Sunday, May 23, 2010

Get Bonus Cash Back or Points at Credit Cards' Malls

Shopping online has always been great for comparative shopping. Sometimes, you can find great deals by shopping online at your credit cards' online shopping mall. Of course, you must start your shopping experience at your credit cards' online mall, sign on, make your qualifying purchase through their site, and meet their terms and conditions and be aware of any restrictions or exclusions. If you meet everything, then within 3 months you will see the bonus points or cashback on your credit card statement, in addition to your current cashback rewards or points. You could potentially earn 3% for your normal Chase Freedom card rotating category (or even 5% depending on your card), and earn another 5% with that merchant online. Please note: sometimes the online merchant will not be categorized the same as the brick-and-mortar merchant. Here is a look at most of the major credit card issuers' shopping malls:

American Express BonuspointsMall.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall. & earn points faster/Shop & earn points faster.html

Bank of America AddItUp Program. (you have to pre-register your bankofamerica qualified card)

FIA (bankofamerica) WorldPointsMall.

Citibank ThankYou Network.

Discover Card ShopDiscover.

unfortunately, i do not know anything about CapitalOne No Hassle Rewards.
Sovereign Bank Sovereign Cash Rewards for Debit Card only.

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Sunday, February 28, 2010

New Credit CARD Act In Force

It's official. The Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 is in law and fully required as of February 22, 2010.
What does this mean:

  • End Late Fee Traps: No more late fees if they receive it after 2pm; and due dates that change each month
  • Monthly bills must be mailed out at least 21 days before payment is due, and must have a consistent due date each month.
  • Each bill must have information about how long it will take you to pay off your balance if you only make minimum payments, and how much you would need each month to pay balance in 3 years.
  • Fair Interest Calculations: No more "double-cycle" billing, an unfair practice where issuers use the balance in previous month to calculate interest charges for the current month. The Minimum payment amount are applied to lowest interest balance. However, any payment you make over the minimum payment will finally be applied to the highest interest rate balance first.
  • Require Opt-In for going over-the-limit: Issuers need our permission to allow us to charge any amount and go over the limit and charge us an over-the-limit fee, if the issuer applies such fee. And, they can only apply the fee once per billing cycle. Finally, if I buy jewlery with credit card and it's over my limit, then it will get denied! (I will not opt-in.)
  • 45-Day Notice for Changes: Issuers must give us 45 days notice for any changes to the terms of our cards, including interest rate increases and changes to fees like annual or late fees. In addition, they must give us an option to cancel the card before such changes take effect if we don't like it.
  • Limits Fees on Gift and Stored Value Cards: Finally it requires better disclosure of fees for these cards, and restricts inactivity fees unless the card has been inactive for at least 12 months.
  • Annual and/or application fees cannot total more than 25% of the initial credit limit.
  • Clear disclosures for New Credit card applications: Finally, they clearly show the fees, interest rates, and terms in plain sight and not in tiny font.
  • Grace period on interest rate increases for new accounts: The 1st year after you open an account, issuer cannot generally increase your interest rate. After the 1st year, rate increases can apply only to new charges. (If you have a variable interest rate tied to an index, then it can vary based only on the index.) (If you are more than 60 days late paying your bill or if you signed up for a limited-time intro rate, then it can change.)
  • Disclose agreements between credit card issuers and universities: We get to see the agreements that the issuer makes with universities in respect to the marketing or distribution of credit cards to students.
  • If you are under the age of 21, then to open a credit account, you will now need either a co-signer or evidence that you have enough income to make monthly payments.
  • Credit card issuers cannot market their cards on college campuses, with promotions like get a free towel or shirt or chair or other marketing promotions.
Here's something exciting; for bank accounts with overdraft services:
-For existing bank accounts, if you do not opt-in, then beginning August 15, 2010, your bank's standard overdraft services won't apply to your everyday debit card and ATM transactions...they should be declined when you don't have enought money in your account and you will not be charged overdraft fees.
-If you open a new account on or after July 1, 2010, your bank cannot charge you overdraft fees for everyday debit card and ATM transactions unless you opt in.
-Unfortunately, checks and automatic bill payments are not covered. Therefore, banks may opt- you in automatically in their overdraft services for checks and auto bill payments; unless you request to be opt-out.

