debit cards http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/6394/all en-US 6 Reasons to Love Your Bank http://www.wisebread.com/6-reasons-to-love-your-bank <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-reasons-to-love-your-bank" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/consultant-4757388-small.jpg" alt="banker" title="banker" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>No one likes banks these days. The media is telling us that <a target="_blank" href="http://www.wisebread.com/banks-manipulate-your-transactions-may-charge-you-1750-overdraft-fee">they are charging more fees</a> and are to blame for the financial crisis. But the reality is that now is the time to love your bank more than ever.</p> <p>Imagine that a security company guarded your house around the clock. If a burglar ever broke in and stole something valuable, like the family silver or your TV, your security company would replace them, no questions asked. You can come and go into your house as you please and even contact the company guarding your house around the clock &mdash; in person, by email, by phone. And sometimes, the company will even pay you for the privilege of guarding your house. (See also: <a target="_blank" href="http://www.wisebread.com/think-twice-before-ditching-your-current-bank">Think Twice Before Ditching Your Current Bank</a>)</p> <p>This is similar to what a bank does for your money.</p> <h3>1. Your Bank Keeps Your Money Completely Safe</h3> <p>The nuts and bolts of banks, as the average consumer uses them, is that you give your money to your bank, and your bank protects it. The very best reason to use a bank is that you don't have to worry about your money getting lost or stolen. Keeping it under the mattress is not the best bet. In the unlikely event your bank fails, the government insures your deposits up to $250,000. If you like any other company that provides similar services (insurance, for instance), then you should like your bank.</p> <h3>2. Your Bank Provides Amazing Services</h3> <p>Besides just protecting your money, your bank also provides amazing services. Your bank gives you the ability to pay for something nearly anywhere you want by <a target="_blank" href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-a-prepaid-debit-card-really-cheaper-and-better-than-a-bank-debit-card">using a debit card</a>. You don't have to carry around cash (and risk it getting lost or stolen). If you need or prefer cash, you can use an ATM to retrieve your money on nearly any street corner. And with ATMs you can even deposit checks, so you don't have to go to the hassle of waiting in line.</p> <p>But let's say you want to talk with a real person about your money. You can go to a bank branch and get personal service. You can sit down with a banker and have them help you customize your accounts. Just today, I walked into a branch of my bank, and within two minutes a banker helped me close a business account that I no longer needed. He was extremely friendly and asked me if there was anything else he could do to help me. Previously a banker set me up with a permanent fee-waiver for my ATM card. That's great service.</p> <p>Your bank likely allows you to transfer money online, get your account balance from anywhere, and track your spending and savings. Depending on the type of account you may even earn interest on the money you keep at your bank. And these are just the basic services your bank likely provides. Every day banks are rolling out more features &mdash; like banking apps &mdash; all for free.</p> <h3>3. You Can Often Get All of a Bank's Services for Free</h3> <p>All of the services I listed above? Many banks will give these services to you for free. Even if your <a target="_blank" href="http://www.wisebread.com/that-sneaky-bank-almost-got-me">account is listed as having a fee</a>, walk into your bank and ask a banker if there is a way to waive it. Often, if you &quot;bundle&quot; services, your bank will waive the monthly charge. For example, see about opening a deposit account, setting up recurring transfers, or enabling direct deposit. Or maybe it's worth refinancing your home with a mortgage from your bank.</p> <h3>4. If You're Paying a Fee, You're Likely Getting Great Side Benefits</h3> <p>If you are paying a fee on your account, you are likely getting some additional benefits. Some fee checking accounts pay interest, provide free checks, or give you a cash rebate for the amount spent on your debit card. (If you're paying a fee and aren't getting any benefits, ask how to get a fee waiver or see point six below.)</p> <h3>5. Banks Are Subject to More and More Governmental Scrutiny</h3> <p>Every day, banks become subject to more and more governmental scrutiny. Some of these regulations may be warranted, but for the most part they are harming the community bank down your street. (That's the bank where not only will they be more likely to know your name, but you're most likely to get a loan if you want to start a business.) And these regulations are costing banks money to comply with. But banks are still passing very few of these costs onto the average consumer. And that's another great reason to love your bank.</p> <h3>6. You Can Change Banks</h3> <p>If you don't love your bank, you should switch. It's that simple. Every other bank wants you as a customer and you should make the most of that situation. If you don't feel that your bank is giving you the services and support you need, find another bank. Consider an online-only bank or the community bank down the street. There are thousands of banks. Think of the services you need, and find a bank that meets your criteria. If you were trusting the safety and security of your home to a company, you'd spend some time ensuring that it's the best fit for you. Do the same with your money and find a bank that you love.</p> <p><em>What's great about your bank?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/elizabeth-lang">Elizabeth Lang</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-reasons-to-love-your-bank">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-your-teen-needs-or-doesn-t-need-in-a-bank-account">5 Things Your Teen Needs (or Doesn’t Need) in a Bank Account</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-things-to-consider-before-you-open-an-online-savings-account">4 Things to Consider Before You Open an Online Savings Account</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/new-tools-for-the-unbanked">New Tools for the Unbanked</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paper-checks-going-goinggone">Paper Checks: Going, Going...Gone?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/think-twice-before-ditching-your-current-bank">Think Twice Before Ditching Your Current Bank</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Banking banks checking accounts debit cards online banking savings accounts Mon, 27 May 2013 10:24:33 +0000 Elizabeth Lang 973807 at http://www.wisebread.com Easy Ways to Rein in Your Spending Without Sacrificing Fun http://www.wisebread.com/easy-ways-to-rein-in-your-spending-without-sacrificing-fun <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/easy-ways-to-rein-in-your-spending-without-sacrificing-fun" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/5453050233_b72f02b565_z_0.jpg" alt="family at park" title="family at park" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you are like most people, you may find it difficult to save money because you feel like you will miss out on all the good things in life if you are pinching your pennies. Sure, fabulous meals out, exotic vacations, stylish clothes, and cool gadgets are nice to have, but they can really rack up the bills. The good news is that by making a few small changes, you can enjoy the same quality of life you have always had without giving your wallet a beating. Here are a few examples. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-frugal-changes-you-can-make-today">25 Frugal Changes You Can Make Today</a>)</p> <h3>Set Up a Card-Less Bank Account</h3> <p>ATM cards are ridiculously convenient. They allow you to take out money any time of day or night, whenever and wherever you need it. However, this also makes it tempting for you to spend that money wherever and whenever. There are many banks that allow you to operate on a no-card basis, so you can only deposit or withdraw money directly from a teller or, in the case of a high-yield online savings account, only via an online transfer.</p> <p>With these accounts you must physically go in to a bank to withdraw money, or wait a few days for the transfer to go through. This makes it more difficult to withdraw the funds, so it may prevent you from making impulse purchases. In addition, many card-less bank accounts have lower withdrawal fees and offer higher interest rates, so you may actually save more.</p> <h3>Host Nights in Instead of Going Out</h3> <p>A night out could cost you an arm and a leg in restaurant bills, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-watch-movies-in-the-theater-for-free">movie tickets</a>, overpriced drinks, taxis, or cover charges. On the other hand, staying in can be very inexpensive and just as fun. Invite people over to your house for a movie night, throw a BBQ or a potluck dinner, or just relax with a bottle of wine and good company. There are plenty of things you can do in the comfort of your own home that are enjoyable, yet cost next to nothing.</p> <h3>Get Fit Without the Gym</h3> <p>We all know that going to the gym is an excellent way to stay fit and healthy, but <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-going-to-the-gym-is-a-waste-of-money-time-and-resources">gym membership fees can also be wildly expensive</a>. Besides, who wants to stay cooped up in the gym when you can be enjoying the great outdoors? Think about ditching the gym membership and taking up cycling, walking, or hiking, especially if you live in a walkable neighborhood. If the weather is not great, invest in a yoga mat and some exercise DVDs that you can do at home. The amount you save on one month of gym fees will easily cover the costs of the DVDs and mat.</p> <h3>Scour Your City for Free or Discounted Events</h3> <p>There is nearly always something cheap to do if you know where to look. Search online listings or in your local papers for interesting events that do not cost anything to attend. Many festivals, outdoor concerts, and cultural events do not charge admission. In addition, many <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-visit-museums-for-free">museums, art galleries, and theaters offer special deals</a> on certain days of the week. For a completely free outing, take a trip to your local park for a picnic or an afternoon gathering instead spending money in restaurants and coffee shops.</p> <p>Cutting back on spending does not mean you have to cut back on fun as well. There are many ways you can have a good time without spending a cent. All it takes is some creative thinking and slight lifestyle changes, and you can enjoy life while watching your savings grow.