How Many Credit Cards is Too Many?


Is there such a thing as too many credit cards?

There can be. Honestly, it goes both ways. Most people would agree, though, that they are at a higher risk of getting into debt that they cannot escape if they own way more credit cards than they can control. Having so much credit can be too tempting, and many people have given in to that temptation, spending more than they can pay back and ending up with a bad credit card and debt up to their earlobes.

This is why it is often difficult to keep, or build up to, a good credit score. Creditors look at how many credit cards you have and almost automatically see a potential threat that you will not be able to pay off your debt. This automatically decreases your score, and it also may make it difficult to receive other forms of credit, like a loan, or another credit card.

So how do you escape the automatic assumption that just because you have a lot of credit cards, you cannot pay your debt?

Well, there are some cases in which people do not have a bad credit score, even when they have several credit cards. What did these people have that those with even a few cards did not? A good credit history. That and regular payments helps your credit score either stay in the high numbers, or increase to where you want it to be.

So how do I know how many credit cards I can have?

How many credit cards you can handle is up to you. If you have a large number of credit cards in your wallet and are confused as to why you are having difficulty paying your bills on time, you may want to cut down a bit. Your spending habits and our monthly income are what determine how many credit cards you can have without letting your debt get out of control, and how well you control your debt is what will determine your credit score.

How do I build up a good credit history?

If you are just starting to get familiar with credit, you should probably start out with a low number of credit cards, if not one. Buying too many credit cards at once will make you appear as a potential over-spender, and even worse, someone who will not be able to pay their bills. To start out low and use your credit card wisely, like paying your bills on time and paying your cards off frequently, will eventually prove that you can handle credit cards carefully and result in a very good credit history, allowing for you to build up to an excellent credit score.

How can I show creditors that I’m dependable with my credit cards?

Always pay in full and on time. The thing that will hurt your credit score the most is having frequent occurrences where you make your payments late. Paying your bills on time every time will show that whether you have one or fifty credit cards, you can pay back the money that you borrowed on those cards.

Rewards Credit Cards

We use our credit cards for a lot of things. In fact, we use them for almost everything. Here’s an interesting tidbit: the only thing I’ve found I couldn’t buy with a credit card was a money order. Can you believe that? I want to know what powerful lobbyist in Washington made sure I had to go through the credit card companies’ exorbitant cash advance fees.

Anyway, my point isn’t the slimy lobbyists. My point is that if you’re going to use your credit cards for every purchase under the sun you might as well get paid.

What? Get paid to use your credit cards? In a sense, yes. Rewards credit cards are making it possible for credit card holders to get a little something back. Call it a thank you from the banks – a thank you for those billions of dollars in credit card interest we all pay every year.

Let’s make one thing clear – the credit card companies make a lot of money whether you ever carry a balance on your card. I’m fine with it. Companies need to make a profit to survive. Every time you swipe that card the merchant pays visa a fee. Multiply a few cents times millions of transactions per day and you’ve got large stacks of cash. I’m only telling you this so you understand the credit card companies aren’t going out of business even if you pay your balance every month. So do it.

In fact, the key to making rewards credit cards a good deal for you is to never carry a balance. Think about the different rewards you can get – cash back, points toward purchases, airline miles, etc. In every case, one point or one mile has a dollar value you never think about. For example: if a $50 laptop back costs 1,000 points to purchase, then each point is worth 5 cents. So you get 5 cents for every point, and you usually get 1 point for every dollar you spend.

That’s all great right? But wait, what if you spend $500 per month on your card, and you carry the balance from month to month. It’s not going to take very long before the finance charges will far outweigh the rewards points. I doubt they want you thinking about that. They want you thinking about the ‘free’ stuff you can get.

Listen, I want you to take advantage of rewards credit cards. I love mine. I take at least one trip each year courtesy of American Express or Capital One thanks to their airline miles programs. All I’m saying is you have to make sure those ‘free’ miles don’t cost you hundreds of dollars.

Big Money With Credit Cards Affiliate Programs

Most website owners out there are looking to monetize their site however they can. The explosive growth of blogs has introduced a whole list of new ways for people to make money online.

You don’t want to forget some of the old reliable ways to turn a visitor into a buck. In the reading I’ve been doing on blogs lately  I see a lot of material about google adsense and Pay Per Post, and I almost never see anything about affiliate programs.

This site is about how to apply for credit cards, so of course I’m looking for affiliate offers from some of the major credit card companies. Did you know there are credit card offers that pay $200 for a single sign-up? That’s a huge commission for one sale.

Let’s put this in perspective. I think the average click through rate for google adsense is about 2% for most sites. So if you get a thousand page impressions on your site and 2% of them click ads you’ll get 20 clicks. If you get paid $1 per click (and most ads won’t pay that much) you’d end the day with $20 in revenue.

That same 2% conversion with the $200 credit card affiliate offer would have paid you $4000!

Okay, I know the comparison isn’t sound and the math is ridiculous. I’m just trying to get your attention. But let’s say the conversion is only 1/10 as good with the affiliate offers as it is with adsense clicks. That’s still a $400 day. In fact, to outperform the adsense clicks you would only have to convert 1 visitor every 10 days with the credit card offer. Really makes you think twice doesn’t it?

