Using Credit Cards to Fund a Business Start Up

Using credit cards to start a business is nothing new. In fact, I’ve got a friend who is using a 0% balance transfer business card to fund a product based business he’s just started. When all is said and done, he’ll be in credit card debt of more than $30,000. Now in his case, he has the means to pay off the credit card even if the business fails. But as reported this week in the Washington Post, some small businesses are starting to drown in credit card debt.

So in this article we’ll look first at why people are turning to credit cards to finance their businesses. As it turns out, credit cards do offer a number of benefits to small business. Then we’ll look at how to reduce some of the risks of credit card financing.

The Rewards of Credit Cards for Small Businesses

There are four basic reasons many entrepreneurs turn to credit cards to finance a small start-up.

First, accessing cash through credit cards is easy and convenient. You can now apply for credit cards online in a matter of minutes. And if you have solid credit history, you can easily qualify for tens of thousands of dollars in credit.

Second, many credit cards come with 0% introductory rate offers on both purchases and balance transfers. These offers enable new companies to finance start up costs without paying interest. With some cards, you can get a 0% interest rate for up to 21 months.

Third, business and personal cards come with many rewards and cash back offers. It’s not at all uncommon to find cards with cash back offers on gas, office supplies, and computer purchases. These cash back offers can go a long way for a new company.

Finally, other means for raising capital have become harder to access. With the credit crunch we’ve experienced over the last year, it has become harder and more time consuming to obtain home equity lines of credit or small business loans. As a result, more and more business owners are turning to credit cards to get them through a cash flow crisis.

Avoiding the Pitfalls of Credit Card Financing

The ease of obtaining cash via credit cards also presents the biggest risk. More and more business owners are getting in over their heads as their credit card debt increases. So what are some of the ways you can reduce the risk that this will happen to you? Here are a few suggestions:

First, don’t spend more money just because you are putting it on a credit card. Study after study shows that we tend to spend more money when we use credit cards than when we pay with cash. If you’re using credit, ask yourself if you’d still make the purchase if you were paying with cash.

Second, make business decisions independent of your source of financing. Some folks tend to take bigger, unjustified risks if they aren’t using their own money. While the credit card company may be funding your business at the start, you’ll eventually be paying the tab one way or another.

Third, budget, budget, budget. Budgets are important for personal finance, but they are absolutely critical for a business. Set out your budget before you starting spending money and raking up credit card debt.

Finally, don’t get carried away with credit card rewards. Sure the cash back offers and discounts are nice, but they should never be the motivation behind the purchase.

Business and other credit card offers can be a great way to finance a new company, so long as care is taken not to over extend yourself.


7 Secret Perks of Prepaid Credit Cards

It wasn’t long ago that prepaid credit cards were viewed as an expensive alternative for those who couldn’t get a credit card or open a bank account. A lot has happened over the past few years to change this perception. In fact, today, prepaid credit cards come with many advantages you won’t find with credit cards or banks.

Some of the key benefits can be found in what prepaid cards don’t come with: interest charges, over the limit penalties, late payment penalties, or overdraft fees. But as the prepaid card market has grown, cards have added more advantages that many people don’t know about. Here are 7 of the more significant perks you can get with a prepaid card:

  1. Low Fees: While prepaid cards at one time were very expenses, today you can find several free prepaid credit cards. These cards come with no activation fee, no transaction fee, and even no monthly fee in some cases. The key is to understand how you will use the card and to avoid costly mistakes. For example, will you make a lot of ATM withdrawals, or will you mostly use the card at retail locations? Knowing the difference up front can help you pick a card that offers low fees for the types of transactions you plan to make.
  2. Rewards: While rewards use to be tied only travel or some of the best cash back credit cards, today several prepaid and debit cards offer various rewards. The PerkStreet debit card, for example, offers up to 5% cash back. And several prepaid cards offer bonuses if you load the card with direct deposit.
  3. High Interest Savings Accounts: Oddly enough, the best high interest savings accounts come from prepaid cards, not banks. For example, the Mango prepaid MasterCard offers an FDIC insured savings account that currently pays 5.1%, well above anything you could get from a bank. Netspend, another popular prepaid card also comes with a high interest account option. There are some limitations. For example, there is a limit on how much you can deposit and you must sign up for direct deposit. But the interest rate is exceptional.
  4. Free ATM Withdrawals: While most prepaid cards do charge for ATM withdrawals, both the Green Dot and NetSpend prepaid cards have a large network of ATMs where you can withdrawal cash from your card for free. It’s generally better to simply get extra cash back from a retailer when you make a purchase, because they don’t charge fees. But if you plan to use the ATM to get cash frequently, make sure to get a card with no ATM Fees.
  5. Online Bill Pay: Several cards offer online bill pay, much like you’d see from an online bank. Perhaps the best known offer comes from AccountNow, which offers the service for free. The Rushcard also offers online bill pay, but for a small fee. With these cards, many people manage their money very effectively without a bank account. And if you are part of the Chexsystems and can’t qualify for a checking account, these prepaid cards are a convenient, low cost alternative.
  6. Check Writing: For those cards that offer online bill pay, you can also have them write a check for you to pay bills to creditors who do not accept online payments. You simply enter the information online with the prepaid card company, and they do the rest.
  7. Direct Deposit: Finally, almost all prepaid cards offer direct deposit of paychecks and government benefit checks. With direct deposit, you don’t have to pay for expensive check cashing services, and you get access to your money immediately.

