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Choosing a Visa card design

Banks and other financial service companies differentiate their services in many ways. Some ways, like what fees they may charge for their services, may be restricted by state or federal laws. Other options, like the design on a prepaid debit card, is limited only by the imagination.

Consumers who like to have a bit of style and flair in their card design often have a choice. They can go with the traditional color and design schemes, or they can say goodbye to the dull standard versions and go with something that can project personality and style to their shopping experience.

Black is the new black
Black is a color that is often used by credit card companies to market cards to high income customers in order to give off an air of exclusivity and sophistication. Choosing this color may make a prepaid card almost indistinguishable from all the sleek, shiny plastic of high rollers. Some brands, like the Kaiku Visa prepaid card, go all-out minimalist for sophistication and class.

Patterns and colors
Rather than going with a monochrome look, some banks offer colors and styles inspired by the psychedelic 1960s, nature, or modern art. These kinds of patterns give consumers a way to showcase their individual personality every time they shop. They can also make great ice breakers for starting a conversation.

Pictures with personality
Some proud parents like to put their child’s picture on their debit card. Others might opt for cuteness with photos of little furry animals, and others still might project a fantasy vacation with a photo of bright and sunny beach. The sky is the limit when it comes to personalized debit cards: As long as you have a picture and a little extra time, you can decorate it any way you wish.

These are just a few ways banks and credit unions might allow customers to decorate a prepaid card. Every design makes its own statement, and if the customer has second thoughts about that statement, they can simply go back to their provider and order up a different look.

Money Decision Problem 1: Not Taking the Time to Think About the Problem

Money Decision Problem 1: Not Taking the Time to Think About the Problem and the Decisions that Must Be Made

Before you make a financial decision, you have to know something about your needs, the effect your decision may have, and how you go about making a decision. Some common money decisions that often happens too quickly is what credit card you should have, whether to buy or sell a stock, or whether to go into debt to replace your boring old (and paid off) car for a shiny new one. Taking the time to make a proper decision can save you a lot of frustration and regret, especially if you do it consistently.

A Credit Card Example
Let’s look at the credit card situation more closely. There could be dozens of reasons why you suddenly decide that you need a new credit card. You might not have one at all, but one day you decide to rent a car and find out that you need a credit card. You might have a card already, but you find a way to transfer balances and reduce your interest rate for the first six months. Even if you think you need to take action right now, it always makes sense to think it through to see if it is the right decision for you. The following are just some of the questions you should ask yourself before you sign on the dotted line:

  1. What do you want to accomplish when making the decision? – At the very least, figure out if it is a short term or long term goal.
  2. Who will be making the decision? – Typically anyone who will be responsible for paying the bill and whoever will be allowed to make charges on the card.
  3. How should the decision be made? – Figure out things like whether you need to decide after comparing other options, or if any one person will have veto power.
  4. Does the decision significantly affect other decisions?
  5. Does the decision have to be made at all? – Think about what would happen if you took no action.
  6. Does the decision have to be made by some kind of deadline?
  7. What’s the worst that will happen if you don’t make a decision?
  8. How much time do you need to make a decision?
  9. What kind of options do you have?
  10. Do you have any experience making this kind of decision, and if so what did you learn?

Once the background questions are settled and you have a good understanding of your overall situation, you have to start dealing with the decision making process. You should finish gathering any information that you need to make a decision. For credit cards, this would be things like late fees or other penalties, how much interest you will be charged, and what kind of no-interest grace period you have. These kinds of details should be spelled out in the agreement. If you don’t understand it, don’t sign it. If you don’t see it in the agreement, then it’s not part of the deal.

The next big steps are making the decision and carrying it out. If you decide to do something, then follow through. If you decide to do nothing, then take no action, no matter how tempting it may be. If you decide to change your mind, go through the same decision process. Don’t make the mistake of being logical and systematic the first time through and then being very informal the second time you wrestle with the same decision. Every decision is a combination of your analysis and your judgment. If you have a consistent process, you’ll likely improve the quality of both your analysis and your judgment.

Final Thoughts
Keep in mind that a credit card can turn out to be a long-term relationship. If you pay your bills in full every month, it can be a very happy and harmonious relationship. If you fall behind, it can turn real ugly real quick.

Next Lesson: Solving the Wrong Problem

New Year, New Hope: Plan Your Finance to Yield the Best Return

Finance InstitutionForget what some people said about how bleak the year 2009 is. The truth is, all we need right now is financial planning.

The premise – plan your finance well, and it will deliver you from financial woes that hit many who unprepared in 2007 and 2008.

The significance of financial planning in 2009

Financial planning has always been important.

Unfortunately, not all people believe the fact, until they were hit by financial problems. ‘Thanks’ to recession, the financial problems are magnified – due to the recession, financial planning has never been this important in the history of the mankind!

Particularly in 2009, financial planning is probably your most important task to do, either for your business finances or personal finances.

Creating a form of safety net or save haven for your money and finance will not only help you survive the recession, but also triumph over it.

Even better, you need to find a way to utilise all financial knowledge and tools you have to yield the best return for every penny or cent you have.

Here’s several plan ‘items’ you should consider thinking about.

Plan #1: Saving and deposit account – forget about it! Says hello to precious metals

As we know, banking and financial institutions are one of the hardest hit in today’s recession. In the US, the Fed squeezes record-amount of fund to keep those institutions afloat. Why? One of their fear: People rush to close their accounts.

However, in my opinion, that’s what you suppose to do – forget your saving and deposit account.

I’m not suggesting you to close your saving and deposit accounts – they are important parts in diversification. What I’m suggesting you is NOT to put too much money in them.

With the rising inflation in every part of the world, your saving and deposit accounts interest rates are becoming more and more insignificant.