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/david-ning">David Ning</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/easy-ways-to-rein-in-your-spending-without-sacrificing-fun">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/score-how-to-host-a-great-game-night">Score! How to Host a Great Game Night</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/50-ways-to-have-free-outdoor-fun">50+ Ways to Have Free Outdoor Fun</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-legit-ways-to-use-the-gym-for-free">8 Legit Ways to Use the Gym for Free</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-fun-and-cheap-things-to-do-during-the-weekday">8 Fun and Cheap Things to Do During the Weekday</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/massive-list-of-things-to-do-while-watching-tv">Massive List of Things to Do While Watching TV</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Banking Entertainment Lifestyle debit cards free things game nights gym things to do Mon, 18 Jun 2012 10:36:08 +0000 David Ning 935143 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Ways to Beat Debit Card Fees http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-to-beat-debit-card-fees <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-ways-to-beat-debit-card-fees" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/bigstock_Casual_Girl_Holding_A_Credit_C_1122974.jpg" alt="Woman holding a debit card" title="Woman holding a debit card" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="179" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Several banks just announced new monthly fees for debit card users. Fortunately, there are plenty ways to avoid them. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/that-sneaky-bank-almost-got-me">That Sneaky Bank Almost Got Me</a>)</p> <p>Until this month, the large swipe fees they charged merchants made debit cards a huge profit center for banks. They were so profitable, banks were offering all manner of perks if you'd promise to use your debit card at least 5, 7, or 12 times a month.</p> <p>Those days are gone. As of October 1st, the swipe fee is limited to just 24 cents. That's still plenty of money to make the debit card business profitable for the bank, but it's not going to fund the huge bonuses that bankers have gotten used to. So, they're looking for other sources of money.</p> <p>Once source they looking at is a monthly fee. Bank of America is going to hit your account with a $5 fee every month that there's even one debit card transaction. Wells Fargo and Chase are testing monthly fees as well.</p> <p>You don't need to pay those fees. Here are four ways to avoid them.</p> <h2>1. Change Banks</h2> <p>The big money-center banks don't want your piddly little consumer banking business anyway. They make their money from packaging corporate finance deals, selling credit default swaps, and creating collateralized debt obligations. They figure the plain-jane transaction business of debit cards is beneath them (unless there's some <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/avoid-bank-fees">serious fee income</a> involved).</p> <p>Instead of a big money-center bank, consider:</p> <h3>Smaller Banks</h3> <p>The medium-sized regional banks probably aren't much better than the money-center banks &mdash; they'd also rather be pocketing a million-dollar fee for arranging a standby letter of credit than handling your checking account. But, as the banks get smaller, they start taking real interest in serving their smaller customers. There are plenty of small, local banks that don't charge a fee for checking accounts, with or without debit cards.</p> <h3>Credit Unions</h3> <p>Credit unions are owned by their members. Serving your financial needs is what they're all about. They're a lot less likely to charge a fee than a bank is.</p> <h3>Brokerage Firms and Other Non-Banks</h3> <p>If you're wealthy or broke, this may be the option for you.</p> <p>If you're wealthy, get a cash management account at a brokerage fund. They'll issue you a debit card that will give you access to your wealth, and they won't charge a fee for the card. (Big-name brokerage firms charge a hefty fee for the account; discount brokers tend not to.)</p> <p>If you're broke, get a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/new-tools-for-the-unbanked">reloadable debit card</a>. They have fees as well, but the fees are for specific services (like cashing a check, checking your balance, or using an ATM). Many now allow one free ATM withdrawal per month, and most charge no fee to accept direct deposit. If you track your balance yourself (so you don't need to check your balance), you can use them in a way that's practically fee-free.</p> <h2>2. Use a Credit Card</h2> <p>Just about any place that will take a debit card will take a credit card as well. There are a few exceptions, but not many.</p> <p>Of course, it's easy to get over your head in debt. But that's not the credit card's fault. If you can use a debit card and not spend more than you have in your checking account, you can do exactly the same thing with a credit card. The only difference is you have to do it yourself. This may be the right choice &mdash; if you're ready to control your spending without training wheels.</p> <h2>3. Pay Cash</h2> <p>Go totally old school and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carry-some-cash">pay for things with money</a>! Yeah, plenty of people say they spend more if they have cash in their pocket. I say, get over it. You have exactly the same amount of will power and self-control with cash in your wallet as you do with a debit card.</p> <h2>4. Write a Check</h2> <p>Actually, even I don't do this any more. I still pay bills by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-i-still-write-paper-checks">writing a check</a> (really!), but I can't remember the last time I wrote a check at a store. And yet, it can be done. It used to be done routinely.</p> <p>This is hardly the end to the possibilities. The transaction business is about to go non-linear. Paying online, or with your cell phone or your mobile device, is already here, and it's just going to get more common.</p> <p>With all those ways to avoid debit card fees, there's no reason to pay one.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-to-beat-debit-card-fees">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-prepaid-debit-cards">5 Best Prepaid Debit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards-vs-debit-cards-a-comprehensive-comparison">Credit Cards vs. Debit Cards: A Comprehensive Comparison</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-i-still-write-paper-checks">Why I Still Write Paper Checks</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/travel-and-money-using-your-debit-card-on-the-road">Travel and Money: Using Your Debit Card on the Road</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-bank-of-america-s-5-monthly-debit-card-fee-just-the-beginning">Is Bank of America’s $5 Monthly Debit Card Fee Just the Beginning?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Banking banking fees debit cards prepaid debit card Thu, 06 Oct 2011 10:36:22 +0000 Philip Brewer 731369 at http://www.wisebread.com New Tools for the Unbanked http://www.wisebread.com/new-tools-for-the-unbanked <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/new-tools-for-the-unbanked" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/continential-illinois-bank-facade.jpg" alt="Bank Building" title="Bank Building" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="243" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Until just the past few years, lack of access to the banking system has been an expensive burden on the poor. Just recently, a surge in new financial products make it a lot less expensive to be unbanked. (See also <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/making-direct-deposit-safe-for-the-garnished">Making Direct Deposit Safe for the Garnished</a>)</p> <p>It used to be that you either used the banking system, or you paid through the nose to buy individual banking services (3% or more at a check cashing store, $1 or more for a money order, outlandish rates for a payday loan).</p> <h2>The Unbanked</h2> <p>Although the barrier to using the banking system is usually described in terms of poverty, merely having little or no money doesn't need to block access. It's really a cluster of related problems that add up to make using conventional banking services so difficult and expensive that people end up choosing to do without:</p> <ul> <li>No cash to keep a minimum balance</li> <li>No regular paycheck to have direct deposited to qualify for a no-fee account</li> <li>Not living in a neighborhood with a local bank</li> <li>Not speaking (or reading) English well enough to use banking services</li> <li>Not having the skills to maintain a check register</li> <li>Having a history of bounced checks or unpaid debts</li> <li>Working during banking hours</li> </ul> <p>Any two or three of those issues can put the regular banking system out of reach (although someone with a little financial savvy can almost always <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/avoid-bank-fees">find a cheap way into the banking system</a>).</p> <p>But if the way you live your financial life makes the banking system a poor fit, there are now some alternative financial service providers that can be cheaper than regular banks.</p> <h2>The New Prepaid Cards</h2> <p>These alternatives are organized around a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-prepaid-debit-cards">prepaid debit card</a>. Instead of cashing a check, they put the money onto your card. This is just as good for you (you can get cash at an ATM) and cheaper for them.</p> <p>These cards do charge fees &mdash; a lot of them. There's often a fee to get a card, a fee to add money, a fee to use an ATM, a fee to check your balance, a monthly fee, etc. But the fees are clear (rather than mysterious the way bank fees can seem to someone whose parents didn't teach them how to use a bank). And they're low &mdash; a careful user can keep the monthly charges at just a few dollars (less than they'd pay for a bank account).</p> <p>Further, we're about to see another step down in these fees. That's because the new cap on debit card swipe fees has an exception for reloadable debit cards &mdash; provided the cards have no overdraft charges and allow at least one no-fee ATM withdrawal per month.</p> <p><span style="font-size: 13px; line-height: 1.7em;">I still think the banking system is the better choice for most people. But for everyone else, the next generation of prepaid cards will provide most of the banking services they need, and do it with lower fees than ever before.</span></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/new-tools-for-the-unbanked">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards-vs-debit-cards-a-comprehensive-comparison">Credit Cards vs. Debit Cards: A Comprehensive Comparison</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/making-direct-deposit-safe-for-the-garnished">Making direct deposit safe for the garnished</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-overdraft-protection-racket-why-banks-want-you-to-overdraw-and-how-you-can-get-your-money-back">The Overdraft Protection Racket: Why Banks Want You To Overdraw, And How You Can Get Your Money Back.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-reasons-to-love-your-bank">6 Reasons to Love Your Bank</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/that-sneaky-bank-almost-got-me">That Sneaky Bank Almost Got Me</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Banking Credit Cards banks debit cards fees unbanked Wed, 15 Jun 2011 10:24:21 +0000 Philip Brewer 580992 at http://www.wisebread.com Paper Checks: Going, Going...Gone? http://www.wisebread.com/paper-checks-going-goinggone <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paper-checks-going-goinggone" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/6583248723_e41da89351_z.jpg" alt="writing check" title="writing check" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Many Americans still retain a checking account for the purpose of writing actual paper checks. Consumers continue to use paper checks out of habit, convenience, security, or having no other option with a vendor. But there are big changes on the horizon that may cancel the use of personal checks or paper checks in general. Are you ready to go paperless? (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-i-still-write-paper-checks">Why I Still Write Paper Checks</a>)</p> <h2>Who&rsquo;s Changing and Why?