The Third Phase of the CARD Act is On Its Way

The Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act (Credit Card Act of 2009) was signed into law by President Barack Obama on May 22, 2009 and is meant to protect consumers from financial industry practices which have historically lacked transparency and were not consumer friendly. It is hoped that the Credit Card Act of 2009 will help make credit card terms easier to understand.  Congress’ mandate ordered that the provisions of the Credit Card Act of 2009 be implemented in three distinct phases. The first phase went into effect in the summer of 2009, the second phase in February of 2010 and the third phase is expected to be implemented on August 22, 2010.  The Federal Reserve Board, in cooperation with other regulatory agencies, is required to develop rules that describe how the law will work in “real life.”

Under the first phase of the Credit Card Act of 2009, implemented in the summer of 2009, credit card issuers were required to provide customers with 45 days written notice before they make any significant changes to the consumer’s contract and must mail bills 21 days before the due date (previously, issuers were required to give 30-days notice before changing a contract and mail bills at least 14 days in advance). Consumers were also given the right to reject changes to their contracts, including interest rate increases, and given the option of paying off their credit card balances within five years using the existing rate.

The second phase went into effect in February of 2010.  One of the major provisions of this phase was that card issuers can only raise interest rates on existing balances if:

  • The consumer is 60 days or more past due
  • A promotional rate expired
  • The consumer does not complete a workout plan
  • A variable rate increased because of movement in an index

Further, if the rate hike experienced by a consumer is the result of a late payment, the credit card issuer must reinstate the lower rate after the consumer makes on-time payments for six months.  Additionally, young people must be at least 21 years old or get an adult to co-sign a credit card application with them if they want their own credit card.

The third and final phase of the Credit Card Act of 2009 will take effect in August of 2010. The proposed rules amend Regulation Z (The Truth in Lending) to protect consumers from unreasonable penalty fees and to require credit card issuers to reconsider increases in interest rates. The new rules are as follows:

  • Reasonable Penalty Fees – The penalty fee for late charges or violating another account terms has been capped at $25 unless the consumer has engaged in repeated violations or the credit card company can show that the cost it incurred as a result of one’s late payments justified a higher fee. Additionally, the late payment fee, if any, levied on the consumer’s account cannot be higher than the consumer’s violation. For example, previously, a consumer who had been late making a $20 minimum payment could have been charged a $39 penalty fee.  The third phase states that penalty fees cannot exceed the dollar amount of the consumer’s violation.
  • Additional Fee Protections – The credit card companies can no longer charge inactivity fees because the account is not being used nor can the credit card company levy multiple fees for a single event or transaction that violates the cardholder agreement. For example, if you are late making a payment, you can only be charged one single late fee.  Today, you can be charged over and over again for the same violation.
  • Explanation of Rate Increase – If the credit card company increases the annual percentage rate (APR), it must explain why.  Today, no such explanation is required.
  • Re-evaluation of Recent Rate Increases – If a consumer’s APR was increased after January 1, 2009, the card company must re-evaluate such increase every six months and if appropriate, reduce the rate within 45 days of the evaluation.  Today, credit card companies can increase the APR with no obligation to reevaluate the rate increase.

The following web page was released by the Federal Reserve Board to clarify the final set of provisions: What You Need to Know: New Credit Card Rules Effective Aug. 22 so if you need further clarification, you should look them up.