It’s true that most offers don’t pay $200 per conversion. To bring into more realistic terms, think about a $20 payout. You’d only have to get one per day to match the performance of adsense.

I know you’re not dumb, you can do the math yourself. It’s worth thinking about thought isn’t it? Are you maximizing the profitability of your site?

Build Skymiles While You Fix Up the House


Every year Americans spend millions and millions updating and repairing their homes. It’s our biggest asset (or liablility, depending on your perspective), and we take a lot of pride in its appearance. Home improvement isn’t cheap though. Let’s say you want to finish your basement so you have a new family room and a couple more bedrooms. You could easily spend $20,000 on the project.

The question is how are you going to pay for it? If I asked what is the financial tool most often used to pay for large-scale home remodeling, your quick answer would be probably be home equity loans. What would be the number two tool? Credit Cards.

We can could have en entirely separate conversation about whether you should go into a bunch of new debt for sake of an updated house. The short answer is probably no. The best thing for your financial health would be to save up for a while and pay cash for the improvements. But if you’re going to put the money into your home you should consider the best way to go about it.

Here’s my advice. Open the home equity loan. It’s a relatively low interest loan where the interest may even be tax deductible. But before you write those home equity checks, I’d advise adding one more step.

Get a credit card with  a large limit and a great rewards program. I have an American Express card with a Delta Skymiles rewards program. Every 25,000 skymiles gets you a round trip ticket anywhere in the continental United States. $1 spent gets you 1 skymile.

Now think about that $20,000 basement you’re putting in. Use the credit card to pay for all the materials and the pay it off with the home equity line before the statement comes due. That way you avoid the high interest rate on the credit card, but you got yourself most of the way to a free plane ticket while you were at it.

Not a bad deal, right? New basement, extra square footage, and a free trip to boot. I love my credit cards.

Student Credit Cards. Your Millions Start Here.


As members of the under 30 crowd one of the biggest topics we talk about is credit and debt. Our parents are, for the most part, baby boomers. Unfortunately that mean they are, for the most part, broke and up to their eyeballs in debt. That’s not a true statement in every case, but it’s the reality for a scary percentage of the over-50 set. A couple of years ago I read that only 1 out of 50 baby boomers are financially ready for a comfortable retirement. Yikes. I guess we better start making some serious money or our parents are going to be in a world of hurt.

Lots of people want to point the finger of blame at the credit card industry as America’s financial downfall. I agree they’re giving us the gun, but we’re the ones pointing it at our own foot and pulling the trigger not once, but several times (For insight into that analogy, google ‘bankruptcy statistics’. You’ll see what I mean.).

Young people should be establishing credit for themselves. Credit is a tool, nothing more. If we’re dumb we’ll use it poorly; if we’re smart we’ll use it to get rich. It’s that simple. If our club-wielding ancestors had given up on fire after they burned themselves the first time, where would we be?

I’ve heard a rumor that Bill Gates started Microsoft with his credit cards. True? I have no idea, but it makes for a good story. I do have a friend whose website made $100,000 in one month thanks to the advertising he was able to do with his credit cards. Without them he would only have been able to accomplish a tiny fraction of that success.

What does this mean for the rest of us? It means we have a few choices: 1) we can buy into the advertising and use our credit cards to buy lots of thing we can’t afford and don’t need, putting ourselves into a hole from which we may never emerge, 2) we can hide our heads in the sand with statements like “I don’t believe in credit cards.” or 3) we can educate ourselves, develop self-restraint, and use credit as a vehicle to help us get to our financial goals a lot more quickly.

Door #1 leads to great friendships with bankruptcy lawyers. Door #2 leads to, well, it leads to being very bored, but probably sleeping well at night. Door #3 probably leads to a few mistakes, but eventually it leads to financial independence.

Here’s how to avoid Door #1 while you’re in college. Open a couple of student credit cards, but keep the limits low. If you’re going to screw up and spend all the way to your limit a couple times, better to do it with a $500 limit and not a $5000 limit right?

Also, get in the habit of paying the balance every single month. If your credit card offers a program where they’ll pay your bill out of your checking account, use it! Anytime human beings can automate good habits into our lives we definitely should. If they don’t offer that program, your bank probably offers something similar through your online bill payer. Use it!

If you’ll get in the habit of paying your bill monthly you set yourself up to use your credit cards intelligently for the rest of your life. I love credit cards. I believe that, used with care, they are the best financial tool in the world today.

Credit Unions That Offer Visa Credit Cards to Students


First of all you should probably understand what a credit union is. Credit unions are what is known as a ‘co-op’ or cooperative. What does that mean? A cooperative is a business or organization owned by its members, as opposed to being owned by an individual or corporation. The single biggest difference between credit unions and banks is that banks are run for profit.

Other than being a non-profit entity, credit unions run pretty much the same way as banks. They offer checking and savings accounts, investments, mortgages and other types of debt tools -including credit cards.

Lots of people seem to prefer dealing with credit unions as opposed to banks, and a lot of students are looking to get credit cards from credit unions. The question is whether they can find any. The answer is, of course, yes.

Before I get into what credit cards a student could get through a credit union, let me explain a little about why people would rather belong to a credit union than a bank.

