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Credit Card Guide

January 29, 2009
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Credit Card Guide: How to Keep Those Rewards

All those miles, points and rebates that inspired you to spend hundreds and display responsible payment habits may wave you last goodbye. Now you have to get really creative about keeping and cashing in what's left from the previous year.

The latest currency devaluation cracked banks' credit card business more painfully than ever and they do not hesitate to pass the pain over to their customers. You can expect further reduction in the amount of rewards to be redeemed, toughening of requirements and even abolishment of some programs. If you can't bare the possibility of losing your money, make use of this credit card guide. We've looked into the major rewards programs changes to take place in 2009, so you can make your arrangements before you find yourself at a loose end.

So, if you have a frequent flyer card, you'll see the increase in the number of miles required for a free flight. New restrictions may apply which means fewer credit card applications available, limited choice of destinations, shorter expiration dates and the like. Keep in mind that airlines may go bankrupt any moment. If you store a substantial number of miles or points, say tens of thousands of them, hurry up to cash them in. Why wait for something bigger when you could have your share now? Even if it's not enough for a free airline ticket, it's better than nothing - you can add to the value with your pocket cash if you like and get that free air trip. Major card companies that have already introduced alterations in their rewards programs rules are American Express, Capital One and Citibank.

Owners of any rewards card will find it harder to earn rewards due to the slash in credit limits and increase in points and miles thresholds required for redemption.

Credit card limit cuts affect good and bad customers alike. So even if you have excellent score, you're not safe from seeing your available funds reduced by half, at best.

The purpose of our guide is to persuade you to start acting today. Don't wait for a notification letter or an insert into your statement. If you have at least half of the eligible amount, cash it in and add it to your own funds to buy a ticket.

As to the interest rates and fees. Chances are you'll see your 0% APR introductory period going down from 12 months to 6 months and higher fees imposed. For you it means you have to speed up your debt repayment and exclude any possibility of late payments.

If you plan to apply online for balance transfer now, beware that there is a 3% transfer fee and no fee cap on all cards. So estimate all the gain and risks before you consolidate the debt.

The forecast of a credit card being available only to the upper class has extraordinary tendency to become reality. If it is so, it'll take a long time to root itself. So, take this time to reap the benefits that legally belong to you under your card agreement.

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  • Larry
    With the Virgin / Barclaycard signature offer, there seems to be some consumer deception or maybe even outright fraud goin on.   I decided to jump on this offer..  read all the info on it..  was approved for their platinum card, paid the fee, then was only awarded 10,000 points instead of the advertised 20,000.   When i inquired about the less than advertised bonus points, Barclaycard claims only Signiture Visa cardmembers get the 20,000..  as a platinum cardholder, you don't qualify for that level of bonus, so you get 10k instead.   Well, in their current ongoing promotions, it states plain as day that....    Applicants approved for the Visa Signature or Platinum Card with $49 annual fee will receive 20,000 Bonus Points awarded to your Virgin America Rewards Account at the close of the first billing statement in which you make your first purchase or balance transfer (that is not returned or rescinded) and have paid the Annual Fee on the account (and such fee is not rescinded). They don't mention anything about a separate program for platinum cardholders..  However, trying to get someone to resolve this issue with either Virgin or Barclaycard seems to be rather impossible.. Seems to me they're simply drawing people in with the fraudulent offer, then simply saying, oh, we're sorry you don't qualify..  but thanks for signing up for our garbage credit card with insane fees..   
  • CreditLandCom
    Thank you for sharing your experience with us. We have reviewed this offer and you are correct, nowhere it is mentioned that 20,000 Bonus can become a 10,000 Bonus all of a sudden... We will mention this in our review of this card so others can make an informed decision. Another way to get Virgin miles is to get an American Express charge card: The Business Gold Rewards Card® now offers 50,000 Miles, though you do have to spend $5,000 in the first three months of card membership to get it. It also has $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $175. http://www.credit-land.com/details/the-business-gold-rewards-card-from-american-express-open.php Premier Rewards Gold Card now offers 25,000 Miles, though you do have to spend $2,000 during your first three months of Card membership. It also has annual fee of $0 for the first year, then $175. http://www.credit-land.com/details/american-express-premier-rewards-gold-card.php While we do not know If any of these offers make sense to you, we are at least sure that you will get advertised bonus in full if you decide to get them... Conversion rates for Virgin America are: 100 Elevate Points = 200 Membership Rewards® Points All the best.
  • Deborah Ellsworth
     would very much like to start a new credit history  by making payments on time I would tohave a credit card that is NOT PREPAYID! I don't need a card with a high limit just something to start a new credit history. Thank You Deborah Ellsworth
  • Deborah Ellsworth
    I would very much like to start a new credit line to get back on track. I DO NOT WANT A PREPAID CARD!! This new credit card if I am approved does not have to hace a high limit just something for me to start over again and prove myself ThankYou. D Ellsworth
  • Miss Edna
    there is a huge problem with the RFIP chip: it is easily compromised. There are already 'readers' in the form of what looks like a cellphone in a case, that scans all the info in the chip by merely walking near a person -- this 'reader' penetrates leather, cloth, spandex, etc. The only thing it will NOT penetrate is METAL. Perhaps one has seen commercials touting metal credit card cases. Here is my hint for a free fix: cut a piece of aluminum foil or use the foil that is used to keep foods fresh, like coffee. Cut it so that when folded once, it forms a sleeve for your credit card. place the credit card in the sleeve, then place the sleeve in your wallet.
  • Robin Parks
    I am looking to apply for the AARP Visa signature card from Chase that offers $100 after spend $500 in first 3 months, no annual fee and 0% interest first year; I don't want to mail in offer because of having to write in Social security #. Can you direct me to the proper on-line site?
  • CreditLandCom
    The Chase bank cards are not currently available at Credit-Land.com, but you can consider applying for the Citi® Dividend Platinum Select® Visa® Card - $100 Cash Back. The cards has similar terms and cash back program.
  • Becky
    This is Becky Now what do I do just waqit for acard to come to me?
  • CreditLandCom
    Once you have applied, you should receive a letter within 10 business days letting you know if you were approved and when your card will arrive. If you did not receive any letter or notification from the issuer, you should contact them directly. Also, you should contact the issuer if you’ve been waiting for your credit card longer than 30 days. Since we are not a bank and don’t issue credit cards, we cannot give you any information about your application or credit card.
  • SavingStar
    Thank you for posting about SavingStar. Just to clarify one sentence in your article, we have over 5 million members (not 500). Thanks, Josh
  • CreditLandCom
    Sorry for the misprint. We’ve corrected the sentence. Thank you for noticing that.
  • Eric
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