Joint Credit Cards: What to Know and How to Apply

Joint Credit Cards: What to Know and How to Apply for One

A joint credit card account is a way for you and a spouse, partner, family member, or trusted friend to co-own a line of credit. A joint credit card is in both of your names, meaning both parties are equally responsible for the debt that the card accrues.

Joint credit cards can make sharing finances with a domestic partner easier, but if you’re not on the same page about using the card and paying off debt, it could mean trouble for your credit score and your relationship. In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at how joint credit cards work, their pros and cons, how they differ from authorized users, and how to get a joint credit card.

What Is a Joint Credit Card Account?

A joint credit card allows two people to fully share in the responsibility of spending with a credit card and paying it off. Each cardholder receives a physical card to use, and each also has full access to credit card statements and payments.

Otherwise, a joint credit card operates just like a traditional credit card — with a credit limit and interest rate on borrowed funds. If you carry over a balance month to month, that balance will accrue interest, and both joint account owners are equally on the hook for paying it back, even if one person is doing most of the spending.

Because a joint credit card is in both owners’ names, it impacts both users’ credit scores. Making regular monthly payments in full and maintaining a low credit utilization could improve both cardholders’ scores. On the other hand, late payments and accumulated debt might bring credit scores down.

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due

Ways You Can Share a Credit Card

Joint credit card accounts are just one type of shared credit card. Before deciding to apply for a joint credit card, consider whether adding someone as an authorized user on a credit card might be a better option for your situation.

Recommended: Does Applying For a Credit Card Hurt Your Credit Score

Authorized User

Instead of applying for a credit card with a co-owner, you can make someone an authorized user on an existing credit card. Unlike with a joint account credit card, only one person serves as the cardholder and bears the full responsibility of the card.

The authorized user, on the other hand, can get their own physical card and use it as they see fit. However, the authorized user cannot make larger changes to the card, like requesting an increase in credit limit.

Some, though not all, credit card issuers report authorized users’ activity to the three major credit bureaus. Assuming the main cardholder uses the card responsibly (meaning they make on-time payments and keep credit utilization low), this can reflect well on the authorized user and potentially improve their credit score.

Adding an authorized user can be a good solution for spouses or domestic partners with shared expenses. If one partner has a strong credit score but the other is struggling, the struggling partner might benefit from becoming an authorized user on the other’s card. Additionally, parents who want their children to learn about using a credit card or find comfort knowing their teenage kids have a spending option in emergencies might also benefit from a card with an authorized user.

A caveat: If the main credit cardholder mismanages their credit card and the card issuer reports authorized users to the credit bureaus, this could potentially lower the authorized user’s score rather than helping to build it.

Recommended: What is the Average Credit Card Limit

Joint Cardholder

As previously mentioned, joint cardholders share equal responsibility for how the card is used and paid off. Just as there are pros and cons of joint bank accounts, this arrangement can have benefits and drawbacks. A joint credit card enables spouses and domestic partners to approach their finances on equal footing, but a poorly managed card can have major negative impacts on the other.

Sharing a joint credit card requires implicit trust between the co-owners. Partners who disagree about managing finances might not find a joint credit card a good option.

Recommended: Comparing Joint and Separate Bank Accounts in Marriage

Differences Between Authorized Users and Joint Accounts

Let’s take a closer look at the differences between authorized users and joint accounts.

Privileges

Joint cardholders share the same level of privileges on a credit card. Authorized users, however, cannot increase the credit limit or add additional authorized users. On top of that, primary cardholders can sometimes impose spending limits on authorized users.

Number of Users

Two co-owners share a joint credit card account. With an authorized credit card, there is a single primary cardholder and one or more authorized users. The max number of permissible authorized users varies by card issuer. SoFi, for example, lets you add up to five.

Responsibility

Both co-owners share equal responsibility for a joint credit card account. Authorized users are not responsible for payments, but how the credit card is managed can impact the authorized user’s credit score.

Impact on Credit Score

Both joint credit cards and cards with authorized users can impact credit scores of everyone attached to the card. Authorized users just have less control over how the card is managed, so they must put their faith in the hands of the primary cardholder.

Recommended: How to Avoid Interest On a Credit Card

Pros of a Joint Credit Card Account

What are the benefits of a joint credit card? Here are some potential perks of this setup:

•  Equal control: Spouses and domestic partners who want equal control of their finances can benefit from a joint credit card, which affords them equal access to spending, statements, and payments.

•  Convenience of one shared card: If you share finances with a partner, having one credit card with one payment date might be easier than juggling multiple cards and due dates.

•  Potential to boost credit score or get a better rate: If one co-owner lacks a credit history or has a lower credit score, being a co-owner on a well-managed joint credit card could boost their score. The person with the lower score might even qualify for a card with a better rate by applying with a joint cardholder.

