Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Best selling credit cards you can apply for now!


0% Balance Transfer Cards

Card Rate Duration Typical APR

Virgin Credit Card 0% 15 mths 15.9%Apply

Egg Card 0% Until 01/01/2009 16.9%Apply

Abbey Credit Card 0% 12 mths 15.9%Apply

SonyCard 0% 12 mths 15.9%Apply

Halifax One Online Special 0% 12 mths 15.9%Apply

Lloyds TSB Platinum MasterCard 0% 12 mths 16.9%Apply

MBNA Platinum Plus 0% Until 01/12/2008 12.9%Apply

Capital One Platinum 0% Until 01/08/2008 9.9%Apply

Virgin Credit Card Special 0% 9 mths 15.9%Apply
0% Purchase Cards
Card Rate Duration Typical APR
Halifax One Online Special 0% 12 mths 15.9%Apply
Capital One Platinum 0% Until 01/08/2008 9.9%Apply
MBNA Platinum Rewards Card 0% 9 mths 15.9%Apply
Virgin Credit Card Special 0% 9 mths 15.9%Apply
Lloyds TSB Platinum MasterCard 0% 6 mths 16.9%Apply
MBNA Platinum Plus 0% Until 01/03/2008 12.9%Apply
Abbey Credit Card 0% 3 mths 15.9%Apply
Virgin Credit Card 0% 3 mths 15.9%Apply
Post Office Platinum 0% 3 mths 15.9%Apply
Egg Card 0% Until 01/02/2008 16.9%Apply
0% Balance Transfer and Purchase Cards
Card Name Intro Duration BT Duration Typical APR
Halifax One Online Special 12 mths 12 mths 15.9%Apply
Virgin Credit Card Special 9 mths 9 mths 15.9%Apply
Lloyds TSB Platinum MasterCard 6 mths 12 mths 16.9%Apply
MBNA Platinum Rewards Card 9 mths 9 mths 15.9%Apply
Capital One Platinum Until 01/08/2008 Until 01/08/2008 9.9%Apply
Virgin Credit Card 3 mths 15 mths 15.9%Apply
MBNA Platinum Plus Until 01/03/2008 Until 01/12/2008 12.9%Apply
Egg Card Until 01/02/2008 Until 01/01/2009 16.9%Apply
SonyCard 3 mths 12 mths 15.9%Apply
Abbey Credit Card 3 mths 12 mths 15.9%Apply
Cashback Cards
Card Cashback
Shell MasterCard - Citi 6% rebate on Shell fuel spend for first 60 daysApply
Abbey Credit Card 5% CB on supermarket spend before 31/01/08Apply
American Express Platinum 5% Moneyback for first 3 monthsApply
Capital One Cashback 4% Cashback on all purchases in the first 3 monthsApply
Loyalty Reward Cards
Card Loyalty Rewards
MBNA Platinum Rewards 1 point for every £1.00 spentApply
SonyCard 2GB Sony MP3 Player when you spend £250 Apply
Virgin Credit Card 10% instant discounts on selected Virgin productsApply
Lloyds TSB Airmiles Duo Get up to 1 Airmile for every £10 spentApply
Low Standard Rate Cards
Card Typical APR Exclusive
Capital One Platinum 6.9% 6.9% An excellent low standard rateApply
Business Cards
Name Key Benefits Typical APR
MBNA Business Card 1% Cashback on fuel spend 17.9%Apply
Barclaycard Business Standard control your business expenditure 18.8%Apply

Monday, November 19, 2007

Credit cards that help you save

Use these reward cards right and you can fatten your savings, retirement and college accounts. Or use them wrong and wind up further in the hole.

Every little bit helps. Except when it doesn't.

A number of financial institutions now offer reward cards that promise to help you boost your net worth by contributing to your savings accounts, your retirement plans, your college funds or even your mortgage.

In fact, two recent entries into this field, Bank of America's "Keep the Change" debit card program and American Express One's "Savings Accelerator," are being marketed as an antidote to our nation's miserable personal savings rate (we just dropped below zero again).

