Credit Cards

Why Store Credit Cards Are A Bad Deal (Even If They Save 10% Now!)

I used to have a big pile of in-store credit cards for various chain stores. I would go into a store ready to make a big purchase and the person at the counter would say, “You can save 10% by signing up for our store credit card!” and I would think, “Yeah! It’s like a …

Categories: Credit Cards

Reader Question: College Student Crushed By Credit Cards

Recently, I received an email from a reader of The Simple Dollar who laid out an interesting yet familiar story: My girlfriend is a junior in college and she’s managed to dig herself into about $2500 worth of high-interest debt by accumulating credit cards from retail stores (20-24% interest rates). She always makes her minimum …

Digging Through The Comments: Readers Of The Simple Dollar Speak Out

Occasionally, I like to highlight comments about various articles on The Simple Dollar for several reasons. One, it lets me highlight some of my best readers and let them know that I really value their comments. Two, it lets everyone else know how integral comments are to The Simple Dollar. And three, after sifting through …

Personal Finance 101: Charge Cards and Credit Cards

Most people think that the phrases “charge card” and “credit card” are interchangeable; that they refer to the same thing. The truth is that they’re not. So let’s step back, look at the differences, and see which one is best for you. A charge card is basically just a means of obtaining a very short …

Categories: Credit Cards

35 Outrageous Fees – And How To Avoid Them

Recently, CNNMoney.com posted an article containing 35 outrageous fees, along with tips on avoiding them. Unfortunately, due to the terrible layout of the article (you’re forced to jump from page to page in a very awkward fashion), it’s almost impossible to see all of the fees and also jump to the one you want to …

Three Simple Steps For Making Your Credit Cards Manageable Again

One of the first steps I took when I reached financial armageddon was to take on my credit cards. I was paying hundreds of dollars each month in finance charges and it had to stop or else I would never get out of debt. I didn’t really want to go to a credit counseling service …

Categories: Credit Cards, Debt

25 Rules to Grow Rich By #17: Credit Cards

The Simple Dollar is running a series in which we re-evaluate Money Magazine’s “25 Rules To Grow Rich By”. One “rule” will be re-evaluated each weekday until the series concludes; you can keep tabs on the action at the 25 Rules index. Rule #17: The best credit card is a no-fee rewards credit card that …

Personal Finance in a Plastic Economy

As we move more and more towards a cashless economy, many of the traditional techniques for saving money don’t work as well as they used to. Many of us no longer have as much pocket change or as many loose dollar bills because we make most of our purchases with a credit card or a …

Money For Nothing: Five Ways To Put Money In Your Pocket With Zero Effort

Many people think about saving money, but decide that it’s too much work or it interferes too much with their lives. I’m usually this way, too; I’d rather not think about it when I’m hanging out with friends or spending time with family. I’m also not a big investor, so I don’t exactly plan on …

Credit Cards As Small Purchase Tools: Pros and Cons

Recently, I’ve begun using a credit card with a useful bonus program as my tool for making small, regular purchases. I did this after finally climbing out of a significant hole of credit card debt, reaching a zero balance on every one of my cards. When I began using the card for this purpose, I …

Categories: Credit Cards, Planning

A Guide To Using Froogle

I was surprised recently to find out that several regular readers of The Simple Dollar were completely unaware of Froogle, Google’s comparative shopping search engine. It’s such a powerful tool for finding good and reputable deals that I wrote up a brief tour of the site, including a clear example, so that you can see …

Categories: Coupons, Credit Cards

Getting Started With Credit By Buying Textbooks

While I was reading a thread at The Consumerist on ways to get started with credit, I found myself repeatedly shaking my head at the number of extremely questionable ideas that people were coming up with.  Buying CDs and using them as loan collateral simply to improve your credit seems like financial suicide to me. …

The Road to Financial Armageddon #9: The Road to Recovery

Yesterday, I described my financial meltdown, when I reached a point where there was more money going out each month than coming in with no real hope for redemption without a change from within. Then, thanks to some inspiration, I made that change. The first thing I did was I laid out every single expense …

Introductory Credit Card Offers As Profit: Risks and Rewards

One advantage of building a strong credit rating is that you begin to receive many credit card offers with introductory 0% APR for six months or a year. These cards are great if you’re carrying a balance on another card; request a balance transfer when you sign up and the interest goes away. Of course, …

The Road to Financial Armageddon #8: Meltdown

Yesterday, I detailed the impact of a baby on my downward financial spiral; suffice it to say, the finances were not good. Everything was set up for a collapse and I inched up to the precipice, largely oblivious of how close I was to the lip of Mount Doom. The most fundamental problem was that …

The Road to Financial Armageddon #7: Here Comes Baby

Yesterday, I talked about the period in my life where my wife and I spent money like it was going out of style in order to obtain a “yuppie” lifestyle. Then, that magic moment happened: we took a home pregnancy test and discovered that a little one was on the way. I can remember that …

The Road To Financial Armageddon #6: The Yuppie Years

On Saturday, we learned how love and marriage caused me to sink even deeper into a financial hole I was digging for myself. I had hopes that as a married couple we would begin to get our financial house in order, but it was not to be. My first big mistake is that I bought …

The Road To Financial Armageddon #5: Love and Marriage

Yesterday, we learned about my immature behavior in handling a large steady income. I was starting to sink further into debt without really acquiring any assets, and I was building up a lifestyle based around extremely poor spending decisions. Yet, I was about to embark on a path that would make matters much worse. I …

The Road to Financial Armageddon #4: The First Taste of Real Money

Yesterday, we watched as I stumbled through college making a series of classic financial errors. Yet I finished (albeit in six years) with a pair of degrees, and I was able to find work utilizing both of them. I was suddenly making more money per year than my parents had made combined in any year, …