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Credit card

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With nearly 60 million credit cards floating around the UK, it’s fair to say plenty of us are using multiple credit cards at once.

But how many is too many?

If you’re wondering about opening another account, consider the pros and cons before you make a move.

Lower your credit utilisation

Multiple credit cards, if used correctly, are great for your credit score. This is because of a feature called credit utilisation and how credit providers perceive it.

Credit utilisation is, in short, the percentage of credit you are using against your credit limit. For example, if you had a monthly credit limit of £1,000 and were using £800 a month, your utilisation would be 80%. £500 would be 50%, £200 would be 20%, and so on.

Where your provider is concerned, high utilisation is bad news and will affect your credit score negatively. Providers like to see utilisation of no more than 30% so, if you are close to your credit limit on one card (indeed anything above 30%), it benefits you and your credit score to spread the debt across several cards.

Spread the spend

Speaking of spreading your debt, the same process is beneficial to those struggling with a lot of debt on one card or looking to spread out a purchase cost (and avoid high utilisation).

Where high interest debt is concerned, you can use multiple cards to transfer a balance from a high interest account to a new, 0% interest card or two in order to release the pressure on an account building interest. It’s a temporary solution but saves you money in the long run.

Back yourself up

If credit cards are your main source of payment, it’s worth having multiple cards so one can be used as a backup or for emergency use.

This is useful if your card provider freezes your main card, for example if it suspects fraudulent use, or an unexpected payment comes up that needs dealing with immediately.

Reap the rewards

Credit cards offer various incentives to spend, and different credit cards offer different perks. An example would be a percentage cashback amount on certain purchases across the month.

Using different cards on the right purchases means you’re getting the most back from your spending.

Don’t lose track

The big risk with multiple cards is that they can, if mismanaged, rack up debt and harm your credit score.

The more cards you have, the easier it is to lose track of both spending and repayments. Purchase frivolously and you may spend more money than you have. Meanwhile, missing repayments can mean interest and a hit on your credit score.

The combination of the two is a vicious and very damaging cycle you don’t want to find yourself in.

Unwanted extras

Whilst you’ll no doubt be looking for the best interest deals and lowest charges, introductory offers do come to an end and many cards come with an attached monthly fee.

If you’re running a handful of cards, such fees and interest can add up, leaving you with unwanted costs at the end of the month.

Fraud risk

Just as it’s easy to lose track of your spending and repayments, it’s also harder to notice possible theft or fraud across multiple accounts if you’re not paying too much attention.

An unlikely occurrence, but another thing you need to be on top of.

So, how many cards?

The answer is no one really knows!

It depends on your current situation with outstanding debt and your future plans. More than anything your ability to responsibly manage your finances will be the determining factor in selecting the right number of credit cards for you.

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Working to improve your financial situation requires some know-how, and even though there are plenty
of resources at the tip of your fingers, it can be confusing to know where to begin. If you’ve fallen on
hard times, the most important step is to recognize what it is you’re trying to achieve with your money.
For many people, that includes gaining an understanding of how to get out of a financial pickle, like
having bad credit, needing quick access to cash, or needing to reduce the amount they owe in debt.
Each of these common financial challenges has a connecting thread: loans. Using loans to better your
financial situation differs for each situation, but overall, loans are a powerful tool in managing your
money.

Improving Credit History

Bad credit can happen to anyone with as little as a missed payment or two or not knowing about an
account that found its way to collections. But when bad credit strikes, it takes time and effort to
improve it. A loan from a bank, credit union, or online lender can be beneficial in improving credit over
time. This is because loans require fixed monthly payments over the course of several months or years.
With each on-time payment, the lender that initially provided the loan reports the good behavior to the
credit bureaus. The more on-time payments are received, the more one’s credit score improves. Taking
out a loan and repaying it as agreed isn’t a quick way to boost your credit score, but it can help over the
long haul.

Access to Quick Cash

When the need to improve your financial situation involves an emergency bill or a major expense that
cannot be covered from savings, loans can play an important role. Traditional loans from major financial
institutions are not always available to those who have inconsistent income, or a credit history sprinkled
with negative marks, but there are alternative if you need access to quick cash. A California title loan is
an option for those who have full ownership of their vehicle and a clean title, even when credit history is
an issue. Some online lenders also offer quick loans for those with not so great credit, but there may be
additional requirements that are difficult to meet. Having these loan options is helpful in managing
expenses and bills that come out of nowhere when savings isn’t there.

