Credit cards for starters

Best Rewards Card: The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express

Credit cards for starters

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Credit cards for starters

If you ever run into me at a social gathering, don't get me started talking about credit cards because I might never stop. After a few minutes speaking about some of the great rewards credit cards available, I am often interrupted by a single question — "Which one is the best?" I have participated in this conversation so often that I now just blurt out "Starwood9quot; before you can complete your sentence. (See also: The Best Travel Rewards Cards)

Since I learned how to use credit card rewards to travel the world, the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express has become my favorite product, hands down. For each dollar I spend with this card, I earn one point in Starwood Hotel's Preferred Guest program. Starwood is the parent company of several different hotel chains, including Sheraton, Westin, and Le Meridien. Once points are earned, members have a variety of options to redeem them for free hotel nights, transfer to frequent flyer miles, or other valuable awards.

When cardholders make any purchase at a Starwood or Marriott Rewards hotel, they earn a minimum of four points per dollar spent: two as a cardmember and two to three as an SPG member (depending on your status). Additionally, those who spend $30,000 in a calendar year will be upgraded to the Gold level in the Starwood Preferred Guest program. With this status, card members earn five points per dollar spent at Starwood hotels while enjoying benefits such as room upgrades and late checkout privileges. Finally, award nights and mileage transfers are just two of a dozen different redemption options that include merchandise awards, charitable contributions, or the direct booking of flights. Having considered each of these other options, I have always found that award nights and mileage transfers represent the most valuable use of my Starpoints.

If you spend $3,000 with your card within the first 3 months of card membership, you can earn 25,000 bonus Starpoints.

Using Starpoints for Free Nights at Hotels

Free night awards at Starwood hotels begin at a mere 2,000 points for a weekend stay. Although award nights at higher-end properties can cost as many as 35,000 points, Starwood has many luxury properties where you can redeem 10,000 points or less for an award night. For example, my family stayed three nights at the Sheraton Four Points in Milan, Italy for 10,000 points per night. We also have a three night reservation at a Sheraton Suites in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida that cost a total of 10,000 Starpoints. In contrast, a single award night with the Marriott rewards program starts at 7,500 points and quickly increases from there. Starwood imposes no blackout dates or capacity restrictions on its hotel awards. If they have a room sale, you can instantly redeem your points for an award stay. Finally, when you redeem a four night stay with your Starpoints, the fifth night is free.

Transferring Starpoints to Airline Miles

I have met people who have redeemed hundreds of thousands of Starpoints without making a single reservation for an award night. These are travelers who earn Starpoints only because they can transfer them to miles in frequent flyer programs. Starpoints can be redeemed for miles in the frequent flyer programs of over 30 different airlines. When you realize that most of those airlines allow you to use their miles to book award flights with at least a dozen different partner carriers, you start to understand how this one credit card is the gateway to a staggering array of award travel opportunities. I have redeemed Starpoints for miles with carriers that I have never flown, which I used for award flights on their partner airlines that I had yet to travel on. I can also use a few thousand Starpoints to top off my various frequent flyer accounts when I don't quite have enough miles for the award I need.

If this flexibility wasn't enough, mileage transfers also offer superior value. Starpoints are usually redeemed for miles at a 1:1 ratio, but when you redeem 20,000 Starpoints at once, you get a 5,000 point bonus. In most cases, these bonuses allow you to earn more miles per dollar spent by using your Starwood card than you could by using that airline's own co-branded product. (See also: Best Credit Cards for Transferring Points to Miles)

The Downsides of the Starwood Card

For all my enthusiasm, I still realize that no credit card is perfect. For starters, those who carry a balance should not focus on trying to earn rewards with any card, especially since this card does not offer competitive interest rates. (See also: Best Low-Interest Rate Credit Cards)

Additionally, American Express cards are not accepted everywhere, so I always carry a Visa or MasterCard as well despite using this card to earn award travel to other countries. There is also an annual fee that you should weigh against the rewards your will earn.

Finally, this card is a terrible way to earn United Airlines miles. You get a single MileagePlus mile for every two Starpoints redeemed. (See also: Which United MileagePlus Credit Card Should You Get?)

