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Should You Apply for a USAA Credit Card?

Many people who are members of the military or armed forces are very familiar with the many banking services that are offered by USAA (United States Automobile Association). This company specializes in offering financial services to military members, as well as other groups.

They offer numerous special deals for credit cards that are intended to be useful for military families. Here are a few of the options that are offered, and a quick discussion of some of the advantages or disadvantages that you should be considering.

 

Are Cash Back Credit Cards a Good Option?

Cash back rewards credit cards are a popular option for nearly everyone who uses a credit card. USAA does have credit card offers that include cash back rewards. But, when compared with some of the other great cash back rewards cards, like Discover it® or the Capital One Quicksilver, the USAA options aren’t nearly as enticing. The cash back rewards are based on your yearly spending, and the rewards are not as robust as some other cards that offer a straight 1%, with 2% and even 5% bonus categories. For example, if you spend between $0-5000, you will receive a cash back reward of 0.45% for your yearly purchases, or up to $22.50. Not that great.

If you spend between $5,000-10,000, you will earn that same $22.50 plus 0.85% of all purchases once you exceed $5,000. This gets you up to a maximum of $65. With the same spending on a regular 1% cash back credit card, you would earn $100 on the same $10,000 of spending. While the percentage does begin to increase with higher spending ranges, you are still almost always going to be better off with one of the other major cash back credit cards. Even at the highest ranges, spending more than $17,000 per year, you will only earn $135 plus 1.25% of the purchases over $17,000.

All of the cash back cards offered by USAA operate under this same system, with spending tiers determining the cash back percentages that you can earn. While there are no annual fees, and they do offer 0% introductory APR until December 2014, in many cases you can do better elsewhere. Find a card that offers a straight percentage of at no less than 1%, and one with bonus categories is even better!

How About USAA Cards That Offer Rewards Points?

Most of the credit cards that are offered by USAA do offer rewards points. With no annual fee, these can be attractive to some. Choose between the USAA Rewards World MasterCard or the USAA Rewards American Express for the best options, which include earning one point for each dollar you spend, and the American Express version offers bonus double points when you spend money on gas or groceries.

The points that you earn can be redeemed for cash or merchandise, or even statement credit, and there is no cap involved, making the USAA rewards points cards a better option than the cash back variety. Until you earn more than 20,000 points, however, the redemption options are a bit slim because the point value is less than one cent per point. The value increases as the number of points you earn increases.

Redeeming points for gift cards or cash back is not as valuable as redeeming them for a cruise or other travel options, so choose carefully when you consider these cards. Unless you plan to do plenty of traveling, it might not be worth it to work toward the rewards when you can earn better options with many other cards. Unless you plan on earning tons of points, it will take a long time for you to get full value or a great deal from these points.

What Are the Perks to USAA Cards?

All this talk about the drawbacks should come with some mention of the perks that are offered. Because these cards are targeted toward military families, there are some benefits that may be extremely useful to those serving our country.

For example, if you are deployed and have a balance on your USAA credit card, you will qualify for a reduced APR for up to one full year. You will receive a rebate for the interest that you are charged during your deployment. And, there are no fees for any foreign transactions, making it possible to use the card worldwide without incurring any additional fees or charges. These perks make the cards attractive to those who face deployment, as the break on finance charges can be quite significant.

 

Special Offers From USAA

There are a few solid offers available from USAA, including the USAA Rate Advantage MasterCard, which offers an APR as low as 6.9%, with no annual fee. If your credit is poor, you may have to pay a higher APR, so read the fine print carefully before signing up. There are no cash back or points rewards offered with this card.

Link: USAA Rate Advantage MasterCard®

Another option, the USAA Secured Credit Card is a good option for those who do not have a credit score high enough to qualify for a regular card, but still wish to boost their credit score or recover from a period of bad credit. This card does have an annual fee of $35, which may be worth it if you need to bring your credit score up high enough to qualify for a traditional credit card.

 

Conclusion

Although the USAA credit cards may offer some specific benefits that are going to be attractive to active members of the military, with the lower interest during deployment or rebate of interest charged while deployed, there are definitely plenty of better options out there for most folks. Read the fine print, and, consider all of the options before choosing a card that does not hold up as well when it comes to cash back or points rewards.

