bank of England came as the Government reported that house price inflation is continuing to strengthen. The annual rate of house price inflation went up in October, from 8 per cent to 8.6 per cent, according to the Department for Communities and Local Government.

There was a slight dip in the average house price in October, down from £198,552 in September to £197,987, but analyst said this was seasonal.

Meanwhile, the Bank of England's quarterly bulletin said that borrowers, especially those on low incomes with high levels of debt, are falling behind. Rising utility bills, unemployment and unexpected shocks such as divorce were also blamed for sending 7.7 percent of mortgage borrowers over the edge.

The figures will prompt fears that households are becomingly increasingly over-stretched as interest rate rises and higher utility bills begin to bite.

The number of repossessions almost doubled last year, from 4,620 in the first half of 2005 to 8,140 over the first six months of this year, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders.

The Bank of England also expects that the number of bankruptcies could rise, as attitudes towards bankruptcy begin to relax.

The bank said that the percentage of people who know someone who has declared bankruptcy has risen from 21 per cent to 24 per cent and that people who know a bankrupt person are more likely to consider it themselves. But only 3 per cent of households reporting debt problems admitted to considering bankruptcy or an individual voluntary arrangement.

The report found that debtors in rented accommodation are more likely to have difficulty repaying unsecured debts on personal loans and credit cards than homeowners with mortgages.

Bad Credit? How A Secured Credit Card Could Help You

By Joseph Kenny

Bad credit certainly can change the way you look at things, and the pinch of not being able to get the credit needed can make you more than a little frustrated. There may be, however, some help for you - in the form of a secured credit card. Here are some reasons why you may want to your secured credit card quickly.

Guaranteed Issue - Almost

Secured credit cards are not a great risk to the credit card company so they will issue them to just about anyone. The only thing that you need is to deposit the cash in a savings account to be able to cover the limits on the card. Some companies will require you to provide as much as 150% of the card limit, and others may ask for as little as 50%.

Building Credit

Using a secured credit card to build your credit can be very helpful. The key here, like any other credit card, is to make sure that you make the payments on time. You will want to see if the credit card company reports to at least one of the major credit bureaus. If they do not, then it cannot help your credit rating at all.

Fees Will Probably Be Applied

When you apply for your secured credit card, you will want to know exactly what fees are going to be applied to the account. Some people have reported fees so high that there was virtually no credit left on the card - even before they used it! There will also most likely be an annual fee, which could be a couple of hundred dollars, and a higher rate of interest.

The Main Thing To Remember

With this secured credit card you need to remember that its main purpose – in your case, is not to load it up with purchases as soon as possible. You are getting it in order to build your credit. This means you may only want to put a few small purchases on it and pay it off in full when the bill comes.

Some Things To Watch Out For

There are a number of secured credit card scams going on so you will most likely want to stick with the major credit card companies. Their fees will also be lower and you may even get most of your initial deposit back, possibly even with interest - as long as you pay your bills on time.

Another thing to watch out for is the requirement to call some 900 number in order to apply. From this type of call, you could be charged anywhere from a couple of dollars up to $50, and some of them even require you to make a second call - scam!

Be sure to compare secured credit card offers in order to find the best for your particular situation. Also, be sure to read the fine print before you apply. Some fees may apply just from the application process. By being wise, though, you can soon start to be on your way toward a solid financial standing, again.

Joe Kenny writes for, offering UK credit cards, visit them today to compare credit cards. Visit today:

Sunday, December 10, 2006

A Home Can Hatch Money For You: Homeowner Secured Personal Loans

By Amanda Thompson

A home is a place, where you reside in rest and spend the most peaceful hours of your life. It is always sweet for you as it provides you shelter. Now, have you ever thought that you can use your home for earning money? If not, believe it now. Because through homeowner secured personal loans, you can always avail money with the help of your home.

Actually, a secured loan is a kind of loan, where a person needs to place any of his assets as security for the loaned amount. This security could be in the form of borrower’s car, home, any valuable paper etc. Now, in homeowner secured personal loans, a borrower can only place his home as security. Here, borrowers avail loans against the equity of their home. But what does ‘equity’ mean? Actually, the word ‘equity’ implies the current market value of a home minus the outstanding mortgage balance amount of money.

Homeowner secured personal loans allow a borrower to borrow anything between £5000-₤75000. And the repayment period varies from 5-25 years, which is of course, a comfortable duration. Again, you can avail homeowner secured personal loans for any purpose and any reason. Be it the repairing of your home, buying a car or education of your child, you are always free to use it for anything you need.

Secured homeowner loans are open for all, irrespective of credit score and credit history. If you have a good credit score, you can use it. No problem if you have bad credit also. Because people having CCJs, IVAs, defaults, arrears, bankruptcy are also eligible for this loan. Moreover, by repaying the loaned amount in time, they can even get a chance to improve their credit score also. Of course, in such a case rate of interest tends to be slightly higher.

You can get homeowner secured loans from different sources. Banks, lending organizations, financial institutions to name a few. At the same time, you can access these loans from World Wide Web, which is perhaps the best of all other available sources. Through these method you can meet a number of online lenders, who are specialized in providing tips regarding homeowner secured personal loans. They will offer you several loan terms and quotes. Now, you have to select the lender, who will meet all your requirements with sound solutions.

