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Archive for December 2012

4 credit card resolutions for 2013

Published 12/21/12  (Modified 12/11/13)

4 credit card resolutions for 2013 By Jennifer Gregory

As I scribbled down my New Year's resolutions for 2013, I realized that my list looked a lot like those of previous years, filled with vague goals about exercising and organizing my home. It hit me that I had never actually made any resolutions specific to my finances. So I decided to make this year's list a little different.

Here are four things I resolve to do with my credit cards in 2013.

1. Research card options throughout the year

Like many consumers, I tend to get complacent and use the same credit cards without re-evaluating whether my current cards suit my situation. Issuers release new credit cards throughout the year, many featuring 0 percent offers, and new promotions on existing cards appear too, such as the seasonal bonus offers on my airline credit card. But while I've planned to compare cards in the past, the task has stayed at the bottom of my to-do list.

This year, I plan to spend a few minutes on the first Monday of each month researching credit card options to see if I need to rotate the cards in my wallet.

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6 steps to disputing a credit card charge

Published 12/20/12

6 steps to disputing a credit card charge By Tim Sullivan

A few months ago, my fiancée and I went out to dinner at our favorite sushi restaurant. After we ate our fill of sashimi and warm saki, I paid our bill with my credit card and we made our way back home. The next month, while I was going through my credit card statement, I noticed that we had been double charged for our meal.

I called the restaurant and spoke to the night manager, but he wasn't much help. Finally, I got in contact with the owner who said that he was sorry for the inconvenience, but that he had no record of the double charge. He said he wouldn't issue a refund. I immediately contacted my credit card company.

Righting the wrong

Here's a list of steps to take when disputing any false charge on your monthly statement.

  1. Contact the offender. First, call the restaurant or business responsible for the charge. State your claim and ask for a full refund.

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Isis Mobile Wallet: Worthy of the hype?

Published 12/14/12

Isis Mobile Wallet: Worthy of the hype? By Justin Boyle

If you live in Austin, Texas, like I do, you've seen it plastered all over town. Austin is one of two U.S. cities -- along with Salt Lake City, Utah -- that have been chosen for the pilot roll-out of the Isis Mobile Wallet. Isis is yet another brand name to enter the mobile payments frenzy, and it promises to "transform your buying experience."

By now, MBB readers are as familiar with mobile payment apps as anyone. These apps aim to link your credit card accounts together in a single smartphone application, with the stated purpose of saving you the monumental hassle of handing your card over to a cashier and, later, physically signing a small slip of paper.

It's natural to wonder if the Isis Mobile Wallet has got anything going for it other than an aggressive marketing campaign. Does it offer anything that the existing stable of mobile payment apps doesn't already offer? We've done the homework so you don't have to.

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Review: Simmons First Visa Platinum credit card

Published 12/11/12  (Modified 12/14/12)

Review: Simmons First Visa Platinum credit card By Peter Andrew

If you follow the gossip columns, you may see a lot of master-of-the-universe types from Wall Street at $5,000-a-plate charity fundraisers. But, as a group, those in the financial services sector aren't famous for their altruism, at least when it comes to business. So when banks and credit card companies come to you bearing gifts, it's usually wise to read the small print carefully.

This applies to credit card rewards as much as anything else. These are in part funded by higher interest rates. In mid-November 2012, IndexCreditCards.com's credit card rate monitor found that the average rate for a consumer non-rewards card was 15.19 percent APR. The average for a consumer rewards card was 17.45 percent. Such a spread can easily wipe out the benefits of cash back, points and miles very quickly.

That's the reason many financial advisers recommend charging to rewards plastic only those purchases you plan to pay off quickly. Everything else should be put on cheaper, non-rewards cards. Among the most affordable of these is the Simmons First Visa Platinum card, though you're only likely to lay your hands on one if you have excellent credit.

Ultra-low interest rate

Just how cheap is its standard credit card rate for purchases? Well, it's currently 7.25 percent APR variable, which is less than half that of the average for its competitors' comparable products.

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The cure for currency shops and travelers checks

Published 12/7/12

The cure for currency shops and travelers checks By Tim Sullivan

I remember anxiously waiting in line at a rural African bank, hoping they'd exchange the travelers checks I had purchased before leaving the U.S. This was almost a decade ago on my first trip overseas, and it was an uncomfortable introduction to the art of managing money abroad.

Thankfully, my days of travelers checks and dishonest conversion rates have mostly come to an end for one reason: I travel with plastic. Compared to many payment methods, traveling with credit cards is safe, secure and inexpensive. That said, some precautions must be taken. Here's a list of four tips you'll need when heading abroad with your credit card:

1. Get a card with no foreign transaction fees

Using my rewards card while abroad to pay for hotels, car rentals, train fare, eating out and museum tickets is a great way to boost the travel points that may help fund future trips. However, you can easily cancel out those rewards by paying a 3 percent foreign transaction fee on every purchase. There are many cards with no such fees on the market, so make sure you have one in your wallet before you depart.

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