Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express – 35,000 Bonus Starpoints Review

The Starwood Preferred Guest program, or SPG for short, is one of the most rewarding travel programs available. From free stays at 5-star hotels to free air travel on almost any airline with no black out dates, Starwood Preferred has become synonymous with first class travel. And with the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, it’s easy to earn Starpoints quickly.

Starwood Preferred American Express

This card offers one of the fastest ways to build up Starpoints. From the 35,000 Starpoints bonus to earning Starpoints with each purchase, it’s an ideal card for those who frequently stay in Starwood properties. Starpoints are also considered by many to be the most valuable points, in part because they can be transferred to airline miles programs on a 1 to 1 basis.

Learn more about this and other travel reward credit cards and apply online at CardRatings.com.

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express Snapshot

  • Earn 25,000 bonus Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
  • Limited Time Offer- Earn an extra 10,000 bonus Starpoints® after you make an additional $2,000 in purchases within the first 6 months. Offer ends 4/5.
  • Earn 2 Starpoints® for each dollar of eligible purchases spent on the Card at participating SPG® & Marriott Rewards® hotels. Earn 1 Starpoint for all other purchases.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on International purchases.
  • Redeem Starpoints® at over 1,300 participating hotels and resorts in over 100 countries and for flights on more than 150 airlines with SPG flights, all with no blackout dates.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Terms and apply.

Rewards Program

There are three components of the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express rewards program: (1) the 35,000 bonus Starpoints; (2) 5 Starpoints on select purchases; and (3) 1 Starpoint on everyday purchases.

  1. 35,000 Bonus Starpoints: Get 25,000 bonus Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months and an additional 10,000 bonus Starpoints after you spend an additional $2,000 in the first six months.
  2. 5 Starpoints: Earn up to 5 Starpoints® for each dollar of eligible purchases at participating SPG hotels – that’s 2 Starpoints for which you may be eligible as a Card Member in addition to the 2 or 3 Starpoints for which you may be eligible as an SPG member
  3. 1 Starpoint: Earn 1 Starpoint® for all other purchases.

Other Perks

The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express offers several additional benefits:

  • Starwood Elite Status:As a Card Member, receive credit for 5 nights and 2 stays each year toward SPG Elite status. That’s just 20 nights away for SPG Gold status and 45 nights away for SPG Platinum status in a calendar year.
  • Free In-Room Premium Internet:Receive free in-room, premium Internet access while staying with SPG Participating Hotels.
  • Stay Connected: Enjoy complimentary, unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi on up to four devices at more than 1,000,000 Boingo hotspots worldwide.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees: Use your Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express globally without incurring foreign transaction fees.
  • Turn Starpoints into Airline Miles: Redeem Starpoints for free flights on over 150 airlines with SPG Flights with no blackout dates. Transfer Starpoints to nearly 30 airline frequent flyer programs, mostly on a one-to-one basis.Receive a 5,000 Starpoint bonus when you transfer 20,000 Starpoints to a participating frequent flyer program.

What we like about the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

  • 35,000 Bonus Starpoints
  • Up to 5 Starpoints on select purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Transfer of Starpoints to airline miles

What could be better

Learn more about this and other travel reward credit cards and apply online at CardRatings.com.


BankAmericard Cash Rewards™ Visa Signature® Card – Up to 3% Cash Back

The BankAmericard Cash Rewards™ Visa Signature® Card is a rewards card ideal for those looking for a little of everything. The card offers excellent cash rewards, a $100 signup bonus, and a 0% introductory rate on purchases and balance transfers.

This card is one of the most popular on the site. It offers up to 3% cash back (see details below), a 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months, and a $100 cash signup bonus (again, see details below). And it manages to do this without charging an annual fee. Excellent or good credit required.

BankAmericard Cash Rewards™ Visa Signature® Card Snapshot

  • No annual fee
  • $100 online cash rewards bonus after you spend at least $500 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
  • Earn 1% cash back on every purchase, 2% at grocery stores and 3% on gas up to the first $1,500 in combined grocery/gas purchases each quarter
  • No changing categories and no expiration on rewards
  • 0% Introductory APR for 12 billing cycles for purchases AND for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days, then, 13.24% – 23.24% Variable APR. 3% fee (min $10) applies to balance transfers.
  • Get a 10% customer bonus every time you redeem your cash back into a Bank of America® checking or savings account
  • If you’re a Preferred Rewards client, you can increase that bonus to 25%-75%. Click “Apply Now” to learn more about Preferred Rewards.
  • More Details: BankAmericard Cash Rewards™ Visa Signature® Card

Rewards Program

There are several components to this card’s cash rewards program: (1) the $100 bonus; (2) 3% cash back; (3) 2% cash back; (4) 1% cash back; and (5) Bank of American customer bonuses:

1. $100 Bonus: Spend $500 within  the first 3 months and you will earn a $100 cash back bonus.

