Square announces free chargeback protection for retailers

by Shelton on March 31st, 2015

filed under Cash Advances

Dive Brief:

  • Mobile payment provider Square says it will cover all affiliated retailers in the United States and Canada with chargeback protection up to $250 per month.
  • Chargeback disputes are an issue for small businesses, since they tie up funds that smaller merchants need on a day-to-day basis.
  • The startups small-business offerings also include Square Capital cash advances, an iPad-based cash register replacement, inventory software, and online storefronts.

Dive Insight:

Square has sweetened the pot for small-business customers, promising to cover chargeback disputes of up to $250 per month at no charge. Chargeback disputes are often a problem for small businesses, since they can tie up crucial revenues for months while being settled.

Even if the client business loses the dispute, Square says it will cover the loss, making the compact, iOS-based card reader system more attractive to partner businesses and more competitive with systems from PayPal and Amazon. Square concentrates on small retailers, providinga range of products from cash advances to inventory and invoicing software.

Recommended Reading

TechCrunch:
Square Launches Free Chargeback Protection For US And Canadian Sellers

Credit score key factor when applying for loan

by Shelton on March 31st, 2015

filed under Below Average Credit

How important is your credit score? When applying for credit, lenders will check your score to find out how good it is. A credit score is a number that indicates to creditors and lenders how likely you are to pay a debt you owe based on your previous borrowing habits. The higher your score, the greater the chances you are to obtain extended credit.

What is your credit score used for? Your credit score is used to determine whether you can get credit for things like buying a house, or purchasing a car. It can be used determine if you can secure a line of credit to obtain a credit card and how much your interest rate will be on that card.

What is a good credit score? Credit scores greater than 740 are considered excellent. The range for a good credit score is 660-739. Average credit score 620-659 and a below average credit score is under 619.

Certain things can dramatically impact your credit score, such as late payments. The more payments that you make late, the more your score will decline. Bankruptcies and foreclosures will also take a toll on your overall score.

Understanding your credit score can be complex, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are a few tips to help improve your credit score and prevent you from hindering it.

If your credit score is less than perfect, it is possible to rebuild your score over time with patience and good debt management. As you consistently make prompt payments, creditors will notice a positive payment history and the negative marks on your credit history less and less.

Review your credit report annually. Regularly checking your credit report is a responsible financial practice. You are entitled by law, to one free credit report from each of the major reporting bureaus every 12 months. Pulling your score does not affect your credit score; however, if you authorize a lender to pull your credit report, it may lower your score. Avoid applying for too much extended credit.

Try to pay at least the minimum amount due each month towards your debt. Late payments will add “blemishes” to your credit history and even after those accounts are paid-in-full and closed, they remain on your credit report for 10 years.

Avoid co-signing loans for others. Most people think that “lending their good name” is all that is required to help someone else secure a loan. When you co-sign a note for someone, you are just as responsible if the borrower misses a payment and you are responsible for their debt. Their inability to pay will affect your credit score.

Paying cash for all of your purchases in a great way to stay out of debt. I admire those individuals who pride themselves on the philosophy, “If I don’t have cash, I just won’t buy it,” but that philosophy won’t help improve your credit score. Credit is built on credit history, paying cash doesn’t create a history.

Your credit score is very important. It is a measure of your financial responsibility.

Join me on Facebook, search Coupon Clippin’ Cuties and add yourself to our group. Discover that building good credit will help you score when making major purchases.

Sandra Dulakis is a nurse, mother, wife and founder of Coupon Clippin’ Cuties.

Debt Consolidation can help save your green business

by Shelton on March 30th, 2015

filed under Debt Consolidation

Debt Consolidation can help save your green business
by ClickGreen staff.

Published
Sat 14 Mar 2015 17:16

Money Matters: Credit Scores

by Shelton on March 29th, 2015

filed under Credit Scores

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA — Credit scores are used by banks to determine if they will lend you money. Assume for a moment that you do not take care of your credit. This means if you plan to get a new car while you are in college or after you graduate you may have to buy whatever you can afford with cash since the banks will not loan you any money. If you are lucky enough to have a car already then no problem, right?

Actually, insurance companies also look at credit scores to determine if they want to insure you. Yes, auto insurance companies use credit scores as one factor to determine if they are willing to insure you at all, or if they will charge you higher rates.