Cons of a Joint Credit Card Account

There are some drawbacks to joint credit cards, however:

•  Shared repercussions for mismanagement: If one co-owner maxes out the card or misses a payment they said they would make, both cardholders share the burden, which can include late fees, a credit score impact, or growing interest. And if your partner decides not to do anything about the growing credit card debt, you could be on your own in paying off their shopping spree.

•  Difficulty of removing someone: Removing someone from a joint credit card can be challenging. Your only option for getting out of a bad situation might be paying off and closing the card.

•  Possibility of damage to the relationship: If you and a partner do not share the same financial philosophy, entangling your debts might do more harm than good. Couples who already fight about making financial decisions may find that sharing a joint credit card is detrimental to their relationship.

Recommended: What Happens to Credit Card Debt When You Die?

Applying for a Joint Credit Card

Does a joint account sound right for your situation? Here’s how to apply for a joint credit card:

1.   Find a credit card issuer with a joint credit card option: Not every credit card issuer offers joint cards. Understand that your options will be more limited than if you applied for a credit card by yourself. Just as you would if you were choosing a joint bank account, take the time to compare a few options and find a joint credit card you’re both happy with.

2.   Understand the qualification requirements: Read the fine print to make sure you and your co-owner can qualify. It’s not just your own credit score and credit history you have to consider; credit card issuers will be reviewing both applicants to determine if you can get a joint credit card.

3.   Fill out the application: Have all of the necessary information for both applicants handy. It’s a good idea to apply together at a computer, if possible.

4.   Set the ground rules: Make sure both of you are on the same page about how you will use the card and who is responsible for making on-time payments. If you’re not sure where to start, check out these basic credit card rules, which can promote healthy card usage.

The Takeaway

Joint credit cards give both co-owners equal responsibility for credit card usage and payments. Using a joint credit card can be a good way to combine finances and help boost a partner’s credit score. However, applicants might benefit from going the authorized user route instead. Understanding the risks of both options is important before completing a joint credit card application or making someone an authorized user on an existing card.

Still looking for the right credit card? Apply for a SoFi Credit Card to get up 3% cash back rewards on all purchases when redeemed to save, invest, or pay down eligible SoFi debt. Cardholders earn 1% cash back rewards when redeemed for a statement credit. Plus, if you make on-time monthly minimum due amount payments 12 months in a row, you can lower your APR by 1%. The card also allows you to add up to five authorized users.

Make credit work for you and your family with the SoFi Credit Card.

FAQ

Do joint credit cards affect both credit scores?

Joint credit cards affect both users’ credit scores equally. A well-managed card that is paid off in full each month might boost both users’ scores. On the other hand, regularly late payments and a high credit utilization could bring both scores down.

Can I add someone to my credit card as a joint account holder?

Not every credit card issuer offers joint account credit cards. However, most allow you to add authorized users to existing credit cards. Contact your credit card issuer to learn more.

What requirements are needed to get a joint credit card account?

Requirements for getting a joint credit card account will vary by credit card issuer. Credit card companies typically consider factors like age, credit score, and income to determine whether you can get a joint credit card.


Photo credit: iStock/gorodenkoff

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s
website
.

The SoFi Credit Card is issued by The Bank of Missouri (TBOM) (“Issuer”) pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.
1See Rewards Details at SoFi.com/card/rewards.
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What Is a Credit Card Sign-up Bonus?

What Is a Credit Card Sign-up Bonus and How Does It Work?

A credit card sign-up bonus, or credit card welcome bonus, can come in the form of cash back, discounts on purchases, or other rewards, such as airline miles that you can put toward travel. These bonuses are a way for card companies and branded partners — such as airlines and other merchants — to incentivize you to sign up for a new card.

Sign-up bonuses can be a great way to get extra value out of a credit card in its first year. Just beware that there may be strings attached. Here’s a closer look at how sign-up bonuses work, their pros and cons, and how to make the most of them.

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How Do Sign-Up Bonuses Work?

Rewards are offered through a variety of credit cards, including co-branded cards and even prepaid credit cards. In order to receive your credit card sign-up bonus you must open a new account. Then, depending on the reward you’re being offered, you’ll usually have to meet one of three criteria:

•   First, and most simply, you may receive your bonus after your application is approved or after your first purchase.

•   If your new card is from a branded retailer, you may need to make a purchase with them before you can earn your sign-up bonus.

•   Finally, you may have to spend a certain amount of money over a set period to trigger the bonus. For example, you may have to spend $500 on purchase within the first three months of account opening.

Sign-up bonuses vary by card, as will the amount you’ll have to spend and the timeframe within which you have to do it. You may have to spend thousands of dollars in a short period of time to earn your bonus on some cards, while other cards may have no spending requirement.

