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How to Maximize the Way You Use Your Visa Credit Card

Using credit cards poorly has the potential to sink you into debt and rack up enormous interest fees. But used correctly and conscientiously, you can reap the many benefits of spending on a credit card while staying debt-free. These tips will help you maximize the benefits of your Visa credit card and any other cards you have in your wallet.

Freebies

To encourage you to sign up, many credit card companies offer freebies once you’ve spent a specified amount on your card. These perks include such benefits as points toward a free flight or vouchers for online shopping. Use your card for normal spending, but to avoid the interest rates, pay it off in full every month.

Extended Warranties

Many credit card companies offer free one-year extended warranties on electronics and other major purchases. Diligent credit cards comparison will ensure you get the best warranty deals available, potentially saving you a great deal of money on product repairs and replacement.

Consumer Protection

Under the Section 75 law, if you spend a minimum of £100 on a product from a company that disappears soon after, your lender is liable for refunding your money if something goes wrong with the product and you are unable to contact the company from which you purchased the item. Use your card to make major purchases, but only if you have the cash up front to pay off the balance in full to avoid paying interest fees that will add up to much more than the product is worth.

Purchase Protection

Many credit cards offer some sort of protection against items purchased on the card that are lost or stolen within a certain amount of time after purchase. Know which of your credit cards offer this protection, and use those cards for purchasing items that are frequently stolen, such as bicycles or personal electronics.

Boost Your Credit Score

If you have less-than-stellar credit, you can use your credit card to vastly improve your credit rating. Spend only what you can afford to pay back each month, especially if you have very poor credit and an easy-to-get credit card, most of which have astronomical interest rates. Pay your balance in full and on time each month and watch your credit score increase.

Make Money with Your Card

If you are debt-free and have a good credit score, you can potentially make extra money from your credit card. Many credit card companies offer 0% interest cards to new customers for a specified period of time. By making all of your purchases on the card and keeping the cash you would have spent in a high-interest savings account, you can rack up a good amount of money while paying only the minimum amount due on the card each month. But beware: if you miss a payment, you could lose the 0 percent interest. Making money off of your credit card is called “stoozing,” and you should only do it if you’re disciplined enough to make your minimum payments on time every month.

Paying too Much to Protect Your Home? Seven Steps to Cheap Home Insurance

Protecting your home is one of the best investments you can make, financially and otherwise. Not only will home insurance prevent you from paying out a lot of money if and when there is damage to your home or you experience theft, but you can have increased peace of mind. Home insurance policies can provide payout in situations that range from vandalism to a fallen tree branch through your roof. Reducing your building and contents coverage is possible, but it takes some effort on your part. Here are seven steps to cheap home insurance.

Switch, Don’t Renew

On average, your insurance premiums will increase year-by-year. This means that the price you enjoyed when you first started paying for home insurance is unlikely to be maintained in the long run. While it requires more work than simply renewing your policy, shopping for a new home insurance policy every year may allow you to get a cheaper rate.

Don’t Buy Too Much Insurance

Don’t get talked into flood insurance or earthquake coverage when you don’t really need it. Carefully consider the insurance that you actually need on your home and purchase a policy that is appropriate. Limiting the types of coverage that you opt for will bring down your premium. Don’t sell yourself short and pay for less insurance than would actually be useful, but don’t buy a high end policy you don’t need.

Shop Online

Some insurers offer ongoing discounts for customers who purchase their home insurance policy online. This discount may only be good for one year, but it can afford cheaper insurance at least for a limited time. Going online to look for insurance also lets you see a broader array of options. Consulting with an insurance broker may only give you a look at a few of the UK insurers who serve your postcode.

Secure Your Property

Home insurance companies almost universally give cheaper insurance rates to homeowners you can prove that they have installed an alarm system, quality locks, and taken other efforts to deter break ins. These investments cost money up front, but can spare you high insurance fees in the long run. You may also stave off a burglar and avoid the need to file a claim on your home insurance.