Amanda Thompson holds a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from CPIT and has completed her master’s in Business Administration from IGNOU. She is working as financial consultant for chance for loans. To find Homeowner secured personal loans, Debtconsolidation loan, Cheap rates, Personal loans, Secured loans, Unsecured loan at cheap rates that best suits your needs visit

The Good And Bad News About Credit Card Debt

By Keith George

It's not just your card payments you have to keep up. These require minimum payments made by a certain date each month and should you be unable to make the minimum payment or if your check arrives late, you get smacked with a hefty fee – on top of the interest rates that you continually accrue on all unpaid balances.

If you have a balance, and most people do as the average credit card debt is now between 9 and 10 thousand dollars, make a plan to pay it off as quick as possible. Finding a solution to this problem requires you to not only develop a plan, but you need to stick to it. Always plan a budget according to your income and spend accordingly. If you have a problem with the plan a debt management agency can assist in making one that can work for you. On average, debt management agencies can reduce your monthly payments up to 60%, and help you become debt free within a few years.

Credit card debt consolidation loans help consumers to roll all their debts into one single loan. This leads to cutting down high interest rates and can make the loans tax-deductible. Debt consolidation loans are always beneficial for consumers who are reeling under the burden of credit card debt. Information on debt consolidation loans can be obtained by visiting credit card debt consolidation services and also online.

Having poor budget management and credit control will simply make your debt elimination strategies futile. Now you know why Credit Card Debt Management is essential. Every year, more than nine million debtors go to credit card debt management agencies to evade a financial crisis without filing for bankruptcy. Hence the need for credit card debt management for a larger section of population is gaining importance.

It also provide a history to financial institutions and banks who can decline any further issue of credit cards or refuse a loan to consolidate the debts. People do not always realise or think about it but keeping an outstanding credit card balance is one of the most expensive financial arrangements you could possibly subscribe to. There are certain things in life that you will wish to avoid if you want to have a secure financial present and future for your self and your family.

If you have the opportunity to transfer balances to lower-interest cards, go ahead and do it - but keep paying that $300 per month, and keep allocating it first to the highest rate cards. It works even better if you use the lowest interest rate loan available - 0% balance transfer credit cards. And while 0% balance transfer credit cards are a bit more scarce than they were two years ago, they do still exist - and they have been joined by other low interest balance transfer credit cards schemes.

Work out the fees and the interest of your entire current accounts to check on the final reimbursements you are making at the moment. Even without late fees, exceeding a 20 percent interest rate on your credit card debt is easy. With the late fees ($29+ for missing your payment or exceeding your maximum), the money you can pay out then progresses into loan shark territory.

If you have a home of your own you can apply for a Home Equity Loan or Mortgage Refinancing. Today, many mortgage lenders advertise their services online. When mortgage lenders compute your credit worthiness for real estate financing, they deduct points for unfavorable department store credit lines.

Also remember that debt negotiation really does work. Credit Card Debt Settlement/Debt Negotiation is something you could probably do by yourself, however in most cases hiring professional help is the best way to go. When you have saved enough money in the account, your debt negotiation company will contact your creditors and settle your debt.

Keith George always writes about valuable news & reviews. A related resource is Credit Card Debt Further information can be found at Tips & News

Beware of gift card scam

By Jim Harmening

My friend in Wales sent me a warning this week. I must admit, I usually don't read all of what Kelly sends, but this was a great warning, and I wanted to send it to all of you. It is about Christmas scams.

Gift card scam

Crooks have found a way to rob you of your gift card balance.

If you buy gift cards from a display rack, you may become a victim of theft. Crooks are now jotting down the card numbers in the store and then waiting for a few days before calling to see how much of a balance is on the card. Once they find the card has been "activated," they go online and start shopping.

You may want to purchase any gift cards from a customer service person. They give you gift cards that are not viewable to the public.

Shipping error scam

This one involves your credit card number being stolen and used at an online store. The scam is that the perpetrator actually sends the item to your house. Yes, you are sent the item that they are about to steal.

The thief calls up and says he is calling from a company. He is apologetic about an item being delivered by mistake and they want you to ship it back. They have an RMA number handy and an address. You don't even have to pay for shipping because they will send you a sticker so UPS or FedEx will come to your house and pick the item up.

You guessed it, they are shipping the item not back to the manufacturer, but to their house, P.O. Box, apartment, storefront, whatever.

The next month's bill comes and the item is still on it. You contact the credit card company and the vendor and they say that they shipped it and you received it. They know nothing about the RMA number or the address that you were sent. Crazy!

Out of stock

I want to rail on a few companies -- 42nd Street Photo in New York, for one, for not knowing that an item was out of stock when I tried to order it. Circuit City did the same thing to me and it was very upsetting.

You go through the entire process of ordering an item. It gives you a price and then when it is time for checkout and, in Circuit City's case, they wanted to backorder the items.

Nope! Not me! Cancel, cancel, cancel.