Earning Sign-Up Bonuses

Spending requirements to earn a sign-up bonus on a credit card can be high, ranging anywhere from $500 to $5,000. The amount usually must be charged to your card within a set period of time, often the first three months after opening your account.

Make sure you can afford to meet these spending requirements before you decide on a particular card. Even if you technically can afford to meet the requirement, avoid the temptation to overspend on things you don’t need just to earn rewards.

Also, it may take a month or two for your bonus cash or points to appear in your account. If you’re planning to use them for something specific, say to buy a plane ticket to a friend’s wedding, be sure to take this timeframe into account.

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Types of Credit Card Bonuses

There are different credit card rewards, depending on the card company and on branded partnerships. An airline is much more likely to offer points toward a flight, while a big box store is more likely to offer you an in-store discount. Here’s a look at some of the most common bonus types.

Cash Back and Bonus Points

Perhaps the two most common sign-up bonuses are getting cash back with a credit card or rewards points that you can use toward booking a hotel room or buying an airline ticket. For example, you might earn 50,000 points after spending $4,000, or you might receive a cash credit after you make your first purchase.

You may receive the bonus all at once, or there may be a tiered system in place with different eligibility requirements you’ll need to meet to earn the full reward.

Purchase Discounts

Another common sign-up bonus is a discount on a current or future purchase. For example, a retailer might offer you 20% off your next purchase when you sign up for their in-store credit card. These cards are often co-branded with a major credit card company, and they may be offered by brick-and-mortar stores or online retailers.

Your reward may come in the form of an immediate discount when you’re approved for the card. You could also receive a coupon or discount code. Or, you might get a credit when you make your first purchase with the retailer.

Additional Spending Rewards

In addition to rewarding you for spending in the months shortly after opening your account, your credit card company may offer rewards for spending throughout the first year.

Waived Annual Fee

Rewards cards can be a little bit tricky with their various requirements, and there can be credit card costs involved. Often, rewards cards charge an annual fee that helps to offset the cost of the rewards they provide. As part of the sign-up bonus, some rewards cards will waive the card’s annual fee for the first year.

Pros and Cons of Sign-up Bonus Credit Cards

When determining whether or not you want to open a credit card with a sign-up bonus, it’s important to consider both the potential rewards and the potential drawbacks. Here’s a look at the pros and cons:

Pros

Cons

Sign-up bonuses may include cash back, rewards points, or discounts on purchases made with co-branded partners. You may be limited in how you can use your bonus. For example, you may be able to use airline points online only at certain airlines.
Annual fees may be waived for the first year. Cards may have steep annual fees and high interest rates to help credit card companies offset the cost of rewards.
The right card can allow you to reap benefits from purchases you’d make anyways. There may be high spending requirements you must meet before you can claim your bonus.
Using your credit card responsibly can help you build credit. If you can’t pay off your credit card bill each month, you may miss payments, which can damage your credit.

Making the Most Out of Your Credit Card Bonus

Before choosing a credit card with a sign-up bonus, consider these ways that you can take advantage of credit card bonuses.

Recommended: How to Avoid Interest On a Credit Card

Pick the Most Suitable Card

Reward cards often offer flashy bonuses that are real attention-grabbers — but make sure the card you choose has a bonus you’ll actually use. For example, sign up for a card with an airline you fly often or a retailer you frequent. Or, make sure that you’ll receive cash back rewards on purchases that you already make or will need to make in the future. It doesn’t make sense to sign up for a card that gives you a bonus you won’t actually use.

You also may want to consider applying for cards with a high spending requirement in the first three months when you’re planning to make a series of big purchases anyway. That way, you won’t be buying anything that you don’t need already, and you’ll be rewarded for the purchases you were going to make. For example, maybe your car is scheduled for major maintenance or repairs, or perhaps you’re planning a wedding and will put some of the costs on your credit card.

It’s always worth considering how signing up for a new card will affect your credit. Applying for a new card will trigger what’s known as a “hard inquiry,” which will bring down your credit score temporarily. The damage to your credit may not be worth it, especially if you’re unlikely to use the bonus, you won’t really need the credit card later, or you’re planning to seek out other loans in the near future.

Recommended: Does Applying For a Credit Card Hurt Your Credit Score

Look for Special Offers

From time to time, credit cards may offer special sign-up bonuses that are much bigger than usual. Keep an eye out for these, and make sure that you hit the application deadlines. These are usually limited-time offers, so be sure the offer is still valid before you sign up.

Ensure You’re Eligible for the Bonus

In some cases, you may not be eligible to sign up for a credit card and receive its bonus. For example, if you’ve had a specific card and canceled it in the past, you likely won’t be able to sign up for that card again and receive the bonus.

