15 Financial New Year’s Resolutions To Make In 2021

2020 is ending (finally) and it is time to start setting resolutions for 2021. Why not try to improve your financial health by following ones, or more, of these financial New Year’s resolutions?2020 is ending (finally) and it is time to start setting resolutions for 2021. Why not try to improve your financial health by following ones, or more, of these financial New Year’s resolutions?

The post 15 Financial New Year’s Resolutions To Make In 2021 appeared first on Money Under 30.

Source: moneyunder30.com

How to Protect Yourself From Credit Card Theft

protecting yourself from credit card theft

Last fall, I received an email that appeared to be from my web host. The email claimed that there was a problem with my payment information and asked me to update it. I clicked on the link in the email and entered my credit card number, thinking that a recent change I’d made to my site must have caused a problem.

The next morning, I logged onto my credit card account to find two large unauthorized purchases. A scammer had successfully phished my payment information from me.

This failure of security is pretty embarrassing for a personal finance writer. I know better than to click through an email link claiming to be from my bank, credit card lender, or other financial institution. But because the email came from a source that wasn’t specifically financial (and because I was thinking about the changes I had made to my website just the day before), I let myself get played.

Thankfully, because I check my credit card balance daily, the scammers didn’t get away with it. However, it’s better to be proactive about avoiding credit card theft so you’re not stuck with the cleanup, which took me several months to complete.

Here’s how you can protect yourself from credit card theft. 

Protecting your physical credit card

Stealing your physical credit or debit card is in some respects the easiest way for a scammer to get their hands on your sweet, sweet money. With the actual card in hand, a scammer has all the information they need to make fraudulent purchases: the credit card number, expiration date, and the security code on the back.

That means keeping your physical cards safe is one of the best ways to protect yourself from credit card theft. Don’t carry more cards than you intend to use. Having every card you own in a bulging wallet makes it more likely someone could steal one when you’re not paying attention and you may not realize it’s gone if you have multiple cards.

Another common place where you might be separated from your card is at a restaurant. After you’ve paid your bill, it can be easy to forget if you’ve put away your card (especially if you’ve been enjoying adult beverages). So make it a habit to confirm that you have your card before you leave a restaurant.

If you do find yourself missing a credit or debit card, make sure you call your bank immediately to report it lost or stolen. The faster you move to lock down the card, the less likely the scammers will be able to make fraudulent charges. Make sure you have your bank’s phone number written down somewhere so you’re able to contact them quickly if your card is stolen or lost. (See also: Don’t Panic: Do This If Your Identity Gets Stolen)

Recognizing card skimmers

Credit card thieves also go high-tech to get your information. Credit card skimmers are small devices placed on a legitimate spot for a card scanner, such as on a gas pump or ATM. 

When you scan your card to pay, the skimmer device captures all the information stored in your card’s magnetic stripe. In some cases, when there’s a skimmer placed on an ATM, there’s also a tiny camera set up to record you entering your PIN so the fraudster has all the info they need to access your account.

The good news is that it’s possible to detect a card skimmer in the wild. Gas stations and ATMs are the most common places where you’ll see skimmer devices. Generally, these devices will often stick out past the panel rather than sit flush with it, as the legitimate credit card scanner is supposed to. Other red flags to look for are scanners that seem to jiggle or move slightly instead of being firmly affixed, or a pin pad that appears thicker than normal. All of these can potentially indicate a skimmer is in place. 

If you find something that looks hinky, go to a different gas station or ATM. Better safe than sorry. (See also: 18 Surprising Ways Your Identity Can Be Stolen)

Protecting your credit card numbers at home

Your home is another place thieves will go searching for your sensitive information. To start, you likely receive credit card offers, the cards themselves, and your statements in the mail. While mail theft is relatively rare (it’s a federal crime, after all), it’s still a good idea to make sure you collect your mail daily and put a hold on it when you go out of town.

Once you get your card-related paperwork in the house, however, you still may be vulnerable. Because credit card scammers are not above a little dumpster diving to get their hands on your credit card number. This is why it’s a good idea to shred any paperwork with your credit card number and other identifying information on it before you throw it away.

Finally, protecting your credit cards at home also means being wary about whom you share information with over the phone. Unless you’ve initiated a phone call of your own volition — not because you’re calling someone who left a voicemail — you should never share your credit card numbers over the phone. Scammers will pose as customer service agents from your financial institution or a merchant you frequent to get your payment information. To be sure, you can hang up and call the institution yourself using the main phone number.