42nd Street Photo was even worse, I checked out, gave my credit card info and received a generic e-mail that said they were backordered and I had 24 to 48 hours to respond to the e-mail or they would continue my order. I copied my reply to myself so I would have proof that I canceled the order!

For those of you who are still not distressed enough to not shop online, I have some organizational tips for you. Though my wife, Nancy, has much better organizational skills, I have much better computer skills, so I get to do the typing/ordering. She just makes the lists.

You should always make sure they have a physical address and phone number on the Web site. If they aren't "real," then you might want to shop elsewhere. You might even try the phone number to see if a live person answers. If they don't answer, don't buy.

If they do answer, then you can make your online order. After your order is completed, make sure you print out the order form from the Web site. You also will have to put in an e-mail address. A confirmation e-mail is usually sent. Print it out too. Keep those in a file and pull them out when your items arrive! Cross check your credit card and make sure your items were received. If they haven't arrived and your credit card has been charged, you will need to contact the company and get shipping confirmation. Otherwise contact your credit card company to cancel the payment.

Next week: I didn't get to the Nintendo DS cheats -- maybe next week!

Jim Harmening is president of Computer Bits Inc., an Orland Park computer services company. Send questions to Jim in care of Mary Beth Sheehan at or at Personal responses are not always possible. Questions may be used in future columns.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Debt Consolidation Loans - When Debt and Bad Credit is No Longer a Problem

By Dirk Wagner

Debt is undeniably vicious once not managed carefully, yet bad credit is more vicious than debt especially if ignored completely.

One of the two 'wildest animals' in the world of finance could be a major threat for individuals who do not know how to handle their finances carefully. In fact, there are thousands of individuals in the United States alone who have lost their home and other valuable properties because of piles of debt and lost their creditor's confidence because of poor credit management.

In other words, debt and bad credit could destroy an individual's life financially.

Debt, as we all know, could be acquired through a series of unnecessary purchases, especially if you are using different forms of credit, such as credit cards and promissory notes. Since you are aware that you can still make purchases even in the absence of cash, the tendency is that you will ignore the amount that you will spend on buying several things. After all, you will be billed at the end of the month. At that time, probably you have sufficient cash to pay to your credit card providers. Such mentality paved the way to the accumulation of tons of debts until such time that they cannot get out of the mess that they have entered.

Bad credit eventually came from debt itself. Once you have defaulted on several debts, there is huge tendency that it would influence your credit ratings and eventually lead to a bad credit rating. Aside from debt, other factors that can tarnish your credit rating include existing mortgage arrears, county court judgments on a credit-related case, and others. In other words, possessing a bad credit rating means you have a lesser capability in terms of making repayment. That is one of the reasons why an individual with bad credit rating is having a hard time securing loans from different financial institutions.

Despite of the negative impacts of debts and bad credit on the financial life of an individual, there is still ways to repair your tarnished credit history and eventually pay all of your debts within a specific time frame.

And that is through securing a bad credit debt consolidation loan.

Swimming in a pool of debt or possessing a bad credit does not disqualify you from getting a debt consolidation loan. In fact, there are now debt consolidation firms that offer loans to help individuals with bad credit ratings, thus paving the way to the birth of bad credit debt consolidation loans. Aside from letting you borrow money to pay off your existing debts on easier terms, you will be provided with a wonderful opportunity of repairing your stained credit record by making monthly consolidated loan payments on time. Once you have succeeded in doing this, you will be able to improve your credit status while reducing your debts at the same time. That is why bad credit debt consolidation loans are considered to be as credit repair loans.

With bad credit debt consolidation loans, debts and bad credit is no longer a problem. You will be able to fix your tarnished credit rating while at the same time reducing the debts you have incurred.

The viciousness of the two 'wild animals' in the world of finance is reduced, thanks to the bad credit debt consolidation loan.

Dirk Wagner regularly writes informative reports on information much like debt consolidation. From his works, the author demonstrated his expertise on topics related to debt consolidation loans and credit repair.

How To Improve My Credit Rating

By Niall Mehaffey

Credit rating is something that many people have problems with and this is something that you should definitely be aware of as if you ever want to get a loan or new credit cards then you will need to have a good credit rating, there is no way around it. It also affects your interest rate on loans and can even affect some job applications.

Here are few ways for how to improve credit rating:

Keep your accounts in order - What do I mean by this? Simple, don't open a whole load of new accounts, instead, try to keep to as few as possible and try to resist the urge to open new ones regularly, if you have everything in order and not all over the place it will be much better.

Make payments on time, always. This is very important, you have to make the payments you are required to and make sure you make them on time, otherwise it will be reflected in your rating, if you are known for regularly not meeting payment deadlines, you will have less chance of being approved for new credit.

Your length of credit history is important. Think about this, two people want to get new credit, one has a history of five years and has been making payments on time and keeping everything in order, the other has a history of only one year and also has everything in order and payed, who is more than likely to be "trusted" in this situation? Obviously the person with the more history will be.

Don't apply for new credit with different accounts in a short amount of time. If you are opening new credit accounts within short periods of time, as in, you open three or four within a week, it will look as though you are jumping in ahead of yourself and may have problems in the future, so don't open new accounts in short periods of time.