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Should You Use a Credit Repair Service?

Does credit repair really work? Unfortunately, many of the ads that you will encounter will be for scams that can actually make your credit worse. Or, just take your money and give you nothing in return.

There are definitely credit repair companies that are reputable, though, and these may be able to help speed up the process for you as you try to repair bad credit. Sadly, there are no secrets to raising your credit score, it takes discipline and responsibility. But, in some cases you may be able to get some help in the process.

Does Credit Repair Work?

There are certain situations in which credit repair companies can actually be very helpful. For example, if there are errors or inaccuracies on your credit report, these companies know how to get them fixed, and can often save you tons of time and effort by knowing how to handle the situation. When there are errors that negatively affect your credit score, it is important to get them corrected as quickly as possible. This is where a credit repair company can help.

There are some strategies that credit repair companies do use to help boost your credit. For example, you may not realize that any information that is contained within your credit report must be verifiable. This means that if your credit report says you owe money to someone, that company should be able to verify it. If the company has gone out of business, then this information must be removed from your credit report, and a credit repair company can help verify all of the entries on your credit report, ensuring that they are accurate and verifiable.

Sometimes your lenders will be willing to consider working with the credit repair company to help you fix your credit. The credit repair company may be able to negotiate a deal for you, either lowering the amount that you owe, or maybe even just lowering the interest rate. Either will help with your debt, which can help boost your credit.

How Can You Find a Reputable Credit Repair Company?

Any time you are dealing with a credit company—especially a credit repair company—you want to ensure you are dealing with a highly reputable company. There are plenty of scams out there, just waiting to prey upon people who are desperate to improve their credit, and you don’t want to fall victim to these companies. You want to work with a company that has been in business for a long time, has good reviews, and, ideally, a money-back guarantee that ensures that they will help you improve or repair your credit.

Look for companies with good ratings from the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Also, companies that don’t charge you until after they have repaired your credit are certainly going to appear more legitimate and are probably more confident that they can help repair your credit.

Some Recommendations?

If you are looking for some good credit repair companies, here are a few that stand out in the crowd. All have good ratings from the BBB, and all have been in business for a long time. They also all offer money back guarantees, which can certainly make you feel more comfortable when dealing with them.

SkyBlue Credit Repair is a company that can help fix errors and dispute inaccuracies on your credit report. They have a great rating, and clear policies and guarantees. Affordable pricing, at $49 initial fee and $49 per month thereafter. Not a great choice for someone who has bad credit because they never paid their bills, but a great option for someone who had fraudulent activity on their credit report. Low cost and high ratings make this a solid choice.

Lexington Law has more than 20 years of experience helping consumers improve their credit reports and repair their credit. They can help with collections, legal issues, fraud and more. Although a bit pricier than SkyBlue, their credit repair plan is a little more comprehensive, too. Understanding the legal implications is a strength here, as well as the fact that they do not charge you until the services have been provided.

CreditRepair.com is another reputable company with a great rating from the BBB. Although there is no initial fee, their monthly fee is a little steeper than SkyBlue and Lexington, but they provide additional services like credit monitoring, which can be a big help as you work on repairing your credit. Because they are connected to TransUnion, one of the big three credit bureaus, you will be able to get your credit score and have it monitored, too.

Conclusion

There are many reasons why you might end up needing credit repair, whether you got into some financial hot water yourself or you were the victim of fraud or inaccuracies. Whatever the reason, should you find yourself considering credit repair, choose carefully to ensure that you are getting your money’s worth, and make sure that your credit score continues to rise and that your credit report is accurate!

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5 Tips to Help You Save Money on Car Insurance

Unfortunately, auto insurance is one of the necessities in life. In most states, automobile owners are required to carry certain amounts of coverage in order to operate their vehicles, and there is little choice in the matter. But, the good news is, you can definitely find some ways to save money on car insurance so at least you don’t end up paying more than is absolutely necessary.

Here are some of the easiest ways to save money on your car insurance.

Shop Around

Make sure that you are comparing rates from several different companies before settling on the one that has the best rates and options for your needs. Auto insurance rates are not standard, and different companies are going to charge different rates. You would be surprised to discover that some people can save up to $500 per year, just by switching to another company and keeping the same coverage amounts.

