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Don't Get Fooled: Opt Out of Opting In

Should you opt out, opt in, opt in to opting out, or opt out of opting in?

So many choices!  But when it comes to over-the-limit fees, there's only one answer in my mind— opting out.

One of the major provisions in the CARD Act of 2009 is that banks will no longer be able to charge over-the-limit fees unless customers choose to be allowed to make purchases in excess of their credit limits.  So, you will have the right to "opt out" of over-the-limit fees, which are often as high as $39, by simply telling your bank you would rather live within your credit limit.

CFPA Gets the Green Light

Despite a great deal of opposition from big-business lobbyists and right-wing politicians, the Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA) has moved one step closer to seeing the light of day. The House Financial Services Committee, led by Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.), approved the CFPA's creation last Thursday and will now send the bill on to the full House.  And while the legislation is definitely a more watered-down version than others introduced earlier this year, its supporters, including President Obama, seem quite pleased with the progress so far.

Pay Up or Forget About Paying with Plastic

Have you ever thought about how much you would pay to keep your credit card? Years of no annual fees, favorable grace periods, and reasonable interest rates probably kept you from pondering such a question.

Recurring Transfers: Will Your New Bank Drop the Ball?

Juggling balls I used to have an online savings account with a popular national bank. Now, my account is with a different bank I happen to despise due to several poor customer service experiences. Of course, I didn't choose to take my business to this new bank. My old bank happened to tank in grand fashion and its competitor gobbled it up before things got even worse. I should just be happy that all is well and my savings are safe, right?

Early Adoption of the Credit CARD Act?

senate Barney Frank, Chair of the House Financial Services Committee, and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) are tired of waiting for their new bill to take effect. In fact, last week they announced new legislation that would move the effective date for the remaining provisions of the Credit CARD Act from next February to Dec. 1, 2009 - exactly two months from today. In a press release issued by the House Financial Services Committee on 9/24, Maloney claimed that "credit card companies are taking advantage of this period between the signing of the bill and the current effective date." There's no doubt about that. As you may have experienced yourself, millions of consumers have been forced to deal with reduced credit limits and interest rate hikes averaging 20% ever since the bill was passed, and Maloney believes the "breadth and depth of the rate hikes happening now point to the need for faster consumer protections."

Signs of Life in the Credit Card Industry?

[/caption] While most mailboxes are enjoying a respite from the daily deluge of credit card offers, major credit issuers are clearly still interested in dropping big bucks to pursue one type of consumer - those with top-notch credit and big-time spending habits. I've seen ads everywhere lately for premium credit cards, such as the new Visa Black or Chase Sapphire card, and it's no secret their marketers are hitting mailboxes around the country pretty hard as well. According to a recent press release from Comperemedia, a firm that tracks direct marketing strategies, credit card issuers continued last year's trend into the 2nd quarter of 2009 by cutting their direct mail offers to consumers "as a whole by 8%." However, of the offers that were delivered, they also sent "28% more offers for premium cards than they did the quarter before."

Piggybacking: What's the Deal?

Piggybacking, a technique often used to build credit by paying to become an authorized user of a stranger's credit card account, has been under fire since it first gained widespread popularity in 2007. In practice, the loophole in the credit scoring system works great, which is perhaps why it's ruffled the feathers of so many people that find it unfair and sleazy. Should it really be so easy to dupe the system? Instead of slowly building my credit history one on-time payment after the next, I can simply pay someone to add a credit card with a high credit limit, low balance, and a clean payment history directly to my credit report. And voila - I instantly have stellar credit and thus a higher credit score. Millions of people have benefited from artificially boosting their credit scores this way, and there's no doubt in my mind that many credit repair agencies have made a nice profit from connecting buyers and sellers of trade lines as well.

YoungMoney.com Launches Financial Literacy Challenge

It may come as no surprise to you that financial literacy among our youth is poor. A recent poll found that only 24% of respondents felt they have a decent understanding of personal finances.

5 Things That Don't Affect Credit

The ever-increasing hype over the importance of credit scores has led to a lot of bogus myths about what actually determines them. You’ll be happy to know that what you ate for breakfast or how well you can balance on your left pinky toe while checking your bank statement has absolutely no bearing on this elusive three-digit number.

In short, there are five key factors that are used to calculate your credit score (payment history is the most important of these). But the aim of this particular post is to dispel the rumors about other factors commonly believed to influence your credit score. So here’s a list of five things that have no impact on your credit rating (insert sigh of relief here).

Should I Save or Should I Go?

Photo by Kevin Collins

The US personal savings rate has been in the news a lot recently because Americans seem to be saving more than ever.  According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the personal savings rate reached a 15-year high in May at 6.9%.  This means that for every dollar an American earns, he or she is putting a whopping $0.069 in the bank for a rainy day.

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