2. 3% Cash Back: Bank of America pays 3% cash back at on gas up on the first $1,500 in combined gas and grocery purchases each quarter. Note that the 3% is on gas purchases, but the limit combines gas and grocery purchases. I can hear you asking–where did the grocery purchases come from? I’m glad you asked.

3. 2% Cash Back: You’ll earn 2% on grocery purchases up to a combined spending limit of $1,500 on gas and groceries each quarter.

4. 1% Cash Back: On all purchases that fall outside these higher payout categories you will earn 1% cash back with no spending tiers or caps.

5. Bank of America Customers: You’ll earn even more if you bank at BofA. First, you’ll get a 10% customer bonus every time you redeem your cash back into a Bank of America® checking or savings account. And if you are a Preferred Rewards client, you can increase that bonus to 25%-75%.

BofA Cash Rewards

0% Introductory Rate

The BankAmericard Cash Rewards™ Visa Signature® Card offers an introductory rate of 0% for 12 months on purchases and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days, then, 13.24% – 23.24% Variable APR. Note that there is a 3% fee (minimum $10) on balance transfers.

What we like

  • The $100 cash bonus
  • Up to 3% cash back
  • 0% introductory APR
  • No annual fee

What could be better

Summary

  • No annual fee
  • $100 online cash rewards bonus after you spend at least $500 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
  • Earn 1% cash back on every purchase, 2% at grocery stores and 3% on gas up to the first $1,500 in combined grocery/gas purchases each quarter
  • No changing categories and no expiration on rewards
  • 0% Introductory APR for 12 billing cycles for purchases AND for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days, then, 13.24% – 23.24% Variable APR. 3% fee (min $10) applies to balance transfers.
  • Get a 10% customer bonus every time you redeem your cash back into a Bank of America® checking or savings account
  • If you’re a Preferred Rewards client, you can increase that bonus to 25%-75%. Click “Apply Now” to learn more about Preferred Rewards.
  • More Details: BankAmericard Cash Rewards™ Visa Signature® Card
  • Regular Purchase APR: 13.24%-23.24% APR (Variable)
  • Penalty APR: Up to 29.99%, based on your creditworthiness
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Late Payment Fee: Up to $37
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 3%
  • Ideal for those who want a 3% cash back card
  • A good choice for those looking for a 0% APR introductory rate
  • Well suited for those wanting a rewards card with no annual fee
  • Requires Excellent/Good Credit
    Excellent Credit
    Credit cards for excellent credit are
    intended for those with a credit score of 700 or Higher.
    Get Your Free Score

Ink Cash® Business Card Review – $200 Signup Bonus

The Ink Cash Business Credit Card is a top rated cash back card for small businesses. It offers a $200 cash bonus back after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months and up to 5% cash back on select purchases, all with no annual fee.

The Ink Cash Business Credit Card is a premier business credit card. The card offers 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services. The card also gives you the ability to earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 in combined purchases at gas stations and hotel accommodations. Finally, on every other purchase you make with the Ink Cash Business Credit Card you earn 1% cash back.

Ink Cash Business Card Snapshot

  • Get $200 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening an account
  • Get 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services each account anniversary year
  • Get 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year
  • Get 1% cash back on all other card purchases
  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers
  • No Annual Fee

Cash Back Rewards Program

The Ink Cash Business Credit Card offers several levels of rewards.

Signup Bonus: To start with, Chase offers a $200 bonus when new card members spend $3,000 in purchases within 3 months of opening an account. This is one of the richest cash signup bonuses available.

5% Cash Back: Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 you spend on combined purchases at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline and cable TV services each account anniversary year. That’s a potential cash back of $1,250.

2% Cash Back: Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year. That’s a potential cash back of $500.

1% Cash Back: Earn 1% cash back on every other purchase you make with your Ink Cash Business Credit Card with no limit to the amount you can earn.