It definitely pays to comparison shop for car insurance! Just remember that going with a lesser-known insurance company may not be the best option, so as you compare rates, make sure you are at least comparing reputable insurance companies.

Consolidate Policies

Many insurance companies offer pretty hefty discounts (up to 10-20% in some cases), when you combine your auto policy with a homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy. Some health insurance companies even offer discounts when you consolidate your policies. You could end up saving big by doing this, so make sure you check into this option. If you find that you are paying less by keeping both policies with different companies, don’t get talked into consolidating—it is often a great solution, but there certainly are exceptions to this!

Ask For Discounts

Talk with your insurance agent about possible discounts. There are most likely some that you are not aware of. Your agent is definitely interested in keeping customers, so it is likely that they will work with you to have as many discounts applied as possible, so that you save money and are not tempted to shop around. Often there are safety discounts, multi-car discounts, discounts for taking online driving courses, even discounts that are related to shorter commutes. Check them all out, because, chances are, some will apply to you! Don’t assume that your current rate is the best you can do, see if there are any more discounts that your agent can apply to save you a few more bucks.

Check Your Coverage

Take some time to go over your current auto insurance policy and determine whether your coverages are where they need to be. Discuss what you need to have with your insurance agent, and check the rates for different deductibles or different levels of coverage. If you drive an older vehicle, or if you have paid the loan off, you may not want to carry collision coverage, since you may be less likely to have minor damage repaired.

Sometimes changing your deductible from $500 to $1000 can save you hundreds of dollars per year. Sure, if you have a claim, you will have to come up with the cash, but, for most people it makes more sense to keep that extra $500 in a savings account in case of emergency, instead of paying it to the insurance company. Not everyone needs to carry towing or roadside emergency coverage, either, so choose wisely if you want to keep more money in your pocket.

Also, choosing a car you can afford is important. Different cars are going to have different insurance rates. Do you really need that fancy sports car? If you do, then just be prepared to pay a lot more for your auto insurance. Buying a “sensible” vehicle, with a middle-of-the-road value is going to be much more affordable when it comes time to pay insurance. Be sure to check with your insurance agent regarding the rates before you purchase any vehicle, just so you know exactly what you are in for.

Fix Your Credit

Many insurance companies figure in your credit rating when determining the rates you will be required to pay. Simply put, those with better credit scores tend to be more responsible and, therefore, less likely to file a claim that will cost the insurance company money. Check your credit report to make sure everything is accurate before you apply for auto insurance, and, if your credit needs boosting then take the necessary steps to bring your score up. It will save you money! Being accountable and responsible will make you a better customer for the insurance company, and your rates will reflect that!

Conclusion

Most of us want to keep as much of our money in our pockets or bank accounts as possible. While paying for car insurance may not be a choice, you may be able to make some choices that help save you a few bucks (or a lot of money!). With most people trying to trim extra spending and save a little more, going over your auto insurance may be a great way to find a little extra in your budget!

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US Airways Credit Card Now Offers Free Checked Bag

As if the US Airways credit card from Barclays didn’t have enough great benefits, they are now offering cardholders the perk of being able to check up to three bags for free when traveling in First Class or Business Class! For any tickets that are issued on American Airlines flights on or after April 8, 2014, and any US Airways flights on or after April 23, 2014, passengers can now save on baggage checking fees.

For those US Airways MasterCard holders who have a card with an annual fee of $79 or more, the first bag will be free of charge for the cardmember—AND, up to four additional travel companions on any domestic US Airways flights, beginning on April 30, 2014.

This is a nice departure, so to speak, from the increasing baggage checking fees that we are seeing with nearly every airline.

 

Enjoy Great Perks From Barclays

Not only will you get to enjoy an introductory APR of 0% for the first 12 months on all of  balance transfers with the US Airways Dividend Miles MasterCard from Barclaycard, you will be eligible for tons of great travel rewards, too.

Earning free flights is a breeze, especially when you get a bonus of 40,000 miles after you make your first purchase or balance transfer using the card, if you qualify for the card with the $89 annual fee. For those who qualify for the card with the $49 annual fee, the bonus will be 15,000 miles after your first purchase or balance transfer.

