If you own a small business, you probably carry a business credit card.

If you use it as a tool, it can be a huge asset. It can help you see exactly where your money is going, and it can carry you through those times between you needing to pay a bill and your customers’ payments coming in. It can even save you money by providing rewards for items that are essential to running your business.

Some rewards credit cards will give you cash back for gasoline, restaurant meals or air travel, while some will provide rewards for buying office supplies necessary to your business. Just make sure you use it for items that really are necessary – don’t spend to get the rewards.

Also, as tempting as it may be, never use your business card for personal expenses. If you do, the IRS will declare the interest you pay on that credit card as non-deductible. So unless you buy your uniforms from Macys – don’t use it there!

The only safe way to use a business credit card is to pay it in full each month. Unless your business has suffered a true emergency – such as the transmission going out on your delivery van, or the furnace in your store blowing up – you should never use it for purchases that aren’t in the budget for the current month.

Getting into debt is a huge mistake that small businesses make – and it’s so easy with a credit card in your pocket. You can convince yourself that you really “need” a better looking desk and a nicer chair – or that your computer simply has to be upgraded this year – or that those motivational posters are important.

But the truth is, the only things you really “need” to spend on are:

  • Things that make it possible to do business, such as the raw materials for your products, your employees, your rent, your power, and your phone.
  • Things that improve your service and bring you more customers / profits.
  • Marketing your business. But beware in this area. With easy credit, it’s easy to fall for advertising schemes that don’t return a dime on your investment.


In today’s credit climate, running up huge balances is downright dangerous – especially on a business credit card. Why especially? Because business Credit Cards don’t fall under the provisions of the CARD Act of 2009.

That means your credit card issuer can change the interest rate on your existing balances. If you make a mis-step, such as running your balance too high, your beautiful 5.9% interest rate could suddenly become 25.9%  Worse, you don’t even have to make a mis-step. They can do it for no other reason than they want to earn more profit.

What would that do to your business? Would that additional interest put a serious drain on your monthly profits? Be careful.

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Some credit cards are basic in their offerings, looking as mundane as the card sitting next to them, but not the ZYNC from American Express.  This credit card allows you to place your personality into the card.  You get to choose which lifestyle pack will suit your life with this secured credit card. 

Are you always on the go?  If so you might discover the Go Pack for the ZYNC American Express is going to fit you the best. You get to earn 2x the rewards points on airfare of the other cards.  You also have an annual membership to the credit card registry at a $29 value.  The feature provides a way to cancel and replace any lost or stolen cards with one call.  There is also an emergency passport replacement assistance tied to the account.  Avis and Budget have thrown in a deal with savings of up to 25 percent.  Hertz provides 20 percent savings plus GPS for 2 days free with a rental.  For those on the go a $50 credit is offered for vacation packages, though this is a limited time offer. 

The Social Pack is a whole different animal with 2x membership rewards on restaurants and any events purchases you make.  You also obtain access to event tickets before they hit the public sphere. 

Is staying connected a must for you?  Why not save a little with the ZYNC American Express Connect Pack?  This package offers rewards points on mobile and cable services such as internet, cell phone use and more.  You can also use less points if you shop at the member reward site exclusive to American Express holders. 

Environmental savings are definitely worth every penny to make less of a footprint on the earth.  Why not make your credit card work for the earth with the Eco Pack.  You get rewards points when you buy green merchandise from certain green merchants.  You also use fewer points on the American Express rewards site.  With green living tips and gifts this pack is certainly for anyone who loves the environment.  The Eco Pack has one more interesting feature in that it will purchase $1 of carbon offsets from TerraPass, which helps to reduce the carbon emissions of dairy farms and landfills in the US. 

Eco Pack is the only card without an annual fee. All others are $20 for each year.  The basic card is $25, so there is even more savings with the ZYNC.  You will not pay interest when you pay in full each month, and you have purchase protection.  A card that offers your personality to bank rewards for you is what American Express has created. 

The hitch in obtaining this card is American Express’ strict guidelines. American Express is a card for people who are responsible with credit and their credit history.  The company offers their ZYNC, basic, business credit cards, and even student credit cards to those who have the high credit scores.

