If You’ve Got Excellent Credit You’re Entitled to Some Great Perks

Building up a gold standard credit score takes a lot of hard work and meticulous financial planning. So youve definitely earned the financial perks youre now entitled to. These credit card issuers are pulling out all the stops to lure you on board. The Citi Double Cash Card offers 2% cash rewards on all purchases and you get them whether you pay your balance back right away or over time. Theres no annual fee and an APR as low is 12.99% if your credit is great. Capital One Ventures Rewards Card has a pretty enticing offering if you travel a lot: no foreign transaction fees or specific partners, double miles per dollar spent on every purchase and they dont expire. Theres no annual fee for the first year but youll pay $59 per year after that. The Blue Cash Preferred Rewards Card from American Express is a tempting option with 0% APR for first 15 months. Theyll throw in 6% cash back at supermarkets and 3% cash back on gas station and department store purchases. Or if you want the best interest rate possible you can try the Simmons Bank Visa Platinum card. There are no annual or transfer fees and only 7.25% ARP, making it a great one to soak up outstanding debt from any other cards. Having great credit can land you with some really great rewards.

OCBC raises interest rate on 360 account

OCBC Bank is maintaining its battle to draw in deposits by increasing the interest rate on a popular account.

Customers can earn up to 3.25 per cent a year – and more – if certain conditions are met on the 360 account.

OCBC bank previously dangled rates of up to 3.05 per cent for the account.

The changes took effect last Friday.

The new top rate makes OCBCs rate for non-fixed deposits among the highest offered by banks here. DBS multiplier account for instance, offers interest rates of 1.08 to 2.08 per cent on the first $50,000.

OCBC last Wednesday introduced two new categories for consumers to achieve additional interest.

The first new category gives an additional 1 per cent interest – on top of the base rate of 0.05 per cent – if the consumer buys eligible financial products such as endowment plans with an annual premium of at least $8,000, and unit trusts or structured deposits of at least $40,000.

The second new category gives another 1 per cent interest on the incremental balance between the current month and the previous month.

Mr Ling Seng Chuan, OCBCs head of deposits, said the bank hopes to encourage financial planning with the new categories.

Statistics in Singapore have shown time and again that Singaporeans do not save and invest enough for their retirement.

With the new bonus categories, customers should no longer hesitate to act on the fundamental principles of financial planning – save, protect and invest.

The bank said it achieved a double-digit, month-on-month growth in the past six months for the account, and demand came from emerging affluent customers wanting more out of their main operating account.

Those who credit their salary to the account will also get an additional 1.2 per cent interest, compared with 1 per cent previously.

The maximum account balance that can earn additional interest rates has increased from $50,000 to $60,000.

The account used to work in a different manner. It had a base interest rate of 0.05 per cent paid for balances of up to $200,000.

There were three ways to earn an extra 1 per cent interest – on the salary, bill payments and credit card spending – for the first $50,000 in the account.

If a bank customer credited a salary of at least $2,000 a month to his account, he earned an additional 1 per cent interest, for instance.

Paying at least three bills a month from the account used to earn an additional 1 per cent too.

The idea is that more interest will be paid for each condition that is met.

On April 1, customers were told that for bill payments or credit card spending, the rates would be revised to 0.5 per cent, effectively tightening the terms.

The bank had also raised the monthly minimum spending on credit cards to $500 from $400 to be eligible for the additional interest.

The changes have made it tougher for consumers to achieve a higher interest rate on the account, but the bank remains convinced of the products popularity.

rachaelb@sph.com.sg

This article was first published on May 3, 2015.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.

Scott Keyes reveals his top tips on how YOU can travel the world for free

Stock up flyer miles through credit cards

Keyes recommends credit cards are the best way to go if you want to quickly and easily rack up frequent flyer miles, which you can then use to take free flights. 

He only sign up for cards with high sign-up bonuses and relatively low spending thresholds necessary to get those.

For example, a card he just got gave 50,000 bonus points for spending $1,000 in three months. 

The writer makes a point of putting all everyday spending on credit cards in order to hit these spending thresholds.

(Unfortunately, this is mostly true for American travellers; European credit cards and elsewhere tend to offer fairly meagre perks.) 

As long as you can handle credit responsibly and treat your credit card like a debit card, you can work towards a surprising amount of free travel.

10 Crucial Credit Questions — and the Answers

Luckily for you, weve got answers.

