7 Credit Card Tips From ING Direct

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I was just on the ING Direct site checking out my savings accounts and decided to check out their tips. They list seven great credit card tips. Check them out (descriptions are mine):

  • Make your payments on time – Very important! Late fees can be very expensive on credit cards and can negatively affect your credit score. If you have problems with the due date you may be able to change your credit card due date.
  • Try to pay off the full balance every month – Pay off the full balance to avoid any interest charges.
  • Avoid cash advances – Cash advances on your credit card have different rates than normal credit. Yeah, it’s gonna be more expensive than if you just charged it.
  • Shop around – Compare rates and services from different credit card companies to get the best credit card offers.  Find one that fits your spending habits.  Make sure to read the fine print as well.
  • Use savings to pay off the cards – It’s great that ING Direct exists offering high interest rates on savings but that high rate doesn’t compare with the interest on your credit card (unless you have a low introductory rate).
  • If you’d like a better rate, just ask – If you have been a good customer you can call the credit card company and ask for a better rate. Try telling them that you received an offer from another company with a better credit card rate; odds are they can lower it for you. Make sure you understand what the new rate is though. It may only apply to new purchases not your outstanding balance.
  • Don’t be left holding all the cards – If you have a lot of cards it means you can do a lot of spending damage. This is bad for both you wallet and your credit score. Get rid of credit cards you hardly use or ask that the credits limits be lowered (a high credit limit can hurt you for some credit card companies).

Of course you should also watch your spending as well.  Don’t abuse your card and know what you can really afford.

Do you have any credit card tips to share?

Interesting Credit Card Marketing From AAA and Bank Of America

My wife paid her credit card a couple of days late.

Between work and taking care of the kids (that includes me too) she forgot the exact due date.  It isn’t a card that’s used often.

It happens.

Unfortunately we got hit with a no payment fee (about $30) and an interest fee (a couple of bucks). There were no other late payments on the card so I decided to call the company and ask if they can drop the fees. We’ve been good customers and have been paying in full every month.

So I called the number on the back of the credit card.

I go through all of the phone hoops and get to an account person. He asks who I am. I give him my name and tell him I’m calling on behalf of my wife (this is a credit card she had before we were married). The account rep then says he sees my account. My account? This is my wife’s card! It seems that Bank of America is the issuer of the AAA card and since we have a banking account there he could see my account.

So I tell him our situation, that we never pay late and always pay in full, could you drop the late fees? He tells me since I’m not on the account he can’t authorize it. My wife has to tell the rep to put me on her account. So now I give her the phone which kind of defeated the purpose of me calling since she was taking care of the kids, and she gives him permission to add me to the account. Took two minutes maybe. Easy process. I get the phone back and go back to the original question of removing the fees. He looks at the account and says he can remove the no payment penalty but there’s nothing he can do about the interest fee. I press on the interest but he won’t budge. It was a couple of bucks and it was our fault so OK we’ll pay that. At least we got the no payment fee taken off! The whole process was a bit annoying but in 15 minutes we were able to eliminate a $30 charge.

Fast forward a week or so and we get a package in the mail.

Two new credit cards for the account. We didn’t ask for a new card. Since they added me to the account they assumed that I too would need one of their cards.

Hmm…interesting. I guess they want me to start charging on the account too! Now they double the chance of a late payment or interest charges (not really for us but hypothetically)! What they did wasn’t wrong from what I can tell but it annoys me that they automatically sent out another card assuming I wanted it. Very aggressive marketing on Bank of America’s behalf.

This gets me thinking though.

What cards do we have between us? Should we consolidate some accounts with both of us on the accounts? Until now it hasn’t even been a thought. We’re both responsible with our spending and very open with our spending habits. I like the idea of one separate card between us so we can buy gifts for each other without the cost popping up on a shared statement. How can this affect our credit scores? I need to do some research on this.

P.S. To prevent future late payments we signed up for email alerts from the bank that tell us the payment is due in a few days.

Do you think Bank of America was sneaky in sending us another card?

For those married folks out there – How do you handle credit cards between you and your spouse? I’m interested in hearing your stories.

How AMEX And ING Gave Us A Wedding Gift

My wife and I have been married for almost two years now.

When we were planning our wedding (which we planned in three months) we didn’t want to get too extravagant and end up in debt because of the wedding (not a good way to start a life together). Still we knew there would be some hefty expenses to cover.  Luckily for us I got an offer for an American Express credit card with 0% interest on charges for a year.

I know, some of you may be thinking “Uh-oh credit card debt!”

Well yeah but look at how we made a new credit card work for us:

  • We charged what we could on the card. This included not only wedding expenses but also the honeymoon and many other charges over the course of a year (we would have charged more but some vendors preferred cash or check).
  • When the monthly bill came we paid only the minimum. I know, another red flag – Never pay just the minimum. Stay with me it gets better.
  • We took as much of the remaining monthly balance as we could and put it in our ING account and labeled it AMEX. This money would only be used to pay the Amex bill once the 0% offer was over!
  • Fortunately we already had money saved for the wedding so we were able to add money to our ING “AMEX” account. Essentially we could have covered the credit card bill at any time but let it sit since we weren’t being charged interest.
  • At the end of the offer we paid our bill in full. We continue to use the card paying off the statement in full every month.

Basically what American Express did was give us a free loan for our wedding! On top of that we were earning decent interest in our online high-yield savings account for money that could have paid off the card. AND for the charges we made on the card we were earning rewards points as well. The points translated into a nice gift certificate to the Pottery Barn! Thank you American Express and ING!

Understand, we had to be disciplined to do this. At no time did we go crazy making charges we couldn’t already pay off. We had a plan and stuck to it.

This shows you that credit cards don’t have to be bad if they are used correctly. Money can be saved and earned in all sorts of ways. We just have to be open to how it can be done.

Let me know what you have done creatively with a credit card or online bank account!