Credit Card in 2020 : Definition, Analysis, Benefits, All Possible Problems and Solutions


What is a Credit Card?

Put simply, a credit card is just a small piece of plastic that easily fits in your wallet. Well, it’s not ‘just a piece of plastic’; it’s a very powerful piece of plastic which can be regarded as a compressed form of cash. We can define credit cards as a credit system that allows the consumer to borrow money on the fly from a bank or a financial institution and use it to make payments to the merchants.

In order to obtain a credit card, the consumer needs to fill-in an application form that is actually like an agreement between the credit card supplier and the credit card consumer. The credit card supplier approves the application form and provides the consumer with a small piece of plastic (i.e. the credit card). This plastic (or credit card) contains electronically encoded security information in the form of a magnetic strip (which is generally located at the back of the credit card). This information is used for authorising payments whenever the consumer uses the credit card. The consumer can use the credit card for shopping at merchant outlets or on the internet etc. Of course, this is subject to merchant’s capability to accept credit card payments. Accepting the credit cards is, however, not enough. The merchant should be able to accept payments made through the credit card provided by that credit card organization (of which you hold the credit card) i.e. VISA, MasterCard etc.  You can also use credit card to withdraw cash from ATMs (automatic cash machines) – also known as cash machines or Day/Night machines.

There are eight main credit card organisations and most of them operate in a lot of countries world wide. These are American Express, Citi, Diners Club, Discover, JCB, MasterCard and VISA. Master card and VISA are probably the most popular ones.  Then there are credit card suppliers or issuers who have tie-ups with these organisations and issue credit cards on their behalf e.g. you have various banks that issue VISA cards (like HSBC VISA card)

To make a payment using a credit card, the credit card has to be either swiped into special credit card processing machine (when shopping in person at shops) or the details of the credit card have to be entered on the merchant’s website (when shopping online).  The credit card supplier sends across the bill for these transactions to the consumer who is then required to pay either the full amount or a partial (minimum) amount. If you pay in full, the credit card supplier doesn’t charge any interest on the amount you owe, otherwise the pre-agreed interest rate is charged. If you don’t pay even the minimum, you might land up with a late fee too. Moreover, the credit card supplier generally puts a limit on the maximum amount you can spend per month using your credit card.

Credit card processing

It comes as a surprise how credit cards have found their way into our lives (and out wallet). Credit cards have gradually turned into becoming a necessity (rather than luxury). You can find credit card processing machines in almost all the shops today. With the advent of internet, online credit card processing has become popular too. ‘Credit card processing’ as such is a really interesting topic. This article tries to put into perspective the people, systems and the equipment that go into credit card processing.

First, let’s check the equipments used for credit card processing. So, there are credit card processing softwares for online credit card processing, there are credit card processing machines (i.e. the credit card reading machines at shops), there are data verification/validation devices/softwares that verify the security information on credit cards, there are communication devices/systems that enable safe transfer of credit card information from one point to another, and then there are other credit card processing equipments like the credit card processing equipment that is used for the preparation of the actual plastic (credit card). 

Then there are various service providers that provide services related to credit card processing. There are suppliers for credit card processing equipment and suppliers for online credit card processing services. Then there are postal and courier service that help deliver credit card bills in time. There are merchants/petrol-bunks etc which provide facility of payment collection boxes at their premises (another important aspect of credit card processing).

Besides that there are complete systems for processing credit card applications, there are systems for credit card bill processing/generation, there are people at call centres who help in addressing the queries from credit card holders and, very importantly, there are people (sales representatives) who help you in filling the credit card application forms. Another important entity with regards to ‘credit card processing’ process is the credit rating bureaus. Credit card bureaus maintain a database of credit ratings for individuals and businesses. This rating is based on the data received from various credit providers over a period of time. This rating is the most important part of credit card application processing and a bad rating can lead to rejection of the credit card application altogether.

Thus, credit card processing involves a coordinated effort from a lot of professionals and service providers. In that sense, we can also say that credit card processing is an industry in itself that has generated a lot of employment.



