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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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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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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!

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The Best Walmart Credit Card

As the world’s largest retailer, you might visit Walmart for your everyday shopping and groceries. If that’s the case, each shopping trip can be even more rewarding with the best Walmart credit card. Whether you shop online or in-person, find out which credit card is the best for you.

When you shop at Walmart, be sure your credit card or rewards debit card always earns at least 1% (1 point) per dollar spent. All the cards on this list earn at least 1% on each Walmart purchase, and you can qualify for at least one of these cards when your credit score is higher than 550.

Walmart Credit Card vs Walmart Mastercard

Let’s start with Walmart’s own two credit cards.

Walmart offers two co-branded consumer credit cards through Synchrony Bank:

  • Walmart Credit Card
  • Walmart Mastercard

You can apply for either card online or at any Walmart store.  Both cards have the same 3-2-1 purchase rewards program, but the Walmart Credit Credit only works at Walmart stores; it’s a store charge card.

Best Walmart credit card

Between these two cards, Walletpath recommends the Walmart Mastercard because it is a full-fledged credit card that is accepted by any merchant in the world that accepts Mastercard. However, you generally need a credit score of 660 or higher to be approved. If your score is between 550 or the mid-600s, you may have to apply for the Walmart Credit Card instead.

Neither card charges an annual fee. Both cards will improve your credit score with on-time payments.

Earn Up to 3% on All Walmart Purchases

No matter which co-brand Walmart credit card you go with, you will enjoy the 3-2-1 rewards program that is rewarded with a cash statement credit:

  • 3% back on all Walmart.com purchases (includes Walmart Pickup and Site-to-Store)
  • 2% back on Murphy USA & Walmart gas purchases
  • 1% back for in-store Walmart purchases and anywhere else

Remember, only the Walmart Mastercard can be used for non-Walmart purchases.

The Walmart credit cards earn the highest rewards for online purchases. This higher reward rate is most likely Walmart’s way of taking the online retail fight to Amazon. Since Walmart now lets you buy your groceries and non-groceries online, you can get 3% back by shopping ahead of time and then driving to Walmart to pick it up.

Citi Double Cash

If you want a flat rate cash rewards card that earns 2% on every single purchase, regardless of where you shop, the Citi Double Cash is one of the best. The reason why is because most cash back credit cards only earn 1% or 1.5%; you get an extra 1% on every dollar by paying your bill on-time.

Citi Double Cash

If you shop online at Walmart.com, the co-brand Walmart credit cards will still earn an extra 1%. Otherwise, the Double Cash pays the same on Walmart gas purchases and an extra 1% on in-store purchases.

When you primarily shop in-store, the Double Cash is a better option if you qualify. Online forums indicate you typically need “excellent” credit of 700 or above to qualify for the Citi Double Cash. You can usually qualify for the Walmart Mastercard with “good” credit (660 or above) and the Walmart Credit Card (Walmart purchases only) is issued to applicants with a credit score of 550 or higher.

Chase Freedom

If you want a card with more flexibility but can still earn bonus points at Walmart, take a look at the Chase Freedom.

The Freedom is a cash back rewards card that earns 1% on all purchases but has a 5% rotating bonus category. In 2017, consumers earned 5% on the first $1,500 spent at Walmart in the 4th quarter.

Chase Freedom

The 2018 Chase Freedom bonus categories make it even better to earn bonus rewards at Walmart. In the first quarter 2018, you can get 5% cash back when you pay with a digital wallet (i.e. Chase Pay, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay).

If Chase offers 5% back at Walmart to close 2018, that’s two-quarters of 5% cash back at Walmart! No other credit card can make the same claim.

Two Reasons to Consider the Chase Freedom

There are two reasons the Chase Freedom can be the best Walmart credit card for you.

Firstly, you can redeem your rewards points for statement credits (like the Walmart co-brand credit cards) or you can also redeem them for gift cards or even award travel. As a part of the Chase Trifecta, it’s even possible to transfer your points directly to your favorite airline or hotel if you prefer travel rewards to cash back.

