Monthly Archives: March 2013

What Is Card Security Code: CSC or CVV

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If you have ever had to make a payment online (card not present transactions), you should be familiar with Card Security Code (CSC). For Mastercard* and Visa*, it is a three-digit number whereas for American Express* and Discover*, it is generally a four-digit number. Card Security Code is recognized by various acronyms depending on the industry, product, or service you are working with:

Card Security Code (CSC), Card Verification Value (CVV or CVV2), xCard Verification Value Code (CVVC), Card Verification Code (CVC or CVC2), Security Code, Credit Card Security Code, Debit Card Security Code and some other variations

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What is Card Security Code (CSC) and why do merchants ask for it?

Basically, your Card Security Code is an additional layer of protection to prevent fraudulent transactions. Every credit card would have the Card Security Code physically imprinted on it. It is just like your credit card number and expiration date. The combination is always unique and is an enhanced safety mechanism as these codes are generally not printed on receipts or stored in internal systems.

Merchants would generally ask for the CSC in addition to your credit card number and expiration date. Some merchants will have strict matching requirements so your mailing address must match with the credit company’s records to the T. Even the slightest variation could cause the transaction to fail. In reality, many merchants do not setup their payment processing systems at the highest security levels. Primarily, to make the process easy for consumers and avoid transaction failures for even small data errors.

If you are able to verify your mailing address and Card Verification Value (CVV), merchants can be assured that you are in physical possession of the credit card and not some scammer who has hacked into an online credit card database to unscrupulously download credit card numbers and rob innocent victims.

Chargebacks are another reason why online merchants and E-commerce stores ask for CVV numbers. If the transaction has a security code associated with it, the transaction would be considered a legitimate transaction that the owner of the card probably consented to. It is not a guarantee that the transaction was legitimate but certainly proves that an additional barrier was accurately verified. Just one more defense in the merchant’s arsenal should the credit card owner question the legitimacy of the purchase.

Not all merchants ask for the Card Security Code number, though. Some online storefronts setup their payment processing systems at moderate or low security levels (for reasons discussed earlier) and often bypass the CVV requirement to make transaction processing a breeze for customers.

Where to find the Credit Card Security Code?

Fortunately, that is not the hard part. The Card Security Code is physically imprinted on the credit card itself and is very easy to spot. Generally, Discover, Mastercard and Visa follow a similar protocol when it comes to the security code, whereas American Express has its own protocol. Discover, Mastercard, and Visa make use of a three-digit security code, while Amex uses a four-digit number.

How to find the security code on Mastercard?

For Mastercard users, simply flip the card the three-digit CVV code for Mastercard is generally the last three numbers you see on the back of the card (toward the right).

As a rule, merchants are required not to store the CVV code so even if other variables are hacked, CVV will still serve as a final layer of protection against deceptive purchases.

How to find the security code on Visa?

For Visa credit cards, the Card Verification Value (CVV) is found in a similar manner. It is the last three numbers you see on the back of the card (extreme right).

How to find Discover’s CSC Number?

Discover again follows a similar protocol: Last three numbers on the back of the card.

How to find the CVV code number for American Express?

American Express uses a four-digit number that is normally on the front of the card. These four numbers could be found just above the credit card number (toward the right).

Debit Card Security Code

Do debit cards have a security code as well? Yes. If you see a Mastercard or Visa logo on the debit card, the security code can be found in the same manner as you would on a regular Mastercard or Visa credit card: The last three digits on the back of the credit card. If your debit card does not have one of the association logos, ask your issuer as to how you can find the CSC code number.

Do prepaid and gift cards have a CSC as well?

Each issuer would have its own protocol for the security code but as a rule of thumb, you would find the code the same way as on a regular credit card. Mastercard, Visa, and Discover cards would use a three-digit number (reverse side) whereas Amex would have a four digit number on the front.