1. How many credit cards should I have?

Ah, this would be the $64,000 question. Some well-known financial gurus would tell you the answer is none. Meanwhile, other card experts say you can have a lot more. Brian Kelly, the Points Guy, says he has up to 20 active accounts open at any given time so he can rack up hotel and airline credits.

However, Adam Levin, founder of our partner site Credit.com, suggests a more middle-of-the-road approach. He suggests having two cards a rewards credit card for everyday use and a low-interest card to be used for emergencies.

From our Solutions Center: Help with credit card debt

Why not have just one good all-purpose card? Mainly because youll want to earn rewards from your purchases, but airline, gas and cash-back cards tend to have higher interest rates. Thats fine as long as youre paying off your balance each month.

But when the water heater says No more and your savings account says Yeah, right, youll want a low-interest credit card waiting in the wings. You dont want to carry a balance on a high-interest rewards card.

2. Should I carry a balance?

Heck, no!

Unless youre self-financing a purchase or dealing with an emergency situation, paying credit card interest is just plain dumb.

Some people believe you need to carry a balance for your credit score to benefit, but thats not really the case. You can read this article to learn more about why no balance is needed to boost your score.

3. What exactly is my credit score and how is it calculated?

Speaking of credit scores, some people are a little hazy on what they are and how they are calculated.

While several different companies create credit scores, the one most likely to influence your access to credit and interest rates is your FICO score.

Your main FICO score runs from 300 to 850, and companies use it to decide how well you manage credit and how likely you are to pay them back after borrowing. The higher the score, the more trustworthy you appear to creditors.

The score is created and weighted with this information:

  • Payment history  35 percent.
  • Amounts owed  30 percent.
  • Length of credit history  15 percent.
  • New credit 10 percent.
  • Types of credit used  10 percent.

FICO doesnt say what constitutes a good or bad credit score. However, typically, if your score is below 600, youre probably viewed as risky business. A score above 800 will generally get you the best interest rates and terms.

For more information, read our article on credit score fact and fiction.

4. How often should I check my credit score?

Levin suggests looking at your credit score frequently.

Some credit card companies and banks now provide credit scores free as part of their customers monthly statement.

If your bank or card isnt providing scores for free, you may have to wait until either a creditor denies you or you pay FICO for the information.

Once you get a look at that magic number, you may want to take this advice on how to raise your score quickly.

5. Im ready to ditch my debt. Do I pay off the card with higher interest or a higher balance first?

The answer to this question also rests largely on which financial guru you ask.

Some argue you should start with the smallest balance. Quickly paying off that account can give you the momentum needed to keep on a debt diet.

However, if you look at it from a purely financial standpoint, it is better to start with the highest-interest card. Paying off the high-interest card first usually saves the most money.

6. Should I co-sign a card for a friend or family member?

Absolutely not.

Co-signing for a card or loan puts you on the hook for the balance in the event a friend or family member stops paying. Or if the borrower makes late payments  which you may never know  it could also negatively affect your credit score.

You may protest: But I know that wouldnt happen. They are really good people!

Im sure they are, but sometimes even good people make poor money decisions. Or life takes a turn you didnt expect. Rhonda knows all about that.

Bottom line: You shouldnt co-sign unless youre ready and able to assume the debt as your own in the event your co-signer  for whatever reason  cant pay.

7. When should my child get her or his first credit card?

Probably not until he or she has a real job and some emergency savings.

Children must have their own money before they start using someone elses cash, so a steady job is a must. A work-study gig in the campus cafeteria for three months doesnt cut it either.

Emergency savings help ensure that the child doesnt get sucked into using a credit card for every minor crisis or shopping whim. Students need to get into the habit of saving before they perfect the habit of spending.

Educate your children on smart credit habits, hope it sinks in and refuse to co-sign any applications for them.

8. Should I close the account on a credit card I no longer use?

If you are concerned about your credit score, Stacy Johnson suggests it may be best to keep your credit card account open.

You also may be interested to hear what FICO says on the subject: We never recommend closing a credit card for the sole purpose of raising your FICO score.

9. Is it ever smart to pay an annual fee?

For most people, the answer is no, although you may need to do a little math to figure out whats best for you.

You see, there are plenty of great credit cards that are fee-free. That means typical cardholders probably shouldnt be paying for the privilege of charging their purchases.

However, if youre a heavy user, it may make sense to splurge on a card with a fee. A few years back, I interviewed a frequent flier who told me he happily paid somewhere in the ballpark of $400 annually for his premier airline card. It was money well-spent because it included a sky club membership valued at somewhere around $700 per year.

