Beware Debit Card Holds, Especially at the Gas Pump

Debit card holds are a common practice at restaurants and gas stations, and they can get you into trouble if you’re not careful.

Debit card holds, also known as pre-authorizations or “blocking off”, represent an aspect of commercial purchasing that many consumers are completely unaware of. But placing holds on debit purchases is a common practice, one you’ve probably been subject to more than once.

Usually this sort of pre-authorization isn’t a big deal, but it can be costly and annoying if your bank account balance is low to begin with.

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An Honest To Goodness Credit Card Alarm

Worried that you might forget your credit card somewhere? Get a credit card alarm

In the world of credit card security features, the credit card alarm has to take the cake. That’s not to say that it’s a bad idea, because it’s not; but it’s definitely unique. Unlike most security features, it’s neither embedded nor passive. It lets you know immediately if something’s wrong.

Let’s take a closer look at what it’s all about.

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Beware Gift Card Scams

Gift card scams are on the rise. Here’s what you need to know to avoid them

When it comes to overall sneakiness, gift card scams have got to take the cake.

Now that people are becoming more aware of identity theft, it’s getting harder for those oh-so-clever high-tech criminals to snatch information from debit and credit cards that they can use to buy free goodies and otherwise line their pockets.

But gift cards, those limited-use credit cards we love to give each other for Christmas and birthdays — they’re still fair game, because most consumers and, worse, the retailers, haven’t caught onto their tricks yet.

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Keep an Eye Out for Unusual Credit Card Fees

You should review your statements carefully each month, to be sure the issuers aren’t charging any unusual credit card fees

Have you noticed any unusual credit card fees on your statements lately? I’m not talking about charges for cases of caviar or plane tickets to Aruba that you don’t remember buying, although you should certainly pay attention to those. But it’s easy to miss a finance charge miscalculation or a payment protection fee.

Let’s take a look at the little ways that the issuers can pad your card fees.

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New Credit Card Perks for Good Customers

If you’ve got a solid credit history, look for some nice credit card perks to come your way in 2011 and 2012

While recent regulations have placed tight strictures on the way that credit card companies do business, new technological advances and a willingness to start lending again have paved the way for some very nice credit card perks.

Let’s take a quick look at what’s available.

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Trip Cancellation Insurance and Your Credit Card

If you pay for your vacation with your credit card, you may automatically get trip cancellation insurance

If you’re about to spend thousands for a business trip or vacation, then you might want to invest in some trip cancellation insurance — just in case.

We’ve all heard of flight insurance. Well, this is similar, but it’s a more general category of protection. It’s a good idea, given life’s uncertainty; and interestingly enough, your credit card may automatically cover you.

Needless to say, there are a few caveats to that statement, so let’s take a closer look.

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The Latest Dirty Credit Card Tricks, Part II

We hate to tell you this, but credit card companies don’t love you… they love your money, and they use all kinds of dirty credit card tricks to get it

Dirty credit card tricks should be thing of the past, given the reforms recently passed under the Credit CARD Act of 2009… and perhaps in an ideal world elsewhere in the spacetime continuum, they are. But this is the real world, and while the old abuses have been curbed, we now have new ones to deal with.

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The Latest Dirty Credit Card Tricks, Part I

The Credit CARD Act of 2009 put an end to a whole crop of dirty credit card tricks… but the industry has grown a new batch

It was naïve to think that the much ballyhooed Credit CARD Act of 2009 would put an end to the dirty credit card tricks that issuers try to gouge us with on a daily basis. Sometimes, I think the only winning move with credit cards is what the computer decided at the end of the movie WarGames: not to play at all.

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Find the Very Best Gas Credit Cards

Your guide to the mysterious world of the best gas credit cards

Finding the best gas credit cards is no easy task. You have to be a very savvy consumer to get by in our world, and when you’re dealing with credit cards, that’s doubly true. Everyone’s well aware that we’re in a recession, so credit card companies are competing for your business — while trying to cut corners of their own.

If you follow this blog you’ve heard me say it before: read the fine print. That is the best, the only way to make sure you’re not going to have any unpleasant surprises when your bill arrives, and with gas credit cards, that’s doubly true. Here are a couple of the things you want to watch out for when you’re choosing the best gas credit cards.

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Bad Credit Unsecured Credit Cards and How to Find Them

Your guide to catching the elusive bad credit unsecured credit cards

I’ve met dozens of people looking for bad credit unsecured credit cards. I’ve even been one of them myself. The logic is simple and can range from ‘I don’t have the money to put in a secured account right now’ to ‘I want to rebuild my credit with a real card, not some glorified debit card.’ I understand the objections, believe me.

But if you’re traveling that road, you’re probably finding — as I did — that bad credit unsecured credit cards aren’t all that common. If your credit’s bad, people don’t want to take a chance on you. So here are my tips and advice based on personal experience.

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