A word of caution when it comes to providing your Card Security Code number

Generally, CSC codes are not printed on purchase receipts and that is the primary reason why they are considered to be “relatively hacker safe.” Further, merchants are required to avoid storing the CVV number in their internal systems and databases. Whether all merchants comply with this requirement is something we are not aware of.

As a precaution, treat the CSC as if it were your Social Security Number. Check the reputation of the merchant you are making the purchase from. Read their online reviews and complaints to ensure you are not giving away your CVV code on a phishing site. Scammers often setup phishing sites that look like legitimate merchants in an attempt to extract your personal information. Make sure the site is secure and the merchant is legitimate. If you have any doubts, call the 800-number and ask for the company’s privacy policy and security protocol. Safety first!

* Registered trademarks owned by the individual companies.

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Can I Pay Credit Cards With Debit Cards?

By David

As our banking systems grow more complex and new features are implemented, it raises questions among the populace. One such question raised is “can I pay credit cards with debit cards?” The simple answer is yes. There are a few different options to choose from when one goes about paying a credit card with a debit card.

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Choosing your method

The very first thing to consider when you pay credit cards with debit cards is what method you’d like to use. For those just starting you may wish to consider a “pay over the phone” method. Though you will most likely have to navigate through a phone based options menu it does eventually lead to a real person who is there to help you through the process making this one of the easier, and least intimidating of the options.

Alternatively if you’re not one to shy away from computers, websites, and online financial transactions there is another option available for paying your credit cards with your debit cards that you may find even more convenient, especially if you’re not a fan of navigating phone menus. This of course is the “pay online” option which can be done in a couple different ways. If you have online banking that includes a bill pay system you can go to your banks website, set up a “pay to” account for your credit card and send payments right from there. Once it’s set up, simply check your credit card balance (either on your statement or by logging in to your credit card account online) and the amount you wish to pay (anywhere between the minimum and the current balance) and submit the payment request. Once you have the hang of this, it is a very quick and easy option. If your bank doesn’t have a website or bill pay, you can instead make payments directly through your credit cards web site. Just sign-in, your balance should be displayed fairly prominently on the first page for you somewhere, head to the payments section and enter the amount you wish to pay. If it is your first time, you will have to enter your debit card information including your debit card number, the name on the card, the expiration date, and the CCV (the three to four, digit security code on the back of the card next to the signature line). Once you have this information entered, you can opt to have the website save it for future payments saving you the hassle of entering it next time.

For even more convenience either your bank or credit card website may offer an automatic payment system. These are typically set up the same way as the other online payment methods, with the only difference being that they recur each month automatically.

As you can see, there are indeed a few methods available to you for paying your credit cards with your debit cards.

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How To Save Money On Your Credit Cards

By David

Times are tough and finances are stretched thinner than ever. Everyone is trying to find ways to reduce their bills to make their hard-earned money go just a little further. Obviously all the possible cost saving methods are too broad a topic for just one article, so today we’re going to focus in on your credit card bills; specifically, how to save money on your credit cards.

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Get a loan or a low interest credit card

For most credit cards these days, the average interest rate is around 15%, whereas a low interest credit card is at about 10.4%, and loans are even lower than that. The advantage being that you can reduce your interest rates saving you money on your credit cards over the long run and, consolidating all your payments into one convenient payment.

Use part of your savings to pay off credit cards quickly

While it’s important to maintain a certain amount in your saving for emergencies, often times we find we have more there than we really need. The faster you can get those credit cards paid off the less you’ll end up paying and so it’s just good sense to use extra money that is at best gaining 3% to pay off a credit card with a 15% interest rate. Assuming identical rates, that’s a savings of 12%. Now, that is how to save money on your credit cards.