Credit card services

Credit cards have gained so much popularity amongst the masses that no business can be termed as complete and efficient if it doesn’t use credit card services. Really, without credit card services, most of the businesses would end up losing a significant chunk of business opportunities. Some people go to the extent of classifying such businesses (which don’t use credit card services) as non-serious businesses.

So what are these credit card services that we are talking about?

In simple words, by credit card services we mean the ability to accept credit cards as a mode of payment. Well, we can also term the use of credit cards as a credit card service. However, generally, credit card services will include the services that enable acceptance of credit card by a merchant. So, for a shopkeeper, use of credit card processing machines to accept credit card payments, is a credit card service that he is providing to his customers (and he himself is receiving this credit card service from the provider of credit card processing machine and others involved in making this process so smooth). Since carrying cash is no more a common practice, any shop that doesn’t use/provide such credit card services would end up losing a lot of customers because customers can’t pay with anything other than a credit card. So, for most merchants, providing credit card services (or credit card processing services) to their customers, has become very essential part of business.

With the internet boom, came a lot of online businesses. These businesses were in the form of virtual shops (or e-shops) that existed either only on the internet or were a virtual extension of physical shops. All these businesses (some selling goods, some selling services), needed a way to accept payments from their customers. This gave birth to online credit card services. The simplest use of these online credit card services is in the form of a simple webpage/web-form that asks you to provide your credit card details. These details are then verified and processed to debit the amount from your credit card and credit it to the merchant’s accounts. Since credit card details are sensitive information, these websites started implementing mechanisms/technology to secure it and prevent it from getting in the hands of fraudsters. Such sites are now called secured websites and form the backbone of e-commerce.

Besides these basic ways of implementing credit card services, the credit card services are provided in some other forms too e.g. over-the-phone payments using credit cards, use of third party online credit card service providers who provide you with an interface to accept credit card payments.

So, there are a lot of different ways in which credit card services are implemented and as the time goes by, the expanse of these credit card services is sure to increase.

Credit card rate
All about credit card rate


What’s the thing that is most prominent on any credit card ad? Well, it’s the credit card rate (or the APR, as we know it). The credit card rate is the most publicized thing in the world of credit cards. A lot of people just compare the credit card rate of various credit cards and just go for the one that is offering the lowest credit card rate (or APR). Credit card rates are, in fact, one of the most important factors in the selection of a credit card (though not the only factor). Therefore, a proper understanding of Credit card rates is even more necessary.

So, what is a credit card rate or APR? Very simply, credit card rate is the rate of interest that the credit card supplier will charge you with on the amount you owe them. The credit card supplier will charge you an interest only if you don’t make full payments in time.  When you receive your credit card bill, it specifies the full amount you owe the credit card supplier. It also specifies the minimum payment that you must make (by a particular date), in order to avoid incurring a late fee and other inconvenience. You have the option of making either a full payment or just the minimum payment. If you make a full payment (by the due date), you are not charged any interest. However, if you decide to go with the minimum payment or some amount that is lesser than the full amount, the credit card supplier will charge interest based on the credit card rate and the balance amount. This credit card rate is the interest rate that you agreed with them at the time of applying for the credit card. The credit card rate or the annual percentage rate, as is obvious, is an annual interest rate. The credit card suppliers use this annual credit card rate to calculate the monthly credit card rate and then they calculate the interest on the balance amount that you owe them. The balance amount here is simply = Full amount – (payment made by you). This interest is added to your balance for the next month (at the time of next billing cycle). If you again make a partial payment, the new balance is calculated again and the credit card rate (monthly one) applied to it for calculation of new interest; and it keeps going on and on until you make the full payment.

That’s how credit card rate acts in this vicious circle. Hence, credit card rate is termed as the most important consideration in choosing a credit card.

What is a ‘good credit card deal?’

You must have heard people say – ‘I got a good credit card deal’. So if you happen to be looking for a credit card at that moment, do you just go with what your friend has told you as a good credit card deal?