Keeping your cards safe online

You should never provide your credit card information via a link in an email purporting to be from your financial institution or a merchant. Scammers are able to make their fake emails and websites look legitimate, which was exactly the reason I fell victim to this fraud.

But even with my momentary lapse in judgment about being asked for my payment information from my "web host," there were other warning signs that I could’ve heeded if I had been paying attention. 

The first is the actual email address. These fake emails will often have a legitimate looking display name, which is the only thing you might see in your email. However, if you hover over or click on the display name, you can see the actual email address that sent you the message. Illegitimate addresses do not follow the same email address format you’ll see from the legitimate company.

In addition to that, looking at the URL that showed up when I clicked the link could’ve told me something weird was going on. Any legitimate site that needs your financial information will have a secure URL to accept your payment. Secure URLs start with https:// (rather than http://) and feature a lock icon in the browser bar. If these elements are missing, then you should not enter your credit card information. (See also: 3 Ways Millennials Can Avoid Financial Fraud)

Daily practices that keep you safe

In addition to these precautions, you can also protect your credit cards with the everyday choices you make. For instance, using strong, unique passwords for all of your online financial services, from shopping to banking, can help you prevent theft. Keeping those strong passwords safe — that is, not written down on a post-it note on your laptop — will also help protect your financial information.

Regularly going over your credit card and banking statements can also help ensure that you’re the only one making purchases with your credit cards. It was this daily habit of mine that made sure my scammers didn’t actually receive the computer they tried to purchase with my credit card. The fact that I check my balance daily meant I was able to shut down the fraudulent sale before they received the goods, even though I fell down on the job of protecting my credit card information. 

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It’s better to be proactive about avoiding credit card theft so you're not stuck with the cleanup. Here's how you can protect yourself from credit card theft. | #Creditcard #creditcardtheft #personalfinances


Source: wisebread.com

How to Escape Debt in 2016

How to Escape Debt in 2016

The new year is right around the corner and if you’re like most people, you’ve probably got a running list of resolutions to achieve and milestones to reach. If getting out of debt ranks near the top, now’s the time to starting thinking about how you’re going to hit your goal. Developing a clear-cut action plan can get you that much closer to debt-free status in 2016.

1. Add up Your Debt

You can’t start attacking your debt until you know exactly how much you owe. The first step to paying down your debt is sitting down with all of your statements and adding up every penny that’s still outstanding. Once you know how deep in debt you are, you can move on to the next step.

2. Review Your Budget

A budget is a plan that sets limits on how you spend your money. If you don’t have one, it’s a good idea to put a budget together as soon as possible. If you do have a budget, you can go over it line by line to find costs you can cut out. By eliminating fees and unnecessary expenses like cable subscriptions, you’ll be able to use the money you save to pay off your debt.

3. Set Your Goals

How to Escape Debt in 2016

At this point in the process, you should have two numbers: the total amount of money you owe and the amount you can put toward your debt payments each month. Using those two figures, you should be able determine how long it’s going to take you to pay off your mortgage, student loans, personal loans and credit card debt.

Let’s say you owe your credit card issuer $25,000. If you have $500 in your budget that you can use to pay off that debt each month, you’ll be able to knock $6,000 off your card balance in a year. Keep in mind, however, that you’ll still need to factor in interest to get an accurate idea of how the balance will shrink from one year to the next.

4. Lower Your Interest Rates

Interest is a major obstacle when you’re trying to get out of debt. If you want to speed up the payment process, you can look for ways to shave down your rates. If you have high-interest credit card debt, for instance, transferring the balances to a card with a 0% promotional period can save you some money and reduce the amount of time it’ll take to get rid of your debt.

Refinancing might be worth considering if you have student loans, car loans or a mortgage. Just remember that completing a balance transfer or refinancing your debt isn’t necessarily free. Credit card companies typically charge a 3% fee for balance transfers and if you’re taking out a refinance loan, you might be on the hook for origination fees and other closing costs.

5. Increase Your Income

How to Escape Debt in 2016

Keeping a tight rein on your budget can go a long way. But that’s not the only way to escape debt. Pumping up your paycheck in the new year can also help you pay off your loans and increase your disposable income.

Asking your boss for a raise will directly increase your earnings, but there’s no guarantee that your supervisor will agree to your request. If you’re paid by the hour, you can always take on more hours at your current job. And if all else fails, you can start a side gig to bring in more money.