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Credit card issuers weren’t happy when the CARD Act of 2009 was signed into law. Between May of 2009 and the August 2009 and February 2010 dates when the new regulations went into effect, they worked hard to ensure new profit sources.

But in spite of that, Americans are carrying less debt than they were a year ago. Average credit card debt in the first quarter of 2010 was down 10.6% from during the first quarter of 2010.

Fewer consumers are falling 90 days or more behind on credit card payments as well. That figure is down nearly 16% – from 1.32% in 2009 to only 1.11% in 2010.

With fewer penalties, and no surprise interest rate increases, consumers have been able to make a larger dent in their credit card balances in spite of higher interest rates overall.

Under the terms of the CARD Act, credit card issuers may not increase the rate on a consumer’s current balance unless he or she is 60 days late – or unless the card carries a variable rate.

Many cards now do carry a variable rate, but the fluctuations in interest are minute – changing only with the Prime Rate, which has held relatively steady. Compare this to the previous rate increases of as much as 10 to 12% in one month before the CARD Act went into effect.

Another plus that resulted from the CARD Act is that issuers can no longer slash a consumer’s credit line to a level that will trigger an over-limit penalty. Before the act, there were reports of credit limits being lowered to as much as $6,000 below the customer’s current balance owed.

For consumers who could not find a way to pay the balance that exceeded their new credit limit, over-limit fees continued to mount. These, of course, caused their credit scores to plummet, making it doubly hard to borrow money elsewhere to pay down the balance.

The CARD Act is also making it easier for consumers to pay down their debt. Where a consumer’s entire payment used to be credited toward their lowest interest balances, now any amount over the monthly minimum is credited toward their highest interest balances.

In the past, a consumer might have had a high interest purchase balance adding to his debt month after month, and was unable to pay it down until any low interest balance was paid in full.

Another good sign for our economic future is that Americans seem to be less eager to take on new debt. According to TransUnion, the number of new cards opened during the first quarter of 2010 was down 24% from the same period last year.

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If you are looking for a credit card that rewards you with travel or other great benefits, you don’t want to pass up Blue Sky from American Express.  Once the ultimate credit card of choice, you had to be invited to carry this prestigious card and pay off your balance monthly.  Now with Blue Sky you can reap all the benefits and carry a balance if you absolutely have to.  There is no annual fee and there are introductory 0% APR rates for six months if you act quickly.  Once your introductory period is over your rate will be determined by the Prime Rate plus 13.99%.

Once you used to have to fight to use your points to redeem travel; however, with Blue Sky credit cards you have no restrictions or blackout dates.  These credit cards offer you the ability to use any airline, and book any hotel or car rental company.  If you are worried that your points will expire you needn’t as the best credit card in the world Blue Sky from American Express doesn’t have any expiration dates. 

You may be thinking that it will take a long period of time to accrue enough points to go on that great family vacation.  The truth is you can start redeeming travel rewards with as little as 7,500 points.  If you use your credit card to purchase gas, groceries, dining out and clothing you will see how quickly the rewards add up.  Another great benefit of Blue Sky credit cards is that the company watches for any fraudulent purchases for you. Since identity theft has emerged this is a feature that you don’t want to live without. 

Not only will you have a plethora of choices in airlines, hotels and car rentals you can also save money.  Many of your favorite travel partners offer discounts when you use the Blue Sky credit card.  When you are issued your credit card from American Express they will give you all the details on the Blue Sky Travel Savings Program.  Looking for an immediate travel benefit?  J. W. Marriott and Renaissance Hotels have partnered with Blue Sky by American Express to give you a complimentary breakfast on weekend stays.  If that isn’t enough to entice you they have added one more incentive: $100 off your next stay!

All these options and benefits come with travel protection and excellent customer service.  You can have foreign currency or American Express travelers checks delivered to your home or office if you have five to seven business days before departure.  When renting a car this great credit card gives you additional loss and damage insurance for no extra charge, and if there is trouble in paradise the Global Assist Hotline is available 24/7.  There are more than 500,000 ATM’s that accept your Blue Sky credit card so if you need extra cash it will be close at hand.

