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Closing the account probably won't do much damage, but the devil is in the details.

By Karen Datko Mar 12, 2010 4:47PM

This post comes from partner blog The Dough Roller.


A reader recently e-mailed me with a question about credit cards and his FICO credit score. Here's his question:

I have a question relating to annual credit card fees. One of my credit cards that I got about seven years ago with HSBC has an annual fee of $37. I have developed positive credit history with it and it has a $1,400 limit and no rewards. I have since managed to get other credit cards with no annual fees and higher limits. My dilemma is whether i should close it down and take a hit on my credit score or keep it and continue to be charged the annual fee.

I confess that this question stumped me for a while. But a recent article by George Mannes, a senior editor at Money magazine, helped answer this reader's question. The short answer is that canceling the card may lower your credit score, but in most cases won't have a big impact.


Of course, the devil is in the details, so let's dig a little deeper.


Free and discount pie, free spaghetti and free coffee are among the latest food promotions.

By Teresa Mears Mar 12, 2010 3:03PM

Here it is Friday already and time for Friday food deals and freebies.


With St. Patrick’s Day next week, many local restaurants are offering parties and deals. You can do what you want, but we are not going to drink any green beer.


Sunday, March 14, is National Pi Day, and even though it is meant to honor math and not dessert, several establishments are offering specials on pie.


By any objective measure her allocation of assets was foolish. But time and luck were on her side.

By Karen Datko Mar 12, 2010 2:46PM

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


Heard about the secret millionaire of Lake Forest, Ill.? I’ll assume not and recap. Grace Groner was born in 1909 and graduated from Lake Forest College in 1931, just about the worst year of the 20th century to enter the job market. Luckily for her, she landed a position as a secretary at the then obscure firm Abbott Laboratories. She was a secretary there her entire career, retiring at age 65 in 1974. She never married and lived modestly.


So far, it’s a story that could be called poignantly mundane. But add in a few more facts and it transforms into a personal-finance parable that will be repeated, and probably distorted, for some time to come.


He'd have shut up if I'd bought him the treat. Here's why I didn't.

By Donna_Freedman Mar 12, 2010 1:47PM
For the past week I've been hosting my niece and her two boys in my Seattle apartment. Two adults and two kids under age 8 in a two-room apartment with no yard -- good thinking, huh?

During a trip to the Burke Museum I informed the kids that I would not be buying anything at the gift shop. However, the older boy had a tiny amount of cash and purchased a small souvenir. Little bro decided he should have something, too, and came at me with a stuffed animal.

What happened next wasn't pretty.  

But be sure to check that sites selling the cards verify balances.

By Karen Datko Mar 12, 2010 12:17PM

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


Is there a way to squeeze even more out of pre-owned gift cards?


Yes, by pairing them with store sales and print-out coupons or online coupon codes. Secondhand gift cards are a growing market and are available from sites including, and even eBay. Discounts can be as high as 30%, depending on the popularity of the store. But if you stack them on top of other deals a retailer may be offering, you get an extra layer of savings.


A few caveats:


Riders find some glitches, but cyclists are happy to see the result of years of lobbying.

By Teresa Mears Mar 11, 2010 5:42PM

Responding to public demand, Google Maps has released a new feature: directions on how to get from one place to another via bicycle.


“With this launch, we’re showing our commitment to providing maps for people, not just cars. We’re really proud to be a part of this growing movement in helping to build greener and more sustainable communities,’’ Peter Birch, project manager for Google Earth, told the National Bike Summit, according to Jonathan Maus at Bike Portland.


Jobless Californian lost his home to foreclosure. Now he lives in hotels, thanks to rewards from his frequent corporate travel.

By Karen Datko Mar 11, 2010 4:47PM

A lingering benefit of his former well-paid and well-traveled corporate life is keeping a roof over the head of Jim Kennedy, who is now jobless, bankrupt and foreclosed on. He’s using his rewards from airline loyalty programs and hotel points to move from hotel to hotel.

And Kennedy knows how to work those points, says an amazing story in The Orange County Register.


Payday loan stores are doing very well, and their customer base is expanding.

By Karen Datko Mar 11, 2010 2:45PM

Several Texas mayors are battling a foe that the Lone Star State's legislature doesn’t have the will (or guts) to face: payday lenders. One city has put a moratorium on new payday loan stores. Others are trying to control their spread with zoning laws.


The effort is described in one of a series of articles at DailyFinance about the expanding payday loan industry. What’s most amazing about the story is that payday lenders are able to flourish -- and charge astronomical annual rates of 400% or more -- in a state that has tough limits on interest rates.



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