Secondly, the Chase Freedom earns bonus rewards points on non-Walmart purchases too. If you primarily shop in-person at Walmart, you will only earn 1% with Walmart’s own credit cards–the same reward rate as the Freedom in non-bonus months.

You have nothing to lose by using a flexible rewards card to keep all your points in one place. Not only will you earn potentially more rewards, they will also be more useful and practical.

Discover It Secured Credit Card

If you have poor credit (550 or higher), you have two good credit card options to earn at least 1% back at Walmart. When the Walmart Credit Card isn’t flexible enough, you need to take a look at the Discover It Secured Card.

This is one of the few secured credit cards that doesn’t charge an annual fee and also earns purchase rewards. You will earn:

  • 2% on restaurants and gas stations (first $1,000 in combined spending every quarter)
  • 1% for all remaining purchases

You sacrifice 3% cash back on all Walmart.com purchases, but you get a credit card that earns at least 1% anywhere you use it. Since you probably shop at more places than Walmart, this can be a better option.

Another reason to consider the Discover It Secured Card is that Discover will match your purchase rewards dollar-for-dollar at the end of the first year as a sign-up bonus. If you earn $100 in rewards, Discover will give you an additional $100 for free!

What is the Best Walmart Credit Card For You?

So you can easily choose the best card for you, let’s do a quick review of why you might like or dislike each of the recommendations.

  • Walmart Mastercard: Earn 3% on Walmart.com purchases, accepted anywhere, only need good credit
  • Citi Double Cash: Earn 2% on all Walmart and non-Walmart purchases, need excellent credit
  • Chase Freedom: Earn up to 5% at Walmart, rewards points can be redeemed for cash, gift cards, and travel
  • Walmart Credit Card: Only works at Walmart, good option if you have poor credit (550+)
  • Discover It Secured: Get up to 2% back on all purchases while you build credit

If you primarily shop online at Walmart, their own co-brand cards will give you the most cash back on a consistent basis. A flexible rewards card is better if you don’t want a monthly statement credit or want to earn bonus points for non-Walmart purchases too.

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Why Having a Rewards Card Makes You More Likely to Spend

There have been many studies and clinical trials that set out to prove or disprove that having a credit card increases the occurrence of spending money. Over the many years that this particular question has been combed over, the same answer is extracted almost every time: yes, people do spend more money when they have a credit card.

The question that we derive from there is why? Why do people feel more inclined to spend more when they have that little plastic rectangle in their wallets as compared to loose cash or even a debit card? The answer has two prongs:

1.) a delayed payment as a result of the credit card, and

2.) the sweet, sweet smell of those rewards.

Here is a closer look at why we love swiping the plastic, and why we should all be a little warier about being so focused on those rewards points.

Our love affair with the modern credit card.

With the verdicts from the earlier studies coming out the way that they did, it sounds pretty relatable doesn’t it? We all feel a little better using our credit cards instead of the debit.

When you go to the grocery store and are waiting for your turn to exchange awkward pleasantries with the person behind the counter, and you spy that king size KitKat bar on the shelf, you are faced with a quick choice –should you go ahead and splurge for it? You don’t need it, but you kinda want it.

According the studies that were done, if you only have cash you more than likely will pass on the opportunity to indulge your sweet tooth, but when the checkout person asks you if there is anything else you would like to include and you only have your credit card on you, you are much more likely to lean over and snatch up that chocolatey crunch stick before leaving.

So why does this happen, and if you are like me, keep happening? The answer is that in our minds, credit cards are not real money. At least, not as real as the money attached to our debit cards, or even cash.

The New York Times refers to this mentality as the “Credit Card Premium”, and it goes to the reasoning behind why we prefer to reach for credit card instead of methods of payment that subtract an instant total from our accounts: it feels like we are delaying the payment indefinitely, even though in reality we are putting off the payment for only about a month or so.