Hold Yourself Accountable

Having a plan to get out of debt in the new year won’t get you very far if you’re not 100% committed. Checking your progress regularly is a must, as is reviewing your budget and goals to make sure you’re staying on track.

Photo credit: Â©iStock.com/BsWei, ©iStock.com/marekuliasz, ©iStock.com/DragonImages

The post How to Escape Debt in 2016 appeared first on SmartAsset Blog.

Source: smartasset.com

Chase IHG Premier 140,000 Points + $50 Signup Bonus With $3,000 Spend, AF Waived (Ends 1/13/21)

Update 12/9/20: Deal is due to end on 1/13/2021 according to people with affiliate links. Make sure to apply through a link with the $50 bonus.

Update 10/1/20: Doing a dummy booking gets you 140,000 points + $50 statement credit with the AF waived. Somebody in the comments reported seeing a $150 statement credit, but I can’t get that to show at all. Updated the direct link.

Update 9/30/20: New direct link available, no longer needed to apply in app (wasn’t showing for everybody anyway). This time the annual fee is waived, making the deal the best ever.

The Offer

Direct link to offer

  • Chase IHG Premier card is offering a signup bonus of 140,000 points after $3,000 in spend within the first three months.

 

 

Card Details

  • Annual fee of $89 waived first year
  • Card earns at the following rates:
    • 25x points per $1 spent on IHG properties (10x from the card + 15x from status and club membership)
    • 2x points per $1 spent on gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants
    • 1x points per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Free night certificate on card anniversary, this is limited to properties that cost 40,000 or fewer points
  • Automatic Platinum elite status
  • Fourth Reward Night Free on any stay of 4 or more nights
  • 20% discount when purchasing points
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee credit
  • 10,000 bonus points when you spend $20,000 or more and make one additional purchase each account anniversary year
  • This product is not available to either (i) current cardmembers of this credit card, or (ii) previous cardmembers of this credit card who received a new cardmember bonus for this credit card within the last 24 months. If you have the old IHG card, you’re still eligible to get this bonus/card.
  • Chase 5/24 rule applies to this card

Our Verdict

Best offer we’ve ever seen was 125,000 plus $50 statement credit, this one doesn’t have the $50, but comes with 15,000 more points. If IHG interests you and you are eligible, this one is worth signing up for. We’ll add this to our best credit card bonus page.

If you recently signed up with the targeted 125,000 points offer, you should be able to message Chase and have this 140k offer matched. As always read these things everybody should know about Chase credit cards before applying.

Thanks to all those who sent this in.

Post history:

  • Update 9/17/20: Deal is now publicly 125,000 points. But there is a 140,000 point offer showing up in app for some. Hat tip to Kyle
  • Offer was supposed to end at end of March, but is still alive and well. Hat tip to VFTW

Source: doctorofcredit.com

All About Credit Card Processing Fees

All About Credit Card Processing Fees

When you make a payment with a credit card not all of that money goes to the merchant. Your payment has to be authorized by multiple companies or banks along the way and some of them will deduct fees for their services. A portion of your payment goes to your card issuer’s bank, the merchant’s bank, the big payment networks such as Visa and Mastercard as well as payment processing companies. Here’s what you need to know about credit card processing fees.

What Happens When You Make a Credit Card Transaction

Before we break down the individual credit card processing fees, it’s helpful to give a quick rundown of what happens when you make a payment with your credit card.

When you try to make a purchase with your card, whichever credit card processor the merchant uses will need to receive authorization to complete the transaction. To do that, the first step is to send your information and the transaction details to the appropriate payment network, Visa, Mastercard, American Express or Discover.

The payment network then contacts the bank that issues your credit card. Your card issuer has to confirm that you have enough available credit to cover the purchase you are trying to make. If you have enough available credit, it will approve the transaction. If you don’t have enough, it will deny the transaction. That approval or denial goes back to the payment network, who sends its approval (or denial) of the transaction back to the merchant’s bank.

This entire process only takes a few seconds but it happens every time you make a purchase with your card. It doesn’t matter whether you swipe, insert a card with an EVM chip or manually enter your credit card number.

Average Credit Card Processing Fees Average Credit Card Processing Fees Visa 1.40% – 2.50% Mastercard 1.60% – 2.90% Discover 1.56% – 2.30% American Express 1.60% – 3.00%

The table above lists an an average range for credit card processing fees from each major credit card provider. These ranges are meant only to give you an idea of how it works. There are a number of things that go into the final processing fees for any individual merchant (more on that later). Credit card issuers also are not always transparent with their fees and how they change over time. This is particularly true of Discover and American Express. However, credit card processing fees generally average around 2%. Another key trend is that American Express regularly charges higher fees.