Your debt amount. If you have a large amount of debt owed then it would be silly for companies to loan you even more money and so they more than likely won't, try your best to keep your debt as low as possible.

These are just a short few ways to improve credit rating, there are many other things you can do and I would suggest you look into these and keep yourself in a good position otherwise you might have big problems in the future.

Discover the secrets to having the best possible credit you can at: It is the definitive guide to credit!

You can Fly Your Flag with Sports Credit Cards

By Morgan Hamilton

Do you love to express your passion for sports? If you do, then you should consider getting sports credit cards. You see, credit card companies realized that sports could attract people to their credit cards. As a result, these companies decided to create sports credit cards that allow people to express their passion for sports.

You can now showcase your love for sports on your credit card. Sports credit cards have become one of the best selling credit cards because they showcase sports logos and themes which people are passionate about. These images are printed on the credit cards. You can show your support for your favorite sport or sports team every time you use your credit cards.

You can find a card for almost every sport imaginable. There are general sports credit cards like ones for Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League and the National Football League. You can also get credit cards for individual sports teams such as the New York Yankees or Dallas Cowboys. There are also sports credit cards that are dedicated to other sports like NASCAR, hunting and even the American Quarter Horse Association.

Some people sign up for sports credit cards because of the rewards they can get through reward programs. You can appreciate the unique rewards that sports credit card offer. For example, you earn rewards for every purchase you make with the NFL Extra Points card. You can also get NFL merchandise and tickets to special football camps as rewards.

You can also get the NASCAR Race Points card that offers a special incentive along with rewards. You will get a free NASCAR licensed chair after your first qualifying purchase and earn point rewards that can later be redeemed for a NASCAR experience. The Bass Pro Shops Outdoor Rewards card offer big rewards on merchandise purchased at Bass Pro Shops and other rewards for purchases made elsewhere. These are just some of the benefits that you can get by using sports credit cards.

Morgan Hamilton offers expert advice and great tips regarding all aspects concerning Sports Credit Cards, including assistance with Chase Credit Cards Online. Get the information you are seeking now by visiting

How To Avoid Credit Card Frauds And Scams For The Holidays

By JB Anthony

It is inevitable that as the season for giving – and shopping – is fast approaching, we find ourselves turning more and more to our credit cards for quick purchases. Credit cards are not only perfect for shopping in brick and mortar shopping centers but it is ideal for online shopping as well. With online shopping, you get to beat the holiday rush and you get to pick your choices from different shops with just a click of your mouse and without having to spend on gas and stilettos depreciation!

However, as shopping has become more technologically-advanced, so has fraud and theft too! And while we have pickpockets in stores, so too do we have identity theft in the online transactions and use of credit cards!

Identity theft and other fraud surrounding credit cards are inevitable. How ever, a wise credit card holder can always make identity theft and other fraudulent acts difficult to thieves, thus discouraging them to make the fraud.

Here are some practical tips on how to avoid credit card frauds during the Holidays.

1. Read about identity theft There’s nothing more powerful a tool than knowledge of what you are up against. Equip yourself with the latest weapon of know-how on how identity thieves operate and how they can get hold of your most private information: your credit card number. Reading about identity theft will make you aware of the gravity of this criminal act and on the dangers they present not only on your financial life through your credit cards but also in your personal life.

2. Secured Shopping Shop only on online stores and online merchants that require you to enter pin and passwords as you type in your credit card account number. Or, shop only on online merchants whom you have tried before and have certain security measures for their online shoppers.

3. Monitor credit reports and financial statements Always review and monitor credit reports of purchases you have made online and in actual brick and mortar store. If any suspicious transactions are made, clarify the matter immediately with your credit card company.

JB Anthony is the webmaster of To apply for your credit card online, to have your online application instantly approved, to search for your ideal credit card, or to read more about credit and debt management, please log on to

Store worker gets prison term for credit-card fraud

A former Camden County appliance store worker was sentenced to more than three years in prison yesterday for stealing 100 customer credit-card numbers, which he used to steal for himself, authorities said.

Jason Hughes, 23, of Gloucester Township, pleaded guilty in July to bank fraud charges. In addition to his 39-month prison sentence, Hughes will be required to pay $38,520 restitution to Commerce Bank, said Greg Reinert, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Hughes worked for Lakes Appliance in Gibbsboro when he downloaded the credit-card numbers from the company's computer, Reinert said.- Sam Wood - Apacs: Credit card users choose provider, not scheme

Consumers who compare credit cards and intend to apply for one do not make their choice based on the scheme but the provider, it has been claimed.

According to UK payments association Apacs, borrowers are not concerned about whether the card they choose has the Visa, Mastercard or American Express symbol - as long as it is contains one of them.

Apacs suggested that the credit card user only considers this aspect when it comes to paying, which they are able to do across the globe with any of these card schemes.

"If your card is obviously badged with one or the other it means that you can use the card worldwide," said Jemma Smith, a spokesperson for the financial organisation.

"I don't think anyone can honestly say that they take which badge is on the card into consideration when they apply for a credit card," she added.

