Sunday, 28 July 2013

Credit card processing

It comes as a surprise how credit cards have found their way into our lives (and out wallet). Credit cards have gradually turned into becoming a necessity (rather than luxury). You can find credit card processing machines in almost all the shops today. With the advent of internet, online credit card processing has become popular too. ‘Credit card processing’ as such is a really interesting topic. This article tries to put into perspective the people, systems and the equipment that go into credit card processing.

First, let’s check the equipments used for credit card processing. So, there are credit card processing softwares for online credit card processing, there are credit card processing machines (i.e. the credit card reading machines at shops), there are data verification/validation devices/softwares that verify the security information on credit cards, there are communication devices/systems that enable safe transfer of credit card information from one point to another, and then there are other credit card processing equipments like the credit card processing equipment that is used for the preparation of the actual plastic (credit card).  

Then there are various service providers that provide services related to credit card processing. There are suppliers for credit card processing equipment and suppliers for online credit card processing services. Then there are postal and courier service that help deliver credit card bills in time. There are merchants/petrol-bunks etc which provide facility of payment collection boxes at their premises (another important aspect of credit card processing). 

Besides that there are complete systems for processing credit card applications, there are systems for credit card bill processing/generation, there are people at call centres who help in addressing the queries from credit card holders and, very importantly, there are people (sales representatives) who help you in filling the credit card application forms. Another important entity with regards to ‘credit card processing’ process is the credit rating bureaus. Credit card bureaus maintain a database of credit ratings for individuals and businesses. This rating is based on the data received from various credit providers over a period of time. This rating is the most important part of credit card application processing and a bad rating can lead to rejection of the credit card application altogether. 

Thus, credit card processing involves a coordinated effort from a lot of professionals and service providers. In that sense, we can also say that credit card processing is an industry in itself that has generated a lot of employment.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Credit card debt

Credit card debt

‘Credit card debt’ is a much discussed topic in the commercial and social circles. A big section of the population has been bit by this bug called ‘credit card debt’. Can’t blame them much; as such, it’s pretty easy to fall prey to this bug. 

The main reason behind so many credit card casualties (rather credit card debt related casualties) is that many people don’t understand the concept of credit cards properly. They treat credit card as free money that is never to be returned. Thus all the discipline, which would otherwise have been exercised with spending hard-earned money, goes for a toss.  That means people overspend and get into credit card debt. They keep spending till they reach the credit limit on their credit card. Some people go to the extent of treating that like a game and consider it a defeat (or consider their credit card under utilised) if they don’t hit the credit limit quick enough. These unnecessary spends result in a situation where they are not able to payback their credit card bills and end up paying interest on the amount they owe. This keeps building up their credit card debt and they soon find that the interest component has become a regular feature in their monthly expenses and it is there even if they spend nothing on their credit card. That is credit card debt on the prowl. Soon they find that their current credit card can no longer handle their needs and start looking to get another credit card. With the new power of credit, they let themselves loose again and follow a ‘shop till you drop’ routine. Soon the credit limit of the new credit card is reached too and they again default on payments. This is how credit card debt builds. Soon they learn about credit card debt consolidation and other credit card debt elimination techniques. They are quick to grab such credit card debt reduction techniques, but that’s not because they are serious about reducing their credit card debt but because of the attractive low APR offers. As if it were booty, they again get back to building up their credit card debt. All the while they are spoiling their credit card rating and they soon realise that no one is ready to lend them money because of their credit history. They can only get a secured credit card now (where you first deposit money into your credit account and then only you get the privilege of spending it (50-100% of it) using their credit card. Credit card debt collection agencies, auction of their goods and bankruptcy is the next thing that hits them and their dream run is blown away in a moment.

The moral of the story – “Understand the concept of credit cards and treat credit card debt with all seriousness”.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Credit card debt consolidation

Credit card debt is a nightmare of a problem and unfortunately there a lot of people who face this today (and if others don’t pay heed, they might get trapped into credit card debt too). Credit card debt consolidation is generally regarded as the most important step in credit card debt reduction and elimination. 

So what is ‘Credit card debt consolidation’?

Credit card debt consolidation is the process/strategy to consolidate debt from multiple credit cards into lesser number of credit cards (ideally one or two credit cards). Credit card debt consolidation is sometimes also referred as a balance transfer where you transfer your balance on one credit card to another credit card. Generally, the balance transfer (or credit card debt consolidation) is done from credit cards with higher APR to credit cards with lower APR. Credit card debt consolidation can also be achieved by going for a bank loan (at a lower interest rate) and using that towards paying the debt on the higher APR credit cards. This loan is then paid-back to the bank in the form of monthly instalments. 