We prefer the idea of not having to think about the money leaving our account instantly versus having our money drained after a lengthy delay. One of the deeper reasons that we tell ourselves that this is an alright way of thinking — security.

“Credit cards are much safer than using my debit card!”

With credit cards come with a sizable amount of security and peace of mind.

If by some odd chance we come across a situation that while using our debit card someone snagged our account info, they could make all kinds of wild and extravagant purchases with our accounts before we even notice that we had our identity stolen, and that could wreak all kinds of havoc within our financial holdings. With a credit card however, we have that comforting feeling of a “safety net” that if something goes wrong, we can deny the purchases and walk away from the situation unscathed.

This mentality of credit card = safety and debit = bad isn’t always a wrong way of thinking, but being 100% responsible with credit cards is not always possible 100% of the time. When we let the false freedom of credit cards get the better of us, it can actually be more dangerous that having your account info stolen from you. In other words, when it comes to the plastic, you are your worst enemy. 

Reaping the rewards.

The reason that we love credit cards so much and never shy away from the opportunity to stick our rectangles in that painfully slow chip reader is the rewards.

It’s pretty insane when you think about it –we are essentially getting paid to spend money. Rewards points, when used carefully and acquired strategically can be a huge life help and financial boost, as it can lead to cheaper airline miles that otherwise would cost you an arm and a leg, cash back that can cover a fancy night out for you and the Mrs., or even just “thank you” bonus’s like first dibs on concert tickets that otherwise are unavailable to others. All this just because you like to spend money so much that you decided you should be payed to do it.

These rewards can be insanely awesome, but when we get nothing but rewards points on the mind, that is when we can find ourselves in some pretty hot water that we never thought we would get into otherwise. Having a credit card that gives you an insane rewards points ratio is a great way to enhance your life, but it can also be a dangerous way to push you into overspending without you even noticing.

It may sound simple and amateurish, but you always need to keep track of everything that you purchase, and if you are swiping your card just so that you can earn some rewards points, then you might want to reconsider what is more valuable: saving a few bucks on an airline ticket through your rewards program, or the money you just wasted on a gas grill from Patio World just so that you could earn a few points?

A ridiculous example, I know. But if you aren’t paying attention, you can run around town just looking for ways to rack in more rewards points and completely forget that rewards points are just “thank you’s” for spending your money with a particular credit company. If you aren’t careful, you just might find yourself at Patio World making more and more unnecessary purchases (Nothing against Patio World, really, they just came to mind as an example).

Don’t get wrapped up in the rewards hype.

Don’t get carried away by the glitz and the glamour of credit card rewards. They can be amazing, absolutely, but when we lock our sights on them, things can get pretty crazy.

Remember: credit cards are connected to your own accounts and run off of your own money, which is limited, regardless of how much time there is between you and your bill cycle.

Stay grounded on that fact and you should be alright, and when it comes to earning those rewards points –earn them as you go about your purchases at a normal pace. Don’t go out of your way to earn a few more rewards points if it means that you need to buy something you wouldn’t normally.

The savings earned from rewards points are not going to be equal to that gas grill you just bought, and they never will be.

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FAQs related to Costco Anywhere Visa Card

It’s no breaking news that American Express and Costco have ended their 16-year long partnership. In fact, the split was announced last year and the final switchover happened this June 20th, when the popular warehouse club stopped accepting the old TrueEarnings American Express cards. Majority of old Costco American Express card holders have already been sent their new Costco Anywhere Visa Cards (from Citi). If you haven’t received yours yet, don’t worry, it’s on its way!

FAQs Costco Anywhere

The transition has resulted a whole lot questions from the Costco loyalists who seem unsure about what to expect next. Here’s a quick look at some of the important ones of all these queries, and their corresponding answers:

I had the old Costco Amex card, am I going to get a new one now?

