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Can a credit freeze protect you from identity theft?

Monday,15th December, 2014
Did you see "Identity Thief?" It was a 2013 movie in which an inoffensive businessman (played by Jason Bateman) sets about confronting wolf-in-sheep's-clothing criminal Diana (Melissa McCarthy). It really was very funny. Unfortunately, real-life identity thefts rarely raise a smile, which is a pity, considering how many there are. In 2012, 16.6 million people -- 7 percent of adult Americans -- were victims of this crime in one form or another, and 1.1 million of those saw fraudsters open new credit accounts in their names, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). Unsurprisingly, it was those 1.1 million who .......

Should women avoid credit cards?

Monday,08th December, 2014
Decades ago, this writer was marketing director of a small start-up company that needed to raise its profile both cheaply and in a hurry. Its PR people came up with a great idea: Devise some carefully drafted questions that are likely to provoke controversial responses, and have them included in an omnibus survey by a credible polling organization. Once the data are back, and a suitably sensationalist press release is issued, the mainstream media are going to give the company acres and hours of free coverage. It worked -- really well. Of course, there's no chance of there being the .......

Don't forget the misery of debt

Monday,01st December, 2014
Do you remember the credit crunch and the Great Recession that came in its wake? It's a question worth asking because many Americans seem not to. They appear to have forgotten the pain, fear and stress of unmanageable debt, and are borrowing again at unprecedented levels. True, credit card debt is still well down from its trillion-dollar high, but it's rising: In September it stood at $881.8 billion, according to the Federal Reserve, up $30-plus billion on the same month last year. But the really scary numbers concern "non-revolving" credit, which comprises installment loans with monthly payments and fixed end .......

Surge in credit cards as banks gouge customers

Monday,24th November, 2014
New evidence has emerged recently of a continuing resurgence in the popularity of credit cards. A study, published by Equifax on Nov. 10, shows both these and store cards being issued and used at the highest levels for many years. It seems likely that the biggest reason for this is consumers and lenders growing more comfortable again with debt. But a secondary one may the the growing recognition of the fee gouging practiced by many banks on checking accounts. During the Great Recession, many saw debit cards as the safer and smarter way to pay, and shunned credit cards. Are .......

The best balance transfer cards

Tuesday,18th November, 2014
Credit card rates are rarely low. Right now, according to the IndexCreditCards.com rates monitor, the average for all consumer plastic is 17.20 percent APR, and 17.91 percent for rewards credit cards. Someone with balances totaling $15,000 is likely to be paying well over $2,000 a year in interest alone. Imagine such a person being offered a deal that allowed her to pay zero interest on those balances for anything between six and 18 months. She'd be mad, you might think, not to say "Yes! Yes!! Yes!!!" And you might be tempted to say, "I'll have what she's having." Some caveats Balance-transfer credit .......

Don't get a business credit card -- unless you're a business

Monday,10th November, 2014
There are some really attractive offers for small-business credit cards around at the moment. You might find a sign-up bonus that could give you tens of thousands of free miles just for getting your application approved and meeting a spending threshold in the first three months after your account's opened. You might get extra-generous rewards. And you might find the cost of your borrowing cheaper. At the time of writing, this site's credit card rates monitor shows business rewards plastic charging an average APR more than two percentage points lower than that for consumer rewards cards: 15.53 percent against 17.87 .......

Best credit cards for 2014 holiday shopping

Monday,03rd November, 2014
In defiance of the laws of chronology, the holiday season is looming. Wasn't it only a couple of months ago we were taking down last year's decorations? Unfortunately, for most, the holidays mean huge expense as well as family and religious significance. It doesn't matter how smartly you use your credit cards, such expense pretty much inevitably involves some pain. But your plastic, deployed wisely, can take the edge off. Rewards credit cards Rewards, in the form of miles, points or cash back, are probably the most obvious way to get back some benefit from your holiday shopping. These typically give back .......

Cash or cards this Christmas?

Monday,27th October, 2014
Does plastic rot your brain? No, this isn't another of those food packaging scares that regularly make the rounds on social media. The plastic in this case is of the credit card variety, and the question relates to whether using a card rather than cash affects how much you spend. Some believe that simply using plastic for transactions makes us spend more, because it changes how our brains work -- or, at least, how we think -- when we're making purchases. However, their case is far from conclusive. Credit cards and spending A couple of years ago, IndexCreditCards.com reviewed some of the .......

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