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AboveAverage last won the day on September 28 2008

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About AboveAverage

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    Gettin' Back On Track...

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    New Jersey
  1. I agree with you....I personally don't need anymore right now, and I'm just focusing on growing the limits on what I got. What is so special about the E*Trade card though? AMEX I understand, as folks seem to like getting fluffed for having an AMEX in their wallet.
  2. My friend, I couldn't care any less if I was driving a Pinto. I can afford to finance a Mercedes E Class such-and-such, but I'm happy driving my GM car (although the way things are going with GM, I am kind of regretting that HARD). I had a need to drive after I realized that going to my friend's wedding and reception via public transportation and bumming a ride from a bridesmaid's boyfriend...I got into impulse mode and bought a car then and there. This was the beginning of '08. Anyhow, I originally had Drive Financial. So that should tell you right there I got the "F"orget-You rate. I refied about 5 months later to HSBC for a slightly better rate. You are right about one thing though, I am at the rate that I earned...no question about that. I hope to earn a better rate. I guess my whole point is, after 6 years of walking, bussing it, and getting on a train, I had had enough. The sad thing is about all of that...even though I have the freedom to drive where I please, I don't have to freedom to park where I pleased. I'm waiting for my loveable slumlord to raise rent by so much as a penny for me to give my notice (a penny is all I need for break of contract... ) and find a place with adequate parking.
  3. Well.... I like Edmunds, Cars.com, even autos.yahoo.com... My next trick would definitely be getting a list of quotes from all of them, pretending I would buy via financing, wait until he (the "friendly" j-o...errr, I mean car salesman ) asks me for my social, then say you know what, I'm going to pay in cash. (no check, no money order...just straight up cash money). If he tried to take back so much as a penny back, I would have the testicular fortitude to walk away. I would even tell him the same thing I told a manager when he spot financed me and telling me I need a co-signer. "Your jedi mindtricks will not work on me, I am not going to get a cosigner and I have no problem walking out." When they see you're serious, they change their tone quick. If and when my car gets successfully lemon lawed, between the money I get back for the car, and the money I get from my income tax, I should be able to get a decent car (used or new...haven't decided but not one penny will be financed) and have the dealer kiss my behind, instead of the other way around. BTW, the dealer I bought my car from....I won't be using him again...no "loyalty" here.....
  4. When it comes to rent, I dealt with private landlords because they usually never checked credit scores. The flip-side to that, of course, is that they are slumlords when it comes to just basic things such as mowing the lawn. But that's the tradeoff I guess. Auto Insurance is another scam. In NJ, there are some insurers like NJ Cure that will not base you rate on the score...but when compared to Geico, it comes about the same for me. I've been driving since I was 17 and knock on head-for-wood, never got into an accident, and hardly ever got moving violations. My credit has dramatically improved, so maybe that's why it's not hurting as much but because my insurance is toward they beginning of the month and not the end, I always have to put it on the card. Insurance is definitely one bill I am never late on....rent I can kinda play with but I tend not to. Gas/Electric same deal and cable as well. But if it relates to credit/insurance...that gets priority #1 always.
  5. Cav, I had gotten a similar card in the beginning (Rewards 660) and I fired it after 6 months. A complete waste of money and time. I started in addition to that with Macys and CJ. CJ helped out a lot, and that was with the initial $1500 (now they're hooking up with $2500). I would try a HSBC card as they were able to give me love initially. I opened up with them in 1/08. I also hear Crap 1 likes giving people love. Otherwise, with those scores, I would take the secured. Honestly, and I'm guilty of this myself, I don't know why secured cards get such a bad rep. Yeah, the bad thing is that you're short x amount of dollars, but if you use it properly, you get it back after a year (and sometimes with interest, but in my case, I won't...but I wanted to strengthen my relationship with BOA so I didn't mind it in the end). I would definitely get a secured, IMHO.
  6. You know I am inclined to agree with you, however based on what I remembered reading, at one time NJ had the highest COL with CT following at number two. Just for S&G, I looked at what the current COL by states were. While NJ and CT are now longer 1 and 2, NJ still has a higher COL (but I have always contended that North NJ/Metro NYC was the case...south Jersey is very cheap, but it's also very rural, so there lies the rub.). http://www.costoflivingbystate.org/cost-of-living-by-state.html CT is ridiculous though...while you are envious that I don't have to fill my own tank of gas ()), you guys have to pay property taxes on your car....I learned that working in Greenwich....wow, I will never envy you. A good deal of the Northeast (from New England to MidAtlantic) is terribly expensive. The South is pretty much where it is, but to move there pre-retirement means you gotta find a job that will equal the pay you got up here...a lateral move like that (or even a pay cut of $5k) will still have you come up ahead. As I have said though, times really are getting rough. My sister and I spent some time at one of the local "rich man's mall" yesterday (a mall that having $1k in your pocket will make you seem like you're broke and the cars on displays are Aston Martins, Bentleys, stuff like that... ) . The place was empty. On a saturday late afternoon. Places were closing at 7 instead of 9. I was a bit shocked but I am guessing retail must be taking a hit because of the economy.