Credit Unions are dedicated to a philosophy of service to the members. Over 60 years ago the philosophy was outlined in the ‘Seven Cooperative Principles of Credit Unions’. Here they are:

  1. Voluntary Membership. Any person willing to accept the responsibilities of membership can become a member.
  2. Democratic Member Control. One member, one vote. Credit unions are owned and controlled by the membership.
  3. Members’ Economic Participation. Members make the decisions about the financial choices of the institution.
  4. Autonomy and Independence. Membership makes decisions about decisions that affect the co-op as a whole.
  5. Education Training and Information. Credit Unions want their membership to be well informed about what it means to be a member.
  6. Cooperation Among Cooperatives. Credit Unions seek to work in unison with other cooperatives, especially other credit unions.
  7. Concern for Community. Credit Unions were formed for the benefit and strengthening of communities in their financial lives.

Basically, credit unions are by the people and for the people. Seeing these seven governing principles you realize why credit unions are able to charge lower fees and interest rates on all their financial tools – they’re established and maintained by the people paying those fees and interest rates.

Here are a few examples of Credit Unions Offering Student Credit Cards:

  • The Student Credit Union Alternatives Visa Credit Card.
  • Fort Belvoir Federal Credit Union Student Visa Credit Card.
  • University of Wisconsin Student Visa Credit Card.
  • State Employees Credit Union (Maryland) Student Visa Credit Card.
  • Missouri Student Federal Credit Union Student Visa Credit Card.

There are a lot of government organizations and most universities will have a credit union. Any one of them should be able to help you get the student credit card that will get you on track to building credit history and raising your credit score.

American Express Student Credit Cards


American Express has some of the best credit card commercials on tv right now. They’re really working the snob angle with all these celebrities talking about how their “card is American Express.” I’m partial to Shawn White’s commercial, being a snowboarder myself.

Some of you might want to join that elite club of American Express card holders. If you’re a college kid now I’d recommend getting started with an American Express student credit card. If you form the relationship with AMEX while you’re young, someday you might work your way into owning a Black Card. We’ll talk about what that is some other time.

Here are some of the benefits of American Express student credit cards:

  1. Online account management: check your statements and pay your bills online.
  2. Account alerts delivered to your inbox: they’ll send you reminders so you’re never late or miss out on special card holder opportunities.
  3. Automatic Bill Pay Program: a great way to build credit history by using your card consistently. Protects you against ever being late with your bills.
  4. Membership Rewards Program: a points system that allows you to buy promotional items. You can also apply points to airline travel. They’ll give you double points through over 100 different online retailers.
  5. Benefits through American Express Travel: when you’re going to travel you can earn double points by booking through American Express Travel.
  6. Insurance against rental car damage and loss: One more reason to beat up on your rental car. They insure it for you!
  7. Purchase Protection Plan: protects items you purchae against damage or theft for a period of time (can be up to three months). American Express will reimburse up to $1000 on an item, up to $50,000 total in a year. This is a pretty amazing benefit.
  8. Fraud Protection: They’ll cover any fraudulent charges on your student credit card, whether you made the purchase online or off.
  9. Buyer’s Assurance Plan: for items you buy with warranties, American Express will cover extend the warranty up to one year on items costing less than $10,000.
  10. American Express Selects: there’s a long list of benefits for cardholders traveling inside and outside the United States. Check out the website for more details.

There’s a price to pay if you’re going to be a member. American Express cards almost always have annual fees, and their interest rates could be called less than competitive. You don’t want to carry a balance on an AMEX.

Other than that, this is a credit card company known for taking care of its card holders. Membership brings a certain status and the VIP treatment. Get in now; you’ll be in good company.

Secured and Prepaid Credit Cards

Over the last month or so I’ve done a whole series of posts about secured credit cards. We’ve looked at their requirements for approval, their fees, their interest rates, and the benefits they have for people trying to rebuild their credit. You can sum up our conversations about secured credit cards this way: they will help you rebuild your credit score or establish credit history, but it’s going to cost you in the form of security deposits, relatively high interest rates, and fees.

To wrap up the series I wanted to use at least one post to discuss prepaid credit cards. Secured and prepaid credit cards have some things in common, but they also have some big differences.

What is a Prepaid Credit Card?

A prepaid credit card is basically a charge card. What does that mean? It means you open an account with a card provider and you deposit a certain amount of money into that account. The card provider gives a card with a credit card logo on it that acts just like a credit card. You can use it to buy things online, in stores – pretty much wherever credit cards are accepted.

But here’s the big difference between a normal or secured credit card and a prepaid credit card. When you use a prepaid credit card you’re actually using your own money. That’s different than a secured credit card because secured credit cards are actual credit cards with interest rates; they’re just secured by a cash deposit you made when you opened the account.

There are a few misconceptions about prepaid credit cards. One is that they help establish or rebuild credit. It’s not true. Prepaid credit cards don’t help your status with the credit bureaus because the card providers don’t have anything meaningful to tell them. Think about it – what would they say? “He successfully spend his own money until it ran out.”

I guess if you look hard enough you may find a prepaid card that reports to the credit bureaus, but it will be tough to find one.