The reputation that American Express enjoys enhances your credit card benefits even more, so when you are looking for the best credit cards choose Blue Sky.

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Everyone has different needs when it comes to credit cards.  Before you can apply for a credit card you need to understand what it is you are looking for in that card.  Credit card companies understand the different needs, which is why they tailor their products to suit you.  You may find one company has four or five cards to cater to various customers such as the American Express ZYNC card that offers four different options.  They offer a ZYNC green card, travel card, social pack, and connect pack.  It caters to different age groups and individuals. 

A person who enjoys events, concerts, and other forms of entertainment may find the social pack a better option with the ZYNC card.  However, there is the little matter of being able to qualify for the credit card of your choice.  We will discuss qualification requirements a little later once we have explored the brands of credit cards, types of cards you might encounter, and certain terms and conditions. 

There are four popular brands of credit cards: Visa®, MasterCard®, American Express, and Discover®.  Visa® and MasterCard® are the two most prominent brands.  They are accepted all over the world, with Visa® having the most customers.  The Visa® and MasterCard® brand can be found on bank cards and other company credit cards.  For example AAA, a motor club, offers a credit card with the MasterCard® symbol to their members.  Orchard Bank® also has a branded credit card. Though the bank is separate from MasterCard® Company they use the symbol for their cards.

The brand is only important when it comes to the use of the credit card.  Some companies do not accept American Express or Discover® due to the extra fees associated with accepting those cards in their store. 

Brand is a consideration you should make when you apply for a card, but it is most likely secondary to the type of card you apply for.  There are rewards cards such as travel, business, dining, shopping, student discounts, and cash back rewards.  If you can use your credit card wisely by paying off the balance each month a rewards card can be very effective for you.  The student rewards come with Student Credit Cards designed specifically for high school and college students.  The rewards are provided for text book, tuition, and other school related products one might need. 

These rewards are different from someone who has a business credit card.  A business credit card provides awards on office supplies, dining, and other business related shopping.  Travel rewards can be part of a business card or be on a personal travel rewards card.  The travel options offer discounts on hotels, rental cars, and points for free tickets. 

Other types of credit cards include balance transfer credit cards, prepaid credit cards, and bad credit credit cards.  Balance transfer credit cards offer an introductory deal on balance transfers, typically with a 0% APR for twelve months and a 3% transfer fee.  Prepaid credit cards and bad credit credit cards can work for a similar solution.  The one thing these cards have in common is bad credit as reflected on free credit reports.  If you have bad credit it is hard to get an unsecured credit card, but there are bad credit credit cards you are almost guaranteed to receive.  These cards will help you rebuild your credit scores.  Prepaid credit cards are secured credit cards because you place a certain amount of money in the account to use.  You cannot use the card unless it has money in the account.  It also helps you rebuild your credit. 

Examining the brands and types of cards leads us to certain terms and conditions you need to consider.  You need to examine the card for its APR, introductory deals, and the annual fee. Some of the credit cards offered have annual fees like American Express.

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Simmons First Visa Platinum credit card is a card for those who do not have bad credit.  It is a great card if you have good to excellent credit scores.  The annual percentage rate on purchases can be as low as 9.25% variable, which is lower than most of the popular branded cards on the market. 

The Visa Platinum credit card also has another attribute that makes it highly interesting.  Simmons First Visa Platinum is a rewards card for travel.  When you make purchases with your secured credit card you are earning rewards to help you travel to places you have been dreaming about. 

Travel rewards are offered for every dollar you spend.  How it works is that you get one reward point for each net dollar you spend on your Simmons First Visa Platinum Rewards card.  Once you reach enough reward points you can turn them in for a US based airline.  There is no limit as to the airline you can travel on, as long as it is a US based company.  There are no blackout dates or seating restrictions, and you have a choice of ticket class. 

Cardholders like you will also find other travel rewards as part of the program.  You can book hotels, cruises, vacation packages, car rental, or even use the rewards at restaurants.  There is a one stop process for redemption of points with the account.