</h2> <p>Many creditors, lenders, utility services, and even federal and state government agencies are shying away from issuing or receiving paper checks. For instance, those who receive child support payments now do so through a debit card and direct deposits. Banks and other vendors are offering incentives for customers to go electronic. Paper statements and paper checks are becoming a thing of the past.</p> <p>The move to electronic payments and direct deposits essentially all comes down to the cost factor. In order to save money and cut expenses, state and federal agencies especially are making the switch. There is more cooperation between banks and government agencies to keep programs moving forward and organized.</p> <p>While some feel the move is not such a great idea, there are benefits for both sides. Vendors benefit because their overhead is lowered. For consumers, the receipt of child support payments or unemployment benefits is seamless. No more waiting for the mailman or worrying over lost or stolen checks. Payments are now being made via direct deposit onto a debit card issued by the agency responsible for payment. For each payment, cards are reloaded automatically.</p> <h2>What to Watch For</h2> <p>While cost and convenience are certainly pluses to both vendors and consumers, this changes the rules. Without understanding the changes, consumers will likely end up making mistakes that will cost them cash because they didn&rsquo;t know any better. Here are some essential things you need to know about going electronic:</p> <h3>Unexpected Fees</h3> <p>Most governmental agencies do not charge a fee for money being reloaded onto a card. This may be the case now but not always. In the case where you receive a refund or a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-rebates-worthy-of-you">rebate</a> from a retail store or other entity, funds issued through a debit/credit card may not be fee-free. You may have to pay fees for each transaction you make or for reloading a card with new funds. There may also be additional fees for use at an ATM or for maintaining an inactive card. Check with the terms and conditions of the card in refund situations. It may be better to ask for a store credit rather than getting stuck with fees and losing your access to the full amount you are owed.</p> <h3>Balance Checks</h3> <p>With some cards you may incur a fee for using your card in any capacity at an ATM, including for a simple balance transfer. Find out if you are going to be charged for balance checks done over the phone or the Internet. If fees are incurred, it would be smart to keep tabs on your expenditures on a piece of paper rather than lose cash to a series of fees. This is also key because if you go over the amount of funds on the card when making a purchase, your card will either be declined or you&rsquo;ll be hit with a pretty significant overdraft fee for each transaction you make over your limit. Not only will you be out of funds, you&rsquo;ll be responsible for paying the overage charges.</p> <h3>Keeping Your Card Safe</h3> <p>While a plastic card may be much more convenient than a paper check, there is still a risk of having it stolen or losing it. A lost card may cost you up to $25 to replace, so make sure you keep your card in a safe place at all times. Not only do you face fees, you&rsquo;ll also lose access to your funds during the processing time.</p> <h3>Online Security</h3> <p>If you are making payments to vendors such as your utility companies, mortgage lenders, or loan providers, be very careful about your online security measures. While most <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/think-twice-before-ditching-your-current-bank">banks</a> and legitimate vendors will have established a thoroughly secure system for accepting payments online, you must make sure your own computer is safe. It is not advisable to store passwords online or on your mobile phone because of the potential for identity theft.</p> <h3>Card Rules</h3> <p>Federal assistance programs and refunds issued through debit cards may also come with special use rules that you need to understand. There may be limitations to what you can use the card for, and you need to be prepared to follow such rules. For instance, government programs such as food assistance programs will only allow for certain purchases to be made on the card. You may also only be able to use your card for a certain amount of transactions within a month&rsquo;s time period.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tisha-tolar">Tisha Tolar</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paper-checks-going-goinggone">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-i-still-write-paper-checks">Why I Still Write Paper Checks</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-reasons-to-love-your-bank">6 Reasons to Love Your Bank</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards-vs-debit-cards-a-comprehensive-comparison">Credit Cards vs. Debit Cards: A Comprehensive Comparison</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-set-up-automatic-payments">How to Set Up Automatic Payments</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-things-to-consider-before-you-open-an-online-savings-account">4 Things to Consider Before You Open an Online Savings Account</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Banking debit cards online banking paper checks Fri, 14 Jan 2011 13:00:12 +0000 Tisha Tolar 454928 at http://www.wisebread.com Why I Still Write Paper Checks http://www.wisebread.com/why-i-still-write-paper-checks <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/why-i-still-write-paper-checks" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/2204277278_cbf43f4146_z.jpg" alt="writing check" title="writing check" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I know plenty of people who write essentially no paper checks any more. I know students who pay everything with debit cards. Others manage their financial lives with electronic payments. I do neither. I get by with a mix of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carry-some-cash">cash</a>, credit cards, and paper checks.</p> <p>Now it's really just a matter of inertia. I used to have some reasons for doing things this way, but they've all been superseded by events:</p> <h2>Float</h2> <p>It used to be that writing checks produced float &mdash; the time between you handing over your check and your bank debiting your account. Back in the early 1980s, when interest rates spiked up over 14% and paper checks had to be flown back and forth across the country to be presented at your bank for payment, float was a big deal. (See also: <a title="Avoid Bank Fees" href="http://www.wisebread.com/avoid-bank-fees">Avoid Bank Fees</a>)</p> <p>Even for ordinary people it could be a big deal. Let's say your mortgage payment was $1,000. If you had your mortgage at an east-coast bank and you paid it with a check drawn on your west-coast money market fund, it could easily take five business days for your check to clear. At 14%, you'd be earning 38 cents a day, so the float could make you $1.92 (even $2.68 when the weekend lined up right and you got seven days of float). That's $2 a month of free money, just from the float on one bill! Multiplied across all your bills and twelve months a year, float could easily add up to $100 a year.</p> <p>For businesses, it was a much bigger deal. If could increase your float by one day, you could add $140,000 straight to your bottom line for each $1 million worth of payments you made per day. There were consulting firms to help you locate the right bank for your checking account (that is, the bank that was most remote from whoever you made payments to).</p> <p>Nowadays, of course, it makes little difference. Between <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Check_21_Act">Check 21</a> and the various kinds of <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automated_Clearing_House">Automated Clearing House</a>&nbsp;(ACH) check truncation, checks usually clear almost immediately. You're lucky to get two days of float. Plus, interest rates are near zero, so there's really no point.</p> <h2>Security</h2> <p>There was a time, long ago, when the only way to get money out of a checking account was to present a check for payment. Even the account holder did it that way: He came in to the bank with a check made out to &quot;Cash&quot; and presented it for payment.</p> <p>Those were the good ol' days. The only way a thief could steal money from your account was to forge a check &mdash; either modify a real check or else print checks with your account number and then forge your signature on them. Checks were printed on &quot;safety paper&quot; to make such forgeries more difficult to do and easier to detect.</p> <p>You got the actual paper check returned to you after the bank had paid it &mdash; with the word &quot;Paid&quot; stamped across the front. That served as proof of payment. If the check was a forgery, you had the evidence. (It was also kind of interesting, because you could see all the endorsements on the back. You could tell if someone had just deposited the check into their own account or signed it over to someone else. You could also see all the banks it had passed through on its way to your bank.)</p> <p>For a time, when ACH debits were just starting to take off, I made a point of never authorizing an automatic debit to my account. I figured it would make it easier to deal with a theft of that sort &mdash; I wouldn't have to argue about whether a particular transaction was or was not authorized, because I could just make a blanket statement: No automatic debits were authorized.</p> <p>Nowadays, of course, practically every transaction that hits your checking account is an automatic debit of some sort &mdash; even the ones that you initiate by writing a paper check. There's no way to prevent it; if you could, it would just make your checking account worthless.</p> <h2>Errors, and Fixing Them</h2> <p>I was actually an early adopter of electronic banking back in the early 1980s. There wasn't an &quot;automated clearing house&quot; in those days. Any kind of automated payment needed to be negotiated individually by your bank and whoever you were trying to pay. The same was true of direct deposits.</p> <p>I ran into a number of errors in those days, including a direct deposit failure that delayed my paycheck for several days. My roommate at the time had a mortgage payment go similarly astray, causing more than a little stress. Perhaps it was a reaction to those early errors that prompted me to just stick with paper checks.</p> <p>Nowadays the automatic systems are probably more reliable than the paper systems, and there are actually pretty good rules to protect you from errors and unauthorized transactions (although only if you <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/check-your-statements ">check your statement</a> and tell the bank if there are any).