Looks like you will have to bum a ride to your job interviews since you cannot afford to drive your own car. At least once you get a decent job you can pay off debt and repair your credit and save for a car… Or did I forget to mention that employers also look at your credit score? They want to see if you are truly responsible with your money. People who are irresponsible with their own money and with their own lives are unlikely to be very responsible at work with other people’s money. This means you are without a ride and without a job. It will be tough to hang onto your own place.

Except, of course, landlords also check your credit score. If you have a bad credit score then landlords do not want to risk that you may skip out on rent payments… And you can forget about buying a place of your own. With no job, no money, no car and no credit, you are starting out in really bad shape.

See, the entire financial industry understands that people with messy finances also lead messy lives. In other words, the way you handle money is a reflection of your character at a deeper level.

So what exactly makes up a credit score? Your credit score consists of five main pieces of information. Your payment history, the amounts you owe, the length of history, new credit, and types of credit.

1. Payment History
Your payment history represents 35% of your score. It includes past due items, how long they have been past due, and any delinquencies or judgments that are a result of being very, very late on your payments or simply never paying them at all. This is why it is important that if you borrow money, make sure you have the ability to pay it back on time.

2. Amounts Owed
The amounts you owe represent 30% of your score. This means multiple loans and credit cards with large amounts owed can hurt your score even if you are making all the payments on time. Banks understand that the more debt you have, the harder it will be for you to make your payments if something goes wrong (loss of a job, major unexpected emergency, etc.). They also look at the proportion of your credit that is being used. This means if you have two credit cards, each with a $1,000 credit limit and one card is maxed out and the other is not being used, you are using 50% of your available credit. Some people mistakenly close their unused card to help their score, but if you close the unused card you would now be using 100% of your available credit and your score will go down.

3. Length of Credit History
The length of your credit history represents 15% of your score. Keep in mind you must have credit that is reported for at least six months in order to even have a credit score. The length of credit history looks at the time since you opened your accounts and the time since you last had activity on them.

Ask yourself would you rather have a surgeon who has 10 years of experience or one who just graduated from medical school? The same concept applies to credit. From the bank’s perspective, if they are going to loan you money the longer history you have of proving that you will repay your debt, the less risky you seem. On the other hand if you have never missed a payment and only have one year of credit history, it only proves you can make payments for a short period of time. You may not have had a chance to go through life’s ups and downs while still maintaining your payments.

4. New Credit
New credit represents 10% of your score. It considers the number of new accounts and how many times you have asked for credit recently. If you have five accounts, but they are all new, this could mean you are either just starting out or you suddenly found yourself in need to borrow a lot. Each time you apply for credit (loan, credit card, etc.) it gets tracked. If you do it too frequently then it appears you are desperate for credit which also makes you look bad.

5. Types of Credit
The remaining 10% of your score is made up of the types of credit you have. A mix of different types of credit is good. If you only have four credit cards and nothing else, you only have one type of credit; which is revolving credit. On the other hand, if you have a loan and a credit card then you have at least two types of credit; a revolving loan and an installment loan. This will improve your score as you can demonstrate that you are able to handle different types of debt.

So what can you do to create or improve your score? It is helpful to first look at your credit report. Of course, those TV commercials for free credit reports or scores require you to subscribe to a monthly service that you have to pay for before they will provide your report or score for free.

If you do find an error, you can dispute the error with the credit bureau and with the creditor that reported the incorrect information. They must investigate it. Send in a letter that identifies the issues. Make sure you send your letters by certified mail so you can prove that they received it and when they received it.

Credit scores can be improved, but it may take time

by Shelton on March 29th, 2015

filed under Credit Scores

A good credit score provides a certain amount of security for a lender. It indicates that the borrower has a history of repaying loans, can meet regular payments as required by the lender and he or she only borrows what can be repaid.

Borrowers can receive a favorable loan interest rate and will have less trouble getting a loan if they have a good credit score. However, for the borrower, even the best intentions to repay a loan can be waylaid by life. The loss of a job or a severe medical illness can impair a persons ability to pay on an existing loan, whether it is a credit card or a car loan. Once a good credit score is lost, it can be regained, although it will take some time.

Credit cards seem to be the biggest source of a bad credit score. Credit cards are an easy method of payment, but the cardholder does not realize the extent of its use until the credit card statement is received. The easiest way to start repairing credit is by paying off the existing balance. Payments should be more than the minimum, and should always be paid on time. By paying more than the minimum, the lender has an expectation of a speedier resolution to a problem loan. If this becomes a consistent payment method, lenders will look favorably on future loans.

