Credit Cards or Smartphone Paying: Safer than Swiping?

Today’s burning question is whether you want to go with using your smartphone or stick with your old credit card. The debate is still raging from New York to LA. However, it is the wave of the future and it is best to find out more about what it is and whether or not you want to try to use it yourself.

America is already behind with the rest of the world that has embraced and switched to E-payment in a big way. China has gone almost entirely cashless as their new generation of Millennials shop almost exclusively using their cell phones.

Here in the States, however, we are still reluctant to let our money be controlled by a tiny NFC chip within our smartphones. The big promoter of this, of course, is Apple as they have included the special chip technology inside their latest generation of smartphone. Their only serious contender was Samsung and they have run into a brick on the road as their batteries have a tendency to explode in the new generation of smartphone they have just released. So, Apple has the infrastructure and clear sailing to take a large chunk of the market share while Samsung retools and retrenches.

But, what exactly will these chips do for us? The simplified answer is that just like your credit card you can walk up to any vendor, store, and even restaurants. You flash your cell phone, the transaction is completed all painlessly, and you don’t even have to take your wallet out of your purse, hip pocket, and backpack.

The greatest fear, of course, is the hacker. WikiLeaks has been bombarding us over the latest malfeasance of Hillary and the rest of the world. However, you have to remember these servers are running on Microsoft operating system, which is notorious for leaving loopholes and gaps in their coding.

Apple, on the other hand, is based on their iOS operating system, which is proprietary and one of the hardest to crack in the business.

Therefore, aside from the hardware aspect, Apple has invested a great deal of money in the infrastructure and the protection of their user database.

However, the one thing that I like the most, that has sold me on the idea, is the secondary authentication. For example, your credit card now requires a signature and away you go after making your purchase. The problem is people have gotten sloppy and with the “Swipe and Go” technology anybody can walk up with a card swipe and enter a pin number, walk away, and no one even checks to see if the card belongs to the person who’s using it.

Though the same is true of a smartphone people are quicker to react for some reason if they cannot put their hand on their cell phone. While sometimes, it takes days or even weeks for people to notice that they’ve misplaced a card.

Also getting into a smartphone is getting harder and harder than it is to peek over the shoulder of someone while someone is entering their pin number.

But, the bottom line that is driving the shift from credit card to a smartphone is simplicity and simple economics. Getting people instant gratification and streamlining credit card billing and payments along with saving all that wasted plastic going back and forth in the mail makes life so much easier.

So the handwriting is on the wall and the credit card will soon only be seen in museums and talked about as the woe of the middle class during the 90s, 2000s. Kids today, are not even sure what a credit card is anymore. After spending 20 years in the banking industry, it’s high time we put the credit card out to pasture.

Dora L signing off, until the next time, where I will offer you up another tidbit about managing your money and ways to keep more of it.

Tips to Avoid Bank Fees

Hello dear, this is Dora L again.

Many people have sent emails to me wanting to know why is it on their bank statement they keep getting all these extra added on fees and charges. It’s quite simple honey, the banks are in business to make money and they will do whatever they can to squeeze as much of it out of you as possible. You must understand a bank is not your friend. They want your money and as much of it as they can possibly get. However, we can minimize this with a few little tips.

  1. Get credit card payment protection. If you miss a payment or are late, your benign 0% credit card can go up to a whopping 16 to 21% monster that you will find can be an anchor around your neck and drastically affect your lifestyle. Most people never read the fine print on their credit card application and they blithely sign it and think nothing of it. In fact, can you put your hand on the paperwork they came with your credit card? No, I didn’t think so. Most people throw it away right after they pull the card out. This is all designed in how the paper is folded, lettered, and colored. It is created specifically to make it as unreadable as possible so people won’t take the time to do it. This is one of the biggest moneymakers that credit card purveyors use to pad their bottom line.
  1. One of the worst things you can do is pay the minimum amount on a credit card. That and paying on time are two ways to either landing you in the poorhouse or end up paying on your credit card for the rest of your life. Download a financial calculator of your choice and go through the formula that is plainly written up for you. You will see that you never pay off the principle all you are doing is paying off on the interest. Moreover, if you pay on time you’re already being docked interest payments.Your best bet is to pay early and double the minimum amount if you can. In this way, you pay down the principle and prevent the interest from increasing the amount of money you owe.
  1. Do all your banking at an ATM that belongs to your bank. Do not go to a teller window. This is another little “Oh by the Way” that banks use to suck your money out of your wallet or purse. You are hit with a fee for just asking a question of a teller. You also get charged a fee if you use any other ATM than the one from your bank. Most of you should already know this but you would be surprised how many people want to talk to a teller about every little thing having to do with their account.