As you would have noticed, a lot of credit card suppliers and banks keep coming out with attractive offers for Credit card debt consolidation (or balance transfers). There is no dearth of 0% APR offers for credit card debt consolidation. However, credit card debt consolidation is a serious exercise and you must exercise caution so that you don’t get into deeper trouble. When going for credit card debt consolidation, you must properly analyze the offers from various banks and credit card suppliers. Check the time period for which 0% APR is being offered and also the APR that would be applicable after the lapse of that period. Generally, 0%APR is valid for a 6-12 month period only. So, if you are confident of paying back a considerable amount of debt in that period, this kind of credit card debt consolidation will work for you even if the APR (post 0% period) is a bit higher.  However, if that is not the case, the long term APR is going to be the most important thing for you. If the long term APR is more than the APR for your current credit card, this kind of Credit card debt consolidation will be futile for you. Also, check processing charges etc before you actually go for balance transfer or credit card debt consolidation with another supplier/bank. Another good idea is to check with your current credit card supplier and see if they can offer a lower APR to you in order to help you in clearing off your debt (you would be surprised that they do oblige at times and hence eliminate the need for credit card debt consolidation).

It’s important that, with credit card debt consolidation, you also inculcate good spending habits; otherwise credit card debt consolidation would really be of no use to you.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Consolidate credit card

Consolidate credit card debt

People who are in debt (credit card debt) often get to hear this advice ‘Consolidate credit card debt’. So, what does that ‘Consolidate credit card debt’ mean? Well, pretty simply, ‘Consolidate credit card debt’ means consolidating the debt on various credit cards into one (or two) credit card. This consolidation can be done either through a low interest bank loan or by transferring balance to a new credit card (i.e. transferring the amount you owe, on one or more credit card, to a new credit card(s)).

So what should you do when you are looking to consolidate credit cards? Well, the key thing to look for is the APR or the annual percentage rate. Whatever method you adopt to consolidate credit cards, APR will always be the key; in fact, you could say that it is the sole criteria to look for. So, if you use a bank loan to consolidate credit card debt, the interest rate on the bank loan should be lower than the APR of the credit cards whose debt you are consolidating. Similarly, if you are moving to another credit card, you must make sure that the APR of the new credit card is lesser than the credit cards whose debt you are consolidating. However, there is a catch that you must be aware of when laying a plan to consolidate credit card debt. The APR rates advertised by most credit card suppliers are the short term APR rates which are meant to lure you to consolidate credit card debt with them. By short term we mean APR rates that will applicable only for an initial period of less than 12 months or some other period after which the APR rates increase. When you go on to consolidate credit card debt with these credit card suppliers, they will offer you a lower (even 0%) APR for the first 6-12 months; and a much higher APR after that. You should check what this higher APR rate is. Your decision to consolidate credit card debt will be fruitful only if the new APR rate is lower than or equal to the APR on your current credit card. You might check with your current credit card supplier to see if he is able to lower your APR (if that works, it will make things really easy for you).

Before you move on to consolidate credit card debt you should understand that consolidating credit card debt will be beneficial only if you pledge to adopt and follow disciplined approach to credit card usage i.e. controlled spending and regular/timely payment of credit card dues.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Chase credit card

Chase credit cards

Credit cards have become almost a necessity in today’s world. There are hordes of credit card suppliers who issue thousands of credits cards every day. Chase (of the JPMorgan group) are a well known credit card supplier. Chase credit cards are pretty popular among the masses.   

Chase credit cards come with various different benefits and accordingly chase credit cards are classified into various categories. There are general purpose chase credit cards which promise great rates and excellent service. Then there are chase credit cards for people who shop regularly with some retailers. These are termed as rebate cards since they offer rebates on shopping when you shop with certain retailers. These also offer cash rewards. There are entertainment credit cards for people who wish to get VIP access to some concerts, events etc. 

Another category of chase credit cards is the travel cards where the credit card holders get travel related discounts and rewards. This category of chase credit cards is very suitable for people who travel a lot. Yet another set of chase credit cards is grouped as auto and gas cards which offer rebates and rewards on everyday purchases. Retail cards are another kind of chase credit cards where you receive points on purchases made using this chase credit card. These points can then be redeemed for shopping certificates, entertainment etc. For students, there is a separate breed of chase credit cards which is called student cards. These student cards help the students in building a (good) credit history and also offer some special benefits for students. Similarly there are college & university alumni cards for supporting your alma mater. There is another set of chase credit cards that operate on similar lines. These chase credit cards are called ‘cards to support organizations’. The organization can be something like a charity or any other organization that you want to support. Then there are military cards that are meant for the members of military (both past and present). You can support your favourite teams or sporting organizations by getting a sports card. Finally, there are business cards which can be used by businesses for organizing their expenses, availing low interest rates and getting other benefits related to business. 

