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Which Credit Card Debt Should You Pay Off First?

If you have a number of credit cards with balances on them, you might feel overwhelmed by having a large number of monthly payments or a total balance that is higher than you are comfortable with. If you have finally decided that it is time to take action and pay off some of this debt, there are several different ways to approach the task.

While each will get you ahead financially, it’s important to understand that they offer different advantages. Let’s discuss some of the common ways that you can pay off your credit cards and get ahead.

Determining Where to Start

There are several ways to approach the problem. Different strategies will appeal to different people. Think about the debt that you have, and what you think will help you most.

For some, paying less interest is important. Other people find that minimizing the number of monthly payments is important. For others still, freeing up liquid cash each month matters most. Some people might choose to use one of the best balance transfer credit cards to help them focus on one payment.

There is no “one size fits all” type of plan. Consider which part of your credit card debt bothers you most and then consider the options below.

Highest Interest Rates First

Many people aim to pay off the credit card with the highest interest rate first because this means that they will be paying lower interest in the long run. If the idea of paying a lot of interest is the part about your debt that bothers you most, this is a good place to start. Often store cards have higher interest rates, and many people will opt to begin by paying these off.

Importantly, you should review the interest rates for all of your cards. Ensure that you are not paying a penalty APR for making a late payment at some point. If you are paying a credit card balance that has a high-interest rate, such as over 22%, you probably want to focus on getting rid of this kind of debt first.

Highest Balance First

Some people become worried when they have a credit card with a large balance or one that is nearing the credit limit. Focusing on putting some extra cash toward payments on these cards can help minimize the stress of having credit card debt. When you put extra money toward this card each month, you will be able to watch the balance drop, getting you closer to financial freedom.

It can be very motivating to watch that high balance get a little lower each month. You may be inspired to devote even more of your extra cash to this project, therefore paying it off more quickly.

Pay Off Smallest Balances First

For some, paying off the smallest balances first can help to eliminate the number of monthly payments that must be made. The fewer the payments that need to be sent out, the less likely it is that you might accidentally forget or miss one and end up with a late payment penalty fee. Plus, as you pay off these smaller-balance cards, you will slowly have more money to make payments on the larger-balance credit cards. Close the credit cards that you don’t plan to use—unless you have had them for a long time and have a great credit history with them.

Final Thoughts

Understanding your credit is important. Keeping track of your credit cards and balances and making all of your payments on time is critical to your financial health. Each of these strategies can help you get closer to being debt free. Plus, each has their advantages.

Make a plan of attack by making a list of all of your debts. Go into detail listing monthly payment options, total balance, interest rate, etc. Then make a plan and stick to it. You will be delighted when you start to see progress!

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How To Prevent Your Card Being Canceled By Credit Grantor

Not everyone uses their credit cards on a regular basis. Imagine the shock of needing to use your credit card only to find that it has been canceled by a credit grantor. You hear horror stories of people vacationing overseas and discovering this problem, then spending hours trying to fix it.

Unfortunately, the credit card grantor reserves the “right” to cancel or change the terms and conditions at any time. While they are supposed to notify you, this could be lost in the mail, sent to your email spam folder, or simply overlooked.

There are a few main reasons why your credit card might be canceled by a credit grantor. Let’s review the most common ones to prevent this from happening to you.

Not Using Your Credit Card Enough

A credit card company issues a card to you so that they can make money. Not only will they make money when you pay interest and fees, but they do make a small amount of money on each transaction that you use the card for.

This is the most common reason for a credit card to be canceled.

When you do not use the card at all, or only for emergencies, the credit card company makes no money from having you as a customer. Fortunately, this is a problem that is extremely easy to avoid. Simply use the card for the occasional purchase. Try to use it at least once every few months so your account will remain open and active.

You can always use one of the best credit cards with no annual fee to help you keep your account active without having to worry about coughing up the money for any fees.

New Debt

Have you recently taken on new debt? Bought an expensive car or a new home? These are changes that can quickly raise your debt level, change your credit utilization ratio (how much of your available credit you owe), and affect your credit score.

The credit card company may see this new debt and quickly cancel your card. New debt on a credit card changes your credit utilization. But taking out a large loan may affect you as well. The credit card grantor may determine that you have too much outstanding debt to pay promptly.

Changes in Your Credit Score

Any time that your credit score changes or drops, you are at risk for having your credit card canceled by credit grantor. This is one of the most important reasons to keep regular tabs on your credit score. You can avoid having your card unexpectedly canceled. It’s also good to know in case of identity theft.