  7. Curious...how long did it take for you from soup-to-nuts to get them to give you the car for that price? Did they do a whole lot of "talking to the manager"?
  8. Wafflehouse....the South's answer to IHOP.... I've personally never been to Peter Lugies but from what folks have told me, the steaks are worth every penny. Then you got places with their Kobe beef (no, not Kobe Bryant....) that really make you go http://www.peterluger.com/
  9. Not for nothing, but if you participated in no criminal activity, why spend money on a lawyer just to pal around with you? If you didn't do anything wrong, I would just show up to the police station. Then if the police arrest you for whatever reason or even if they want to question you, you invoke your right to be silent and your right to an attorney. Even in PR, they have to Mirandize you. Once you say the magic word "lawyer", they have to ST(x)U and leave you alone until your attorney comes...oh sure they will book you and send you to a nasty jail....but if you did nothing wrong, nothing bad will happen to you. So rather than have an attorney come with you, just have his number handy in case you need it.
  10. Don't bet on that. I had a talk with a Wamu supervisor who flat out told me I would never get a Wamu card, even if my scores were 800 because I burned providian back in 2001. I am truly hoping that Chase plays ball....and I even hope Chase fired that POS.
  11. Government may ban some practices The Senate isn't expected to vote on the matter until early next year. The Fed's proposed rules, currently being reviewed by the industry, could take effect around that same time. But lenders seem to be preparing for the worst-case scenario: an outright ban on some practices. To get ahead of rules that would hamper their ability to re-price accounts, for example, many companies are jacking up interest rates. A survey of major issuers by advocacy group Consumer Action found that 37% of companies had raised rates across the board, even for borrowers with relatively pristine credit records. "In anticipation of a federal crackdown, card companies are scouring their portfolios and tightening credit," says Tower Group's Moroney. Even consumers like Michael Polemeni, who miss only a single payment, can find themselves in the crosshairs of credit card companies. The independent computer specialist relied heavily on his credit cards for child-support payments and business expenses. Polemeni generally made more than the minimum payment each month, carrying a balance of about $2,000. But in July he missed a payment, and Providian, owned by Washington Mutual, jacked up his rate from 9% to 30%. "I was shocked because I am a very good customer," say Polemeni, who paid off the full balance immediately. WaMu didn't return calls for comment. Not everyone will be able to pay down their debts like Polemeni. And that could make for a vicious cycle: As credit-card companies raise rates, more consumers fall behind on their payments, which then hurts the issuers. Says Innovest's Larkin, "We are going to see the banks massively hit." This article was reported and written by Jessica Silver-Greenberg for BusinessWeek. Published Oct. 17, 2008 http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Banking/CreditCardSmarts/the-next-meltdown-credit-cards.aspx?page=1
  12. Bad credit factors into subprime equation Making matters worse, the subprime threat is also greater in credit card land. Risky borrowers with low credit scores account for roughly 30% of outstanding credit card debt, compared with 11% of mortgage debt. More than 45% of Washington Mutual's credit card portfolio is subprime, according to Innovest. That could become a headache for JPMorgan, which agreed on Sept. 25 to buy the troubled thrift's credit card business and other assets for $1.9 billion. Says a JPMorgan spokeswoman: "We are aware of the credit quality of (WaMu's) portfolios and will manage risk appropriately." Credit card losses are already taking a bite out of lenders' balance sheets. Bank of America, the nation's second-largest issuer behind JPMorgan, revealed on Oct. 6 that roughly $3 billion of its $184 billion credit card portfolio had soured, a 50% increase from a year ago. At the same time, the bank, which is also dealing with the broader financial tumult, said it would have to cut its dividend by 50% and raise $10 billion in fresh capital. The stock stumbled more than 25% the next day when investors largely scoffed at the new shares B of A was offering. "The good news for us is that we have the strength to get through this, but the bad news is that the earnings recovery does take a while," says Bank of America spokesman Bob Stickler. "We are prudently adjusting our underwriting standards to adapt to changing economic conditions." Likewise, American Express, which caters to wealthier borrowers, upped its provisions for credit card losses from $810 million to $1.5 billion in the latest quarter, a sign that even upscale consumers are having trouble. "We have enhanced our credit models and continue to prudently manage our risk by scaling back some card acquisition efforts and reducing credit lines where appropriate," an American Express spokeswoman says. The industry's practices during the lending boom are coming back to haunt many credit card lenders. Cate Colombo, a former call center staffer at MBNA, a big issuer bought by Bank of America in 2005, says her job was to develop a rapport with credit card customers and advise them to use more of their available credit. Colleagues would often gather around her chair when she was on the phone with a consumer and chant: "Sell, sell." "It was like 'Boiler Room,'" says Colombo, referring to a 2000 movie about unscrupulous stockbrokers. "I knew that they would probably be in debt for the rest of their lives." Unless, of course, they default. Responds Bank of America spokeswoman Betty Riess: "The allegations do not reflect our practices. The bank has nothing to gain by extending credit to people who do not have the ability to pay us back." Regulators and politicians are trying to curb some of the industry's abusive practices by limiting interest rate increases, abolishing certain fees and cracking down on questionable billing practices. Under rules proposed by the Federal Reserve, a borrower would have a 21-day grace period before being hit with a late fee, instead of the few days offered by some companies now. A similar plan working its way through Congress would allow banks to increase rates only on consumers' future purchases -- not existing balances. And under both proposals, credit card companies would have to allocate account holders' payments equally to balances with different interest rates. Currently, companies first apply payments to the debt with the lowest rate, which means it takes longer and makes it costlier for consumers to pay off their debt. (Continued on next post)
