How I Earn More on My Credit Card Than I can From a CD

(Note: None of the companies, credit cards, or investment strategies mentioned below constitutes an endorsement.)

                If you pay off your credit card balance each month, this article is for you. Otherwise, it’s best you move along to another article. I just heard a radio commercial for a bank that pays a “generous” return of 0.7 percent on its certificates of deposit (CDs). Say what?                 For years I used a Capital One Venture® Visa card as my primary charge card. And I charged all purchases greater than five dollars on it. Why? Capital One pays me 2 percent back on all my purchases. Get it? I was making three times as much on my credit card as a I could get from my bank (actually, my credit union). That money is usable for travel expenses, which means the cost of travel, like airfares, hotels, and meals. But I can also use it to payCredit Card - Captial One Venture for any expenses while traveling.                

You can search for other cards that match that deal. I have one that beats it and I’ll get to that in a moment.                

The catch? Capital One charges a $59 annual fee. So, do the math. If not, Capital One also offers a Quicksilver® Rewards card that pays 1.5% with no annual fee for those with excellent credit. If you charge enough to make the rebate exceed the annual fee, you’re in like Flynn with the Venture Card. Otherwise, you can go with Quicksilver, which has no fee.                

I invest with Fidelity Investments. It now has programs that beat even Capital One’s. Fidelity offers an AmerFideltiy American Express cardican Express card that pays 2 percent and a Visa card that rebates 1.5 percent. Neither levies an annual fee.                

My point? If you have a good credit rating and you pay your credit card bills in full each month, find yourself a suitable rebate card and charge away for on the purchases you would be making anyway. You’ll make a lot more with it than “investing” in CDs.

Why I Disagree with the Money Experts About Internet Transactions

 

Locking mailboxes come in many styles at many prices

Typical locking mailbox. Photo: Signature Hardware.

I came across an article in a recent AARP Magazine in which finance reporter Jean Chatzky quotes Neal O’Farrell of the Identity Theft Council. O’Farrell urges consumers to ditch snail mail when it comes to paying bills and doing banking.  

Chatzky says he “calls the U.S. postal system ‘an absolute gift’ for identity thieves, who can reach into your mailbox and grab whatever’s there.”

I stand 180 degrees on the other side of this. Facebook, UCLA, Target Stores, and even the Pentagon have been hacked. I assume that neither Ms. Chatzky nor Mr. O’Farrell are familiar with locking mailboxes. We have one at our home and it’s a piece of cake.

I do not store my personal information, such as date of birth, social security number and the like on the Internet. It’s high-tech Russian roulette.

And there is one big bonus to receiving paper records: You end up with hard copies that cannot be lost or altered by an electronic glitch or a ham-handed clerk. I like being able to whip out paper copies of my accounts any time I need them.

 

The IRS is trying to give away more than $150 million

What? The Internal Revenue Service wants to give away money? Well, sort of. For tax year 2010, about 100,000

Dollar bills

Photo: 401kcalculator.org

taxpayers screwed up the mailing addresses on their tax returns. As of last summer, the Treasury Department had about $153 million lying about that should be refunded. That adds up to about $1,530 per return.You can check out whether you are entitled to a refund at www.irs.gov or call 800 829-1954.Good luck. And let us know if you are a “winner.”***********************The Consumer Gal and I just had our book, Enough of Us – which deals with other subject matter – published. Now we have to focus on marketing our “baby.” So for thetime being, I will be suspending my semi-monthly Consumer Guy full-length blog posts and, instead, providing  brief consumer tips..

If you would like to learn more about our book, which deals with issues of ethics and procreation, please visit our other website, www.enoughof.us. Many thanks for your interest.

Easy Ways to Save on Electronics and Travel

Here are easy ways to track prices online that might enable you to compare for the best deals.

 

For electronics, Decide.com offers an app that you can download from the site. The will let you know when the price for the item you are interested in is likely to drop (it claims a 77 percent accuracy rate – so don’t blindly depend on it). You can check price alerts and compare what items will cost at brick-and-mortar stores.

 

If you are planning a trip, Bing Price Predictor (www.bing.com, then click “More,” then “Travel”) to find the best time to buy plane tickets.

 

After you buy your tickets, go to Yapta.com and enter your itinerary the price you paid. It will let you know if the price drops enough to qualify you for any travel refunds (travel refund policies depend on from whom you buy your tickets and what their policies are). If you didn’t buy your tix through a seller with a price-drop refund policy, at least you’ll know if the price dropped enough to cover the cost of changing you tickets.

