Bass Pro Shops & Cabela’s Are Merging: What Their Credit Cardholders Need to Know

Bass-Pro-Shops-&-Cabela's

Whether your choice of outdoor activities involves a fishing pole and waders or sporting clays and shotgun shells, you may want to take note of this outdoor retailer news — Bass Pro Shops is set to acquire Cabela’s, according to a press release issued Monday.

This approximately $5.5 billion deal will merge Cabela’s, Bass Pro Shops and White River Marine Group, a boating company that is part of Bass Pro Shops.

But don’t rush out to use your rewards or certificates just yet. For the most part, this buyout isn’t expected to affect how you shop or the rewards you get for doing so.

According to the merger announcement, “All Cabela’s CLUB points and Bass Pro Shops Outdoor Rewards points will be unaffected by the transactions and customers can continue to use their credit cards as they were prior to the transaction.” The press release also noted that the loyalty programs at both stores will remain the same, but said there is “potential over time to expand the program in the combined company.”

Part of the announcement included news that Bass Pro Shops is launching a credit card partnership with Capital One. An email from a Capital One spokesperson said “the Capital One transaction isn’t expected to close until the first half of 2017 and is subject to the concurrent closing of Bass Pro Shops’ acquisition of Cabela’s,” however.

The spokesperson also noted that “it’s business as usual for Cabela’s customers.” So, whether you’re looking to add some lures to your tackle box or get a new camo duck blind, you should have the experiences at both Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops that you’re accustomed to.

Getting a Store Credit Card

No matter what gear you need for your next outdoor adventure, it’s important to remember that applying for a store credit card is an important financial decision and shouldn’t be made lightly. If you are a frequent shopper at either (or both) of these stores, it’s a good idea to look at their reward offerings that accompany the card and see if it’s worth signing up for one, or if you could get better perks with a standard rewards credit card.

Either way, it’s a good idea to review your credit before applying for new plastic (you can see a free snapshot of your credit report, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com) so you have an idea of the terms and conditions you’re eligible for.

At publishing time, Capital One products are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

Image: Susan Washinski

The post Bass Pro Shops & Cabela’s Are Merging: What Their Credit Cardholders Need to Know appeared first on Credit.com.

Which Credit Card Is Dead Weight in Your Wallet?

Do you have too many credit cards? Perhaps you are having trouble managing all of your open accounts, or are unable to pay the annual fees for all the cards that you have. If you’ve decided that you don’t need some of your credit card accounts, then you should carefully consider which are the best ones to close.

Here are a few factors to consider.

1. Which Cards Have the Highest Annual Fees?

If annual fees are one of the reasons that you’ve decided to close some credit card accounts, then it only makes sense to start with the ones that have the highest. But instead of just closing the most expensive cards, consider how much value the card offers to you compared to its annual fee. For example, an airline frequent flyer card with a $95 annual fee might offer you benefits such as free checked bags that are worth much more to you than another card with a $49 annual fee that has very little additional value. In that case, you might be better off canceling the card with the $49 fee and paying the $95 fee.

2. Which Cards Do You Use the Least?

Another thing to consider is the rarely used cards, but keep in mind all of the ways you might use the card, not just how often you make charges. Some cards might offer valuable benefits, like car rental insurance or roadside assistance, that you use on occasion, even though you rarely make charges.

3. Which Cards Have Rewards That Are Forfeited When the Account is Closed?

With some credit cards, your rewards can only be redeemed if your account is open and in good standing, so the last thing you would want to do is to close one of those cards before redeeming your points. However, if you gain points and miles through loyalty programs offered by airlines, hotels or other partners, you can usually keep them. 

4. Which Cards Offer the Best Customer Service?

Beyond the terms and conditions of a credit card, many customers value the relationship and customer service they have with their card issuers. If you’ve had trouble with your card issuer’s customer service, then you might not wish to keep the account. But likewise, if you’ve been impressed with your interactions with the card issuer, you may reconsider before deciding to close an account.

Alternatives to Closing an Account

Before you close a credit card account or consolidate your debt, there are some alternatives to keep in mind. First, if the card has no annual fee, you might wish to keep your account open and just place the card in a proverbial, or actual sock drawer. Doing so could help keep your debt-to-credit utilization ratio lower. This ratio is the total amount of credit you have been extended, divided by the sum of all of your balances. For best credit scoring results, experts generally recommend keeping the amount of debt you owe below at least 30% and ideally 10% of your total available credit limits. So, if you’re carrying high balances on your other credit cards, closing one with a high credit limit could wind up hurting your credit. (You can see where you currently stand in this category by viewing two of your credit scores, updated each month, for free on Credit.com.) 