0% Introductory APR

This card offers a 0% introductory APR for a period of 12 months on purchases and balance transfers. As a result, you can earn substantial cash back rewards while taking time to pay off the debt over 12 months with no interest.

Other Perks

The Ink Cash Business Credit Card offers several additional benefits:

  • Purchase Protection: Covers your new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft up to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per account
  • Extended Warranty Protection: Extends the time period of the U.S. manufacturer’s warranty by an additional year on eligible warranties of three years or less
  • Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver: Decline the rental company’s collision insurance and charge the entire rental cost to your card. Coverage is primary when renting for business purposes and provides reimbursement up to the actual cash value of the vehicle for theft and collision damage for most cars in the U.S. and abroad
  • Stay On Top of Your Spending: Set and change individual spending limits on employee cards,* and earn even more rewards from their purchases. Receive instant alerts for every purchase to help you control and track overall spending.
  • Exclusive Mobile Experience: Snap, tag and file receipts instantly with our mobile app* designed exclusively for Ink customers.

What we like about the Ink Cash Business Credit Card

  • $200 bonus cash back for new card members after spending $3,000 within 3 months
  • Earn 5% cash back on first $25,000 spent at office supply stores, and on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services
  • Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchase at gas stations and restaurants
  • No annual fee

What could be better

  • 2% and 5% reward categories cap at $25,000 each per year
  • 3% foreign transaction fee
  • Requires Excellent Credit
    Excellent Credit
    Credit cards for excellent credit are
    intended for those with a credit score of 700 or Higher.
    Get Your Free Score

Summary

  • Get $200 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening an account
  • Get 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services each account anniversary year
  • Get 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year
  • Get 1% cash back on all other card purchases
  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers
  • No Annual Fee
  • Regular Purchase APR: 13.49% Variable
  • Penalty APR: Up to 29.99%
  • Annual Fee: None
  • Late Payment Fee: Up to $39
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 3%
  • Ideal for small businesses looking for a card that provides cash back on all purchases
  • Ideal for those wanting cash back rewards rather than gift cards or other incentives
  • Get employee cards at no additional cost
  • Requires Excellent Credit
    Excellent Credit
    Credit cards for excellent credit are
    intended for those with a credit score of 700 or Higher.
    Get Your Free Score

Citi® Hilton HHonors Reserve Card

The Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card is an ideal choice for those who frequently stay at Hilton Hotels and for those looking to get free stays at any of the Hilton properties.

Citi Hilton HHonors Visa SignatureThis Hilton credit card offers a fast way to earn 2 free night stays. It also has the highest reward payout on Hilton purchases at 10x points for every dollar spent. It does not, however, offer bonus HHonors points, as other options do (more on that below).

Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card Snapshot

  • Earn 2 weekend night certificates good at select hotels and resorts within the Hilton portfolio after you make $2,500 in purchases within 4 months of account opening*
  • Earn 10 HHonors Bonus Points per $1 spent on hotel stays within the Hilton portfolio*
  • Earn 5 HHonors Bonus Points per $1 spent on airline and car rental purchases*
  • Earn 3 HHonors Bonus Points per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases*
  • Enjoy the benefits of HHonors Gold status as long as you are a cardmember*
  • No foreign transaction fees on purchases*
  • Travel with ease and enjoy global acceptance with your Citi chip credit card

Rewards Program

The card offers both bonus rewards and rewards based on your use of the card. We will start with the Bonus Rewards.

  • Earn 2 weekend night certificates good at select hotels and resorts within the Hilton HHonors™ portfolio after $2,500 in eligible purchases within 4 months of account opening
  • Earn an anniversary bonus of one weekend night (standard room, double occupancy) at select hotels and resorts within the Hilton Portfolio after you spend $10,000 on purchases each year (starting from your Annual Fee Date) and remain a cardmember.

With a reasonable spend requirement, 3 free night stays the first year and one every year thereafter more than covers the annual fee for this card.

On top of the bonus rewards, here’s what you earn when you make purchases with the card.