Another suggestion is to avoid future debt until the current debt is repaid. It is important to pay off existing credit cards before piling on more debt. If more debt is necessary, the new balance should be a manageable amount and should be paid off immediately when the credit card statement is received. Adding an additional amount to the amount remitted, to pay on the existing balance, will aid in improving the credit score.

Credit card companies examine a borrowers payment history. Younger borrowers have much more difficulty getting a favorable loan than someone with a long payment history. When it comes to borrowing money, age is an advantage — as long as it is age with an excellent payment record.

Self-control when borrowing is an important personal asset and equates to lower interest on any amount borrowed. A bad credit score is one of the rationales that credit card companies use to charge higher interest to some customers and not for others.

Once good credit is lost there are some ways to recover it. The most important thing a borrower can do is contact the lenders or credit card companies before it is turned over to a debt collector and work out a payment schedule. A credit counselor who may charge for any service they provide may not be necessary. In some instances credit counselors do no more than what the delinquent debtor can do, such as contacting the lenders and developing a payment schedule.

In addition, there may be legal steps that can be taken that can improve a credit report especially if faulty information was used in factoring a credit score. The Federal Trade Commission offers advice on improving a credit score and provides tips and techniques to getting a better credit report. This information can be found by googling the title Building a Better Credit Report or it can be found by using the search bar at the website consumer.ftc.gov.

It is important not to be tricked by credit repair scams. Many of the promises made in advertisements are misleading or completely false. There is no quick fix to a bad credit report.

— Mary Fox Luquette, MBA, CLU, ChFC is a finance instructor in the BI Moody III College of Business at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

Jim Blankenship: How to attack your debt’s causes

by Shelton on March 28th, 2015

filed under Debt Consolidation

Youve likely seen commercials that urge you to consolidate all your debt into a loan on which you make the heralded one low payment. The concept promises to free some cash so you can more easily live paycheck to paycheck. The consolidation plan also, if you use it too soon, does nothing to address the root problem of your debt.

Instead you need a method to manage and organize money so you can consciously decide how to spend. A good book on the subject is Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin, Joe Dominguez and Monique Tilford.

Here are six steps to start:

_Commit to never charging anything on a credit card or to charging only what you can pay off each month in addition to the minimum payment on your accounts. This can be difficult to undertake but is a tried-and-true tactic for eliminating a debt problem.

Further, think about using cash only until you bring your spending habits under control.

_Always keep a small notepad handy to write down each time you spend money and what you bought. This helps you track what happened to that extra cash you pulled out of the ATM. Account for even small purchases like a cup of coffee.

_At the end of the month (or other convenient timespan), consolidate your spending information into categories meaningful to you. Suggestions include auto (fuel, repairs, insurance); groceries; debt repayment (credit cards, loans); entertainment (cable TV, newspapers, books, movies, dining out); home utilities; household expenses (lawn, garbage disposal, repairs); pets; personal grooming; clothing; and whatever other categories seem appropriate.

Organize the categories into groups labeled: monthly required spending (costs such as utilities and groceries); monthly discretionary spending (entertainment, lunches); periodic required spending (homeowners insurance, taxes); and periodic discretionary spending (clothing, manicures and the like).

_Review your spending and establish funding amounts for your discretionary categories. With this step, you set limits that fit within your available income. Also review your required spending categories to determine if you can reduce some of these amounts. For example, you might examine your auto and homeowners insurance to see if you can increase the deductibles and so reduce the premiums.

With any leftover cash, consider making additional debt payments or placing some money in an emergency account to cover about six months normal expenses.

For the additional debt payments, organize your pay down using a debt-snowball method, targeting one account to concentrate your extra payments on until you pay it down to zero. Then add what you paid on that account to the next in your list, also paying that debt down to nothing. Keep doing this until you eliminate all debt.

I suggest concentrating extra payments on credit cards and personal loans, which carry high interest rates first; then go after, in order, the balances with lower rates followed by your auto loans, student loans and, last, your home mortgage.

_Label separate envelopes with each of the categories and place the appropriate amounts of cash in each. Some envelopes will accumulate cash month-to-month. For instance, your clothing envelope will gradually fill until you actually make that trip to the mall.