Pay off the smallest debt first to free up assets to tackle larger ones

We all know that the ultimate goal here is to get rid of or drastically reduce the debt. Assuming you have multiple credit cards with outstanding balances, you can pay the minimum on all but the smallest of them. There are a couple of great reasons to start with the card containing the smallest balance in order to help you save on your credit cards. First among these is the freeing of resources. For example let’s say you have three credit cards, one with $200 on it, one with $500 on it, and one with $1000 on it. And you can pay $200 a month on all of them. You pay the minimum on the two larger ($25 and $50 respectively). Then you throw all of what’s left at the $100 card paying it off completely. As you pay off each card you are freeing up the resources that previously would have been required to pay on that card and allowing you to focus your efforts.

The second benefit and arguably the more valuable, is the psychological relief that comes from successfully paying off a debt. Once you’ve had the first success it encourages you to continue and relieves some stress. Paying on the smallest debt first helps that moral boosting success come sooner and helps to keep you from developing an “I will never get it all paid off” attitude.

The above tips are just a few of the many available to you. Utilizing these strategies can help you save money on your credit cards and help you along your path to a more financially stable life despite the ever tighter economy.

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How To Make Money With Credit Cards

By David

Everyone knows about credit cards. We have a basic understanding of how to use them and how they work. However what many people are not aware of is that you can use your credit cards to make you extra money.

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The easiest way to do this is through the use of a cash rewards card. These cards typically have an interest rate around 15% and will offer you 2% to 3% back on certain items you buy, such as gasoline or groceries, and around 1% back on everything else. Now that doesn’t sound like a great deal, especially compared to a 15% APR, but there’s an easy way around that allowing you to collect 1%-3% cash back simply for spending money you would have spent anyway and allowing you to make money with credit cards!

As you’re probably aware credit cards have a “grace period.” This is a period of typically 30 days when a purchase you have made remains on your credit card interest free! This allows you to make purchases and pay them off within the grace period in order to build credit without incurring debt.

Now when you combine the cash back from a rewards card with the grace period mechanic you find that you’re able to make money with credit cards. Just put everything you’d normally pay with cash or a check on the credit card instead and pay it off in full within the grace period. This allows you to reap that 1% to 3% cash back without having to pay any interest on your purchases and builds your credit at the same time.

This strategy however is only viable if you have the discipline to follow a few simple rules:

  1. Never spend more than you have – while it is tempting to put huge purchases on these cards for the additional cash back, the inability to repay those purchases within the grace period invalidates this strategy. As a general rule of thumb, never spend more money than you actually have. This helps ensure that you can pay off the entire balance within the grace period.
  2. Make sure you pay the full balance within the grace period – It’s very important to make sure to get payments in before the end of the grace period, otherwise you’ll end up paying interest on your purchases. Since most credit cards have some means of paying online, I recommend sending payments weekly rather than monthly. This will ensure a speedy delivery and allows plenty of leeway to make sure you don’t miss that crucial grace period.
  3. Take advantage of extra perks – Some cards, especially those associated with a bank will offer a little bonus just for redeeming your rewards to a bank account you have with them. If you can take advantage of these kinds of bonuses without it costing anything extra, make sure you do.

Using these tricks and tips you can make money with your credit cards by simply spending the money that you’d normally spend anyway throughout the month.

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Help Me Find A Credit Card!

By David

With so many options available it can be a challenge to figure out what kind of credit card is best for you. Still, if we take a closer look at the different types of cards and how they work we should be able to help you find a credit card that is right for you.

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Types of cards

There are several different types of cards to choose from with different features and drawbacks. To help you find a credit card you will want to start by choosing one of these.

1)      Prepaid Cards – a prepaid credit card is similar to a gift card except that you can use it anywhere that type of credit card is accepted. These types of cards are great for children just learning to use a credit card, or for making online purchases without risking all the money in your bank account.

2)      Low-Interest Cards – Low interest credit cards typically have an APR of about 10.4% making them a great option for balance transfers from higher interest cards, or for using as an emergency card for things that will take a while to get paid off.

3)      Rewards Cards – These type of cards typically have and APR around 15% but offer you rewards that make their use more enticing. These are best for short term borrowing for things you generally buy on a regular basis so that you can take advantage of the rewards while avoiding the higher APR by paying purchases off within the “grace period.”