Consumer advocates for the most part favor the Credit Card Act of 2009.  According to the Pew Charitable Trust, consumers will save at least $10 billion a year from curbs on interest rate increases alone. Unfortunately, the credit card companies have had several months in-between phases to prepare while certain rules were clarified by the Federal Reserve. During this time they have hiked interest rates, reinstated annual fees, and moved more consumers into variable rate cards (card companies are not required to give customers 45 days notice when rates are increased on variable cards, only fixed cards).  Finding credit cards with great cash back offers or low interest rates will be much more difficult.

The third phase has addressed some of these “back-handed” new procedures implemented by the card companies. Consumers now have the comfort of knowing that late payments and other penalty fees must be assessed in a way that is fairer and generally less costly. However, there are exceptions for those who are chronically late making payments and such customers could still face higher fees as card companies are allowed to increase penalty fees if they represent a “reasonable proportion” of the costs it takes to clear up account violations.  The $25 cap on late payment fees appears, in general, to be a good thing for consumers, as in the past there has been no industry standard on these fees. The ban on penalty fees above the dollar amount of the consumer’s violation will also result in savings for those consumers who incur a penalty for a small dollar violation.

The new rules also benefit those consumers who pay off their card balances, yet want to keep their accounts open, by banning card companies from charging inactivity fees; such fees are widespread and generate a great deal of revenue for card companies. Accordingly, one can pay off his/her balance without being “punished” by the card company.

Finally, an important measure of the third phase is that the Fed is requiring card issuers to reexamine rate hikes that have been imposed since Jan. 1, 2009, reconsider the reasons for the increases, and “if appropriate, reduce the rate.” This certainly benefits a consumer whose credit was damaged after January 1, 2009, yet has either rebuilt their credit or rectified the problem. A consumer will not be forced to pay for a mistake, through higher rates, that has been fixed or was not meant to be there in the first place.

There is no doubt that the Credit Card Act of 2009 coupled with the economic recession made it quite possible that credit card companies will experience a severe decline in revenue.  Accordingly, the credit card companies feel it necessary to make up revenues in other areas and will continue to find “loopholes” to the new laws. The act does not, unfortunately, protect card users from everything.  Although some consumers and card issuers feel that the impact will be to increase rates and limit the availability of credit, the Credit Card Act of 2009 does represent the most sweeping credit card reform legislation that Americans have ever seen. Its implementation, will for the most part, be considered a victory for Americans if they continue to read the fine print and stay abreast of the laws and their rights.


How to Apply Online for a Credit Card

The Internet has made applying for a credit card quick and easy. Not only has the Internet made online applications a reality, but it also has made finding, reviewing and comparing credit card offers a snap.

While it may at first seem complicated to apply online for a card, it’s really simple. We’ll walk you through the process here, which only takes a couple of minutes. An online credit card application involves just three steps:

1. Compare, review and pick the card you want
2. Visit the card’s secure online application page
3. Fill out the online form to submit your application

Let’s take a look at each of these steps.

Step 1: Compare, review and pick the card you want

The first step is to choose a credit card. We’ve made that task easier by organizing credit card offers by category. In the left sidebar you’ll see five primary categories of credit cards: (1) low interest rate cards, (2) rewards cards, (3) cards by credit history, (4) cards by type, and (5) cards by issuer. These card offers include credit cards from major issuers such as Citi, Discover, Chase, and American Express.

On each page you’ll find the information you need to choose a credit card. This information includes the card’s interest rate, any 0% introductory offers, and details on any rewards offered by the card. Once you’ve chosen a card, it’s time to move to step two.

Step 2: Visit the card’s secure online application page

With each credit card offer you’ll find here at Credit Card Offers IQ, you’ll see a green or orange apply button. Pressing this button will take you to that card’s official online application page. It’s important to note that you’ll never be asked for confidential information here at Credit Card Offers IQ. All of your application information will be provided directly to the credit card company on their secure website.

Step 3: Fill out the online form to submit your application

Once you’ve chosen the card you want and gone to the card’s online application, it’s a snap to apply online for the card. By federal law, credit card companies must collect certain basic, identifying information. This information includes your name, address, date of birth, and social security number. You will also be asked about your occupation and income, and whether you have any bank accounts.

If you are applying for a card with a 0% balance transfer option, you may also be asked about the balances you wish to transfer. And if you want to add other authorized users, you will be asked for their name.