Investigate No Claims Bonuses

Many Britons are familiar with the concept of a no claims bonuses for car insurance, but don’t realize that some home insurance companies are also offering similar discounts. A no claims bonus lets you take advantage of a cheaper insurance premium when you don’t file a claim on your account for at least one full year. You may be able to transfer this bonus between insurers if you can provide proof that you earned it with your last home insurance policy.

Save Now, Pay More Later

You can save money now if you are willing to pay more in the event that you file a claim. Each home insurance policy has an excess or deductible assigned to it. This is the amount of money that you are committing to pay out of pocket before your insurance coverage kicks in to assist with expenses. For instance, if you increase your policy excess from 500 to 1,000 pounds, you can pay a lower premium rate but will be responsible for 500 pounds more when you file a claim.

What You Need to Know About Government Christmas Benefit Payments

If you are receiving government assistance under specific schemes, you will be eligible for a yearly Christmas benefit payment, also called a Christmas bonus. While this payment isn’t huge, it might come in handy. Your Christmas payment can be applied towards a Christmas meal, energy costs, or any other needs you might have around the end of the year. Not everyone can receive this payment, and whether or not you are eligible is based on a single week, which is usually the first week in December. This is called the qualifying week. Even if you were on a qualifying assistance program throughout much of the year, you won’t get the Christmas bonus if you were not on the assistance program during the qualifying week.

Who Qualifies?

Only UK residents who are in the UK, Channel Islands, Isle of Man, Gibraltar, any EEA country, or Switzerland during the qualifying week can receive Christmas benefit payments. Additionally, you must get a financial assistance benefit during the same week which is on the list of qualifying benefits. Government benefits that will make you eligible for the Christmas payment include: disability living allowance, war widow’s pension, mobility supplement, carer’s allowance, and the widowed mother’s allowance. For a full list of the assistance schemes that automatically qualify you for a Christmas bonus, you can visit Gov.uk.

What is the Value?

Christmas benefit payments are generally in the amount of 10 pounds. All people who qualify for this payment are given the same amount, regardless of other factors such as their additional income or the assistance programmes for which they qualify. While the value of the benefit is subject to change from year to year, all qualified individuals always receive the same amount in any given year. The money is disbursed in a single one off payment. Even if you receive multiple assistance checks, you will only get one Christmas bonus.

How Are You Paid?

The funds for your Christmas bonus will be transferred into the account that you use to receive your other assistance payments, such a pension payment or disability assistance. This might be a bank account, credit union account, building society account, or National Savings account. If you typically receive your assistance money through the post, you may be sent a check for your Christmas benefit payments. The deposit may appear as “DWP XB” on your account’s statement. The money is automatically transferred during the disbursement period.

Do You Need to Claim It?

You don’t need to specifically claim the Christmas benefit payment. The fact that you receive a form of public assistance named in the list of qualifying programmes is enough to generate a payment for you at Christmas time. If you think you qualify for the payment and you don’t get it by the end of the year, you can contact the Jobcentre Plus or Pension Centre that typically sends you assistance payments. Bear in mind that if you were out of the country or did not receive assistance during the qualifying week, this might explain why you did not qualify for the Christmas this year.

Other Considerations

The Christmas benefit payment is tax-free, meaning that no taxes are deducted from it when you receive it and you don’t need to claim it as taxable income next year. If you are married to someone or in a civil partnership, you and your partner may both independently qualify for the payment. When that is the case you will each receive a separate benefit payment. Your Christmas bonus payment will never affect the other assistance payments that you receive throughout the year.

The UK government sends out Christmas benefit payments to help those in need make it through the holiday. While the payments are nominal, they might be able to keep your heat on or even put more food on the table at a time when your kids are home from school and you are responsible for the care additional family members. If you need this payment as financial assistance throughout the holiday season, be sure that you meet all of the qualifications during the qualifying week at the start of December.