  • Earn 10 HHonors Bonus Points per $1 spent on hotel stays within the Hilton HHonors portfolio
  • Earn 5 HHonors Bonus Points per $1 spent on airline and car rental purchases
  • Earn 3 HHonors Bonus Points per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases

Using Your Rewards

To really figure out what these rewards will get you, you first need to take a look at the chart below. It all depends on where you want to stay. For example, you earn a free stay with as little as 7,500 points for Category 1 hotels. Here’s the chart from the HHonors’ website:


Here’s a list of the other hotel brands that are part of the Hhonors rewards program.

  • Waldorf Astoria® Hotels & Resorts
  • Conrad® Hotels & Resorts
  • Hilton Hotels & Resorts
  • DoubleTree by Hilton™
  • Embassy Suites Hotels™
  • Hilton Garden Inn®
  • Hampton Inn®
  • Homewood Suites by Hilton®
  • Home2 Suites by Hilton®
  • Hilton Grand Vacations®

Another perk is that you don’t have to use your rewards points for hotel stays. Hilton has partnered with cruise lines, car rental companies, and restaurants where rewards can be used. Hilton also offers the Hilton HHonors™ Shopping Mall where you can use rewards to shop online.

Hilton HHonors® VIP Status

The card automatically qualifies you for HHonors Gold status. This is significant. Without the card, achieving Gold status is a significant challenge. It requires the following:

  • 20 stays in a calendar year, or
  • 40 nights in a calendar year, or
  • 75,000 HHonors Base Points in a calendar year

Gold status provides the following benefits:

  • 25% ELITE STATUS BONUS: With Gold elite status, you automatically receive a 25% bonus on all the HHonors Base Points you earn.
  • 5TH NIGHT FREE: Silver, Gold and Diamond elite members will receive every 5th night free4 on Standard Room Reward stays of 5 nights or more.
  • HOTEL BENEFITS
    • Digital Check-In: choose your room, and customize your stay from your mobile device up to 24 hours in advance.
    • Complimentary in-room and lobby Standard Internet access during stays at Waldorf Astoria™ Hotels & Resorts, Conrad® Hotels & Resorts, Curio – A Collection by Hilton, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, DoubleTree by Hilton™, Canopy™ by Hilton, Embassy Suites Hotels™ and Hilton Grand Vacations™
    • Quick reservations and check-ins based on your room preferences
    • Late check-out
    • Express check-out
    • 2nd Guest stays free
    • Complimentary access to fitness centers and health clubs
    • Two complimentary bottles of water per stay (at Waldorf Astoria™ Hotels & Resorts, Conrad® Hotels & Resorts, Curio – A Collection by Hilton, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, DoubleTree by Hilton™, Embassy Suites Hotels™, Hilton Garden Inn™ and Hilton Grand Vacations™ hotels)

What we like about the Citi® Hilton HHonors Reserve Card

  • 2 free night stays
  • HHonors Gold status
  • Up to 10x rewards based on card usage
  • No limit on rewards you can earn
  • No foreign transaction fees

What could be better

  • $95 annual fee
  • Requires Excellent Credit
    Excellent Credit
    Credit cards for excellent credit are
    intended for those with a credit score of 700 or Higher.
    Get Your Free Score

Summary

  • Earn 2 weekend night certificates good at select hotels and resorts within the Hilton portfolio after you make $2,500 in purchases within 4 months of account opening*
  • Earn 10 HHonors Bonus Points per $1 spent on hotel stays within the Hilton portfolio*
  • Earn 5 HHonors Bonus Points per $1 spent on airline and car rental purchases*
  • Earn 3 HHonors Bonus Points per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases*
  • Enjoy the benefits of HHonors Gold status as long as you are a cardmember*
  • No foreign transaction fees on purchases*
  • Travel with ease and enjoy global acceptance with your Citi chip credit card
  • Regular Purchase APR: 15.74% (Variable)
  • Penalty APR:Up to 29.99%, based on your credit­worthiness
  • Annual Fee: $95
  • Late Payment Fee:Up to $35
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: None.
  • Ideal for those who frequently stay at Hilton hotel brands
  • Excellent card for international travel
  • Requires Excellent Credit
    Excellent Credit
    Credit cards for excellent credit are
    intended for those with a credit score of 700 or Higher.
    Get Your Free Score

Citi Diamond Preferred Card Review

The Citi Diamond Preferred card combines three key features. It offers one of the longest 0% offers on purchases and balance transfers. To this it combines points rewards on purchases and no annual fee.