Refinancing Debt

Loans may also be used to restructure debt you already have. Credit cards are a common source of
frustration – and cost – for many consumers today, and with interest rates reaching as high as 29%,
getting out from under credit card debt can seem impossible. With a strong credit history and verifiable
income, individuals may have an opportunity to consolidate credit card balances with a single loan. This
strategy is beneficial if borrowers can reduce the interest charged on outstanding debt while
simultaneously creating a predictable payment plan to knock it out.

Loans are not for everyone, but they do offer a solution for many of life’s common financial challenges.
Recognizing which loans are available, their cost, and the time it will take to pay off the balance are
necessary considerations before using a loan as a financial tool.

Mastercard has unveiled a credit card that uses fingerprint sensor technology.

The rollout follows two successful trials in South Africa.

MasterCard‘s technology works in the same way as it does with mobile phone payments: users must have their finger over the sensor when making a purchase.

According to security experts, using fingerprints is not foolproof, but it is a “sensible” use of biometric technology.

MasterCard‘s chief of safety and security Ajay Bhalla said that the fingerprint technology would help “to deliver additional convenience and security. It is not something that can be taken or replicated”.

Image source Flickr

However, fingerprint sensors can be compromised.

The cards are thought to be the first to include both the digital template of the user’s fingerprint and the sensor required to read their fingerprints at the POS.

Previous biometric payment cards only worked when used in conjunction with a separate fingerprint scanner.

That limited their usefulness, as only stores with the correct equipment could accept them.

Having both the data and the scanner on the same card means that they should be accepted everywhere a normal chip and PIN payment card can be used.

However, the biometric verification can only be used for in-store purchases: online and other so-called “card not present” transactions will still require further security measures.

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If you are looking for any kind of credit card, you best read the terms of the card and make sure you understand the terms in their entirety. Reading the small print is extremely important because you need to know precisely what it is you are getting into when you sign up for card membership.  If you understand the terms, you know the consequences when you do not follow guidelines. Even worse, the card you get can have special benefits or rewards you end up knowing nothing about until it is too late to really benefit.  Thankfully, there are online tools you can use that not only help in selection but better help you when it comes time to weeding throw the various offers and their terms and conditions. 

 

Your One Stop Resource for Credit Cards

Using effectify service, a bank card directory site, is the first place to start in your credit card search. Why waste time surfing all over the Internet when you can find all the best opportunities in one place?  It makes it easy to find the types of cards you desire. You can search for cards based on a variety of credit backgrounds. It makes it simple to discover offers for those with excellent credit or even those who are looking to establish credit for the first time. If bad credit is the issue, there are additional card options to consider.

Examining APRs

Effectify lets you pull up a list that suit your search and the site has powerful search filters to narrow down the selections. You can check out new offers with an APR of zero percent, or you can look at current offers and compare their annual percentage rates side by side at a glance.  Other information provided to you at a glance, as you browse your list include:

  • Annual fee versus no annual fee
  • Cash back options if applicable
  • Rewards or travel points if applicable
  • Transfer fees
  • Balance Transfer APR percentages
  • Estimated savings over a three-year period of usage

Thus, at a cursory glance you can see if considering the fine print of a card is worth your interests or not.  If the initial features don’t appeal to you, then you can move onto the next offer to see if it will suit your needs.

A Wide Range of APR Credit Card Options

The APR or annual percentage rate assigned to your bank card is made known to you immediately.  People with no credit or bad credit will likely face higher APRs simply because the higher interest rate absorbs some risk, but people with great credit ratings can sometimes get an APR between 10 and 20 percent or a new card that comes with a zero APR for a short time.  Effectify allows you to discover the cards that fit your budget and lifestyle all while seeking out the lowest interest rate.

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The critical moment of transaction processing can either provide signal advantages or result in lost opportunities, and in many cases this depends on the hardware system a business owner has selected. Point of Sale (POS) systems permit sellers to manage customer purchases, returns, discounts, and other terms of sale. These devices and their related software can also keep taps on inventory, prices, taxes, individual transaction details, and, of course, payment.

A whole range of POS systems are now available, and a quick tour of the capabilities they offer will benefit business owners who are in the market for a system, as well as those who just want to know what the competition may be installing.

What to Look For in a POS System That Will Look Out for You

shopify-systemThe “ye olde” cash register of days gone by has long since been succeeded by a few new generations of devices, and with every capping wave of new technology, new capabilities have been added. Certain of these devices will report transaction details to accounting software, rendering the inputs into that system automatic. Business owners in the market for a POS system may want to know if this feature is available, and if so, does it connect with accounting software that the business owner uses or would be willing to adopt.