Once you’ve submitted your application, you should receive a confirmation e-mail from the credit card company stating that your application has been received. For some cards, you can actually get the results of your application in about 60 seconds. Instant approval cards, such as those from Discover or American Express, make applying for a new credit card quick and easy.


3 Ways a Credit Card Can Protect Your Next Purchase

Some benefits of using a credit card are obvious. For example, some use credit cards to take advantage of 0% offers, cash back rewards, or miles. But there are some additional perks to using a credit card that aren’t as well known. One of those perks is purchase protection
Purchase protection offers you additional assurance that the product you are about to buy is protected from certain types of losses. Whiles these protections vary from one credit card to another, purchase protections usually come in three flavors:

  • Protection for purchases
  • Warranty extensions
  • Protection for returned items

Let’s take a look at each of these benefts.

Protection for Purchases

Protection for purchases cover merchandise that has been damaged or found to be defective. In some cases, the protection also covers you if the item you purchased becomes available for less than you paid. These protections usually lasts 90 days from the date of purchase. Depending on the card, there may be a minimum monetary requirement to qualify for a refund.

Examples from several popular credit cards:

American Express

  • Embedded Protection: Use your Card and Purchase Protection protects eligible purchases against accidental damage or theft for up to 90 days from the date of purchase.
  • Worldwide Coverage: Coverage includes eligible purchases made worldwide with the Card, including gifts purchased for others.
  • Shop Worry Free: Purchase Protection repairs, replaces or reimburses you for up to the amount charged to the Card.

Citi Diamond Preferred Card

  • Price Protection: If you buy something with your Citi card and then see it advertised in print for less within 60 days, you will receive a refund for the difference up to $250.
  • Retail Purchase Protection: Most items purchased with your card are eligible for protection against accidental damage or theft for up to 90 days from the date of purchase.

Warranty Extensions

Many credit cards extend the terms of any original manufacturer’s warranty, which is typically an additional year added to the warranty. Some credit card companies, however, will not extend the warranty if you haven’t registered your product.

Examples from several popular credit cards:

MasterCard

  • Extended Warranty: Doubles the original manufacturer’s or store brand warranty for up to one year when you pay with your eligible MasterCard card.
  • Satisfaction Guarantee: If you become dissatisfied with a product you purchase using your eligible MasterCard card within 60 days of purchase, and the store will not accept a return, you may be eligible for a refund for the cost of the product up to $250.

American Express

  • Embedded Protection: Charge your covered purchases that have a valid U.S. manufacturer’s warranty of 5 years or less to the Card.
  • Extend Your Warranty: Charge your covered purchases that have a valid U.S. manufacturer’s warranty of 5 years or less to the Card.

Protection for Returned Items

These features guarantee customer satisfaction on covered items charged to a card. If a card holder tries to return an item and the manufacturer or vendor won’t take it back within the allotted time, the card holder will receive a refund from the credit card issuer.

Examples from several popular credit cards:

American Express:

  • 90 days of Protection: If you try to return an eligible item purchased in the U.S. within 90 days from the date of purchase and the merchant won’t take it back, American Express will refund the purchase price.
  • Up to $300 Coverage: You are covered for up to $300 per item, excluding shipping and handling, up to $1,000 annually per Card account.

MasterCard

  • Satisfaction Guarantee: If you become dissatisfied with a product you purchase using your eligible MasterCard card within 60 days of purchase, and the store will not accept a return, you may be eligible for a refund for the cost of the product up to $250

American DreamCard Review

The American DreamCard is a rewards credit card issued by HSBC. The card is perhaps best known for the large monthly jackpots it awards to card holders every month. Here are the American DreamCard’s key features:

  • Over $1.1 Million Awarded to Date!
  • Large monthly cash jackpots
  • Earn entries from everyday shopping
  • Get 1,000 entries just for applying!
  • A New Winner Every Month!
  • Refer your friends and automatically receive 50 entries for each referral and get a signing bonus of 1,000 entries for each referral who is approved for the American DreamCard™
  • See terms and conditions for important rate, fee, and other cost information, and limitationsApply Now!

American DreamCard Sweepstakes

for every $1.00 you spend up to 1,000 entries per qualifying transaction, you get a sweepstakes entry to win the monthly American DreamCard sweepstakes jackpot. Now the American DreamCard is NOT a lottery; it is a MasterCard so there is no need to stand in line, buy tickets or pick numbers, simply use your credit card for everyday purchases and you could win!