You can also give the card issuer an opportunity to retain your business before closing your card. For example, many card issuers will offer to waive the annual fee or to give you a one-time credit for additional rewards in order to keep you as a customer. Finally, many card issuers will offer you a no-fee version of a card before closing your account. A no-fee version will have fewer rewards and benefits than the similar card with with an annual fee, but it may be a better alternative for some cardholders.

Having a credit card account is not a lifelong commitment and it’s inevitable that customers will close their accounts one day. But take some time to consider all of these factors to help make the right decision.

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Starbucks Is Raising Its Prices Today

starbucks_price_increase

You could pay more for your morning latte starting today. Or you could not. Thing is, if you get your morning caffeine fix at Starbucks, you won’t actually know if you’re paying more until you buy it.

The coffee purveyor is “planning a small price increase on select beverages” starting July 12, but the company isn’t saying exactly which beverages will cost more. A statement issued by the company on July 1 said some drinks will increase by 30 cents per beverage.

Some customers got an early taste of the price increase, according to a statement on the corporate website: “The price adjustment was prematurely entered into the point of sale systems in our U.S. company-operated stores. As a result, some customers were charged incorrectly. The maximum any customer could have been overcharged is 30 cents per beverage.”

(The company encouraged customers who believe they were overcharged to contact customer service at 1-800-782-7282.)

Of course, you can skip the price increase altogether by making your coffee at home. But, if you’re a member of the Starbucks rewards program, the price increase can mean more rewards. Earlier this year, Starbucks overhauled its popular rewards program so customers receive two reward stars per dollar spent in lieu of one star per transaction. The coffee company also started offering a prepaid rewards card along with Chase Bank. (You can check out our roundup of the best rewards credit cards here.)

While rewards programs can offer great perks for being a loyal customer, they can also entice people to overspend, consciously or not. Just remember, overspending and getting yourself into debt can have a significant impact on your credit scores. You can see how your debt is impacting your credit scores for free on Credit.com. You can also use this tool to calculate your lifetime cost of debt.

More Money-Saving Reads:

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Can I Use My Company Credit Card to Earn Rewards?

use-company-card-for-rewards

Ever wonder if you can use your company or business credit card to rack up rewards? You may be able to, depending on the card you’re carrying and/or your company’s policy.

There are two types of business credit cards. The most common are small business credit cards issued by most major card issuers. The owner of the company is the primary cardholder and is responsible for the repayment of all charges. The other type is corporate cards, which are issued in the name of medium and large businesses, as well as government and nonprofit organizations.

Business Credit Cards

With small business credit cards, any rewards earned are retained by the business owner who is the primary account holder. Thankfully, many small business credit cards earn bonus rewards for common business purchases such as office supplies, telecommunications services and travel expenses.

Keep in mind, you will want to examine the rates and fees that a card has to ensure that you are not overspending to receive these rewards or other benefits. This is important any time you’re considering some new plastic, but even more so when shopping for a business credit card since they’re exempt from many CARD Act provisions. (Some do comply anyway.) You can find more information on the best business credit cards in America here.

Corporate Cards

A handful of major banks issue corporate credit and charge cards designed for medium and large organizations, and these rarely offer rewards. American Express does offer corporate charge cards that allow authorized cardholders to earn rewards, however. In particular, American Express Corporate Green and Gold Cards allow cardholders to earn points by paying a one-time $90 fee, while there is no fee for its Corporate Platinum and Centurion cards.

American Express points are generally worth about one cent each toward gift cards, merchandise and travel reservations. And these points can be transferred to 17 different airline programs. When miles are redeemed for expensive flights in business, first class or flights with little advance notice, it’s possible to realize several cents in value per mile.

American Express notes on its website that individual corporate cardholders can enroll in the rewards program, though companies do have the option of blocking enrollment — in which case you wouldn’t be able to sign up and earn rewards.

In fact, it’s a good idea generally to check with your employer before you try to cash any points you may have earned with a corporate card in. Some companies may have policies regarding whether or not employee cardholders can use these rewards.