As also mentioned above, yes, there’s one on its way if you haven’t received it already! The new Costco Anywhere Visa Card is already being actively dispatched to all the old TrueEarnings American Express cardholders. The dispatches started happening late May and have majorly been completed by now. The new card from Citigroup will have a new account number, but won’t be counted as a fresh line of credit in your credit report.

Many cardholders have been reporting that they aren’t able to activate their new card. The Citigroup has given a statement that they’re working on resolving such problems. On a side note, you’ll need to apply for a fresh American Express card if you’re keen on continuing association with Amex.

What’s the APR applicable to the new card?

The specific terms and conditions related to the new Costco Anywhere Visa Card have already been sent to all cardholders, along with their new cards. The payment due dates and applicable APRs remain the same as applicable to their old accounts. Please note that if your initial letter from Citi lists your standard APR as 15.49%, but the percentage applicable to your TrueEarnings card was lower than that, you’ll keep your old APR for all your purchases.

However, if you’re a new account holder who has applied for a Costco card for the first time, your APR will be 0% for the initial seven months, and 15.49% thereafter.

Is it possible to use the old TrueEarnings card elsewhere?

No, the old TrueEarnings card from American Express and Costco has become invalid from June 19th. So, you won’t be able to use it anywhere now. However, you’ll certainly be able to use your new Costco Anywhere Visa Card wherever you like!

Is my credit score going to get hit because of the new credit card?

This was a very major concern among a large number of American Express–Costco card holders. All their concerns have been addressed as the old accounts were transferred to the new ones without any credit histories getting pulled.

However, please note that if you decide to apply for a fresh credit card from American Express, the company may do a hard credit pull to create a new account for you. That is most likely to have a negative impact on your credit score. However, the procedure may vary from person to person. Some TrueEarnings American Express cardholders have gotten their accounts converted into other American Express cards even without the hard credit pull. What more, some of them were even able to keep their old account numbers!

Will the new Costco Anywhere Visa Card also function as my Costco membership card?

Just as it was in the case of TrueEarnings card (from American Express and Costco), your new Costco Anywhere Visa Card will also double up as your Costco membership card. You’ll be able to use this card for making purchases at Costco and anywhere else. Although there’s no annual fee applicable on this card, you need to be a Costco member in order to get it. The Costco membership costs a minimum of $ 55 per year.

Is the 4% cash back applicable on all gas station purchases?

One of the most highlighted benefits of the new Costco Anywhere Visa Card is that you get 4% cash back on all your ‘eligible’ gas purchases. If you read the finer details, you’d know that the 4% cash back is applicable only on gas purchases at Costco or in case of fuel used for any non-automobile purposes. The gas purchased at convenience stores, supermarkets, superstores and other warehouse clubs get you only 1% cash back.

There’s a balance on my TrueEarnings card. Whom do I pay now?

Your balance from the TrueEarnings card would be payable to the Citigroup now, as the company has taken over all the TrueEarnings card debt from all American Express-Costco accounts.

I had set up auto payments for my TrueEarnings card? What will happen to them?

Please note that any payment arrangements with the old TrueEarnings American Express card won’t travel with the new Costco Anywhere Visa Card. Your billers will need to be updated with the new information from the Costco Anywhere Visa Card now.

Does Costco Anywhere Visa Card provide purchase and travel protections?

Yes, the Costco Anywhere Visa Card comes with an international travel accident and car rental insurance, apart from purchase and damage protection lasting for 120 days after any purchase with the card. You must have already received a booklet detailing all such benefits, around the same time as the card was sent to you.

Is there any foreign transaction fee associated with the new card?

Yes, there’s a 3% fee applicable on all transactions made in currencies other than the USD. This is the regular percentage applicable on cards that charge foreign transaction fees.

I don’t want the Costco Anywhere Visa Card. Do I have any options?

Regardless of whether you want it or not, the Citigroup must have already sent you the replacement for your old TrueEarnings card. In case you’re not keen on using the new Costco Anywhere Visa Card, you’re free to use any Visa card of your choice as Costco has started accepting all Visa cards now.