They Don’t Need a Reason

As mentioned before, credit card companies have the right to cancel your card, for no reason, at any time. Having a credit card is not actually your “right.” The credit card company gets to decide who they want to extend credit to. While this might be you, it could change at any time.

They are supposed to give you notice, but, might not always do so. Sadly, getting a credit card canceled, for any reason, looks pretty bad on your credit report. You definitely want to try and avoid having this happen if you can.

What You Can Do To Prevent Being Canceled By Credit Grantor

First, make sure that you at least occasionally use your credit card so that the account does not go completely dormant. Second, make sure that you keep an eye on how much you owe. Keep your credit utilization as low as you possibly can. Third, follow your credit report on a regular basis (at least once per year) to ensure everything is accurate.

Your credit is important and should be treated as such. You can prepare yourself for the unexpected by following all of the rules and staying on top of your debt carefully.

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Tips to Raise Your FICO Credit Score

Your FICO credit score is one of the major factors a lender will consider when determining whether or not to approve you for credit. There are many things that go into your FICO score, which means that there are things that you can do to improve it. Careful attention to your FICO score can help you build your credit.

Here are tips that can help build and raise your FICO score

Apply for credit cards

You may be wondering if applying for credit cards can hurt your credit, but, just the opposite is true when you use them responsibly. The same goes for installment loans. Those with no credit will be a higher credit risk than someone who has demonstrated responsibility by making payments regularly and on time.

Make every payment on time

When you make your payments late, this shows up on your credit report. Lenders do not like to see you making a habit of late payments. As your FICO score is computed, 35% of the score is dependent upon you making timely payments for credit cards and loans. Never missing a payment is the best way to get the most from this factor. The longer the history that you have of making payments on time, the better this part of your score will be.

Pay off balances in full each month

While this is difficult for some, especially those who have accumulated large amounts of debt, making the largest payments you can afford is smart. This will help you lower the balances. Once you get your credit cards paid off, try to pay the entire amount that you owe each month. Never make less than the minimum payment required. The lower your overall balance, or credit utilization, the better your FICO score will be.

Communicate with creditors if there are problems

If you fall on hard times financially, contact your creditors before you begin to miss payments. Often they can work out a temporary solution, or negotiate a payment plan with you before your credit is adversely affected. When you are making regular payments, even when you are struggling financially, you can often keep your credit score from dropping too far.

Don’t rush to close credit cards to raise your FICO score

Closing credit card accounts can actually have a negative impact on your FICO score, especially if you have had the credit card for a long time. If you close credit cards that are paid in full, yet you still have others open that you carry a balance on, then you are going to see your credit score drop because your credit utilization will increase. This means that you will be using a higher percentage of your available credit. You are going to be better off keeping cards open when they have a zero balance, particularly if you have a long history with that creditor.

Keep track of your credit utilization

If you have a high credit utilization or a high debt-to-credit ratio, contact your creditors to see if you can have your credit limit raised. This can help improve your ratio and also your FICO score.

Don’t open too many accounts too close together

This is especially important for new credit users. When you are just starting out, one or two cards is plenty. Even if you have well-established credit, opening too many credit cards in too short a time period will have a negative impact on your FICO score.

Make sure your creditors know how to reach you

Always notify your credit card companies if you have an address change. If you miss a bill because they moved, it will not be their fault. You will likely see a change in your FICO score as a result. This is a common mistake, and one that is completely avoidable.

Immediately report if your card is lost or stolen

Reporting a lost or stolen card as soon as you are aware of it is crucial. Most credit card companies will not hold you liable for unauthorized purchases under these circumstances. If you do not promptly report it, you could be held responsible for large purchases. This will also affect your FICO score.

Check your credit report regularly

You should check your credit report at least once a year. Make sure that there are no inaccuracies. Most free credit reports will get information from the three major credit bureaus—TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. Checking your credit report will not hurt your credit score. It will help you keep tabs on any accounts that you are responsible for. If you notice any inaccuracies, contact those creditors immediately to have the issue resolved.

Your FICO score is important. You should know what it is and make efforts to keep it solid or improve it. Use these tips to keep your credit great!

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Why You Should Apply for a Business Credit Card

If you own a small business, you probably should consider establishing some credit in the name of the business, rather than relying entirely on your personal credit. You might be surprised to know that fewer than 50% of small business owners are using business credit cards that are in the name of the business and not their personal name! Keeping everything in your own name may put your personal assets at risk, so read on and consider these great reasons to apply for a business credit card!