Another issue that arises in selecting a POS system is whether it supports inventory management, and if so, does it permit integration of online and brick-and-mortar retail operations? The Shopify POS system is one that is particularly well-suited to this purpose. According to eMarketer.com, only a small fraction of current retailers are effective at monitoring their business across their in store and online channels. A competitive advantage awaits those retailers who are the first to achieve this critical integration of sales, supply and inventory management. This is essentially low-hanging fruit, and it will be plucked by those early adaptors who are the most strategic in incorporating systems that permit such cross-channel integration.

Turnkey Solution or Cut-and-Paste

Many of these systems are sold as a turnkey solution, containing all the hardware and software required to process sales. The list can be long; data entry touchscreens, printers, scanners, a credit card reader, and associated software. POS systems can also be integrated with credit card hardware, but they are not strictly needed for credit card transactions, as numerous alternatives exist for that function. The people at possoftwareguide.com warn that confirming software and hardware compatibility before any purchase is a must.

According to Idealware.org, some of the well-known tax software firms offer POS solutions that, of course, integrate smoothly with accounting systems, but that also offer inventory management and other additional functions.

POS systems are usually sold on a per-license basis, with additional charges for hardware, and several levels of functionality based on the complexity of the client’s business. Some solutions have been developed specifically for individual retail stores, with correspondingly lower price points, while others are designed to serve multiple retail locations that provide a window into operations for all-seeing management to peer into.

Specialized Systems for Specialized Operations

Even if you are operating a museum, a theater, a non-profit organization, or some other slightly out-of-the-ordinary concern, there are POS systems that have been designed with your specific needs in mind. Organizations that are not purely commercial will often require software and hardware solutions customized to handle transactions that do not perfectly fit the commercial template. There are even solutions that are cloud-based, and others that utilize open sourcing for clients who have the software development talent required to take advantage of such systems.

Matching Their Solutions to Your Goals

Savvy business operators, in encountering the varied landscape of POS solution, will benefit by formulating the questions that are relevant to their specific business. What are your goals and expectations concerning the software and hardware that you intend to incorporate into your operations as the electronic backbone to your business? What degree of reporting do you wish to maintain? Will this extend all the way to your supply chain, or will it focus primarily on sales transactions, purchase orders and inventory? Are you pursuing cross-channel integration in the manner that many businesses today are focused on? Will the system you choose provide inputs to, and be compatible with, your accounting software? Are you willing to shift your accounting software to permit such integration? Are you ready to install new hardware, or are you seeking a system that will work with the hardware you now have?

Once you have the answers to these questions, and others that no doubt are specific to your operation, the selection of a POS system that suits your needs will become that much clearer.

And once you have found the system that’s right for your business, the advantages of having an advanced POS solution, in increased visibility of operations, real-time inventory and sales management, and in simply being liberated by clear and complete information to go out and interact more with customers, will become clear. The right technology really will set you free.

MasterCard and Visa have decided to block credit card services to some Russian bank customers as a result of US sanctions.

Four banks are so far affected, all of which have links to Russians blacklisted by the US.

Visa and MasterCard are forbidden from having any dealings with those targeted by the sanctions.

The banks, which said card services stopped without warning, have described the move as unlawful.

One of the banks affected, Bank Rossiya, is described by the US as Russia’s 15th largest, with assets of $12 billion.

Bank Rossiya has been singled out by Washington as the personal bank for senior Russian officials. US officials said it would be “frozen out” from the dollar.

MasterCard and Visa have decided to block credit card services to some Russian bank customers as a result of US sanctions

MasterCard and Visa have decided to block credit card services to some Russian bank customers as a result of US sanctions (photo AFP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Bank Rossiya had nothing to do with events in Crimea and promised to transfer his wages there.

“I personally don’t have an account there, but I certainly will open one on Monday,” he told a meeting of Russia’s Security Council.

Vladimir Putin also instructed the Russian central bank to step in, if needed, but the latter said the sanctions on Bank Rossiya did “not have a serious bearing on the lender’s financial stability”.

Visa and MasterCard also confirmed they had stopped providing services to SMP Bank, which is controlled by US-blacklisted brothers Arkady and Boris Rotenberg.

The bank, which is Russia’s 39th biggest with $5 billion in assets, called the actions “illegitimate” because its owners, rather than the bank itself, were the subject of sanctions.

Bank Rossiya’s affiliate banks, Sobinbank and InvestKapitalBank, were also affected.

But Visa said more than 99% of its business in Russia was untouched by sanctions.