Similarly, if your homeowners insurance premiums come due only twice a year, put a sixth of the necessary total payment in this envelope every month. Only use cash from the appropriate envelopes to pay for discretionary items. When you need to borrow from one envelope to pay expenses in another category, make a note on the first envelope and pay back the borrowed amount as soon as possible.

At the end of the month, adjust your spending plan and the amounts in each envelope.

After you get used to the process, this method of money control takes just an evening – eventually only an hour or so – each month. If you are married, both of you need to commit to this. I suggest storing the envelopes in a fireproof home safe.

_You can also keep your cash in a bank account and use an Excel spreadsheet or personal-finance software such as Quicken to segregate funds. Using accounting instead of envelopes can be more difficult especially if your self-discipline wavers. On the plus side, you dont keep your cash physically sitting around.

With this disciplined system, you can get spending habits – the root of any debt issue – well in hand in no time. Then a debt-consolidation loan might work wonders.

ABOUT THE WRITER

Jim Blankenship is an independent, fee-only financial planner at Blankenship Financial Planning in New Berlin, Ill.

He writes for AdviceIQ, which delivers quality personal finance articles by both financial advisors and AdviceIQ editors.

An innovative, feminist sex toy just made crowdfunding history

by Shelton on March 27th, 2015

filed under Personal Funding

Just two entrepreneurs, making the world a happier place.

I think women responded to the way that Janet and I approached it, which is that we werent oversexualizing it, Fine told Quartz. We werent over-medicalizing it. Instead, we were just talking openly and honestly about sex in a very informative way. I think we had fun too. We werent using sex to sell a sex toy. And I think that was very important.

Evas success highlights the increasing influence of crowdsourcing. In the last year alone, there have been over 10 multi-million dollar campaigns on Indiegogo, companyCEO Slava Rubin told Quartz. The crowdfunding platform has seen particular growth in technology, film, and personal funding campaigns. But regardlessof industry, all of the most viral campaigns have succeededintelling compelling stories in a way that resonates with aworldwide audience.

That definitely seemed to be the case with the Eva Indiegogo campaign, Rubin said. There was huge support for Eva from Indiegogos global audience, with more than 7,000 contributors from 91 countries and counting. And now the founders have gone beyond their crowdfunding campaign by using the InDemand feature on Indiegogo to continue taking orders.

The sex toy industry may be particularly well-positioned to take advantage of this new model, especially as some mainstream investors remainskittish of the industry.

The first electric vibrators were patented for consumer retail in 1902. More than a centuryand several sexual revolutionslater, the industry is pulling in an estimated $15 billion in sales each year, according to Newsweek.

Given what we know about the pleasuregap, itgoes without saying that muchof the industrys newfound success has been financed by women. This givessex-positive products like the Eva a potential edge. At the same time, Fine and Libermans outspoken advocacy for female sexuality and wellness is indicative of the way female empowerment isde-stigmatizing sex toys designed for women.

Seller’s Housing Market Reaches 30 Months With Mortgage Rates Still Low

by Shelton on March 26th, 2015

filed under Below Average Credit

Sellers Housing Market Reaches 30 Months With Mortgage Rates Still Low

Mortgage Rates Below 4% Stoke US Home Sales

With current mortgage rates in the mid-3s, US home sales remain strong.

In February, despite a scarce supply of homes for sale, existing home sales tallied 4.88 million, remaining above the 12-month rolling average on a seasonally-adjusted, annualized basis.

Purchasing power is its highest in more than a year — the typical prime buyer can 10% more home as compared one year ago. This means that a home buyer whose maximum purchase price was $400,000 in 2014 can now purchase at $440,000 for the same monthly payment.

Mortgage interest rates are near their lowest in 22 months.

At the same time, its becoming harder to find a good deal in housing. Demand for homes continues to outpace supply and values are ratcheting higher in many US markets.

Thankfully, low- and no-downpayment mortgages remain readily available. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have launched a program allowing for just 3% down; and the Federal Housing Administration insures high-LTV  loans for buyers with credit scores of at least 580.

Click to see todays mortgage rates.

Existing Home Supply Stays Tight Into 2015

The National Association of REALTORS® recently released its February 2015 Existing Home Sales report, which showed 4.88 million homes sold on a seasonally-adjusted, annualized basis. The reading marks a one percent increase from the month prior, and a 5 percent increase from February of last year.