Regular accrual of miles will come at a rate of one mile for every dollar you spend, and double miles on any US Airways purchase. With the ability to redeem awards once you have 20,000 miles in your account, this means a free ticket is right around the corner. Most travel cards require a balance of 25,000 before you can redeem for a ticket, so this is a nice extra perk! There is no limit to the number of miles you can earn each year.

Companion Certificates Available Every Year

Use the benefit of being able to buy up to two companion certificates per year for $99 each when you have the US Airways Dividend Miles card with the $89 annual fee. This adds up to a significant discount, if you get a ticket for free and your companion flies for $99! For those cardholders with the $49 version, you can get one companion certificate yearly, for $149.

Exclusive Privileges for Cardholders

The US Airways Dividend Miles card offers cardholders a number of exclusive benefits, including priority boarding options and one US Airways Club day pass each year to enjoy the luxurious airport facilities for the $89 annual fee cardholders. Both types of cardholders are eligible for a $75 credit toward an annual membership in the US Airways Club.

The Nitty Gritty

Here are the full marketing bullets for the US Airways card:

•Earn 40,000 bonus miles after your first purchase and payment of the $89 annual fee*
•First checked bag FREE on eligible bags for you and up to four companions on domestic US Airways operated flights
•One companion certificate good for up to 2 guests to travel with you on a US Airways operated flight at $99 each, plus taxes and fees
•Priority boarding Zone 2 on US Airways operated flights
•Redeem miles for award travel on US Airways and American Airlines booked through usairways.com or US Airways Reservations
•Earn miles on every purchase with 2 miles for every $1 you spend on US Airways and American Airlines purchases and 1 mile for every $1 on purchases everywhere else
•NEW! Receive a 25% savings on eligible US Airways and American Airlines in-flight purchases
•Please see terms and conditions for complete details

Conclusion

For frequent travelers, this card has numerous benefits, especially when it comes to earning miles during the first year, and being able to get deep discounts on companion certificates. The additional miles you can earn for making a balance transfer make this a great option for those looking to consolidate debt.

And because US Airways has merged with American Airlines and the US Airways card will inevitably be going away, now might be the best time to get your hands on this card!

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Are Mobile Payments the Way of the Future?

With a smart phone or tablet in the hands of nearly everyone you see, and the thousands of apps that are appearing every day, it seems like only a matter of time before interacting with real people becomes obsolete. Between texting, email and the plethora of apps that we use each day, our smart phones and tablets seem to be taking over.

Although this might be a problem when it comes to interpersonal communication, it really has become quite a benefit when it comes to staying organized, managing money and generally keeping track of one’s life. One thing that seems to be emerging as a strong positive for the digital world is the option of making digital payments to credit cards, banks, or online merchants. Whether at a physical store or while shopping online, paying for purchases without ever laying hands on bills or coins is becoming the norm.

New Habits are Forming

As people become more and more attached to their mobile devices, they are relying heavily on using them to access everything. From checking email and social media, to using scannable coupons and QR codes, to taking pictures of desired items in a physical retail location and then shopping online when they get home, smart phones and tablets are becoming something most people cannot imagine living without.

Online Payment Options Increase Convenience

Everybody is looking for convenience these days. If something can be made simpler, then it is very attractive. Making payments using your mobile phone or tablet, through an app, is something many people are interested in. With a couple clicks, you can easily transfer money or make payments to nearly anyone you do business with. Just about every bank has mobile apps now, as well as nearly every credit card company.

Major banks, such as Bank of America, Citibank and even many local banks are offering mobile banking apps for customers to track their accounts and make payments and transfers, right fro their mobile devices. Credit card companies, like Capital One, Discover and American Express offer mobile apps for the same types of transactions. For those who like to stay on top of their finances, mobile banking is truly a gift and a major convenience.

When you can make a payment to anyone, from anywhere, at any time, it becomes something that will definitely take hold. It is highly unlikely that the trend toward mobile banking and mobile payments will slow anytime soon.