Let’s check what one can term as a good credit card deal. A credit card deal is good if it works for you. So, if the credit card fits into your lifestyle in a way that rakes in maximum benefits for you, that is a good credit card deal. The most important thing to realize here is the word ‘your’ as in ‘your lifestyle’. So logically speaking there is nothing like a good credit card deal. What it is - is good credit card deal for ‘you’ i.e. the individual who is going to use that credit card. This is because the lifestyle and the needs differ from person to person (and that is precisely the reason why every credit card supplier offers so many different kinds of credit cards). It might be true in some cases (where the lifestyle of two individuals/friends is similar) that the credit card deal which is good for one be good for the other too, however, this is just in a few cases.

You can always check with your friend who has recently got a credit card deal, since that might cut down the time needed for researching/hunting-for a good credit card deal. However, it’s really a matter of evaluating your own needs. If you travel a lot and to far off places by air, a card that offers you good rewards/rebates/benefits on travel would comprise a good credit card deal. Sometimes the airlines themselves have their own credit card issuing/supplying company from where you can get a good credit card deal.  For people shopping at a particular retail store or a shop, a good credit card deal would be a card that offers discounts, rebates and rewards on shopping. Again, the retail stores themselves might have credit cards on offer that could be beneficial to you. Then there are credit card deals that are linked to gasoline stores or big grocery chains. If you don’t have any specific needs, you might use a general purpose credit card that gives reward points on every purchase you make on your credit card. These points can then be redeemed for cash/rewards. Hence, this card could become a good credit card deal for you.

Good, for credit card deals, is really a relative term and there is no credit card deal which is equally good for all.










So many credit card offers, what to do?

Just browse through the daily newspaper and you will be overwhelmed by the number of credit card offers advertised. Move around the town and you will find credit card offers being advertised everywhere. Same is the case is with television which seems to host a number of credit card offers too. So, the credit card offers are there everywhere. Why are there so many credit card offers? Well, quite simply because credit card business is a highly profitable business for the credit card suppliers.

In this situation, when there is no dearth of credit card offers, which is the best credit card offer?

There is nothing like a best credit card offer, really. A better question to ask would be – ‘Which credit card offer is the best for me?’ The spending habits of one person are different from that of another person. Their living styles vary and hence their needs vary too. So for deciding on which credit card offer is best for you, you need to evaluate your needs vis-à-vis your lifestyle and your spending habits (and not go just by the recommendation of someone). For example, if you frequently travel by air, a co-branded airline credit card might be more suited to you than the general purpose one. These airline credit cards offer discounts, rebates and other kind of rewards when the credit card is used for making payments (the rewards are even higher when these credit cards are used for paying for the airline tickets or other airline products). Similarly, if you have a favourite retail store where you do a lot of your shopping, it would be beneficial to check if the retailer is a credit card supplier too and if there is a credit card offer that suits you. A lot of big retail chains do offer co-branded credit cards to their customers and these credit cards offer rebates/discounts etc when they are used for making payments at the retail store. As such, you get reward points for making payments at any place but the rewards are higher on the payments made at retail store.  On similar lines, we have credit cards for gas stations and grocery stores too, which you can opt for if you have a favourite gas station or a favourite grocery store where you shop a lot.

So, if you look around, you will find a lot of lucrative credit card offers. However, this doesn’t mean that you enrol for all the credit card offers. You need to first evaluate your needs and rank them. Then you need to evaluate what all credit card offers suit your needs. And finally you can make your choice and go for a credit card offer that covers most of your needs and gives maximum benefits.


Apply for a credit card
Should I apply for a credit card and how?

Are you pondering on whether you should apply for a credit card? Well, the answer quite simply is – ‘Yes’ - you should apply for a credit card (this is true for most people).  The credit cards seem to have transformed our lives. In fact, one can term credit cards as a revolution. Today, you find ads in TV/newspapers/website/shops and almost anywhere and everywhere; all asking you to apply for a credit card. When you look around, you see that most people have credit cards. In fact, most people have multiple credit cards. Everyone seems to apply for a credit card. So, why should you apply for a credit card?