Home supplies remain constricted nationwide.

Buoyed by the lowest mortgage rates of the year and widely-available credit, home buyers are purchasing properties faster than sellers can list them.

Todays demand for homes is coming from first-time and repeat buyers. Just 14 percent of last months transaction can be attributed to real estate investors — a seven-point decrease as compared to one year ago.

As the number of investors has dropped, the percentage of repeat home buyers has increased. A repeat buyer is a buyer who has owned a home within the last three years.

Many times, repeat buyers purchase homes which are more expensive than their current ones.

Repeat buyers are among the reasons why the typical US home sale price has climbed — todays buyers are moving up toward higher-priced homes, and away from lower-priced ones.

Note how sales volume has changed at each NAR-tracked price range — especially for jumbo homes.

  • Home sales between $0-100,000 : -9% since last year
  • Home sales between $100,000-$250,000 : +8% since last year
  • Home sales between $250,000-$500,000 : +18% since last year
  • Home sales between $500,000-$750,000 : +16% since last year
  • Home sales between $750,000-$1,000,000 : +13% since last year
  • Home sales over $1,000,000 : +14% since last year

It should be noted, though, that the February Existing Home Sales report fell short of projections based on a different NAR publication — the Pending Home Sales Index.

The Pending Home Sales Index measures the number of US homes under contract, but not yet closed. 80% of homes under contract close within 60 days, so there exists a very high correlation between the Pending Home Sales Index and the monthly Existing Home Sales report.

The most recent Pending Home Sales Index data projected Decembers home resales to tally near 5.0 million on an annualized basis. The actual home sales tally fell short.

Click to get todays mortgage rates now. 

Buying Homes With Low Or No Downpayment 

For todays active buyers, there are fewer homes for sale.

According to the Existing Home Sales report, the national home supply sits at just 4.7 months — the lowest in 24 months.

At the current pace of sales, the entire stock of 1.89 million US homes for sale would be sold before kids go back to school in the fall.

This is a meaningful data point because home supply of 6 months or less connotes a Sellers Market; one in which home sellers have negotiation leverage over buyers and in which demand for homes is high.

Existing Home Supply has been in such bull-market territory since August 2012.

The good news is that todays home buyers are able to finance their purchases via a growing number of mortgage programs, including low-downpayment loans, no downpayment loans, and loans for luxury homes.

Among the most popular options with todays low-downpayment buyers is the FHA loan. FHA loans require just 3.5% down and offer flexible mortgage approval terms, including an allowance for average and below-average credit scores.

Another common low-downpayment option is the conventional 97% program. This government-backed loan tends to work well for buyers with above-average credit scores who are buying single-family, detached properties (ie not condos or town homes).

Only 3% down is required and buyers can receive cash downpayment gifts.

For buyers in rural and suburban areas, the USDA loan is an excellent no-downpayment option.

This zero-down loan is backed by the US Department of Agriculture and can provide below-market mortgage rates to applicants who use it.

Lastly, as the mortgage market has loosened, so have requirements for the fixed-rate and adjustable-rate jumbo mortgages.

Many banks now require just 10% down for a jumbo loan; and have lowered their minimum credit score requirement. This has helped spur the luxury housing market forward and is one reason why home sales over $750,000 continue to make gains.

Get A Complimentary Mortgage Rate Quote 

Buoyed by the lowest mortgage rates in close to two years, the US housing market is advancing. Home sales are rising and so are home values. Its an excellent time to consider your options as a buyer; and to plan for your future as a homeowner.

Get a complimentary mortgage rate quote now. Rates are available at no cost, with no social security number required to get started, and with no obligation to proceed whatsoever.

Click here to get started.

Budget 2015: Are you richer or poorer? Here’s the bottomline

by Shelton on March 26th, 2015

filed under House Loan

*You can also put in money into the National Pension Scheme and amounts up to Rs 50,000 will qualify for tax deductions. Thats another Rs 5,150 to Rs 17,300 saved in terms of taxes. Alternately, you can also invest this Rs 50,000 in an annuity plan of LIC under Section 80CCC to enjoy the same savings. One other tax saving you will get, if you are a salaried employee, is on your transport allowance. So far, only up to Rs 800 per month on this count was deductible from taxable income. That has been moved to Rs 1,600. Add anywhere between Rs 989 and Rs 3,322 to your tax savings.