He would have bought that membership anyway, which meant he was saving money before he spent a single cent on the card.

Look at the rewards you earn versus the annual fee and see if the card pays off. Be realistic, though. Dont calculate in the value of perks youll never use when deciding if the annual fee is worthwhile.

10. I made mistakes and destroyed my good credit. Should I get a credit card to rebuild it?

Maybe.

If youve ruined your credit, you need to do a little soul searching before filling out a credit card application.

Yes, using a card responsibly may help you improve your credit. At the same time, it could just dig you a deeper hole if having plastic makes you lose all spending self-discipline.

A secured credit card is one way to test the waters. Or there are other ways to rebuild credit without a card.

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Like this article? Sign up for our newsletter and well send you a regular digest of our newest stories, full of money saving tips and advice, free! Well also email you a PDF of Stacy Johnsons 205 Ways to Save Money as soon as youve subscribed. Its full of great tips thatll help you save a ton of extra cash. It doesnt cost a dime, so why wait? Click here to sign up now.

Use Your Tax Refund to Boost Your Credit Score Quickly By 50 Points or More

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Youre sitting around waiting for your tax refund, no doubt wondering what you plan to spend it on. But what if we told you that you could buy yourself a better credit score with your tax refund? Its true. So while you might want to treat yourself to something small, blowing your entire tax refund on a belated Christmas gift for yourself isnt the best use of that found money. Heres how you can use your tax refund to help improve your credit score quickly.

Paying Down Debt

Greg Lull, Head of Consumer Insights with Credit Karma, suggests that consumers pay down some or all of their debt with their tax refund. One of the most immediate things you can do is pay down credit card debt, he said. This is because credit utilization — the percent of your available credit youre actually using — is reported almost instantly. Your overall utilization as well as your utilization on each card should be below 30%. So pay down any card thats over 30% until its under, and youre going to see an improvement in your credit score the very next time your credit card reports to the agencies. Anecdotally, Lull saw a 50-point increase by making one big lump sum payment. Thats quite the investment in yourself.

Use the Right Credit Card for Uber Rides, Get Extra Rewards

Ditched cabs for Uber? Then you’ll want to hear this: From now until April 30, 2016, Capital One#174; Quicksilver#174; Cash Rewards Credit Card customers will effectively get a 20% discount on their trips.

But this isn’t the only way to earn bonus rewards with Uber. With the right moves, you could be raking in cash and points with every ride.

Capital One#174; Quicksilver#174; Cash Rewards Credit Card and Uber: The basics

Hopping in an Uber is one of the easiest ways to get around your city, and now it will get a little cheaper with the Capital One#174; Quicksilver#174; Cash Rewards Credit Card. All you have to do is link the card to your Uber account and use it to pay for your rides. In one to two billing cycles, you’ll get a statement credit for 20% of the price of the trips. This means that a $50 Uber trip to, say, the airport will cost you only $40 when all is said and done, if you use the Capital One#174; Quicksilver#174; Cash Rewards Credit Card to pay.

This discount is on top of the usual 1.5% cash back you’ll score just for using the card (which is the earn rate on all purchases, Uber and otherwise). Since the Capital One#174; Quicksilver#174; Cash Rewards Credit Card charges an annual fee of $0, it’s definitely one of the most cost-effective options for paying for your trips.

If you’re not currently using Uber, but have a debit or credit card from Capital One, you’re also in luck. If you sign up for the ridesharing service using your qualifying Capital One card as the payment method, the promo code CAPITALONE will get you your first two rides for free (for rides up to $30 each). You must enter the promo code by June 30, 2015, and complete your free rides by April 30, 2016.

Average credit? You can still take advantage of this promotion

The Capital One#174; Quicksilver#174; Cash Rewards Credit Card is one of the Nerds’ favorite cash-back cards, but you have to have good or excellent credit to qualify for it. Luckily, it does come in another flavor for people with average credit.

Like its good-credit counterpart, the Capital One#174; QuicksilverOne#174; Cash Rewards Credit Card earns unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase. You can redeem your rewards at any time and in any amount. However, it doesn’t have a sign-up bonus and it charges an annual fee of $39, making it different from the Capital One#174; Quicksilver#174; Cash Rewards Credit Card in some respects.

