Credit Cards: The Smartest Holiday Shopping Choice

En español | Sure, buying holiday gifts with cash or debit cards avoids interest charges and forces you to stay within a budget to prevent overspending. Occasionally, cash purchases may even qualify you for a discount when merchants can avoid paying transaction “swipe” fees. So why should you still pay with credit cards for gifts this season – and for other transactions? Here are three ways that credit cards are the most protective payment choice: 1. Limited Losses. Under federal law, …

Why I Gave Up on Airline Frequent-Flier Credit Cards

I’m a recovering frequent flier and hotel frequent stayer junkie. My United and Delta credit cards added to my flights and hotel stays. Over the decades, my wife and I have had many free vacations (air, hotel, car) in places such as Australia, Hong Kong and Hawaii. I’ve even had a nice Caribbean cruise. But those days are over and here’s why, as well as what I think is a better way. First, it’s important to point out that I use …

Cyber Aware? Know the Top Internet Scams

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, and no doubt you’re fully aware of what happened to Target, Home Depot and scores of other companies that were victims of cyber attacks. Those big-brand data breaches certainly make news. But what really hits home? The cyber scams that don’t generate headlines yet result in the most reports and complaints to the National Consumers League and other watchdog groups. So along with the often-preached mantras that warrant repeating this month — use …

New Chip Cards, Same Old Scam Emails

En español | If you haven’t already received your new EMV “smart chip” credit card(s), you soon will. What else can you expect, even if you were previously sent the new plastic? Expect bogus emails allegedly sent by card issuers, PayPal or other businesses that supposedly provide details about your account with more secure, chip-imbedded cards. It’s a new incentive for old tricks to install computer malware and/or phish for account information and log-in credentials. Why now? Oct. 1 is …

What You Can Expect When the Fed Raises Rates

Federal Reserve policymakers will meet next week to decide whether to raise a key interest rate. If they do, it’ll be the first time since June 2006. To put that in perspective, the New York Times notes that back then, Facebook was still mostly for college students and its competitor, MySpace (remember MySpace?), had 10 times as many users. If policymakers nudge this rate up, it could have a ripple effect on the pocketbooks of consumers. Many experts predict, though, …

10 Ways to Prevent Identity Theft When Traveling

Planning summer vacation has its headaches. But enjoying it can cause the migraine of identity theft. Being from out of town means being out of your element – and makes you more vulnerable to scams. Here’s how to protect yourself. Stick with one credit card. Tourists are easier prey for sleazy store clerks and restaurant employees who capture credit card numbers with cellphone cameras or pen and paper and then make fraudulent purchases. If not paying with cash when traveling, …