Each of these cards, however, has traps for the unwary that could undo most or all of the benefits they promise. You should read the fine print of each offer, note how rewards are accrued and refrain from carrying balances; otherwise, any benefit you get from the savings-reward program will be more than wiped out by interest costs.

Furthermore, there's no card that is best for everyone. The right rewards program depends on how much you spend and other details of your financial life, like where you keep your retirement money. The Fidelity Investments reward cards, for example, are favorites of Curtis Arnold, who runs the Web site. But their generous rebates won't be much help to you if you're not a Fidelity customer.

Even at their best, none can take the place of a disciplined savings and investing strategy. You still need to save on your own for retirement, college and emergencies; these cards can, at best, add a few bucks a year to those efforts.

Here's what you need to know about the most widely available programs:

Bank of America's Keep the Change

Annual fee: None

APR: None (program is linked to debit card)

Grace period: Not applicable

How it works: Your purchases are rounded up to the nearest dollar and the excess amount -- from 1 cent to 99 cents -- is debited from your checking account and deposited into your savings account. So if you use your debit card to pay for a $3.21 latte, Bank of America debits $4 from your account and sends the extra 79 cents to your savings. BofA provides a 100% match for the first three months on these transfers and a 5% match thereafter.

Limit: $250 a year

The catch: There are a few. You may incur a slightly greater chance of overdrawing your account, especially if it often runs on fumes. Your savings could be reduced if your bank or merchant charges fees for debit transactions. Also note that the match isn't very generous after the first three months; you'd have to rack up at least 5,000 transactions a year, or about 14 a day, to hit the $250 maximum, so most of what you'll save will be your own money.

A good match for: Bank of America customers on debit purchases they would make anyway.

Their pitch.

American Express One Card's Savings Accelerator

Annual fee: $35 (waived the first year)

APR: Currently 12.99% to 14.99%, depending on credit history

Default rate for late or overlimit accounts: Currently 28.99%

Grace period: 30 days

How it works: American Express deposits 1% of your purchases into an FDIC-insured high-yield savings account (current return 3.5%) run by its affiliated bank.

Limit: None

The catch: That annual fee. Sure, it's waived in the first year and further offset by a $25 sign-up bonus deposited into your account. But after that, the savings from your first $3,500 in annual spending are eaten up by the fee. Most light to moderate spenders (annual charges of $30,000 or less) would be better off with a card like Citibank Dividend Platinum Select, which offers a regular 1% cash-back rebate on all purchases (rewards are capped at $300 a year).

A good match for: Big spenders who aren't interested in the Fidelity offerings (see below).

Fidelity Investment Rewards MasterCard

Annual fee: None

APR: 12.15%

Default rate: 19.99%

Grace period: 25 days

How it works: Fidelity deposits 1.5% of your purchases into a Fidelity brokerage or retirement account.

Limit: $1,500 a year

The catch: You typically need $2,500 to open a Fidelity account; account maintenance fees may apply if your balance slips below that level.

A good match for: Fidelity customers. The 1.5% rewards rate is better than most cards and applies right from the start (unlike many regular cash-back programs that have a tiered system, offering just .5% on the first $1,000 of spending, 1% on the next $2,000, and so on). The high limit (you'd have to spend $100,000 annually to hit it) makes it a particularly attractive choice for high-spending folks who might run into the lower caps set on other rewards cards.

Fidelity Investments 529 College Rewards Card

Annual fee: None

APR: 15.24%

Default rate: 19.99%

Grace period: 25 days

How it works: Fidelity deposits 2% of your purchases into your Fidelity-run 529 account.

Limit: $1,500 a year

The catch: Fidelity currently operates 529 plans in Arizona, New Hampshire, Delaware and Massachusetts. They're OK plans, but the rewards card isn't enough reason to move your money from another plan -- particularly if you live in a state that offers tax breaks for contributions. (For more on 529 plans, see the College Board site's explanation.)

