Your Personal Finance Pro http://yourpfpro.com Personal Finance for Young Professionals Sat, 13 Oct 2018 00:14:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 31591919 Do You Pay With Cash or Credit Cards? http://yourpfpro.com/pay-cash-credit-cards/ http://yourpfpro.com/pay-cash-credit-cards/#comments Fri, 23 May 2014 12:51:30 +0000 http://yourPFpro.com/?p=3778 Most of the credit card articles on this site have to do with the points and miles you can accumulate by signing up for various cards and spending on daily purchases.  But one of the first things I recommend to someone struggling with their spending is to get rid of their cards and start paying […]

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Do You Pay With Cash or Credit CardsMost of the credit card articles on this site have to do with the points and miles you can accumulate by signing up for various cards and spending on daily purchases.  But one of the first things I recommend to someone struggling with their spending is to get rid of their cards and start paying solely with cash.  It’s no secret that it’s easier to spend more money with credit cards versus cash and there are tons of studies(here’s one) that prove that fact if you don’t want to take my word for it.

But once you’ve got a grip of your finances you will probably notice that paying with credit has a lot of benefits.  We all know about the cash back rewards you can get but there are also things like sign up bonuses, fraud protection and just plain convenience.  Even though I’m always telling my friends to sign up for Ally Bank for their free ATM withdrawals, most of them still use big banks like Chase or Citi and we have to plan our trips around finding a Chase ATM.  That’s just an added layer of inconvenience to paying with cash.

I’ve got 25 credit cards right now but I’ve got them all set up on Autopay and I check all my daily transactions at once using Mint every morning.  The whole process takes about 2-5 minutes depending on how many purchases I’ve been making and then I’m done.  I like this system because the one thing I value the most in my life is my time.  No matter how much money you’ve got you’re never going to have more time than someone else(we don’t live in a Justin Timberlake movie).  So I try to live my life as efficiently as possible and credit does wonders to simplify my life.

Credit Cards are Convenient

Right now, I’m putting most of my purchases on my Barclay Arrival card since it’s giving me 2.2% cash back on all purchases.  But the rewards probably pale in comparison to how much more I’m spendingthan if I were to be paying with all cash.  Just think about the last time you were out with your friends and you paid for that extra round of drinks.  When you pay with your credit card, it just doesn’t feel like real money since all you’re doing is signing a piece of paper.  You don’t see the actual transaction debit your account unless you use a service like Moven which alerts you of your spending in real time.

I live in Southern California and nearly every single business I frequent accepts credit cards.  Even food trucks are taking credit cards now that inventions like Square have popped up enabling merchants to pay a small percentage of every credit card transaction.  Right now, my wallet consists of two credit cards, one ATM card, my drivers license and a few business cards, that’s it.  It’s actually more of a bill holder and you can barely see it through my slim fit pants!  If I were to lose any of those credit cards, it wouldn’t be a big deal at all since I could just get them replaced and ask for free expedited shipping.  I’d only have to go a day or two without those credit cards.

Even though I would never make a $20,000 purchase, the two credit cards in my wallet carry a combined credit limit of 20k.  That’s like walking around with $20,000 in your pocket but there is absolutely no risk.  If my cards get stolen, I would simply give my bank a call and let them know when it was stolen and I would not be responsible for any fraudulent charges.  If your card is stolen, Federal Law limits the liability of cardholders to $50 no matter what amount the unauthorized user charges.  And since the credit card business is so competitive, every one of the major companies tend to waive this fee.  That’s why you never have to pay any amount for unauthorized charges when your card is stolen.

Tracking Your Finances

Since I’m big on technology, I like having all the information about my spending patterns and habits at my fingertips.  It’s pretty easy to analyze my budget since I pay for everything with my credit cards.  I don’t need to enter all my cash expenditures into a spreadsheet one by one since I have computers that can do all that for me.  There are times when I need to look up certain transactions and credit cards make that really easy.  When it comes to tracking your finances, credit cards are vastly superior to paying with cash.