Apacs' comments come as it was revealed that Maestro debit card holders who lost money in the collapse of savings club Farepak may not be able to claim their money back, whereas those who used a credit card to deposit money into the fund may be protected.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Health Grades plans credit card offering

Health Grades Inc. said Thursday it will introduce a co-branded credit card next year that will allow users to accumulate "health care points."

The Golden company (NASDAQ: HGRD), which rates hospitals, doctors and other health care providers, said the program will work similar to how someone using an airline-branded credit card can accumulate mileage points.

"This is a proven concept in other industries, but it's an absolutely new concept in health care," said Steven Wood, executive vice president of Health Grades.

Wood spoke during a conference call to investors.

He said a consumer using the credit card -- which could bear the brand of a hospital, health plan or medical practice -- could redeem health care points for discounts on prescriptions or lower co-payments, for example.

Wood said he was hired four months ago primarily to "create new things."

Health Grades, which operates online at, intends to increase visibility and industry awareness of the company in 2007.

To accomplish that, Health Grades will introduce a series of new products. New in the first quarter will be ratings of oncology centers and ambulatory surgery centers. The company in February will release its first-ever ranking of the 50 best hospitals in the United States. And in the second quarter Health Grades will release its first ratings of dialysis centers.

Mboweni slams credit-card binge

By Erika van der Merwe

Imagine the irony of blithely offering a central bank head a credit card, particularly at a time when he and his policy team are losing sleep over credit growth and household indebtedness.

It was an unamused Reserve Bank Governor Tito Mboweni who related the story of being offered a Voyager credit card while waiting for a flight; it seems that, like many other South Africans, he and his staff have been the target of banks’ and other institutions’ credit-card splurges.

Mboweni said that he had met with banking heads recently to discuss this “worrying trend” of the increasing availability of credit cards, and that the institutions appear to see nothing wrong with it.

He warned that if this rise in the availability of credit cards continued, the Reserve Bank may have to toughen up on its reserve requirements – the proportion of deposits that banks are not permitted to lend out.

“If moral suasion does not work, action will be taken,” he said. He refused to elaborate on the nature of the possible policy response.

Michael Power, strategist at Investec Asset Managers, says it seems the governor does not like using interest rates as his only policy tool and that he may well force banks to lift their cash ratios.

Besides, “the consumer cat is out of the bag and it is proving to be very difficult to get it back in”.

But Coronation Fund Managers’ financial sector specialist, Neville Chester, suggests that there is a more direct solution for the Reserve Bank’s concern about credit card extensions: it could increase the interest rate charged on credit cards.

A number of credit-card companies peg their interest rate at the level of the usury rate; this rate has not been adjusted this year, in spite of the 200 basis point worth of rate hikes implemented since June.

The Department of Trade and Industry sets the usury rate, which determines the maximum interest rate that financial services and retail companies can charge for credit. Micro-lenders are exempt from this rate, which will fall away with the implementation in June of the National Credit Act.

“It is no wonder that consumers are spending more,” Chester says; “the [interest rate] signal is simply not getting to consumers, which is part of the reason why we are not seeing a slowdown in consumer spending”.

One can argue that financial institutions are being given mixed signals about how they should be behaving in the lending market. While the Reserve Bank appears to be up in arms about credit growth, banks have signed the Financial Sector Charter, according to which they undertake to extend credit to a broader spectrum of South Africans.

“This is clear, for instance, from Abil’s numbers,” Chester says; “banks are attacking part of this micro-lender’s market by extending credit to lower income groups. ”

“Credit-card debt is a very attractive way to extend banking services to the lower end of the market, since this facility is cheaper than processing a personal loan application,” he says.

Listed banks lost ground on the comment by the Reserve Bank governor, on a day that the rand strengthened.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Air Deccan's `credit card masking system'

The first low-cost carrier, Air Deccan, has scored another first by introducing "credit card masking system" for customers who book tickets through its call centre to offer enhanced security.

With over 10 per cent of Air Deccan's total bookings being made through the call centre, the airline thought it fit to offer extended security. Instead of providing details of the credit card to the call centre agent, the customers can now make payments through the interactive voice response system (IVRS).

The IVRS would procure the credit card details without any manual intervention making the customer feel safe. Credit card holders in the country were known to be wary of providing details of their cards to intermediaries. The new system attempts to dispel their concern as credit card details are encrypted as soon as they are punched in, eliminating all security concerns, said a release from Air Deccan.

The airline began operations in August 2003 with one aircraft and the number of calls hitting the call centre a day averaged 500. At present, the calls have gone up to 25,000 on peak days with an average of 15,000 calls a day. The 276 employees at the call centre could manage to convert 70 per cent of the callers to passengers.

Air Deccan Managing Director G.R. Gopinath said, "Using cutting-edge technology, we have introduced a unique security system which will take e-commerce to a different level in the airline industry. Apart from giving a fillip to our call centre sales, the Credit Card Masking System will provide a 100 per cent secure booking environment for our passengers."

credit card scam

This one is pretty slick since they provide YOU with all the information, except the one piece they want.