Tips For When You Apply For A Business Credit Card

So what should you look out for when you apply for a business credit card? Here are a couple of tips to consider.

Keep Business Expenses Separate

Keeping business expenses separate not only comes in handy at tax time, but it helps you stick to both a business AND a personal budget. When you are simply comingling all of your money and spending it as needed, it can be difficult to know how much money you are making from your business and how much you may be investing towards the future.

When you carefully keep everything separated, you are protected by a “corporate veil,” which allows you to be separately responsible for profits and losses. Your personal assets will have protection. Having a business credit card helps you to reinforce that protection, and reduce the risk to your personal assets.

Details, Details, Details

When you use a business credit card, it is far easier to keep detailed records of any expenses related to running your business. Whether you keep your own books or use a bookkeeper, the tasks will be monumentally easier when you keep your finances seperate. Business credit cards often offer you special spending reports and graphs that can help you build a balanced budget and stick to it. It also makes it easier for you to quickly see your profits and losses.

Establishing Credit

One final, and very important reason for getting a business credit card is that you can establish a credit history for your business. When it comes time to apply for a loan or any other kind of financing, you will have a solid credit history and be able to show that your company is credit-worthy. You won’t have to worry about depending on your personal credit history. Plus, you will be eligible for different rates and terms for loans as they pertain to a business, rather than an individual.

Additionally, it is important to keep your business credit separate from your personal credit, especially if you are going to incur any significant business debt. You don’t want this appearing in your personal credit history and bringing down your credit score.

Here’s what you need to know before you apply for a business credit card:

Consider the type of business credit card that you need.

How much of a credit limit do you need? Will you be considering a secured or unsecured card? Are you hoping to get a rewards credit card? There are many things to think about before applying!

Find out your credit score.

This means you need to know your personal credit score, as well as any credit score for your business if you have any credit established yet.

Don’t be blinded by perks.

Sure, special benefits and great perks can draw you to a particular card. But, don’t rely only on the perks. Know the actual terms of the credit card—annual fees, APRs, any other charges, and fees, etc., before applying. Make sure you know whether or not any special offers are going to expire after an introductory period, too.

Be selective.

Don’t apply for a ton of business credit cards. In most cases, one is probably sufficient. If you have employees, then make sure you look for a business credit card that offers low cost or free additional users, because these are the kinds of charges that can add up quickly.

Always be careful when applying for credit, whether for business or personal use. You need to protect your personal—and business—assets and maximize profits. When you are educated about the various terms and conditions, and understand what you are getting into, you will be able to make the right decision for your company.

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You May Be Eligible For A Credit Card Retention Bonus

Earning miles and points from your credit card is fun—especially when the annual fee is waived for the first year. Once that anniversary comes around, however, you may be required to pay an annual fee—which might not be what you planned. Since you have earned tons of points, you don’t want to simply cancel the card. Let’s talk a little bit about your options and what might be available to you.

Consider the Retention Bonus

Many of the bigger credit card companies will offer you a special “retention bonus” on your anniversary date. This can range from a tidy sum of extra bonus points to a free baggage check, to a free night in a hotel, and more. Often the value of the retention bonus is far greater than the cost of the annual fee—so consider this part carefully when you are thinking of canceling the card. It might be well worth it to keep the card. While there are some cards that have pretty hefty annual fees, taking a look at what you get is a wise move. See if it is worth it to keep.

Consider the Credit Impact

Closing a credit card can negatively affect your credit score, so consider this move carefully. Now, this doesn’t mean that you should automatically keep a card with an expensive annual fee just because you don’t want a short-term ding on your credit. But, you should not be opening and closing credit cards on a whim if you want your credit to stay clear and clean.

Take an inventory of all of the cards you have and consider the fees and benefits. Also, consider your history with them and your available credit. Then, and only then, should you determine whether or not to close a card when your annual fee is up. Don’t rush to close a card simply because the fee is due.

Make Your Plea

You may not realize this, but you can actually request that the fee is waived for another year. Keep in mind that if you are a good customer, the credit card company will not want to lose your business. They may agree to waive the fee for another year. Sure, that will put you in the same position next year, but that gives you time.

Ask for a Downgrade

Many credit cards offer no-fee versions of their more expensive cards. The perks are fewer, but you don’t have to close the card and take the hit on your credit score. If you have a good history with the credit card, consider this option. When you can keep the line of credit open for free, and not have a hit on your credit card, this is really a win-win.

