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Needled by PINs: Why bankers think you're dumb

Monday,14th April, 2014
Do bankers think we're stupid? You can see why they might. For decades, we stood back and watched as they extracted huge wealth from the economy through rip-offs and exotic financial instruments that even they didn't fully understand. We allowed them to argue for -- and achieve -- greater and greater deregulation, and barely raised an eyebrow when, through lobbying and campaign contributions, they bought and paid for successive congresses. (Referring to Capitol Hill, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., once observed that bankers "frankly own the place.") Then we, the public, bailed them out to the tune of anything between several .......

Don't let debt collectors ruin your life

Monday,07th April, 2014
The economic recovery may be gaining traction, but not everyone's yet feeling the benefit. Many are still recovering financially from an extended period of unemployment, or are finding themselves continuing to struggle with shorter working hours or stagnant wages. Small wonder then that the Consumer Federation of America's seventh annual savings survey, published in February, revealed more than one in three Americans have no rainy-day fund to see them through even a mini-crisis, such as unexpected car repairs or a doctor visit. With so many in such precarious circumstances, it's perhaps surprising that relatively few are failing to keep on top .......

More credit card companies providing free monthly credit scores

Monday,31st March, 2014
Ever since they were invented, credit cards and credit scores have had a close relationship. Manage your plastic well, and your score's likely to rise. Abuse it, and your score could be in trouble. But, over the last few months, a new relationship has developed between the two, as up to 30 million Americans have begun to receive their credit scores and other related information within their monthly card statements. Capital One revealed Tuesday that it was joining Barclaycard, First Bankcard and Discover in providing this service. Knowledge empowers All this became possible last November, when FICO, the company whose scoring technology .......

Best credit cards for cash-back rewards

Monday,24th March, 2014
If a stranger came up to you in the street and offered you free money, your first reaction might be to be suspicious. If that stranger then turned out to be a banker, you might instinctively check that your wallet was still in your pocket or handbag, and your watch still on your wrist. It may or may not be unfair, but those in the financial services industry are generally better known for their ability to relieve you of cash, not give it to you. So how do you explain cash-back credit cards? Well, you'd be right in thinking that neither .......

Big new changes unveiled for credit cards

Monday,17th March, 2014
Regular readers already know about the coming EMV revolution that should soon see (in fact, American Express just launched one) U.S. credit cards come loaded with ultra-secure microprocessor chips. That's important because it could drive down some types of card fraud, but -- given that the technology has been around in parts of Europe for decades -- it's hardly the sort of innovation to get a technophile's pulse racing. However, the end of February saw Barcelona, Spain host the Mobile World Congress 2014, and plenty of amazing new card technologies were unveiled, demonstrated or discussed there -- including some that .......

Government monitors 900+ million credit card accounts

Monday,10th March, 2014
The UK government is currently finishing loading all the medical records for that country's entire population onto one computer database, and plans to allow university and government researchers to access individual files later this year. It's argued that this could produce significant health benefits, allowing drugs, procedures and treatment strategies to be tracked on a massive scale for efficacy, cost and side effects. Only a patient's family doctor (and authorized clinicians who are actively treating him or her) can read the full file. Everyone else can see only versions in which the patient's name and full address have been redacted. Very .......
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Credit cards and borrowing for business

Monday,03rd March, 2014
Do you own or manage one of the nearly 28 million small businesses in America? If so, you'd have been exceptionally lucky to have avoided some of the very nasty effects of the credit crunch, recession and slow recovery. Even long-established enterprises struggled to cope as revenues fell while overheads remained stubbornly high. Often staff had to be let go, but even that wasn't always enough keep companies profitable. Meanwhile, traditional borrowing became next to impossible, and many began to carry forward ever-rising balances on small business credit cards. That wasn't ideal, but such considerations become an unaffordable luxury when .......

Recession, recovery, remember the lessons

Monday,24th February, 2014
Do you celebrate Dec. 5? It's the anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition, and, in 2013, parties were held across America to mark the occasion. If, 80 years on from the 21st Amendment, people still feel the need to raise a glass (or, more likely, several glasses) to the event, imagine how drinkers partied in 1933! It's normal to indulge oneself after a lean period: most Muslims still do this at Eid al-Fitr ("Festival of Breaking the Fast"), which is enjoyed each year when the month-long period of Ramadan finishes. Feasting after a fast is fine for the faithful, but .......

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