There are a lot of benefits associated with credit cards; however, the most important benefit is the convenience that they offer. For most people, this is the prime and the sole reason that instigates them to apply for a credit card. This wouldn’t have been the case a few years ago, when not many merchants accepted credit cards. However, today, most merchants do accept credit cards. So, instead of carrying a lot of cash on you (which is both inconvenient and unsafe), you can just carry a small piece of plastic with you. Moreover, you get interest free credit i.e. you don’t have to pay the bills till the next monthly billing cycle. So, you can buy now and pay later (when your salary arrives) – a great reason to apply for a credit card. To add to that, there are certain merchants that offer interest-free instalment payment plan i.e. you can make a big purchase today and pay for it in instalments on your credit card. So credit cards works as instant long term loan too (not just a monthly loan). Yet another reason to apply for a credit card is the discounts on shopping. This is made possible by the tie-ups between credit card companies and the merchants. So credit cards offer many benefits.

There are various ways in which you can apply for a credit card - you can apply for a credit card in person, you can apply for a credit card on the internet and you can apply for a credit card on phone too (by asking the representative to meet you). You will as such be approached by a lot of sales representatives, all asking you to apply for a credit card with their company.  To apply for a credit card, you will need to fill-in a credit card application form (which is easy to fill and the representatives of the credit card company will assist you in that).  When you apply for a credit card, you basically enter into an agreement with the credit card supplier (the form that you fill when you apply for a credit card is actually an agreement). After you have submitted your application, the credit card company conducts certain checks to determine your credibility; and if everything is fine, you receive the credit card.

So, applying for a credit card is easy and to apply for a credit card or not to apply for a credit card is a matter of personal choice. However, for most people who don’t have any credit card, the recommendation is “Apply for a credit card”.

Rejection of credit card application

As time progresses, more and more people are joining the revolution called ‘Credit card’. Yes, it’s really a revolution. Now you don’t need to worry about how much cash you have in your pocket when you go shopping, just carrying this small piece of plastic (credit card) is enough to assure you of a good shopping treat. You can use your credit card to order things from the comfort of your home (on the internet). So the number of credit card applications seems to be on the rise. However, not every credit card application turns into a physical credit card. Some credit card applications get rejected too.
Let’s check why a credit card supplier would reject a credit card application when he has spent so much time and energy (and money) on wooing new customers.

One obvious reason for rejection of credit card application is human error i.e. the error committed by you in filling up the credit card application. These can be small mistakes like a wrong telephone number or wrong name or the postal code might be wrong. It’s normal to make mistakes, after all we are human being and no human being can be termed as perfect. Another strong reason for rejection of a credit card application could be missing mandatory information i.e. when you forgot to fill-in some mandatory information in the credit card application form. Sometimes, the credit card application could be rejected because the credit card application form has been filled-in in a handwriting that is illegible to the people processing your credit card application. At other times, the sales representative (of the credit card supplier) could have made a mistake in either depositing the form correctly or in guiding you in the filling of the credit card application form (newly hired sales representatives can make such mistakes).

However, these human errors are just minor errors that can be corrected later on and hence the only impact would be in terms of the delay in receiving your credit card. The main and the most important cause for rejection of credit card applications is bad credit ratings i.e. a negative credit history. If you have been using other credit cards or if you have taken bank loans/mortgages in the past, you would have already build your credit rating. If you have been making your bill/instalment payments in time (and in the correct amount), you would have already acquired a good credit rating. However, if you have been irregular or if you have been defaulting on your payment dues, you would have developed a bad credit rating. This credit rating is calculated by credit bureaus who receive feeds from various credit suppliers. All credit card applications are checked for the credit rating of the requestor and if it comes up as negative, the application is rejected outrightly.

So, these are the 2 most important reasons for rejection of credit card application and you must pay heed to them (especially the credit rating).


Apply online for credit card
Is it ok to apply online for credit card?