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Credit cards, mortgages, car loans, and other lines of credit affect your credit history and credit scores.  Every time you obtain a credit card your credit score is going to fluctuate.  If the account becomes delinquent you will show poorer credit scores than a person with accounts in good standing.  Since your credit scores are used to assess your risk to a company it is imperative to keep your scores as high as possible.  To help you understand your credit scores and why you need to access your free credit scores periodically, information has been provided below. 

Free credit scores and your FICO score are two different things.  Transunion, Equifax, and Experian all have a credit score that they create based on your free credit report.  The information in your free credit reports will be given ratings.  There are five categories used to devise the credit bureau credit scores.  These three scores are then used to create your FICO score.  The five categories the credit bureaus use are listed below.  The percentage of how each category affects you has also been listed. 

  • Length of Credit History: 15 percent
  • New Credit: 10 percent
  • Types of Credit Used: 10 percent
  • Debt: 30 percent
  • Payment History: 35 percent


From this list you can see that the length of your credit history, new credit, and types of credit are going to minimally affect your credit score.  They do matter to come up with the entire score, but the amount of debt and your payment history will matter a great deal more.  Debt is the amount of credit you have including revolving debts.  Credit cards fall under revolving debt, which is also unsecured debt.  The more unsecured debt you have the more risk companies see. 

Your payment history is more important than the amount of your debt.  In fact your payment history will determine if you are considered where you are on the range of bad to excellent credit.  A credit score is calculated between 300 and 850, with the worst credit being 300.  If you fall below 600 on your credit score you are considered a high risk.  750 and above is ideally where you want to be on the credit score range. 

Individuals with lower than 600 would have to apply for bad credit credit cards or prepaid cards, if they want a credit card. A person with a higher credit score will often get a better credit card and thus a better annual percentage rate.  From this information you can extrapolate a conclusion about free credit scores and your FICO score. 

The FICO score is created using the median of the three credit bureau free credit scores.  This score is then used to determine if you should be awarded any line of credit including the credit card you are applying for.  Furthermore, each line of credit you have will affect your free credit score.  For those with bad credit, having a bad credit credit card can help increase the credit scores if the reports are good.  This process is slow, but it is one way to repair credit if you need to.

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A credit card can be a handy tool to have around in the event of an emergency.  It can also be a tool to help build your credit history for later in life when mortgages and other loans may be needed.  If you are a student then the Discover Student Card might interest you, but it is by no means the only student credit card available.  You have the choice in choosing a card that will work for you, whether it is for your college expenses or for an emergency. 

What you need to know about any credit card is that the companies report to the credit bureaus at least four times a year.  Some companies will report each month, while others report each quarter.  When the company reports your account is in good standing, they also show the balance on the card and the credit limit.  If you keep the card balance below 50 percent of the credit limit, this will help your credit history and in turn your credit score. 

Since the Discover student card is an option for students it is important to know what this credit card can offer you.  The Discover card provides you with 5 percent cashback bonus on travel, home improvements items, department store purchases, gas, groceries, restaurants, and many other purchases.  For students you will find cash back rewards for text books and other school supplies you need each year.  At various times of the year there are deals for 5 to 20 percent Cashback Bonus.  These specials are often awarded for online shopping at Discover’s exclusive store.  Other purchases not named in the Cashback Bonus program can offer one percent unlimited rewards. 

The student credit card from Discover also provides 0 percent APR for the first six months on purchases.  Any purchase you make in the first six months will not have the APR you have been awarded.  If you pay that balance off before the six months are up, you will never pay interest on it.  In addition to the purchase promotion rate there is no annual fee, even for students. 

Some student credit cards will only award the card for an annual fee.  When you look at the promotional rate and no annual fee you are already saving money.  To top off the better features of the card is a $0 fraud liability guarantee, meaning any fraudulent charges are not liable by you. 

Discover offers a minimum annual percentage rate of 14.99 percent on their Discover student credit card.  This rate is variable and can change at any time.  Discover is one of the credit cards that is not usually willing to lower their interest rate below the first APR ever offered.  What this means is your card will never be below the 14.99 percent, but if it is raised for any reason, you may try to get it reduced back to the 14.99 percent.  This will only happen if your credit card is in good standing.  