A good match for: Current Fidelity 529 plan customers. Like Fidelity's Investment Rewards program, the 529 College Rewards benefits light to moderate spenders because its rewards aren't tiered, and big spenders because you'd have to spend $75,000 to hit the cap on rewards.

Citi UPromise Platinum Select MasterCard

Annual fee: None

APR: 12.99%

Default rate: 30.99%

Grace period: 20 days

How it works: Citibank deposits at least 1% of your purchases into the 529 plan of your choice. The reward rate for gas purchases is 2% and the rate for certain grocery and drug store items is up to 10%. The credit card and applicable retailer-issued loyalty cards must be registered at UPromise.

Limit: $300 a year for regular purchases; no limit on selected grocery and drug purchases

The catch: The default rate is severe and the grace period is short, so people who occasionally space on paying their credit card bills shouldn't apply. Also, some people feel weird about registering credit cards and retail loyalty cards at a third-party Web site like UPromise, which shares information about customers with its affiliates (unless the customers specifically opt out).

A good match for: Non-Fidelity 529 plan savers who have read UPromise's privacy policy and who don't charge more than $30,000 a year.

Stockback Visa Credit Card from MBNA

Annual fee: None

APR: 9.9%

Default rate: 19.99%

Grace period: 25 days

How it works: The tiered rebate schedule depends on your monthly spending: 0.5% for the first $1,500 spent, 1% for the next $1,499, 1.5% for the next $2,000 and 2% for amounts over $5,000; no rewards for spending over $6,000 a month. Stockback deposits rewards in an investment account of your choice.

Limit: $120 a month

The catch: Unlike most tiered rebates, which are based on annual spending, this convoluted plan starts over every month. Your effective rebate rate, if you hit the $6,000 monthly maximum, is 1.21%; if you spend much more or much less, your effective rate drops precipitously. Also, Stockback is run by the same company that runs BabyMint and NestEggz, so you'll want to read the privacy policy and be prepared for targeted advertising by affiliates.

A good match for: Those who spend between $5,000 and $6,000 a month. Lighter spenders are probably better off in a regular cash-back card that gives you at least 1% on all purchases; bigger spenders might want to check out American Express One or NestEggz (below).

NestEggz Platinum Plus MasterCard from MBNA

Annual fee: None

APR: 9.9%

Default rate: 19.99%

Grace period: 25 days

How it works: NestEggz offers 1% rewards on purchases (and 3% on gas until Dec. 31, 2005) to be deposited in the retirement account of your choice.

Limit: None on regular purchases, $3 a month on gas

The catch: Like Stockback and BabyMint, the NestEggz program shares aggregated, non-personally identifiable information with affiliates so they can market their products to you.

A good match for: Those looking to boost their retirement savings and big spenders who aren't Fidelity customers and who want a MasterCard rather than an American Express.

Citi Home Rebate Platinum Select MasterCard

Annual fee: None

APR: 13.99%

Default rate: 30.99%

Grace period: 20 days

How it works: Citibank applies 1% of purchases toward the mortgage of your choice.

Preferred format:

The catch: The short grace period and high default rate can be a trap for folks who aren't diligent about paying on time. Also, most people have better uses for their money than paying down a low-rate, potentially tax-deductible mortgage.

A good match for: People who have already paid off all their other debt, met their retirement and other savings goals and still want to reduce their mortgages.

By Liz Pulliam Weston

Credit Cards for the Despirate

22% interest, fee after fee after fee -- and some feel lucky to get it. It may be their best shot at rebuilding a troubled credit history.


In order to do many mundane activities these days, a credit card is almost a necessity.

Ever tried to open a bank account or rent a car, and the first requirement is to hand over your credit card? Even friends planning to share driving duties must flash their plastic to prove their credit existence to many major car rental agencies.

Some people just prefer the practicality of not carrying cash around all the time.

For still others, there's the peace of mind that comes from having credit readily available in an emergency.

But for the credit destitute, plastic is hard to come by.

Not everyone has offers from credit lenders stuffed in their mailbox. In fact, those with bad, little or no credit history may be yearning for even a single offer -- any offer -- to arrive one day.

