Lets face it, having credit is no longer a choice. Dont leave home without it is more like cant buy a home without it. Your credit now determines the neighborhood you live in, the kind of car you drive and, sometimes, even whether or not you get a particular job.
Credit cards are great financial tools and the convenience they provide is beyond question
They are easier to carry than cash and offer valuable consumer protection under federal law.
Establishing A Good Credit History
Suppose you havent financed a car loan, a computer or some other major purchase. How do you begin to establish credit?
First, consider applying for a credit card issued by a local store and use it responsibly. Ask if they report to a credit bureau, most major department stores do. If they do and if you pay your bills on time youll establish a good credit history.
Second, consider a secured credit card. A secured credit card requires that you open and maintain a bank account or other asset account at a financial institution as security for your line of credit. Your line of credit will be a percentage of your deposit, typically from 50 to 100 percent. Credit card application and processing fees are not uncommon for secured credit cards. In addition, secured credit cards usually carry higher interest rates than traditional no secured credit cards.
What To Do When You Are Denied A Credit Card
If youre turned down for a credit card, it is important that you ask why. It may be that you havent been at our current address or job long enough, or that your income doesnt meet the issuers criteria. As youll discover, different credit cards companies have different standards. But, if you are turned down by several companies, that may indicate that you are not ready for a credit card.
On the other hand, if youve been denied a credit card because of information supplied by a credit bureau, federal law requires the creditor to give you the name, address and telephone number of the bureau that supplied the information. If you contact that credit bureau within 60 days of receiving the denial, you are entitled to a free copy of your report.
It is extremely important that you dispute any inaccuracy with the credit bureau, but also with the company that furnished the information to the credit bureau. No one is going to make corrections on your behalf.
Credi-quette –The Miss Manners Guide To Proper Credit Card Handling
Once you get a card in the mail, sign it immediately so no one else can use it. Note that the accompanying papers have important information, such as customer service telephone numbers in case you have questions or your card is lost or stolen. File this information in a safe place one that is easy for you to access.
Call the card issuer to activate the card. Most cards come with stickers affixed that give you a telephone number to call. Many issuers require this step to minimize fraud and to give you additional information.
Keep your account information to yourself. Never give out a credit card number or expiration date over the phone unless you know who youre dealing with. A criminal can use this information to steal money from you, or even assume your credit identity.
Keep copies of sales slips and compare charges when your bill arrives. Promptly report in writing any questionable charges to the card issuer.
Dont lend your card to anyone, even a friend. Your credit privileges and history are too precious to risk.
Credit Card Land Mines Watch Your Step!
While a credit card makes it easy to buy something now and pay for it later, you can lose track of how much youve spent by the time the bill arrives if youre not careful. And if you dont pay your bill in full, youll probably have to pay finance charges on the unpaid balance. Whats more if you continue to charge while carrying an outstanding balance , your debt can snowball.
Before you know it, your minimum payment is only covering the interest. If you start having trouble repaying the debt, you could tarnish your credit report. And that can have a sizable impact on your life. When a negative report makes it more difficult to finance a car or home, get insurance or even get a job, it can be frustrating, embarrassing and downright painful.
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