The other downside I see in prepaid credit cards is they have fees. They’ll ususally charge between $5 and $10 to open the account and then there may be ongoing fees just to keep the account open.

What’s the Upside?

I’m actually not sure there is much of an upside. The only time I can think of that you’d be wise to open a prepaid credit card would be if you can’t get a checking account with a debit card. In that case it may be worth it to open one.

Wait – there may be one more circumstance where you might want to have a prepaid credit card. If you’re a person that has some fear about online shopping with one of your own credit cards or your debit card, a prepaid card gives you a credit card number to use on ecommerce and other shopping sites without having to worry about someone stealing your card and charging big purchases to it.

Secured Credit Cards are the Way to Go

I’d recommend that instead of opening a prepaid credit card, get a secured one instead. Your cash out of pocket will be basically equal, but the secured credit card will help you on your way to improving your credit score.

Get Free Secured Credit Cards

I have to be honest here. I’m not sure what you’re even talking about.

Are you looking for free secured credit cards as in those that don’t have an annual fee? Or are you looking for those that don’t have any monthly fees? Or are you looking for one that doesn’t charge interest?

Since I’m a little confused I guess I’m just going to have to answer all three questions and hope you’ll find what you’re looking for.

Credit Card With No Annual Fee

Let’s start with a list of secured credit cards I found that don’t charge you any kind of fee just for opening the account:

  • GTE Federal Credit Union
  • Amalgamated Bank of Chicago
  • Suncoast Schools Federal Credit Union
  • Orange County Teachers Federal Credit Union
  • Municipal Federal Credit Union
  • Digital Federal Credit Union
  • The Golden 1 Credit Union

*Note: I found this list on The list they provide shows that for the most part, credit unions usually don’t charge annual fees, and banks usually do. Just something to keep in mind.

Credit Cards With No Monthly Fee

Well, I can’t seem to find any secured credit cards that do have monthly fees. Apparently the majority of them don’t charge a monthly fee for keeping the account open, but I know some of them do. The fees are usually between $4.95 and $7.95 per month. You might say to yourself “That’s not so much.” Well, guess what. That’s exactly what they want you to think. Make sure when you’re considering different offers to watch for that montly fee. There couldn’t be anything worse than a card that charges and annual fee and a monthly fee to keep the account open.

0% Secured Credit Cards

C’mon folks, let’s be reasonable. Why in the world would a credit card provider ever do that? You might as well hope for the government to stop making us pay taxes. It’s not going to happen. Would it be great? Of course it would. It would also be great if John Elway came out of retirement to lead my beloved Denver Broncos to another Super Bowl championship. We might as well push those thoughts from our heads.

Instead of hoping for the credit card companies to start giving away free money, find the best card you can with low fees and a reasonable interest rate and then use it wisely.

Go Broncos.

Why Should You Establish Secured Credit Cards?


I think the bigger question is Why should you have credit cards at all? Think about it. What is the point of using a financial tool when all that tool does for most of the people that use it is get them into high interest debt? Debt from which most of them never recover? Let’s cover that before we cover why you should establish secured credit cards.

Credit cards are a curse for a lot of people out there. They opened a few when they were in college (because filling out the application got them a free tee shirt) and they ran up some balances. Maybe they got those balances paid off while they were in college, and maybe they didn’t. Then they graduated and nailed down their first job.

With that first job came some kind of salary, and with the salary came the belief that they could ‘afford’ nicer things than what they had during four years of poverty at school. So they get higher limits on their credit cards and they buy nice furniture, new clothes, etc. Now they probably have balances that will take years to pay off, if they ever pay them off at all.

In my line of work I talk to people about their credit cards a lot. One thing I hear is “I made some mistakes with credit cards in college so now I refuse to use them.” What? These people are basically saying “I’m an undisciplined slug that can’t handle a credit card so I have to hide them in a safe deposit box.” C’mon, people. Do you use the credit card or does the credit card use you?

Credit Cards Should Be Your Best Friends.

Let me just give you two examples of why you should love your credit cards:

1. Rewards and Sky Miles. It is my mission in life to find ways to use my skymiles card. Nothing makes me happier than flying to fun destinations with my wife and letting the credit card company pick up the tab. I recommend opening a card that doesn’t cap the number of miles you can earn. Also make sure the miles never expire. It may take time to get enough miles to earn that free first class ticket to Europe.

If you’re not into traveling much, get a credit card that rewards you with cold hard cash. 1% back isn’t much, but it’s money for dinner and a movie.

2. Buying advertising for a business. I’ve had a busines online before that allowed me to spend as much as $1000 per day on advertising. Trust me, at the time I didn’t have $30,000 per month in my bank account to buy that advertising. Luckily I had opened a credit card with skymiles and I put all of my ad costs on it. I was able to make a healthy profit thanks to all that advertising, and I got a few free plane tickets out of the deal as well.

So Why Establish Secured Credit Cards?

One simple reason: secured credit cards open the door for you to be able to do the things I just talked about. If you’re in a position where you’re looking for secured credit cards, it probably means you can’t qualify (yet) for a great credit card with rewards. Use a secured credit card to open that door for yourself.

No Fee Secured Credit Cards


Fees. Business owners dream of being able to charge them, customers will do almost anything to get out of paying them.