This card from Citi is unique in two ways. First, it offers the longest available 0% offer on balance transfers and purchases. Second, unlike many top balance transfer cards, it offers a points rewards program.  In this review we’ll look at its key features, including the 0% offer. We’ll also cover fees and rates, as well as other Citi perks that come with the card.

Compare Your Options

  • Citi Diamond Preferred card: 0% on balance transfers for 21 months with a balance transfer fee of 3% or $5, whichever is less
  • Discover it® Cashback Match with No Annual Fee: 0% for 18 months + double cash back the first year
  • Chase Slate: 0% for 15 months with no balance transfer fee for transfers initiated in the first 60 days of account openining + no annual fee + free access to your monthly FICO score

Review

Snapshot

Here are the key features of the Citi Diamond Preferred credit card:

  • Get 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers and Purchases for 21 months. After that, the APR will be 12.49% – 22.49% based upon your creditworthiness.*
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer.
  • Citi Easy Deals(SM) Get what you want for less. Earn Citi Easy Deals Points for the purchases you make with your card. Redeem your points for great online deals on name-brand merchandise, gift cards and even local deals.
  • Let our 24/7 concierge service help book your hotel rooms, flights and more.
  • $0 liability on unauthorized purchases and Citi® Identity Theft Solutions.
  • No annual fee*
  • More details: Citi Diamond Preferred credit card

0% Introductory Rate

One of the best features of the Citi Diamond Preferred credit card is its 0% rate. On balance transfers the card offers 0% for 18 months and 0% for 18 months on purchases. The regular APR is between 12.49% – 22.49%, based on your creditworthiness.

Additional Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card Details

This card offers a variety of additional benefits for being a card member. Here is a list of some of the additional benefits the card offers:

  • Concierge Service: The Diamond Preferred Concierge Service can take care of just about everything, from booking flights and hotel rooms to purchasing concert tickets or making restaurant reservations. This service is also available 24/7 anywhere in the world.
  • Citi® Easy DealsSMEnjoy members only savings with Citi Easy Deals, on a benefit that gives you access to great online deals on brands like Gap, CVS and Footlocker.
  • $0 Liability on Unauthorized Charges: Shop anywhere and never lose a penny on unauthorized charges. With $0 Liability you won’t pay for any unauthorized charges made on your Citi credit card.
  • Travel & Emergency Assistance: You’re protected when you’re traveling in the U.S. and abroad. Travel & Emergency Assistance include medical and legal referrals, lost luggage assistance, emergency transportation, and translation services. Also included in this service are MasterTrip Travel Assistance, Travel Services Medical Assistance and MasterLegal Referral Service.
  • Worldwide Travel Accident Insurance: Worldwide Travel Accident Insurance is a type of coverage that you hope to never need, but it may offer some financial help to you or your loved ones if a tragic accident does occur, up to $250,000 in compensation.
  • Citi with Apple Pay: With a simple touch you can pay in-app or at over 200,000 stores with the iPhone® 6, or in-app with the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3. Plus, you’ll still enjoy all of the security and benefits that come with your Citi card when you use Apple Pay to check out.

Browns Fans Get $100 Cash Back

Browns fans will be happy to know you can support your team all year long with the Cleveland Browns Extra Points Credit Card. Even when your team can’t score on the field, you can still score points with this card offer. This card has a nice introductory offer, solid rewards program and a great discount on your NFLShop.com purchases. Plus, there is no annual fee.

Here are all the details:

Cleveland Browns Extra Points Credit Card

  • Earn 10,000 bonus points after $500 in purchases in the first 90 days, redeemable for $100 cash back statement credit
  • No annual fee
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on NFL or team purchases in-stadium and at the Pro Shop and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
  • No limit to the points you can earn
  • Redeem points for VIP NFL experiences, game tickets or cash back statement credits on travel or any other purchase of $25 or more
  • 20% off every purchase at NFLShop.com - that's $20 off every $100 you spend

Rates and Offers

The card offers a very competitive introductory offer giving a 0% APR for N/A on both purchases and balance transfers. This is ideal if you are making a large purchase and need more time to pay the charge off or if you want to save yourself some money by transferring a high rate balance to this card. After the introductory period, the APR will be between 14.99% or 22.99%* Variable and is based on your creditworthiness. The transfer fee during the first twelve billing cycles is either $10 or 3% of each transfer, whichever is greater.