Final Thoughts

You will hear about loopholes and how you can exploit the system by getting a retention bonus just before the anniversary and canceling. Alternatively, you can pay the annual fee for a huge retention bonus and then cancel and keep the bonus. But the reality is, many of the best credit cards out there will offer you some sort of incentive to stay.

Whether you get a companion certificate, bonus points, or something else, it is up to you to determine if that is worth it for you to stay. Don’t impulsively cancel a credit card. You may regret it when it hits your credit score. As with any decision related to your credit, be careful and do your homework to figure out what is going to be the best decision for your personal situation. Often you won’t be able to reapply for a card once you cancel, so make sure it’s really what you want to do!

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Why Your Credit Score Might Dip When You Pay off Your Debt

When you start reading the advice of financial advisors, you will discover that most of those experts agree that the first step toward getting out of debt is paying off your credit cards. This will make your budget more flexible when you do not have to make credit card payments each month.

But what they don’t tell you is that your credit score may drop a little as a result. Doesn’t make sense? Well, there are a few reasons why it happens. However, it is not usually a serious problem. Let’s discuss some of the reasons so that you can understand and be prepared if this happens to you.

How Good Your Credit Score Is Matters

If your credit score is already high (over 720), then you probably have nothing to worry about when you pay off your credit. You might see a slight, temporary dip in your credit score, but when you have a solid credit history you have nothing to worry about.

Having an 850 is not necessarily required. There is a range when it comes to “excellent” credit. Generally anything in the mid-700s and above will get you approved for any financing you need.

Why Does A Credit Score Drop?

It might seem strange to have your credit score drop when you show that you can pay off what you owe. But, when you understand the various things that go into figuring a credit score, and you understand the concept of credit utilization, it might make more sense.

For most of the credit bureaus, 30% of your credit score is based on credit utilization. While you should aim to keep this figure low—by owing no more than 30% of what you can borrow, having no credit utilization is not necessarily the best thing.

What Should I Do To Keep My Credit Score High?

For the best credit scores, it is wise to utilize your credit cards regularly. Do so within the appropriate credit utilization recommendations, and pay off your credit card monthly. When you do this, your credit score will stay high. Plus, you will show that you are responsible and creditworthy. You will not suffer by having to pay any interest charges.

Applying for more and more credit is not a good idea though. Keep a small number of cards, and choose them well (i.e., based on terms and conditions, rewards, or whatever factors are most important to you). Monitor your credit report regularly to ensure that it is accurate. Immediately address any problems should there be any.

What’s the Bottom Line?

The bottom line is that, when it comes to good credit, you have plenty of control. Make wise credit decisions. Don’t spend beyond what you can pay off. Make every single payment on time. Don’t have more credit than you need.

This is how you can get the best credit score, or raise a poor credit score most effectively! Don’t worry too much if your score dips slightly when you pay off your card. Simply get back to your good credit habits and you will be fine.

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How To Improve Your Small Business Credit Score

It’s probably very likely that you know that you have a personal credit score, and, if you are really on top of things then you probably even know what that score is. But, as a small business owner, do you realize that your business also has a credit score?

Is a Business Credit Score the Same as a Personal Credit Score?

A business credit score does not follow the same index as a personal credit score, typically FICO. Your personal credit score is a three-digit number that ranges from 400-850 (ideally much closer to the top of that range!). Your business credit score is probably based on the most common business credit score system, called Paydex. This index gives your business a score between 0-100, with 75 or above being considered the “good to excellent” range.

Why Do I Need a Business Credit Score?

Building up your business credit score is just as important as your personal credit score. It will help you expand your business over time by being able to secure business loans or get financing for expansions, equipment, and investments. Instead of relying on your personal credit score to get loans and financing, you can get the financing you need based on your business credit score.

Also, it is important to be able to separate your business and personal finances. This is not only important for tax purposes, but also for liability and other reasons. In the event that your business fails, your personal credit will not be affected. That may allow you to head in a different business direction or rebuild, without harming your personal credit. If you had to file bankruptcy because of a failed business, you may have that follow you for up to 10 years.

How Can I Raise My Business Credit Score?