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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Credit Card Reward Program Review

Reward Programs offered by the major credit card issuers:

Chase: Ultimate Rewards
; Freedom (rotates 3% different categories quarterly, with no earnings cap or expiration date); Chase Continental OnePass (credit card has $85 annual fee; 2 debits: $35 or 65 annual fee)

Citibank: ThankYou Network points program

Discover: Discover cashback; 5% cashback quarterly in different categories, plus sporadic monthly bonus 5% category; otherwise, purchases are tiered $1-3000 at 0.25%; >$3000 at 1.0%)

American Express: Membership Rewards; Different cards have different programs but usually 1 point/mile per dollar spent (ie. Delta SkyMiles, Starwood Preferred, HHilton Honors,; some offer 20,000 or 25,000 bonus points for first year with spend $500 or more...or higher, but have annual fees; Starwood=45;).

Capital One: The NoHassle Miles or Rewards

FIA (Bank of America): WorldPoints 1%

HSBC: Rewards Program (1%) They also have the Weekend Card that gave 2% cashback on Weekends, 1% on every other day.

* Depending on your FIA/BoA credit card, WorldPoints can be redeemed for different amounts. (For example, $100 gift card may cost 12,500 points with one FIA card, and 13,500 points with another FIA card.)
* Most reward programs that I have seen: $25 gift card for 3000-3500 points; $50 giftcard for 5000-6000 points; $100 gift card for 10,000-13,500 points.

FIA-SchwabSignatureVisa & FIA-FidelityAMEX: 2% cashback rewards; but requires a brokerage account, and you to link it. JPMChase-OptionsXpress: 1% cashback rewards, requires OptionsXpress account; has intro 12m, 0%, $75BT max.

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Sunday, June 07, 2009

Credit Card Issuers increase their Balance Transfer Fees

It looks like using your credit card may be more pricier for balance transfers (BT), cash advances, and making purchases in foreign currency-transactions. By going to, you will see the changes:

Learn more about the WorldPoints®Platinum Plus®MasterCard® Credit Card

WorldPoints® Platinum Plus® MasterCard® Credit Card

Annual Percentage Rate (APR) for Purchases Standard Variable APR:
between 11.99% and 19.99%.
The APR you receive is determined based on your creditworthiness.
Other APRs Balance Transfers: 0% Introductory APR for the first 12 statement Closing Dates following the opening of your account for all Balance Transfers and Direct Deposits. The Introductory APR will end sooner if your payment is late or the account balance is over the credit limit. After that, the Variable APR for any balances that were subject to the Introductory APR is between 11.99% and 19.99%, based on creditworthiness. The Standard Variable APR for Balance Transfers is between 11.99% and 19.99%, based on creditworthiness. See 1 and 6 below for explanation.

Cash Advances: Standard Variable APR is 24.24% for all Direct Deposits, Check Cash Advances, ATM Cash Advances, Bank Cash Advances, Overdraft Protection and Cash Equivalent transactions. See 7 below for explanation.

Default APR: Variable APR is 27.24% for all Purchase, Balance Transfer, and Cash Advance Balances if late or overlimit. See 2 below for explanation.

Variable-Rate Information Your APRs may vary. For each billing cycle, we determine each APR by adding a margin to the prevailing U.S. Prime Rate. The margin for the Standard Variable APR for Purchases and Balance Transfers is between 8.74% and 16.74%. The margin for the Standard Variable APR for Cash Advances is 20.99%. The margin for the Default APR is up to 23.99%. See 3 below for explanation.
Grace Period for repayment of balance for Purchases At least 20 days from the statement Closing Date (provided you fully paid your New Balance Total from the previous statement by its Payment Due Date). See 4 below for explanation.
Method of computing the balance for Purchases Average Daily Balance
(including new purchases).
Minimum Finance Charge $1.50
Annual Fee None
Transaction fee for Purchases Transaction fee for the purchase of wire transfers from a non-financial institution: 5% of each such transaction (minimum $15).
Foreign Transactions Transaction Fee for any transaction made in a foreign currency and any transaction made in U.S. Dollars that is processed outside the United States: 3% of the U.S. Dollar amount of each such transaction. This fee will be in addition to any other applicable fee.

