A credit card is a great financial tool. It can be more convenient to use and carry than cash and it offers valuable consumer protections under federal law.
At the same time, it's a big responsibility. If you don't use it carefully, you may owe more than you can repay, damage your credit rating, and create credit problems for yourself that can be difficult to undo.
Chances are your mail is full of solicitations from credit card issuers. How do you know if the time is right for a credit card? Here's some important information that may help you determine whether you're ready for plastic, what to look for when you select a company to do business with, and how to use your credit card responsibly.
Qualifying for a Credit Card
If you're at least 18 years old and have a regular source of income, you're well on your way to qualifying for a card. But despite the invitations from card issuers, you'll still have to demonstrate that you're a good risk before they grant you credit. The proof is in your credit record. If you've financed a car loan or other purchase, you probably have a record at a credit reporting bureau. This credit history shows how responsible you've been in paying your bills and helps the credit card issuer decide how much credit to extend.
Before you submit a credit application, get a copy of your report to make sure it's accurate. It's available from the three major credit bureaus:
EQUIFAX PO Box 105873, Atlanta, GA 30348; (800) 685-1111 (up to $8 fee)
EXPERIAN (formerly TRW), PO Box 8030, Layton, UT 84041; (800) 392- 1122 (No charge)
TRANS UNION PO Box 390, Springfield, PA 19064; (216) 779-7200 (up to $8 fee)
Establishing A Credit History
Suppose you haven't financed a car loan, a computer, or some other major purchase. How do you begin to establish credit? First, consider applying for a credit card at a local store and use it responsibly. Ask if they report to a credit bureau. If they do - and if you pay your bills on time - you'll establish a good credit history.
Second, consider a secured credit card. It requires that you open and maintain a bank account or other asset account at a financial institution as security for your line of credit. Your credit line will be a percentage of your deposit, typically from 50 to 100 percent. Application and processing fees are not uncommon for secured credit cards. In addition, secured credit cards usually carry higher interest rates than traditional non-secured cards.
Third, consider asking someone with an established credit history - perhaps a relative - to co-sign the account if you don't qualify for credit on your own. The co-signer promises to pay your debts if you don't. You'll want to repay any debt promptly so you can build a credit history and apply for credit in the future on your own.
A positive credit history is an asset, not only when you apply for a credit card, but also when you apply for a job or insurance, or when you want to finance a car or home.
If Your Application is Denied
If you're turned down for a card, ask why. It may be that you haven't been at your current address or job long enough. Or that your income doesn't meet the issuer's criteria. Different credit card companies have different standards. But if you are turned down by several companies, it may indicate that you are not ready for a credit card.
If you've been denied credit because of information supplied by a credit bureau, federal law requires the creditor to give you the name and address of the bureau that supplied the information. If you contact that bureau within 30 days of receiving the denial, you are entitled to a free copy of your report. If your file contains accurate negative information, only time and good credit habits will restore your credit-worthiness. If you find an error in your report, you are entitled to have it investigated by the credit bureau and corrected at no charge.
Getting the Best Deal
Fees, charges, and benefits vary among credit card issuers. When you're choosing a credit card, shop around. Compare these important features:
Annual Percentage Rate (APR). The APR is a measure of the cost of credit, expressed as a yearly interest rate. Check out the "periodic rate," too. That's the rate the issuer applies to your outstanding balance to figure the finance charge for each billing period. For example, if you have an outstanding balance of $2,000, with 18.5 % interest and a minimum monthly payment, it would take over 11 years to pay off the debt and cost you an additional $1,934 just for interest, which almost doubles the total cost of your original purchase.
Grace Period. This is the time between the date of a purchase and the date interest starts being charged on that purchase. If your card has a standard grace period you have an opportunity to avoid finance charges by paying your current balance in full. Some issuers allow a grace period for new purchases even if you do not pay your balance in full every month. If there is no grace period, the issuer imposes a finance charge from the date you use your card or from the date each transaction is posted to your account.
Ultimele referate adaugate
- Mihai beniuc - „poezii"
- Mihai eminescu - student la berlin
- Mircea Eliade - Mioara Nazdravana (mioriţa)
- Chirita in provintie de Vasile Alecsandri -expunerea subiectului
- Dragoste de viata de Jack London
|Ion Luca Caragiale
- Triumful talentului… (reproducere) de Ion Luca Caragiale
- Fantasticul in proza lui Mircea Eliade - La tiganci
- „Personalitate creatoare” si „figura a spiritului creator” eminescian
- Enigma Otiliei de George Calinescu - geneza, subiectul si tema romanului
- Arta literara in romanul Ion, - Liviu Rebreanu