Why do businesses charge fees? Of course the simple answer is they want more profits. There’s more to it than that though. The reason for fees has more to do with a business minimizing its risk than anything else. A lot of you are looking for no fee secured credit cards. It annoys you to think you’d have to pay anything up front for the privilege of using a credit card. You might say “What does charging stupid fees have to do with minimizing the risk a business faces?” Well, I’ll tell you. And you’ll be surprised you at how reasonable the concept really is (from the credit card companies’ point of view, anyway).

As an example, let’s look at credit card providers. They’re in the business of giving you unsecured (read: risky) lines of credit. Then they have to wait for you to buy things with those credit cards (and who knows if you ever will), and they have to hope you don’t pay off whatever balance you ran up during the month (if you don’t then you got to use their money for free). In other words, a lot of things have to go right for a credit card company to make money off you.

But while they’re waiting for you to spend money you don’t have, and carry that balance month to month, are they incurring any expenses? You bet. Think about it – marketing costs for those TV commercials and all the junk mail they send you. Then when you respond to an offer the sent you in the mail they have to pay people to process those applications, people to answer your questions when you call in to ask when you’re new card will arrive, people to manage the people on the phone, leases on buildings, the list goes on.

That’s a risky venture for the card provider – they might spend a few thousand dollars on you before you ever give them a penny of revenue. And what if you never spend the money or carry the balance? They’re out of luck, and out a few thousand dollars.

So here’s what they do. They look at patterns. They know that for every 1000 pieces of junk mail they send out, a certain percentage of people will respond and apply. Of the applicants, a certain percentage will be approved. Here’s where the fees come into play. At this point if the credit card company could charge $39 or $79 to every person that got approved, they’ve recovered a big part of the upfront cost of acquiring you as a card holder.

It may not stop there. With a lot of secured credit cards they charge a monthly fee just to keep the account open. By now, you know why. It’s just a way to make sure they make at least some money off you in case you’re not using the card they gave you and paying outrageous interest. It’s the same revenue model as so many subscription-based websites we all pay $9.99 or $14.99 per month for.

All that being said, in many cases the competitive nature of the credit card industry has forced them to stop charging such ridiculous fees. Most of the credit cards you apply for won’t require you to pay any fees at all. So, when you get ready to open any kind of credit card, make sure you’re getting something excellent in return for any fees you pay.

Getting Out of Credit Card Debt

The unfortunate reality of today’s financial world is Americans are sinking deeper and deeper into credit card debt. There are so many reasons for it, but the main one has to be our inability to delay gratification. We want it now, and we’re not willing to wait for it, especially because we either have credit cards to buy it with, or we have a store offering us 0% promotional interest rates for up to 12 months. Everything around us tells us to go ahead and get it and pay for it later.

Have you heard the analogy of boiling the frog? You probaby have – if you throw a frog into a pot of boiling water, he jumps right out to avoid getting burned. But if you put a frog into a pot of cool water and gradually turn up the heat until it boils, he’ll sit right there until he’s dead.

I don’t think we humans (and especially Americans) are very different in our spending habits. For example, let’s say the pot of water is a furniture store. You walk in and see these amazing leather couches that would be perfect in your living room. But wait – the couches are $2000 each! “$4000 is way too much money for me right now,” you say to yourself as you turn to walk dejectedly toward the store exit.

But wait – here comes the trusty sales rep who noticed you eyeing those couches. “Anything I can help you with?” he says enthusiastically. “No,” you reply sadly, “I really like those couches, but I can’t afford to spend $4000 right now to buy them.”

“No problem!” replies the salesman with a big smile. “We’ve got a promotion going where you can get those couches with no interest and no payments for a full year!”

Well, now he’s got you doesn’t he? You start telling yourself that in a year your situation will be a lot different. You’ll have pleny of money to pay those off. In fact, you’ll pay them off before the year is up, won’t you? Yeah, of course you will. Which means you get to take those couches home today.

Here’s the problem: you are human (just like the rest of us) and you probably won’t pay off those couches in a year. In fact, you’ll probably take years to pay them off. If the salesman had said, “How would you like to pay $8000 for these $4000 couches?” you would have laughed and walked away. But that’s exactly what a lot of us do!

I’m not criticizing people for doing this (because the first finger would be pointed at me). I believe we make these mistakes emotionally and in ignorance of the real consequences.

Let me suggest one great way to take advantage of these promotional offers while completely protecting yourself from horrible interest payments that last a lifetime.

Let’s say you buy those $4000 couches with no payments and no interest for one year. It’s very simple to make sure they’re paid off before the year is up. The day (and I mean THE VERY DAY) you buy them, log into your online banking services and set up your bill payer to automatically pay off those couches before the 12 months ever arrives.

Here’s how you do it: take $4000 and divide it exactly by 11. This comes out to about $363.64. That is the amount you should tell your bill payer to send to you the furniture store every month. Why 11 instead of 12? For safety. Why let it go down to the wire?

Now that you’ve set up the automatic payment plan, you can enjoy those couches worry free. Best of all, you got to experience the instant gratification of the purchase without ruining yourself financially.