There are several important things that you should do if you want your business credit score to stay strong or improve. Here are four great tips:

  1. Make every payment on time. Just like your personal credit, your business credit score will be affected by your payments. Making every payment on time will help keep your business credit score strong. It will also help it continue to rise as your business looks like a good credit consumer. Not only does this help your credit, you also avoid penalties and late fees!
  2. Keep your debt at a manageable level. Even if you need to take out a loan, you want to make sure that you are not overutilizing your available credit. Monitor any revolving debt to make sure that your ratios stay in a healthy range. If your credit utilization becomes too high, your credit score will drop.
  3. Use the credit that you do have. Don’t just let your business credit card sit there and gather dust. It should not be reserved just for emergencies! Make regular purchases and payments. This will help you to establish and build credit. Plus, if you use the right business credit card, you can accumulate rewards points and get cash back or other rewards!
  4. Monitor your business credit report. Just like your personal credit report, you need to monitor your business credit report. Make sure that the information contained within it is accurate and current. Any inaccuracies should be immediately reported.

When you can build up a great credit score for your business, it becomes easier to separate your business and personal expenses, taxes, and liabilities. Build a stronger business by developing a credit history specific to the business. You will find it easier to invest, build, and watch the business grow.

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The Sam’s Club MasterCard vs. Other Cash Back Cards

Everyone loves a cash back card, which is why so many banks and stores offer them to customers. It used to be just the big banks that gave cash back rewards based on spending. Now it is common for stores to get in on this market and get more customer loyalty in the quest for cash being returned to them.

Some stores have even begun to offer cards that come in MasterCard or Visa versions that they can be used for other purchases, like gas, dining, groceries, travel, and other big categories. The Sam’s Club MasterCard is one of these cards. They are offering a nice tiered cash back program to cardholders.

If you are a frequent shopper at Sam’s Club warehouse stores, this might be a good choice for you. Let’s take a look at the benefits that they are offering to customers.

New Sam’s Club MasterCard

Highlighted Cash Back Features

The Sam’s Club MasterCard offers simple yet substantial cash back rewards for their customers. First, you will earn 5% cash back for all spending at gas stations, up to $6,000 per year. After you spend the first $6,000, you will continue to earn 1% cash back on gas station purchases. Here’s one catch—you will earn 5% cash back at Sam’s Club gas stations and other major gas retailers, but there are no cash back rewards for spending at other warehouse store gas stations.

You can earn 3% cash back on all dining purchases and any travel purchases that you make, with no spending cap. Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases using the Sam’s Club MasterCard.

With the Sam’s Club MasterCard, you can earn up to $5,000 cash back per year. The cash back rewards are paid to you in the form of a check, delivered to you once per year. The only place that you can cash the check is at a Sam’s Club store (but you don’t have to spend the entire reward there).

Great Security Options

With so many credit card breaches in the news lately, people are paying more attention to getting credit cards with higher level security features. The Sam’s Club MasterCard is chip-enabled, which gives you a better layer of security. Plus, they offer quick and simple identity theft solutions through their customer service center.

Sam’s Club MasterCard is the first major retail card to offer this level of technology. Since many of the credit card breaches have come from major retailers, this is something that may make customers more comfortable and secure when using the credit card. Also, extended warranty coverage is available, so you can be more confident in protecting your purchases.

No Annual Fee

The Sam’s Club MasterCard does not have an annual fee, but you do have to be a Sam’s Club member to apply. Membership to Sam’s Club is $45 per year.

More Benefits for Sam’s Plus Members

For those cardholders who are also members of the Sam’s Plus program, you can receive several additional benefits. These include early morning admission to the store, discounts on pharmacy and optical services, and exclusive offers within the store. Sam’s Plus members will earn an additional $10 every time they spend $500 in the store on qualifying purchases and earn up to $500 cash back annually. These rewards can be combined with the other cash back rewards to boost your annual return, or used separately throughout the year.

The Nitty Gritty

Again, the Sam’s Club MasterCard has no annual fee, but you must be a member of Sam’s Club to apply ($45 yearly membership fee). The APR is 14.99% or 22.90%, depending on your credit history. If you make a single purchase of $50 or more on the first day you use the card, you will get a $20 statement credit within the next two billing cycles. Foreign transaction fees are 3%.

Any Downsides?

Although the Sam’s Club MasterCard offers some great cash back options, you will only receive that cash back reward once per year. If you are the kind of person who likes to get one lump sum, this might be great for you, but the redemption options are not very flexible otherwise. Remember, you can only cash this check at Sam’s Club. If you regularly shop at the store, this may be convenient.

