From the Back Cover
“This book is a must-read for credit card holders of all ages. Curtis Arnold offers insights into how consumers can not only profit financially from credit cards, but importantly, how to avoid falling into debt.”
—Thomas R. Evans, President and CEO of BankRate.com, Inc.
“Finally, someone has written a guide for savvy consumers who want to make the most of the plastic in their wallets. Curtis Arnold explains exactly how to maximize your rewards so you're quite literally getting free money and also outlines winning strategies for negotiating the lowest interest rate and using balance transfers to your advantage. Anyone who wants to build credit, improve their credit, or profit from their credit cards should read this book.”
—Liz Pulliam Weston, MSN Money Personal Finance Columnist and Bestselling Author ofYour Credit ScoreandEasy Money
“Curtis Arnold is America's premier credit card expert. Whether you're trying to get your first card, compare credit offers, or figure out how to beat the credit card companies at their own game, Arnold's wisdom and insider tips will prove invaluable.”
—Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, The “Money Coach” and Author ofThe New York TimesBestsellerZero Debt: The Ultimate Guide to Financial Freedom
“If you have had enough of credit card tricks and traps, this book will show you how to turn the tables. Curtis Arnold knows the credit card business inside and out and offers proven ways to put plastic to work for you, rather than against you.”
—Gerri Detweiler, Consumer Advocate and Author of four books on personal finance including the forthcoming bookStop Debt Collectors
“For most Americans, credit cards are seen as a necessary evil. Curtis Arnold transforms that perception. Using his advice, people can get rebates, perks, better interest rates, and all kinds of benefits from their cards that they never knew were possible. This book helps you become the master of your credit cards instead of a victim.”
—Jordan E. Goodman, “America's Money Answers Man” and Bestselling Author ofEveryone's Money Book on Credit
“Curtis Arnold provides you with tips for protecting yourself from costly credit card traps, how to use credit to your advantage, and much more. This is a must-read book!”
—Marcia Brixey, Author ofThe Money Therapistand Founder and President of Money Wise Women Educational Services
Banks spend billions to entice credit card customers with rebates, freebies, low introductory rate offers, and airline miles. This book shows you how to take maximum advantage of these special deals—withoutpaying for them through brutally high interest rates, fees, and penalties!
Top independent credit card expert Curtis Arnold reveals how to creatively finance major purchases such as cars, weddings, and condos with little or no interest charges…earn huge credit card “perks” every year…and dramatically reduce your cost of credit. He offers specific advice targeted to: young consumers, retirees facing credit discrimination, Americans recovering from debt problems, and even to consumers with spotless credit.
Why should huge banks and credit card companies make all the money? Get this book, and you too can start earning and saving hundreds, and possibly thousands of dollars, like Curtis has!
- Unlock the keys to huge credit card savings
Find the best rates and balance transfer offers—and make the most of them
- Fly anywhere, finance anything
Use credit cards to get free airline tickets and cash rebates or low-cost “creative financing”
- Don't get ripped off—by your bank or anyone else
Avoid hidden fees, costly small print, and flat-out fraud
- Slash your debt, and cut your cost of credit
Stop throwing away money you could be saving or investing
About the Author xxi
Chapter 1: It's Not Just Plastic-It's Money! 1
Chapter 2: Show Me the Money! Credit Card Rebates 23
Chapter 3: Unlock the Key to Huge Savings: Master Credit Card Rates and Transfer Offers 51
Chapter 4: Avoid Problems That Hinder Maximum Profits 75
Chapter 5: How to Slash Your Debt and Keep Your Hard-Earned Money for Yourself 89
Chapter 6: Watch Out: Traps and Scams Can Cost You Big Bucks! 119
Chapter 7: Start Out on the Right Foot-Credit Cards for Students and Saving for College 155
Chapter 8: Use Targeted Cards to Your Financial Advantage 179
Chapter 9: Your Credit Report and Score: The Better You Look, the More You Profit 209
Chapter 10: Maximize the Benefits of Your Cards by Taking Advantage of Additional Free Perks 237
Chapter 11: Master Advanced Card Techniques to Save and Make Money 259
Chapter 12: Capitalize on Future Card Trends 283
About the Author
Curtis E. Arnold, a well-known consumer educator and advocate, is the founder of CardRatings.com, an award-winning website that has been providing objective, current information about credit cards free of charge since 1998. His website has made it easy for millions of cardholders to find more attractive credit cards and lower their card debt.