Before you apply, make sure you read the terms and conditions to understand your eligibility and to see if there’s any reason you might not receive your bonus if you sign up. Also, know that if you’ve recently opened several new credit cards, you may be declined automatically for a new bonus card.

Recommended: What is the Average Credit Card Limit

Make Sure You Can Pay Down Your Debt

Before signing up for a bonus card, it’s crucial that you understand your ability to pay your bills on time. Bonus rewards cards often carry extremely high interest rates, meaning that any balance you carry from month to month can end up costing you a lot of money, quickly outweighing the rewards you earned initially.

Consider, too, that carrying a high credit card balance can have a negative impact on your credit score. Ideally, you should keep your credit card utilization ratio — calculated by dividing your total credit card balance by your total loan limit — below 30%. If you can, aim to keep your ratio at 6% or less to give you the best shot at maintaining a high credit score.

You’ll also want to be sure that if you pick up a rewards card, you’ll still be able to make on-time payments on all of your other obligations, as this is another crucial component of a healthy credit score.

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due

Redeeming Your Bonus Reward Points

Depending on your card, you may have a variety of options to redeem your rewards. For example, if you sign up for a card with a co-branded retailer, you may receive a coupon or rebate for a purchase at the store. Meanwhile, airline or hotel points may need to be redeemed by booking flights on certain airlines or rooms at certain hotel chains.

Cash back rewards could be received as a credit card refund by having your rewards applied to your credit card balance, transferred to a bank account, mailed to you as a check, or converted into rewards points.

Check your card’s terms and conditions to find out rules for redeeming your points so you can start to put them to use.

Recommended: Tips for Using a Credit Card Responsibly

The Takeaway

Sign-up bonuses can offer credit card users a lot of value. (In fact, some users will open and close credit cards just to earn the bonuses, a practice known as credit card churning.) However, it’s important that you do your research before jumping on a flashy offer. Make sure the bonus is actually something you’ll use and that you have the means to meet eligibility requirements without damaging your overall financial health and credit score. Read all terms and conditions carefully before you sign up.

In the market for a new rewards card? Consider the SoFi credit card, which offers up to 3% cash back rewards when redeemed to save, invest, or pay down eligible SoFi debt.

Cardholders earn 1% cash back rewards when redeemed for a statement credit.1 Plus, if you make a year’s worth of monthly minimum due on-time payments, you can lower your annual percentage rate (APR) by 1%.

FAQ

When do you get a credit card sign-up bonus?

When you sign up for a bonus rewards card, you’ll receive your bonus when you meet the card’s eligibility requirements. This could mean simply making a purchase, or you may need to spend a certain amount over a set period of time. The card could also require you to spend money with a particular merchant.

Are sign-up bonuses taxable on credit cards?

The bonus rewards that you receive are not taxable. They’re considered a rebate as opposed to taxable income. That simplifies things come tax time, when you will not have to claim your bonus as income.

Can you open multiple cards to get more sign-up bonuses?

Technically, you can open multiple cards to receive more signing bonuses, but there are limitations. You won’t be able to open the same card multiple times, though you may be able to open a number of different cards. However, you eventually may get automatically declined if a card company sees that you’ve opened several recent accounts.

Opening several accounts also may not be a good idea, as hard inquiries when you apply for credit have a negative impact on your credit score. Multiple cards may also stretch your finances thin as you attempt to keep up with paying your bills on time on all of them.


1See Rewards Details at SoFi.com/card/rewards.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s
website
.

The SoFi Credit Card is issued by The Bank of Missouri (TBOM) (“Issuer”) pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.

Photo credit: iStock/nuchao
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Tips for Handling Incorrect or Fraudulent Credit Card Charges

Tips for Handling Incorrect or Fraudulent Credit Card Charges

It’s never a good feeling to look at your credit card statement and wonder, what is this charge on my credit card? When it comes to fraudulent credit card charges, your bank has often got your back. They have methods for spotting activity that isn’t normal, and they’ll usually alert you when a charge seems suspicious.

That said, your bank might not catch everything, and there may be a charge that’s accidentally incorrect. So it’s important that you, too, keep an eye on your credit card statement to catch these errors and report anything that’s amiss immediately. Here’s what to watch out for and tips for handling a dispute.

What Are Fraudulent Credit Card Charges?

Credit card fraud can happen if someone steals your card or the information on your card, or hacks into your account. Someone could do so by stealing your physical card, skimming your card information at a credit card terminal, through phishing scams over email, or by stealing your mail. Fraudsters then use the information they’ve stolen to make unauthorized purchases on your credit card.

