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How to Survive and Thrive Without a Credit Card – Forbes Advisor

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You can swear off credit cards and survive. The ubiquitousness of credit cards makes it difficult to fathom a life without one, but it is possible.

The Boston Federal Reserve reports nearly 80% of adult Americans have at least one credit card—meaning one in five of us live a credit card-less life. Some live without plastic by choice, while others go without cards due to a recent bankruptcy, thin credit history or some other issue that makes it tough for them to get approved for a card. (Advice on how to improve your credit score is here.)

Meanwhile, whether you’re living without cards by choice or necessity, here are some tips on how to survive without a credit card.

1. Stick To A Budget

Credit cards can cloud your perspective of how much money you have. Budgeting is a great way to make sure credit cards don’t tempt you to spend more than you have. When you live without credit cards, however, having a budget and sticking to it is more than a strategy—it’s a necessity.

There are lots of great budgeting apps available for free or for a small monthly charge. Here are The Best Budgeting.Apps for 2019.

2. Keep Earning Rewards

One seductive appeal of credit cards is that you can earn points, miles, or cash back based on your spending. Effectively, you’re getting a discount on everything you charge.

But you don’t need a credit card to get rewards. These days, all sorts of companies (from airlines and hotels to Designer Shoe Warehouse (DSW) offer loyalty programs to their frequent shoppers. The DSW VIP program gives you points on every purchase made, a $5 discount on your birthday, and free shipping and points for donating a pair of your kicks to the Soles4Souls charity.

Sites such as Rakuten (formerly eBates.com) offer cash back for your online shopping. By visiting Rakuten to find your favorite online retailers, you can earn cash back of 10% or more.

JetBlue Airways’ TrueBlue, ranked the best frequent flyer program, helps JetBlue customers earn points without a credit card. By purchasing flights on jetblue.com, you can earn up to five points per dollar spent and get up to 10,000 bonus points after buying a certain number of flights. Inquire about loyalty programs wherever you shop the most. (Read more on Loyalty Rewards With No Credit Strings Attached.)

Meanwhile, rewards tied to debit cards—those pieces of plastic that link directly to your bank account—are also spreading. This is a reversal of what happened after 2010, when Congress required that banks charge merchants a lower swipe fee to cover bank services such as authorization, clearance, fraud protection and settlement. The change was intended to help lower retail prices, but it caused some banks to nix their debit card rewards; since the provision only applied to debit cards, banks decided to move their bonus features to the credit realm.

But with Millennials wary of piling credit card debt on top of their student loans, and online banks becoming more competitive, debit card rewards have started spreading again. See Startup Aims To Be Millennials Bank With Cash Back Debit Card High Interest On Savings.

Major card issuers like Discover, American Express, Bank of America offer debit cards with cash back programs. You may only be familiar with Discover and American Express as credit card providers, but they’ve branched out into the debit space too.

3. Plan—Particularly For Travel

A credit card-less lifestyle goes against the mainstream grain, so it can take some planning. That’s particularly true when it comes to travel.  Renting a car or reserving a hotel room has traditionally required a credit card since these services put a hold on your account. But increasingly, service providers have been ready to take a debit card instead.

Make sure when using a debit card that you have two forms of valid ID—one should be a driver’s license—and enough money in your account for any costs that you might rack up. Warning: A car rental company may place a hold against your account of up to $200 as a deposit in addition to the estimated rental charges. So your hold could easily total $500 or more.

4. Consider A Secured Credit Card

If you don’t want to be tempted to spend money you don’t have, or can’t qualify for a regular credit card, consider opening a secured credit card. A secured card works like a regular credit card but requires you to place a security deposit matching your credit limit.

When you use the card, you’re required to make a monthly payment—it’s not taken automatically from your deposit. In that way, you can build up your credit history and score. Moreover, you can use a secured card if you don’t want to use your debit card for car rentals or hotel reservations. As with other cards, the amount that’s charged as a hold against your account won’t be available to you. But that’s not a problem if you’re only using the secured card for this purpose. Consider using a secured card with a sizable credit limit to cover any deposits or holds.

(If poor credit is what’s holding you back, read our review of The Best Credit Cards If You Have Bad Credit.)

5. Get Rid Of The Card – Not The Credit

If your card-less life is a choice, consider snipping your existing cards up (or hiding them out of sight) without closing the accounts. Your credit card accounts are part of your credit history, which is tracked by credit reporting bureaus and then used to calculate your FICO or other credit scores.  As long as a card is open, it’s part of your history. But if you cancel a card that you’ve dutifully paid on time, that sterling record will disappear after 10 years.