Some 1,000 unique credit card offerings are rated by both experts and cardholders on CardRatings.com, and new reviews are added daily. Cards are categorized for people with no credit or poor, fair, good, or excellent credit–and by whether they offer a low-interest rate, cash back, miles, or other rewards. CardRatings.com also provides a free forum (containing over 115,000 posts)–where Curtis interacts regularly with participants–to discuss credit issues such as sharing ideas on how to make the most of credit cards, get out of debt, and solve credit issues. Sharing detailed information with consumers has three important additional benefits from Curtis’s point of view: It encourages stronger competition among card issuers, helps create a more consumer-friendly credit card industry, and keeps CardRatings.com in touch with the needs of cardholders.
Curtis knows firsthand the devastating effects of credit card debt. By the time he was finished with his graduate studies at the University of Texas at Dallas, his credit card debt reached $45,000. The stress it created in his life was “unbelievable,” as Curtis puts it, and has a lot to do with why he wrote this book. His goal is to spare you the experience of what he went through and to show you the best ways to benefit from your credit cards.
Over the years, Curtis and CardRatings.com have received an enormous amount of national publicity and praise, thanks to interviews Curtis has given to The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, Money Magazine, NPR (National Public Radio), CNN, ABC News Radio, AARP, Dow Jones Newswire, Bottom Line/Personal, PBS, SmartMoney Magazine, Reader’s Digest, MSN Money, MSNBC TV, The Associated Press, CNBC, TIME Magazine, and more.
Since its founding, Curtis has expanded CardRatings. com’s role and online offerings. For example, the site now provides all the data (card terms and conditions) for the credit card and ATM/debit survey published by the New York State Banking Department, the oldest bank regulatory agency in the nation. The site also includes credit card news and advice on everything from getting a line of credit to getting a copy of your credit report to getting a better rate or rebate. It’s also a good place to turn if you’re looking for business or student cards.
Arkansas Business, a weekly journal, selected Curtis as a “Top 40 Under 40” business leader in 2005, recognizing him as an intriguing business and political leader who bears watching. He was selected as a National Council of La Raza panelist in 2006 to discuss Hispanic credit card issues, and he was a guest speaker in 2007 at The Responsible Credit Roundtable, which provides a forum for leaders of the credit card industry and nonprofit organizations to devise, test, and implement ways to improve communication and account practices to build value for both companies and customers.
Curtis has a particular passion for educating students about credit. He serves on the Advisory Board for the Center for Consumer Financial Services at Rochester Institute of Technology, which provides national leadership and research on student credit issues. Curtis also regularly speaks on college campuses about the ins and outs of credit. Finally, he currently serves as co-chair of the Arkansas chapter of the Jump$tart Coalition for Financial Literacy, which seeks to educate students about personal finance issues.
Curtis participates in other consumer advocacy groups with various missions. For example, he contributes on a weekly basis to CreditBloggers.com, a blog where leading financial experts discuss credit, loan, debt, and identity theft topics. Curtis is also a member of Arkansans Against Abusive Payday Lending, a coalition of Arkansans dedicated to combating abusive payday-lending practices. Finally, he’s a member of the Financial Literacy Education Consortium, a community of professionals concerned with “best practices” in the delivery of financial education to their constituents.
Before founding CardRatings.com, Curtis worked in various capacities in the financial industry, for example, at Advancial Federal Credit Union, Regions Bank, and Metropolitan National Bank. In addition, Curtis gained some valuable “eBusiness” experience by working for Intelemedia Communications in the high-tech corridor of North Dallas.
Curtis enjoys being involved in community organizations in the Little Rock area, where he has served on the Board of Directors for Arkansas Festival Ballet. He has been a member of Toastmaster’s International, the West Little Rock Rotary Club, Techpreneur, a nonprofit organization that encourages technological entrepreneurship, and the Little Rock Bop Club. Curtis is also an active member of The Summit Church in North Little Rock.
Last but not least, Curtis cherishes his family life. His wife Nancy serves as the accounting supervisor for CardRatings.com. Curtis and Nancy currently reside in North Little Rock, Arkansas with their five children– Dallas, Erin, Hunter, Avery, and Claire.