With the fast pace of our everyday lives, we don’t have time for anything really. This is where the combined power of commerce and technology comes in. The capability to apply online for a credit card is one such example. Yes, you can apply online for a credit card. The revolution behind providing you with the ability to ‘apply online for credit card’ is called ‘internet’.  You can not only apply online for credit card but also use your credit card to do online shopping (and get the goods delivered to your door at no extra cost compared to the local store).

So, it is possible to apply online for a credit card. To apply online for credit card, you just have to fill-in an application form that is presented to you on the website of the credit card supplier (who provides the capability to apply online for credit card). This application form is very similar to the one you would have filled-in in person – the details asked are same and the processing of the application is same too. You will find that a lot credit card companies encourage you to apply online for credit card. This is because they save on the costs related to salary of representatives, paper, etc. Moreover, when you apply online for credit card, your details can smoothly flow into the database of the credit card supplier i.e. the manual intervention is minimal when you apply online for credit card. This will in turn lead to faster processing of your application. Though it is not necessarily true, if you apply online for credit card, your credit card might reach you much faster. Moreover, if you apply online for credit card, you save on all the time and hassle associated with approaching a credit card company etc etc. You can compare the credit cards (again online) before you apply online for credit card.

Some people don’t like to apply online for credit card. The main reason is their discomfort in giving out the personal information online. One quick check, before you apply online for credit card, is to see if the website address of the page (where you are required to enter your details) starts with ‘https’. ‘Https’ indicates that it’s a secure website (you might also check if the security certificate is provided by a reputed organisation e.g. Verisign). If you don’t see an https, you should not apply online for credit card of that company.  Besides that, some people don’t apply online for credit card because they are not comfortable in filling up the form all by themselves. In such a case, you might either not apply online for credit card (and apply in person instead); or you might just go through the form, note down your questions/problems and seek the answers by calling the customer service centre of the credit card company.

So, applying online for credit card is surely a good option.


Credit card debt

‘Credit card debt’ is a much discussed topic in the commercial and social circles. A big section of the population has been bit by this bug called ‘credit card debt’. Can’t blame them much; as such, it’s pretty easy to fall prey to this bug.

The main reason behind so many credit card casualties (rather credit card debt related casualties) is that many people don’t understand the concept of credit cards properly. They treat credit card as free money that is never to be returned. Thus all the discipline, which would otherwise have been exercised with spending hard-earned money, goes for a toss.  That means people overspend and get into credit card debt. They keep spending till they reach the credit limit on their credit card. Some people go to the extent of treating that like a game and consider it a defeat (or consider their credit card under utilised) if they don’t hit the credit limit quick enough. These unnecessary spends result in a situation where they are not able to payback their credit card bills and end up paying interest on the amount they owe. This keeps building up their credit card debt and they soon find that the interest component has become a regular feature in their monthly expenses and it is there even if they spend nothing on their credit card. That is credit card debt on the prowl. Soon they find that their current credit card can no longer handle their needs and start looking to get another credit card. With the new power of credit, they let themselves loose again and follow a ‘shop till you drop’ routine. Soon the credit limit of the new credit card is reached too and they again default on payments. This is how credit card debt builds. Soon they learn about credit card debt consolidation and other credit card debt elimination techniques. They are quick to grab such credit card debt reduction techniques, but that’s not because they are serious about reducing their credit card debt but because of the attractive low APR offers. As if it were booty, they again get back to building up their credit card debt. All the while they are spoiling their credit card rating and they soon realise that no one is ready to lend them money because of their credit history. They can only get a secured credit card now (where you first deposit money into your credit account and then only you get the privilege of spending it (50-100% of it) using their credit card. Credit card debt collection agencies, auction of their goods and bankruptcy is the next thing that hits them and their dream run is blown away in a moment.

The moral of the story – “Understand the concept of credit cards and treat credit card debt with all seriousness”.