</p> <h2>I'm Not the Only Luddite</h2> <p>I suppose there are plenty of other people who still write paper checks out of simple inertia. But there's one group that has a real financial interest in paper checks: the companies that print checks. One of them, Deluxe Corporation, has started an ad campaign called &quot;Stand Up for Your Right to Write Checks,&quot; complete with a mildly amusing video:</p> <object width="560" height="340"> <param value="http://www.youtube.com/v/fG3luLjg74Y?fs=1&amp;hl=en_US" name="movie" /> <param value="true" name="allowFullScreen" /> <param value="always" name="allowscriptaccess" /><embed width="560" height="340" allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" src="http://www.youtube.com/v/fG3luLjg74Y?fs=1&amp;hl=en_US"></embed></object><p>The video shows someone paying with a check at a convenience store counter. Even I don't try to do that any more. I did continue to write checks at the grocery store long after I'd quit using them at other stores, but I finally switched to credit cards about three years ago. (I long ago quit carrying a checkbook around with me, because the only place I ever write checks any more is at my desk.)</p> <p>Still, the general message &mdash; that the payer ought to have the choice of how he pays &mdash; is one that resonates with me. Any business that sends me a bill is going to get paid by check. If they can't deal with that, they're not going to get my business.</p> <p><em>How about you guys? Anybody else out there still paying their bills with paper checks?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-i-still-write-paper-checks">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paper-checks-going-goinggone">Paper Checks: Going, Going...Gone?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards-vs-debit-cards-a-comprehensive-comparison">Credit Cards vs. Debit Cards: A Comprehensive Comparison</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-annoying-bank-fees-and-how-to-avoid-them">12 Annoying Bank Fees and How to Avoid Them</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-to-beat-debit-card-fees">4 Ways to Beat Debit Card Fees</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/get-ready-to-manage-your-bank-and-other-cash-accounts">Get Ready to Manage Your Bank (and Other Cash) Accounts</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Banking bank accounts check writing checkbook debit cards paper checks Mon, 29 Nov 2010 13:00:08 +0000 Philip Brewer 327860 at http://www.wisebread.com Credit Cards vs. Debit Cards: A Comprehensive Comparison http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards-vs-debit-cards-a-comprehensive-comparison <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/credit-cards-vs-debit-cards-a-comprehensive-comparison" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/3027534098_f568868b9e_z_0.jpg" alt="credit card" title="credit cards" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>&quot;Credit cards and debit cards have the exact same benefits.&quot;</p> <p>I've heard this statement for a long time, but I wanted to test it out to see if it is true. Unfortunately, we often pass along information we received because we either assume it to be true, or we've heard it from a single reputable source. (See also: <a title="10 Tricks to Save Money with Credit Cards" href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-tricks-to-save-money-with-credit-cards">10 Tricks to Save Money with Credit Cards</a>)</p> <h3>Basic differences between a debit card and a credit card</h3> <p>When you use a credit card, the credit card company essentially extends you a loan for the amount purchased.&nbsp;You typically sign for the purchase, and when they send you a bill, you are obligated to pay your balance. If you do not, the credit card company will charge you interest rates and fees.</p> <p>A debit card is associated with your bank account. When you make a purchase, that exact amount of money is taken out of your bank account within days. When you use a debit card, you typically use a PIN number.</p> <p>The cards look the same, are scanned the same, but are very, very, different.</p> <h3>Head-to-head comparison</h3> <p><strong>Which offers the best card protection benefits? Credit Cards.</strong></p> <p>Credit card purchases are covered under the Fair Credit Billing Act. The act states that when you purchase something with a credit card, you have no liability for fraudulent purchases, damaged goods, and products that were never delivered.</p> <p>If you make a purchase with a debit card, the Electronic Transfer Act does provide some <a title="Debit Cards vs. Credit Cards: Fees and Fraud Protection" href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-debit-cards-as-safe-as-credit-cards">protection</a> during a dispute or error. If you notify your bank within two days, your liability is limited to $50. However, between two days and six days your liability could increase to $500. Waiting more than six days could mean you have no coverage.</p> <p>Currently, Visa and MasterCard do have policies in place to protect consumers. <a href="http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Banking/CreditCardSmarts/DebitCardsTooRiskyForBigPurchases.aspx">MSN reports</a>:</p> <blockquote><p>Visa and MasterCard also offer zero liability for unauthorized transactions made over their networks.</p> </blockquote> <p>But, Visa does have an exception for negligence, and MasterCard also has an exception for those with delinquent accounts or who have reported unauthorized use within the last two years.</p> <p>Remember, debit cards rely on card policies for protection, while credit card liability is the law.</p> <p><strong>Which offers the most convenient way to resolve a problem with purchases? Credit cards.</strong></p> <p>In the case of debit cards, <a href="http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Banking/CreditCardSmarts/DebitCardsTooRiskyForBigPurchases.aspx">MSN Money claims</a></p> <blockquote><p>Consumers must try to resolve the dispute with a merchant on their own before they contact their debit card issuer. &quot;The merchant may want to make some other arrangement like a store credit or a gift certificate or some other thing,&quot; says Hogarth, of the Fed. &quot;That isn't exactly putting money back in your account.&quot;</p> </blockquote> <p><em>My experience:</em> I recently purchased a product online with my credit card. The item has a full 60-day money back guarantee, but after four emails were not returned, I made a call to my credit card company. Within a day, the money was put back into my account and the credit card company took full responsibility. It sounds like the process would not have been so simple with a debit card.</p> <p><strong>Which is better if you work for a company that uses a reimbursement system? Credit cards.</strong></p> <p>With a credit card you have the ability to delay or float payments. This is especially convenient when you use a reimbursement system with your employer. You can make the purchase today and you have 30-40 days until the payment is due. For anyone who makes purchases on behalf of their company, a credit card certainly carries the advantage.</p> <p><strong>Which is better when renting a car? Credit cards.</strong></p> <p>Most major credit cards offer an auto rental collision damage waiver. In addition, several major car rental companies do not accept debit cards as a form of payment.</p> <p><em>My experience:</em><strong> </strong>Last year, our family was in Australia and I wanted to use a debit card to rent a car. In order for the company to accept my debit card, I would need to let them to put a $500 hold on our checking account. Since we planned to spend cash for purchases on our vacation, I wasn't sure that we had enough available balance for the hold so I used a credit card. When I returned the vehicle, they billed the charges on to the debit card. On that occasion I was glad to have a credit card in my wallet.</p> <p><strong>Which is better for avoiding credit card debt? No brainer &mdash; debit cards.</strong></p> <p>This, by far, is the strongest argument in favor of the debit card. If it helps you control your spending and helps you avoid credit card debt, then that one feature alone is as precious as gold. If you currently have credit card debt or are trying to get out of credit card debt, then cutting up the credit card and using a debt card is probably one of the smartest decisions you can make.</p> <p><strong>Which provides more rewards? Credit cards.</strong></p> <p>Credit card rewards are one of the primary reasons why people use credit cards. Anti-credit card people say that credit cards don't really offer valuable rewards, but I'll let you be the judge.</p> <p>PerkStreet Financial is an example of a bank that is now also offering cash back for debit card purchases.</p> <p><strong>Which is best to use overseas? Depends on your particular bank and credit card.</strong></p> <p>Depending on your bank policy and your credit card foreign currency exchange rate, either one might be better. In my case, my ATM charges a 1% fee for use overseas, but I do have a Schwab Visa card that offers a 0% foreign currency exchange and 2% cash back. However, it is not uncommon to pay a 3% foreign currency exchange fee with a credit card. If you plan to travel overseas, you will need to explore the best way to exchange foreign currency before heading on your trip. (See also: <a title="Using Your Debit Card on the Road" href="http://www.wisebread.com/travel-and-money-using-your-debit-card-on-the-road">Using Your Debit Card on the Road</a>)</p> <p><strong>Which is more expensive? It depends on use.</strong></p> <p>Both debit cards and credit cards have associated fees. Looking at one of my credit card fees and finance charges, if I miss a payment, I'll pay between $15-$39. If I don't pay my balance in full, the default APR (annual percentage rate) is 23.99%. Yes, that is expensive.</p> <p><a href="http://home.ingdirect.com/products/htmls_content/odcalculator.html">ING Direct claims</a> the average bank overdraft charge is $30. However, a bank can also <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/banks-manipulate-your-transactions-may-charge-you-1750-overdraft-fee">manipulate overdraft fees</a> so they really stack up. Debit cards can be expensive too.</p> <p>A person who overcharges her account five times in the month and a person who pays a month of interest and late payments are probably paying a similar amount in fees.</p> <p><em>Moral of the story:</em> Both are extremely expensive to use if you don't plan to learn how to budget and properly manage your finances. If you don't track your spending well, both could mean a financial train wreck is waiting in your future.</p> <p>Ultimately, it comes down to this last question.</p> <p><strong>Do debit cards feel more like real money? I'm undecided.</strong></p> <p>Creditcards.com reports</p> <blockquote><p>A recent TNS Financial Services Consumer Credit Card Program Study indicated that over 60 percent of consumers prefer using debit cards to credit cards as a payment vehicle, because debit feels more like &quot;real money.&quot;</p> </blockquote> <p>Ultimately, I'm yet to be convinced.</p> <p>Does sliding a plastic ATM card feel more like money than a plastic credit card? I've personally never felt the difference. Do you?</p> <p>Last year I totaled all my credit card purchases to find out if I really spend more with credit than cash. I was actually surprised by the results because <strong>I saved money by using a credit card</strong>. As such, I'm guessing we really can't answer this question until someone sits down and does some real research.</p> <h3>Final conclusion</h3> <p>Choose whichever method best helps you manage your money, but realize credit cards do clearly have more benefits. The risk may outweigh the benefits, so I'm not suggesting you use a credit card. Also, you might consider comparing the cost of paying cash versus either a credit card or debit. Just understand the differences, and then make an informed decision.