Readers, what do you think about paying with cash versus credit?  Do you think the convenience and benefits of credit cards justify the extra spending?

-Harry @ PF Pro

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Get Your Free FICO Score from Barclaycard http://yourpfpro.com/get-free-fico-score-barclaycard/ http://yourpfpro.com/get-free-fico-score-barclaycard/#comments Fri, 14 Feb 2014 14:30:46 +0000 http://yourPFpro.com/?p=3575 The media likes to bombard us with credit related advertisements. It doesn’t matter whether you’re watching TV, listening to the radio or playing a podcast, it seems like there are always ads for free credit scores, debt repair and things of that nature. I’ve always felt strongly though that I shouldn’t have to pay for […]

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Get Your Free FICO Score from BarclaycardThe media likes to bombard us with credit related advertisements. It doesn’t matter whether you’re watching TV, listening to the radio or playing a podcast, it seems like there are always ads for free credit scores, debt repair and things of that nature. I’ve always felt strongly though that I shouldn’t have to pay for access to my score and report. After all, the information contained in those documents is about me and my spending habits. It’s not like I’m asking to see someone else’s credit history.

Yet many people apparently don’t mind paying for their score, otherwise how would all these ‘free credit score’ type companies still be in business and have enough money to run ads during the Super Bowl? I pretty much refuse to pay for any aspect of my score since companies like Credit Sesame and Credit Karma will give it to you for free and annualcreditreport.com will give you 3 free copies of your credit report each and every year. But obviously not everybody is on the same wavelength as I am, not yet at least.

FAKO Score?

The only complaint I’ve seen about Credit Sesame is that they don’t actually give you your FICO score. Instead, you get Experian’s National Equivalency Score or as some people like to call it, your FAKO score. As the name would imply, this score is different than the FICO score lenders use when they review your credit history. But even though it’s not exactly the same as your FICO, it is a very good approximation. I’ve always felt that this FAKO score was good enough for me since it gets you in the ball park, but for those who want your actual FICO score for free, you’re in luck.

Free FICO Scores from Barclay Bank

I already get my free FICO score from TransUnion using their 7 day free trial but if Barclays wants to give me a free FICO score, I’ll take that too. It just adds another layer to my free identity theft protection plan. As long as you have any Barclays branded credit card, you should be able to access your free FICO score from your account’s home page. I signed in to my Barlcays account and clicked on Tools and there was a nice large button that said “Your FICO Score”

BarclaycardUS FICO Score

 

If for some reason, that option isn’t working for you, you could also try manually changing the link to: https://www.barclaycardus.com/servicing/score and get your free FICO score that way.

For now, Barclaycards is the only credit card issuer I know of that is offering a completely free FICO score. I don’t know that I would sign up for a Barclays card just to get this benefit but they do have a couple cards with very nice sign-up bonuses out there right now that might make it worth your while. I’m not sure how long these bonuses will last so I’d consider signing up sooner rather than later.

If you’re looking for a great rewards card, the Barclaycard Arrival World Mastercard offers 2.2% cash back rewards on ALL purchases. I actually just signed my finacee up for this card and the 40,000 point sign-up bonus is going straight towards our honeymoon. In addition to all the normal benefits like extended warranties and insurance add-ons, you also get a 10% points redemption bonus and there are no foreign transaction fees. The annual fee is waived for the first year on this card but they also have a no fee option. The No Fee Arrival card only gives you 2.2% back on travel and dining but it also has no foreign transaction fees so it’s a good option too.

Readers, do you care about your FICO score or are you content getting your score from Credit Sesame? Do you think it’s worth it to sign up for a Barclays card if you can get 40,000 point bonus and a free FICO score?