4)      Bad Credit Cards – These are typically high APR cards with low credit limits, intended as a means for those with bad credit to carefully rebuild it.

Other Considerations

Once you’ve decided on the type of credit card, you’ll want to look at some of the specifics of the cards in order to help you find a credit card.

1)      Annual Fee – Though these are dropping out of common use some cards still have a yearly fee just for possessing the card. Unless the card comes with rewards or an APR worth the fee, try to find one without.

2)      Interest Rate – This is probably the most important factor to consider. The lower the interest rate the less interest you’ll pay on long term purchases. Many cards will offer a lower introductory APR for the first few months. These are nice, but make sure you know what your APR will be after that so you’re not tricked into getting a card with an unreasonably high rate.

3)      Rewards Programs – if you’re going with a rewards card make sure the card is offering the type of reward that you want. While frequent flyer miles may be a great reward for some, it’s not so enticing for those who never fly.

Get your card

Once you’ve decided on a type of card and found one with the perks you like and rates and fees you’re comfortable with, just apply and wait for their response.

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Choose Smart And Get A Low Interest Credit Card

By David

Irresponsibly using a credit card can be costly, but picking the right one and respecting the grace period will turn it into as safe a loan like any other. Provided you get a low interest credit card, this method of payment is quite efficient, which is why the number of credit card holders continues to increase.

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Credit cards or consumption loans?   

Both options are relatively rapid and easy ways to obtain money, compared to other types of loans. However, credits cards are more flexible, but interest rates tend to be higher. If used responsibly, however, credit cards have many benefits.

Advantages of credit cards

  • Grace periods with 0% interest, in which reimbursement can be made in multiple small rates, or integrally.
  • Fixed rate payments.
  • Bonus rewards.
  • Various types of insurance (life, death, trips, car rentals etc.).
  • Loyalty programs.
  • Possibility of getting a credit card even if you have a low income, unlike bank loans.
  • Interest rates and payment periods can be changed.

What is the interest rate?  

The interest rate is what the lender charges you for using your credit line to make purchases. It is established by each financial institution, based on several factors: the market supply and demand, the discount official tax, the state’s economic power, the inflation rate and the bank’s adopted policy. In order to save money, it is recommended you get a low interest credit card. Generally, a low interest rate revolves around 10%, and there are even credit cards with interest rates as low as 7% or even 0%.

How to get a low interest credit card?

It is essential to compare credit card options, and pick the cheapest one. Total costs of a credit card are included in the annual interest, which is the safest indicator for selecting offers when it comes to price.

Also, you should keep in mind that some banks issue special types of credit cards, which come with great benefits, such as 0% interest rates and various reward programs. By using the credit card for direct payments in stores or for paying bills, you can benefit from these extra perks.

Using the credit card intelligently

The first step is to get a low interest credit card. Then, it’s up to you to use it wisely:

  • Do not use the credit card for cash withdrawals unless it is necessary, because most banks collect additional fees for these transactions;
  • Inform the bank when if you won’t be able to make your monthly payment, as some lenders will waive non-payment penalties as a courtesy if you contact them.
  • Remember that late payments can increase your interest rates.
  • Renegotiate your credit card interest with the issuing bank, whenever you feel like you are paying more than you should.

Low interest rates due to today’s uncertain economic times have prompted most financial institutions to come up with a wide variety of credit card options. In such a competitive field, it is easy to get a low interest credit card and profit from other rewards as well.

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Teaching Children Financial Responsibility Through Credit Cards With Money

By David

For many of us, learning to write checks and balance a check book were necessary lessons as we grew and began paying our own way, but in our modern society built on computers and mobile apps, the lessons we teach our children must change with our society. One of the greatest concerns is teaching our children how to appropriately use and manage a credit card. But how can we help them learn without immediately exposing them to the perils of un-savvy credit card use? Easy, we can teach them credit cards with money.