Note, the callers do not ask for your card number; they already have it. This information is worth reading. By understanding how the VISA &MasterCard Telephone Credit Card Scam works, you'll be bet! ter prepared to protect yourself.

One of our employees was called on Wednesday from "VISA", and I was called on Thursday from "Master Card".

The scam works like this: Person calling says, "This is (name), and I'm calling from the Security and Fraud Department at VISA. My Badge number is 12460. Your card has been flagged for an unusual purchase pattern, and I'm calling to verify. This would be on your VISA card which was issued by (name of bank). Did you purchase an Anti-Telemarketing Device for $497.99 from a Marketing company based in Arizona?" When you say "No", the caller continues with, "Then we will be issuing a credit to your account. This is a company we have been watching and the charges range from $297 to $497, just under the $500 purchase pattern that flags most cards. Before your next statement, the credit will be sent to (gives you your address), ! is that correct?"

You say "yes". The caller continues - "I will be starting a Fraud investigation. If you have any questions, you should call the 1- 800 number listed on the back of your card (1-800-VISA) and ask for Secur ity.

You will need to refer to this Control Number. The caller then gives you a 6 digit number. "D o you need me to read it again?"

Here's the IMPORTANT part on how the scam works. The caller then says, "I need to verify you are in possession of your card". He'll ask you to "turn your card over and look for some numbers". There are 7 numbers; the first 4 are part of your card number, the next 3 are the security Numbers' that verify you are the possessor of the card. These are the numbers you sometimes use to make Internet purchases to prove you have the card. The caller will ask you to read the 3 numbers to him. After you tell the c! aller the 3 numbers, he'll say, "That is correct, I just needed to verify that the card has not been lost or stolen, and that you still have your card. Do you have any other qu estions?" After you say No, the caller then thanks you and states, "Don't hesitate to call back if you do", and hangs up.

You actually say very little, and they never ask for or tell you the Card number. But after we were called on Wednesday, we called back within 20 minutes to ask a question. Are we glad we did! The REAL VISA Security Department told us it was a scam and in the last 15 minutes a new purchase of $497.99 was charged to our card.

Long story - short - we made a real fraud report and closed the VISA account. VISA is reissuing us a new number. What the scammers want is the 3- digit PIN number on the back of the card. Don't give it to them. Instead, tell them you'll call VISA or Master card directly for verification of their conversation. The real VISA told us that they will never ask for anything on the card as they already know the information since they issued the card! If you give the scammers your 3 Digit PIN Number, you think you're receiving a credit. However, by the time you get your statement you'll see charges for purchases you didn't make, and by then it's almost too late and/or more difficult to actually file a fraud report.

What makes this more remarkable is that on Thursday, I got a call from a "Jason Richardson of Master Card" with a word-for-word repeat of the VISA scam. This time I didn't let him finish. I hung up! We filed a police report, as instructed by VISA! . The police said they are taking several of these reports daily! They also urged us to tell everybody we know that this scam is happening.

Please pass this on to all your family and friends. By informing each other, we protect each other

Top Ten List of Worst Credit Card Company Practices

By Walter Burch, Editor-In-Chief

The following list will come as no surprise to those who have felt the sting of credit card industry practices– or listened to cardholders as they tell horrifying tales of exorbitant rate hikes, hidden fees, indecipherable cardholder agreements, or “bait and switch” marketing offers.

However, it bears noting that, while the credit card industry has long been attacked for its aggressive marketing and usurious interest rates, the situation today has escalated to the boiling point, and many Americans see no way out. What is most disturbing of all, however, is the fact that the credit card companies continue to send the clear message that they simply don’t care about their customers.

This statement grossly understates the real tragedy: Not only do credit card companies show little concern for customers, but they rely more and more on the financial missteps, misfortunes, and even innocent changes in a consumer’s “risk profile” to trigger a growing number of “gotcha” fees and penalties that have become financially devastating to increasing numbers of cardholders. Of course, what’s tragic for the customer is very, very “good” – and very profitable for the credit card companies.

The bottom line: You need to know the truth about the majority of credit card companies. It is by design that they are located in states with little or no restrictions on how much interest they can legally charge you (Delaware, South Dakota, etc), and they have spent great sums of money in discovering legal loopholes to separate you from yours.

Despite all of this, credit cards can be useful to carry. They can help us track expenses, establish credit, demonstrate our credit worthiness to lenders, even provide us with a shield of protection in making purchases. However, considering the growing level of interest rates, crippling and confusing fees, penalties, and other anti-consumer practices employed by credit card companies – they can also destroy the financial futures of unsuspecting cardholders and their families. Know what you’re up against.

Cardholders, then, are urged to use credit cards sparingly, check credit card statements carefully, and pay them as soon as possible to avoid late fees and penalties. Also, take the time to carefully understand the fine print that is contained in credit card agreements, and be careful not to become trapped by one or more of the following credit card company ploys that have become more and more common in the credit card industry:

1. Universal Default Interest Rate Ladder –Your credit card company can double or even triple your interest rate due to a perceived change in your credit picture even if you have a perfect payment record with them. What’s more, your jacked up rate can apply to your entire balance, not just new charges moving forward. If you see an agreement with this clause, don’t accept the card – run! Take your business elsewhere if at all possible.