-Harry @ PF Pro

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Why the Target Data Breach Was a Good Thing http://yourpfpro.com/target-data-breach-good-thing/ http://yourpfpro.com/target-data-breach-good-thing/#comments Mon, 27 Jan 2014 14:09:33 +0000 http://yourPFpro.com/?p=3830 Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple months you’ve probably heard about the massive Target data breach.  It was kind of amusing how it all started off so innocuously and now it’s grown into such a massive story. At first, Target told us that data for ‘only 40 million users’ had […]

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Why the Target Data Breach Was a Good ThingUnless you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple months you’ve probably heard about the massive Target data breach.  It was kind of amusing how it all started off so innocuously and now it’s grown into such a massive story.

At first, Target told us that data for ‘only 40 million users’ had been compromised.  Hackers stole things like names, card numbers, expiration dates and CVV codes, no big deal.  But now we’re hearing that there’s an additional 70 million people who may have been affected and the information stolen from them included names, addresses, phone numbers and e-mails.

When I first heard about this story I didn’t think much of it because a) I don’t ever shop at Target and b) I don’t care if someone steals my credit card.  The nice thing about using credit is that if someone does steal your card or get your information you can just call up your credit card company and cancel your card.  By law you won’t be responsible for more than $50 worth of charges but most companies waive this charge anyways(which is probably why you have never even heard of someone getting charged $50 when their credit card is compromised).  It wasn’t until I heard about the additional 70 million people and what they lost that I thought this story was actually going somewhere.

Who Should Be Worried?

Now that you know it’s not a big deal at all if your credit card gets compromised, should you be worried?  Well unfortunately the answer is yes because if you fall in that second group of 70 million that information can be very valuable to hackers/scammers.  It’s easy to know if someone is using your card since most people review their statement once a month or even once a day like me using a service like Mint.  But how often do you check your credit report?  If someone can pair your address with your social security number they can open cards in your name, apply for loans and do a lot of damage.

You might be thinking how on earth would these hackers get your social security number if all they have is your address and e-mail address?  But right now there are tons of e-mails filtering in to my inbox from Target and all of my credit card companies talking about the data breach and what I should do.  I’ve been ignoring them for the most part but hackers could easily send a phishing e-mail to you that asks you to verify your information and you might never even know it.  Going forward, you should be more careful than ever on where and who you give your personal information to.  If these guys are smart, they might hold onto this data for years to come before they ever try to make a move.

Why It’s a Good Thing

The reason why this breach was actually a good thing though is because people are now more aware than ever of their credit.  Target is offering free credit monitoring(a service everyone should have!) to pretty much anyone that goes to their website and signs up.  I’ve also heard lots of mentions of annualcreditreport.com where you can get your absolutely free credit report 3 times a year.

For whatever reason, a lot of people think of credit as this crazy mythical thing.  But it’s actually pretty easy to understand and stay on top of your credit.  I use a combination of Credit Sesame, Mint and annualcreditreport.com in order to stay on top of everything.  Since I have all my financial accounts linked to Mint, it takes me about 2 minutes every morning to review the past day’s transactions and then I’m done.  I use Credit Sesame’s free credit monitoring service that instantly alerts me to any changes on my credit report.  Barclaycard is also now offering a completely free FICO score to its cardholders(another great reason to sign up for the Arrival Card).  And just to top it all off, I stagger my three free credit reports from annualcreditreport.com throughout the year as a fail-safe.

I’m not trying to scare you because I do think this breach will eventually end up doing more good than bad.  I’m sure a lot of people will go sign up for paid credit monitoring services but if you’re a smart reader of this blog you already know that you can get that exact same information for free.

Readers, are you worried by the potential data breach at Target?  Or are you like me and do you stay on top of all your financial accounts?  It’s not too late to protect yourself so go and sign up for Credit Sesame or Credit Karma and get your totally free credit report from annualcreditreport.com today!