 

Hotel room bookings can come with a low cost guarantee as well. If you reserve through Tingo.com you will automatically be rebooked at a lower rate if the cost of your room drops. This only applies to rooms with a “Money Back” designation. Just be sure that Tingo has the lowest price to begin with compared to booking though other sites.

Thanks to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance for these tips.

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The Consumer Gal and I just had our book, Enough of Us – which deals with other subject matter – published. Now we have to focus on marketing our “baby.” So for thetime being, I will be suspending my semi-monthly Consumer Guy full-length blog posts and, instead, providing  brief consumer tips..

If you would like to learn more about our book, which deals with issues of ethics and procreation, please visit our other website, www.enoughof.us. Many thanks for your interest.

 

 

 

 

Love the New Car? Wait! Don’t Drive it off the Lot Yet

When I was a kid in the Bronx, yo-yo “season” would come around each spring and every kid in the neighborhood would be walking around with his Duncan or Cheerio. Nowadays, yo-yo season can be an all-year thing … for unscrupulous car dealers. According to the Center for Responsible Lending, if you are dealing with an unscrupulous car dealership, when you make the down payment on your new car (it could be in the form of a trade-in), the finance guy has you sign a great financing agreement and leads you to believe the deal is final.Be careful before you sign for that loan

So you drive off the lot whistling a happy tune (the epitome of which would be “Whistle a Happy Tune”). Hours or days later, you receive a call from the dealer in which you are informed that the deal fell through. The caller asks you to come in and the salesperson tries to convince you to take a higher-interest loan, by about 5 percent. If you say, “No deal,” the dealer tells you that you have driven the car and informs you of the costs, which may include keeping your down payment (or trade-in) or charging you for wear and tear.

Solution: Never drive a new car off the lot without having a fully authorized financing agreement in your clutches.

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The Consumer Gal and I are about to have our book, Enough of Us – which deals with other subject matter – published. In preparation for the big event we need to concentrate on that project. So for the next eight weeks or so, I will be suspending my semi-monthly Consumer Guy full-length blog posts and, instead, providing  a short consumer tip each week (I hope).

If you would like to learn more about our book that deals with issues of ethics and procreation, please visit our other website, www.enoughof.us. Many thanks for your interest.

Package for You? Yeah, a Pack of Pain

The US Postal Inspection Service reports a scam in which you receive an email informing you that the US Postal Service (USPS) had trouble trying to deliver a package to your address. All you have to do is click on the enclosed link arrange for delivery. If you click on the link you will download a

USPS Office of the Inspector General

An exact replica of your nonexistent package

malicious virus that can steal information from your computer. So…how can I put this?…Oh yeah, DON’T CLICK ON THE LINK! In fact, never click on any link in any email that resembles an email like this.What to do? Forward spam emails that involve snail mail to the USPS Inspection service at spam@uspis.gov. If there is a package waiting for you, the mail carrier will leave a notice in your mailbox.

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The Consumer Gal and I are about to have our book, Enough of Us – which deals with another realm – published in a few weeks. In preparation for the big event we need to concentrate on that project. So for the next eight weeks or so, I will be suspending my semi-monthly Consumer Guy full-length blog posts and, instead, providing  a short consumer tip each week (I hope).

If you would like to learn more about our book that deals with issues of ethics and procreation, please visit our other website, www.enoughof.us. Many thanks for your interest.

 

Cleaning Your Ductwork Could Mean Getting Cleaned Out

According to Consumer Reports Money Adviser, having your home’s ductwork cleaned may clean out your heating vents … and your checking account. Unless, when you poke you head into the vent you see mold, there is no evidence that spotless ducts will make your life any easier or cleaner.

And according to the Environmental Protection Agency:

Airducts diagram (EPA)

Structural diagram of an air duct (EPA)

“Duct cleaning has never been shown to actually prevent health problems. Neither do studies conclusively demonstrate that particle (e.g., dust) levels in homes increase because of dirty air ducts. This is because much of the dirt in air ducts adheres to duct surfaces …  air ducts are only one of many possible sources of particles that are present in homes. Pollutants that enter the home both from outdoors and indoor activities such as cooking, cleaning, smoking, or just moving around can cause greater exposure to contaminants than dirty air ducts. Moreover, there is no evidence that a light amount of household dust or other particulate matter in air ducts poses any risk to your health.”Money Adviser also warns that poorly trained workers might damage your heating system. Companies that offer free “tests” will claim to find mold and then hike the initial cleaning price quote.If you decide to have your ducts cleaned after an inspection, ask the sales rep to show you exactly what he found and to put into a written contract what process the company will use to do the job. Before you sign on the dotted line, check with your local Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org), Yelp!, and your local consumer protection agency (it might be your state’s attorney general’s office).