Here are two big disclaimers:

1. Before you make these kinds of purchases, you better make darn sure that monthly payment fits your budget. This is a strategy for people who could have paid cash for the couches (or whatever else) but decided to keep the money in their interest bearing accounts while the couches were in the interest free period.

2. The first automatic payment plan you set up must be THE PAYMENT YOU MAKE TO YOURSELF every week or month. Get a good online savings account (like ING Direct) and have them automatically withdraw from your checking every week. Save an uncomfortable amount! Heaven knows we all spend an uncomfortable amount. Pay yourself first, and then you can spoil yourself with what’s left over.

Hope this is helpful.

Guaranteed Secured Credit Cards

In the financial world the name of the game is return on investment. I read (okay, I only started reading) a book written by one of Warren Buffet’s two mentors. His name was Benjamin Graham and you could sum up his whole investing philosophy by saying this: “Find investments that offer safety of principle and a reasonable rate of return.”

With this in mind, the credit card companies are very careful about who they issue credit to. They don’t make billions in profits every by throwing their money around willy-nilly to anybody who just walks in and says sign me up. The reality is most people wouldn’t offer “safety of principle and a reasonable rate of return.”

Two of the biggest indicators the credit card companies use when evaluating you are 1) your credit score, 2) your credit history. This is how they judge whether you’re going to pay them back their money or not.

If you have a low credit score or not enough history, you’re not going to get approved for a standard, unsecured credit card. That means a secured credit card is the way for you to go.

To make the start of you credit-building journey as easy as possible, you should be looking for guaranteed secured credit cards. What do I mean by that? I mean you should only apply to credit card companies that offer guaranteed approval. After all, you’re putting down a big security deposit, which means their principle is complete safe and they’re going to make a reasonable rate of return off you. There’s no reason not to approve you.

Is it possible to Get Guaranteed Approval on Non-Secured Credit Cards?

The short answer is no. If you think about everything we just talked about as far as risk and reward for the credit card companies, you realize it would be corporate suicide for them to hand out a credit card to anybody and everybody that wanted one. A lot of those applicants aren’t credit worthy, and they wouldn’t repay their balances. We can’t have that can we?

If you want an unsecured credit card there’s only one way to get it. You’ll have to have some credit history and at least a decent credit score. They may start you small, but if you can get approved for even a small limit it will help you prove yourself to the credit bureaus and soon you’ll be to get as much credit as you want or need. Depending on your discipline and habits, this might be a blessing or a curse. Until your credit is back on track you’ll find that this type of financing – guaranteed loans for bad credit no fees – is really your only option.

Secured Credit Cards With An Interest Bearing Account


If I ask you to name the number one concern with owning and using credit cards it will take you about half a second to say “high interest rates.” It’s everybody’s worst nightmare right? Run up a balance on your credit cards and then you’re paying them back until three weeks from never. That’s why so much fear and hatred is associated with credit cards and the credit card industry.

Well I don’t hate credit cards. I love them; my business couldn’t survive without them. Have I made my share of mistakes with them? Of course. But you have to learn from your mistakes and move on. Just think if the cavemen had given up on fire after they got burned for the first time. Hot Pockets would be Cold Pockets, and I can’t bear the thought.

So let’s talk about this issue of interest and credit cards, and let’s focus it on those of you who are in the credit building or credit re-building phase of your life, because I want you to be looking for secured credit cards with an interest bearing account.

Those of you unfamiliar with secured credit cards probably need a little background. Secured credit cards offer people a chance to rebuild their credit or establish some credit history without putting themselves or the credit card companies at much financial risk. The risk is removed because the credit line (whether it’s $100 or $10,000) is completely secured by cash deposit the applicant makes into an account owned by the issuer of the credit.

By having this deposit in place, you’re assured against ever running a balance you can’t repay, and the issuer gets to sleep well at night in his giant corporate bed knowing you won’t leave him holding the bag on a big, unpaid debt.

Let’s assume you pay the balance on your new credit card every month (I know you wouldn’t think of doing anything else). That means you’re not paying any interest to your credit card company. But what about that security deposit you made? Is it just sitting there earning no interest for you? I hope not, because the bank is definitely making money off your cash.

If they’re going to make money off your cash, then you need to get paid too. That’s why I’m trying to teach you how to earn interest on secured credit cards.

When you start shopping around, make sure you look for companies with low or no fees, reasonable interest rates, and above all, look for companies that will pay you 2% or 3% on your deposit.

Think about it. If you’re paying your balance and earning a couple percent on the money you’ve deposited, then who’s coming out ahead? You are! (Of course, they are too. Remember, they earn a lot more than 2% on your money. But hey, it’s better than nothing.)

It’s a win-win-win. You’re building good credit history and earning a little interest on a savings account, and they’re earning billions of dollars in profits each year. I love capitalism.

Secured Visa Business Credit Cards in the Bahamas


“There is a reasonable basis for believing that some people are using offshore credit cards to help them evade paying U.S. taxes.”

You really gotta love the government. I took that quote direct from the IRS website. They might as well say “There is a reasonable basis for believing that the sun will rise tomorrow.”

You may not have known you could get credit card in the Bahamas, but you can. All you conspiracy theorists need to brace yourselves for what I’m about to tell you. The government is not only going to come after you if you have offshore bank accounts; they’re going to come after you if you even have an offshore credit card.