Chances are, you may already have a card with this clause, so beware! Your credit card company will periodically scan your credit report for one of several Universal Default triggers: Even a single late payment on another credit card, your mortgage, or utility (phone, gas, electric); Exceeding your credit limit on just one of your cards; A credit score that declines; Taking on a new home mortgage or auto loan; Having too much overall debt; or Simply applying for additional credit. When do most consumers discover Universal Default? When they get their credit card statement and begin to hyperventilate. By then, it’s too late, and the iron door has been slammed shut.

2. Outrageously High Interest Rates– There’s gotta be a law against pillaging. No, there is no federal limitation on the interest rate a credit card company can charge. There may be a law in the state where you live, but probably not in the state where your credit card company is located and that’s what counts. Eight of the top ten credit card companies are located in states with no cap on interest rates; the other two are located in Arizona (with a cap of 36%).

3. “Please Be Late” Policy - Late fees have become a cash cow for the credit card companies. So much of a cash cow that many companies now mail your statement as close to the due date as possible. If you receive it only ten days before it’s due, you better be on the ball or you’re headed for a juicy late fee. Beyond the day your payment arrives, many set a specific time of day when your payment must arrive. One minute late and you’re hit with another late fee. The reward for card companies: Late fees, which averaged about $13 in 1995, now average $34 as one bank after another has played follow the leader and jacked up their late penalty booty to stay sharp and competitive.

4. Two-Cycle (Double-Cycle) Billing- How would you like to be charged interest on debt you have already paid off? It can happen if your card comes with double-cycle billing. This confusing two-cycle average daily balance method calculates your charges by taking the sum of the average daily balance for two billing cycles. The first balance is for the current billing cycle, the second for the previous one.

5. Confounding Cardholder Agreements – Credit card issuers go to great lengths to carefully design cardholder agreements that few people can encode. The result: The true cost of a credit card, and its risks, are hidden from the consumer – until the statement arrives. If credit card companies insist it is necessary to accommodate risk by charging exorbitant rates and fees, do they also insist that they should be carefully hidden, hard to detect?

6. Pre-Approval Scheme – What this really means is you are not approved. You may be, but you aren’t yet. However, the word, “approved” has a nice ring to consumers so it’s the perfect way to offer a low interest rate card to folks who fall for the trick. Check out the fine print in the offer and you’ll find that if you “fail to qualify” for the rate offered, you can be issued another card. Beware, that substitute card may take you to the cleaners. Furthermore, it’s likely you received this offer because you have been carefully chosen, via “predictive modeling” as having the perfect credit profile for this “bait and switch.” You can opt out of most pre-approved credit card offers by calling 1-888-5OPTOUT.

7. Customer Service Nightmare – Apparently credit card companies have designed their customer service not to assist customers, but instead the maze-like system of waiting queues seems orchestrated to break the will and spirit of consumers to the point that we often “throw in the towel” convinced that we’re engaged in a frustrating, time-consuming, and hopeless pursuit.

8. How About a Raise? Credit card companies can raise your interest rate at any time, for any reason, upon 15 days notice. Check your mail.

9. Balance Transfer Fees – Here’s an offer you may want to refuse: Transfer your balance to a card with a low introductory rate. Beware of the tricky transaction fee for transferring that balance: Normally 3% to 5%.

10. You’re Over the Limit—It used to be that credit card transactions that put you over your credit limit would be denied. Today, the credit card companies are only too happy to approve them, and then sock you with over-limit fees up to $39. Pay especially close attention to this one. This is not a one-time over the limit fee. It will chase you, month after month, until you bring your balance below the limit.

What to Do When Your Credit Card Interest Rate Increases

BY Stephen Snyder

"I was just informed the interest rate on my credit card is jumping from 10% to 29%. I've never made a late payment. I called my bank and they told me it's because some of my other credit accounts were highly utilized."

That's exactly what happened to my friend Kyle recently.

Because he was close to his credit limits on unrelated accounts his bank legally jacked up his interest rate nearly 200%.

The practice is generally referred to as a "universal review." And more and more lenders are using this trick to fill their pockets at the expense of an unknowing public.

Kyle didn't have late payments with the credit card that raised his rates. In fact, he didn't have any late payments on any credit cards. However, his lender simply decided that because Kyle was using his other credit, he somehow became a greater credit risk to them—so they nearly tripled his interest rate.

This situation hasn't only happened to Kyle. You see, I have several friends that hold high positions within the banking industry. Here's a recent comment from one subscriber who works as a credit analyst for a major national bank. This information is so hush-hush he's asked us to keep his identity secret:

"...Everyday in my job as a credit analyst I see so many mistakes people make with their credit. You are right, most all lenders do a universal review, especially credit card companies. When we review a card member's credit bureau report (CBR) we are assessing risk to the bank and our goal is to reduce risk and exposure. When we find risk we either lower the credit line, increase the APR, or close the account. That is why account performance and utilization of revolving trades is so important..."

