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Cards 101

Not sure where to start? Here are a few basics:

Difference between points and miles on a rewards credit card?

There is no difference. Points or miles refer to the currency you build as you use your credit card. The more purchas you make with your card, the more points you can earn. You can then redeem those points for rewards such as discounted airfare, hotels, and other travel expenses. Some cards will also allow you to earn cash back. Rewards cards tend to carry annual fees as well as interest. So being strateigic is key toward getting the most out of your card.

Difference between a charge card and a credit card?

A charge card is similar to a credit card – only you don't pay interest and you don't earn rewards. It's used strictly for the purchasing of goods and services. A credit card allows you to earn rewards and build credit as you make purchases. Also, a credit card normally allows you to carry a balance from month to month. A charge card does not.

Can I have more than one active credit card account at once?

There is no limit to the number of credit cards you can have. More cards doesn't equal a higher credit score. But a lot depends on your credit utilization rate. Using too much of your card's credit limit can hurt your credit score.

What is credit utilization?

Credit utilization measures the amount of credit you use per the limit on your card. If your card has a credit limit of $1,000 and you spend $300, your credit utilization ratio is 30%. A 30% ratio is considered to be a good rate of credit utilization. Anything above that could have an impact on your credit score.

Difference between a secured credit card and an unsecured credit card?

Similar to a loan, a secured credit card carries collateral – usually a deposit in the amount of the card's credit limit. If you have a lower credit score and you want to build it up again, getting a secured credit card is usually the preferred method. An unsecured card has no deposit attached. Both do carry interest.

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