Most cards offer zero liability on fraudulent charges, meaning you won’t be responsible for covering charges you didn’t authorize. This is an important feature of how credit cards work. However, it’s important that you catch fraudulent charges early so you can report them quickly and minimize your liability.

Recommended: Tips for Using a Credit Card Responsibly

Detecting Unauthorized Credit Card Charges Early

The key to spotting unauthorized charges on your credit card is remaining vigilant and always checking your credit card statement each month. When you receive your statement, follow these steps:

•   Open statements immediately. Avoid letting a few months of credit card statements accumulate before checking them. Open them immediately so you can catch errors and head off fraud as quickly as possible. Going through your statements regularly will also offer a clearer understanding of how credit card payments work.

•   Check every purchase. Fraudsters know that small unauthorized credit card charges are less likely to get flagged. Go down the list of purchases you’ve made on your card over the last month and make sure you recognize the merchant and can match the sale with an item or service you bought.

•   Keep receipts. Hang on to receipts from credit card purchases so you can match them up to the items in your statement. This can also help if you’re unsure of how to identify a credit card transaction.

Recommended: What is the Average Credit Card Limit

Fraudulent Credit Card Charges vs Billing Errors

Fraudulent charges are a result of theft. However, sometimes you may be charged for something that was due to a billing error. For example, perhaps you were charged twice for an item, or you were charged for goods or services that you never received.

Other billing errors could include:

•   Unauthorized charges, for which federal law limits your liability to $50

•   Charges that list the wrong date or amount

•   Errors in math

•   Charges for goods or services that you didn’t accept or weren’t delivered as agreed

•   Failure to post payments or credits, such as after you’ve returned an item.

You can correct these errors using procedures laid out by the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA). If a charge is found to be made in error, your credit card company will carry out a credit card chargeback, reversing the charges.

Reporting Unauthorized Credit Card Charges

Procedures for reporting fraud and billing errors are slightly different.

If you suspect fraud, you’ll take the following steps:

•   Contact your card issuer immediately. Tell them you suspect that you’ve been a victim of fraud. Your issuer can then investigate the charge.

•   Ask for your accounts to be suspended or closed, and ask to be issued a new card. Change passwords and personal identification numbers (PINs) on your accounts.

•   File an identity theft report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). You can do so at Identitytheft.gov .

•   Contact the three credit reporting bureaus, Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. Confirm your identity with them and check your credit reports for any other fraudulent activities. Consider having a fraud alert connected to your accounts.

If you’re disputing a billing error, first call your credit card company and alert them to the error. The credit card company will investigate. If they find there was an error, your account will be corrected, and you will not pay credit card purchase interest charges on the amount for which you were billed.

In addition, send your credit card company written notification of an error. Use FBCA procedures to dispute the credit card charges, including the following steps:

•   Write to the creditor at the address they provide for billing inquiries. This address may be different from the one to which you send payments. Include your name, address, and account number, as well as a description of the billing error you’ve spotted. The FTC provides a sample letter that you can use.

•   In the envelope, include copies of receipts and other supporting documents.

•   Be sure to mail your letter within 60 days of the first bill you received that contained the error.

•   Send the letter by certified mail and ask for a receipt so you can be sure your creditor received it.

•   Keep a copy of the dispute letter.

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due

How to Read Your Credit Card Statement

It’s important to get familiar with how to read your credit card statement. The Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 (CARD Act) requires that each of your credit card statements includes certain pieces of information.

First, there should be a section that includes your account information. This is where you’ll find your name, account number, and the date of the billing cycle.

Next, the account summary is an overview of transaction information on your card. This section will include the payment due date, any payments or credits that have been applied to the account, any fees that have been charged to you, and the total amount of your account balance.

Following this summary is a detailed account of the purchases you’ve made over the billing period. Each line item will include the vendor name, the date the purchase was made, the category (such as “groceries”), and the amount that was charged to your card. Go through this section carefully as you look for fraudulent charges or charges in error. This is how to find who charged your credit card.

Your statement will include other sections that detail payment information, interest or credit card finance charges, rewards, and account fine print.

Recommended: What is a Charge Card

Credit Card Security and Fraud Protection

When you apply for a credit card, carefully look at the security measures the card issuer has in place. Credit cards, such as the credit card offered by SoFi, can have a variety of measures to keep your information safe and protected from fraud.

Fraud protection limits your responsibility and liability for fraudulent charges. Many banks offer $0 liability. The FCBA limits liability to $50 for card-present fraudulent charges, and $0 if the card is not present, such as for online charges made with stolen credit card information.

Recommended: Does Applying For a Credit Card Hurt Your Credit Score

The Takeaway

Fraudulent charges or billing errors are an unfortunate part of having a credit card. Your bank may catch some of them, but it’s also important to be proactive and keep an eye out for fraud and errors on your credit card statement. Bringing them to the attention of your credit card company will help you get the issue sorted faster and head off potential future fraud.