 

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How to Close Credit Cards Without Hurting Your Credit Score

For some, just getting a credit card in the first place is a huge accomplishment. For others, they seem to accumulate tons of cards, many of which they don’t need or don’t even use. How do you decide which ones to cancel? And how can you do it without affecting your credit score in a negative way?

Take Inventory

The first step in deciding which cards to keep is literally setting them all out in front of you to see what you are dealing with. Reviewing your credit report may also be important, in case you actually don’t have all the cards handy. Ask yourself the following questions about each card, and divide them into groups based on your responses:

  1. How often do I use this card?
  2. How long have I had this card?
  3. How much do I pay (fees, interest, etc.) for this card?
  4. What rewards and benefits do I get with this card?

Time to Purge

As you review how often you use each card, consider closing those that are pretty dormant. Unless of course you have had the card for a very long time with a good history. It’s okay to keep a card you don’t use often if you have had it for a long time—this is good for your credit score.

For the most part, you should consider closing your store credit cards. These tend to offer the least benefits to you, and you are better off with a major credit card that has great rewards and you can use anywhere, as opposed to store credit cards that offer you coupons for in-store purchases. This will help you streamline your credit card inventory and leave you with a couple of cards that you will really benefit from using.

Take it Slow

It’s best to not close a whole bunch of cards at once, as this can cause your credit score to dip a bit. You will probably recover quickly, if you have good credit; however, if you do it in stages the effects on your credit score will be minimized. This is especially important if you are planning on applying for any loans (auto loans, mortgage, etc.) because you want your credit score to be as high as possible for the best rates and terms.

How Do I Do It?

Closing credit cards is not difficult. In most cases, you can call the customer service department and request that the account be closed. Be prepared to meet a little resistance, because they will probably try to talk you into keeping your account—they don’t want to lose customers. But, if you are firm and polite, it is not going to be a problem. In some cases, they want a written request, which means sending a quick letter indicating that you want to close the account.

When you close a credit card account, it can take a few weeks (or longer) to show up on your credit report, so be patient. But, do be sure to check your credit report a few months after you finish your purge, to make sure that everything is accurate and only the accounts that you want are still reflected as open and active on your credit report.

Conclusion

It’s so important to stay on top of your credit and be responsible. Nobody needs dozens of credit cards cluttering up their wallet—or their credit report. Pick and choose wisely, and keep the cards that offer you and your credit score the most benefits.

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These Cash Back Cards are Better Than Store Credit Cards

Most of the time, we would try to steer you away from store credit cards, because while they may get you some discounts on your purchases, they often come with very high APRs and their introductory perks can end quickly, leaving you with nothing but a piece of plastic that you can use in only one place.

Fortunately, we do have some better suggestions for you! Here are a few ways that you can save more, get better cash rewards and points, and spend money wherever you want—without having to be especially loyal to any one store. Shop where you get the best deals!

 

Discover it

Consistently rated among the top credit cards when it comes to annual fee and rewards benefits, the Discover it® offers 1% cash back on all purchases, with 5% cash back on quarterly rotating categories. Because the categories are usually ones that are quite popular (e.g., groceries, gas, dining, shopping categories), cardholders can accumulate great rewards all year long.

When you add in the ShopDiscover online portal, the deals are outstanding and you really get your money’s worth out of any purchase. Forget about using a store credit card for financing, use the Discover it, get cash back and, if you make your purchases within the first 14 months, pay no interest whatsoever. This is a better financing plan than most store credit cards can offer.

Apply Now: Discover it®

 

Chase Freedom

Another great cash back credit card that beats most store cards is the Chase Freedom. Also with no annual fee, it offers 1% cash back on all purchases, with rotating categories earning 5% cash back, up to $1500 in spending per quarter. For example, the current quarterly categories are Zappos.com, Amazon.com, and select department stores.