Earning Rewards

Browns helmetThis is a rewards card which means you can earn cash back for your purchases. The card also gives a one-time bonus of 10,000 points after first use on the card. This is equal to $100 cash back that you receive in the form of statement credit. That’s basically a free $100 bucks. When it comes to earning points you will earn 2 points for every $1 spent on NFL or team purchases – 1 point for all other purchases.

There’s no limit on how many points you can earn and your points never expire. The points you earn can be redeemed for merchandise, lifetime experiences, game tickets, or 1% cash back statement credits. To top it off, you will earn 20% off every purchase at NFLShop.com which equals $20 off every $100 you spend.

How to Apply for the Cleveland Browns Extra Points Credit Card

Applying for this credit card is quick and easy. We’ve provided a link below that will take you to the official Cleveland Browns Extra Points Credit Card website. From this page, you can click on the apply now button to go to the Cleveland Browns Extra Points Credit Card secure online application. The application takes just a few minutes to complete, and they will even notify you about the outcome of your application.

To get started, visit the Cleveland Browns Extra Points Credit Card official website.


Credit Vs. Debit: Why Credit Card Purchases Are Safer, More Rewarding


These days, most of us carry both a credit card and debit card in our wallets, but odds are we’re doing more swiping with our debit cards than anything else. (For a long time, I know I was.)

But did you know that there are a lot of benefits to using your credit card that you might be missing out on, including improvements to your credit score, cash back rewards and, most importantly, better fraud protection?

In many instances, credit cards offer many more benefits than debit cards, so long as you’re swiping responsibly. Here’s the argument for ditching your debit card (or at least moving it to the back of your wallet) for your credit card…

Improve Your Credit History

Credit scores are based on a lot of different factors, but one of the biggest is credit history. If you show credit card companies that you use credit actively and pay a good portion of your balance back (at least 30%) each month, your credit score will only improve. That set-it-and-forget-it myth to building credit by simply owning a credit card is just that – a myth.

The more active you are with your credit card, the more likely you are to be approved for a loan or another, better credit card in the future. Debit cards, however, do not have any impact on your credit score. Advantage: Credit Cards

Earn Rewards

No matter how many times you swipe your debit card, odds are you’re not getting any rewards in return. Airline miles, cash back, free hotel nights – these are ALL things you can earn when you become a regular credit card user. Think about all the items you purchased using your debit card this month; imagine if you received even 1 or 2% cash back on those purchases?

These points/rewards can add up over time, and some credit cards offer even more cash back on specific categories throughout the year. (Gas, groceries, etc.) So, depending on what you’re purchasing and what kind of credit card you have, you can earn some serious rewards over time. Can you recall any type of reward you earned for using your debit card? Me neither. Advantage: Credit Cards

[box]

Update: This card is no longer available, but you can view other cash back cards here.
The TrueEarnings® card from Costco and American Express is an ideal card for earning cash back on your gas purchases. As a matter of fact, the card gives 3% cash back on gasoline at U.S. stand-alone gas stations. Plus, it’s an American Express® Card and Costco membership card, with no annual fee for Costco members.
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Fraud Protection

Let’s get one thing straight: Your bank DOES protect you from fraudulent categories. However, if you’ve ever had to dispute an unauthorized charge tied to your bank account, then you know that the process can be…frustrating. And time consuming.

However, if you’ve ever attempted to use your credit card in a location not generally tied to your home address (say, Las Vegas), then you know that credit card companies will generally contact you upon completion of a transaction to verify that it’s you. You may have even had your card denied from making the transaction, as credit cards are better equipped to stop fraudulent charges in their tracks.

Plus, debit cards are attached to one’s bank account, so if an identity thief gets a hold of this precious information, your entire personal finance folder could be at risk. On the contrary, credit card accounts are isolated, and most credit card companies include 100% fraud protection. (DON’T sign up for a credit card without confirming this first.) Overall, the risks of using a credit card are marginally lower and the chance of protection better versus a debit card. Advantage: Credit Cards

Finance Management

This is the only category in which we’ll give debit cards the nod over credit cards, since you can only spend what you have in your checking account. Credit cards can be dangerous if you’re an overzealous spender, and credit cards with higher limits can get you in the most debt trouble if you’re not responsible. Those risks simply aren’t there if you use your debit card exclusively, especially with overdraft fee protection. Advantage: Debit Cards

If you’re worried that you or your college student isn’t quite ready for the responsibility of a credit card, start with a low limit, low risk credit card to begin. Or, get in the habit of swiping responsibly (with, say, a prepaid debit card) before placing that shiny new credit card in your wallet. It will save you in the long haul.

