Step-by-step guide to build credit in one year

I have written this guide as a balanced approach to building credit if you are starting out. It is not intended to give you the maximum credit score, since that would require that you know perfectly how to manage credit from the beginning, an unrealistic expectation. If you follow this guide, at the end of the first year you should have a solid credit history that would allow you to get approved for most credit cards and obtain reasonable interest rates on auto loans.

Continue reading Step-by-step guide to build credit in one year

10 reasons to use your credit card – Part 9: trip interruption/cancellation insurance

I’ve talked about risks associated with traveling in earlier posts in this series. Credit cards are amazing for protection against unfortunate events along your travels, and apparently they are helpful even if you cannot make your trip or cannot complete your trip for unforeseen reasons.

Continue reading 10 reasons to use your credit card – Part 9: trip interruption/cancellation insurance

10 reasons to use a credit card- Part 8: Baggage delay reimbursement and baggage damage/loss insurance

I don’t seem to have good luck with checked in baggage. For the approximately 20 one-way trips I have made with checked in bags, I have had baggage delay 3 times, all within the past 2 years. One of these times, on my flight from Seattle to Boston in December 2013, I had an opportunity to test out the baggage delay reimbursement feature of my credit card, the Barclaycard Arrival World Mastercard (later name changed to the Arrival +).

luggagecarousel3
I got my bag delayed somehow.

Continue reading 10 reasons to use a credit card- Part 8: Baggage delay reimbursement and baggage damage/loss insurance

10 reasons to use a credit card – Part 7: Rental car insurance

For those of us that travel and drive often, rental car insurance is a pretty big concern. You hit the road with a car that you have never driven before, and drive hundreds of miles a day to see the Grand Canyon, the Yosemite, the Hoover Dam,….

The Grand Canyon, courtesy of Papillon.

Accidents are a real risk, and can ruin your trip, especially when you are thousands of miles away from home in unfamiliar territory. Rental car agencies understand the fear, and sell product that insures you against rental car accidents. Added together, these insurance products can be more costly than the cost of renting the car itself.

car accident

One of the most popular insurance products for rental cars is collision damage waiver, a policy that releases you from the liability for any damage taken on the car during the rental period. This service usually costs around $15 plus tax a day. It’s really not a bad idea to pay $15 a day for the peace of mind. But if you travel a lot, it adds up quickly.

Continue reading 10 reasons to use a credit card – Part 7: Rental car insurance

10 reasons to use a credit card- Part 5: purchase protection

So it’s Halloween, and a cunning elf breaks into your house and steals your Xbox One for his early Christmas gift. You are angry because you just bought it for yourself 3 days ago as your main entertainment through the end of the year. What do you do?

What to do if your stuff gets stolen?

Well, you’d better have used your credit card to buy the Xbox One, because then you’d benefit from purchase protection.

Continue reading 10 reasons to use a credit card- Part 5: purchase protection

10 reasons to use your credit card-Part 4: return protection

It is almost the holiday shopping season, the merriest time of the year for all, and the most profitable time for the retail industry, and I’m sure each of us has our own shopping list for Thanksgiving and Christmas. And every year, millions of dollars’ worth of stuff is returned to stores right after the holidays. If you have a change of heart about a gift you bought and try to return the gift for a refund ….

Hopefully you don’t have to return a gift to the store, but if you do…

Continue reading 10 reasons to use your credit card-Part 4: return protection

Amex tripled my credit limit!

9 months ago, in November 2012, I was very excited to become an American Express Card Member! https://hiepsfinance.com/2012/11/18/i-got-amex/ . I was approved for an Amex Gold Delta Skymiles credit card with a $1,000 credit limit.

My first Amex card is a Delta Gold, with a $1k starting limit
My first Amex card was a Delta Gold, with a $1k starting limit

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What sets American Express apart from other lenders

Unlike Visa and Mastercard which only process but not issue credit cards, and like Discover, American Express also issues credit cards. The origin of American Express is also very distinguished from those of the competitors. They started out as a domestic express mail service back when the US Post Office did not yet deliver packages. They made a lot of money, and very quickly established the American Express brand as a premium service provider. Later on, American Express gradually transformed itself into a financial services company while skillfully retaining and enhancing the brand nationwide and worldwide.

Amex logo. Plain and simple.
Amex logo. Plain and simple.

Continue reading What sets American Express apart from other lenders

Reblog and analysis: “Five Surprising Things That May Impact Your Score” from Transunion

parking-ticketTransunion is one of the three consumer reporting agencies (CRA’s) which are responsible for keeping a record of your credit profile. Today I came across a brief and helpful article on their “Credit Education” section that I’d like to share with you and attach my comments to. The article is titled “Your Credit History: Five Surprising Things That May Impact Your Score.” Let’s analyze these 5 surprising things, one by one.

 

Continue reading Reblog and analysis: “Five Surprising Things That May Impact Your Score” from Transunion

Bank of America’s credit cards: an insider’s view

Last week, I featured Bank of America’s BankAmericard Cash Rewards credit card, compiling most relevant information that is more or less public, meaning that you can obtain the information without actually having the card. As an actual cardholder, I have the advantage of knowing exactly what’s inside Bank of America’s online banking system, what other benefits a BofA card offers, as well as the details of the card’s features.

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