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Prepaid Credit Cards

One of the best tools we have at our disposal for this very task is the prepaid credit card. A prepaid credit card works much like a gift card, but is associated with a major credit card company and thus can be used almost anywhere to make in store or on-line purchases. A quick search on your favorite search engine provides a list of options to choose from. Just pick your favorite, load it with money, and go. Not only does using a prepaid card help your child grow accustomed to how the typical transaction goes in a store, but also opens up other related teaching opportunities.

Teaching your children credit cards with money allows you to show them the online process of transferring money between accounts. This opens up the door to teach them all about the online interface and each of its useful options.

Having our children’s prepaid credit cards loaded with money rather than giving them cash will allow them to make online purchases more easily and opens the doors to a world of shopping opportunities and to potential lessons on how to make purchases online safely, how to tell if a web site is secure or not, and how to minimize the risks of having your money stolen from you, including using prepaid cards loaded with just enough to make your purchases instead of a typical debit card.

Knowing that no one is perfect you can use prepaid credit cards loaded with money instead of a traditional credit card to set realistic spending limits for your children and introduce them to the consequences of spending without tracking. They will only be able to spend as much as you load on the card and if they exceed that the card is declined without incurring overdraft fees, over limit fees, or 15% or more interest that they’ll spend the next several months struggling to pay off.

Additionally, should your child ever need money for an emergency relatively quickly and happen to be too far away to simply give cash, you have the option to add money to their account from the comfort of home. No need to hop in the car and rush cash over to goodness knows where.

As you can tell credit cards loaded with money can be an excellent option to help your children wade into and begin to acclimate to our ever more complex financial system.

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New Credit Card Payments Make The Process A Breeze

By David

It used to be that in order to pay your credit card you had to wait for your statement, write a check, address the envelope, stamp it, and send it out, making sure to get it out a couple days before the due date so that it would be postmarked on time. Now there are newer and easier credit card payment methods to make your life a little simpler.

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Over the Phone – One option available these days, and a great credit card payment method for anyone who doesn’t wish to mess with computers is to make payments over the phone. There are a couple ways of doing this; either by check, or by debit card. Simply call up your credit card company and use the on phone guide to direct you to the appropriate department. Once you have a representative on the line you’ll want to tell them your account number and let them know you’d like to make a payment. They should guide you through the rest of the process.

Estimated time to payment: 10-30 min.

Manual Online Payments – If you are comfortable using computers, disciplined enough to remember your bills each month, and like the ability to adjust your payments on a case by case basis, then this is the credit card payment method for you. Like the over the phone option, this method has a couple of different avenues to choose from. You can either, go directly to the credit card’s web site and pay through it utilizing a check or debit card or you can use your banks web site, set up a “pay to” account and send payments through it. Either way after the initial setup you can choose to have the website save your payment information for future payments which makes this a quick and easy option.

Estimated time to payment: 5-15 min.

Automatic Online Payments – Assuming you are comfortable using a computer and making consistent sized payments, this is a great credit card payment method. This particular method is especially helpful if you accidently forget to pay your card one month, as it, once set up will automatically send a payment for you, helping you avoid late fees. As with the other options there’re a couple of ways to do this. You can either, go through the credit cards web site and set it up so that it will automatically debit your checking account or you can set up a “pay to” account on your banks website and set up an automatic recurring payment. Either way you’ll be protecting yourself from late fees. Just be sure not to spend more on your credit cards than you’ll have in your account or you may end up with some overdraft fees.

Estimated time to payment: 0 min.

So whether you’re tired of the old write a check and wait method, or if you’re just looking for a new way to pay to spice things up, you have some great credit card payment methods to choose from.

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Credit Card Money: Cash Advance

By David

Credit card money, or a cash advance, as it is often referred to is an interesting option available to card holders, though not always a great one. Let us take a look at a few of the pitfalls associated with this “credit card money” and see if we can understand some of the common problems people encounter and when — if ever — is an appropriate time to utilize this option.

