USC Credit Violation Casts a Pall

Since the onset of credit cards as early as the mid-1920’s, and particularly with advances in computer technology and specialized banking software, credit card theft has grown in magnitude right alongside the credit card system itself. This kind of fraud has become common enough that issuers and banks recommend cardholders consider credit protection programs, which are designed to shield them from personality theft and the loss of their funds and good credit scores. Because of the longstanding existence of such defensive measures, the frequency of credit theft might be surprising in our modern age, especially … Continue reading

A Comparison of Two Financial iPhone Apps

As a start-up, funding is everything. While countless start-ups start (and fail) each and every day, there are few and far between with an excellent idea and even better funding. Two of the newest finance-based start-ups with excellent funding and even better ideas, Credit Sesame and Lemon, have bright futures thanks to the funding they’ve recently received. Here, you’ll learn a little more about each and what you can expect from both in years to come. Credit Sesame The services provided by Credit Sesame, a credit and loan monitoring start-up, are meant to help people … Continue reading

New Credit Score Covers Those with Limited to No Credit History

Image credit to Andres Rueda via Flickr As a consumer, your credit score is almost as important as your social security number or identification. Without a decent credit score, you could be denied an auto loan, may not be able to take out a mortgage, or be declined when applying for credit cards. If you didn’t have a bank account growing up, were never taught financial responsibility, and have avoided using or applying for credit cards your entire life, Experian has debuted a new credit score designed specifically for you. This credit score is designed … Continue reading

Stacking Chips 101: A 401(k) Rebuttal

In last week’s post, my colleague, Justin Hong, discussed his qualms with the 401(k) system. While he raises several good points (such as broadening your financial knowledge and diversifying your assets), he dismisses several benefits of organized retirement plans. In the following article, I hope to refute Justin’s 401(k) “cons” list in order to create some friendly financial discourse.   Justin says: “The limitations of standard (and marginally lucrative) retirement plans…” Marc says: 401(k) plans are actually quite lucrative. Say I have $10,000 from my employer that I can either push into a 401(k) or … Continue reading

401K: Not as Safe As You Think

by Justin Hong When you graduate from college, you may start to notice your dreams evolving from free beer to a bright, shiny new job with health benefits, paid leave, and something called a 401K. If you don’t already know, a 401K (derived from the 401(k) subsection of the Internal Revenue Code) is a retirement savings plan, in which employees contribute a portion of their paychecks to some kind of investment (typically paper assets, such as stocks and bonds). These investments aren’t taxed until the time of withdrawal/retirement and are guaranteed to at least match … Continue reading

The Credit Card Applier’s Guide

In today’s consumer society, the enormous wealth of credit card options can be overwhelming. Whether you’re choosing your first credit card or your hundredth, you’ll want to do considerable research before selecting the credit card that best suits your lifestyle. Following are overviews of the basic credit card types: STANDARD CREDIT CARDS Standard credit cards are the most commonly available credit cards and only require that consumers meet minimum credit card criteria to enroll. There are two types of standard credit cards for smart consumers: balance transfer cards and low interest cards. Balance Transfer Credit … Continue reading

What Is a Credit Score?

Your credit score is more than just a meaningless number; it is the key to your financial future. Your credit score can mean the difference between denial and approval for a credit card, home, or auto loan, and it can even affect your interest rates if approved. FICO scores range from 300 to 850, but what goes into determining your credit score, and what can you do to change it? Where does a credit score come from? The number is generated with a mathematical algorithm using key information found in your credit report. The number … Continue reading

Study Shows Credit Card Companies not as Forgivable

When things go wrong, Americans are reasonably willing to forgive almost anyone: supermarkets, the postal service, auto dealers and, despite the “Great Recession,” even investment firms. Interestingly enough, Americans are very slow to forgive credit card companies, if they are even granted “forgiveness” at all. A recently released survey states that credit card issuers rank in last place when it comes to earning customers’ forgiveness for making mistakes. The survey, compiled by the Temkin Forgiveness Ratings, gauges which companies are earning customer loyalty and respect and which aren’t. The survey includes 206 companies from 18 … Continue reading

Convenience Store Owners Lobby for a Cap on Credit Card Swipe Fees

Since retailers managed to successfully lobby the government for a cap on debit card swipe fees in 2010, trade groups are now pushing for caps on credit card fees. Credit card swipe fees are determined by financial institutions, which are charging retailers exorbitant fees that force them to raise the price of their goods. The effect of the fees is reflected most obviously in the price of gas. Rising gas prices are a huge source of concern for many Americans who can’t support their household without transportation. A trade group representing convenience stores is now … Continue reading

Mint and Liquid: A Review of Two Mobile Financial Management Systems

As you all know well, mobile technology offers solutions for all of our day-to-day needs. A recent trend in mobile technology is on-the-go budgeting applications, including the popular Mint and (the current underdog) Liquid apps. If you’re looking for the most mobile way to track your spending but don’t know where to begin, below are reviews of these two mobile financial management systems. Liquid Liquid is a similar financial management app that is equally useful for monthly monitoring. Unlike your bank account, Liquid can track what money you’ll be making and what money you’ll be … Continue reading

Credit Cards Are Becoming a More Secure Payment Option

Credit cards are everywhere these days, and living without one can be incredibly difficult. Traditionally, people use their credit cards for everyday purchases, such as groceries, gas, and items from retail stores. But as credit cards become the most common form of payment in America, they also become more widely accepted from a variety of businesses. Lately, many people have been opting to use their credit cards on less traditional purchases. While credit cards have been a popular payment choice for everyday purchases for a long time, more people are now opting to use their … Continue reading

Credit Card Hack Affects Over a Million

Credit cards are great. They are simple and easy to use, handier than carrying money around, and make online shopping a total breeze. But the one thing that keeps most credit card users on their toes is identity theft. If your card or banking information gets swiped, somebody can do a whole lot of damage before the card gets shut off. Though it is a fairly common occurrence, the scale of the thefts tends to be pretty small. This past week, however, a major credit card hack gathered account numbers of 1.5 million customers of … Continue reading

Are We Still In a Financial Crisis?

For the first time since the 2008-2010 financial crisis, experts agree that the credit card industry has a positive future ahead of it. While the crisis is still heavy on the minds of those in the financial industry, indicators across many aspects are pointing towards a bright future for the industry; a growing middle class, the increased inclination to spend money rather than save (especially by the young population), and rising aspirations creates a climate aimed at tapping into various market opportunities in the industry. There are several factors that contribute to the hypothesized growth … Continue reading

American Express, Mastercard or Visa?

In 2010, 48.9 million people claimed ownership of an American Express card. MasterCard claimed almost 300 million cardholders between its’ credit and debit cards in 2010 and the same year, Visa claimed over 600 million cardholders between its’ credit and debit cards. The circulation of credit cards is obviously quite expansive, and in todays’ economy where borrowed money is almost necessary just to make ends meet, you may find yourself browsing for a credit card but lost amidst the too-good-to-be-true offers and outrageously high APR rates. If you’re looking for a middle ground, someone who … Continue reading