Younger Generation Even More Likely to Use Mobile

Although digital technology technically knows no age limits, older adults (even those embracing technology) are more likely to continue to write the occasional check or use the customary electronic banking options offered through the internet, but the younger generations are becoming more and more connected to mobile devices, with some using only these devices to access the internet without even ever opening a laptop or firing up the desktop PC. Sales of paper checks are way down, because most people write only a few per month and rarely re-order them because they last so long.

Mobile Apps at Retail Locations

Many retail locations are taking advantage of this trend, like Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Home Depot, Walgreens and Best Buy allowing customers to take advantage of the ability to pay with a mobile phone online or even at a register, check for stock and make appointments for service. Even most of the main department and chain stores are getting on the bandwagon with mobile payments and apps, allowing customers the opportunity to shop, check stock, order and even make payments on their accounts or make payments for purchases, right from their mobile device.

The Way of the Future?

There is no reason to think that mobile apps are not going to continue to rise, with payment options and the other features offered, particularly as it relates to the younger demographic segments of the population. Anything that can make a transaction easier is going to be highly attractive, for both shoppers and merchants. As our world becomes more and more digital, mobile payments are only one way that people are going to be using their smart phones and tablets to take care of their business.

At this point, growth in this area is still new and the future is still a bit mysterious. Just think, who would have dreamed up the idea of smart phones only twenty years ago? Most people would have never believed the technology that would be available today. So, the answer to the question of whether or not mobile payments are the way of the future is a solid “Yes!” with the additional comments that it is only the beginning of the mobile generation and there are plenty more exciting things to come.

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Capital One Journey Student Card: Earn While You Learn

For students, there needs to be more to life planning than finding out what is happening this week around campus. If you’re in the “student” category, it’s important to be thinking about your credit and your future, while you are having fun (and hopefully getting a degree that gets you a great career).

With that said, having a credit card to use while you are in college can be handy, if you learn how to use it responsibly. The Capital One Journey Student credit card is designed for students who generally have average credit scores and light to moderate spending habits. There are many attractive features for students, and when you can earn cash back on all of your spending, you will have more in your pocket for spending on the weekends.

Earn 1% Cash Back on All Purchases

With the Capital One Journey Student credit card, you will earn 1% cash back rewards on all of your purchases. There is no limit (other than your credit limit) to how much you can spend to earn this cash back. There are no special categories, so use your Capital One Journey Student card wherever you use any other credit card. The cash back rewards never expire, so you can build them up over an extended period of time and save for something big, or you can opt to have them cashed in regularly for some extra dough.

Bonus Rewards

One of the really great things about the Capital One Journey Student credit card is that you earn an additional 25% cash back based on your cash back rewards for each month. This ends up netting you a full 1.25% cash back on all of your rewards. For students, this can be a great gift! It might not seem like a lot of money on a couple of purchases, but it certainly adds up over a couple of months and puts cash right back in your wallet, ready to spend on collegiate necessities or fun and games. You can use the cash back rewards as a credit on your account, or you can request that check be sent directly to you, whatever the current circumstances require in your situation.

No Annual Fee, Ever!

When you use the Capital One Journey Student card, you will never be charged an annual fee. Most credit cards do charge an annual fee for their use, but this one is free, all the time. All you are responsible for is paying off your purchases and any interest that accrues.

Reasonable APR

Although not the lowest around, the Capital One Journey Student credit card offers a competitive 19.8% APR on purchases and balance transfers. It’s true that you can find lower APRs, but not always with the cash back rewards, and it is certainly more of a challenge for students. This card is specifically designed with the college student in mind, ideally one that will keep balances paid off and avoid accruing high debt levels. After all, the student loans are going to leave you in enough debt, you don’t want to add any unnecessary credit card debt to that figure!

100% Coverage in Fraud Situations

Capital One offers top fraud protection, with 0% liability in the event of fraudulent transactions. If your credit card is lost or stolen, immediately report it and you will not be held liable for any unauthorized purchases that are made. This is certainly wonderful peace of mind when it comes to your credit, because you are at a point in your life when you need to be building it up—one instance of fraud can set you back years if you are not properly protected.

 

Verdict

This card is a great option for those college students who are looking to build up their credit history while earning some cash back on their purchases. Just as an example, if you spend $1000 per month on expenses, you will earn $10, with an extra $2.50 bonus cash back. After six months at this rate, you will have a cash back reward of $75. That’s enough to make a dent in your spending money, and well worth the investment for any student. Who wouldn’t take $75 for free?