You must be a Sam’s Club member to cash the check, so don’t consider closing this account if you have any cash back rewards due to you. There is a small sign up bonus of $20 if you spend $50 on your first purchase. Other cards offer greater cash back rewards for sign up bonuses.

Other Options

While the Sam’s Club MasterCard can compete on some levels, especially with Sam’s Club devotees, there are other great cards out there that offer significant rewards for those who spend a lot of money on gas, dining, and travel. Other cards offer much more convenient redemption options when it comes to getting the cash back.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus is a great option for those travelers who like to earn big cash back rewards on every purchase, and have flexible redemption options available to them. With the Barclaycard Arrival Plus, you will earn 2 points for every dollar spent, on all purchases. You will earn 40,000 points as a sign-up bonus when you spend $3,000 within the first three months.

Redeem your miles for travel credits or statement credits, at any time. Earn an additional 10% bonus miles when you redeem your miles for travel rewards. There is an $89 annual fee, but this is waived for the first year. Barclaycard Arrival Plus offers great security, with EMV-chip technology.

There is also a 0% introductory APR on all purchases made during the first 12 months. Frequent travelers may find this option very appealing because of the high earning power and flexible redemption opportunities.

Discover it

For those shoppers who like to earn great cash back rewards and have very flexible redemption options, the Discover it has some terrific perks. Earn 1% cash back on all purchases, in all categories. Earn 5% cash back on rotating bonus categories, which change quarterly and are generally the most popular shopping options. Currently, Discover it is offering 5% cash back on online shopping and department store purchases for this quarter.

There is no annual fee for the Discover it card, so you have nothing to lose. Redeem your cash back rewards at any time, either earning a check, using the cash at the online shopping portal, getting gift cards, or getting statement credits.

Final Thoughts

For those who really love shopping at Sam’s Club and spend most of their money at gas stations, the Sam’s Club MasterCard is a good option. But, if you want a little more flexibility in terms of cash back earnings and redemption options, you might want to consider either the Barclaycard Arrival Plus or the Discover it as alternatives.

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Cards That Earn Bonus Rewards On Every Dollar Spent

There are plenty of options for cards that earn bonus rewards for spending. These are cards that offer you either cash back or points on each purchase you make. Some of the most popular rewards credit cards will give you bonus points or bonus cash back. The Discover It, for example, offers bonus cash back on rotating categories. The idea of rotating categories is that the categories will switch quarterly. You will earn 5% cash back (or 5% points, depending on the card) for that quarter.

Popular categories for the bonus rotating categories include purchases made at gas stations, grocery stores, dining, online shopping, home improvement stores, and department stores. They can be anything that the credit card company chooses and thinks that their customers will enjoy. Typically there is a cap on the spending in the bonus categories. Going back to the Discover It example, it has a $1,500 spending cap for their rotating bonus categories.

Fixed bonus categories would refer to cards that offer bigger bonuses on certain categories all the time. For example, the Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard offers two points per dollar spent on all gas station, grocery store and utility purchases. This is offered year round with no spending cap. With no annual fee, cardholders get great rewards at a fixed rate all year long.

What if I don’t like rotating categories?

If rotating categories are not for you and you would prefer to get great rewards all year long on all purchases, you are in luck. We have put together a great list of options for you. Each of these cards offers greater than 1% cash back on all purchases. Take a look and see if any of them are right for you!

Citi Double Cash

Want to earn cash back—twice? The Citi Double Cash card lets you do just that. Earn 1% cash back on every purchase, plus earn another 1% cash back for every payment that you make. In addition to the great cash back offer, the Citi Double Cash card offers a 0% introductory rate for the first 15 months that you have the card.

After that, the card offers a competitive APR of 12.99-22.99%, based on your creditworthiness. There is no annual fee for the Citi Double Cash card, so you have nothing to lose with this gem. No worries about spending in certain categories, or registering for rotating rewards. You get the same rewards year round, with no spending cap other than your credit limit. There is no limit to the cash back that you can earn with this card.

Capital One Quicksilver Card

Unlimited cash back is the name of the game with the Capital One Quicksilver Card. You will earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase you make using this card with no limit to the cash back you can earn. There are no specific spending categories or bonus categories to think about. Just use this card for any purchase and get the full reward. Capital One Quicksilver also offers you a $100 cash back reward after you spend $500 in the first three months that you have the card. This is a substantial bonus right off the bat for new cardholders, at 20% cash back!

