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  • Fact versus fiction: can you separate the truth from the hype?

    Myth: You need stellar credit to obtain a credit card.
    Reality: While an awesome credit score never hurt anyone in the market for a credit card, there are a number of options available to people with middling, so-so, or terrible credit, as well. Those looking to kick start credit as students or young adults may also be surprised at the options available to them. You may want to peruse this site for some offers that suit your needs. Alternatives like a prepaid debit card may also be a viable solution for those looking to prove they can handle the responsibility of a monthly payment.

    Myth: Visa has the best merchant acceptance of all the major cards.
    Reality: In America, Visa and MasterCard are actually pretty equal in terms of acceptance rate. In terms of overall worldwide acceptance, Discover is probably the leader, though American Express has the strongest foothold in Europe and Asia.

    Myth: If a criminal steals my card, Im totally liable for all the charges.
    Reality: The most that any credit card issuer will make you pay is the first $50 of liability, per law. In fact, most cards offer zero-liability fraud protection, leaving you entirely absolved of responsibility for your card being lost or stolen and used without your permission. Speed is of the essence in this case as long as you are dutifully quick in notifying your card issuer about the loss, you should have no worries.

    Myth: A higher credit limit is always better.
    Reality: First of all, it isnt even always that hard to get a higher limit. You can always call your card issuer and ask that your limit be raised, and some merchants may raise it without you even asking or being notified, for that matter! However, if you are in the market for a new house or car, having too much unused potential credit may be a burden you dont want potential lenders may look at this as an indication that you could spend up all those limits, and be left with a boatload of debt you potentially may not be able to pay. With or without a higher limit, you want to observe the golden rule of not spending up more than 50% of your available credit, so you arent perceived as a risk.

    Myth: You should carry one each of a Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express.
    Reality: This old saw has no basis in reality, as each of the four major cards has a sizeable global acceptance rate.

    Myth: You can close an account by cutting up the card.
    Reality: Sorry, but this urban legend is just not true. You cant close out an account without letting your fingers do the waling, and getting in touch with the card issuer. The customer service phone number for that account should be right on the back of the card, and a representative should be able to take care of closing your account without too much hassle.

    Myth: Closing an account will remove it from your credit report.
    Reality: You would think so, but this isnt the case. Your credit tends to remember your accounts, even if you think youve written them out of your life. Voluntarily closed accounts shouldnt be of concern to you, even though they will appear on your credit report.

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