My Favorite Travel Rewards Credit Card

Of course, there are several other credit cards that offer hotel points, and many of those programs appear to have similar redemption options. But compared to its competitors, Starwood points offer great value and flexibility. In fact, each Starpoint is worth far more than any airline mile or credit card reward point, let alone other points from competing hotel chains. (See also: Best Hotel Rewards Programs and Credit Cards)

If you are an experienced collector of points and miles, or if you are just starting your quest for award travel, you might as well just sign up for this card now. That way, you will earn fantastic awards, while I can feel free to talk about something else the next time we meet.


Credit card application for starters

“Plastic money” is a term dubbed by the people of the world in reference to the wondrous item called the “credit card.” And at the rate the economy is going and with the pace of life that we have right now we want everything done the express way. That’s why a lot of businessmen, young professionals, big bankers and even well-off students are lining up inside their trusted banks, credit card application in one hand and the need to have instant credit on the other.

Credit card applications have taken over the need to have cold cash and a lot of people are trading in their hard-earned green bucks for a shot of having the charge-it-card. But along with your credit card application is the responsibility that we are mainly unaware of. So when you are thinking about falling in line to get started with your credit card account and before you start filling up the fields necessary to get up and running with your credit card application know all the precautions and the counter measures for you to be protected by the federal law. Credit card application, as we all know takes a lot of time with regards to the verification of the identity of the person on top of the credit card application. Because of the US Patriotic Act that requires further verification of anyone applying for anything on the United States, that includes credit card application, getting anything in the US has become quite a chore. But since the importance of having a credit card is top priority in the US many are still willing to go to immense amount of trouble that is coupled with it.


Credit card application for starters

Of credit, cards and credit card application

Credit card applications have taken over the need to have cold cash and a lot of people are trading in their hard-earned green bucks for a shot of having the charge-it-card. But along with your credit card application is the responsibility that we are mainly unaware of. So when you are thinking about falling in line to get started with your credit card account and before you start filling up the fields necessary to get up and running with your credit card application know all the precautions and the counter measures for you to be protected by the federal law. Credit card application, as we all know takes a lot of time with regards to the verification of the identity of the person on top of the credit card application. Because of the US Patriotic Act that requires further verification of anyone applying for anything on the United States, that includes credit card application, getting anything in the US has become quite a chore. But since the importance of having a credit card is top priority in the US many are still willing to go to immense amount of trouble that is coupled with it.


Guide to Credit Cards for Singaporean Starters

An average earning Singaporean has at least five credit cards for various needs and whims. Basically, your lifestyle will dictate which card you are going to get, however, how will you know which credit card yields the best shopping, dining and travel experience and which ones can potentially drag you to debt?

Credit cards for starters

Planning to get your first credit card? Here are the basic things you must know:

  1. Credit Card Approval depends on the bank’s set of qualification checklist.

Banks offer a lot of credit cards to choose from, and each bank has its own qualifications such as the minimum required salary and credit score. Depending on the bank’s discretion, it is important to check your eligibility first before starting the loan process.

  1. Make sure you pass your complete requirements for quick processing.

Banks are known to require a string of document to verify your identification and creditworthiness. Make sure all of your documents have consistent information such as your name, your demographic data and age. In case that there are some discrepancies or missing documents, your application will be put on hold or worst, declined.

  1. Credit card processing might take 3 to 10 working days.

Since every bank has different policies, the processing of your credit card will expectedly vary from one bank to another. You will receive your credit card a week or so after your application approval. To ensure the maximum speed of your approval, pass all the required documents in clear copies.

  1. Your credit limit can be as much as 4 times your salary.

Your bank will depend your credit limit on your annual income. Your credit limit may be as much as four times your monthly salary, yet it still varies as each bank has its own policy. Also, your credit score will be taken into consideration. A much as possible, keep your credit score in good shape by paying your loans diligently.

  1. Increasing your credit limit will depend on your income and credit score

If you think you have to increase your credit limit, you can ask your bank to review your application, however you must remember that it will usually depend on how well you have dealt with your credits in the past. Remember that the bank usually put your credit limit into an amount you can pay without straining much your finances. Pay your monthly bills on time and avoid inquiring for loans in short intervals.