-Harry @ PF Pro

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Get $400 and 2.2% Cash Back with the Barclaycard Arrival http://yourpfpro.com/get-instant-400-barclaycard-arrival-world-mastercard/ http://yourpfpro.com/get-instant-400-barclaycard-arrival-world-mastercard/#comments Mon, 06 Jan 2014 13:45:19 +0000 http://yourPFpro.com/?p=3572 Now that my credit card total has reached a quarter century, I’m always on the lookout for the latest and greatest deals.  Since I’ve already applied for a lot of the major cards, it takes a little more creativity these days to get the big spending bonuses but they’re definitely still out there.  I recently […]

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Now that my credit card total has reached a quarter century, I’m always on the lookout for the latest and greatest deals.  Since I’ve already applied for a lot of the major cards, it takes a little more creativity these days to get the big spending bonuses but they’re definitely still out there.  I recently did a small credit card churn for my fiancee and the Barclay Arrival was one of the first cards I did for her.  I actually haven’t done this card myself because I’ve taken a short break from the credit card churning in order to boost up my credit for a potential real estate deal.  Since I might be applying for a mortgage, I want my credit score to be as high as possible and even after 25+ cards, I still have close to a 775 FICO score(so I don’t want to mess that up).

Barclay is known to be among the most strict credit card companies though so I’d make sure your score is in the 700+ range and you don’t have too many recent inquiries.  You might get approved with a lower score but 700+ is what I recommend.  I usually do Barclay cards first whenever I’m applying for multiple cards in order to give myself the best chance of instant approval.

I really like this card though because the points are very easy to redeem.  With a lot of branded credit cards like the Chase Hyatt Visa or the Citi American Airlines Mastercard you might get 50,000 points but you have to redeem them at a Hyatt hotel or on an AA flight.  If you’re just a casual user who only signs up for a few cards a year, you’re best served going for cards like this that allow very flexible redemption options.

Barclaycard Arrival Terms and Conditions

When you spend $1,000$3,000(as of 3/14) in 90 days, you’ll receive 40,000 points which can be redeemed as statement credits on any travel related purchases.  And since you earn 2 points per dollar spent(on any purchase) you’ll get a grand total of 42,000 points after you meet the spend requirements.  In addition, you’ll also get a 10% bonus on all points that you redeem.  The annual fee is $89 but it’s waived for the first year.  I suggest canceling the card after a year or downgrading to their no fee version.

The other nice benefit of this card is that there are no foreign transaction fees so it’s a great card to use abroad.

2.2% Cash Back

Since you get 2x points back on all purchases and a 10% redemption bonus you’re effectively getting 2.2% cash back on all purchases.

Let’s say you go out and spend $5,000.  You’d get 10,000 points deposited into your account and once you redeem those points for a $100 statement credit you’d get an additional 1,000 point bonus.  So effectively, you’re getting $110/$5,000 = 2.2% Cash Back

The only catch with this card is that you have to redeem your points on travel – airlines, hotels, rental cars, etc.  That should be pretty easy though for most of us since if you take only one vacation a year you can use this card to pay for part or all of it and then redeem your points for a statement credit.

There aren’t many cards that will get you 2.2% cash back on ALL your purchases.  I don’t know if I’d go so far as to use this card on an every day basis but I would definitely use it for purchases that weren’t double or triple points back on my other cards.  The bottom line is: the Barclaycard Arrival will give you $440 for spending $1,000$3,000(as of 3/14) in 90 days.  If there’s an easier way to make $440, I’d love to hear about it.

If you’d like to sign up, please click here to apply for the Barclaycard Arrival World Mastercard.

Readers, do you think it’s worth your time to sign up for this card for $440 tax free?  Most cash back sign-up bonuses are much lower than this card so I almost always sign up for a $400 cash back or more offer.

-Harry @ PF Pro

Note: The links in this article are referral links so if you sign up and get approved for the card, I will receive a small commission.  As always though, I only promote products which I myself use and this card is actually sitting in my wallet right now(even though it has my fiancee’s name on it! haha).

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