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Fees and interest rates

The average credit card interest rate runs at about 15%. Credit card money or a cash advance has its own associated fees and interest rates that exceed the cards already high interest rate making this option a convenient, but expensive one.

The first thing to note here are the associated fees that go along with obtaining a cash advance. These fees can be between 2% to 4% of the amount borrowed which means if you need to borrow $1,000, conservatively you’re looking at $20 added to your principle immediately. Need to borrow more? Then your fee will be even higher.

Next we should note the higher interest rates associated with getting ahold of credit card money. Even with great credit and an outstanding 10.4% APR on your credit card, if you decide you need a cash advance the APR on it will be between 24% and 40%! At best you will be paying about 2.5x what you would be normally. Worse still is the fact that many card companies rearrange what you’re paying on so that the low interest rate purchases get paid on first leaving the high interest rate cash advance to sit in the back untouched compounding enormous amounts of interest.

Combine these factors with the knowledge that in most cases your 30 day grace period is forfeited for a cash advance. This means that you’re being charged interest before you even have the cash in your hand!

It’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that getting this credit card money is not always a smart financial decision with the exception of a couple specific cases:

  1. Purchasing an item from an individual – Perhaps you need to buy an item from an individual who obviously will not be able to take a credit card and you don’t currently have the cash for the item, but will within a month or less. In this case using credit card money is a viable option assuming the item being purchased is something you need and you’re disciplined enough to get it paid back quickly.
  2. In an emergency – Your car broke down in the middle of nowhere, the mechanic only takes cash, and, wouldn’t you know it, all you have in your wallet are your credit cards. In this or similar circumstances utilizing credit card money can be a viable option, but still should be considered only as a last resort.

Armed with this information you can be sure you’re prepared to resist the temptation to use credit card money (cash advance) for anything but the most dire, or most appropriate of circumstances.

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Credit Cards Vs Debit Cards: A Comparison

By David

Many people become confused when they try to get a credit card and debit card comparison. In many cases the two can be used interchangeably to accomplish the same thing, so what is the difference?

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While a credit card and debit card comparison will yield results that differentiate the two, they do have common elements. Size, shape, and location of information on the card are the most notable similarities. Additionally they can be used in the same places and situations assuming of course that you debit card is associated with a major credit card.


Credit Cards

One quickly discovers while doing a credit card and debit card comparison that credit cards are distinctive in many different ways.

  1. How they work – a credit card isn’t attached to an account that you have money in, but rather is a means of borrowing money against future income.
  2. Fees & Interest – because you’re borrowing money when you use a credit card it has associated with it an interest rate known as an APR (annual percentage rate) as well as other fees associated with its use.
  3. Risks – since using a credit card is a form of borrowing money and especially as there is interest to be paid if the money is not returned in a timely fashion its use can become very pricy very fast if you are not careful to make sure to pay back what you borrow. Additionally extra fees are assessed if you forget to make a payment on time or accidently exceed your credit limit.
  4. Rewards – credit cards allow you to borrow often significant amounts of money in the case of emergencies that your savings just cannot cover.

Debit Cards

In a credit card and debit card comparison we see a number of distinct features associated with debit cards.

  1. How they work – a debit card is attached to an account you have money in, typically a checking or savings account and allows you to use money from that account without having to stop at a bank to pick up cash from a teller. They can also be used in conjunction with an ATM to withdraw cash from the associated accounts.
  2. Fees & Interest – Depending on where you are and what kind of debit card you’re using, there could be anywhere from a $1 to $5 fee for making a withdraw using an ATM not owned by your bank.
  3. Risks – risks of using a debit card include overdraft fees for spending more money than you have in your account, cards not associated with a major credit card company not being accepted at stores, and fewer identity theft security measures than regular credit cards.
  4. Rewards – As you are the holder of the money, there’s no interest associated with its use

Now that you have a clear comparison of debit cards and credit cards you can make an informed decision about which type of card is right for you.

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