According, to Equifax, a closed credit card that was in good standing stays on your credit report for 10 years. An account in bad standing closes after seven years. You want to keep a good credit history on your report and you also want to show off your long credit history, which accounts for 15% of your score.

In addition, closing a credit card could affect your credit utilization ratio. That’s the ratio of your outstanding balances to your credit card limits. A low utilization ratio has a positive effect on your credit score while a high ratio can be a negative. If you have $5,000 in total credit limits and you owe a total of $1,000 on your cards, your ratio is a low of 20% ($1,000 / $5,000). However, if you close a card with a limit of $3,000 and you still owe $1,000, that increases your ratio to a not-so-hot 50% ($1,000/$2,000).  For more, read A 60-Second Guide To Credit Utilization.

“If you have a (card with a) high credit limit, you have a strong history with that [and] it’s in good standing, you may want to keep that,” advises Paul Golden, of the National Endowment for Financial Education. The higher limit will help offset any credit balance that you have, he added.

If you feel strongly about closing a card or two, TransUnion suggests planning the closing after major property purchases like a house or car—purchases you may need a high score for.

Some people use their credit cards once a year and then quickly pay off the balance to help their credit score. This helps keep your payment history in good standing but also prevents your bank from closing your account because of inactivity. Others rely on installment credit like auto or student loans to help build their credit score.

6. Continue to Review Your Credit Report

When credit cards are out of sight, credit reports can be out of mind. You don’t want your credit report to go unmonitored. With every report, look for any signs of identity theft, such as counts you don’t recall opening or inquiries from companies you’ve never given your personal identifiable information to. Items that look fishy or inaccurate should be immediately disputed.

Asia is a personal finance writer for the Money and Markets team at Forbes. She’s based in New Jersey. Before joining Forbes, she reported for Financial Advisor magazine and also wrote for The Cranford Chronicle, NJ.Com and ThePopBreak.com.#BIO_SEPARATOR_HERE# She also spent two years teaching English as another language in Shenzhen, Guangdong, China.

Source: How to Survive and Thrive Without a Credit Card – Forbes Advisor

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Source: Fee-Free Card Available for Users in the Eurozone

6 Credit Cards You Should Not Ignore If You Have Excellent Credit

Whether you want straight cash back or points or miles you can use for travel, there are great options for those with good credit.

Source: NerdWallet | Credit Cards Marketplace

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Is There a Credit Card Rewards Tax? – Gabriel Wood

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When you trade in your credit card rewards for a heap of cash back or travel credit, your moment of elation may be interrupted by a sobering thought: are these rewards taxed? After all, the IRS taxes investment income, cryptocurrency and casino winnings, so it would make sense for there to be some kind of credit card rewards tax. Unfortunately, it’s an issue that takes some digging to get to the bottom of, and even then, the answer isn’t completely clear-cut. To learn about the law surrounding taxes on credit card rewards and find out if you need to fret about giving the IRS its due, keep reading.

The law isn’t clear

This would be an easy question to answer if there was a law that definitively stated whether credit card rewards are subject to taxation, but there currently isn’t one. The IRS may push for such a law soon, since credit card intro bonuses are very generous right now and it may want to start regulating them, but that’s just speculation. Instead, all the legal precedent we have to go on is one IRS announcement and one tax court decision. The announcement, made in 2002, says that frequent flyer miles and other promotional items that you receive as the result of business travel, but that you use for personal purposes, do not produce a tax liability. However, it also says that exception doesn’t apply to travel or other promotional benefits that you convert into cash, or to compensation that is paid in the form of promotional benefits. Since many credit card issuers let you trade their rewards for statement credit or cash, lawyers could interpret that to mean there is a credit card rewards tax.

The court’s decision in the 2014 case Shankar and Trivedi v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue was similar. In the case, couple Parimal Shankar and Malti Trivedi failed to report to the IRS airline tickets that they had purchased with rewards points gained from opening a bank account. The couple argued that the dollar value of the rewards points shouldn’t count as income, since they received it as part of a promotional offer, but the U.S. Tax Court ruled against them.

Tax experts lean toward no

Even though both of the precedents mentioned above make your chances of avoiding a rewards tax look grim, some experts say credit card rewards are largely tax-free. Because you have to spend money in order to earn credit card rewards, whether you’re receiving cash back on your purchases or meeting the spending requirement for an intro bonus, apparently the IRS views those rewards as more of a rebate or discount rather than taxable income. Additionally, even if the IRS taxed credit card rewards, you wouldn’t have to worry about reporting that money unless it met or exceeded $600 per credit card issuer. That’s because $600 is the minimum amount of money you can report on a 1099 form for miscellaneous income, so any amount below that is safe from taxation.