Also, enjoy getting great bargains at the Chase Ultimate Rewards online shopping portal, where you can often redeem your points for terrific deals at greater than face value! Add in the bonus of getting $100 cash back after spending $500 in the first three months, and this card definitely beats any store card, hands down!

 

American Express Blue Cash 

This is a pretty special card with tons of great perks, and amazing ways to earn lots of points. For all department store spending, you earn 2% cash back. This beats most department store credit cards, right off the bat. Add in the fact that you can earn 3% on groceries and 2% on gas, neither of which are options for most store credit cards, and the contest is over, in our minds.

Sure, there is a $6,000 cap on grocery spending, but there is no cap on the gas allowance. If you really want to see how generous the rewards are, then pay attention when you get a $50 statement credit after spending $1000 in the first three months. Get a free subscription for one year to Amazon Prime ($79-99 value) when you meet that spending minimum.

All of those benefits are available for no annual fee. If you want even more, you can sign up for the American Express Blue Cash Preferred card, and pay a $75 annual fee. In exchange for this fee, you will earn even more rewards (such as 6% on groceries, 3% at gas stations and department stores), and earn a sign up bonus of $150 after spending $1000 in the first three months. There is no cap to the rewards that you can earn, and it’s pretty likely that you will be able to make up for the annual fee easily.

 

Are There Any Decent Store Credit Cards?

Most of us have, or have had at some time in the past, store credit cards to our favorite retailers. Not all of them are terrible! You can get some great coupons and special deals, but, we still think that a regular cash back card is going to do better over time.

Some of the best ones may be the Gap credit card, which offers 5% back on in-store purchases; American Eagle Visa, which offers 4% cash back and a 20% birthday coupon; Kohl’s Charge Card, which offers 20% cash back—this is one of the better deals if you shop at this store; and Target, which offers 5% cash back on in-store purchases.

Generally, these store credit cards offer the best deals for in-store shopping. Some still love this way of doing business, but if you are more of an online shopper, or prefer to shop around for great deals from different retailers, you will not see huge benefits from any store credit cards.

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, it should seem clear that we definitely lean toward using cash back rewards cards from credit card companies like Discover, Chase and American Express, and would encourage you to explore your options beyond the immediate checkout lure of signing up for a store credit card. You will thank yourself in the long run, when you are enjoying the great cash back rewards that you can use any way you wish, not just as an in-store coupon.

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Target Redcard Review

The Target REDcard is a special kind of store credit card, one that actually functions more like a debit card than a credit card. When you use it to pay for a purchase, it will take the funds out of the checking account that is associated with the account.

This means you will never carry a balance on this card, which is a convenient feature. There are some other great features, let’s dig in and take a look at this card and you can decide whether or not you like it!

 

The Benefits

Easy to Apply

Applying for the Target REDcard is simple, and you can do it right at the register in Target while you are making your purchases, or you can apply through the mail. You will need to provide a voided check when you apply. There is no credit check required to apply for a Target REDcard, making it an accessible discount card for anyone who wants to have it. All you need is a checking account.

Great Discounts!

Get a 5% discount on all purchases made using the Target REDcard debit card, both in the stores and online. There are certain exceptions, including prescriptions and gift cards, but this is a significant discount. The discount comes in the form of money off of your entire purchase, not points that you can redeem later. Many like the instant discount feature for the Target REDcard.

Free Shipping When You Order Online

Whenever you shop at Target.com using your Target REDcard, you can enjoy free shipping on all of your purchases, with no minimum purchase required.

No Annual Fee

There is no annual fee for the Target REDcard, and no application fees. Because it is completely free to use, it can be a painless addition to your financial portfolio, and one that can get you great discounts if you love shopping at Target.

Convenience of Direct Debit 

You won’t receive a monthly statement or bill from Target REDcard, because you will pay for all of your purchases in full at the time of purchase, since the money is automatically debited from your checking account. This means you will never incur any debt by using the Target REDcard.