Overall, the benefits to using your credit card over your debit card can be exponential; just make sure you know how to manage your finances responsibly before jumping into the world of credit. Set budget limits, only spend what you need and remember to pay back your credit card balance in full at the end of each month to avoid interest fees. From there, you can take advantage of all the perks to owning a credit card.

[box type=”note” icon=”none”]This post is a guest post from Jason Bushey, Vice President of Creditnet.[/box]


How to Choose the Best Credit Card

There isn’t a week that goes by that my mail box or inbox isn’t flooded with credit card offers. I get 0% balance transfer credit card offers, gas reward card offers, travel reward offers, and hundreds more. With all these offers competing for our business, how do we choose the best credit card?

While sifting through credit card offers doesn’t sound like much fun, the good news is there are specific things you can look for to make this task less daunting. The goal is to find the best credit card offer for you, and that all starts with knowing how to evaluate a card offer. The Federal Reserve has a website that can help you navigate the world of credit, but it won’t help you pick a specific card.

So to get you started, we have identified the most important things you should look for in an offer so you can choose the best credit card!

Why Do You Want a Credit Card?

The very first step is to ask yourself why you want a card in the first place. Some want to build their credit. Perhaps you have no credit, limited credit, or even poor credit. If that’s your primary purpose for getting a card, look at cards for people with poor credit.

In contrast, you may be searching for a specific type of reward card, such as cash back, points, or miles. If so, you can narrow your search to cards that offer these benefits. And of course, you may be in search of low interest cards. Whatever your objective, the key is to understand why you want a credit card before you begin your search. Knowing what you want will save you time and improve the chances that you’ll get a card that meets your financial needs.

Credit Card Fees

It’s important to pay attention to credit card fees. Credit cards come with set fees everybody must pay and potential fees depending on how you use the card. Common fees may include an annual fee to have the credit card, a balance transfer fee, fees for late payments, and fees for exceeding the credit limit of your card. You should make sure you understand how much these fees are, and more importantly, how to avoid them. Here are a few things to look for:

  • With an annual fee, make sure it is reasonable for you. Not all credit cards require an annual fee, however, so it is worth shopping around to get the lowest fee or no fee, especially if you pay off your balance each month.
  • Be aware of balance transfer fees when making a balance transfer. First understand how much the credit card company will charge you for the balance transfer – usually it’s between 3% to 5% of the amount you transfers. There are some cards that offer No Fee Balance Transfers, but most cards charge this fee.
  • Some cards even charge a fee for making a payment over the phone, but this fee is avoidable. As an alternative you can make your payment online or mail your, both of which are free!

Introductory Interest Rates

It’s always important to know the interest the card company will charge. The interest rate is set in part based on your credit score. This means that not everybody with the same card will be charged the same rate. That’s another reason to keep your credit score in good shape. But you must pay particular attention to any introductory rates.

Introductory interest rates are typically low interest rates (often 0%) on purchases, balance transfers, or both that last for a set period of time. These introductory rates can last just a few months, or even longer with some of the Best Offers. But the point is that they don’t last forever. And it’s important to make sure you understand two things: when the introductory rate ends and what the regular rate will be thereafter.

Understand the Rewards Programs

Many credit card offers today come with some type of rewards program. Whether you’re looking for points to redeem for travel, cash back rewards, 0% offers, or some other program, it’s important to understand the terms and conditions of the rewards offer. Many programs offer introductory specials that last for a limited time, for example. Some gas reward programs offer as much as 10% cash back on gas purchases, but only for a limited time.

Whatever the terms are, it’s critical to simply take a few minutes to read through the program so you understand the benefits the credit card offers. Also, consider any bonus offers that might be available. Finding a good bonus offer can be a deciding factor when figuring out which card you should go with.

Credit Requirements

Each credit card offer has some sort of credit requirement for the applicant. You should pay attention to this and only apply for cards you think you can be approved. For example, if a card requires you to have excellent credit, but you know your credit is only fair, then don’t apply for that card. Instead, find a card that is designed for people with fair credit.

