• Credit Cards and Account Security

    A few days ago, one of my close friends shared a harrowing story with me regarding identity theft. The person had their checking account compromised and found themselves spending a great deal of time working closely with their bank to resolve all of the issues. That person was not entirely sure whether everything was cleaned …

  • Some Thoughts on Credit Cards

    I am frequently asked what my views are on credit cards and their usage. Do I need to have a credit card? Is it okay not to have one? How does one use a credit card in a financially responsible lifestyle? How does a credit card help my overall credit rating? What are some good …

  • Some Thoughts on Rewards Cards

    Almost every day, I’ll get an email or two from a reader wanting me to evaluate a particular credit card with a rewards program associated with it. “Is the Chase Amazon card a good deal?” “Does that Target Visa really pay off?” “Is the points program on this card better than the points program on …

  • Why Was My Credit Limit Lowered?

    Jennifer writes in: Yesterday, I received a notice from [my credit card company] that my credit limit had been lowered from $10,000 to $4,000 on my primary credit card. I was immediately worried that my credit had been damaged by identity theft, so I checked it on annualcreditreport.com and there was nothing there at all. …

  • Interest Rates Don’t Matter If You Don’t Carry a Balance: Some Thought on the Cash-Only Debate

    Earlier today, I read with interest the comments on this Get Rich Slowly article about Suze Orman and the “cash only” movement. In a nutshell, the article advocated (as Suze apparently does now) that people should abandon credit cards because the credit card issuers have been raising interest rates. To put it simply, the raising …

  • To Close or To Not Close a Paid-Off Credit Card?

    You’ve finally paid off that credit card. It’s sitting there with no balance on it and you regret ever owning it. It’s got a high interest rate and no rewards program and you will never use it again. But should you close it? This is an interesting debate that often comes up in personal finance …

  • Personal Finance 101: Why Do I Need Credit At All?

    Samantha writes in: I don’t understand why I need credit at all. Credit just gets you into debt and you wind up paying interest to other companies. What’s the point of throwing my money away like that? Samantha asks a really good question here – and in some respects, she’s spot on. Poor use of …

  • The Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights Act of 2009 Is Here: What Does It Mean For You – And What Might It Mean for the Future?

    On Tuesday, the Senate passed the Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights Act of 2009, an act that will quickly be passed into law with the signature of President Obama, likely within the week. This bill has a huge number of ramifications for credit cards – for users who are late on their payments, for those …

  • Should Teenagers Be Able To Have Credit Cards?

    A reader recently pointed me towards an interesting article at MSN MoneyCentral on the topic of restricting the access that teenagers have to credit cards. Much of the article discusses the proposed Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act of 2009 (S. 414, sponsored by Chris Dodd, and often called the Credit CARD Act of …

  • Personal Finance 101: Charge Cards Versus Debit Cards Versus Credit Cards – Pros and Cons

    A very long time ago, I wrote an extremely brief article covering the difference between charge cards and credit cards. That article really didn’t answer the question, though, because I still have conversations and receive emails where people use the phrases “charge card” and “credit card” interchangeably. Along those same lines, Tim writes in recently: …

  • How I Use Credit Cards … And Why

    Sasha writes in with a typical question: A lot of different personal finance bloggers have different ways that they use credit cards. Some of them don’t use them at all. Others seem to use them a lot. Where do you stand and why? I started off answering this question for the reader mailbag, but then …

  • A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting Your Credit Card Interest Rates Reduced

    When I was near my financial low point, I was literally paying hundreds a month in finance charges on my credit cards. That money was an enormous burden at the time, since I didn’t have any savings built up and I was also dealing with the “startup” expenses of having a new baby in the …

  • The Big Debate #3: Credit Cards or Debit Cards?

    This week, The Simple Dollar is taking a deeper look at five common personal finance debates. Several people I know have made the active choice in their life to completely avoid the use of credit cards. In the modern era, this seems like an almost shocking choice. Credit cards seem like the foundation of basic …

  • Got Credit Card Debt? Ten Tactics to Use Right Now to Get It Under Control

    Jon writes in: I have a bunch of credit card debt spread across several different cards and I’m having a hard time getting started paying them off. You’ve offered a lot of little solutions for debt removal, but I need a plan I can execute to deal with these credit cards. How can I get …

  • A Portfolio of Credit Cards for Specific Purchases?

    Jenelle wrote in recently and described her way of using credit cards: Unlike your advice to minimize your credit cards, I actually have eight open credit cards that I use all the time. These cards cover all of my purchases but each one has a particular bonus program that I can take specific advantage of. …

  • The Credit Card Holy Wars: There Is No “Right” Answer … But Here’s My Take

    One of the most frequent negative comments I get on The Simple Dollar relates to credit card usage. I often advocate using credit cards for their purchasing convenience and rewards points, then paying off the whole balance each month. In effect, this means that I use a credit card as an extension of my checking …

  • Should You Cancel Your Unused Credit Cards or Not?

    On a fairly regular basis, I suggest to my readers that they cancel unused credit cards except for their oldest one. In fact, I often suggest that you reduce your credit cards to one or two that you use for regular purchases and your oldest one – cancel the rest. This advice is often criticized, …

  • I Have A Wallet Full Of Credit Cards – Which Ones Should I Keep?

    I often get notes from people who have a small mountain of credit cards. They’re trying to figure out which ones they should keep and which ones they should cancel for various reasons, and they’re (rightfully) concerned with their credit report when they do this. Obviously, a wallet full of credit cards can be a …

  • The One Hour Project: Reduce The Interest Rate On Your Credit Cards

    This post is part of The One Hour Project, in which you can spend just one hour to put your finances in a better place without a big lifestyle change, through frugality or other financial choices. This is something that’s well worth doing if you have consistently carried a credit card balance in the past …