Another way to keep yourself safe is by choosing a credit card that offers strong fraud protections. The credit card offered by SoFi, for example, offers Mastercard ID theft protection, which keeps your personal information safe by detecting potential fraud.

FAQ

How do I file a fraudulent charge claim with my credit card company?

If you spot a fraudulent charge on your credit card statement, call your card company immediately and ask them to investigate.

How do I find out where a charge came from?

You can see where a charge was made in the detailed purchase information provided on your credit card statement.

How do I look up a charge from my credit card statement?

If you’re unsure about a charge on your credit card statement, call your credit card company, which may be able to do a credit card charge lookup by merchant.


Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
The SoFi Credit Card is issued by The Bank of Missouri (TBOM) (“Issuer”) pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.
External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

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Guide to Credit Card Costs

Guide to Credit Card Costs

No matter what you do, it generally costs you money to borrow money. In the case of credit cards, you’ll pay interest on any balance remaining after your statement due date, and you may also be subject to numerous other fees.

Understanding how much a credit card costs is important, as it can help you compare cards and choose one that’s right for you at the right price. Read on to learn more about the potential costs of a credit card.

How Much Does It Cost to Get a Credit Card?

The application process for a credit card is free. The process starts by choosing a card that offers the right terms, interest rates, and rewards, if applicable. For example, you may want a card that offers cash back on certain purchases, or if you travel frequently, you may want to choose a credit that offers airline miles.

Once you’ve decided on a card, the application will typically ask you for the following:

•   Name: Credit card companies will need your full legal name.

•   Address: Most credit card companies will require you to have a U.S. address.

•   Social Security number: The credit card company will use this to make a “hard pull” inquiry on your credit report, which will help them determine how risky it is to extend credit to you.

•   Employment status and income: This will help the credit card company determine how big a line of credit you can afford.

•   Country of citizenship and residence: Not all companies will offer cards to noncitizens.

•   Financial assets and liabilities: The credit card company will want to know what other debts you are currently paying off.

Though applying for credit doesn’t cost anything, that doesn’t mean that credit cards are free. Once approved, you do have to pay for having a credit card in certain circumstances.

Recommended: Does Applying For a Credit Card Hurt Your Credit Score

Cost of a Credit Card: What to Consider When Choosing a Credit Card

How much does a credit card cost? The answer to this question varies. And as a result, the costs associated with maintaining a credit card are some of the most important points of comparison when choosing between different cards.

Interest Rates

Credit cards work by charging you an interest rate, also known as annual percentage rate (APR) on credit cards. Interest applies when you carry a balance from month to month. If you pay off your balance each month, you won’t owe interest.

The average commercial bank interest rate on credit card plans for all accounts is currently 14.56%, according to data released by the St. Louis Federal Reserve. However, interest rates tend to vary from applicant to applicant, largely depending on their credit score.

The better your credit score, the lower the interest rate you may be offered. Banks tend to see individuals with lower scores as at greater risk of defaulting on their loans, so they tend to offer the applicants higher interest rates to offset some of that risk.

Balance Transfer Fees

A balance transfer credit card allows you to transfer the balance on your existing card to another card with a lower interest rate or no interest for a period of time. Most balance transfer cards will charge a fee from as low as 3% to as much as 5% in order to do so.

If you’re transferring a large balance, this fee can quickly add up to a hefty sum, so be sure to carefully compare the cost of the balance transfer to the amount you’d be saving on interest by switching to the new card.

Recommended: What is the Average Credit Card Limit

Extra Charges When Spending Overseas

Foreign transactions fees are a surcharge that credit card companies tack on to purchases you make overseas that require the processing of foreign currencies or that are routed through foreign banks. These fees are typically around 3%, and if you’re a frequent traveler, they can start to add up.

Check the fine print in the terms and conditions before signing up for a card to see how much you’ll be charged. In some cases, your card may not charge anything.

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Late Payment and Credit Limit Fees

Though you can carry a balance on your credit card, there is still a credit card minimum monthly payment that you’ll have to make. Do everything you can to make this payment on time. Not only can missed payments hurt your credit score, but your credit card company may also charge a fee. Miss another payment and that fee could go up. For example, while the late payment charge on your first missed payment could be $28, the second could jump up to $39. Typically, the late fee cannot be more than the minimum amount due on the account.

Another potentially painful side effect of missing a payment: Your credit card company could increase your interest rate, increasing the cost of your unpaid balance and making future borrowing more expensive.

Recommended: How Do Credit Card Payments Work?