Fee for Balance Transfers and Direct Deposits that are subject to the Introductory APR: 3% of each such transaction (minimum $10). See 5 and 6 below for explanation.
Standard Balance Transfer Fee: 4% of each such transaction (minimum $10).
Standard Cash Advance Fees:
Direct Deposits and Check Cash Advances: 4% of each such transaction (minimum $10).
ATM Cash Advances, Bank Cash Advances, and Cash Equivalent transactions: 5% of each such transaction (minimum $15).
Overdraft Protection Cash Advances (if enrolled): 3% of each such transaction (minimum $10).
Late Fee: Based on your balance as of the day the fee is assessed - $15 if $0 - $100; $29 if between $100.01 - $250; $39 if $250.01 or over.
Overlimit Fee: $39.
1 The Introductory APR is effective upon the opening of your account and does not apply to Purchases or Cash Advances, other than Direct Deposits. When the Introductory APR ends, the Standard (non-introductory) Variable APR is calculated using the Variable-Rate Information and is applied to new and outstanding balances (consisting of Balance Transfers). If your payment is late or the account balance is over the credit limit, the Standard Variable APR will be applied to those balances as of the first day of the billing cycle in which the payment was late or the balance exceeded the credit limit. We reserve the right to change the APRs in our discretion including, for example, the margins.

2 When your minimum payment is either late (i.e., not received by 5 p.m., ET, on its Payment Due Date), or the account balance is over the credit limit, on any two occasions within 12 consecutive months, we may increase each of your account's Standard Variable APRs up to the Variable Default APR. The Variable Default APR will be applied to all new and outstanding balances. APRs will be reduced a minimum of two percentage points, possibly as low as the previously applicable Standard Variable APR(s), after six consecutive months of making payments on time and not exceeding your credit limit.

3 The U.S. Prime Rate used to determine your APRs for each billing cycle is the highest rate appearing in The Wall Street Journal at any time within the immediately preceding three months. On May 29, 2009, the U.S. Prime Rate applicable using this formula was 3.25%.


These changes were effective June 1, 2009. And, here are those from Discover Card:

Annual Percentage Rate (APR) For Purchases
0.0% until the last day of the billing period ending during December 2009;* then the standard APR, a rate between 10.99% variable and 18.99% variable
Other APRs
Balance Transfers: 0.0% until the last day of the billing period ending during March 2010;* then the standard APR for purchases
Cash Advances: 23.99% variable
Default Rate: Up to 29.99%* variable
Variable Rate Information
The standard purchase APR may vary monthly and equals the Prime Rate plus an amount between 7.74% and 15.74%. The cash advance APR may vary monthly and equals the Prime Rate +20.74%.
The default APR may vary monthly and equals the Prime Rate + up to 27.99%, but such rate will never exceed 29.99%.
Grace Period for Repayment of the Balance of Purchases
At least 25 days when you pay your balance in full each month
Method of Computing the Balance for Purchases
Average Daily Balance (including new purchases)
Foreign Currency Transaction Fee
2% of the U.S. dollar amount of each purchase made in a foreign currency
Annual Fee
Minimum Finance Charge
Other Fees
BALANCE TRANSFER TRANSACTION FEES: 4.0% for each balance transfer made under this offer, with a minimum of $0.
CASH ADVANCE TRANSACTION FEE: 3% for each cash advance, with a minimum of $5 and no maximum. LATE FEE: $19 on balances up to $250 and $39 on balances over $250. OVERLIMIT FEE: $15 on balances up to $500, and $39 on balances over $500.

It looks like credit card companies are raising there fees, as well as their APR+Prime before the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act of 2009 becomes in effect in 2010. I know Capital One still charges 3% with no max for Balance Transfers and cash advances (they'll charge 3% fee if you transfer a balance to their card with a 0% APR for 11 months; or, you can choose 0% fee to the card with a 12.9% transfer APR). They're sneaky; they have some cards with annual fee, some without, some with rewards, and it different APR depending on if your credit is excellent, good, fair, or poor.