Here’s how it works:

  1. Hit the Jackpot! – Every net $1 you spend on your American DreamCard credit card gives you an entry, up to 1,000 entries per qualifying transaction to win the monthly American DreamCard Sweepstakes Jackpot!*
  2. Receive 1,000 Sweepstakes Entries just for Applying!
  3. Tell your friends and family and earn extra sweepstakes entries! For every referral you provide to www.americandreamcard.com you will receive 50 sweepstakes entries and for those referrals who apply for the American DreamCard credit card and becomes a cardholder, you will receive a signing bonus of 1,000 sweepstakes entries for the next sweepstakes jackpot drawing!*
  4. Entries Grow! – Sweepstakes entries are good for all drawings for the current sweepstakes!

Other Features

The American DreamCard is a variable interest card with rates ranging from 14.99% to 21.99%. The annual fee for the card is $0, $39, or $59 depending on credit worthiness.

If you’d like more information about the American DreamCard or to apply online, visit www.americandreamcard.com.

 


How to Find a Credit Card’s Minimum Payment

A question we hear a lot is how much is a credit card’s minimum payment? For example, if you have a $2,000 balance on a card, what will the minimum payment be for that card? The short answer is that for most cards, the minimum payment is generally about 4% of the outstanding balance. As a result, for every $1,000 outstanding on a credit card, the minimum payment would be about $40.

Until a few years ago, most cards set the minimum payment at about 2% to 2.5%. At this level, making just the required payment would cover the interest charges and a very small portion of the outstanding balance. At this rate, it would take years to pay off a balance.

In 2005, banking regulators encouraged credit card companies to set minimum payments at a level where consumers would pay down their balances by at least 1%. The result was that most credit card companies moved to the current 4% minimum payment formula.

Don’t confuse minimum payment with balance owed

Keep in mind that the minimum payment and total balance owed are different. The minimum payment is simply the amount that must be paid that month to keep your credit card account current. In contrast, the balance owed is the total owed on the card, which can be substantially higher than the minimum payment.

Should you pay more than the minimum?

Because credit cards tend to charge high interest rates, paying down the balance as quickly as possible is generally the best approach. Of course, it’s important to weigh paying down a card with other financial obligations you may have. But the minimum payment should not be viewed as anything more than the absolute minimum that needs to be paid to satisfy your contractual obligation to the credit card company.


Pay No Interest for 24 Months with these Walmart Credit Cards

Walmart offers two different credit cards: The Walmart® Discover® Credit Card and The Walmart Credit Card. Both cards offer savings on your gasoline purchases and have no annual fee. Let’s take a look at all the details.

Walmart® Discover® Credit Card

The Walmart® Discover® Credit Card is a cash back rewards card that can be used anywhere Discover is accepted. With this credit card offer you can earn up to 1% cash back on all purchases. The card gives no interest on purchases for $599 or more on electronic purchases if paid off in 24 months. Here’s an overview of what the card offers:

  • Earn up to 1% cash back on all purchases
  • Accepted everywhere you see the Discover® Network Acceptance Mark
  • Save 5¢ per gallon at participating Walmart gas stations in the U.S.
  • Receive your free monthly FICO® Score when you enroll in electronic statements online
  • Get a cash advance at the time of purchase
  • Pay no annual fee
  • $0 fraud liability

You can apply for the Walmart® Discover® Credit Card by completing an online application.

Walmart Credit Card

The Walmart Credit Card is a basic card that can be used at Walmart stores only. This card is not a cash back card, but it does offer some perks to cardholders. You can save 5¢ per gallon at participating Walmart gas stations in the U.S. and there is no annual fee.

  • Save 5¢ per gallon at participating Walmart gas stations in the U.S.
  • Receive your free monthly FICO® Score when you enroll in electronic statements online
  • Get a cash advance at the time of purchase
  • Pay no annual fee
  • $0 fraud liability

You can apply for the Walmart Credit Card by completing an online application.

Rates and Offers

Both Walmart Cards always have special rates that give you 0%. It’s important to check the offer before applying because they do change. Right now, you get 0% for 24 months on any electronic purchases totaling $599 or more. This offer is valid until February 8, 2013. This is perfect if you need some extra time to pay off your big purchase. The regular rate you receive is based on your creditworthiness.

The standard purchase APR is currently 9.87%, 15.87%, 18.87%, or 19.87%, based on your creditworthiness.