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With the new credit card laws in effect, you may be looking for a new credit card.  Before you apply for a credit card you will need to access your three free credit reports.  By accessing your free credit reports you can examine what your creditors are reporting about you and what an inquiry might find.  We will list some of the information you can find on your credit report and how it can affect you and your credit history. 

  • Addresses: the places you have lived in the last few years are often listed on the credit report.  If you have not moved in the last three years, you may only see your current address.  It also depends on when the credit report has refreshed their data about your addresses.  This information is used to see if a person moves around a lot or has a steady life at one address.  It does help assess risk. 
  • Bank accounts: your bank accounts may be listed on the credit reports.  At the very least the report will have what banking institutions have made inquiries in the last year regarding you. 
  • Inquiries are one of the last things on a credit report, and show companies whether you have had numerous inquiries over a certain period of time and what those inquiries were.  It can show whether you have applied for credit cards from multiple companies over the last month or two. 
  • The largest section of the credit report will look at your lines of credit. 


Each line of credit you have ever had will be displayed on the free credit report, unless you have something removed.  The lines of credit can be mortgages, car loans, student loans, credit cards, and any other form of credit.  Under each line of credit will be the date the account was opened, for how much, and whether the account was paid in full, closed, and closed by whom.  It will also show any delinquencies you may have had.  Along the bottom of the information per each line of credit will be days or months listed showing whether you were on time, late, or missed a payment.  The three free credit reports display information a little differently, so you may also see written conclusions about the card and a reason for that line of credit to be considered negative. 

If you see nothing negative it means the reports are all positive, which is where you would like your credit to be when you apply for credit cards.  Bankruptcies will also be displayed on the free credit reports, along with any charged off debts you might have. 

Free credit reports are your financial history spelled out in a neat little report for companies and you to access.  When you obtain your credit report you will see everything as the credit card company sees it.  From this information you can decipher if a credit card company might be willing to give you a credit card. 

If your credit card reflects a poor history you know that there are limited credit cards you can apply for, such as bad credit credit cards.  As a student you may have little to no credit which affects the type of card you can apply for.  The main point about free credit reports is that it is a tool for companies to decide if you are worthy of a line of credit and the risk you pose. 

For you it is a method to check your financial history to see if it melds with your own conclusions.  Identity theft is an enormous problem in the United States.  If you fear you have been a victim of identity theft or credit card theft, your credit report can show any lines of credit that may be in your name.  From this you can tell if there is any invalid line of credit, such as one you never opened and dispute the issue.  Identity theft often means accounts are opened and the perpetrator allows these accounts to become delinquent.  By checking your free credit reports you can ensure nothing untoward has happened, and that you get it cleared up quickly if something has occurred.

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Choosing between credit cards is an arduous task, and what can make things worse is getting the wrong card.  Shopping for credit cards takes time, patience, and some skill.  It also takes knowing what that card can offer you, like the Orchard Bank Classic Cards

Orchard Bank provides the MasterCard logo, which is the second largest logo in the world.  Secondly, they offer a credit card you can build your credit history with.  Orchard Bank Classic Cards is a group of cards for you to choose from.  Some of these cards will be secured credit cards and others are bad credit credit cards.  Bad credit credit cards mean you have let your credit scores fall.  You’ve been labeled a risk, but you also have a way to get your perfect scores back through one of the Orchard Bank Classic Cards. 

With the account you have the ability to access your online information 24/7, along with receiving emails and test messages when you require them.  The difference between Orchard Bank Classic Cards and most other credit cards is our number three advantage of the card.  Orchard Bank will report monthly to the credit bureaus to help raise your bad credit as quickly as possible. 

Orchard Bank also has a different process for awarding the credit cards.  They have a card selection process you go through before the application process.  In other words, they pre-qualify you for the Classic Cards you would be best suited for.  You do not have to take any of the secured credit cards being offered, but they do help narrow down your choices.  It takes sixty seconds to find out which credit cards you pre-qualify for without affecting your credit score. 

Once you decide on the right card out of the Classic Cards you can fill out the application, chose a card design, and wait for the results.  The application will affect your credit score, as any running of your credit will, but this is done only after the pre-selection to see what card or cards might be awarded to you.

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