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Monday, October 20, 2008

Linens and mervyns victims of the credit and economic crisis

I've been gone for some time. While the closing of stores such as CrazyEddies, TwoGuys, Rickels, Herman's Sporting Goods, Caldors, Bradlees, Nobody Beats the Wiz, to name a few, are old news, the more recent news (okay a few years) was Ames and KitchenEtc. Also, a Kmart close to me was closed; but there was another one still nearby. In addition, a signficant number of CompUSA stores closed doors. Now there are only just a few CompUSA around the US. As a result of the recent economic downturn in 3rd quarter 2008, slumping sales, decline in real estate market, downturn in consumer spending and frozen credit markets, both Linens-N-Things and mervyns have announced the closings of all their stores. LNT filed Ch.11 in May'08, but since they had problems to meet needs of creditors, decided to pull the plug on all US stores. LNT closeout sales began Oct. 16, 2008 Thursday. Mervyns (CA-based) is expected to close its stores after the holiday shopping season. Today, CircuitCity announced it will close ~150 stores (including those poor performing ones) to prevent itself from filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy. I'm not sure which stores will be closing, and what happens to their current inventories--will it be liquified at reduced prices (compared to their most popular competitors BestBuy, RadioShack, PC Richards, Target, Expo). Of course, sometimes those warehouse wholesale stores of Sam's Club, Costco, and BJ's sell electronics too. It's sad for these stores to go; as it also means several hundreds of jobs will be lost, and eventually vacant lots and less business taxes to local economies. Unfortunately, I dont need anything at LNT; but, when they start offering great buys, I may just browse their store to see things that I would like to have for my future home. At that time, usually the junk is left or the most expensive items that people just dont buy even at reduced prices.

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

What has happened recently

It's October 19, 2008 Sunday night.
Dow @8852.22; Nasdaq @1711.29; S&P500 @940.55; 10Yr Treasury Note=3.938%; 30-Yr Treasury Bond=4.312%; DJ Utility average=345.6; DowTransportation=3692.73; Nasdaq Biotech=700.74; S&P Smallcap600=282.33; S&P400MidCap=550.01; Russell2000=526.43; Worldwide: Nikkei225=8739.70; TSE Reit idx=818.84; Topix500 TSE Idx=719.20; TopixMid400 TseIdx=871.88; Seoul Composite=1176.79; KRX Index=1171.87; KRX100=2469.54; KOSDAQ Idx=344.20(south korea); BSE30 india=9975.35; Bombay stock ex500 idx=3771.68; HangSeng=14899.24; HangSeng China Ent Idx=7224.56; Dhaka SE Idx=2881.70; HangSeng Mainland25 Ix=4750.07; Shanghai Composite=1913.18; CSI 300 Idx=1828.66; KLSE composite=905.23; Singapore Strait Times=1899.74; Taiwan Taiex Indx=4832.88; Dax=4781.33; CAC40=3329.92; Thai Set50 Idx=327.35; BEL-20=2015.30; PSEi-Philippine SE Idx=2057.84; HO Chi Minh Stock Idx=370.80; FTSE100=4063.01; SwissMarket=6099.62; S&P/ASX=4086.20; NZX 15 Gross Idx=5156.82; NZX ALL Idx=741.66; Karachi100 Idx=9184.24; Karachi ALL Share Idx=6641.45; Mexico Bolsa Index=20312.83; Mexico INMEX Idx=1106.33; Brazil Bovespa Stock Idx=36399.09; DJ Euro TOXX50=2532.17; IBEX35=9655.20; S&P/TSX Composite (Canada)=9562.49; S&P/MIB=21645.00; AEX=252.26; OMX Stockholm30=632.24; Arentina Merval Idx=1216.02; Chile StockMkt Select=2433.04; Venezuela Stock MkIdx=36161.29; Peru General Idx=7906.32; BCT Corp Costa Rica Idx=27312.41; Bermuda StkExch=3717.34; JSE Market Idx (Jamaica)=94727.02;.
Commodities: Brent Crude future=70.57/bbl; Natural Gas Fut=6.9/MMBtu; WTI Crude fut=73.01/bbl; Cocoa future=2122/MT; coffee C future=115.60/lb; corn future=417.25/bu; cotton #2 future=52.57/lb; soybeans=940.00/bu; sugar #11 world=11.58/lb; wheat future CBT=573.00/bu.; Gold 100oz fut=784.00/t oz; silver fut=9.75/t oz. Cattle feeders=98.05/lb; live cattle future=92.80/lb.; nymex crude=73.01; NYC Gate natural gas spot=7.11;
Silver is moving at 9.39; Platinum=876; Gold=784 (down 20 from weekend).
Things have changed alot since my last post in 2006. ING savings is @2.75%. Average 12-month CD's 4.10%. WaMu is now JPM-Chase; as well as Bear Sterns. Wachovia is now WellsFargo. Countrywide is with Bank of America, as well as Merrill Lynch. Lehman Brothers gone! GoldmanSachs gets $5bill from Buffett! Banco Santander acquires northeast Sovereign Bank. AIG gets $85bill from US government. Alot has changed. Credit crisis now. Debt obligations and investment of debt has gone wild. Foreclosures have increased dramatically in 2007 and 2008!

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