  1. Missing your payment incur high interest rates

Credit cards are not charged with interest rates if you pay in full on time. If you paid only the minimum required payment, an interest rate will be charged together with additional fees. Though there are ways to take care of the growing overdue credit card bills, it is a big mistake to let it happen in the first place. It is better to avoid this situation to keep your credit score in good shape.

  1. You can apply for more than one credit card

You can actually get multiple credit cards from various banks at the same time, however it could get complicated as each card has its own repayment schedule to be dealt with. If you have a couple of credit cards from a single bank, your credit card charges will be reflected in just a single statement. This is easier to keep track of your payments. Be mindful of your spending and when your payment is due to prevent missing. Missing your payment will incur high interest rate plus a penalty charge.

  1. Effective interest rates are usually at 24% to 25%.

The effective interest rate (EIR) is the interest rate charged on your credit card. Each bank has its own way of computing the charged interest. When comparing the interest rate, it will be more accurate if you use the EIR per annum rather than the monthly rate. Be sure you read the fine print to understand the terms and be able to maximize the use of your credit card.

  1. You also have to pay an annual fee

Aside from the EIR, remember that you also have to pay the annual fee charged by the bank or your credit card provider. There are banks which do not charge the annual fee, take time to check if your bank waives the annual fee.

  1. Pay the balance in full to keep to a 0% interest

There are some Singaporeans who just pay the required minimum payment, however one must remember that the outstanding balance will still be charged with the interest rate. The longest you put off the payment, the more your debt will grow.

There are various ways to pay your credit card bills. You can pay online, through your phone, have it auto deducted from your bank account or get down to the bank and personally pay over the counter.

  1. Minimum payment must be paid to avoid flunking credit score

In case you fail to your bill, you will be charged with the EIR and a late payment fee. However, if you pay the minimum payment, your remaining balance will be charged with the EIR without the late payment fee. Your payments will be reflected on your credit score.

  1. Not all banks allow credit card chargeback or the refund of payment or purchases

You have to read your credit card’s fine print to know if your cards are accompanied by a chargeback. The chargeback is a refund offered by the credit card provider in case you are not satisfied with it. Not all banks offer this, make sure you ask your bank if they have it.

Choosing the best credit card:

It is better to clearly define why you are applying for a credit card to best know which one will fit your needs and not just your wants.

In a way, credit cards give discounts in every purchase from the participating merchants by cashback. Basically, while spending, you are also earning cash.

This could be one of the main reasons why many use a credit card. Every time you use your credit card when paying for the things you usually buy, you are earning rewards and some even yields free miles you can use for vacation. You can earn as much as 4 miles in every dollar you spend.

You can take home the goods you buy just by swiping or tapping your credit card. Viola! No need for cash and there will be no interest rate to pay if you settle your bill on time. Not only are you paying up at ease, you are also keeping your credit score in good shape as there will be no accumulated debt.

There are credit cards which give free insurance such as travel insurance, health insurance, car rental insurance, baggage insurance and others depending on the terms it comes with and the purpose the card is for.

Why do you have to carry a wad of cash when you can just use a card to pay for your shopping? A slimmer wallet is easier to take anywhere and it means a lighter bag to carry.

If your credit card is stolen or lost, do not fear too much as you will only be liable for as much as $100, just make sure that you notify your bank as soon as you lost your card.

Banks offer various cards with different uses. Check what your bank has to offer to see which one fits you best.

Get the card that will help you save up and gain more from the purchases you usually do. It won’t be good to get a card just because of certain promos as these require specific purchases before you can avail them.

  • What are the regular fees?
  1. minimum repayment
  2. annual fee
  3. charges
  4. introductory interest rates

There are actually a lot of credit cards to choose from, however the best credit crads are the once which do not make you buy things you do not naturally purchase. Choose the once that give you rewards and perks from the things you naturally buy with cash.

Need to make an immediate purchase but you have maxed out your credit cards? Get the best personal loan from Cash Mart now.



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