A Credit Card Can Sing A Christmas Carol Too
“Christmas Time, Mistletoe and Wine” How many times have you heard this so far and its only November? A few I’ll bet, but with Christmas seemingly becoming earlier to us each year, we will no doubt feel the need to get ahead with our present and food buying. This though only leads to us spending more than we should. This is because with the shops full of decorations and Christmas tunes, the stores are dictating to us that we have to buy our gifts now, which will mean by the time December has come and gone. We would have spent more over the 2-month period that the shops have been full of Christmas cheer.
This is not all bah! Humbug.
Personally for the occasion alone and seeing the kids faces when they open their presents on Christmas morning, as Christmas is a special time of year that for the day makes all the preparation and spending all worth while.
But that doesn’t mean that it comes without cost and in some cases more of a cost than folk can ill afford. For all of its pomp and occasion, Christmas can come at a heavy price to bear for a lot of people who, rather than let their children and family down, will turn to the promise of riches that credit cards and store cards offer.
Don’t get me wrong, credit cards and even store cards, have their uses. This is only true though, if you only use them to your advantage, to get the best out of them. If you are thinking of taking one or the other, then the only suggestion that I can make is to plump for the credit card, over the store card.
We all want to enjoy this time of year, so by getting all that you want to do this and in doing so, save cash and not to fall heavily into debt, will make the festivities all the more enjoyable. So by giving you a few advantages and disadvantages, which credit cards and store cards entail, will hopefully go a long way on helping you make the right decisions.
Firstly the advantages of credit cards:
• More favourable interest rates than a store card.
• Many offers on the market, which are giving you an interest free period.
• Some come with money back schemes that give you a percentage of your expenditure back to you. (Usually between 0.5%- 2%)
• Will protect your gifts, as soon as you have bought them.
• Lets you buy now and pay at a later date, only on what you have spent without incurring any interest charges.
Now the disadvantages:
• Can lead you to spend more than you can afford to pay back, which in turn will lead to the interest being charged to your account.
• They can come with a heavy hit in the pocket, with charges for late payments and going over your credit limit.
Advantages of the store card:
• Can use them as soon as you are accepted for the card.
• Initial discount (normally 10% off you first purchase) will give you a saving straight away.
• Overly high interest rates, which are well above those of a credit card. Some can be as much as 30%.
• Can lead you quickly to debt, if they are not cleared at the end of each month.
• Sold to the customer, by assistants who know absolutely nothing about what they are selling.
American Express – A Unique Type Of Credit Card
American Express, or AMEX, is one of the most recognisable names in the financial world. What many customers who have MasterCard or Visa credit cards in their wallet are interested in, is what is the difference between these two companies and American Express. Well the difference is quite simple.
MasterCard and Visa are both simply payment methods. They allow locations to accept payment using their system. They do not however, issue any credit cards of their own. For this they rely on their partnerships with thousands of banks worldwide who will issue credit cards, provide the credit necessary, and charge clients interest and give them rewards. None of your credit card bill goes to Visa or MasterCard. It all goes to the bank that provided the card. This bank also sets your interest rate, gives you rewards, offers you zero per cent balance transfers, the works.
Visa and MasterCard make their money by charging the retailer a fee for using their payment system, and also sometimes by charging your bank for issuing the card. None of this effects you directly however.
American Express is a very different arrangement. Not only do they have their own payment system, but they also issue their cards directly to customers. So they are running the whole show. If a card says American Express on it, you know instantly who issued it, what payments system it utilises and everything else about the card.
While Visa and MasterCard are probably far more prevalent payment methods worldwide, American Express is rapidly expanding its network. Both Visa and MasterCard are accepted at over twenty million locations worldwide and these are spread around over one hundred and fifty countries. This makes them truly global payment methods. American Express still lacks this degree of saturation. There are places in the world where Visa and MasterCard are accepted widely but American Express is more difficult to use.
However, American Express has its own advantages, particularly for customers in Europe and North America. In these countries the card is accepted widely. The company also offers very attractive credit cards. They have good rates, good reward schemes and good customer service. If you want a card guaranteed to give you a high standard of service, and that still carries a little bit of extra exclusivity now that Visa and MasterCard are so prevalent, then American Express, or AMEX, is a good safe choice.