</p> <p><em>What are your thoughts regarding the true differences between credit cards and debit cards?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/craig-ford">Craig Ford</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards-vs-debit-cards-a-comprehensive-comparison">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-7"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/new-tools-for-the-unbanked">New Tools for the Unbanked</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-0-balance-transfer-credit-cards">The Best 0% Balance Transfer Credit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-use-up-remaining-balances-on-prepaid-gift-cards">How to Use Up Remaining Balances on Prepaid Gift Cards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-surprising-ways-to-negatively-affect-your-credit-score">10 Surprising Ways to Negatively Affect Your Credit Score</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-rebuild-your-credit-in-8-simple-steps">How to Rebuild Your Credit in 8 Simple Steps</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Banking Credit Cards Debt Management debit cards Wed, 15 Sep 2010 13:00:07 +0000 Craig Ford 236169 at http://www.wisebread.com Travel and Money: Using Your Debit Card on the Road http://www.wisebread.com/travel-and-money-using-your-debit-card-on-the-road <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/travel-and-money-using-your-debit-card-on-the-road" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/7182172949_7912e5a3da_z.jpg" alt="beach" title="beach" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Your next vacation won&rsquo;t happen without money&hellip;both prior to and during your trip. But with currency conversion discrepancies, high surcharges, and the risk of theft or loss, managing your money on the road isn&rsquo;t as simple as you may think. This <strong><em>Travel and Money </em>series </strong>discusses various ways to address your money issues while you are abroad.</p> <p>Using your debit card is one of the best ways to access cash and pay for items while traveling. But it&rsquo;s not an infallible tool; below are some things to be aware of and tips for using your debit card safely on the road while minimizing fees. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-to-beat-debit-card-fees">4 Ways to Beat Debit Card Fees</a>)</p> <h2>Withdrawing Cash</h2> <p>No matter where in the world you travel to on vacation, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-reasons-why-cash-is-still-king" title="6 Reasons Why Cash Is Still King">you need cash on hand</a>. But depending on the length of your trip and the country (or countries) you are traveling to, it is rare (and sometimes dangerous) for you to access and carry all the required cash with you from home. This is where your debit card can come in very handy.</p> <p>Using your debit card at local bank machines often offers the most favorable rates and convenience factor. ATMs are almost everywhere, and where there isn&rsquo;t an ATM, there&rsquo;s usually a bank that can accept your ATM card as an instrument for withdrawing cash.</p> <p>However it&rsquo;s not as simple as pulling money out in $20 increments whenever you need it; here are a few things to think about:</p> <h3>Your Home Bank&rsquo;s Fees</h3> <p>Unless you are visiting a branch of your home bank abroad, you&rsquo;ll likely be tapping into the Plus or Interac system to use a different bank&rsquo;s ATM or even a privately owned ATM. For this privilege, your bank will likely charge a fee per use of a foreign ATM.</p> <h3>Foreign ATM&nbsp;Fees</h3> <p>You&rsquo;re not off the hook yet; the foreign ATM you are using (especially if it&rsquo;s not associated with a major bank) will likely be charging a fee as well. This fee varies depending on where you are, but is usually the equivalent of a couple of dollars.</p> <h3>Currency Conversion Fees</h3> <p>Last but certainly not least, somebody&rsquo;s going to make some money on the currency conversion factor as well, since you are inserting a debit card in your home currency and the machine is spitting out local currency. These fees are usually levied by your bank, and although they&rsquo;re often lower than other currency conversion fees (which we&rsquo;ll address later in this series), expect to be stung for up to a few cents on every dollar.</p> <h2>Paying With Your Debit Card</h2> <p>Electronic payment systems that allow you to use your debit card at the counter are becoming increasingly common, especially in western countries. This can negate the hassle and risk of carrying a lot of cash with you, and depending on the arrangement you have with your bank, it can also be quite inexpensive.</p> <h3>Withdrawal Fees</h3> <p>Some banks don&rsquo;t charge at all for debit purchases, so it pays to look into the account you have with your bank. Even better: some vendors allow you to take cash out as part of the purchase, which is a way to negate the ATM fees listed above. However be sure to ask the vendor if they charge for taking cash out; sometimes they&rsquo;ll charge a fee for the privilege of taking extra cash out as part of your purchase.</p> <h3>Currency Conversion Fees</h3> <p>You&rsquo;ll still likely have to pay the same currency conversion fees as you would by making withdrawals through an ATM. Keep in mind that if you are traveling through a country (or coming from a country) with a highly fluctuating currency, you&rsquo;ll be at the mercy of the daily conversion rates as well &mdash; for better or for worse.</p> <h2>Safe Use of Your Debit Card</h2> <p>No money management technique while traveling is infallible. The best you can do is to manage the risks and remain alert to problems or dangerous situations. Here are some tips:</p> <h3>Limit Your Bank Account Balance</h3> <p>If somebody gets a hold of your debit card and PIN number, all the money in your account is at risk of being stolen with little to no recourse in recovering it. So limit the amount of money you keep in your bank account to a reasonable amount (I tend to maintain a balance that covers any automatic debits and prevents me from paying a monthly bank fee). You can keep the rest in a high-interest savings account, and if you need more money while traveling, you can go online and transfer it over to your bank account.</p> <h3>Protect Your PIN</h3> <p>This may seem like old news, but people are still shocked when they realize somebody looked over their shoulder and scooped their PIN number (and then scooped their debit card a few minutes later). Don&rsquo;t feel silly about covering up your PIN number as you enter it, either at the ATM or cashier.</p> <h3>Keep Your Bank&rsquo;s Contact Information Handy</h3> <p>Just in case there&rsquo;s a discrepancy or emergency, have your bank&rsquo;s contact information handy so you can get in touch with them from the road. If your debit card is stolen for example, you can call your bank and they can freeze the account or possibly help you recover lost funds.</p> <h3>Watch Your Account</h3> <p>Consider signing up for online banking (if you haven&rsquo;t already) and periodically check the transactions on your account to ensure all is well. Again the sooner you spot a problem and alert your bank, the better the chances are you won&rsquo;t be out of pocket for fraud or theft.</p> <h3>Withdraw Cash in Lots, But Not Too Much</h3> <p>To keep ATM fees low, you will want to withdraw more cash than you immediately need. But beware of carrying too much cash on you, as the risk of theft is ever-present. Later in this series we will discuss <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/travel-and-money-how-to-get-and-carry-cash-safely-and-securely" title="How to Carry Cash Safely and Securely">techniques for carrying cash safely while you travel</a> as well.</p> <h2>Other articles in the Travel &amp; Money series:</h2> <ul> <li><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/travel-and-money-using-your-credit-card-on-the-road">Using Your Credit Card on the Road</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/travel-and-money-using-prepaid-travel-cards">Using Prepaid Travel Cards</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/travel-and-money-how-to-get-and-carry-cash-safely-and-securely">How to Get and Carry Cash Safely and Securely</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/travel-and-money-carrying-decoy-wallets">Carrying Decoy Wallets</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/travel-and-money-passport-carrying-tips">Passport Carrying Tips</a></li> </ul> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/nora-dunn">Nora Dunn</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/travel-and-money-using-your-debit-card-on-the-road">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-8"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/netspend-the-story-of-the-visa-debit-card-we-did-not-apply-for">netSpend: The Story of the Visa Debit Card We Did Not Apply For</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/travel-and-money-using-prepaid-travel-cards">Travel and Money: Using Prepaid Travel Cards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards-vs-debit-cards-a-comprehensive-comparison">Credit Cards vs. Debit Cards: A Comprehensive Comparison</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-weird-money-laws-you-may-have-broken">7 Weird Money Laws You May Have Broken</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-i-still-write-paper-checks">Why I Still Write Paper Checks</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Banking Travel debit cards money Thu, 10 Jun 2010 14:00:05 +0000 Nora Dunn 124575 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Use Up Remaining Balances on Prepaid Gift Cards http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-use-up-remaining-balances-on-prepaid-gift-cards <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-use-up-remaining-balances-on-prepaid-gift-cards" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple-gift-card-166668354-small.jpg" alt="couple gift card" title="couple gift card" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Looking in my wallet, there are no less than 5 <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-prepaid-debit-cards">prepaid debit</a> or gift cards hiding at any one time. While I seem to have no trouble using up store gift cards (Walmart or Amazon, for example), I just can&rsquo;t seem to rid my life of these nagging, tiny balances that make it inconvenient and a little embarrassing to shop. With some research and a lot of trial and error, I found some ways to get my money&rsquo;s worth out of these well-meaning assets &mdash; every last penny.</p> <p>First, I won&rsquo;t trouble you with advice on using store or retailer cards. I&rsquo;m sure you can figure out how to use the last $2 on your Starbucks card (if you haven&rsquo;t figured it out, just walk into any Starbucks. They&rsquo;ll apply whatever remaining balance you have to your next purchase. Or you can simply reload it.) While the strategy to using up remaining balances are similar, it&rsquo;s not always so clear cut. And let&rsquo;s face it, I&rsquo;m less likely to whip out my Visa with the $2.23 balance and buy anything at a store &mdash; especially since it may cost the retailer between $1.00 and $2.50 just to process it.