I have no idea how you’d scam Uncle Sam out of his precious tax dollars with the use of a humble credit card. I’m sure I could find out with a couple quick google searches, but check this quote out from our friends at the Internal Rip-off Snakes:

“On March 27, 2002, a federal judge in San Francisco issued an order authorizing the IRS to serve the John Doe summons on VISA.”

What does that mean? It means they got a judge to order Visa (and, as it turns out, Mastercard and American Express) to open their database to the tax hounds so they could sniff out folks using offshore credit cards to evade taxes. Is nothing sacred?

I’ll let you sort out your own tax avoidance plans, but let me give you some tools to carry out your diabolical scheme.

Scotiabank MasterCard Business Card

Scotiabank is one of the leading banking and credit card providers in the Bahamas with branches throughout the islands. I could only find two business credit cards they offer, both are master cards, and neither one is secured. The terms of the offer are pretty standard, and the Bahamas keep their dollar equal to the US dollar so you don’t have to do any guessing about conversions for your limit or balance.

Royal Bank of Canada

This is a prominent Canadian bank offering Bahamians these options for credit cards:

  • Visa Classic
  • Visa Gold
  • Mastercard Classic
  • Mastercard Gold

You’ll find standard terms and rates apply with these cards. I hope I’ve shown you that whether you’re traveling or trying to sneak around those pesky taxes, the Bahamas have the financial tools you need.

Visa Secured Credit Cards Online


Let’s practice a little free-association for a minute. You know what I mean, I’ll throw out a word, you say the very first thing that comes into your head. Here we go: cat. Did you say dog? I did. Car. Did you say truck? That’s what popped into my head.

What about credit card? I’d be willing to bet the first thing that jumped to your mind was Visa. You know why? Probably because Visa is the original credit card company. The granddaddy of them all.

A common theme lately has been secured credit cards. Today we’re talking about them again, except we’re talking specifically about Visa secured credit cards online.

Why online? Well Visa was basically the pioneer when it comes to allowing people to carry out transactions via telephone, mail order, and eventually the internet. Here’s a little history:

In 1968 a man named Dee Hock led a group of banks in forming a centralized electronic payment system allowed banks to speak the same ‘language’ while still competing for their own profits. They decided to name the system Visa because it was simple to pronounce and would sound the same in any language.

Over the years, Visa evolved. The standard piece of plastic was still useful, but consumes were making purchases through new and different channels like mail order catalogues. Not that the catalogs were new, but people wanted to use their cards to make purchases through those catalogs.

In the mid-eighties Visa hooked up with a national ATM network, and debit cards became more and more prevalent. It was only a matter of time until the internet took off along with ecommerce, and the use of credit cards online became part of everyday life.

And here we are today, so back to the current theme. Visa offers several secured credit cards online. Let’s look at one example.

Millenium Black Diamond Visa


  • Guaranteed approval.
  • No credit check.
  • Credit lines up to $10,000.
  • Reports your good behavior to all three credit bureaus.


  • Purchase APR is a little high compared to others (19.5%).
  • ‘Set-up Fee’ of $99.95 (huh?)
  • Annual fee of $59. (On its own, not terrible. But along with the hundred bucks to set up the account? It’s a little much.)
  • No grace period at all. (Most cards offer at least some grace period.)

Secured Credit Cards in the UK

Safe to say that people are people right? I mean, whether you’re talking about folks in the USA or the UK, we all have characteristics in common. One trait we all seem to share is impatience. You know, the desire for instant gratification. We’ve al heard the saying “Why put off till tomorrow what you can do today.” How about the 21st century edition of that saying: “Why save up for the things you can buy with credit cards today.”

I’m kidding, but only a little. People around the world are able to satisfy their appetite for NOW because of the proliferation of credit cards. It’s no different in the United Kingdom than anywhere else. You’re going to find people looking for secured credit cards in the UK as much, or more, as you do in the United States.

Credit card offers and terms in the UK are very similar to those in the US. They’ve legislated laws to ensure that credit issuers are completely truthful in explaining the terms of their credit agreements. Interest rate and annual fees will also be similar, and so will credit limits.

Unfortunately for some, credit card companies in the UK are just as careful about who they extend credit to. If you’ve committed financial sins in the past, or if you haven’t established much credit history, you probably won’t be able to get a normal credit card. For you, the best way to go will be no fee secured credit cards in the UK.

There are plenty of companies in the UK offering secured credit cards. Here’s a short list:

  • Capital One
  • FirstPlus
  • Vanquis
  • Aqua Card
  • Cash Plus Mastercard

These cards won’t be dissimilar form those in the US. You’ll have to secure your credit line with a cash deposit, you’ll probably pay a fee to keep the account open, and you the interest rate will be high. Hang in there though. Over time your credit rating and history will improve to the point that you’ll be able to get a normal credit card and my research tells me that’s not such a bad thing. For starters a lot of the UK credit cards I’ve searched for seem to have an initial 56 day grace period (as opposed to 25-30 on cards in the US). Not a bad deal at all. I’m sure we’ll talk more about that in the future.

Which Banks Are Offering Secured Credit Cards?