George is calling me, my favorite TV show is on. NCIS and Leroy Jethro Gibbs, even though he’s 70, still gets my blood pumping. So, until next time this is Dora L signing off.

Will QR Codes Replace Credit Cards?

Dora L here with some more tips and tricks to getting more money into your pocket and out of the reach of the taxman and the banks.

All across Asia right now, QR codes are used on the Internet, at restaurants, and even vending machines. Here in America, it is almost impossible to write a check anymore. The world is shifting into electronic money quicker with each passing day. But, let’s look at the potential risks and benefits of switching to QR codes rather than using those fancy radio chips that Microsoft, Apple, and all the rest want to put inside your smartphone.

The way the system works in Asia is that you have an app loaded onto your cell phone that links to your debit card account. You then scan the QR code and it loads itself into your smartphones I do not claim to understand all the high-tech gobbledygook that goes behind all this. However, one of my exchange students showed me how it worked and you’d be amazed at the versatility and variety of products and services available with a touch of your finger.

The young people today are buying clothes, shoes, and anything you can possibly imagine on Amazon and Tao Bao. This has opened up one of the most lucrative and largest demographics on the planet with almost 300 to 500 million shoppers who don’t want the inconvenience of carrying cash or credit. I have seen test runs here in the States and it could be the next generation of shopping simplicity that you’ve ever seen. Fraud seems almost nonexistent and millions of college students every day receive a seemingly endless supply of boxes, envelopes, and packages.

The utter convenience of this is truly astounding if you think about. Your smartphone opens an entire universe of products, services, and food. A recent trip George and I had to Shanghai and Singapore show just how prevailing this is. We had to get a new smartphone and have with the help of our tour guide and one of George’s exchange students were able to shop in almost all the stores and even small mom-and-pop shops had stickers up with their QR code on it.

This means almost any smartphone does not have to have a special chip that could become obsolete with the next release of the cell phone. The only difficulty I saw was the fact that after a while, you have a plethora of different restaurants, major and minor stores, and not to mention the fifty-something restaurants we collected inside our cell phone.

The exchange student, who must have been a kung fu master, was able to flash through hundreds of different selections to find us how to buy a burger, Coke, and fries at McDonald’s. This greatly simplified our travels and we could keep up on our expenditures on a daily basis. It seems the Asians have leapfrogged over Apple and their ApplePay. This is by the way in almost all their banks as well so they are ahead of America with implementing Apple’s e-money system as well.

America needs to adapt to the world or it may be left in the dust.

Dora L here signing off as George wants to go out shopping. I do not want to miss this, as it’s a rare occasion.

What Will Happen to Your Money in a Cashless World?

Dora L here, I have been thinking about the ramifications of what I’ve seen on my last vacation and what it poses to the American economy. E-money has swept the globe, it seems to be ignored or trivialized here in the states, and years away from what I saw abroad. Asia, India, and Europe have embraced electronic money, bill paying, and a cashless society.

This seems all well and good, but I worry about the world where governments, banks, and financial institutions can turn off your money with a click or a swipe. It used to be in the old days you could bury a trunk in your backyard filled with cash and in 20 years you could dig it up and the money would be just as good as it was the day you buried it. Nowadays banks are getting finicky about accepting money that is only a few years old, as it doesn’t have the new anti-tampering, exotic coloring, and all that other stuff that supposed to stop counterfeiters.