When it finally does -- or when you head out in search of credit -- the "deals" can seem like anything but. First of all, high annual percentage rates, to the tune of 18%, 20%, 22% or more, are common on credit cards offered to those with poor credit.

The 9.9% APR for a card geared toward getting your credit "back on track" seems like a lucky break -- until the eye meets the fees list you're likely to encounter:

  • $29 for account setup.
  • $95 program fee.
  • $48 annual fee.
  • $72 participation fee.
  • $20 annual per-card fee for additional cards.
  • $25 fee for each approved credit limit increase.

"Look at it from the bank's perspective," says Tracey Mills, a spokeswoman for the American Bankers Association. "High risk equals high cost. The riskier you are, the higher you'll pay for credit."

But if you're willing to pay, that piece of plastic can be yours. "You can have pretty much the worst credit in the world and still get a credit card these days," says Richard M. Krawczyk, publisher of The Report newsletter.

Credit cards are available even for those who have hit financial rock bottom.

"One of the biggest surprises for consumers who've been through bankruptcy is how easy it is afterwards to regain credit," says Gerri Detweiler, author of "The Ultimate Credit Handbook: How to Cut Your Debt and Have a Lifetime of Great Credit," now in its third edition.

Where to find them

If you don't receive any offers in the mail, or if the rates and terms are unacceptable, there are many places you can search for the best possible deal -- online, by phone or in person at your local bank branch. Bankrate provides readers with interactive tools that enable you to search for low interest rate cards, as well as no annual fee cards; secured cards; student cards and rebate or frequent-flier cards. There are many more online sites you can use to search for your best possible deal.

"With more than 6,000 lenders out there, chances are most people would qualify for some type of card," Mills says.

Lenders will extend a credit hand to nearly anyone, often hoping for a long-term relationship. HSBC Bank Nevada is a good example. Their Orchard Bank MasterCard Classic "is a bridge card that enables customers who have less than perfect credit or no credit to speed their movement along the credit spectrum," says HSBC representative Rahsaan Johnson. "It gives us . . . an opportunity to reach the customer early in the process of building or rebuilding their credit. So when they're ready for a car loan or a mortgage loan, they have a history of working with us, and we hope that they will continue to do so."

Credit boost for the future

Whether you stay with the bank or not, looking at the big picture of rebuilding your credit is the right idea.

Living with what could be called a "credit card of last resort" is definitely a "bummer," says Maxine Sweet, vice president of public education at the credit bureau Experian, who writes the online consumer credit advice column Ask Max. "You know you shouldn't be there. But it's also a great opportunity to turn yourself around. You have a card now, you can manage it, and then you can move on," she says.

A good credit history is the light at the end of the tunnel, so finding the right tunnel is crucial.

Consumers who pose a high risk to lenders "are getting promotional materials in the mail," says Emily Davidson, director of communications at "But a lot of times it's not a good deal."

Often, credit card issuers will buy mailing lists from credit bureaus, asking specifically for those with credit scores in a certain range, contends Krawczyk, who is also the author of "Financial Aerobics: How to Get Your Finances In Shape" and the home-study course "Financial Aerobics: 30 Days to Financial Fitness." Those with marginal credit will most often get offers for secured cards, requiring a deposit equal to or more than the total amount of credit desired. "And then they still charge an arm and a leg on top of that," he adds.

Experts say the best bet is to research, research and research. Offers found online -- through basic searches such as "bad credit" and "compare credit cards," for example -- won't be touting their high interest rates and fees or low credit limits. But they "seem pretty straightforward about what the requirements are," says George Yacik, vice president of SMR Research, which has conducted studies on the U.S. credit card industry.

While specific offers change often, here are two lenders that have issued unsecured credit cards to consumers with poor or little credit:

Research may even reveal a card that offers rewards for purchases or online bill payment options, which have traditionally been offered only to those with decent credit but are becoming a bit of a trend at the lower end of the market, Davidson says.

