Archive for February 2012


Eenie meenie miney...Whoa! Too many credit card offers

Published 2/27/12  (Modified 12/17/13)

Eenie meenie miney...Whoa! Too many credit card offers By Megg Mueller

While it might appear obvious, one of the things I do for a living is research and write about credit cards. And yet, I've been sitting here with a credit card offer in my hands for about 10 days now, and I'm no closer to deciding if I should accept it than I was when I ripped open the envelope.

The offer is to upgrade my Bank of America Platinum Plus Visa, a card I have never used nor do I recall asking for, but got when I opened other B of A accounts. So for about four years, I've had this card I've never used, and all of a sudden I am being offered a Bank of America Cash Rewards Signature Visa. But I don't know if I want it. I can't tell, and that's just sad.

I got four credit card offers in the mail last week, and two via email. TransUnion, the credit scoring agency, reported last week that the number of new cards issued in 2011 rose by 14 percent, according to a story by Eileen AJ Connelly of the Associated Press. Now call me crazy, but that might have something to do with the fact that the Boston Globe reported that 4 billion credit card offers were mailed out last year. The adage "if you throw enough stuff at the wall, something is bound to stick" springs to mind.

Anyway, when I wrote about this for CardRatings.com, the thinking at the time was that banks were loosening their Read the full article »

Would you let your kid buy stock in Disney?

Published 2/22/12  (Modified 12/17/13)

Would you let your kid buy stock in Disney? By Aaron Crowe

I'm not such a big fan of everything Disney that I'll ever win a trivia game about the Magic Kingdom. Like many parents, I like to go to Disneyland as often as I can afford it and watch my daughter light up when she sees Mickey.

Buying stock in Disney isn't as fun as using a Park Hopper pass to tour your favorite amusement parks, but it can be educational. What kid doesn't want to make money?

As an investment and educational tool, buying stock in Disney or any other company that caters to children can be a way to show them how to invest and hopefully make some money while learning about the stock market. There's plenty of math involved. They can learn about the power of reinvesting dividends, dollar cost averaging and how news events can move a stock price.

Direct stock purchase plans through Disney require a minimum investment of $250 to start and additional investments of $50 or more if you want to buy more shares. Unfortunately Disney doesn't sell framed stock certificates of one share of stock to give as gifts, as some companies do, so if you're looking for a keepsake, look elsewhere.

And there are other ways to show your love of Disney, of course. Chase recently started offering Disney's Premier Visa Card with colorful designs of Disney characters. The Disney Rewards Visa provides a similar look without the $49 annual fee. But until there's a Disney prepaid debit card, best to save these Read the full article »

How your tax withholdings can teach you the power of saving

Published 2/20/12  (Modified 3/2/12)

How your tax withholdings can teach you the power of saving By Justin Boyle

With tax season in full swing, people from coast to coast are finding themselves either happily or unpleasantly surprised by the size of their refund. Here's a simple method to help increase the size of your refund while also making a point about personal financial responsibility.

I was a teenager when I took my first job, cooking and topping pies in the kitchen at a local pizzeria. My first job also meant filling out my first W-4, and, admittedly, I didn't understand all the official terms and numbers right off the bat.

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Move over fast food: American credit cards land in China

Published 2/13/12  (Modified 2/28/12)

Move over fast food: American credit cards land in China By Megg Mueller

"Made in China" just took on a new twist, at least for one American bank. Citibank has just been given the green light to issue credit cards in the notoriously restrictive country, a coup that makes Citi the first Western bank allowed into China's rapidly growing banking market.

China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, but it has been very slow to warm to foreign financial institutions on its home turf. While foreign banks have been allowed to partner with Chinese banks and issue co-branded credit cards, the Citibank deal marks the first time the Asian nation is letting a non-Chinese company fly solo.

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Branded credit card? No thanks

Published 2/8/12  (Modified 2/22/12)

Branded credit card? No thanks By Aaron Crowe

I went to Sears recently to buy a pair of shoes for my daughter, not knowing that paying for them would turn into a math lesson for the entire family.

I paid for the $20 shoes (on sale from the original price of $30) with a credit card, and was told by the cashier that the price would drop to $6 if I opened a Sears credit card on the spot. I'm usually happy to get 70 percent off, but I declined for a few reasons -- the main one being that I wanted to get out of the store quickly after finding the shoes...

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3 myths about professional financial advice

Published 2/6/12  (Modified 2/15/12)

3 myths about professional financial advice By Justin Boyle

A lot of people I know are taking steps to get their personal finances under control for the new year. They're trying just about everything, from swearing off credit card spending to keeping tight budgets of entertainment and retail expenses.

No one's given up yet, as far as I've been told, but we are only a little ways into 2012. A recent survey by New York Life indicates that a majority of Americans are setting similar goals for themselves, and that a startlingly small percentage of us seem to know what it takes to succeed...

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