</p> <h2>Know What Your Balances Are</h2> <p>This seems obvious, but there are times that I may have one or two cards floating at the bottom of my purse that I&rsquo;m not sure how much is left on them. While I prefer to use the web address printed on the back of each card to find the balance, some will only allow you to call an 800 number. Another thing to note is that in order to check your balance online, you may be required to register that card. The benefit to doing this is that your balance is stored online, and in case of a lost card, you can at least make purchases online with it &mdash; or possibly get a replacement. The drawback is that you may not want to keep the card forever (see tips below) and you don&rsquo;t want to register a card that someone else may try to register in the future.</p> <h2>Make Note of Your Balances</h2> <p>Again, simple idea here: Some of the newer gift cards have a little box on the back of the card that let you write in the amount you have left after each purchase. Others give you nothing, so I suggest wrapping a sticky note around it with the balance written on it. The next time you&rsquo;re waiting to check out, you can easily identify which card will have the balance closest to your purchase amount.</p> <h2>Analyze Your Spending Habits</h2> <p>I don&rsquo;t shop at some major stores &mdash; ever. It&rsquo;s not that I don&rsquo;t like them; I&rsquo;ve just found them to be too far away geographically, or out of my comfort zone. For this reason, I&rsquo;ve become very familiar with the stores I use most, and their policies for using prepaid gift cards. Walgreens, for example, has no issues about letting me pay for a purchase with multiple methods of payment. This makes my local Walgreens store a great way to &ldquo;ditch&rdquo; balances with little interruption to my shopping routine. If I&rsquo;m taking advantage of a <a href="http://wisebread.com/dealista-tip-getting-free-stuff-at-walgreens">Walgreens Register Rewards deal</a>, and want to buy several packages of diapers, I can just ask the cashier to apply $2.36 of my purchase to the gift card, then pay the remaining balance with my regular credit card or cash. Easy peasy. Other stores are really great about this too. (Just know what credit cards each store takes.)</p> <h2>Recycle Into Other Gift Cards</h2> <p>When researching ways to dump my gift cards, I ran into a lot of suggestions to convert them to Amazon gift cards. As an avid Amazon shopper, this idea really appealed to me. While the smallest gift card you can buy is $5, you don&rsquo;t have to buy in increments &mdash; so you can buy a gift card worth exactly $5.36 and have it sent to you via email the same day. You can then apply the gift card directly to your Amazon account balance, giving you an extra $5.36 of spending power the next time you shop. Some have reported this same kind of goodness with Walmart.com (which also allows you to buy iTunes gift cards and some restaurant cards like Chili&rsquo;s and Subway in select increments only).</p> <p>My personal experience with this method has been hit or miss. While the Amazon site doesn&rsquo;t mention anything about holding a particular amount of your gift card to ensure it&rsquo;s valid, it seems that this may be the case. Frequent purchasers of Amazon cards recommend holding back $1 of your balance in case of an &ldquo;authorization&rdquo; amount that will later be returned to your card balance. (Of course, who wants $1 left on their card?) Some have suggested immediately converting a $20 prepaid card into one $10 Amazon gift code, waiting until the purchase clears and the $1 authorization amount is credited back, and then buying another $10 code. (Apparently, the $1 authorization is only applied the first time you use a particular card.)</p> <h2>Be Kind</h2> <p>Perhaps the easiest way to use up gift card balances is to pass them on to others. It&rsquo;s kind of like dumping your problems on other people, except there&rsquo;s free money involved. If you don&rsquo;t want to deal with a $3.56 gift card balance, I&rsquo;m sure there&rsquo;s someone who would love to. Examples of places that will usually not turn down cards include local women&rsquo;s shelters and some churches. Be sure that you are upfront with the amount on the card, the date the balance must be used by (if any), and any fees that may be charged as a result of purchase.&nbsp;</p> <p>One way I&rsquo;ve recently used a $10 gift card to a store that closed in my area (so I couldn&rsquo;t use it) was as a &ldquo;bonus&rdquo; tip for a server at a restaurant. I wouldn&rsquo;t recommend substituting your cash tip for a gift card tip unless it&rsquo;s of such a generous portion that the inconvenience of using it is outweighed by the value, but &ldquo;bonusing&rdquo; on top of the cash tip probably would be well appreciated!</p> <h2>Cash Out</h2> <p>There are a few scattered reports of banks that will cash out any amount of gift card, provided you are a customer and show proper I.D (names mentioned included Chase). There may or may not be a fee attached. Also, residents of <a href="http://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/legal_guides/s-11.shtml">California</a> can legally cash out any gift card with a balance of less than $10. See your state&rsquo;s Department of Consumer Affairs website to see if similar legislation has been passed in your area.</p> <h2>Sell, Trade, Recharge, or Regift</h2> <p>There are many people who try to sell their unused gift cards on Ebay. This may work for larger cards, but it&rsquo;s still a hassle. I&rsquo;d much rather make it work some other way. Also, sites that allow you to trade unused gift cards are becoming popular &mdash; but again, I don&rsquo;t want to have to mess with mailing addresses and postage for a tiny balance. There is still the possibility of &ldquo;reloading&rdquo; a card, if it&rsquo;s allowed (some cards aren&rsquo;t made for this).</p> <p>Maybe you could regift a card that had its original balance on it? (Giving a $5 balance on a clearly branded $25 card, for example, seems a bit tacky.) Any other ideas?</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/linsey-knerl">Linsey Knerl</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-use-up-remaining-balances-on-prepaid-gift-cards">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-9"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-5-credit-cards-for-groceries">The Best 5 Credit Cards for Groceries</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/debit-or-credit-which-one-should-you-choose-at-the-checkout">Debit Or Credit? Which One Should You Choose At The Checkout?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-seven-reasons-why-i-use-my-credit-card-for-everything">Top Seven Reasons Why I Use My Credit Card for Everything</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-prepaid-debit-cards">5 Best Prepaid Debit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/netspend-the-story-of-the-visa-debit-card-we-did-not-apply-for">netSpend: The Story of the Visa Debit Card We Did Not Apply For</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards Shopping debit cards gift cards prepaid cards unused balance Mon, 22 Mar 2010 14:00:01 +0000 Linsey Knerl 5952 at http://www.wisebread.com Is a Prepaid Debit Card Really Cheaper and Better than a Bank Debit Card? http://www.wisebread.com/is-a-prepaid-debit-card-really-cheaper-and-better-than-a-bank-debit-card <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/is-a-prepaid-debit-card-really-cheaper-and-better-than-a-bank-debit-card" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/debit_0.jpg" alt="Debit Card" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>A few month ago, my husband received <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/netspend-the-story-of-the-visa-debit-card-we-did-not-apply-for">an unsolicited Visa Debit Card from NetSpend</a> and I wrote about it here on Wise Bread. I admit that I did not know much about NetSpend at that time besides that they were sending out unsolicited cards. According to the comments many people received these unwelcomed cards, and some were even sent to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/netspend-the-story-of-the-visa-debit-card-we-did-not-apply-for#comment-302607">to their pets</a>, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/netspend-the-story-of-the-visa-debit-card-we-did-not-apply-for#comment-308833">underaged kids</a>, and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/netspend-the-story-of-the-visa-debit-card-we-did-not-apply-for#comment-371819">ex-husband</a>. What I found interesting was that several commenters <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/netspend-the-story-of-the-visa-debit-card-we-did-not-apply-for#comment-360144">defended prepaid debit cards like NetSpend</a> and stated that it was cheaper than getting a bank account. In response to these comments, I decided to look into the fees and services of prepaid debit cards.</p> <p>First of all, I looked at the <a href="https://www.netspend.com/account/faq.m#q19">NetSpend fee schedule</a>. There seems to be two types of customers: Pay-As-You-Go and Fee Advantage customers. The Pay-As-You-Go customers have to pay $2.00 for each PIN purchase, and $1.00 for each signature purchase. The Fee Advantage customers have to pay $9.95 as a monthly service fee and both types of customers need to pay $9.95 to get a card. There is also a charge for loading money onto the card determined by the local distributors, and non-internet account balance inquiries cost 50 cents each. Each ATM withdrawal costs $2.50, and each ATM decline costs $1.00. Additionally, if there were no transactions within 90 days then there is an additional $5.95 per month account maintenance fee. Additionally, if you try to close your account <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/netspend-the-story-of-the-visa-debit-card-we-did-not-apply-for#comment-367703">you will be charged a fee of $5.95</a>. Similar services like Green Dot <a href="https://www.greendotonline.com/contents/help.aspx#fees">also has a full menu of fees</a>. In the case of Green Dot the company continues to assess a monthly charge even after the balance falls below $0.</p> <p>So how does this compare to a bank account? It is true that there are no overdraft fees on these cards, but as long as you watch your balance carefully you can avoid overdrafts fees on a bank account. Many banks also offer free checking accounts with minimum balance requirements of under $100 with no account maintenance fees. The checking accounts usually come with a debit card that can be used at the bank's ATMs and many stores without a fee for every single swipe. Also, debit cards associated with checking and savings accounts have much better fraud protection than prepaid debit cards. Usually credit cards and debit cards associated with deposit accounts limit your liability in case of fraud and the money you deposit in any FDIC member bank would be insured. However, prepaid debit cards do not seem to have that protection so you may be on the hook for any fraudulent activity. Finally, I think it is ridiculous that many of these prepaid cards charge people for loading money onto the card. I have never had a bank account that charged me for depositing money.</p> <p>I think the main issue with these prepaid cards right now is that they are much less regulated than bank accounts and credit cards. This lack of regulation allows them to send out unsolicited cards, and also nickel and dime those who are unable to get a regular bank account or credit card. The potential for fraud is also very high since anyone can get one of these cards very easily due to the way they are being distributed. I understand that these cards may be the only choice for those out there who cannot get a regular bank account or credit card, but it really seems that the industry is taking advantage of those who need every bit of their cash by assessing all of these fees. If you do have one of these prepaid cards that charges for every little thing you do, make sure that you avoid as many fees as you can by minimizing the number of transactions you make and also meet any deposit requirements. It is also possible to shop around for the company that has the least fees.