Tag Archive | "Credit Cards"

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Smart chip credit card bandwagon – American Express finally jumping on

Posted on 10 July 2012 by David

Smart Chip Credit Card - Gold

In the market for a smart chip credit card?  Here’s a bit of news for you.

American Express has indicated that it will offer smart chip credit cards towards the latter half of this year (2012).   This may actually happen as planned, since AMEX has indicated that by April 2013, all credit card processors must be able to handle EMV cards.

American Express’s press release follows Visa, Mastercard, and Discover who have already announced planned support for EMV cards in the USA.   We can thus expect to see that smart chip credit cards will be increasingly accepted at merchants all across the USA in the coming years.

For now, as the AMEX smart chip credit cards are still a few months away, we all will have to get our smart chip credit cards from the few banks and credit unions that offer them.  Check out our post on available chip-and-signature as well as chip-and-pin cards.

For more information view the American Express press release on EMV cards.

 

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Comparison of Smart Chip Credit Cards in U.S. – Chip & Pin

Posted on 26 June 2012 by David

Smart Chip Credit Card - Blue

Today is a quick one. There are only TWO chip-and-pin smart chip credit cards available in the USA.

If you are interested in the chip-and-signature smart cards, we have a detailed comparison table created to help you decide.

For a comprehensive list of all the smart chip credit cards available in the U.S., you should refer to the post here.

Not sure if you even need a smart card?  Then you must read this post.

Chip-and-pin Cards Compared

Below are all the chip-and-pin cards at a glance.

Card Name Issuing Bank Annual Fee Foreign Exchange Fees Rewards Sign Up Promotion
GlobeTrek Visa® Rewards Card Andrews Federal Credit Union None! 1% Visa Platinum Rewards

  • 1 point per $1 everywhere else
5,000 points after first purchase
The Elite Credit Card UNFCU $50 None Rewards

  • 2 points per $1 at supermarkets and dining
  • 1 point per $1 everywhere else
LOUNGE CLUB™ cards allow access to over 350 VIP lounges worldwide

** Please refer to comments box below on how to apply for the GlobeTrek VISA Rewards Card.  We will write a post shortly with detailed instructions.  In the meantime, if you have questions or run into any issues, feel free to drop us a note!

Smart Chip Credit Cards from trips around the world - using credit cards

 

How to Decide Which Chip-and-Pin Card to Apply

 

The best smart chip credit card for you depends on your lifestyle and spending habit.

Why?

This is because everyone places a different value on the various benefits offered by a credit card.

For us, first and foremost, saving money is key.  So, anytime we can save cash or get more rewards to subsidize our travel, we like that smart chip credit card a little bit more.

Let’s look at the easy stuff first.

On Sign Up Promotion, the GlobeTrek Visa Card wins because we will get 5000 points after 1st purchase.  Staying in lounges at the airport is a luxury that we will trade 5000 points for.

On Rewards, we think the Elite Credit Card wins, although not by much.  This is because while the rewards program of the Elite Credit Card is slightly richer, we have another card we use for grocery and dining spend, so we will not likely take advantage of the 2 points per $1 at supermarket offer.  It will be a nice backup card though in case we forget the other card.

Now, the tricky part is how to evaluate annual fee and foreign exchange fee.  It depends on how much you plan to spend overseas.

Essentially, you are trying to compare $50 vs. 1% of foreign spend.

If you think you will put more than $5000 on your new credit card from overseas, then apply for the Elite Credit Card because you will spend more on the foreign exchange fee with the GlobeTrek Card than the annual fee on the Elite Credit Card.

On the other hand, if you think you will spend less than $5000 overseas, then by all means, apply for the GlobeTrek Visa Card because the 1% you spend on foreign exchange fees on that card will be less than the annual fee on the Elite Credit Card.

**Caveat Emptor? We noticed one inconvenience on the Elite Credit Card in that it will automatically enroll you in a 60-day complimentary term life insurance product and the cost of this product will be automatically billed to your Elite Credit Card starting on the 61st day.  If you don’t need term life insurance you can opt-out before the 61st day, but you must call a designated number on the fine print of the application to cancel.  We think this is a very questionable practice to automatically opt-in everyone to this (eventually) paid product.  So all else being equal, we will sign up for the GlobeTrek Visa Card instead.