Annual Fees

Annual fees help credit card companies cover the costs of whatever perks and rewards they offer their customers. The more perks a card comes with, the higher the annual fee may be. This fee is typically charged as a lump sum once per year, usually in the same month in which you opened your card, and you’ll pay it off as part of your regular credit card bill.

Convenience Fees

Sometimes you’re charged fees for using your credit by businesses that are not your credit card company. For example, a credit card convenience fee is a fee that’s charged by a merchant and added to the cost of a transaction.

Tips for Using Your Credit Card Responsibly

Credit cards are what’s known as revolving credit. They allow you to carry a balance from month to month, making only the minimum payment, and that balance can increase as interest gets added. The bigger your balance, the more money you’ll owe in interest, and your debt can quickly grow out of control. That’s why it is important to use your credit card responsibly.

Here are a couple credit card rules to consider in order to do so:

•   Always aim to pay off your credit card balance in full each month. For most cards, you will not owe any interest on purchases if you do, eliminating one of the biggest costs of having a credit card.

•   Avoid making purchases you won’t be able to pay off each month. Sometimes these expenses are unavoidable, especially in an emergency. If you can’t pay off your debt within a month, aim to do so as quickly as possible.

•   Make a point to review your credit card statement. While it might seem like a slog, reviewing your credit card statement can offer helpful insight into your spending habits. It can also ensure you notice any unauthorized credit card usage or a billing error, in which case you may be able to request a credit card chargeback.

The Takeaway

Maintaining a credit card typically comes with a variety of costs. In some cases, you can avoid credit card fees and interest, such as by paying off your balance in full and on time each month. Also be aware that interest rates and fees are often negotiable. If you’re a longstanding customer or have a particularly good credit, you may have a chance at having a few fees waived or at least lowered.

When shopping for credit cards, carefully compare fees and interest rates. With a credit card from SoFi, for instance, you can avoid foreign transaction fees. Plus, your APR will be lowered by 1% after 12 monthly on-time payments of at least the minimum due.

Learn more and apply for a credit card with SoFi today.

FAQ

Do you have to pay for a credit card?

Credit card companies may charge a variety of fees including annual fees and late payment fees. You will also have to pay interest on whatever balance you carry from month to month.

How much are credit card fees monthly?

Credit card fees are typically not charged on a monthly basis. For example, the annual fee is usually charged as a lump sum once each year. You may incur other fees, like late payment fees, only when you miss a payment.

Can I use a credit card for free?

If you pay off your balance each month, you may not owe any interest to your credit card company. However, you may still be on the hook for whatever fees your card may charge, such as an annual fee.


Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
The SoFi Credit Card is issued by The Bank of Missouri (TBOM) (“Issuer”) pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.

Photo credit: iStock/Meranna
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What Is a Credit Card Chip and How Does It Work?

What Is a Credit Card Chip and How Does It Work?

If you’re asked to insert rather than swipe your credit card when you go to pay, you’re using a chip credit card. A credit card chip is a small gold or silver microprocessor that’s embedded in the card and intended to offer greater security for your transactions.

Credit card chips are growing dominant in the plastic payment market. According to data from Emvco.com, credit card chips — also known as Europay, MasterCard, and Visa (EMV) chips — comprised about 90% of global credit card transactions in 2021. Read on to learn more about how the credit card chip works.

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What Is a Credit Card Chip?

Credit card chips are small microchips embedded in the card that collect, store, and transmit credit card data between merchants, their customers, and participating financial institutions. Each time you use a credit card to make a transaction, these chips generate a unique code that can only be used for that transaction.

Chip credit cards date back to the mid-1990’s, when the three titans of card payment technology — Europay, MasterCard, and Visa — collectively rolled out the first chip-based credit card to the masses. Also known as EMV chips, credit card chips were introduced as a way to enhance payment security over the existing magnetic-strip credit cards.

Today, chip makers are planning huge expansion as chip credit cards continue to grow in popularity. Contactless credit cards are another advancement underway.

Magnetic Strip vs Chip Credit Cards

Magnetic-strip cards hold data on the magnetic strip that appears on the back of payment cards. Because these strips hold all of a cardholder’s information needed to make a purchase, this type of card is an easy target for thieves.

With industry-wide concerns over data fraud linked to magnetic stripe cards, credit card companies turned to advanced computer microchips as a solution to credit card data security problems, using EMV technology.

Chip-based payment cards have a big advantage over magnetic-strip cards, as each card payment transaction generates a unique data code. Because the chip’s code is a “one-and-done” feature that disappears after the transaction is completed, even if data fraud criminals uncover the code, they can’t use it for future transactions.

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How Does a Chip Credit Card Work?

Chip credit cards don’t work on a standalone basis. Merchants who want to conduct card payment transactions need payment processing tools, like card terminals and mobile scanners, that are compliant with EMV chip industry standards.

When a consumer inserts a chip credit card into a payment terminal (unlike with a contactless payment), and follows the on-screen prompts to complete the transaction, the chip and the terminal exchange the needed data in an encrypted code. That code is then used to transmit the transaction details to the acquiring bank, which quickly reviews the transaction.

After the cardholder’s financial data is authenticated and it’s determined the consumer has the funds to cover the purchase, the payment software may run fraud filters to further authenticate the user and the transaction.

Then, the transaction is approved by the acquiring bank (or declined if the consumer doesn’t have the funds to cover the purchase, or if fraudulent activity is suspected). The appropriate transaction confirmation codes are relayed back to the EMV payment device in real time, thus concluding the transaction.

Assuming the transaction is approved, the embedded card chip transmits the approval to the cardholder’s bank, which releases funds to pay for the transaction and sends it to the acquiring bank. The transaction is then settled by the merchant’s payment provider and deposited into the merchant’s bank account.

Types of EMV Cards: Chip-and-Signature vs Chip-and-PIN

There are two main types of chip-based cards:

1.    Chip-and-signature cards: The most widely used form of EMV card in the U.S. is the chip-and-signature card. With these, the cardholder simply inserts the card into the point-of-sale terminal and then provides their signature to verify the transaction.

2.    Chip-and-PIN cards: With a chip-and-PIN card, the cardholder is asked to enter a four-digit PIN, or personal identification number, at the point-of-sale. That process authenticates the user and allows for the card transaction process to be completed.

While each type of chip-based payment card model serves the same function — the safe and efficient completion of a transaction — chip-and-pin cards may be the safer alternative.

That’s because with a chip-and-signature card, the cashier or front-of-the-store service provider may not ask to see the back of the card to manually authenticate the signature. That gives fraudsters a leg up, since their signatures may not be checked. With a chip-and-pin card, on the other hand, the thief would need to know the credit card PIN to complete a transaction.

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Protecting Yourself From Credit Card Fraud

While chip-based credit and debit cards have been a game-changer in improving payment security, card thieves still have ways to either steal your card or lift sensitive personal data from a payment card.

Here are some ways you can protect yourself against credit card fraud:

•   Review your card statements. One of the important credit card rules to follow is checking your card statements regularly for potential security issues. If something looks suspicious, immediately contact your credit card issuer. In the case of unauthorized charges, report the fraudulent activity and follow the steps recommended by the card company, which could include freezing the card temporarily or getting a new card.

•   Keep physical possession of the card at all times. A cardholder’s best defense against physical card theft is to always know where their card is and only carry it when needed. It’s also a good idea to avoid storing your card account number on a digital device — particularly sensitive information like the credit card CVV number — that could be stolen by a savvy cyber thief.

•   Shred any documents that contain sensitive information. To further protect your account information, shred physical payment card files that include your credit card or account number once you’ve paid your monthly bill. Better yet, sign up for paperless billing, so there’s no paper trail at all.

•   Watch out for email scams. Steer clear of “phishing” scams, i.e., fraudulent emails or texts pretending to be from trusted retailers and financial institutions. If you receive an email requesting sensitive information, reach out to the company directly using the contact information listed on their website or on the back of your card.

Recommended: What is the Average Credit Card Limit

The Takeaway

As you can see, the introduction of credit card chips has greatly increased the security of credit card transactions. Credit card chips generate a unique code for each transaction, and that code cannot be used for future transactions. This makes it harder for thieves to intercept your personal data — though that doesn’t mean credit card fraud isn’t still possible.

When choosing a credit card, it’s important to consider the security features the card offers alongside other perks, like cash-back rewards. The SoFi credit card, for instance, offers Mastercard ID theft protection to help protect your personal information through the detection of potential fraud.

FAQ

What is the chip on credit cards?

A credit card chip is a microchip embedded into a credit or debit card that securely stores transaction data. This helps to facilitate safe and efficient payment card transactions.

Are chip-and-signature cards as safe as chip-and-PIN cards?

Not necessarily. That’s because the merchant may not verify the signature provided against the one on the back of the card. This means it may be easier for thieves to get away with signing on behalf of the actual cardholder. It’s likely more difficult for a thief to get ahold of a cardholder’s PIN.

Do all retailers accept EMV cards?

A high percentage of global retailers accept chip-based credit and debit cards. Industry figures show that EMV chip cards comprised roughly 90% of the global credit card transaction market in 2021.

Is dipping or contactless credit cards safer?

Both are secure ways to make transactions. That’s because both contactless and chip credit card transactions generate a new transaction code for each purchase.


Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
The SoFi Credit Card is issued by The Bank of Missouri (TBOM) (“Issuer”) pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.
Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

Photo credit: iStock/Georgii Boronin
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