Reading carefully

With any offer uncovered, just heed the fine print (which Mills says is more like "unread print"). One of those terms, for example, may state the issuer's right to raise the interest rate if the customer is even one day late on one payment, Krawczyk says.

The terms of any credit offer must be disclosed. "If you have less than perfect credit, it's even more important to read those disclosures carefully," Detweiler says.

What you find in the fine print of many offers can make your neighborhood bank seem like the most desirable lender. "Everyone focuses on the major card issuers. But if you're just starting out and you already have a relationship with a bank, with a checking or savings account, ask about their credit products," Mills says.

The big lenders, which have set rules and policies, know only what's on your credit report. A local bank may be able to see a more favorable side to your money handling, such as your avoiding overdrafts and using electronic payment options successfully.

"Carefully select who and what you trust," advises Adam K. Levin, president and CEO of, who is also the former consumer affairs director for the state of New Jersey. And never underestimate how quickly you can use the system to build a positive credit score. "If you play your cards right, it's really easy to have good credit," he says. "Although it gets kind of demonized, the system really is working in the consumer's favor a lot of times."

By Melissa M. Ezarik,

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Guide to student banking and finance - part 2 of 2

No matter what your chosen subject may be, for many students it makes sense to become financially savvy. At university budgeting will be tight and you will have to learn quickly about juggling daily expenses with household bills and income from loans. Just like with an exam, revision is the key. If you know what you're getting into you'll produce better results. Learning about student current accounts, student loans, student credit cards and to be wary of consolidating student loans will help your cause.

To make student life easier it's necessary to think beyond your student loan and be prepared to go that extra mile to improve your income and cut your costs.

Student Loans

Perhaps the easiest way to help your budget is to increase your income through a student loan. Students can defer payments on the £3,000/year tuition fee until they are earning £15,000/year in employment through a tuition fee loan with the Student Loans Company. For more details contact your local authority.

In addition, student loans are available to assist with living and study expenses. These usually amount to about £1,250/term. Again the loans do not have to be paid back until you are earning £15,000/year but this does not mean you should treat the loans with anything but respect. Remember their purpose and be careful not to spend excessively on unnecessary items as soon as you receive the loan. It has to last you for the course of the term and ultimately you have to pay it back.

Where to go for help with debt or finance

Hopefully by reading the guide to student banking and finance you'll have learned the importance of a budget, useful ways to save and add to your income. However, we realise that the more help and advice you can get the better, which is why we have compiled a list of useful contacts for you to consider.

The first stop for help should be your student union representative. They will be able to deal with your needs directly and offer advice. However, there are many additional outside sources to consider:

  • DfEs - The Department for Education and skills offers student support.
  • LEAs - For a full list of local education authorities.
  • Student Loan Company - All you need to know about student loans.
  • Support for Learning - Information on money management and student loans.

Ways to save

Take advantage of every offer available on the things you need. Whether it's two-for-one at the local supermarket, cutting out coupons, or sticking to reduced rate 'student nights' at the local bars, every penny counts - especially when a tin of baked beans can cost as little as 9p! can help your cause with our price comparison tools that help you find the best deal available on numerous products:

  • Car insurance - Running a car is expensive at the best of times and at university it is probably best to stick to local transport wherever possible. However, if you have a car already you need to get the best deals available. With younger drivers making more claims than their more experienced counterparts premiums are high, but many companies now offer young drivers car insurance with flexible payment options. Consider having a parent as a named driver and read our car insurance guide for ways to further cut your premium and get cheap car insurance.
  • Travel insurance - Specific policies are now available for those who plan to take a gap year. Read our travel insurance guide for more. You can also use for cheap flights and hotels.
  • Student banking/current accounts - These generally have interest-free overdraft facilities, a student adviser service, incentives such as gift vouchers and some accounts could pay interest on credit balance and offer a credit card.
  • Savings accounts - If you can start saving a few pounds here and there, make sure you're getting the best interest rate.
  • Student credit card - A credit card should be a last resort, however if you find it necessary to take one out seek advice and use the comparison tool at for the best deal. Remember however, that failing to meet payments on loans and credit cards can seriously damage your credit rating. If your debts are already out of hand contact the Citizen's Advice Bureau immediately.
  • Bank loans for students - If you are looking for a loan or to consolidate other loans the best rates can be compared on However, most students will find it difficult to benefit from the best rates because of their circumstances and credit profile.