You need to get back to what all the money in the world should base upon – gold and the other precious metals. Although the price of the metals are sky high, they are one of the safest investment forms today.

Plan #2: Utilise your credit cards better

Unlike most financial planners suggest, I suggest you not to cut your credit cards.

Instead, I recommend you to consolidate your credit cards – transfer your existing credit cards to lower APR ones or to credit card issuers that offer the most perks and rewards.

How to know which ones you should transfer balance to or apply for, invest some time to browse the Net for reviews and recommendations on credit cards issuer. Credit card sites offer alternatives you can consider, including which credit cards are good for what purposes.

My favourite credit cards story is that of my colleague’s – he shop for his business needs with his business credit cards. With tens of thousands dollar month after month business spending made on his credit cards, he is enabled to vacationing regularly and staying in luxury hotels, courtesy of his business credit card issuers – a win-win situation for credit card issuers and holders.

Plan #3: Cut bad debts, utilise good debts

When I say ‘utilise your credit card better’ in plan #2 above, I think credit cards as your ‘bridging’ in your financial planning. That being said, avoid using credit cards for loan purposes, as the interest rates are high.

Instead, cut any debts related to credit cards. In fact, cut any debts that are aimed to people with low credit scores, such as payday loan. Not that payday loan is not useful – it does in certain circumstances – but you should consider a lower interest loans that brings positive cash flow to your pocket.

Happy holiday and happy planning!

You need a break somehow, and be prepared for the coming 2009. Remember the butterfly effect I mentioned in my previous articles – what you do and think about your finances will affect your community – being positive is contagious, and it will eventually end the recession somehow.

I wish you have a happy holiday and happy planning!

Image by Zach Alexander.

Why US is Consumer Debt Ridden?

US is well known as one of the biggest creditors, as well as debtors in the world.

Although US helps funding other countries, especially developing countries, it own people is debt ridden.

Why such a contrast? In my opinion, culture and opportunities are the main culprit.

Taking consumer debts, especially with the ever-present of very interesting credit cards offer has been a trend, if not a culture in every American life.

Credit card, a major part of the cashless society movement, offers convenience to its holder. It’s unbelievable today if we know someone without having at least one plastic in one’s wallet.

Nothing wrong with the credit card – it’s the holder that cause the problems

Credit cards are basically useful and convenient. You don’t have to carry cash with you, bringing convenience in your daily life, as well as minimising the risk of, say, pick pocketing.

With low interest cards being offered these days, with additional perks, such as 0 APR or interest free period for a limited time, consumers are attracted to sign for one.

No matter how much information on credit cards benefit available, the debt-ridden US today is suffering simply due to the nature of human being – spend what they see, and spend even more what they don’t see.

For example, if you had a $100 in your wallet, you have the tendency to spend it recklessly when you go to the supermarket. This ‘genetic’ problem is amplified by the availability of credit cards. Suppose you were given a limit, say $500. You will always have the tendency to spend more than you should, because you don’t ‘see’ the money you have in your pocket. This is amplified by the sense of ‘you-can-pay-the-bill-later’.

Credit cards can actually deliver you from debt

Here’s a good news for responsible and well informed credit card holders – you can actually clear your debt with the help of credit cards, as well as helping you raise your credit score.

Clearing debts – Using credit cards smart and cautiously will allow you to have 30-day interest free loan. The key is to pay your bills before it’s due, and pay them in full.

Raising credit score – Choose reputable credit card issuers, and use your plastics as usual. The key is never pays your bills late. Do this regularly will give you a ‘shining’ report.

Choose your credit cards wisely, and they will help you in your personal finance.

Use the Plastic to Repair Your Credit Rating

People are always looking for the shortest path to solve their personal finance problems.

Often, taking the shortest path might not be your best way to improve your situation. Even in most cases, people recklessly apply for cash advances or use credit card financing without knowing the consequences of their decision.

When it comes to personal financial management, your mindset and knowledge play important roles.

Repair your credit rating, get out of debt

Poor or below average credit rating are commonly due to the following reasons: bankruptcy, poor spending habit, late payment, and pressing personal issue.

  • Bankruptcy – Both business and personal bankruptcy leave you unable to pay your debt.
  • Poor spending habit – this is the main culprit of personal bankruptcy – spending more than you can afford and often followed with late payments.
  • Late payment – Either forgetting or not having the resouce, late payments will always damage your credit reputation.
  • Pressing personal issue – An immediately needed large chunk of money is also the common cause of bad credit rating.

Plastic favours

Even loans with the highest APR can do your personal finance a favour, if you know how to play the money and mind game of getting out of debt.

If your credit rating is relatively poor, one of the effective ways to build your credit rating is by applying for a secured credit card.

A bank card is secured if you have deposited a sum of money onto a bank account to secure the credit. Typically, the credit card limit given is 50 to 100 per cent of the amount of money you deposited into the account.

Pay your bills on time, and build your credit reputation. Just make sure your chose issuer has the Credit Burreau informed about your application.

Escape yourself from getting scammed

As secured credit cards application are having lower qualifying criteria than unsecured credit cards, making it a choice for both applicants and, unfortunately, scammers.

Avoid secured credit card ads that have misleading offer, such as: “Call us to get approved instantly”, “Bad credit rep, no problem – Fast and easy approval”, and many more.

This is the reality: No one can guarantee to get you credit. Those calls you made, especially to 900 calls (you are charged a premium just for calling), are aimed to get the information from you, and maybe redirect your call or send your information to others.

Please be careful about the appealing, and often too good to be true, offers for secured credit card. Getting out is more difficult that getting in.

Consult a credit consultant or respectable credit card issuer about secrued credit cards and how it can be used to repair your credit rating.