Eliminate credit card debt

How to eliminate credit card debt? – A questions that is asked by a number of individuals around the globe. These are the individuals who somehow (mostly due to uncontrolled spending) landed into the mouth of this monster called ‘Credit card debt’. So what are the ways to eliminate credit card debt?

If you are looking to eliminate credit card debt, you have already reached 50% of your goal because your decision to eliminate credit card debt is the first and the most important step towards you being able to eliminate credit debt. Having said that, it is important to mention that you also need to be firm on this decision and stick to it with complete sincerity and seriousness, till you finally eliminate credit card debt (and even after that).

To eliminate credit card debt, you need planning. This starts with analysis of current situation in terms of your debt and your finances (current and as expected in near future). So to eliminate credit card debt, you need to first check the amount you owe on various credit cards. Just use a notebook to note down the amount you owe on each credit card and the corresponding APR associated with them. Once you have this information handy, you can total up the various amounts to get the total amount of your credit card debt. After all, you can’t eliminate credit card debt if you don’t know how much it is actually. The next thing is to see if you have enough cash handy e.g. in your various bank accounts, which you can put to use to eliminate credit card debt (of course, you will need to take a view on how much cash you will need to fulfil your day to day and specific future needs). If you find that you have enough to eliminate credit card debt completely, just go ahead and eliminate credit card debt and earn your peace of mind. However, if you can’t eliminate credit card debt completely, check the amount that you can use to eliminate credit card debt partially. Next step, as you must have guessed, is to check how best you can use this amount to eliminate credit card debt (even if partially) i.e. which portion of credit card debt should you eliminate first. So, first eliminate credit card debt on the credit card which has the highest APR and which is hitting you the most. Then eliminate credit card debt on the credit card which has the next highest APR and so on and so forth. If you are incurring additional late fees etc on some of your credit cards, you might decide to reserve some amount to make minimum payments on those credit cards (before you finally eliminate credit card debt on them).

What we have seen is just some basic analysis and first steps on how to eliminate credit card debt. You might need to take some other steps to eliminate credit card debt e.g. consolidation of credit card debt is one good option. However, it’s imperative to understand that any and all methods to eliminate credit card debt will fail if you don’t inculcate controlled spending habits.





Bad credit credit card
A bad credit credit card


“Bad credit card card” is used to refer to credit cards that can be obtained even with a bad credit rating. The bad credit card cards provide opportunity to people (with bad credit rating) to improve their credit rating. In that sense, bad credit credit cards act as rescuer for such people. So, bad credit credit cards also act as necessary a training ground for people who have not been able to control their spending urge in the past.

Bad credit card cards are commonly known as secured credit cards. The bad credit card card (or secured credit cards) requires the individual to open up an account with the credit card supplier and maintain some cash balance in the account. Why is that required? Well, credit cards are a business for the credit card suppliers; so how can they trust someone who has defaulted on his/her payments in the past? After all, a business is about profits and such risks are a threat to profits. The bank or the credit card supplier will generally pay interest on the balance in your account. However, it’s best to check this with the bad credit card card supplier/bank. The credit limit on the bad credit card card is determined by the cash balance in the account and is generally between 50-100% of the cash balance. These bad credit card cards are also referred to as debit cards, owing to the fact that they work less in a credit-giving manner and more in a debit-giving manner.

There are plenty of bad credit card cards available in the market. When searching for the bad credit card card that is best suited to you, you should consider 4 things in particular: the minimum balance that you are required to maintain in the bank account, the credit limit that you will receive (i.e. the percentage of your bank account balance that you are allowed to spend on your bad credit card card), the fees/other-charges applicable to the procurement of bad credit card card and the rate of interest that you will receive on the balance in your bank account. An ideal bad credit card card would have no fee/other-charges associated with it and would require zero or a very small amount as minimum bank balance. It would also have something like 90-100% of bank balance as its credit limit. Moreover, an ideal bad credit card card would also offer a good interest rate on the bank balance.

Bad credit card cards are really a good concept that provides respite to people with bad credit rating by letting them enjoy the benefits of credit cards while they mend their credit rating.



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