While your credit card rewards are probably safe, the same can’t be said for other financial rewards. In 2012, Citi (a NextAdvisor advertiser) shocked a lot of customers by mailing 1099 forms out to anyone who took advantage of a promotional offer that gave new banking customers a large amount of frequent flyer miles. Citi determined the value of the miles given exceeded $600 per customer, so everyone who received the miles had to pay taxes on them. What’s the takeaway from this? If a reward (including a credit card reward) only requires you to sign up for an account and doesn’t entail spending any money, the IRS is much more likely to view that as a gift, payment or prize and tax it if it’s worth at least $600.

In conclusion, if you’re crazy about earning credit card cash back or points, you shouldn’t fear running into a rewards tax. If for some reason you do receive a 1099 form in the mail from your credit card issuer, though, make sure you factor it into your taxes to stay square with the IRS. For more answers to any credit card question you can think of and then some, check out our credit cards blog.

 

 

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Top 7 Credit Cards for Good to Excellent Credit – Julie Myhre Nunes

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If you have stellar credit, you want a card with the most competitive offer. After all, if your credit qualifies you for the best, you deserve the best. With so many credit card offers, it’s hard to determine which cards are worth their salt. To help, we’re detailing the top 7 cards for those with good to excellent credit (usually considered a credit score of 700 or higher). Keep reading to find the perfect addition to your wallet.

Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card

With the highest intro bonus of any cash back credit card we’ve reviewed (cardholders who spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening will get a hefty $500 bonus!), the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card is hard to beat. It earns an uncapped 4% cash back on dining and entertainment (movie theaters, tourist attractions and more), 2% cash back at grocery stores and 1% cash back on all other purchases. There are also no foreign transaction fees and no annual fee for the first year (then it’s $95).

Discover it Cash Back

Discover it Cash Back earns 5% cash back on rotating categories every quarter you activate (up to the quarterly maximum, currently $1,500, then it’s 1%) and 1% cash back on other purchases. Discover will match all of the cash back new cardholders earn at the end of their first year, meaning if you earn $300 in the first year, Discover will match that $300 for a total of $600 back! The Discover it Cash Back card has a long 0% intro APR period and requires average to excellent credit (a credit score of 670 or higher) for approval — click “Show Details” to see more.

Wells Fargo Platinum Visa Card

If you prefer a straightforward low APR credit card, the Wells Fargo Platinum Visa Card is right for you, as it offers an 18-month 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers (with an intro balance transfer fee of 3% for 18 months, then it’s 5%). This card also comes with no annual fee and free access to your FICO credit score. On top of that, those who use their Wells Fargo Platinum Visa Card to pay their monthly cell phone bill will receive up to $600 phone protection against covered damage or theft (with a $25 deductible per claim and a maximum of 2 claims per year).

Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card

The Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card offers a $200 bonus to cardholders who spend $500 on purchases in the first 90 days — that’s like earning 40% cash back on the first $500 spent! On top of that, you’ll earn 3% cash back on gas and 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to the first $2,500/quarter on gas/grocery/wholesale club purchases). Cardholders will also earn 1% cash back on all other purchases and pay no annual fee. Click “Show Details” to learn about the card’s 0% intro APR period, the customer bonus opportunity and more.

Citi Double Cash Card

The Citi Double Cash Card offers an 18-month 0% intro APR on balance transfers (with a 3% balance transfer fee, $5 minimum). On top of that, you’ll earn 2% cash back on all purchases: 1% cash back when you make a purchase and another 1% when you pay for the purchase. The cash back rewards do not apply to balance transfers, but we don’t think it is that big of a deal since the card has so many other strong features, like the long 0% intro APR on balance transfers. The Citi Double Cash Card also has no annual fee and offers free monthly FICO scores.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Travel is easy with the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. That’s because this card not only earns an unlimited 2X miles on all purchases, but it also offers 50,000 bonus miles — that’s worth $500 in travel — to cardholders who spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Plus, cardholders will earn an unlimited 10X miles when they book through Hotels.com/Venture through Jan. 31, 2020 and pay no foreign transaction fees and no annual fee for the first year (then it’s $95).

Citi Simplicity Card – No Late Fees Ever

The Citi Simplicity Card – No Late Fees Ever (a NextAdvisor advertiser) offers a whopping 21-month 0% intro APR on balance transfers. The balance transfer fee is a bit higher at 5% with a $5 minimum (other cards usually charge 3%), but 21 months is the longest 0% intro APR we’ve seen, usually making the fee worth paying. Cardholders will also get a 12-month 0% intro APR on purchases. Rounding things out are no annual fee no late fees and no penalty APR, which means paying late won’t increase your APR.