</p> <p>For further reading about a variety of prepaid card fees and problems the New York Times just published this a great article titled <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/06/your-money/06prepay.html?_r=1">Prepaid, but Not Prepared for Debit Card Fees</a>. Do you have one of these cards? How do you minimize the fees? Do you believe that they are better than bank accounts?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/xin-lu">Xin Lu</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-a-prepaid-debit-card-really-cheaper-and-better-than-a-bank-debit-card">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-10"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/netspend-the-story-of-the-visa-debit-card-we-did-not-apply-for">netSpend: The Story of the Visa Debit Card We Did Not Apply For</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-use-up-remaining-balances-on-prepaid-gift-cards">How to Use Up Remaining Balances on Prepaid Gift Cards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/debit-or-credit-which-one-should-you-choose-at-the-checkout">Debit Or Credit? Which One Should You Choose At The Checkout?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-prepaid-debit-cards">5 Best Prepaid Debit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-score-more-loyalty-perks-from-your-credit-card-company">How to Score More Loyalty Perks From Your Credit Card Company</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Credit Cards debit cards prepaid debit card Fri, 09 Oct 2009 14:00:02 +0000 Xin Lu 3694 at http://www.wisebread.com netSpend: The Story of the Visa Debit Card We Did Not Apply For http://www.wisebread.com/netspend-the-story-of-the-visa-debit-card-we-did-not-apply-for <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/netspend-the-story-of-the-visa-debit-card-we-did-not-apply-for" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/7123758_0475304ba3_z.jpg" alt="debit card" title="debit card" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>This week my husband received an unsolicited Visa debit card from a firm called netSpend. It was certainly an odd experience to receive a card that looked official instead of a pre-approved application packet. This is my story of shock, anger, and finally disgust at the practices of this financial firm. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards-vs-debit-cards-a-comprehensive-comparison" title="Credit Cards vs. Debit Cards: A Comprehensive Comparison">Credit Cards vs. Debit Cards: A Comprehensive Comparison</a>)</p> <p>At first, I was confused as to why my husband would open an Visa debit account without telling me. So I asked him if he applied for this card. He was bewildered and said, &quot;No! Did my identity get stolen?&quot; I was equally confused because the card has to have money loaded onto it to be worth anything so it would be worth nothing to identity thieves unless they managed to steal the card after we load money. Additionally, this card came to our address, and it does not make sense that an <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/identity-theft" title="Identity Theft Prevention">identity thief</a> would send what they want to steal to us.</p> <p>So I read the enclosed letter, and it says that some partners of netSpend recommended my husband for the Visa debit card service. The problem is that my husband did not apply for this card, so it does not make sense that a new card is now here waiting for his activation. Even if other financial firms sold his name and address to partners the most they should do would be to send a fake credit card along with an application. So I researched this company a little bit online and it seems that it has sent out cards to <a title="Tech-linkblog" href="http://www.tech-linkblog.com/2009/05/netspend-sends-out-card-that-i-didnt-order.html/">other people who did not apply for the card</a>. There is also a slew of other complaints against this company regarding how it handles customers' money.</p> <p>The next day I promptly called netSpend and asked them to close down this account. According to the representative, someone at netSpend thought that our household needed a Visa debit card, so they sent us one. As long as we do not activate it the account does not exist in their system. Basically, the representative was admitting that we did not apply for the card. By shoving an unwanted card onto us, netSpend pretty much lost any chance of having us a customer in the future.</p> <p>In conclusion, this is probably the most distasteful customer acquisition tactic I have ever seen because it really made us feel a bit violated. Credit and debit cards are not supposed to be given out like candy and I hope netSpend realizes that. It seems that netSpend's business is basically to get people to deposit money onto its cards and then slowly wittle away peoples' money with fees. When I called their toll-free number it says that it costs 50 cents just to check your balance! So it does make sense that they want as many people to deposit cash onto their pieces of plastic as possible. However, telling people to activate cards they did not apply for is definitely not the way to go.</p> <p>Have you had any positive or negative experiences with netSpend? Have you ever received a credit or debit card you did not apply for? Did you use the card?</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/xin-lu">Xin Lu</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/netspend-the-story-of-the-visa-debit-card-we-did-not-apply-for">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-11"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-a-prepaid-debit-card-really-cheaper-and-better-than-a-bank-debit-card">Is a Prepaid Debit Card Really Cheaper and Better than a Bank Debit Card?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-get-taken-by-the-latest-secure-credit-card-scam">Don&#039;t Get Taken by the Latest Secure Credit Card Scam</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-warranties-that-arent-worth-it">4 Warranties That Aren&#039;t Worth It</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-vile-craigslist-scams-to-watch-out-for">8 Vile Craigslist Scams to Watch Out For</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-use-up-remaining-balances-on-prepaid-gift-cards">How to Use Up Remaining Balances on Prepaid Gift Cards</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Credit Cards debit cards money netspend scams Fri, 29 May 2009 22:02:19 +0000 Xin Lu 3214 at http://www.wisebread.com Debit Cards vs. Credit Cards: Fees and Fraud Protection http://www.wisebread.com/are-debit-cards-as-safe-as-credit-cards <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/are-debit-cards-as-safe-as-credit-cards" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/visa_debit.jpg" alt="visa debit card" title="visa debit card" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Many financial experts suggest <a href="http://www.ncnblog.com/2007/10/19/how-i-live-without-using-credit-cards-my-simple-system-for-living-on-a-budget/">using debit cards</a> instead of <a title="Guide to Using Credit Cards Wisely" href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-card-guide">credit cards</a> because in theory, you will spend less if you are only paying with money you have.&nbsp;</p> <p>On the other hand, many people are concerned that debit cards may generate overdraft fees and offer less legal protection against unauthorized charges.&nbsp; Are these valid concerns?</p> <p><strong>Overdraft Fees</strong></p> <p>According to <a href="http://www.bankrate.com/brm/news/cc/transcript-debit-or-credit-card-a1.asp">Consumer&rsquo;s Union</a> &quot;a person using a debit card more than 20 times a year pays an average of $223 in bounced check fees. The one who doesn&rsquo;t use a debit card at all pays an average of $40.&quot;</p> <p>You can avoid these fees with some thoughtful planning. Here are some great tips from <a href="http://www.bankrate.com/brm/news/check_card/debit_card_problems_a1.asp">Bankrate.com</a>:</p> <blockquote><p class="rteindent1">Most banks provide &quot;convenience&quot; overdraft protection -- which is basically a high-interest loan to cover the shortfall in the account -- a consumer who's trying to manage money responsibly could get hit with a fee of around $35.</p> <p class="rteindent1">&nbsp;</p> <p class="rteindent1">Be sure to note all debit transactions in your check register and sign up for overdraft protection linked to your savings account to be on the safe side.</p> <p class="rteindent1">&nbsp;</p> <p class="rteindent1">Consumers should also ask their banks in what order payments are made. Ask where you can find information on nonsufficient funds. Most banks manage payments by paying the largest items first and on down to the lowest. If your biggest item overdraws your account, you'll pay an NSF fee for every subsequent check or debit.</p> </blockquote> <p>Keep in mind the average American pays <a href="http://ems.gmnews.com/news/2008/1223/Greg_Bean/">$1,200 a year</a> in credit card interest fees.&nbsp; If you minimize your overdraft fees with the basic precautions listed above, you will most likely pay less fees by using a debit card.</p> <p><strong>Protection Against Fraudulent Charges</strong></p> <p>One of the major benefits of credit cards is that they offer generous protection against unauthorized charges.&nbsp; Under federal law, debit cards do not have the same level of protection as credit cards.&nbsp;</p> <p>However, many debit card issuers are offering extended liability protection to make up for the legal differences.&nbsp; As <a href="http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Banking/BetterBanking/DebitCardsAGoodDealGetsBetter.aspx?page=all">MSN pointed out</a>, &quot;in effect, check cards now have the same protections as credit cards.&quot;&nbsp; I wanted to verify this for myself.&nbsp; Since Visa is one of our sponsors I&nbsp;was able to get a very quick response back from their spokesperson:</p> <blockquote><p>Despite the popularity of debit cards, consumers are often confused about the security features and consumer protections debit cards offer. Many of the same features and protections provided by credit cards are also offered with debit cards. It&rsquo;s important to know that Visa debit cards carry the <strong>same protections as Visa credit cards</strong>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>All Visa cardholders (prepaid, debit or credit) are protected by <a href="http://usa.visa.com/personal/security/visa_security_program/zero_liability.html">Visa&rsquo;s Zero Liability policy</a>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This policy means you pay nothing if unauthorized purchases are made on either a Visa Check card or credit card when you choose to sign for your transactions. Some issuing financial institutions offer Zero Liability protections for certain PIN debit transactions as well, but the best way to ensure you are protected is to <strong>sign for your purchases</strong>. Visa&rsquo;s Zero Liability policy actually surpasses protections mandated by federal law, which in most cases caps liability at either $50 (for credit) or $500 (for debit).</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>The Verdict</strong></p> <p>Of course, cash is almost always better than debit or credit cards.