Russian shares fell sharply on Friday as investors weighed the impact of western sanctions over Ukraine.

The MICEX index, which is priced in roubles, fell as much as 3% and the RTS, which is priced in dollars fell 3.6%.

Stocks slumped after President Barack Obama said sanctions might be extended to key parts of the Russian economy if Russia took further action in Ukraine.

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Independent security research Brian Krebs suggests that thousands of guests at US hotels may have had their credit and debit data stolen.

The cache of data seems to have gone astray from computers belonging to White Lodging Services said Brian Krebs.

The service company runs 168 franchised hotels in the US for the Hilton, Marriott, Sheraton and Westin chains.

White Lodging said it was currently conducting an investigation into how the data had been taken.

Brian Krebs suggests that thousands of guests at US hotels may have had their credit and debit data stolen

Brian Krebs suggests that thousands of guests at US hotels may have had their credit and debit data stolen

Brian Krebs said White Lodging’s role in the breach emerged as banking industry fraud investigators were looking into a sustained pattern of purchases made on faked cards in Marriott hotels. Oddly, said Brian Krebs in a blogpost, the fraudulent purchases were made only at Marriott hotels in six separate cities rather than across the entire chain.

Further investigation revealed that the common factor in all those hotels was they were run by Indiana-based White Lodging.

The fraudulent purchases were made at the gift shops, restaurants and other shops at the hotels and were not used to pay for rooms, said Brian Krebs.

In a statement issued to Brian Krebs, White Lodging said: “We will provide meaningful information as soon as it becomes available.”

In a separate statement, Marriott said it was “working closely” with its franchisee on the investigation.

The latest breach comes in the wake of other much larger attacks on US retailers that saw payment card details for millions of customers stolen.

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Credit card details from 20 million South Koreans have been stolen and sold to marketing firms.

The data from almost half of South Korea’s population was stolen by a computer contractor working for a company called the Korea Credit Bureau that produces credit scores.

The names, social security numbers and credit card details were copied by the IT worker.

The scale of the theft became apparent after the contractor at the centre of the breach was arrested.

Managers at the marketing firms which allegedly bought the data were also arrested.

Early reports suggest that the contractor got hold of the giant trove of data thanks to the access Korea Credit Bureau enjoys to databases run by three big South Korean credit card firms. The contractor stole the data by copying it to a USB stick.

Credit card details from 20 million South Koreans have been stolen and sold to marketing firms

Credit card details from 20 million South Koreans have been stolen and sold to marketing firms

Regulators are now looking into security measures at the three firms – KB Kookmin Card, Lotte Card, and NH Nonghyup Card – to ensure data stays safe. A task force has been set up to investigate the impact of the theft.

The three bosses of the credit card firms involved made a public apology for the breach.

In a statement the Financial Services Commission, Korea’s national financial regulator, said: “The credit card firms will cover any financial losses caused to their customers due to the latest accident.”

Another official at the FSC said the data was easy to steal because it was unencrypted and the credit card firms did not know it had been copied until investigators told them about the theft.

This theft of consumer data is just the latest to hit South Korea. In 2012, two hackers were arrested for getting hold of the details of 8.7 million subscribers to KT Mobile.

According to specialists familiar with Target security breach, the hackers who compromised up to 40 million credit cards and debit cards also managed to steal encrypted personal identification numbers (PIN).

One major US bank fears that the thieves would be able to crack the encryption code and make fraudulent withdrawals from consumer bank accounts, said an executive, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the data breach is still under investigation.

Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder said “no unencrypted PIN data was accessed” and there was no evidence that PIN data has been “compromised.” She confirmed that some “encrypted data” was stolen, but declined to say if that included encrypted PINs.

The retailer said last week that hackers stole data from as many as 40 million cards used at Target stores during the first three weeks of the holiday shopping season, making it the second-largest data breach in US retail history.

Target has not said how its systems were compromised, though it described the operation as “sophisticated.” The US Secret Service and the Justice Department are investigating. Officials with both agencies have declined comment on the investigations.

The attack could end up costing hundreds of millions of dollars, but it is unclear so far who will bear the expense.

The hackers who compromised up to 40 million credit cards and debit cards also managed to steal encrypted PIN’s

The hackers who compromised up to 40 million credit cards and debit cards also managed to steal encrypted PIN’s

While bank customers are typically not liable for losses because of fraudulent activity on their credit and debit cards, JPMorgan Chase & Co and Santander Bank said they have lowered limits on how much cash customers can take out of teller machines and spend at stores.