The cash back rewards are easy and flexible to redeem. You can redeem them at any time for a check, gift card(s), statement credit, or even merchandise. There is no annual fee for this card. You can also enjoy a 0% introductory APR for a limited time on all purchases and balance transfers made using the Capital One Quicksilver card. After the introductory period, the APR will be 12.9-22.9% on purchases and all balance transfers. Another great perk is being able to track your credit score for free so that you can stay on top of any changes right as they occur.

Capital One BuyPower Card

Are you in the market for a new vehicle? The Capital One BuyPower Card might be just the answer. This card offers you 5% cash back rewards on the first $5,000 you spend each year, and 2% on all purchases you make after that. This is a huge reward. You can use the cash back rewards toward the purchase of a new Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, or Cadillac.

The earnings never expire, as long as you have the card. You can really rack up a lot of cash back toward your next vehicle with this card. Because there are no rotating categories, you can use this card for any and all purchases, and watch your cash back rewards add up. Also, Capital One BuyPower card offers an introductory 0% APR for the first 12 months that you have the card, for all purchases and balance transfers. When the introductory period ends, you will pay 11.90, 15.90, or 19.90% variable APR, depending on your creditworthiness.

Looking For Travel Rewards?

Rewards cards come in many shapes and forms. Some offer cash back or credit toward a new vehicle, like the cards listed above. Others will offer some pretty tremendous travel rewards for those who really want to maximize their rewards. Travel rewards are some of the best in the credit card world, since you can often get more than $1 for each point or mile earned. Here are a few of the best ones we can find for you.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus

Super value can be found for travelers when they have the Barclaycard Arrival Plus card. You can earn 40,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days that you have the card. Earn 2 points for every dollar spent on travel purchases or earn one point for every dollar spent on every other purchase. One of the biggest perks of this card is that cardholders get an extra 10% rewards when booking their travel through Barclaycard or anytime they redeem their miles for statement credits.

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus also offers a 0% introductory APR for the first 12 months on purchases and balance transfers. After that, the APR will be either 14.99% or 18.99%, depending on your creditworthiness. There is an $89 annual fee for this card, but that is waived for the first year.

Capital One Venture Rewards Card

Earn travel rewards fast at a rate of 2 points per dollar spent on every purchase you make with the Capital One Venture Rewards Card. Earn an additional 40,000 points when you spend $3,000 in the first three months of having the card. Cardholders will get a 0% introductory APR rate for the first 12 months after approval on purchases and balance transfers, with a 13.9-20.9% APR after that period ends.

The miles that you earn using the Capital One Venture Rewards card can be flexibly redeemed for flights, hotel, rental cars, and other travel benefits. There are no blackout dates or restrictions on airlines if you book through Capital One. If you prefer to book through your travel agent, the Purchase Eraser feature will allow you to redeem your miles and get credit within 90 days of making a travel purchase using your Capital One Venture Rewards card. Track your credit simply, with your credit score being available every month on your statement or through the online access. There is a $59 annual fee, which is waived for the first year.

BankAmericard Travel Rewards Card

With the BankAmericard Travel Rewards Card, you will earn 1.5 points per dollar spent on all purchases made with the card. There is no limit to the number of points that you can earn. Apply online and earn an additional 10,000 points by spending $500 within the first three months. This adds up to a $100 statement credit when you book any travel rewards.

Conveniently, there are no blackout dates and no restrictions on your travel rewards. There is no annual fee for the BankAmericard Travel Rewards card. Cardholders will enjoy a 0% introductory APR for the first 12 months on purchases and balance transfers when they are approved for the card. After that, an APR of 14.99-22.99% will apply. There are no foreign transaction fees for this card.

Wyndham Rewards Visa

The Wyndham Rewards Visa is a great card for those who love to travel and want to earn free nights at Wyndham hotels and participating partners. Earn 5 points for every dollar spent on participating hotel stays, and earn 2 points for every dollar spent on all other purchases.

You can earn an additional 30,000 points after making your first purchase using the Wyndham Reward Visa card, and another 5,500 bonus points each year. That is enough for a one night stay at any participating hotel. This card has a $69 annual fee, which is not waived for the first year. The APR is 15.24% or 19.99%, depending on your credit history.

Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve

With the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve card, you will quickly build up plenty of points toward your next vacation at any Hilton hotel or participating partner. You can earn 10 HHonors points for every dollar spent on hotel stays at participating hotels. Or earn 5 HHonors points for other travel purchases, including flights and rental cars. Earn 3 HHonors points on all other purchases made using the card.