By most measures, the Capital One#174; QuicksilverOne#174; Cash Rewards Credit Card is one of the best options out there for consumers with average credit, especially because cardholders are eligible to get the 20% statement credit on Uber rides until April 30, 2016, too.

Other ways to earn extra rewards with Uber

Capital One customers aren’t the only folks who can earn big rewards on their Uber rides. Members of the Starwood Preferred Guest program who link their SPG and Uber accounts online and complete a qualifying SPG stay each calendar year will earn 1 Starpoint per dollar spent with the ridesharing service. Also, you’ll earn more Starpoints if you use Uber during an SPG stay. For the exact number of points, see this resource.

Plus, you could earn even more Starpoints per ride if you have the Starwood Preferred Guest#174; Credit Card from American Express. With it, customers earn 1 Starpoint per dollar spent with the card, and up to 5 Starpoints per dollar spent at Starwood hotels and resorts. Happily, you can stack the points you’re earning for linking your SPG and Uber accounts with the points you’re earning for using the card. This means you could be getting 2 Starpoints for each dollar you spend with Uber if you opt to pay for your rides with the Starwood Preferred Guest#174; Credit Card from American Express.

For folks who love their Starpoints and use Uber frequently, this is an easy way to rack up bonus rewards. But the SPG promotion doesn’t require you to use the Starwood Preferred Guest#174; Credit Card from American Express to earn Starpoints on each ride, so you could also consider a double-dipping approach:

  • Link your SPG and Uber accounts to earn 1 Starpoint per dollar spent on each ride (as long as you’ve completed the qualifying stay first).
  • Use your Capital One#174; Quicksilver#174; Cash Rewards Credit Card or Capital One#174; QuicksilverOne#174; Cash Rewards Credit Card as the payment method to get the 20% statement credit.

This way, you’ll be earning Starpoints and getting a 20% statement credit on each ride. Talk about a winning strategy!

Lindsay Konsko is a staff writer covering credit cards and consumer credit for NerdWallet. Follow her on Twitter @lkonsko and on Google+.

Image via iStock.

Personal finance: Credit card advice for new arrivals

Newbies when you arrive here, not in debt but contemplating credit cards or loans, simply because they seem irresistible, take heed.

As expatriates coming from western countries where securing credit approval is under an extreme microscope, where the sytem is as old as the hills, where there is zero leverage, where you are very stringently rated and where if you want credit you need to give your 10 apples to secure 1 apple, take heed of the attractive credit facility offers that almost leave you salivating, in a state of unbelief, unable to succumb the temptation.

My advice is if you arrive here debt-free, keep it that way because you dont need to buy stuff you dont need with money you dont have.

Unless you are disciplined, you really wish to invest in some form of asset that will yield a return on your investment (ROI), dont do it, because you will get yourself into the spending habit and then there is no turning back. Its very hard to get out of deep debt.

Keep your goal in focus, ie most of us come here to go abroad for a better life, to save money , repay our debts back home and elevate our financial stability for ourselves and the comfort of our loved ones, ie a brighter future. So let me share with you this is the only country in the world where there is lsquo;the power of money, means you can earn good money, save it, build a comfortable life, acquire excellent assets and reaise your dream, but only if you are wise and take advice from those who made grave mistakes and did not respect these positive factors.

If you dont have money for that special item you are dreaming about, then you just dont have it. You must learn to save for it, rather than being tempted by lsquo;free this and free that because 9 times out of 10, you do not repay the full balance monthly on your credit cards. Maybe the 1st few payments yes, then the novelty wears off, then you apply for more credit and soon avoiding that inevitable interest by repaying the full dues, you just cannot make the cycle and here the problem starts setting in…

Going to sleep at night with not a care in the world that a creditor will be calling you at 8am for overdue payments, is the best feeling in the world, including being saturated with fear each time your phone rings because it will probably be a creditor where you dont have the money, so you simply dont have a fixed committment to make, so you dont take the call. Not taking the calls means you could lose a prospective client opportunity whether employed or self-employed.

It happens to 90 per cent of people but you are in control, you always have been so if you can prevent the debt situation from day one, then do it, for you.

Debt is not a bad thing at all if you really know you can meet your commitments, otherwise dont gamble with your life as its not worth the pain and torment you suffer in the end.
It ages you overnight to live in worry, stress, negativity, adversity and fear and at the end it robs you of a good life.

It could also rob you of your entire life, which means another 5 years extra to suffer pain and endure to repay your debt, or you may just take the easiest option, which is to shirk your responsibility and not take ownership.