Thousands of people every month are searching for secured bank credit cards in the US. It won’t be hard to find someone to offer you one, but you’ll want to make sure you like the terms of their offer.

Once you’ve decided (or just realized) you need a secured credit card, you can look into any of the providers in the list below. They all have a proven track record with their customers, so you’ll want to evaluate them on their individual merits.

  • Digital Federal Credit Union
  • Amalgamated Bank of Chicago
  • Suncoast Schools Federal Credit Union
  • Orange County Teachers Federal Credit Union
  • Orchard Bank
  • The Golden 1 Credit Union
  • Bank of America, NA
  • Plains Commerce Bank
  • First Premier Bank
  • Wells Fargo Bank
  • Emigrant Saving Bank
  • The Harleysville National Bank & Trust Corp.
  • First National Bank of Chester County
  • Malvern Federal Savings Union

You’ll be weighing several variables when choosing a secured credit card provider. lays out the following criteria to help you make your decision. They are:

  • Class
  • APR (the interest rate)
  • Annual Fee
  • Purchase Late/Over Limit Fee
  • Grace Period (time before interest accrues after a purchase)
  • APR on Cash Advances
  • Fees on Cash Advances

Since secured credit cards offer basically guaranteed approval, you’ll want to look carefully at their fees and interest rates. There’s no reason to overpay if you can go next door and get a better deal. The only other thing I’d do is try to find some customer reviews to make sure the cheapest credit card doesn’t have the worst customer service. After all, you usually get what you pay for right?

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Compare Secured and Unsecured Credit Cards


The credit card industry is one of the biggest, most competitive, and most profitable out there. Credit consumers today have more options than ever and there are a lot factors t to evaluate. One of the first questions is whether to get a secured or unsecured credit card. Some people may not think the choice between secured and unsecured credit cards is a tough one, but it’s not as simple as you might think. There are several angles to consider, but first let’s look at the basic characteristics of both types of credit cards.

Secured Credit Cards

Easy approval, often guaranteed. Great for building credit score and history, or rebuilding after bankruptcy.Requires a security deposit, usually equal to the amount of the credit extended. Often carries a monthly fee to maintain the account. Typically charges high interest rates on purchases, 21% and above.

Rarely offer balance transfers.

Unsecured Credit Cards

Approval based on credit worthiness (score and history). Good for improving your credit if you use them wisely. No security deposit required, limit determined by credit card company (depending on credit score and household income). May or may not charge an annual fee to maintain the account. Cards with rewards such as sky miles often carry annual fees. Interest rates on purchases can range from 9.9% to 21% or more. Often offer balance transfer options with promotional interest rates. It’s obviously easier to get unsecured credit cards with fair credit, and you’d probably rather not have to put down a security deposit.

Basically, unsecured credit cards are the better tool in the long run, but that doesn’t help those people that have bad credit and need some credit now. My advice is that people should get unsecured credit cards with low rates, no annual fee, and a rewards program if possible.

If it’s not possible to get an unsecured credit card, shop around for the best possible rates and try to avoid fees whenever possible. Use the secured credit card wisely for several months and soon you’ll probably get offers from companies for the unsecured variety.

When you get those unsecured credit card offers, look for one with a well-known company and one that offers a low or 0% introductory interest rate for at least six months. That way you get the benefit of using their money for ‘free’ until the promotional period ends. Make sure you pay the balance monthly!

Low Interest Student Credit Cards

What are the two fundmental principles of Investing 101? Risk and reward. If you’re going to put money into an investment, you have to take the potential risk and the potential reward of the investment. The riskier the investment, the higher the potential reward has to be.

Does this have anything to do with credit cards and interest rates? Of course it does. I want you to find low interest student credit cards, but I want you to understand why it’s not that simple.

Every time a credit card company extends a person a line of credit they’re factoring in the potential risk and the potential reward. You might think credit cards charge high interest rates on most student credit cards because they just want to soak the students for all their worth, but it has more to do with how likely students are to pay their credit card balances.

Interest rates are high on certain types of credit cards for one reason: the people that have been issued that type of card are more likely to flake on their payments, whether that means they pay late or they don’t pay at all. Students are a high risk demographic for credit card companies. According to the standard measurment tools (the credit bureaus), a college student is someone doesn’t have a proven track record of using their credit cards and then paying their balances. They just haven’t had access to credit cards for long enough to prove they’re a safe investment.

The reality is there are a lot of people who just can’t handle credit. They treat it like free money that won’t have to be repaid. They pay late or they don’t pay at all and the credit card company gets stuck with the bill. Most college students represent an ‘unknown quantity’ to the credit providers. Maybe they’ll behave themselves with a credit card, and maybe they won’t. Only a credit history can prove it, and college students haven’t had time to build one.

College students can get higher rate cards and use them consistently as a way of proving their credit worthiness. It may even be in their best interest to carry a small balance on the card and pay it down over time. Yeah, you pay some interest, but just look at it as the cost of doing business. If you can show the credit bureaus you’re trustworthy you’ll be able to get high limit, low interest credit cards down the road that you can use for good purposes like running a business or buying advertising.

All that being said, you may be able to find a student credit card with an interest rate between 8% and 12%. Not bad for a first timer.

Either way, if you pay your dues, you’ll get the best credit cards later.