Credit Card Processing Fees: Interchange Fees

All About Credit Card Processing Fees

An interchange fee is money that merchants pay every time they make a credit or debit card transaction. It’s typically a percentage of the transaction plus a flat rate for each transaction. For example, an interchange fee might be 1% of the transaction plus a flat fee of $0.25 per transaction.

This fee goes to the credit (or debit) card’s issuing bank so that it can cover its own fees. In general, a credit card issuer will charge higher fees for cards that offer more perks of benefits. However, the biggest fee that your card issuer has to pay is an assessment fee. This goes to the credit card network (e.g. Visa or Mastercard) and all networks charge the same assessment fee.

Interchange fees make up the majority of credit card processing costs for a merchant. There is a base part of the interchange fee that is non-negotiable because it is the same no matter what credit card companies a merchant works with. There is also a markup fee, which is an additional cost on top of the base fee. The markup goes to credit card processing companies (learn more about them in the next section) and they vary between processors. These fees are negotiable so a merchant should always compare these fees before choosing a company to process their transactions.

Credit Card Processing Fees: 
Merchant Service Providers

Even though merchants have to contact card-issuing banks to approve every transaction, they do not directly contact those banks. Instead, the transaction goes through a middle man that allows merchants and banks to communicate. This middle man is a merchant service provider (MSP). Common MSPs are Square and Payline.

MSPs charge merchants a certain fee for every transaction, whether it’s a sale, declined transaction or return. They may also charge the merchant a setup fee, a monthly usage fee and a cancellation fee.

Some merchants may have a bank that provides these services, but the majority of merchants have to use a third party MSP.

Online Versus In-Store Transactions

Credit card processing fees are cheaper if you pay in-person versus online. That’s because there is a greater risk of fraud with online payments. If you buy something in a store, the merchant has the ability to confirm that someone if using a real card and that they are the cardholder. This is harder to do with an online payment. The result is higher fees as companies try to protect themselves from fraudulent payments.

MSPs also charge additional fees for providing the software that makes an online payment transaction possible for a merchant.

The Bottom Line

All About Credit Card Processing Fees

It only takes a few seconds for a credit card transaction to go through, but there is a lot going on behind the scenes. Multiple banks and companies help facilitate transactions and they all want their cut of the profit. This is where credit card processing fees come in. A merchant has to pay an interchange fee every time a transaction is made, some of which is non-negotiable and some of which varies depending on the merchant service provider that a merchant uses.

A merchant bears the brunt of credit card processing fees and some merchants cannot afford to pay all the fees. This is a common reason why smaller merchants do not accept credit cards. These fees are also the reason that some merchants will require a minimum transaction amount in order to use a credit card.

Common Credit Card Fees to Avoid

  • Some credit cards charge an annual fee. This is a fee the cardholder pays each year simply for the privilege of having the card. Annual fees are particularly common for credit cards that offer valuable rewards. Shop around though because you can avoid an annual fee with some of this year’s best rewards credit card.
  • If you plan to travel, using your card outside of the U.S. could leave you paying a foreign transaction fee. Luckily, we have some cards with no foreign transaction fee in our list of the best travel credit cards.
  • One fee that you can avoid with responsible credit card usage is a late payment fee. This is a fee that your card issuer will charge if you do not pay your bill by the due date. You should always pay on time because paying late will not only result in a fee but your credit score could also be negatively impacted.

Photo credits: ©iStock.com/Juanmonino, Â©iStock.com/NoDerog, Â©iStock.com/andresr

The post All About Credit Card Processing Fees appeared first on SmartAsset Blog.

Source: smartasset.com

Cash back perks to look for in 2021

If you’re like many people, your spending habits changed in 2020. You probably traded travel and in-person dining for online shopping and takeout. You may have even added a streaming service or two to your list of subscriptions.

Credit card issuers have started offering new perks and rewards to address these changes. And though these perks try to solve for pandemic woes, there’s something to be said for the convenience they offer, even when normalcy returns. There are also a few long-standing features, like online shopping portals, that belong in the credit card conversation now more than ever.

The best cash back card for you depends on your spending habits. So when your budget or lifestyle changes, you should make sure your credit cards are still bringing you consistent value. Here are a few cash back credit card features you need to look out for in 2021.