The saying lsquo;you can run but you cant hide is very true, you may be able to hide however your conscience will saturate your being even if you dont have one, because it will dictate you spend the rest of your life looking over your shoulder as you never know…….

Dont delude yourself that creditors will forget about you as economic situations and policies have changed, creditors do want their money repaid, they expect your good faith and if they dont get it, they will initiate measures to recoup their money. Gone are the days you can just assume you can shirk your responsibilities and anyhow why burden yourself with such pain for the rest of your life? Who needs it?

When you have made the decision to apply for a credit facility then ensure it is for a tangible asset that will yield you dividends, something you can liquidate if ever you need finance in the future.

Applying for credit for a vacation is irresponsible if you cannot repay the debt, because if you cannot afford it, then you dont need to impress anyone to spend the money you dont have on the vacation. Stay at home, get a hobby, occupy yourself and learn to enjoy the small things in life that you are passionate about.

Even when planning to save money, plan a thrifty series of outings for yourself or family that is local, does not cost too much money, a small vacation you can afford that will foster happiness and fulfilment.

Spending loads of money you dont have on trips can be shallow and hollow where you derive zero enjoyment and regret only sets in once you return home and admit it was a waste. Then you are faced with repaying that vacation.

Stop being impulsive when you see everything and simply grow urges to buy them with your plastic. When you use plastic, ensure you can repay your full outstanding balance on the due date, not one day later.

Maintaining a debt free life in the beginning with so many temptations can be a hard task but soon you would have conditioned yourself and the moment you see something you want, you will get a message to your brain that you dont have the money lsquo;wait, you can buy it in 2 months or so and you will be comfortable with that assurance.

Trust me, I am speaking of experience because that very good habit soon just engrains itself into your being and you simply will not be able to just be a spend-thrift again.

If you are considering debt and you just started a new job, speak to colleagues, set to meet with your HR and ask them, ask friends, ask around and once you find all the advice you will see my advice is true.

There are many suffering in deep debt, with huge regrets, however it will take another 5years of their lives to see the sun of being debt free so its your choice to opt for credit if you dont take advice.

You see, you create your own reality, not the creditors or the people who offered you the lsquo;unbelievable irresistable offers, because at the end of the day, it was your decision, so nobody else is too blame but yourself, when you find yourself facing a debt crisis.

[Note 1: Theda Muller is a UAE-based author of two books: Embrace Financial Freedom Volume One: 10 Proven Ways To Release Debt And Emotional Fears In Todays Economy, and Volume Two: Releasing Fear And Bouncing Back From A Debt Crisis.
She also conducts webinars and workshops on debt recovery.]

[Note 2: The views expressed are the authors own and do not reflect in any way, the views of Emirates 24|7. Readers are advised to carry out their own due diligence before taking any decision.]

Homepage image via Shutterstock

2 simple ways to improve your credit score

PHOENIX – When youre on the wrong end of the credit score range, raising it can seem impossible.

But there are some simple ways to quickly get it moving in the right direction.

Paying your bills on time and reducing debt are some of the most obvious solutions.

But something else to consider: asking to have your credit limits raised.

The math is simple–the more unused credit you have, the better your score will be.

If you have a history of paying on time and have been a customer for a while, many credit card companies will do it without much hassle.

Its a call worth making because the worst they can do is say no.

Paying by the due date is also important.

But it wont show on your report until your creditor actually tells the credit bureaus that you paid.

So calling to find out the date that notification happens, and making payments before it hits could give your score an even quicker boost.

Some companies report monthly, but others only do it quarterly.

Which means even if you pay off a loan today, it may not show on your report for another three months.

Correcting mistakes on your credit report is crucial to raising your score–even accounts that have not been reported but are in good standing.

If there is an account that you have a positive payment history with that is not included on your report, ask the company to start reporting it.

Good payment history can only help you.

And are you shopping around for a car loan or mortgage?

Any time your credit report is pulled is a hard inquiry, and having too many is sure to pull your score down.

A way to avoid being penalized for shopping around is by doing it within a short period time.

Typically hard inquiries within 14 days, for the same type of loan are counted as one.

What do you think?  Let me know on via e-mail , a tweet , or like the Let Joe Know Facebook page and tell me about it there

If you need my help, Call 1-855-323-1515.

You can also sign up here for our monthly newsletter to find out the latest consumer trends and how to avoid scams.