Looks like there is a lot going on in the credit card space these days. The industry is looking to raise rates and the subprime market is growing.
Apple Pay had a good year in 2016 and I’m not surprised. I started using it in 2016 and try to use whenever I can. The growth came from in-app, online and in-store point of sale.
That new Citi Costco credit card I got last year is really paying off well for Citigroup. There Q4 earnings release is showing good growth because of there takeover of the Costco credit card partnership.
There’s a lot of other interesting news on the credit card front in this article on www.forbes.com.
Balance transfers on credit cards can be an attractive proposition for both consumers and credit card companies. For consumers that are carrying a considerable balance and no immediate path to paying it off, it can allow a period of time where they can pay down the debt, while temporarily lowering, or even eliminating, interest payments. For credit card companies, they use this hook to acquire new customers from competitors. There are definitely things to keep in mind when considering a credit card balance transfer.
Things to keep in mind:
Transaction fees – Many balance transfers include an incentive period with a lower interest rate, sometimes zero percent, but many include a fee of 1-5% of the transferred debt.
Incentive periods – the length of the incentive period can vary, but is usually 12-18 months. After this period of time, the standard interest rate of the card usually kicks in and you will have to start paying finance charges on whatever balance remains.
Interest rates – Be sure you are considering the APR of the new credit card you are transferring your balance to, because many times new purchases will incur finance charges at the regular rate of the card and not be included in the incentive period.
The idea of taking semi-last minute vacations to Europe and getting to stay for free, at amazing hotels, is enough to get anyone applying for a travel reward credit card. All joking aside, earning travel miles, points or rewards, are a fantastic way to get free flights and hotels, but they aren’t for everyone.
Interest Rate – Most travel reward credit cards have relatively high interest rates, so you have to be pretty good about paying off your balance each month, otherwise you’re throwing away your own money while you try to accumulate miles.
Annual fees – Most travel reward cards charge an annual fee of $89 to $450, which can really start to bite into your overall travel cost savings.
Miles expire – You have to be pretty good about using your reward miles before they expire. Nothing worse than building up a reserve of miles for a nice trip with your spouse, and then find that you waited a couple months too long and half of them have expired.
If you’re not great about paying off your full credit card balance each month, or don’t have a ton of flexibility in your schedule to take a solid vacation every year, then this type of card may not be for you.
Having credit cards in the 21st century is a necessity if you hope to build a solid credit history with the credit agencies. Many people assume, because you have credit cards, you will have credit card debt and pay interest on debt unnecessarily. Let’s look at a few reasons why credit cards can be good and bad.
Pros of having credit cards
- Convenience – Super easy way to make purchases without having to carry around cash
- Rewards – The ability to earn cash back, travel miles, and other reward perks
- Credit history – Helps establish credit history and increase credit worthiness
- Emergencies – It’s nice to be able to pay for things in a pinch if you don’t happen to have the cash pay for a surprise expense or need a cash advance.
Cons of having credit cards
- Interest – Carried balances incur finance charges
- Convenience – Some people can’t resist the urge to purchase things they can’t actually afford and
- Fees – Late fees can be brutal if you forget to make a payment and could result in higher interest rates as well.
- Credit history – Over utilization of your credit cards by building up large balances can hurt your credit profile and result in a lower credit score with major credit agencies.
In the end, having credit cards can be very beneficial and convenient if used correctly. Traveling for free using airline miles and receiving cash back checks can be very rewarding, but if misused, credit cards can inflict some financial pain and stress. Credit cards are not going anywhere soon and will continue to be necessary in for years to come.