As you can see, Kyle's situation could have been worse. The lender could have closed the account or lowered his credit limit.

And the credit analyst went on to say...

"...A lot of times we are using old income information when making a decision. Usually, when we see something that doesn't fit the card member's profile, we will call to try and get updated information such as current income and reasons for recent delinquency on their credit reports or their account with us. If we can't get them on the phone the moment we call we have to make a decision with the information we have. And that information can be several years old. If the income we have on file is older than six months I can't use it and need to call. If I don't get the card member I have to make my decision right then—I can't wait as we review thousands of accounts a month. So it is in the card member's best interest to call the credit card company and give them updated income information and any explanation for delinquency or increased utilization."

So what do you do?

First of all, if this has not happened to you, I wouldn't get overly concerned just yet. Just be aware that nearly half of the credit card lenders do some sort of universal review and it's a growing trend. To be on the safe side, whenever your income increases you should call your credit card lenders and let them know—make sure they note it in your file.

If your credit card lender does conduct a universal review on you and you're negatively affected by their decision—here's what to do:

  • Contact your lender immediately and determine why the lender feels you're a greater credit risk...and then fix it, if it's fixable. It could be as simple as giving them updated income information.

  • If the lender's answers don't sit well with you, begin interviewing new lenders. Call and request credit card applications. To determine if a credit card lender uses universal review, do this: go to the disclosure form and find the headline "Other APRs," then look for the term "default rate." That should tell you what you need to know. And if you're comparing credit cards you already have, and cannot locate the original application you each lender and ask them for a copy of your application with your current account's terms and disclosures. You need to know your current terms, as they may not be the same as the original offer you received.

  • After you have compiled your list and found a lender that will give you acceptable terms and rates, contact your original lender and tell them you are considering closing the account.

  • Remember, before you begin this cat & mouse game, have a "Plan B" in place. Just make sure "Plan B" doesn't use the same or worse practices as your original lender.

    Just be aware of card tricks. Not all lenders use them (thank God), but be careful of the ones that do. Lenders have lowered the bar on their ethics. It's up to us to read the fine print and play their game.

    Bossier City resident accused in stolen checks, credit card case

    By Adam Kealoha Causey

    A Bossier City man was arrested today after police said he bought more than $4,000 worth of merchandise with stolen credit cards and checks.

    James Brett Harte, 37, was booked into the Bossier City Jail on forgery charges, among others, Bossier City spokesman Mark Natale said.

    Shreveport police had recently arrested Harte on unrelated charges, he said. They then discovered he looked like a man shown in video surveillance from stores on both sides of Red River using stolen checks and credit cards.

    The checks and credit cards were reported stolen Oct. 30 in conjunction with a carjacking. Bossier City officers asked for help in identifying a man who tried to use a check with a woman’s name on it at the Sears in Pierre Bossier Mall that day.

    The man tried to buy a plasma television, among other items. Sears personnel refused to accept the check, and the man left the store while the employee called police.

    Store personnel gave police the woman’s name printed on the check, and an investigation showed it is the name of an 81-year-old Shreveport woman.

    Bossier City and Shreveport police had been conducting a joint investigation.

    Eliminating Debt and Avoiding Bankruptcy - Debt Management

    By Johnathan T. Bakers

    Americans generally have one thing in common – debt. Were you expecting something else? Sadly, whatever plans we make or whatever we claim when we are in our youth, we manage to some how get into debt. For most people, especially applies to student type loans and credit cards. Yes, college somehow changes how we do things. Next thing you know you are married with some children, a hefty mortgage, car repayments and mountains of credit card type debts. It’s now time to eliminate credit card debt today. Of course you must be asking how this can be done, and get it done today? Well, hopefully you are a movie fan because ‘Heat’ isn’t so far from the truth. Eliminating credit card debt that way is foolhardy because jail is not where you want to go. Your interest would go even higher. Ouch!

    Yes, everyone wants to know the secret to getting rid of credit card debts the fastest way possible. That goes without saying. The question should be – how do we start? For some of you this will be a major challenge, but for me it’s simple. Frankly the most sensible thing to do right now is to evaluate how many cards you have and how much interest you are paying on them. Yes, write it down now! How miserable does it appear? Now you need to get onto the Internet.

    The Internet is a fantastic tool for searching and researching eliminating this type of debt permanently. So open up that search engine and let’s learn how to consolidate debt. You need to understand how to consolidate all those ugly balances into one much lower monthly repayment. The trump card is the interest, lower interest than you are currently dealing with. You may need to consider getting a loan or doing a transfer of your balances onto one single low interest card. The key is APR. High interest as you know is a killer. Why pay out more than you have to, right? This exercise is about getting rid of that debt now.

    The fact is that paying off this type of debt takes time. Fast is not necessarily fast, but a slower and necessary process. The important thing is to lower those payments. With the help of the Internet you can research the best ways to consolidate your credit card balances and avoid bankruptcy, maybe get some advice about debt management. No time like the present, so get to it!

    Johnathan Bakers often pens informative papers on areas relating with investing and debt relief. Recording his experience in detailed writings, the author improved his capability on problems relating to how to eliminate credit card debt and investing.