Want to learn more about the cards detailed in this post? Visit our reviews of the best credit cards to see how they compare to other cards on the market.

 

 

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6 Cards Currently Offering Welcome Bonuses of 100,000 Points or More – Ethan Steinberg

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This business card is offering a staggering 200,000 miles with its current sign-up bonus — but you’ll need to do some serious spending to earn that full amount. You’ll earn 50,000 miles when you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months, and another 150,000 miles after you spend $50,000 in the first 6 months. Clearly, this offer is tailored to established businesses with significant expenses that can easily meet that $50,000 spending requirement. But if your company’s able to meet both tiers of spending requirements, you’ll walk away with a stellar 300,000 miles, factoring in the additional 100,000 miles you’ll earn by spending $50,000, since the Spark Miles card earns 2x on all purchases…………….

 

 

 

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Big Milestone: Bitcoin on Track to Transfer More Value Than Mastercard Daily – Joseph Young

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With a daily transaction volume of over $8 billion, Bitcoin (BTC) is on track to overtake Mastercard, the second largest credit card network in the world, in volume.

On October 30, Mastercard released its financial results of the third quarter of 2018. Year-to-date, the credit card company has processed around $4.4 trillion. On a daily basis, Mastercard has settled nearly $12 billion per day.

Bitcoin, the most valuable cryptocurrency in the global market, has been processing just over $8 billion every day. According to a chart published by Trustnodes, BTC has been able to clear 272,000 transactions per day valued at $8.14 billion.

Inaccurate Comparison?

Mastercard and other credit card networks like Visa primarily handle payments made to merchants in both online and offline ecosystems. Hence, comparing the entire transaction volume of BTC to Mastercard’s volume can be considered as inaccurate.

A more accurate comparison of Bitcoin’s volume would be against the volume of the offshore banking sector as both target individual and institutional investors that process large cross-border payments.

Simply put, the $8 billion daily volume of BTC is a combination of exchange transfers, cross-border payments, and merchant transactions, while Mastercard only represents the transfer of cash to and from merchants.

However, as a minor currency with a total market capitalization of less than $100 billion, nearing the volume of a leading credit card network is a major milestone for Bitcoin.

Previously, the volume of top cryptocurrencies was often compared with remittance outlets like Western Union as Visa, Mastercard, and large-scale financial institutions were out of reach.

The data shows that currently, cryptocurrencies are mainly used as a store of value and as a means to transfer large sums of money. In fact, large cross-border payments rremainas the only advantageous feature of cryptocurrencies over legacy systems in terms of efficiency and practicality.

Earlier this week, Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, sent $600 million with a $7 fee. To send a $1 million through a bank in an international wire transfer, it could cost institutions nearly $10,000 in fees. To send $600 million, a rigorous verification phase, approval period, and significant paperwork is required.

Merchant Adoption Will Materialize

Eventually, as cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin become adopted as a legitimate alternative to fiat currencies, more merchants will adopt the digital asset. Then, it would be possible to compare merchant transactions through crypto with the volume of major credit card networks.

In late 2017, the awareness of cryptocurrencies increased exponentially as BTC achieved an all-time high at around $19,500. Still, merchant adoption remains relatively low and it is difficult to utilize cryptocurrencies at offline shops.

In the long-term, strictly regulated organizations like Bakkt that are supported by leading financial institutions in the likes of ICE, Microsoft, and Starbucks could drastically improve merchant adoption by providing an easy method for merchants to deal with cryptocurrency payments with sufficient liquidity.

In consideration of the fact that the total volume of Mastercard addresses the volume of every local currency the credit card network supports and the comparison between BTC and Mastercard only takes the volume of BTC into account, BTC nearing the volume of Mastercard is still an important achievement for the asset class.

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Crypto.com to Launch MCO Visa Card Program in the US, Over 100,000 Cards Now Reserved – Omar Faridi

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On November 16, the Metropolitan Commercial Bank (MCB) and Crypto.com announced that they are preparing to launch the MCO Visa Card program in the United States. Crypto.com’s press release noted that its MCO Visa Card program had already been introduced in Singapore in October (through its affiliate company, Foris Inc.). Those looking to obtain an MCO Visa card may register via the Crypto.com wallet and card app. The online registration process involves completing know-your-customer (KYC) checks – which include providing a government-issued ID for verification purposes. Moreover, Crypto.com’s wallet users can manage, or monitor, how their card is being used…………..

Read more: https://www.cryptoglobe.com/latest/2018/11/crypto-com-to-launch-mco-visa-card-program-in-the-us-over-100000-cards-now-reserved/

 

 

 

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