Credit Card Rewards

Both credit cards offer special bonus offers and rewards. Currently, when you open an account and make a purchase you get $20 back on a $100 purchase at Walmart.com. To qualify you have to apply online, make an online purchase and spend $100.

Walmart® Discover® Credit Card vs Walmart Credit Card

If you are interested in applying for the Walmart® Discover® Credit Card or the Walmart Credit Card visit the Walmart website.


5 Credit Card Offers That Will Supercharge Your Investments

Photo: wallyg

Although not as well know as some other credit card offers, several brokerage firms offer cash reward credit cards that can boost your investments. These cards pay up to 2% of purchases back to the cardholder, and several of them deposit the cash back reward directly into your investment account. These cards come from brokerage firms such as Fidelty, E*Trade, and Charles Schwab. Let’s take a look at each, and the benefits they offer those looking to bolster their investment portfolio.

E*Trade Rewards Platinum Visa Card

E*Trade is a top rated online discount stock broker. With trades costing just $9.99 or less, E*Trade offers active investors a reasonably priced platform to trade stocks, options, and more. And for E*Trade members, you can also apply for E*Trade’s Rewards Platinum Visa Card.

With the card you can earn points redeemable for statement credits, commission-free trades, travel & merchandise rewards, and gift certificate rewards. Cardholders earn 1 point for every $1 in purchases. And E*Trade also pays out 2,000 bonus points on the first purchase with the card. Here are some more of the card’s details:

  • Low 13.99% variable APR
  • Free online account access
  • Credit line up to $20,000
  • Collision/theft insurance on auto rentals
  • Extended warranty protection
  • No annual fees
  • 24/7 customer service
  • Travel accident insurance
  • Emergency card replacement

You can find more information about E*Trade and the Rewards Platinum card by visiting www.etrade.com.

OptionsXpress Platinum Visa

Like E*Trade, OptionsXpress is a deep discount online broker. It offers some of the lowest cost trades in the business, including stock trades for less than $10 per trade. Unlike E*Trade’s credit card, however, the OptionsXpress Platinum Visa lets you convert points into cash that is deposited into your OptionsXpress trading account.

Here are the key details:

  • 1 point for every $1 you spend
  • $15 cash eligible for deposit to your optionsXpress account for every 1500 points accumulated
  • 0% Introductory APR
  • No Annual Fee
  • Convenient online account management

You don’t need an OptionsXpress account to apply for the card, but you do need an account to receive the cash back reward. You can get more information about OptionsXpress and its credit card, and open an account online, by visiting www.optionsxpress.com.

Charles Schwab Visa Credit Card

Charles Schwab has a long and storied history as a full service broker. In addition to its online platform, Charles Schwab has an extensive network of branch locations. It also offers one of the most lucrative rewards credit card programs.

Called the Schwab Bank Invest First Visa credit card, the card pays an unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases, and automatically transfers the cash to a linked Charles Schwab account. In 2009, the card was ranked as one of the five best by Money Magazine.

Here are the key details:

  • No cash back limits
  • No minimums
  • No annual fee
  • There’s no limit on the cash back you can earn.
  • No minimum monthly purchase amount.
  • No foreign exchange transaction fees.
  • Get a competitive variable Annual Percentage Rate (APR) on purchases, currently 13.24%.

You can find more information on this card at Charles Schwab.

Fidelity Rewards American Express Card

The Fidelity Rewards American Express card has terms very similar to the Charles Schwab card. The card deposits 2% of purchases into a linked Fidelity account. There are no annual fees and no limit on cash rewards. Depending on the type of Fidelity accounts you have, there are three credit card offers to choose from:

  1. Fidelity® Investment Rewards® American Express® Card: Earn 2% on purchases to invest into your Fidelity account. Connect it to a mySmart Cash Account® or brokerage account. Earn rewards by using your card for regular expenses, like gas and groceries.
  2. Fidelity® Retirement Rewards American Express® Card: Fidelity Retirement Rewards card.Earn 2% on purchases with the option to contribute to your Fidelity IRA as a current year contribution and the money will have the potential to grow tax-deferred toward your retirement savings goal.
  3. Fidelity Investments 529 College Rewards® American Express® Card: 529 College Rewards card.Earn 2% on purchases to invest in one or more Fidelity 529 accounts, and the money will have the potential to grow tax-deferred toward your college savings goal. Family members can link cards to your Fidelity-managed 529 account – great for grandparents.