The justification for all this to switch to e-money is to protect you from these things and allow you quick access to your funds. However, on the flip side of the coin, it could also be another form of tyranny and control. Let’s face it with the globalization of world markets and the upcoming vote on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, money will be obsolete in a very short number of years. This gives governments’ greater control of what goes into our pockets and the value of what now is just digits under an account number. Hillary has said that the TPP won’t go into law under her stewardship. However, WikiLeaks paints a different picture. This has a direct effect on all Americans bottom lines as many of the things that are being incorporated into these trade agreements is the lowering of wages and the simplification of control over money.

The value of currency can shift almost instantaneously via the new generation of Quantum Computers and the High-Speed Networks that are going into place to connect major banking centers all throughout the Pacific Rim and the rest of the world.

Diamonds used to be a way to hide and store wealth, as it is low weight and bulk. However, with the laser tagging system, any diamond that doesn’t have a serial number on it is automatically categorized as a “Blood Diamond” and therefore is not sellable on the open market.

With this new e-commerce, any money global system coming online governments will know exactly how much money you have and where you have it. This seems like we are giving up a lot of our privacy and freedom in order to make commerce more lucrative to those who own multinational companies.

These are just some musings from an old woman who’s worked in the financial field for over 20 years and still likes the feel and the clinking sound of coins moving from one hand to another.

Dora L here, signing off as I hear the doorbell and George, s pizzas (two large sausage, mushroom, and cheese for him and me and one large garbage pizza for the grandkids) and if I want to get in a few slices of my own and now have to hurry as the NCIS marathon is about to begin.

How to Find a Good Interest Rate?

Hi, this is Dora L again.

Today, we’re going to talk about interest rates and some tips on how to get a good one and not be taken to the cleaners. Since the 2008 financial meltdown, banks have been holding onto their money like Scrooge McDuck sits in his vault guarding his cash. So, it’s no wonder it is harder and harder to get a home loan or loan for anything else. But, there are some tricks and tips that can make things simpler.

  1. The first rule is of course shop around. This may be a bit wearing on your shoes but it can save you thousands of dollars in the long run, which can buy you an entire closet full of fashionable footwear. This means of course that you check with credit unions, banks, and mortgage brokers as well. You can also shop around on the Internet and see what your favorite search engine delivers to your screen. However, doing it this way can possibly confuse you more than help you.
  1. Which is why I recommend you get a good basis of doing the math on figuring your interest and loan. So downloading a financial calculator is a prerequisite before you go out the door.
  1. Another option to get a good deal on a good interest rate is to watch the stock market. Banks get nervous when the stock market tanks and they’re afraid they might lose money when the stock market goes up. Why and how this happens is a mystery that perhaps Warren Buffett can explain. However, I only know is that when there is a sudden shift in the market interest rates change dramatically almost overnight and if you are paying attention, you can lock in a rate that is much lower than if you wait a few more days.
  1. Please, please avoid choosing an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM). Look at what almost destroyed the banking industry along with the housing market back in 2008 happened precisely because people bought in at a low-interest rate and forgot that in a short period of time 4 to 5 years the rate would then go up to whatever the market would bear at the time. This took $300 monthly mortgages to $3-$4000 monthly payments.

This is all due to people not reading their mortgage contracts and especially the fine print.

  1. By the way, another tip, READ all the documentation on a prospective loan/credit card and its interest rates. If you cannot understand what it is saying, it behooves you to hire a lawyer and have everything explained to you in simple English. Yes, I know lawyers cost an arm and a leg today. However, you can save thousands of dollars in interest payments by understanding exactly what they’re asking for before you sign on the dotted line. The reason why they have fine print is that they do not want you to read these things. This has caused more bankruptcies and foreclosures that I can possibly relate to you. People, today want instant gratification and get their loan the next day. They cannot do that, however, it can cost them big bucks in hidden fees, charges, and changes in the interest rate based on how you go about making your payment.

Watch your interest rates in the stock market; do not go with an ARM loan. Get legal help in reading a mortgage contract or even a credit card application. In addition, along with this READ the entire document and understand it fully before you sign.

That’s it for today, the big clock on the wall says it suppertime and George gets cranky if he doesn’t get his dinner on time. So until next time this is Dora L wishing you well and I’ll be back soon with more money tips and tricks.