Compare the options and you will find that the Capital One Journey Student card has everything you need and more. With additional perks like car rental insurance, 24-hour travel assistance, extended warranties and more, you will find that Capital One is clearly dedicated to making the lives of all of their customers, college students included, easier!

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Capital One Platinum Prestige: When Only the Best Will Do

Do you have excellent credit? Then you probably want (and probably deserve) a credit card that offers the best interest rates and most desirable features that you can get. The Capital One Platinum Prestige might be just the card you are looking for.

With low rates and excellent benefits available, this card offers those with top credit scores opportunities to save money. Although this card does not offer cash back or rewards programs, there are some great money saving features that are available to you.

Benefits

Save a Ton with Long Term 0% APR on Balance Transfers

By transferring balances from higher interest rate credit cards, you can save a bundle while paying off your credit card debts. Right now, you can get a 0% APR rate until May 2015! This low introductory APR lasts longer than many other introductory rates, allowing you an extended time to enjoy interest free options. After the introductory period ends, your interest rates will still be among the lowest and most competitive, ranging from 10.9-18.9, depending on your credit score and payment history, as well as the current prime rate at the time that the introductory rate ends. Now is a great time to consolidate your credit card debt and pay no interest for the next 15 months!

Save a Ton with Long Term 0% APR on Purchases

This great introductory 0% APR is not only valid on balance transfers, but on all purchases as well, meaning you pay no interest on your purchases. For those who pay off their balance each month, this may not be a big deal, but it can be a huge benefit for those who carry a balance and want to save money. Plus, with a 25-day grace period, you pay less interest after the introductory period ends, too.

No Annual Fees, Ever!

Those with great credit deserve great perks. One of the perks of having terrific credit is to be able to qualify for credit cards that have no annual fees. It costs you nothing to use the Capital One Platinum Prestige card, year after year. Many credit cards charge up to $89 per year for similar benefit packages, so this is an attractive option.

Low Balance Transfer Fees

When you transfer balances from other credit cards, you will be charged a low rate of 3% of the amount transferred. Compared to some other cards that offer 5% balance transfer fees, this can add up to a significant savings. For example, if you transfer $5,000 to the Capital One Platinum Prestige card, you will be charged only $150, compared to $250 if you were charged 5% by another card.

Extended Warranty Prestiges

When you make a purchase using your Capital One Platinum Prestige card, you are eligible for an extended warranty on items that do not carry a manufacturer’s warranty of at least one year. This means extra protection on the things most important to you, at no additional charge.

Capital One Rated Tops for Application Clarity

For the fourth year in a row, Capital One was ranked first in credit application clarity, earning a score of 100%, meaning the fine print contains no surprises and you can easily find out just what you are getting into and exactly what benefits you can enjoy. This is important when you are making decisions about your credit, keeping your score high is a priority—especially when you have worked so hard to achieve this top honor. You won’t have to worry about finding out after the fact that there are any hidden fees or restrictions when you use Capital One.

Protection From Fraud

With Capital One, you are protected from fraudulent use of your card 100%. You are not going to be held responsible for any fraudulent purchases made on your card. This is important in today’s world, with the many leaks and security breaches that are reported on what seems to be a weekly basis! No worries if your card is ever lost or stolen, Capital One has you covered.

Extra Benefits

With extra benefits like auto rental insurance and roadside assistance, Capital One stands out. Enjoy the convenience and security that comes with knowing you are protected and insured from accidental occurrences and emergencies.

Express Yourself!

With the Capital One Platinum Prestige card, you have the option of personalizing your credit card with a photo or image that makes it unique and entirely yours! There are plenty of great stock images to select from, or, if you prefer, it is simple to upload one of your own favorite photos to decorate your credit card.

If you have excellent credit and want to be treated well, then the Capital One Platinum Prestige card may be just the right card for your needs. Save money and enjoy the many benefits of having one of the top credit cards available.

 

Conclusion

This is a solid offering from Capital One for those looking to get out of debt or just enjoy no interest for a while! In addition, the low interest after the intro period ends definitely sets it apart from many other balance transfer cards.