You can find more information about the Fidelity line of American Express cards by clicking here.

Discover More card

Update: The Discover® More card has been replaced by the Discover it® card.

Last but certainly not least is the Discover® More Card. This one may surprise you because it’s not a card directly linked to a brokerage firm like the each of the credit card offers above. But it is an important card to consider for two reasons.

First, it pays up to 5% cash back, depending the category of purchase and time of year. And all purchases earn some level of cash back. So depending on how you use the card, the Discover More card could pay out more than the four options below.

Second, you may have a stock brokerage account with a firm that doesn’t offer a credit card. So, for example, if you use Zecco or Scottrade, your best option is a cash back card as neither firm offers their own branded credit card.


6 Credit Card Offers That Support Our Troops

There are lots of ways to support the men and women that work tirelessly to protect our freedom. One easy way can be found in one of 7 credit card offers that support the military. Whether you are in the service, a veteran, or a family member, these credit cards are a great way to wave the stars and stripes.

USMA Credit Card Offers: If you are a cadet, alumnus, or staff of the United States Military Academy (better known as West Point), you and your relatives are eligible for membership in Pentagon Federal Credit Union. As a member, you are eligible for the USMA credit card that supports the U.S. Military Academy. The USMA card is offered as both a Visa Gold and Visa Classic, both of which have no annual fee.

Discover More–American Flag Edition: This is one of my favorite credit cards. The American Flag Discover More offers up to 5% cash back and comes with a 0% balance transfer offer. For purchases made at certain online retail partners of Discover, the cash back feature goes as high as 20%. There is no annual fee, and the Discover website is by far the easiest to use of any credit card company I’ve seen. And with the American Flag edition, you can show off your patriotism every time you use the card.

Stars and Stripes® WorldPoints®: The Stars and Stripes card is designed for supporters and members of the U.S. military. Issued by Bank of America, the card features a 0% introductory offer on balance transfers and WorldPoints rewards. Cardholders earn 1 point for every $1 in net retail purchases. Points can be redeemed beginning at 2,500 and are redeemable for cash, travel with no blackout dates, hotel rewards, car rentals, brand-named merchandise, gift certificates and more. There is no annual fee for the card.

American Legion Auxiliary: With almost a million members, the American Legion Auxiliary administers volunteer programs, volunteers to help its communities and veterans, and raises millions of dollars to support its own programs as well as other worthwhile charities familiar to most Americans. Here’s how the Auxiliary describes its history and purpose:

The Auxiliary, organized in 1919 to assist The American Legion, is much more than the name implies. The organization has achieved its own unique identity while working side-by-side with the veterans who belong to The American Legion. Like the Legion, the Auxiliary’s interests have broadened to encompass the entire community.

The American Legion Auxiliary is the world’s largest women’s patriotic service organization. Through its nearly 10,500 units located in every state and some foreign countries, the Auxiliary embodies the spirit of America that has prevailed through war and peace. Along with The American Legion, it solidly stands behind America and her ideals.

For those looking to support the Auxiliary, Bank of America offers the American Legion Auxiliary credit card. The card has no annual fee and comes with a 0% introductory rate on balance transfers. Cardholders also earn WorldPoints redeemable for cash, travel rewards, gift certificates and more.

Ladies Auxiliary to the VFW: The Ladies Auxiliary serves an important role–to ensure that our veterans are not forgotten and that they are card for. The Ladies Auxiliary was founded in 1914, and since the war on terror began, care packages have been sent to troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Qatar and other locations around the world. With nearly 600,000 members in the United States, Guam and Panama, the Ladies Auxiliary VFW actively supports our troops as well as veterans and their families.

The Ladies Auxiliary credit card allows cardholders to earn WorldPoint rewards and offers a 0% balance transfer feature. The card carries no annual fee and a reasonable interest rate on purchases.

Marine Corps Association: The Marine Corp Association (MCA) was formed at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba on April 25, 1913, by Marines of the 2d Provisional Brigade. The purpose of the MCA is to publish the history of the Marine Corps and disseminate “…information concerning the aims, purposes and deeds of the Corps, and the interchange of ideas for the betterment and improvement of its officers and men…”

You can show your support of the MCA with the Bank of America Marine Corp Association credit card. The card comes with standard Bank of American credit card terms, including a 0% introductory rate on balance transfers and the ability to earn WorldPoints redeemable for cash, travel rewards, and more. The card charges no annual fee.