Other Ways to Earn Rewards 

If you don’t have corporate card, you may still be able to earn rewards from company purchases. Many businesses give employees the option of charging expenses to their personal credit cards, which can work well when employees are able to pay each month’s statement balance in full and avoid interest charges. (Again, check with your employer about their specific policies around rewards earned on business expenses, so you don’t unwittingly violate any.)

Remember, business credit cards and even charge cards aren’t always totally separate from your personal credit. Their impact on your consumer credit rating depends on the card agreement. You can see how your credit card use, for business or personal expenses, is affecting your credit by viewing two of your credit scores, updated each month, for free on Credit.com.

At publishing time, American Express cards are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for these products. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

More on Credit Cards:

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Can I Use My Company Credit Card to Earn Rewards?

use-company-card-for-rewards

Ever wonder if you can use your company or business credit card to rack up rewards? You may be able to, depending on the card you’re carrying and/or your company’s policy.

There are two types of business credit cards. The most common are small business credit cards issued by most major card issuers. The owner of the company is the primary cardholder and is responsible for the repayment of all charges. The other type is corporate cards, which are issued in the name of medium and large businesses, as well as government and nonprofit organizations.

Business Credit Cards

With small business credit cards, any rewards earned are retained by the business owner who is the primary account holder. Thankfully, many small business credit cards earn bonus rewards for common business purchases such as office supplies, telecommunications services and travel expenses.

Keep in mind, you will want to examine the rates and fees that a card has to ensure that you are not overspending to receive these rewards or other benefits. This is important any time you’re considering some new plastic, but even more so when shopping for a business credit card since they’re exempt from many CARD Act provisions. (Some do comply anyway.) You can find more information on the best business credit cards in America here.

Corporate Cards

A handful of major banks issue corporate credit and charge cards designed for medium and large organizations, and these rarely offer rewards. American Express does offer corporate charge cards that allow authorized cardholders to earn rewards, however. In particular, American Express Corporate Green and Gold Cards allow cardholders to earn points by paying a one-time $90 fee, while there is no fee for its Corporate Platinum and Centurion cards.

American Express points are generally worth about one cent each toward gift cards, merchandise and travel reservations. And these points can be transferred to 17 different airline programs. When miles are redeemed for expensive flights in business, first class or flights with little advance notice, it’s possible to realize several cents in value per mile.

American Express notes on its website that individual corporate cardholders can enroll in the rewards program, though companies do have the option of blocking enrollment — in which case you wouldn’t be able to sign up and earn rewards.

In fact, it’s a good idea generally to check with your employer before you try to cash any points you may have earned with a corporate card in. Some companies may have policies regarding whether or not employee cardholders can use these rewards.

Other Ways to Earn Rewards 

If you don’t have corporate card, you may still be able to earn rewards from company purchases. Many businesses give employees the option of charging expenses to their personal credit cards, which can work well when employees are able to pay each month’s statement balance in full and avoid interest charges. (Again, check with your employer about their specific policies around rewards earned on business expenses, so you don’t unwittingly violate any.)

Remember, business credit cards and even charge cards aren’t always totally separate from your personal credit. Their impact on your consumer credit rating depends on the card agreement. You can see how your credit card use, for business or personal expenses, is affecting your credit by viewing two of your credit scores, updated each month, for free on Credit.com.

At publishing time, American Express cards are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for these products. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

More on Credit Cards:

Image: gruizza

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What Do Americans Hate Most About Their Credit Cards?

credit-card-annual-fee

Credit cardholders may love their rewards, but they aren’t enough to keep them switching to a new provider. That’s according to marketing firm Bug Insights, which recently surveyed 1,031 U.S. consumers aged 18 and older about their credit card habits to see what would drive them to switch.

Seventy-seven percent said they’re content with their primary card and 63% like the perks it provides. However, 64.36% rate their card’s annual fee as the factor that would push them to change their plastic. This was followed by rewards program at 13.15% and annual percentage rate, or APR, at 8.16%; only 1.55% said brand is important.

A large majority of customers (87%) would prefer a card stripped of all its rewards so long as its annual fee was nixed, the survey found. However, opinions tended to vary by age group and gender. For instance, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers said they were more concerned with rewards and the brand of their card, whereas women were more attuned to monthly costs and cared less about rewards.

