More Than Half Of Rewards Credit Cardholders Carry A Balance


Rewards cards can provide great benefits – but they can also tempt you to overspend. When that happens, you’re more likely to carry a balance and wipe out your rewards with interest charges.

According to a new survey by U.S. News, over half of America’s rewards cardholders have carried a balance at least once over the last twelve months. Only 46.6% of rewards cardholders never carried a balance, while 26.2% carried balances more than half of the time – and 19.1% carried a balance every month or every month but one.

What’s the effect of carrying a balance? Start by comparing interest rates with reward returns. lists the average rewards card annual percentage rate (APR) at 17.13%. Most rewards cards provide returns between 1% and 5%.

Consider this simple example – you have no previous balance and rack up $1,000 in rewards-eligible charges in a month, earning a healthy 5% rewards ($50). You pay off half the bill, carry the balance in…

Now Is When People Fall Behind On Bills


Does your wallet take a bigger hit during the holiday season? If so, you aren’t alone. According to a recent study by LendingTree, more consumers fall behind on their bills in December than in any other month.

LendingTree reviewed anonymized credit report data from October 2017 through September 2018 and broke down the percentages of people who missed payments on any active account by month. December led the way with 7.5% of consumers missing at least one payment. October, November, and February were close behind with approximately 7.4% of consumers missing payments.

Note the correlation to holidays. October through December is the prime holiday shopping season (not everyone waits until December 24th to shop). Kali McFadden, Senior Research Analyst at

2 Of 5 Students Get Credit Cards Without Credit Card Education


As a college student, you’ve learned a lot of things in the last few years – most of which you can actually discuss with your parents. However, a new U.S. News survey suggests you might be missing a basic part of your education that could affect your financial future.

According to the survey, students are acquiring credit cards without sufficient knowledge to use them responsibly.

Forty percent of students with credit cards said they were never taught about any important aspect of credit usage, either from parents or teachers. Over 37% of respondents were never taught how to use a credit card responsibly and 26.2% were never taught how to create a budget.

That’s a recipe for overspending – and, as expected, 29% of respondents carried balances at least six out of the past twelve months. Half of respondents said they needed credit cards for basic necessities…

Stop The Onslaught Of Credit Card Offers


The signs of the holidays are all around us. The weather has changed, pumpkin spice has been added to everything imaginable, and your mailbox is bending under the weight of catalogs – and unsolicited credit card offers.

Credit card solicitations certainly aren’t limited to the holidays, but the intensity of offers tends to pick up during this time because your spending tends to pick up. The National Association of Retailers (NAR) predicts that holiday retail sales will approach $720 billion, excluding typical purchases like dining out and filling your gas tank. What retailer or card issuer wouldn’t want a piece of that spending pie?

Most credit card solicitations are pre-approved or pre-screened offers, where the card issuer has done a cursory check of your credit already – without your request or knowledge – and considers you low risk. (These are different from pre-qualified offers, where you have agreed to provide credit information to lenders in order to shop …

Interest Rates On The Rise This Holiday Season


America has been enjoying historically low interest rates for years – but those days are coming to an end. Since 2015, the Federal Reserve has been slowly raising baseline interest rates from the near zero levels necessary to bring America out of the Great Recession. As of October 2018, the Fed’s prime rate was at 2.19% – the highest it’s been in over a decade.

Why should you care? Because the Fed’s interest rate increases are generally passed on to credit card interest rates, forcing you to pay more in interest charges on any balances you carry.

According to, the average annual percentage rate (APR) on all credit cards is 17.14% – the highest average rate since began tracking them in 2007. The Federal Reserve may raise interest rates again in their December meeting, just in time for rates to increase on balances from your holiday shopping.

How much does interest cost over time? Consider the simple example of $1,000 balan…

7 Ways To Holiday Savings Using Credit Cards


Do credit cards and the holidays spell trouble for you? Credit cards and holiday spending can be a dangerous combination – but it doesn’t have to be. Look at your credit cards as financial tools that can help you save money as well as spend it.

Here are seven ways to use credit cards to increase your holiday savings.

1. Lay Out Your Holiday Credit Budget – A budget is the key to prevent overspending – and it’s also the way to avoid approaching your credit card limit. Maxing out a card will not only harm your credit score, it also increases the chances you’ll carry a balance. Save on interest charges by keeping balances low – or eliminating them entirely. You can check your credit score and read your credit report for free within minutes by

5 Steps To Be Your Own Mogul – Part 2


Our prior article, 5 Steps To Be Your Own Mogul – Part 1, covers the first three steps to manage your finances like a business. Below we present the final two steps.

4. Forecasting

If you have performed the budget exercise and broken your expenses out into categories, you can start to highlight areas where you can improve. The idea here is to shift the negative spending into a comfortable routine that focuses more on building savings and trimming expenses for the long haul. You can do it quite easily without weekly envelopes of rationed money or other personal finance gimmicks that rarely work in the long term.Here are some suggestions for improving your financial forecast in painless and satisfying ways:

  • Calculate…

5 Steps To Be Your Own Mogul – Part 1


Why not take some financial pointers from the business world and apply them to your personal finances? Whether you are a party of one or a family of four, it pays to be fiscally agile. Some of the longest financial plays in the business world today are small businesses that perennially stay afloat and drive their successes through careful planning and conservative financial forecasting. Why can’t these principles be applied to your personal financial life too?

1. Determine who your trusted advisors are

Major corporations rely on the skills and experience of a board of directors and you may be asking yourself, “Well, where am I going to round up 10 people to form my own personal board of directors”? Don’t worry – you don’t have to. It doesn’t matter if you are managing the budget of one or a much larger family unit. The real value in making an appraisal like the services rendered by a corporate board of directors is to shed light on where you …

11 Tips To Avoid A New Year’s Credit Hangover


Can you avoid a New Year’s Day hangover? We’re not referring to the traditional hangover that comes from too much alcohol, but the financial hangover that comes from too many charges on your credit card.

Of course, you can avoid a New Year’s credit hangover – especially with some help. Consider these eleven ways to keep holiday purchases under control.

1. Set a Holiday Budget – Review your overall budget, and then decide how much you can afford to spend for holiday gifts given your other expenses (including end-of-year expenses like property taxes and annual subscriptions). Don’t let gift expectations drive your budget – let your budget set gift choices.

2. Make a Gift List – Divide up your gift budget among all your recipients and find gifts that fit within the desired budget. Start early, so you have time to look for the best pri…