All information about Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card, Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature, Wells Fargo Propel and U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature has been collected independently by CreditCards.com and has not been reviewed by the issuer.

1. Discounted grocery and takeout delivery services

If you’re planning to do a fair portion of your dining at home this year, you should look for a card that makes that easier and cheaper. With the right card, you can earn rewards on restaurant and grocery store purchases, while also saving on the services that deliver them, like Uber Eats, Doordash and Instacart.

Here are a few of our favorite cash back cards for food delivery:

American Express® Gold Card – You’ll get up to 12 months of complimentary Uber Eats Pass membership, as long as you’re enrolled by Dec. 31, 2021. This service usually costs $9.99 per month, offering an unlimited $0 delivery fee for restaurant orders and 5 percent off restaurant orders over $15, along with a $0 delivery fee on select supermarket groceries over $30. In addition, you’ll get up to $120 in annual dining credits for eligible purchases with Grubhub, Seamless, Boxed and more.

Chase Sapphire Reserve® – If you enroll by 12/31/2021, you and your authorized user(s) will receive at least 12 months of complimentary DashPass (usually $9.99 per month), which means free delivery on qualifying DoorDash orders. You’ll also get up to $60 in DoorDash credits in 2021.

Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card – Because it’s in the Mastercard network of credit cards, you’ll get two months of Instacart Express, including $0 delivery fees on orders over $35. You can get this benefit with any US-issued Mastercard card, but the Capital One Savor is an especially good option because it also offers 4% cash back on dining and 2% cash back on grocery store purchases.

2. Online shopping portals and rewards

Though cash back cards are known for their simple redemption process, you can often get even more value by using their shopping portals. Not every card and issuer has this option, but it’s certainly worth looking into if you now prefer to do your shopping digitally.

For example, the Shop Through Chase portal features deals from over 200 retailers, offering boosted cash back rates as well as discounts on purchases at stores like Nike, Banana Republic, Sephora and Under Armour. Other shopping portals include the Wells Fargo Earn More Mall and the Citi Bonus Cash Center.

Another option is to use a credit card that offers boosted cash back on online shopping purchases. While the cash back rates may not be as high as you would find in a shopping portal, you’ll earn consistent cash back on all of your online shopping purchases, regardless of the merchant.

Our favorite cash back card for online shopping is the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card, which earns 3% cash back on a category of choice (gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores or home improvements and furnishings), as well as 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs. Note, however, that those rates apply only to the first $2,500 in combined grocery store/wholesale club/choice category per quarter. After that, it’s just 1%.

Another contender is the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature. You have to have a Prime membership to get it, but the rewards offer serious value for Amazon lovers. Cardholders earn 5% cash back on Amazon.com and Whole Foods purchases.

3. Streaming service rewards

As streaming services continue to multiply, it seems like you need two or three subscriptions just to stay up to date on your favorite shows. Earning cash back for your subscriptions can make this pleasure a bit less guilty.

The best card for earning cash back on streaming services is the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, which offers 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions, including Disney+, HBO and HBO Max, Hulu, Netflix, Apple TV, Prime Video and more.

Another great card that offers rewards for streaming subscriptions is the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card, which offers 3 points per dollar for select streaming service subscriptions. While this isn’t strictly a cash back card, you can redeem your points for cash back at the same value. Plus, there’s no annual fee.

4. Rewards on utilities

If you’re working from home or spending more time indoors, your utility bills have probably increased this year. It might instinctively feel wrong to pay bills with a credit card, but it can actually save you money. With the right card, you can earn cash back on your energy, electricity, gas and water bills. Just make sure your utility providers don’t charge a convenience fee for using a credit card.

The best cash back card to use for home utilities is the U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature Card. This card allows you to pick two categories from a list of 12 to earn 5% cash back in (on up to $2,000 in combined purchases per quarter). On that list of twelve is home utilities. If you were to spend $150 on eligible utilities each month, that 5% cash back would put an extra $90 in your pocket annually.

Bottom line

The start of a new year is a perfect time to assess your budget and credit card strategy. If you’re earning a measly 1% cash back or nothing at all on a significant portion of your budget, consider applying for a credit card that will help you make the most of those expenses. Check out our full analysis of the best cash back credit cards and apply securely when you’re ready.

Read more:

  • How cash back credit cards work
  • Best credit cards for grocery shopping
  • Best credit cards for restaurants
  • Best flat-rate cash back credit cards

Source: creditcards.com