  13. Card issuers are struggling to defuse a consumer-debt bomb that could blow an estimated $41 billion hole in their businesses this year -- and even more in 2009. By BusinessWeek The troubles sound familiar: Borrowers falling behind on their payments. Defaults rising. Huge swaths of loans souring. Investors getting burned. But forget the now-familiar tales of mortgages gone bad. The next horror for beaten-down financial company is the $950 billion worth of outstanding credit card debt -- much of it toxic. That's bad news for players such as JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America that have largely sidestepped -- and even benefited from -- the mortgage mess but have major credit card operations. They're hardly alone. The consumer-debt bomb is already beginning to spray shrapnel throughout the financial markets, further weakening the U.S. economy. "The next meltdown will be in credit cards," says Gregory Larkin, a senior analyst at research firm Innovest Strategic Value Advisors. Adds William Black, the senior vice president of Moody's Investors Service's structured finance team: "We still haven't hit the post-recessionary peaks (in credit card losses), so things will get worse before they get better." What's more, the Treasury Department's $700 billion mortgage bailout won't be a lifeline for credit card issuers. The big companies say they're prepared for the storm. Early last year, JPMorgan started reaching out to troubled borrowers, setting up payment programs and making other adjustments to accounts. "We have seen higher credit card losses," acknowledges JPMorgan spokeswoman Tanya Madison. "We are concerned about (it) but believe we are taking the right steps to help our customers and manage our risk." How would raising interest rates help? Some banks and credit card companies may be exacerbating their problems. To boost profits and get ahead of coming regulation, they're increasing interest rates. But that's making it harder for consumers to keep up and will make tomorrow's pain worse. Innovest estimates that credit card issuers will take a $41 billion hit from rotten debt this year and a $96 billion blow in 2009. Those losses, in turn, will wend their way through the $365 billion market for securities backed by credit card debt. As with mortgages, banks bundle groups of so-called credit card receivables, essentially consumers' outstanding balances, and sell them to big investors such as hedge funds and pension funds. Big issuers offload roughly 70% of their credit card debt. But it's getting harder for banks to find buyers for that debt. Interest rates have been rising on credit card securities, a sign that investor appetite is waning. To help entice buyers, credit card companies are having to put up more money as collateral, a guarantee in case something goes wrong with the securities. Mortgage lenders, in sharp contrast, typically aren't asked to do this -- at least not yet. With consumers so shaky, now isn't a good time to put more skin in the game. "Costs will go up for issuers," warns Dennis Moroney of Tower Group, a consulting firm. Sure, the credit card market is just a fraction of the $11.9 trillion mortgage market. But sometimes the losses can be more painful. That's because most credit card debt is unsecured, meaning consumers don't have to make down payments when opening their accounts. If they stop making monthly payments and the account goes bad, there are no underlying assets for credit card companies to recoup. With mortgages, in contrast, some banks are protected both by down payments and by the ability to recover at least some of the money by selling the property. (Continued next post)
  14. Three...HSBC, Hooters and BOA. I don't get any interest for the BOA, but I rationalized that if I had that $2k in my pocket, it would have been gone. It's out of sight/out of mind and I know I'll get it back in between December and May. I may do my taxes expecting a refund by April 15th just so that it coincides with me getting the $2k, but I am not sure. BOA I am hoping will give me a card with no AF because I've been good with them and from what I read primarily here and the other places, they pretty may hook me up with no AF. But assuming because of the economy that's not the case, $59+$36+$29 (HSBC, Hooters and BOA, respectively)=$124. You'd be amazed what I used to spend $150, $300 on....but I'll say it was the equivalent to taking my money and burning it. I never wanted credit; I was happy without it. But I also wanted to own a house....and I hope within the next year I do that. I can't do that without having positive credit and I should be near 700+ hopefully by year's end or if not definitely by mid year. I'm not opening up any more cards and I'm trying to economize my cash...I have to now and have no choice. Things are not getting any cheaper in the PRNJ, I might have to seriously consider leaving while the getting is good. Ultimately, I plan on coming out ahead...it's just going to take some terribly-long planning...but it's going to happen.
  15. LOL....hmmmm....so spending $100 at Peter Luger's (and that's for a steak, mind you....if it's dinner for two, expect to shell out minimum $300), or 6 bucks at Burger King.....but I have to spend it on an Amex....... Yeah, nothing ludricous about that at all.... #&*@ Amex! That's what I say.