Assessing an Annual Fee

Consumers may not like annual fees, but there are some instances where one could prove worthwhile. Frequent fliers, for instance, may be able to pocket enough miles or save via other perks (like a free checked bag) on travel to recoup, or even surpass, the charge. (You can learn more about the best airline miles credit cards in America here.)

For those whose spending habits don’t justify paying an annual fee, there are rewards card with no annual fee whatsoever.

And, if you do have an annual-fee credit card that’s no longer paying off, you could contact your issuer about having the charge waived or downgrading to one of their annual-fee-free products. (Remember, closing a credit card outright could wind up hurting your credit score, though there are times, too, when that step may be the best course of action.)

If you’re thinking of switching your card, it’s a good idea to know where your credit stands so you have some kind of idea what card you might qualify for. You can view two of your credit scores, updated each month, for free on Credit.com.

More on Credit Cards:

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My Credit Score Dropped 24 Points After Planning a Bachelorette Party

I’ve planned four bachelorette parties in the past five years (and attended five, including my own). I have the planning part down to a science. But this time around I had a little surprise — my credit score dropped 24 points when I checked it on my way home Sunday night.

Now, I should preface this with saying that the damage is temporary. It’s not fair to say the bachelorette party “wrecked my credit” since I’ve already remedied the cause of the credit score drop — my high credit utilization this month (more on how I fixed my credit later).

In my experience, planning bachelorette parties takes a lot of coordination, a lot of ridiculous party store supplies and a lot of PayPal/Venmo/Chase QuickPay account transfers. Most of the parties have been short weekend trips for groups ranging from six to 11 people, so it boils down to a few major expenses: house rental, transportation, an activity and a dinner out. The other things you end up buying— wine tastings, drinks at bars, lunches and breakfasts — tend to get paid for individually, without a joint tab.

The major expenses often require a point person, though — one credit card to rule them all. Even when you find a great house that can accommodate everyone at a very reasonable price, someone has to pull the trigger and put it on their credit card to reserve the space and, when you’re the one (or two) planning the trip, it tends to be you. Then, you collect the money from the other attendees and pay off your credit card immediately.

I’ve never minded doing this. After all, I write for a credit website, I’m very mindful of my credit, monitor my accounts daily, check my credit scores every month, and am constantly thinking about managing my money. For some people, this would be an understandable burden. After all, a house that can accommodate 11 women for a weekend isn’t cheap. If you’re already struggling to pay your balance in full every month with just your normal spending, it may not be the best move. After all, you could be short and then face interest charges.

The Hidden Benefit of Bachelorette Party Planning

There is a notable upside to putting all that spending on your credit cards and then immediately paying them off, though— the rewards. I made $500 off my credit cards last year and paid no interest charges or annual fees. This year, I’ve already made roughly $150, so I’m on pace to beat last year’s total. If you’re using the right credit card, you can really rake in the rewards on the group expenses of a bachelorette party. For example, I used my Chase Sapphire card (read a full review here) and got double points on our group’s lunch bill this weekend.

At the end of the weekend, I simply tallied up all the group expenses and gave everyone a per-person total they owed me. Everyone transferred me the money that day, easy breezy.

Why My Score Dropped 24 Points

So why did my credit score drop so much, exactly?

I had charged enough on my credit cards that I had a 20% credit utilization this month. That means I had enough charges on my credit cards that I had spent 20% of my combined credit card limits. One thing you should know about my spending habits is that I charge nearly everything to my credit cards and then pay them off in full every month— it’s how I make so much money from my credit card rewards. So the bachelorette expenses aren’t that whole 20%. But I normally spend around 10% of my limits, sometimes 12%, and this month the extra charges bumped me up to 20% for the first time in a very long time.

How I Fixed It

This is the easy part. I used the money the bachelorette party attendees paid me and immediately paid off two of my credit cards in full. That’s brought my total utilization down to about 7% right now. (You can see how your utilization is impacting your credit scores for free every month on Credit.com.) I don’t plan to apply for any new credit this month, so a temporary credit score drop is something I can weather without issue. A healthy utilization rate is under 30%, but as you can see from my story, it’s even better to keep it under 10%. I have a good credit score, and still do after the slight ding, and I want to keep it that way.

At publishing time, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for this card. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

More on Credit Reports & Credit Scores:

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