The price comparison tools can also be used to find the best deals on home insurance (including insurance for rented and/or shared accommodation) gas and electricity and mobile phones, all of which could offer vital savings. Credit cards, loans and mortgages become more relevant after you graduate but it is useful to stay aware of market changes. Remember to set up bills on direct debit to reduce monthly payments and avoid big bills when you can't cope with large payments.

Hopefully you now feel well-equipped to deal with the issues of student finance. Remember at all times that help is available and you're not alone - millions are coping and you can too.

Good luck with your studies and enjoy university life!


Guide to student banking and finance - part 1 of 2

Student debt is a serious issue for anyone considering going to university. Statistics show that the average student leaves their studies behind some £13,000 in the red - a sum of money they could be paying off for more than twenty years. As a consequence graduates are no longer thinking simply about where to go and what to study, but whether they can cope with the financial strain of university life.

However, the fact is that millions do cope and to help your cause has compiled a guide to student banking and finance. We aim to point you in the right direction so you can deal with the monetary strain, allowing you to concentrate on your studies and enjoy university life. Our guide deals with the basics of banking and finance - here in part one we take a look at banking and budgeting whilst in part two we deal with finance, debt and ways to save.

The importance of a budget

Pre-preparing a budget may help you keep a tight grip on your finances. It's crucial to take EVERYTHING into account as money will be extremely tight. Think beyond the obvious major outlays such as rent, bills, books and food and think about the smaller expenses that will quickly add-up. Think about the costs of using your mobile phone (including texts), printing, photo-copying, using public transport and factor in those inevitable night-outs. The more you can plan for the better.

Budgeting is a vital tool not just at university, but in life. Thinking ahead and sticking closely to your plan is crucial if you are to avoid student debt.

Work out your cost of living

A little bit of mathematics can go a long way and a neat calculation can help you prepare for university life. Here is what we recommend that you consider:

  • Income for term - This will include parental contributions, a student loan (usually about £1,250) and a wage from a part-time job.
  • Term expenditure - This will include rent (usually about £800), books, clothes, CDs, etc - larger sums that you will spend over the course of a term.
  • Weekly expenditure - This should factor in the essentials and non-essentials, so food, leisure, travel, household bills and more.

Firstly add up the income and then add up your term expenditure. Also calculate your weekly expenditure over the course of a term - there are normally twelve weeks in a term. Once you have the three totals worked out, add the two expenditure totals together and subtract them from your income. The total will be the money you have left after all these costs are factored in. Consequently you might wish to reduce certain costs based on these results - you could decide to cut out the odd night out or spend a little less on leisure to keep yourself within a budget. Always reserve some cash for emergencies.

Part-time work

Though many like to claim that students are work-shy the opposite is often true as many young people hold down part-time jobs to ease financial worries in addition to dealing with their studies. Of course work should never come ahead of study, but if you can cope with perhaps a weekend job or even work through the holidays it is a great way to boost your income.

Help is available. Many universities have job shops connecting students to local employers and there are often special initiatives in place. The National Council for Work Experience has details about how your local institution can help. You can also search for jobs online through companies such as Jobcentreplus, DirectGov and totaljobs.

Parental/additional support

OK not everyone has rich parents and asking for money is not an easy thing to do. However, any additional support is welcome and will help to ease the student finance burden. Why not ask family members to buy your books for example? They are probably more likely to support you if they think their money isn't going to disappear at the Student Union bar!

Also look to outside sources for sponsorship. Do you know anyone who works for a large local company? Is there someone in the industry you are looking to join who has spotted your potential and would be prepared to support your cause? Or are you a member of a social group or church who might be able to contribute? As the old phrase goes, if you don't ask, you don't get - and you might just be pleasantly surprised!