Cardholders will enjoy Gold Elite status with HHonors, which will be upgraded to Platinum status if you spend $40,000 in one calendar year. Spend $10,000 per year and earn a free weekend night each year on your anniversary. Earn two free weekend night certificates after spending $2,500 within the first 4 months after being approved for the card. This card has a $95 annual fee. There is a variable 15.24% APR for this card.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are a variety of rewards cards available right now, with more being added frequently. One of them is right for you. Some people prefer rewards cards with straight cash back rewards options, but if you are not a fan of rotating categories and just want to earn tons of points, or you are a frequent traveler (or want to become one), then choosing one of the awesome travel rewards cards that are available will help you quickly earn points toward your next travel adventure!

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Will Canceling My Credit Card Hurt My Credit Score?

We’ve all heard the importance of paying close attention to our credit scores. Many of the credit card companies are beginning to catch on to the importance of having consumers keep it in control, and helping them track it—whether on a monthly statement, like Discover, or through the online account, like Chase and US Bank. But the question remains: will canceling my credit card hurt my credit score?

Once you start to pay attention to your credit score and understand just how it is calculated, you should be doing everything you can to keep it in a good range, or make it better. Canceling a credit card is one thing that many people do without realizing that it can have a damaging effect on your credit score.

Here are the answers to some common questions about canceling credit cards and how it might affect your credit score:

Will closing a card I don’t use hurt my credit score?

In general, it won’t hurt you to keep a credit card open. It will have more of an effect on your credit score if you close it, especially when you have had a card for a long time. The length of time that you have had a card is a factor in determining your credit score. That said, you definitely don’t want to close your oldest cards, even when you no longer use them.

Of course, if they have high annual fees, you may want to weigh this decision heavily. Consider using the card if they offer great perks, downgrading to a no-annual-fee version, or making a request to the credit company to waive the fee for a year. They just might consider this, depending on your relationship with them.

Is there such a thing as too much credit?

Some people are under the assumption that you can have too much available credit. This is not really the case. You can open too many cards in too short of a time period, which can hurt your score. You can ring up too many purchases too quickly, which raises your debt level. This can hurt your credit score. But, for the most part, you can’t have too many credit cards that are paid in full.

If you do choose to close a credit card, the credit history will remain on your credit report. If you were a customer in good standing for 10 years, this will show up on your credit report, and it will help your credit score. If you do take a hit to your credit score for closing an older, unused credit card, the ding should be temporary if your credit is solid.

Are there reasons to close a credit card when trying to raise my credit score?

If you have a good history with a credit card, and there is not a huge annual fee, then, no, there is not really any reason to close a credit card. It won’t help your credit score to close it. Keep it, especially if you have had it for a long time, even if you don’t use it.

What happens if the credit issuer closes the account?

While closing a credit card yourself is usually better, a closed account is a closed account. It will show up as “closed by consumer” or “closed by creditor”. Unfortunately, some reading your credit report may assume you had problems.

The best thing to do is try to avoid having creditors close your account. If it does happen though, don’t worry. It doesn’t really make a difference in the long run. You will take a hit to your credit score either way, and you can get your card closed due to inactivity. Each company has different policies so checking with their terms and conditions may be in your best interest.

Should I close my store credit cards?

Store credit cards are the ones most commonly closed by creditors when they are inactive. Store credit cards do have an impact on your credit utilization. Let’s say you owe $500 to a store and you have a $600 credit limit. This is a high credit utilization for this card.

Make sure that your other cards have lower rates of utilization. It would be even better if you can pay something off. Closing store credit cards does have less of an impact on your credit score than closing major bank credit cards. Your credit report will focus on the bigger picture—mortgages, loans, major credit cards, revolving credit lines, etc. when calculating your score.

While it’s better to keep all your big cards and close the store cards, it’s not the end of the world if you can’t. One thing to keep in mind about store cards is that they may be your oldest credit card since they are often easier for people to get. If you have had a store credit card in good standing for 15 or 20 years, then there is really no reason to close it and more good reasons to keep it open.

Final Thoughts

Closing credit cards can have a temporary effect of lowering your credit score. As long as you are not closing your oldest cards and are keeping all of your cards in good standing, there is no reason to close any. Keep track of what you have. Make sure you are not paying any unnecessary annual fees. Understand how your credit score is calculated. You will likely find that you won’t need to close any cards and can keep your credit shining!