*Though the highest exemption limit on paper is Rs 5 lakh, its now theoretically possible to avoid paying tax up to Rs 8.8 lakh. A very senior citizen who takes a house loan with an interest payment of Rs 2 lakh, invests Rs 1.5 lakh in schemes under 80C and pays a premium of Rs 30,000 on medical insurance or incurs medical expenses of Rs 30,000 can achieve this. Even if youre not a senior citizen, it is still possible to earn Rs 6.25 lakh and not pay any tax.

READ ALSO:

Jaitleys tough talk: Black money abroad? Be ready for jail, huge fines

Budget 2015: What goes up, what down

*On the flip side, just about every service you avail of will attract 14% service tax, against 12% earlier. That includes power and telephone bills, eating out and movie watching, beauty treatments and airline tickets. How much does this hurt? It is not outlandish to assume that you spend about half of what you earn on various services. An extra 2% on these would effectively translate into a 1% tax on your income. So if you earn a lakh a month thats Rs 12,000 extra in service tax annually

Cents and Sensibility: Understanding credit scores and credit cards

by Shelton on March 25th, 2015

filed under Credit Scores

A credit score, simply put, is the calculated likelihood of you paying your bills on time. Therefore, the higher the number the better. A credit score is not something that you sign up for, but rather is created and tracked automatically by three ratings agencies.

While your credit score might seem like an irrelevant number today, it will play a major role in how much interest you pay to borrow money for things like a car or a house in just a few short years. A good credit score can qualify you for a lower interest rate when you borrow money, which means potentially paying thousands of dollars less in the future.

To obtain a great credit score, you need a history of responsible money management. One of the most common ways to build a credit history is by using a credit card. If you find yourself regularly using a debit card, consider talking to your bank about setting up a credit card with a low credit limit and no annual fee. Charging a debit card draws money directly from your checking account.

However, by using a credit card, you essentially borrow money from your bank and then, ideally, repay your debt at the end of the month. This difference allows banks and credit agencies to see whether or not you are a reliable person to loan money to over time. By repeatedly borrowing small sums and repaying them on time in full, you can build up a positive history of creditworthiness. Likewise, if you fail to pay your bills or are late on payments, your credit score will be lowered. If you feel ready for the responsibility of a credit card, make sure to do your research before you go to your bank to avoid gimmicks and unreasonably high interest rates.

The golden rule of responsible credit card use is to always pay your bill in full and on time each month. Credit card companies will tempt you by listing a “minimum monthly payment” on your bill. While it might seem like that is all you need to pay that month, don’t fall for it. Card companies make their money from the interest they charge on your remaining balance. Know that if you only make your minimum payment, you will typically end up paying twice the sticker price of each item you buy due to interest fees. Ouch! There are also other hidden costs to carrying credit card debt. For example, late bill payments will bring down your credit score and remain on your record.

One easy way to stay on top of your payments if to set up an alert on your phone reminding you to pay your bill each month. While you will get a paper bill each month, most banks today have online banking and smartphone apps for those who don’t regularly check their mailboxes. You can take advantage of these apps to pay your bill and also keep an eye on your spending relative to your credit limit. Never rely on your bank telling you if you are over or about to go over your limit, as going over may trigger fees and lower your score.

To establish good credit, try charging up a third of your credit limit and then pay it off immediately each month. While it’s certainly okay to spend less than a third, regularly maxing out your credit limit may raise red flags. Another common pitfall is having too many credit cards. While companies like Nordstrom and Target might offer you a discount on your purchase if you sign up for their cards, it isn’t worth it. Those cards’ annual fees typically cancel out the “15 percent savings on your purchase today.” Likewise, earning airline miles might seem appealing, but you generally need to charge about $8,000 annually to your card to earn one ticket every three years, which really isn’t much of a deal for the average college student.

Too many credit cards can also make creditors nervous and may have negative impacts on your credit score. A good rule of thumb is to try for no more than two cards: one for everyday use and possibly one more for emergencies. History is key here, so try to keep open the account with the credit card that you’ve had the longest.

Finally, remember that if you ever have any questions about using your card, don’t be afraid to do some research or ask your bank, as it’s better to be safe than sorry. The bottom line is that a credit card is a very serious financial tool and whether it is harmful or helpful is up to you alone. With careful management of your credit card, you can start to build a positive credit history, which will serve you well in the years to come.

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons