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Why are the interest rates charged by credit cards higher than they've been in recent years?

By Karen Datko Oct 29, 2010 5:51PM

A Budgets are Sexy post we featured here asked readers to fill in the blank: I wish my credit card had _________. We strongly suspect no one answered "a 59.9% interest rate."

That's the rate you'll get if you apply for a First Premier Centennial Classic credit card. The bank just abolished its lower, 23.9% annual percentage rate for new Centennial Classic customers, so all will get the 59.9% rate, says.


(You may recall First Premier, parent of the 79.9% credit card. Also, Consumers Union recently named the First Premier Bank MasterCard the nation's worst credit card. Congratulations.)

First Premier's decision to offer only the higher rate was enough to raise the overall average APR for new U.S. credit cards to 14.69% in's weekly survey, up from 14.37% last week. It's now "the second highest level on record since began tracking APRs in 2007," the website says -- this while mortgage rates are at lows not seen since the 1950s. What gives?


The standard tip used to be 15%. Now it's 20%. That's craziness, and you're at fault.

By Karen Datko Oct 29, 2010 12:14PM

This guest post comes from Len Penzo at Len Penzo dot Com.


One of my articles from 2009 that continues to get a steady stream -- OK, trickle -- of occasional comments is my article imploring people to not feel guilty for tipping their servers 15% for average service.

In that piece I noted that the standard tipping guideline for expected service was 15% for as long as I could remember.

I also pointed out that nowadays a lot of people are pushing 20% or even more as the standard for average service, which I think is ridiculous.


I used to buy through a rewards program, but I've found a more cost-effective way.

By Donna_Freedman Oct 29, 2010 11:08AM

I order an Entertainment Book every year. In the past I've gotten it through MyPoints, one of several rewards programs that I use to get free gift cards.

But now I've found an even better deal: I ordered the EB through a cash-back site.

Cash-back sites are affiliate marketers, which means they get a fee for sending customers to merchants. Then they share a sliver of that fee with us.

In this case it wasn't exactly a sliver:


Both Verizon and T-Mobile are expected to offer cheaper plans. Should you bite?

By Karen Datko Oct 29, 2010 8:41AM

This Deal of the Day comes from Kelli B. Grant at partner site SmartMoney.


Following AT&T's lead, both Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile are expected to unveil new cell phone data plans, offering lower prices for customers willing to give up their unlimited data plans.

But the $15 savings might not be worth it -- and if you switch, there could be no going back.


Government pension rules vary widely around the world, but more are hiking ages.

By Money Staff Oct 28, 2010 8:05PM

This post comes from Andrea Coombs at partner site MarketWatch.


In France, workers took to the streets in angry protest when lawmakers first proposed hiking that country's retirement age for full pension benefits to 62, from 60, but in many other countries, workers would welcome an age-62 rule. Except Turkey.


In Turkey, the retirement age now is essentially 45 for men and 41 for women, according to an October report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a research and policy group with 33 member countries.

Turkey abolished its standard retirement age in 1969; ever since, a worker's years in the labor market determine when he or she can claim benefits. Pension rules are complex, but essentially about 25 years of service are required in Turkey.


It's the holiday season, and employers have too many customers and orders to handle without extra help. That's where you come in.

By Stacy Johnson Oct 28, 2010 6:23PM

This post comes from Brandon Ballenger at partner site Money Talks News.


If you're job-hunting, don't pass up seasonal work. It just might land you a permanent position, according to a new survey of employers by CareerBuilder.

The study found that about 40% of companies are planning to keep at least some of their seasonal workers, up from 31% last year. But while your chances may be better, you have to know where to look.


Retailers love gift cards for many reasons, including the fact that a meaningful percentage of them are never redeemed.

By Karen Datko Oct 28, 2010 4:19PM

This guest post comes from Frank Curmudgeon at Bad Money Advice.


Am I in danger of becoming obsessed with plastic cards? It's possible. But there is one type of card I have somehow managed to avoid discussing in 21 months of blogging.

That type is gift cards, the anonymous chits that are as good as money in one particular store. In their current form, they are a relatively recent innovation. When I was your age (20-plus years ago) stores sometimes sold paper gift certificates for specified amounts, but they were a one-use item. If you bought a $50 sweater with a $100 gift certificate, you generally got $50 in actual cash as change.


It wasn't until we entered the digital age that modern gift cards, each a miniature debit account, were born.


Sears and Target are pushing holiday sales early. But are they risking shopper burnout?

By Karen Datko Oct 28, 2010 1:56PM

This post comes from Melinda Fulmer of MSN Money.


Will anyone care when Black Friday finally rolls around? It seems every retailer is pushing up its sale calendar, promoting early Black Friday deals or limited-time-only doorbuster specials.


Retailing giant Sears, emboldened by the success of its "Black Friday Now" sale last November, has nudged Halloween aside and moved its holiday kickoff up to Oct. 29.

Target has announced it is offering its own four-day Thanksgiving sale with discounts and coupons on 170 items starting the Sunday before Turkey Day, as well as a one-day online-only Thanksgiving Day sale.



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