Everyone has different spending habits, so think about how you spend, then decide on the card you want to apply.

 

Which smart chip credit card are you planning to apply for?  Any questions, drop us a comment below!

 

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photo by: 4nitsirk

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Comparison of Smart Chip Credit Cards in U.S. – Chip & Signature

Posted on 24 June 2012 by David

Smart Chip Credit Card - Gold

Smart chip credit cards are becoming more important to carry on your trip abroad, as more merchants overseas discontinue their support for the magnetic strip credit cards predominately available in the U.S.

We have researched the list of smart chip credit cards you can apply for in the U.S. previously.  Today, we would like to provide a quick comparison of chip and signature smart cards available in the country.  Tomorrow I’ll compare the available chip and pin cards.

Key Considerations in Deciding the Right Card for You

The table below shows all the chip and signature cards available in the U.S. today.

None of the cards carry any foreign exchange fees (which is great news!) and all cards offer a rewards program.  All cards, with the exception of the J.P. Morgan Select Visa Signature Card, give you a sign-on bonus as well.

If you just want to get a smart chip credit card for travel (or bragging right for being ahead of the curve), get a card with no annual fee.  At this time, only the FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa and J.P. Morgan Select Visa Signature offer no fee for the first year.  All cards have an annual fee after the first year.

However, after the first year, you can always cancel the card (just make sure you use up any rewards points in your account before you cancel), or call the bank and see if it will extend the no-fee promotion for you for another year (many banks will do that especially if you have been a good customer to them).

Which Chip and Signature Card We Would Pick and Why

Looking at the some of the benefits and features of each card, it appears that US Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa may be a decent card.  It has the lowest annual fee of all the cards, and no fee for the 1st year. That’s something to keep in mind especially if you plan to keep the card longer than a year.  As far as rewards are concerned, this card is currently offering bonus points.  The points will get you $50 for every 5,000 points which is equal to 1% cash back.  it also has a sign up promotion.

If it were up to us, our first choice would be the  US Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa by US Bank and our second choice would be the JP Morgan Select Visa Signature.  Both have no fees for the first year.  But by all means, take a look at the table below and pick the one that fits your spending style the most!

Chip-and-signature smart cards

Below are all the chip-and-signature cards compared side by side.

Card Name Issuing Bank Annual Fee Foreign Exchange Fees Rewards Sign Up Promotion
FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa USBank $0 first year, $49 thereafter None FlexPerks rewards

  • 2 points per $1 spent on gas, grocery or airline purchases, whichever you spend most on each monthly billing cycle, and on most cell phone expenses
  • 1 point per $1 everywhere else
15,000 bonus FlexPoints after the first $500 in net purchases in the first 90 days.
J.P. Morgan Select Visa Signature Chase $0 first year, $95 thereafter None Chase Ultimate Rewards

  • 2 points per $1 on air, hotel, and auto rentals
  • 1 point per $1 everywhere else
None
J.P. Morgan Palladium Chase $595
(this is not a typo)
None Chase Ultimate Rewards

  • 2 points for every $1 spent on travel
  • 1 point per $1 everywhere else
35k points for spending $100,000 a year
British Airways Visa Signature® Card Chase $95 None British Airways Avios points

  • 2.5 Avios per $1 on British Airways
  • 1.25 Avios per $1 everywhere else
50,000 Avios Bonus after first use
The Hyatt Credit Card Chase $75 None Hyatt Gold Passport

  • 3 points per $1 at Hyatt
  • 1 point per $1 everywhere else
2 free nights at any Hyatt, worldwide, the first time you use the card.

 

Which smart chip credit card did you apply for?  Any questions, drop us a comment below!

 

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5 Tips on Using Credit Cards Abroad

Posted on 13 June 2012 by Danica

Using Credit Cards When Traveling Abroad

Using credit cards abroad can be a great help in ensuring a seamless travel experience.  Your visits to the foreign exchange bureau will decrease dramatically, and you will no longer need to carry large sum of cash to cover your hotel cost.

