Thursday, April 23, 2009

Of Discover Card and Congressional Hearings

I hear today that several credit card companies will be called before Congress today to 'chat' about some of their current horrid practices in the face of the credit crisis. While I do understand that they are losing a ton of money with people losing jobs/not paying their obligations, I do NOT feel for them at all as it relates to people who are 'doing the right thing'. Here's the lesson for today: the credit card companies are charging fees and exorbitant rates due to OTHER people's problems and they are passing on their costs to YOU. Be careful out there with your credit and definitely do NOT end up paying late or you will face high fees AND they may randomly up your interest rate! Check out Clark Howard's website for more info on that kind of thing, but here's my beef with Discover.

Discover Card is not as popular as Visa/Mastercard and AMEX (though many people don't take AMEX due to their high fees). I had a Discover card for almost 2 decades and had a decent credit line. As you can imagine, after starting a new business we had a few bills. I took advantage of a zero percent balance transfer with Discover and had to pay it off before March 25th or I'd be hit with all the interest I deferred. Guess what? I DID MY PART. I paid it in full and felt very happy and proud to retire that debt. What did THEY do? They REWARDED me by sending a letter to say that my credit line was reduced to $500.00 (it was over 10K before). SO this is how they rewarded me for doing what I agreed to do (and I never had a blemish with them for all these years). Why? because I ran up a balance and paid it off... they considered me a credit risk because it was admittedly a high balance--but I paid it off??? Well, I rewarded THEM by cancelling the card.

Moral of the story? Do business with 'loyal' friends; don't reward people who screw you over! Even though Discover is the preferred card at Sam's club, I'll use my M/C instead! Be careful out there!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Miscellaneous Ramblings from 3/31 Newsletter

What a difference a month makes! Are we beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel (or is that light merely the train coming to run us down?)? I know all of this is just my own opinion, but I tend to think that yes, we are starting to "Turn the Titanic'. I've used that phrase for years, but it seems appropriate for our current situation. You can look below for more thoughts on the economy, but based on increased purchase traffic and what I'm reading out there, things are looking up. Hopefully we can dodge the iceberg...

I recently received a weekly newsletter from Clark Howard noting that soon mortgage rates could drop to the 3's. As I respect Clark, I read the article where he said that rates may drop to 3.875% (by MAY, and only for 15 year loans!). While he may be correct, judging from the comments to his story, people seemed to think that it may be best to wait to refinance. In a word, NO. Who knows what will happen between now and then? We are beginning to see more orders for purchases (thank goodness!) and lender friends are saying they are still slammed with refinances. Personally, I don't see the value in waiting much longer when rates are at historical lows. You may get a slightly better deal and/or save a few extra dollars, but is it worth the stress? Don't hate yourself for missing out completely!

Speaking of refinances, if you think your home value has dropped so that you can't refi, check out the HUD/Treasury Department's new website to see if you can refinance or modify your current loan.

Bo the Presidential dog?

Sigh... yet ANOTHER dog named Bo. Don't get me wrong, I like the name Bo for dogs, it's just the irony that my name is Bo as well. When people meet me I am used to the common comment "Oh, I had a dog named Bo". At least it's usually a Lab or a decent sized dog that's named Bo, not some stupid 'purse dog' like you'd see Lindsay Lohan or Paris Hilton carry around. So Go Bo Go! I look forward to watching you grow! (And luckily for my family, I don't shed either...)