&nbsp; And as Nora pointed out, there are many <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-seven-reasons-why-i-use-my-credit-card-for-everything">great reasons to use credit cards</a> such as building up credit rating and earning reward points.&nbsp; However, if overdraft fees and fraud protection were holding you back from switching to debit cards, perhaps it is time to take a second look.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/will-chen">Will Chen</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-debit-cards-as-safe-as-credit-cards">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-12"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/never-use-cash-for-these-11-things">Never Use Cash for These 11 Things</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/security-breach-puts-50000-credit-card-holders-at-risk">Security Breach Puts 50,000 Credit Card Holders at Risk</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/everything-you-should-know-about-getting-a-credit-card-but-didn-t-have-a-clue-to-ask">Everything you should know about getting a credit card but didn’t have a clue to ask</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-cash-back-credit-cards">5 Best Cash Back Credit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-use-up-remaining-balances-on-prepaid-gift-cards">How to Use Up Remaining Balances on Prepaid Gift Cards</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards credit cards debit cards fraud interest overdraft fees VISA Tue, 23 Dec 2008 13:33:13 +0000 Will Chen 2670 at http://www.wisebread.com Carry some cash http://www.wisebread.com/carry-some-cash <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/carry-some-cash" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/banknotes.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="128" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I recommend carrying some actual cash money. When I do that, a lot of people say, &quot;Why? Everyplace I go takes credit and debit cards.&quot; In fact, I know people who brag about spending no cash at all for weeks or months at a time. A no-cash life may be good for bragging points, but I suggest you carry some cash anyway.</p> <p>I was visiting someone in the hospital last week. Several times I made small cash purchases on her behalf that might not have been so easy to make with a credit or debit card. (I got her a soda out of the machine, for example, and some sugar-free gum at the hospital gift-shop.) There was probably an ATM machine somewhere in the hospital, but I don't know where exactly, and because of the way parking was arranged there, it would have been quite unhandy to have to zip out and go find an ATM elsewhere.</p> <h2>My own history with cash</h2> <p>When I was younger I carried very little cash. I had two reasons for keeping cash-on-hand to a minimum. First, because interest rates were a lot higher, the potential return on an extra $100 in a money market account oughtweighed the hassle of an extra stop or two at the ATM. Second, I didn't have much money--not enough to take a month's spending money out of the bank, if I also had to pay rent out of the same paycheck.</p> <p>I changed my ways during a visit to Germany. I'd brought a few Deutsche Marks (enough for travel from the airport to the hotel), but most of our travel money was in travelers checks. It turns out, though, that in Germany you can't really use travelers checks at stores or restaurants. They're easy to cash at a bank, but we'd arrived on a Friday after the banks were already closed, so we were looking at no more cash until Monday. (This was a while ago. Nowadays you'd just hit an ATM for local currency.)</p> <p>Things turned out okay. The hotel cashed one travelers check, which gave us money for our various small purchases, and we used credit cards for the large ones. Once the banks opened, though, we went and cashed a couple hundred dollars worth of marks to carry around.</p> <p>The thing was, it turned out to be really handy to have plenty of cash on hand. We didn't need to worry if some place took any particular card. We had cash if a traveling companion was short. It was so handy that I continued the practice of carrying a reasonable amount of cash, even after we came home.</p> <h2>Cash for living large (and small)</h2> <p>Times when it's good to have cash:</p> <ul> <li>Buying something from a person, rather than a business</li> <li>When you want to give someone a tip (or a bribe)</li> <li>For very small purchases, such as a pack of gum</li> <li>Purchases from vending machines</li> <li>When you're someplace unfamiliar, such as on a trip</li> <li>Anyplace that doesn't take plastic (Two examples: When I lived in Utah the state-run liquor stores only took cash; when I lived in California the places that towed your car away &quot;at owner's expense&quot; only took cash.)</li> </ul> <p>People give various reasons why they don't want to carry cash. Some people claim that they're more likely to spend money if they have cash than if they have to use a card. That seems unlikely to me, but I can get behind any mental trick people use to help themselves be more frugal. Some worry that it will be lost or stolen. I haven't lost my wallet in more than 30 years, but I'm sure it would suck all the more if I had a bunch of money in it when I lost it. (And it would suck plenty to lose the credit cards and ID.)</p> <p>It's possible to get along fine with little or no cash, especially if you live a circumscribed life (such as on a college campus or campus-like workplace, where you can put everything on a card). But if you live large there are going to be times and places where that doesn't work so well. Money isn't the solution to every problem, and even problems where money <em>is</em> the solution can often be solved with a credit or debit card. But there are some problems out there where the best solution is cash money. When you face one of those problems, it's nice to have some cash.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carry-some-cash">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-13"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/would-you-get-rid-of-credit-cards-if-stores-give-more-discounts-to-customers-who-pay-cash">Would you get rid of credit cards if stores give more discounts to customers who pay cash ?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/always-use-cash-for-these-5-things">Always Use Cash for These 5 Things</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/forget-saving25-place-to-look-for-spare-change">Forget Saving...25 Places to Look for Spare Change</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/sensible-ways-to-raise-cash-for-a-wedding">Sensible Ways to Raise Cash for a Wedding</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/73-easy-ways-to-save-money-today">73 Easy Ways to Save Money Today</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance banknotes cash credit cards currency debit cards Wed, 19 Sep 2007 14:34:41 +0000 Philip Brewer 1179 at http://www.wisebread.com Everything you should know about getting a credit card but didn’t have a clue to ask http://www.wisebread.com/everything-you-should-know-about-getting-a-credit-card-but-didn-t-have-a-clue-to-ask <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/everything-you-should-know-about-getting-a-credit-card-but-didn-t-have-a-clue-to-ask" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_with_credit_card_0.jpg" alt="woman with credit card" title="woman with credit card" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="185" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Okay, I am not saying you are clueless just that the fine print on credit card offers is not terribly easy to understand, especially if you have not encountered all of the possible scenarios that generate interest charges and fees. I was surprised, for example, that when I paid all but a tiny portion of my balance, the finance charge was calculated on all of my purchases during a given month rather than just on the balance over 30 days. It’s these nuances, illogical to me but carefully structured within the credit card agreement, that drive me batty. </p> <p>Most of us know how to look for the basics: </p> <ul> <li>Is there an annual fee?</li> <li>What is the interest rate?</li> <li>What is the late payment charge? </li> <li>Do I get any rewards?</li> </ul> <p>The Federal Reserve Board (USA) goes further and dissects these charges in an easy-to-read, even-I-can-understand guide entitled <a href="http://www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/shop/default.htm" target="_blank" title="http://www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/shop/default.htm">Choosing a Credit Card</a>. </p> <p>The guide</p> <ul> <li>covers annual fees, cash advance fees, late-payment fees, set-up fees, etc.; </li> <li>explains how finance charges are calculated (who said credit card companies weren’t creative?)</li> <li>shows a standard (required) disclosure box with further explanation of card features.</li> </ul> <p>It also explains <strong>why I consider credit cards the safest way to make a transaction</strong> (though not necessarily why credit cards are the safest way to manage your expenses) in the “What are your liability limits?” section. Basically, the federal Truth in Lending Act provides the following protection: “If your <em>credit card</em> is lost or stolen-and then is used by someone without your permission-you do not have to pay more than $50 of those charges.” (Italics added by me). Not only are you protected from thieves using your card, you are also protected from unscrupulous merchants or just ones who have billed you without delivering the product or service according to an agreement. If I have a dispute or concern about a purchase, I contact my credit card company and discuss the situation with its representatives. It’s great to have the credit card company advocate on my behalf. (The rules for debit cards are quite different; see <a href="http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/credit/atmcard.shtm" target="_blank" title="http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/credit/atmcard.shtm">Facts for Consumers</a> from the Federal Trade Commission). </p> <p>Next time you get a credit card offer or if you just want to better understand how your card works right now, check out <a href="http://www.federalreserve.gov/Pubs/shop/" target="_blank" title="http://www.federalreserve.gov/Pubs/shop/">the guide at The Federal Reserve Board</a>. </p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/julie-rains">Julie Rains</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/everything-you-should-know-about-getting-a-credit-card-but-didn-t-have-a-clue-to-ask">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-14"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/new-tools-for-the-unbanked">New Tools for the Unbanked</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-debit-cards-as-safe-as-credit-cards">Debit Cards vs. Credit Cards: Fees and Fraud Protection</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/watch-out-for-new-credit-card-policies-chase-card-holders-already-hit-with-fees">Watch out for new credit card &quot;policies&quot; - CHASE card holders already hit with fees</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-cash-back-credit-cards">5 Best Cash Back Credit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-use-up-remaining-balances-on-prepaid-gift-cards">How to Use Up Remaining Balances on Prepaid Gift Cards</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards consumer finance credit card insurance credit cards debit cards fees finance charges truth in lending act Fri, 22 Jun 2007 23:31:23 +0000 Julie Rains 770 at http://www.wisebread.com