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I have been writing for a couple of years about the large number of people who are ditching their bank account for simpler and lower cost options. In this week's article, I want to share a brand new option- Bluebird. Bluebird is a new account being offered through a joint venture between Wal-Mart and American Express. It is a debit card that provides a simple alternative to a bank checking account. From the Wal-Mart press release - “Our customers tell us that they’re tired of navigating a complex maze of dos and don’ts to avoid the ever growing list of... Read more →

Secured Credit Cards - The Magic Bullet For Raising Your Credit Score

Many Americans have had a very bumpy financial ride through what is now being called, "The Great Recession." One of the casualties many have faced is a bruised credit score. Whether you actually had a foreclosure, or simply went through a loan modification, chances are your credit score was affected. Even a few late credit card payments can destroy years of good credit management. There is a great tool that I have recommended for years that can be used to quickly rebuild damaged credit. This is how I restored my own credit after bankruptcy. I learned very quickly, that even... Read more →

A Bank Account You May Just Love

I have started to see a number of articles lately about so called SAFE accounts and why they are becoming so popular. What are they? A SAFE account is a simple bank account that provides an ATM/debit card and has no overdraft risk. The account is the product of an FDIC pilot program launched in 2011 to reach the 'unbanked' population. It is called 'SAFE' since its primary purpose is to provide the unbanked a safe place to keep their funds rather than taking the risk involved with operating on a cash only basis. These accounts also save consumers from... Read more →

The Next Robo-Signing Scandal - Credit Cards?

A local judge told the New York Times that 90 percent of credit card lawsuits in his court are flawed, and the credit card company can not prove that the debt is actually owed. The judge went on in the interview to describe the testimony and evidence provided by many credit card companies as tantamount to 'robo-signing' and 'robo-testimony.' This is a reference to the foreclosure scandal and the challenge that many lenders face proving that they own a mortgage on a specific property. Some lenders had employees signing thousands of documents per day attesting to their claim. The employees... Read more →

American Express, once known as a yuppie status symbol, introduced a prepaid debit card this week with hopes of reaching a new demographic. Prepaid debit cards were once considered a financial tool for the lower tier of consumers, but not so much anymore. Many people have made the decision to make life simple and do most (if not all) of their financial transactions using a prepaid debit card. Prepaid debit cards are reloadable cards that can be used anywhere that major credit cards are accepted. They are also convenient to use for using to making online purchases. They are generally... Read more →

Final Phase Of New Credit Card Law Takes Effect

President Obama signed major credit card reform into law in March of 2009. The initial elements of the new law were phased in last year. In February, I wrote a comprehensive article addressing many of the details of the new credit card law. This week marks the third and final phase in of the law. 1. Late Payment Fees Late payment fees will generally be capped at $25 and cannot be higher than the minimum required payment. This means that you can’t be hit with a $25 late fee for making a $10 payment late. Under the new rules, consumers... Read more →

The New Credit Card Law

A new law went into effect on Monday of this week to put a stop to what many have called ‘predatory practices’ engaged in by the credit card industry. I have mixed feelings about these kinds of laws. I am very much a Libertarian and believe that the government should not be micro managing private enterprise, but the credit card industry has really gone too far in recent years. The variety of fees they have invented, not to mention interest rates as high as 30 percent, all seem to have pushed Congress over the edge. These changes appear to be... Read more →

The Truth About Settling Credit Card Debt

The idea of a forbearance or a modification on a mortgage has become extremely common. The next financial bubble expected to burst is the credit card market. There are now 1.2 billion credit cards in America today. The total credit card debt owed by Americans is nearly 1 trillion dollars. Today, I will address five major myths about settling credit card debt. Myth # 1 – It Is Easy To Settle Your Credit Card Debt For Less Than You Owe I wish it were true, but easy settlements of credit card debt for pennies on the dollar are extremely unlikely.... Read more →

What Is In The New Credit Card Law For You?

In May of this year, President Obama signed into law The Credit Card Accountability Act. While most of the provisions do not kick in until next year, some became effective this past week. The majority of consumer protections such as limiting when interest rates can be increased, banning universal default and double-cycle billing, and restricting credit cards for minors, among others takes effect Feb. 22, 2010. More than 70% of U.S. households have at least one credit card and more than half of cardholders pay their balance in full every month, according to the Federal Reserve. 1. 45 Day Notice... Read more →

What To Do When A Debt Collector Crosses The Line

Check Out Jim's Latest Podcast At Christian we receive hundreds of e-mails per month from people being pressured by debt collectors. I believe that as Christians we should all pay our debts if we have the ability to do so. In this current economy, however, there are many people that simply can not make their debt payments. Although most Americans are not familiar with it, there is a federal law known as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act that provides a wide array of rights to consumers dealing with collection agencies. There are also laws in most states regulating... Read more →

Rate Jacking - The Latest Scam By Credit Card Companies

Rate Jacking is a popular new term to describe the latest in a long line of unsavory business practices initiated by the credit card industry against consumers. Rate jacking is a sudden and dramatic jump in the interest rate on your credit card. The change in rate may be for no reason at all, or what many would consider to be a very flimsy reason. For example, if you have two cards and are late on one, you may have your rate raised on both cards if they are from the same issuer. Tens of thousands are reporting that with... Read more →

What To Do When You Fall Behind On Your Car Loan or Credit Card Payments

I would have to say that this is probably within the top five questions that come in each day to Christian So, today you are not going to get some useless generic advice, but I am going to give you the real story on what you should do when you fall behind on your auto and credit card payments. I am not going to address mortgages in this article, since that has been done in a variety of other blog articles I have written in recent months. OK, the usual disclaimers so I don’t get those “Jim, I thought... Read more →

7 Ways To Protect Yourself From Credit Card Theft

This past week it was reported that more than 40 million credit card numbers were stolen by computer hackers from some of the nation’s largest retailers including BJ's Wholesale Club, OfficeMax, Boston Market, Barnes & Noble, Sports Authority, TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Forever 21 and DSW. How can you protect yourself from this kind of theft? Under Federal Law you are not responsible for unauthorized charges made to your credit or debit card above $50, but if you read the fine print there are some exceptions. You are obligated to report your card as lost or stolen, here are the word... Read more →

3 Secrets The Credit Industry Does Not Want You To Know

It is interesting how the credit industry continues to suggest that credit scoring is based on a simple process and that all people need to do is to pay make their payments on time and all will be well. If the methodology is so simple, why don’t they come out and tell us how they calculate scores? No, not just a generic template of information, but a detailed breakdown of the credit scoring recipe? Jim’s May 6, 2008 Podcast On Credit Scoring Click Here The truth is that they don’t want us to know, and that is the foundation of... Read more →

Jim, Should I Pay Off And Close My Credit Card Accounts?

I have just received the proceeds from a home equity loan and have been considering paying off my credit cards and closing the accounts. I heard you on the radio suggesting that doing this might hurt a person’s credit score, what should I do? This is one of those questions that I have to be very careful to completely explain myself, so that I am not misquoted later. Yes, paying off your credit cards is not just a good thing, it is a great thing to do! The second step you are planning, closing the accounts, may not be so... Read more →