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2 steps to beneficial credit card spending

2 steps to beneficial credit card spending

Published 7/17/13

2 steps to beneficial credit card spending By Georgie Miller

Sometimes it seems to me that every personal finance article on the Internet suggests that the only side effect of credit card use is overspending. And obviously overspending is something that needs to be avoided. However, it is actually possible to use credit cards to keep your spending in check.

How? By being a conscious consumer, you can use a credit card to simplify your record-keeping and make better spending decisions. Try the two steps below to see if you can use your credit card to improve your finances.

Step 1: Track your total balance

By tracking the total amount I've spent each month rather than considering each individual purchase, I can more easily decide the effect that purchase is going to have on my bottom line. Let's say a friend asks me to go to dinner and I have $30 in my wallet.

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Does your start-up need a business credit card?

Published 7/11/13

Does your start-up need a business credit card? By Justin Boyle

I'm not sure exactly when the fever took hold, but more than a few people I know have made the decision to start businesses in the last year or so. Whether it's turning an old Airstream trailer into a food truck, founding a software startup or turning a love of vintage objects into a resale shop on eBay, entrepreneurialism seems to be happening all around me.

Some general themes emerge when my enterprising friends talk about their ventures. Cautious optimism is pretty common, as you might expect, and practically everyone sighs heavily over start-up costs and overhead. All those sighs set me to wondering: What's the best way to pay for it all?

People who applied for business credit cards before doing any hefty spending tend to swear by their method, but those who dove into using their own personal credit haven't reported a long list of regrets either. Is one way really better than the other?

Let's take a look at some of the factors.

Reasons to get a business credit card

One of the biggest headaches of sole proprietorship is the necessity to keep track of your business finances.

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Is it safe to start spending again?

Published 7/5/13

Is it safe to start spending again? By Peter Andrew

I've been writing about business and money for a depressingly high number of decades. But I only started to cover credit cards in 2008. Remember that year? It was when the impact of the credit crunch really began to hit. People were hurting, and suddenly debt that had previously seemed easily manageable took on scary proportions.

Often, my job was to howl at the injustices some credit card companies inflicted on their customers, to provide advice about strategies for paying down card debt quickly, and to warn readers about the horrors of unmanageable debt. I'm a cheerful sort of person, and all that doom and gloom didn't come naturally.

Everything's coming up roses

Then, on June 27, everything changed for me. An e-newsletter arrived in my Inbox from Comerica's chief economist Dr. Robert A. Dye.

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3 ways to maximize your travel rewards this summer

Published 6/5/13  (Modified 2/29/16)

3 ways to maximize your travel rewards this summer By Justin Boyle

Last weekend I got a text message from my mother. It included a photo of her smiling in front of a picture window overlooking the sea and text that read, "Brunch in San Diego, dinner at home in Phoenix. Not a bad life!"

My parents are making a pretty good go of the empty-nest lifestyle, taking an island vacation once every few years and occasionally traveling between their old stomping grounds in New York City and their new turf in the Valley of the Sun. But they're not usually the type to jet to the seaside for brunch on an ordinary Saturday, so I had to ask about this trip.

It turned out that it involved the pending expiration of points they'd earned through their credit cards with miles promotions. By keeping an eye on the fine print of their card agreements, they were simply making the most of what their travel rewards cards offer them.

Want to do the same this summer (and beyond)? Here are three tips for maximizing your travel rewards.

1. Target the right carrier

Not all airline rewards programs offer the same flight availability. Some carriers offer few seats to frequent flyers on their flights, but others are much more liberal.

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Should you start a business on zero percent credit?

Published 5/22/13

Should you start a business on zero percent credit? By Peter Andrew

I'm not what you'd call a natural entrepreneur. In fact, every venture I've ever tried to set up has turned to dust. But a few years ago, I inherited a small sum of money, and couldn't find anywhere to put it where it would earn a reasonable, relatively risk-free return. So I once again considered setting up my very own micro-enterprise: I planned to buy a cheap, run-down home, do it up, and then flip it before starting the process all over again.

A number of questions arose: Would my meager windfall be enough to fund such an operation? If not, where should I obtain working capital, especially as my bank and I are barely on speaking terms? Should I be ready to let credit cards take some of the strain?

Zero percent credit cards as seed capital

Given my track record, it's probably just as well I left the money in something my bank, without any trace of irony, calls a high-interest savings account. But should I have gathered some nerve and taken the plunge, having first applied for a clutch of zero percent credit cards? Maybe.

The idea of using the interest-free introductory period that many cards offer to fund a start-up business sounds attractive, and there are plenty of stories online about entrepreneurs who used plastic to get their companies off the ground.

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What is a chip-and-PIN credit card?

Published 5/7/13

What is a chip-and-PIN credit card? By Justin Boyle

At first glance, your U.S. credit card may seem ideal for traveling abroad. You can just bring your foreign-fee-free card on your next overseas trip and cross borders without having to worry about losing spending power to unfavorable exchange rates, right?

As many world travelers have found, it isn't always that easy.

The rise of chip-and-PIN cards

In 2004, card issuers in many parts of the world started changing their credit card format. The old signature-verified model began falling by the wayside in these places in favor of EMV smart chip cards, commonly referred to as chip-and-PIN cards.

Increased security is cited as the primary advantage of a switch to chip-and-PIN cards, which feature two authentication methods: the traditional magnetic stripe, as well as an encrypted microprocessor that broadcasts payment information to the card reader. Experts in India, where the national reserve bank has mandated a switch to EMV cards for international transactions, say that the chips are practically impossible for fraudsters to decode.

But after much of Europe switched to EMV technology, travelers from the U.S. began to fall victim to the incompatibility of their U.S. credit cards in some places.

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