Apply for cards that are within your credit range so you are more likely to get approved. Here are the credit ranges you typically see: No/Limited History, Poor Credit, Fair Credit, Good Credit, and Excellent Credit.

Credit Card Issuer

These days the credit card issuer might not be as important as it once was. Most places accept just about all types of cards. However, it might be something you want to consider. When you think of credit cards, you probably think of companies like Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover. The question is does it matter what type of card you get? In answering that question for yourself, here are a 3 things to keep in mind:

  1. Visa and MasterCard don’t actually issue credit cards. Instead, they serve as an intermediary between the merchant that accepts credit cards and the bank that issued them.
  2. Discover and American Express act as both the bank and intermediary all in one.
  3. Visa and MasterCard are the most widely accepted credit cards available. American Express is more widely accepted than Discover.

Photo Credit: ShaNeal Robertson via Flickr


Credit Cards vs. Charge Cards – There Is A Difference?

Credit cards and charge cards look and function the same on the surface. However, charge cards actually work much differently than a traditional credit card. Unless your familiar with the different types of cards out there, you aren’t going to be able to tell the difference between the cards just by looking at them.

With all the different credit card lingo out there it gets confusing when it comes to the different kinds of cards. This article will clarify the difference for you and help you decide which type of card is a better fit for you.

Credit Card vs. Charge Card

Credit cards allow you to make a purchase and be billed for it later. There are all different types of cards, cards that give you rewards, cards that build credit, cards that are for students, and more. The balance you have on the card can be carried over from month to month. Most likely you will be paying interest on the balance you carry over and a minimum payment is required each month. The interest rate you are charged is based on your creditworthiness and some cards even offer special low introductory rates for cardmembers.

Discover itCredit cards are issued by banks, retail stores and even some oil companies. A Nilson Report that was published early 2010 reported the total number of credit cards in circulation at the end of 2009 at 576,400,000. Chase, Citi and Bank of America make up the bulk of that huge number. There are credit cards available for those with not so good credit and there are cards available for those with excellent credit.

Amex-Business-PlatinumCharge cards also allow you to make purchases and be billed for them later. The big difference with a charge card is that you are required to pay the balance off each month in full. Balances cannot be carried over from month-to-month, so there is no interest rate, APR, or minimum payment. The most well known charge cards are those issued by American Express, but there are many others on the market. Among the most popular, especially with small business owners, is the Chase Ink Bold.

Annual fees are in the $100 range form most charge cards, and offerings include points for things like airline miles and concierge service to help with hotel and restaurant reservations. When it comes to being approved for a charge card you have to have good to excellent credit.


A Business Credit Card for Less Than Perfect Credit

The Applied Bank® Visa® Business Card is a business card for small business owners. This card is available to those with less than perfect credit. This card would be a good choice for someone who needs a business card, but can’t get approved due to their credit score. There is no annual fee, but there are fees associated with this card so be sure to check out the “Fees” section of this review.

Applied Bank® Visa® Business Card

  • Less than Perfect Credit? No Problem! Easy Approval
  • Turn Your Hobby or Interest into a Business
  • Separate Your Business Expenses for Tax Purposes
  • Sole Proprietors and Entrepreneurs Should Apply
  • No Security Deposit Required!

Rates and Offers

This card offers a fixed APR. This means if you qualify for the card the APR will not change and is not based on your creditworthiness. Everyone that qualifies gets the same APR. The APR will be 23.99%.

Fees

I would only suggest using this card if you can’t qualify for a better business card because the cost of using this card is high. There are fees that this card charges that aren’t typical fees for a business card. There are two fees that you need to be aware of. Here’s a quick overview:

  • Account Origination Fee: $125
  • Monthly Maintenance Fee: $9.95 ($119.40 Annually)

The Account Origination fee is charged to the card once you are approved for the account. You are also charged for the first Monthly Maintenance fee. This is important to know because because your initial credit availability will be $134.95 less than your Credit Limit because you are hit with these fees right off the bat.

How to Apply for the Applied Bank® Visa® Business Card

Applying for this credit card is quick and easy. We’ve provided a link below that will take you to the official Applied Bank® Visa® Business Card website. From this page, you can click on the apply now button to go to the Applied Bank® Visa® Business Card secure online application. The application takes just a few minutes to complete, and they will even notify you about the outcome of your application.

To get started, visit the Applied Bank® Visa® Business Card official website.