However, for those looking for more out of their credit card, there are many other cards that offer the 0% intro APR and no annual fee benefit as well as rewards. Consider the Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard: Barclaycard® Rewards MasterCard® – Excellent Credit. In addition to offering 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for eighteen (18) months and no annual fee, you’ll get 2 points per dollar on gas, grocery, and utility purchases, as well as 1 point per dollar on everything else. If that isn’t enough, you’ll get 5,000 points upon making your first purchase with the card, with the opportunity to earn 5,000 more after spending $750 in the first 3 months. Talk about benefits!

That said, it’s worth looking into other cards if you’re wanting to earn rewards on your spending. It all depends on what suits your individual spending habits and goals.

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What’s a Good Credit Score?

Having a good credit score can unlock many doors for you, but knowing what qualifies as a “good” or “great” credit score is the first step toward having good credit health! There are many factors that go into the calculation of your three-digit credit score, and that number is very powerful for you, financially. So, take the time to learn what a good credit score is, and find out ways to get one for yourself!

 

 

A Wide Range from Low to High

A credit score can range from 300-850, with 850 being the high end and what you want to strive for. Excellent credit is no joke, and you will find that when you are in the “excellent” range, which is generally considered to be 750-800, or “very good” (being 700-749), you will get approved for the best rates for loans, credit cards and any other types of financing, as it will be obvious to any lenders that you are going to pay your debts in full and on time. For the most part, you are highly likely to be approved for credit or a loan with a credit score of 700 or above.

A “good” credit score is considered anything in the 650-699 range, and “fair” would be 600-649. Anything below “fair” will make it challenging to obtain financing or a loan for anything, without paying exorbitant interest rates. Banks and other lenders charge higher rates, because chances are that you have the lower credit score because you have not paid something in full or made payments on time in the past and they are risking their money by lending it to you.

Determining your credit score requires a complex formula. Your credit score is affected by the amount of available credit that you have, the amount of money that you owe, how regularly you make your payments on time, whether you have ever defaulted or stopped paying on a loan or account, and the length of time that you have had the various accounts—as well as some other factors.

How to Find Out What Your Credit Score Is

Finding out what your credit score is can be a very simple process. There are many online companies that will offer you a free or very low cost credit report. Since there are three major credit score companies, Experian, TransUnion and Equifax, you want to get scores from all three whenever possible. They may vary by a considerable amount, because sometimes certain things are not reported to all three—things that may or may not be in your favor, credit-wise.

What to Do When You Discover Credit Problems

Once you get your credit report and you know where you stand, you may be shocked to discover that you have credit problems that you didn’t know about (or perhaps you didn’t realize how bad your credit actually was). Don’t despair—there are steps that you can take to improve your credit and, hopefully, get it into the range of “good” or even better before too long.

If you have never had a bankruptcy or foreclosure, then you have a better chance of repairing your credit. Those who have had serious credit problems such as those are facing bigger, longer battles—but they can still be overcome! The first thing that you need to do is carefully review your credit report and verifying that everything listed on there is accurate. Should you find that there are things on your credit report or in your credit history that are in error, you want to contact the lender listed immediately and try to correct the information.

Monitoring Your Credit Score

Once you know what your credit score is and you begin to take the steps required to improve it (basically start paying off debt, especially old or overdue debt), you want to monitor your credit score periodically to ensure it is improving. Many of the same online resources that are available to give you a low-cost or free credit report will offer you low-cost credit score monitoring, with monthly updates regarding your credit score so that you can keep careful track.

Part of being financially healthy and financially responsible means knowing what your credit score is and understanding how that affects your ability to obtain financing or credit in various situations. Striving for a terrific credit score should be a priority, whether you want to consider buying a new car, financing a large purchase (electronics, furniture, vacation, etc.), obtaining a new credit card or even making the purchase of your first home. The better your credit is, the lower your interest rate will be—and the less money you will be shelling out in interest charges over the lifetime of the loan. So take the steps now to find out exactly where you stand and start working toward a better credit score today!