Many of us assume using credit cards domestically is the same as using them abroad.  This is not true.  If not prepared, using credit cards abroad will cost you financially and tax your precious travel time.  Stick to the 5 tips we share with you below, and you will realize the benefits of travelling with credit cards.

1) Call your credit card company and let them know your travel dates and destinations in advance.  When we traveled around the world last year, we called all our credit card companies and let them know our itinerary in advance.  Yes, there were a lot of countries on that list, and yes, you need to count them all.  You don’t want to be stranded anywhere because your credit card company declined your transactions abroad.  They thought your cards were stolen!

2) Use only credit cards with no foreign exchange fees.  More and more banks are offering cards with no foreign exchange fees.  You don’t have to settle for a card with one.  The quickest way to find out if such fee exists for your card is to call your bank.  If there is a fee involved, drop it from your travel or you would have just paid 3-5% more for your trip.

Using Credit Cards When Traveling Abroad 2

3) Always charge in local currency.  There are times when the merchant will ask you (or not) whether you want to charge in your home currency or local currency.  The best is to know the exchange rate is advance, and compare that rate with the merchant rate before deciding which one to go with.  If you don’t know the offiicial rate, always insist to charge in the foreign currency.  We have found that the rate offered by local merchants is often a lot less competitive than what the banks offer.  So again, you will lose out if you allow them in convert and charge you in your home currency using their rate.

4) Consider using smart chip credit cards as opposed to the ones with magnetic strips that are so common in the U.S.  Smart chip credit cards are increasingly popular in many parts of the world.  Our post on the list of smart chip credit cards you can apply for in the U.S. may help you.  We also did a detailed comparison of all the chip & signature cards as well.  To understand why you may want a smart chip credit card for your travel, we have a post for you too.

Smart Chip Credit Cards from trips around the world - using credit cards

5)  Carry your passport with you.  This is especially true if you are still using the magnetic strip cards in the U.S.  In Europe, many merchants accept smart chip cards which offer better security.  If you use a magnetic strip card, be prepared to show your passport to confirm your identity.

We hope these tips help you in your travel adventure.  Have you encountered any other problems with using credit cards abroad?  Let us know, and we may just have a recommendation for you!

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Smart Chip Credit Cards You Can Apply for in the U.S.

Posted on 12 June 2012 by David

Smart Chip Credit Card - Gold
Smart chip credit cards are finally coming to the U.S.  In yesterday’s post, we discussed why you need a smart card for your travels.  What we didn’t tell you was that there are two major types of smart chip cards you should be aware of.

Don’t worry, figuring out which one works best for you is not as confusing as you might think.  Let us explain.

Not all smart chip credit cards are created equal

When looking for a smart card, you need to know that there are “chip-and-pin” and “chip-and-signature” cards.

  • Chip-and-pin cards allow you to use automated kiosks that require you to enter a pin number at point of sale.  No signature required for any purchase.
  • Chip-and-signature cards on the other hand, require a signature for purchases but no PIN.  They’re just like your typical magnetic strip card.  However, since these cards do not require a PIN they may not function on some automated kiosks that require you to enter a PIN.
    Tip: If prompted for a PIN by a kiosk, just pressing enter may work on some machines.

Which one do I need?

Either card will work for most purposes since merchant point of sale devices can generally handle both types of cards .  However, to be extra sure that you’re not going to be stranded at an automated kiosk, you may want to carry a chip-and-pin card, just in case.

Below are a few consumer cards that you may want to take a look at.

We do not have all of the cards below.  So if you end up getting one of these cards, please tell us your experience.  We would love to hear them!

Smart Chip Credit Card - Blue

 

Chip-and-signature cards

A detailed comparison of chip and signature cards here.

Chip-and-pin cards

There are not that many personal credit cards with chip-and-pin.   I found two.  If you find any not on this list let us know!

Tomorrow, we will share with you some tips on using credit cards around the world.
 
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