The unprecedented move has led to complaints from consumer advocates about the inconvenience it caused from the late November Thanksgiving holiday into the run-up to Christmas. But sorting out account activity after a fraudulent withdrawal could take a lot more time and be worse for customers.

JPMorgan has said it was able to reduce inconvenience by giving customers new debit cards printed quickly at many of its branches, and by keeping branches open for extended hours. A Santander spokeswoman was not available for comment on Tuesday.

Security experts said it is highly unusual for banks to reduce caps on withdrawals, and the move likely reflects worries that PINs have fallen into criminal hands, even if they are encrypted.

While the use of encryption codes may prevent amateur hackers from obtaining the digital keys to customer bank deposits, the concern is the coding cannot stop the kind of sophisticated cyber criminal who was able to infiltrate Target for three weeks.

The attack on Target began on November 27, the day before the Thanksgiving holiday and continued until December 15. Banks that issue debit and credit cards learned about the breach on December 18, and Target publicly disclosed the loss of personal account data on December 19.

On December 21, JPMorgan Chase alerted 2 million of its debit cardholders that it was lowering the daily limits on ATM withdrawals to $100 and capping store purchases with their cards at $500.

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Target is being sued by at least 11 customers over a credit card security breach that saw details of more than 40 million cards stolen.

The lawsuits, each seeking class-action status, were filed in US courts in recent days.

Meanwhile, major US banks have moved to limit damages by restricting spending on debit cards.

Security researchers said the stolen card numbers had been seen on underground markets.

Senator Chuck Schumer has called for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to investigate the breach.

The thieves managed to grab key details for so many cards by getting malware on to the computer systems at the checkout desks in almost 1,800 Target stores in the US.

It is still not clear how the hackers managed to get their malware on to the systems.

Target is being sued by at least 11 customers over a credit card security breach

Target is being sued by at least 11 customers over a credit card security breach

The fraudsters had access to card data read at the tills for almost three weeks, said Target in a statement released after the attack.

Complaints against Target, seeking unspecified damages, have now been filed in Massachusetts by Amanda Tirado; in Florida by Maria Cruz and Jade Gray; in Oregon by Lisa Purcell; in Washington by Kathi Syvlester; in California by Samantha Wredberg and Jennifer Kirk; in Illinois by Janice McCarter and Veronica Ponce; and in Minnesota, the state where Target is based, by Sarah Horton and in a joint case by 0 and Bryan Barth.

In the complaints, customers who shopped at the retailer between November 27 and December 15 argue Target failed to notify them of the breach before it was first reported and did not “maintain reasonable security procedures” to prevent the attack.

They argue the “ramifications of [Target’s] failure to keep class members’ data secure are severe”, citing billions of dollars lost each year to identity theft.

If the cases are allowed as a class-action, it is believed the potential number of plaintiffs could be in the millions of dollars.

Meanwhile, JP Morgan Chase said it had lowered daily spending limits to $300 and daily cash withdrawal limits to $100 on potentially vulnerable cards as a “precaution”.

Reuters reported that other US banks are also believed to be putting stringent precautions in place that would help to spot if cards were being used fraudulently. In addition, Target said it would offer free credit monitoring for customers affected by fraud.

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Target has confirmed it was hit by a major data breach involving 40 million of shoppers’ credit and debit card information.

Customers who visited any of Target’s stores between November 27 and December 15 are at risk of having their credit and debit card information stolen.

Target said what to do if you visited one of their stores during that timeframe:

  1. Closely monitor your credit and debit card statements for any suspicious activity.
    Target has confirmed it was hit by a major data breach involving millions of shoppers' credit and debit card information

    Target has confirmed it was hit by a major data breach involving millions of shoppers’ credit and debit card information

  2. If you find anything suspicious, immediately contact your bank. You can also contact the Federal Trade Commission to report incidents of identity theft or call the FTC at (877) 438-4338.
  3.  Check your credit report. If you find information that appears to be fraudulent, request that the credit reporting agency delete that information from your credit report file. You can get a free copy of your credit report once a year from one of the three credit reporting agencies including Experian, Equifax and Trans Union.
  4. Add a fraud alert to your credit report file with one of the three credit reporting agencies. That means creditors will be extra vigilant in protecting you, though it may delay your ability to obtain credit.
  5. To reach Target directly concerning the breach and precautionary steps you should take, call (866) 852-8680. The company says as many as 40 million credit and debit card accounts may have been compromised. Information that may have been stolen includes customers’ names, card numbers and three-digit security codes.[youtube pom42RDo_wE 650]