Thus chase offers a lot of different credit cards which cater to the different needs of various people. By comparing the features of these chase credit cards and by understanding the main objective behind them, one can easily zero-in on the chase credit card that is best suited to ones needs. 

Note: The information given in this article was correct at the time it was written. However, the author does not guarantee the correctness and completeness of this information at any time. 

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Apply online for credit card

Is it ok to apply online for credit card?

With the fast pace of our everyday lives, we don’t have time for anything really. This is where the combined power of commerce and technology comes in. The capability to apply online for a credit card is one such example. Yes, you can apply online for a credit card. The revolution behind providing you with the ability to ‘apply online for credit card’ is called ‘internet’.  You can not only apply online for credit card but also use your credit card to do online shopping (and get the goods delivered to your door at no extra cost compared to the local store). 

So, it is possible to apply online for a credit card. To apply online for credit card, you just have to fill-in an application form that is presented to you on the website of the credit card supplier (who provides the capability to apply online for credit card). This application form is very similar to the one you would have filled-in in person – the details asked are same and the processing of the application is same too. You will find that a lot credit card companies encourage you to apply online for credit card. This is because they save on the costs related to salary of representatives, paper, etc. Moreover, when you apply online for credit card, your details can smoothly flow into the database of the credit card supplier i.e. the manual intervention is minimal when you apply online for credit card. This will in turn lead to faster processing of your application. Though it is not necessarily true, if you apply online for credit card, your credit card might reach you much faster. Moreover, if you apply online for credit card, you save on all the time and hassle associated with approaching a credit card company etc etc. You can compare the credit cards (again online) before you apply online for credit card.

Some people don’t like to apply online for credit card. The main reason is their discomfort in giving out the personal information online. One quick check, before you apply online for credit card, is to see if the website address of the page (where you are required to enter your details) starts with ‘https’. ‘Https’ indicates that it’s a secure website (you might also check if the security certificate is provided by a reputed organisation e.g. Verisign). If you don’t see an https, you should not apply online for credit card of that company.  Besides that, some people don’t apply online for credit card because they are not comfortable in filling up the form all by themselves. In such a case, you might either not apply online for credit card (and apply in person instead); or you might just go through the form, note down your questions/problems and seek the answers by calling the customer service centre of the credit card company.

So, applying online for credit card is surely a good option.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Credit card rate

All about credit card rate 

What’s the thing that is most prominent on any credit card ad? Well, it’s the credit card rate (or the APR, as we know it). The credit card rate is the most publicized thing in the world of credit cards. A lot of people just compare the credit card rate of various credit cards and just go for the one that is offering the lowest credit card rate (or APR). Credit card rates are, in fact, one of the most important factors in the selection of a credit card (though not the only factor). Therefore, a proper understanding of Credit card rates is even more necessary. 

So, what is a credit card rate or APR? Very simply, credit card rate is the rate of interest that the credit card supplier will charge you with on the amount you owe them. The credit card supplier will charge you an interest only if you don’t make full payments in time.  When you receive your credit card bill, it specifies the full amount you owe the credit card supplier. It also specifies the minimum payment that you must make (by a particular date), in order to avoid incurring a late fee and other inconvenience. You have the option of making either a full payment or just the minimum payment. If you make a full payment (by the due date), you are not charged any interest. However, if you decide to go with the minimum payment or some amount that is lesser than the full amount, the credit card supplier will charge interest based on the credit card rate and the balance amount. This credit card rate is the interest rate that you agreed with them at the time of applying for the credit card. The credit card rate or the annual percentage rate, as is obvious, is an annual interest rate. The credit card suppliers use this annual credit card rate to calculate the monthly credit card rate and then they calculate the interest on the balance amount that you owe them. The balance amount here is simply = Full amount – (payment made by you). This interest is added to your balance for the next month (at the time of next billing cycle). If you again make a partial payment, the new balance is calculated again and the credit card rate (monthly one) applied to it for calculation of new interest; and it keeps going on and on until you make the full payment. 

That’s how credit card rate acts in this vicious circle. Hence, credit card rate is termed as the most important consideration in choosing a credit card.