Donate to Education

Target is committed to making charitable contributions, and makes a donation to education that is the equivalent of 1% of all purchases made with the Target REDcard. The donation will be made to the school of your choice, so you have a say in where that money goes.

Easy Return Policy

If you prefer to shop online, you will enjoy the free shipping, but one of the great perks is that you can make the returns in any store. No worries about return shipping costs or packing up your returns. Just head to the store for your refund or to make your exchange.

Save on Prescription Copays

When you fill five or more prescriptions at the Target pharmacy, you will get an extra 5% discount coupon that you can use on any single day at any Target location, and the 5% discount will be in addition to your normal 5% discount for using the REDcard.

 

Disadvantages

Although this card is great for people who love shopping at Target, it is not terribly useful for other shopping purposes (actually not useful at all). It does not yet work with Target Mobile, but this may change in the future as more people access their shopping through the mobile app.

Also, the Target REDcard does not add any debt to you, but will also not affect your credit or help you build credit at all. So, if you need to build credit, you might want to consider one of the other cards available or a secured credit card.

 

Conclusion

The Target REDcard does offer some great discounts and free shipping options for those who love shopping at Target, but has little else to offer. If you shop at other places, and have a credit score that would qualify you for a regular unsecured credit card, you might want to consider the Discover it® card or the Chase Freedom, both of which provide great cash back or travel rewards and give you credit for all of your purchases. Plus, they offer rotating categories of 5% earnings for points, and sometimes this will even include department stores like Target!

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Introducing the Barnes & Noble MasterCard

There are always nerds among us, those that prefer the written word to television or film.  I can say that, I’m one of them (at times).  And, for an eternity, the number one name in “brick and mortar” booksellers has been Barnes & Noble.  That business model, of course, has been challenged in recent years by Amazon.com’s dominance.  However, the need for a physical book, immediately, still exists, and Barnes & Noble is the most ubiquitous of the major bookstores around.  Now, there’s a credit card available to you eggheads out there: the Barnes & Noble MasterCard.  Let’s check out the benefits below.

 

Benefits

  • Sign-Up Bonus

By no means earthshattering, the sign-up bonus for getting a Barnes and Noble MasterCard is a $25 gift card.  While something is always better than nothing, there are drastically higher sign-up offers out there for credit card members.  If you are loyal Barnes and Noble customer, though, the $25 is a welcome gift.

  • Annual Fee

One benefit of the credit card is that there is no annual fee.  This is properly aligned with the rather small amount of benefits.  However, no annual fee means no cost of ownership if you pay your bills each month.

  • Barnes and Noble Discounts

On every purchase at Barnes and Noble stores, you’ll earn 5% cash back on all purchases.  A notable benefit to this is that it is “stackable” with other discounts you may already have with Barnes and Noble.  This includes your membership discount or any coupons you may be using.

  • Regular Spend Cash Back Bonus

In addition to the 5% cash back at Barnes and Noble stores, you’ll also receive a very standard 1% cash back on all other purchases.  This isn’t anything groundbreaking, but better than nothing, for sure.

  • Bonus Gift Cards

Another side benefit of card ownership of the Barnes and Noble credit card is that for every $2,500 spent on the credit card, you’ll earn another $25 Barnes and Noble gift card.  This is effectively an extra 1% reward back to consumers for regular spending.  Definitely a benefit for major spenders on the card.

  • APR/Cash Advances

APR for the card depends on your credit worthiness.  You’ll either be charged a 13.99% or 24.99% APR when you have a balance on the card, and that’s the same for Balance Transfers.  For Cash Advances, you’ll be charged 25.24%, and if you miss a payment, you’ll be charged 27.24%.  There is a foreign transaction fee of 3% on this credit card.

Conclusion

Obviously aimed at loyal Barnes and Noble customers, this credit card is perfect for them.  However, if you never shop at Barnes and Noble, or only read on an Amazon Kindle, this credit card won’t do much for you.  There are other, more worthy annual fee-free credit cards out there that you can apply for.