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Limited Time Offer on the SimplyCash Business Credit Card

This just in: American Express is now offering a sign-up bonus on their SimplyCash Business credit card. Already hosting a number of benefits, like 5% cash back at office supply stores and on wireless service, this card just got a little sweeter. For a limited time, you’ll receive $250 cash back after spending $3,000 on qualifying purchases in the first 3 months of card membership. To take advantage of this offer, you must be approved by April 28, 2014.

 

Apply Now: SimplyCash® Business Card from American Express

Also a new feature for this card, you will now be able to choose which category you’ll receive 3% cash back on (previously, this category was for gas). The option to tailor this benefit to your specific business spending is a great new benefit. Curious about what else this card has to offer?

 

Here are the full details:

  • Limited Time Offer: You can get a $250 statement credit after you spend $3,000 on qualifying purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • To be eligible for this offer, you must be approved by April 28, 2014.
  • With no annual membership fee, it’s a smart choice for your business.
  • 5% at U.S. office supply stores & on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers
  • 3% on the category of your choice
  • 1% on other purchases
  • 5% and 3% apply to purchases up to $25,000 per rebate year then 1% thereafter. Cash back earned is automatically credited to your statement.
  • Terms and limitations apply

You’ll also receive 0% interest on purchases for the first nine months of holding the card. Who doesn’t like that? So if your business has some big purchases coming up soon, this is definitely one worth considering.

Check out our full review of this card here.

 

Apply Now: SimplyCash® Business Card from American Express

 

 

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Capital One Venture Increased 50K Sign-Up Bonus

It’s always a good thing when banks increase the sign-up bonus on their rewards cards. Enter Capital One.

Now, when you are approved for the Capital One Venture credit card, you will receive 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 in 3 months. Note: This is not the public offer of 20,000 miles, which is still live. To see the 50,000 miles offer, go here.

30,000 more miles is no subtle increase! If this offer has you intrigued, read on for a quick overview of the Capital One Venture benefits.

 

 

Top Benefits

Sign-Up Bonus

The 50,000 signing bonus is worth $500 in travel. This can be redeemed for any travel expense you have, allowing you to take advantage of the best rates you can find. It also covers those travel expenses that some other miles cards may not cover, such as trains, taxis, baggage fees, etc.

Daily Spending 

Beyond the singing bonus, you’ll receive 2 miles per dollar spent using your Capital One Venture card. This is nice for those who want straightforward earning. No keeping track of category bonuses if that isn’t your style. Rest easy knowing you’re earning double miles for every dollar you spend.

Simple Rewards Redemption

Simply add two zeros to see the number of miles you need for a travel expense. For example, a $400 expense would require 40,000 miles. This fixed value point system makes it easy to know what your miles will get you. And again, you have flexibility with where you make your travel purchases. Travelocity fan? Go for it.

Annual Fee

The Annual fee of $59 is waived for the first year, so you can simply enjoy your rewards! But even if it wasn’t, $59 isn’t a bad annual fee for a card that offers you $500 in travel.

No Foreign Transaction Fees

This is obviously a good perk for a travel rewards card to have. You can use your Capital One Venture card abroad without worrying about any transaction fees. We think all travel cards should have this!

Visa Signature Benefits

Enjoy the many benefits that come with a Visa Signature card, including concierge service, hotel upgrades, event ticket deals, and other exclusive VS perks. For details on all that being a Visa Signature cardmember will get you, read here.

 

Cons

Not the Best Value

Fixed value cards are just that – fixed. This means you can’t stretch your miles any further, like you could with transferrable points. Take, for example, Ultimate Rewards points earned with the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Ink cards. You could transfer Ultimate Rewards points to United for a round-trip economy ticket to Europe for 60,000 points. With tickets to Europe costing easily over $1,000, you’re getting much more value than you would with 60,000 Capital One miles ($600).

Other Cards Compete

If you’re fixed on fixed, then there still might be better options out there. Similar to the Venture is the Barclaycard Arrival, which offers a lower sign-up bonus of 40,000 miles ($400), but also gives you a 10% rebate on all redemptions. So, if you redeem $400 in travel, you’ll get $40 back. If you’re going to be traveling frequently, this could be a better card for you in the long run. Link: Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard®

 

Bottom Line

$500 in travel is nothing to shake a stick at. If a fixed value travel rewards card is for you, the Capital One Venture is one of the best. Read our full review of the card here.