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The Consumer Gal and I are about to have our book, Enough of Us – which deals with another realm – published in a few weeks. In preparation for the big event we need to concentrate on that project. So for the next eight weeks or so, I will be suspending my semi-monthly Consumer Guy full-length blog posts and, instead, providing  a short consumer tip each week (I hope).

If you would like to learn more about our book that deals with issues of ethics and procreation, please visit our other website, www.enoughof.us. Many thanks for your interest.

 

 

 

So-called “Convenience Checks” are Convenient . . . for the Banks

You know those “convenience checks” that come with your monthly credit card statement?

Convenience checks

Convenience check promotion with an low introductory rate

They’re for suckers. Here’s why. When you use them you’re usually charged the daily cash advance interest rate of 12, 15, or even 20 percent. Often they come with a 3-4 percent fee. When you make purchases with them you don’t usually accrue the benefits—like airline miles, cash back, and the extended warranty benefit —that come with credit card purchases.The low introductory interest rate may quickly disappear and if using one of these checks causes you to exceed your credit card limit, it could cause the check to bounce and to hurt your credit score.Shred any checks that you receive. Better yet, resist temptation, as I have done, by calling your card issuer and telling it to stop sending the checks.

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The Consumer Gal and I just had our book, Enough of Us – which deals with another realm – published. In order to concentrate on that project I will be suspending my semi-monthly Consumer Guy full-length blog posts and, instead, providing  a short consumer tip each week (I hope).

If you would like to learn more about our book that deals with issues of ethics and procreation, please visit our other website, www.enoughof.us. Many thanks for your interest.

 

You may Have $ Coming to You!

Unclaimed money site

Unclaimed money site

All types of financial transactions go awry. Perhaps a bank, or retirement fund, or former employer owes you money, but they’ve lost track of you. Such funds end up “on hold” in the treasuries of respective states.

For instance, I just discovered that my late mother-in-law has pension money from a former employer here in California coming to her. It amounts to a whopping 13 cents! Oh well. In a few short moments you can find out if you or one of your relatives has some serious cash coming.

Just go to www.unclaimed.org to find out if your Caribbean vacation awaits you.

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The Consumer Gal and I are about to have our book, Enough of Us – which deals with another realm – published in a few weeks. In preparation for the big event we need to concentrate on that project. So for the next eight weeks or so, I will be suspending my semi-monthly Consumer Guy full-length blog posts and, instead, providing  a short consumer tip each week (I hope).

If you would like to learn more about our book that deals with issues of ethics and procreation, please visit our other website, www.enoughof.us. Many thanks for your interest.

Ways to Spot an Emailed Virus.

Two types of viruses are contaminating the landscape. One is influenza. The other is all those email viruses concocted by mentally ill people who have no self-esteem and who want make an impact on society, no matter how useless and negative.

There are lots of folks who have had their email contact lists compromised and who are spreading viruses without knowing it, that is until their contacts tell them about it. Here are some ways to detect these insidious little buggers.

Be very careful about messages that are not truly personal even if they have your name in the subject line. The body of the email usually goes something like this:

“Hey Bob, you really have to check this out http://www.9dfkr.ibl-finance”

Notice, there really is no personal communication, except for your name.

Also, be careful of extensions in the email link like .exe, .scr, or .pif, which are the most common extensions of viruses.

If you click on one of these links, you compromise your contacts list and everyone in your list is likely to have the same virus sent to them.

If you receive such a virus, notify the person who unknowingly sent it to you and then delete it

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The Consumer Gal and I are about to have our book, Enough of Us – which deals with another realm – published in a few weeks. In preparation for the big event we need to concentrate on that project. So for the next eight weeks or so, I will be suspending my semi-monthly Consumer Guy full-length blog posts and, instead, providing  a short consumer tip each week (I hope).

If you would like to learn more about our book that deals with issues of ethics and procreation, please visit our other website, www.enoughof.us. Many thanks for your interest.