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Credit Cards

MyFICO offers tips for building credit scores

For starters, not all payment cards are the same

Consumers who took some economic hard knocks during the pandemic may be trying to repair their credit. MyFICO, the originator of FICO credit scores, is offering some advice when it comes to credit cards.

Having a credit card, keeping the balance low, and paying the bill on time, will boost your credit score in most cases but consumers should understand the difference between different types of payment cards.

Prepaid credit cards, sold in the gift card rack at retail store...

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    Walgreens to roll out its own credit cards and a prepaid debit card in 2021

    The drugstore chain has its sights set on boosting customer loyalty and adding more revenue streams

    It’s commonplace for retailers to have their own vanity cards, but Walgreens’ latest foray goes a little further. In an effort to boost both loyalty and revenue, the drugstore chain says it will partner with Synchrony and Mastercard to launch credit cards and a prepaid debit card, and it is exploring other financial services.

    The company’s short-term plan for the credit cards is to connect them with its new customer loyalty program, myWalgreens, allowing cardholders to receive cash rewards and other offers. 

    A wide range of benefits

    Walgreens is keeping its cards close to its chest, only going as far as saying that the co-branded credit card will offer an undefined “wider range of benefits” when used at other retailers and service providers. The offering will reportedly be the first in another “range of new financial products and services” that the company has up its sleeve. While it didn’t give specifics, it said in a release that it plans to explore a number of add-ons that Mastercard offers such as point-of-sale financing and installments.

    That last part -- point-of-sale financing and installment plans -- comes directly from the financial crunch that the pandemic put the consumer world in. According to a report by Salesforce and coverage by CNBC, the use of “buy now, pay later” for online orders grew 109 percent during the 2020 holiday shopping season.

    The company is also taking a health-first cue from the pandemic, allowing customers to have access to contactless shopping experiences.

    “Walgreens is committed to providing our customers and patients with unparalleled loyalty and rewards experiences for managing their health and well-being, and we are excited to partner with Synchrony and Mastercard, who share our commitment to support healthy communities,” said John Standley, Walgreens president. 

    “As we continue to focus on creating new revenue streams, we look forward to exploring and introducing even more health and well-being payment initiatives in the near future.”

    The new Walgreens credit cards are slated to be available in the second half of 2021, and eligible customers will be able to use the Walgreens credit card for purchases at more than 9,000 Walgreens stores, via the Walgreens mobile app, and at Walgreens.com.

    It’s commonplace for retailers to have their own vanity cards, but Walgreens’ latest foray goes a little further. In an effort to boost both loyalty and re...
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    Your travel rewards card may now reward more than just travel

    Several card issuers have made adjustments as the pandemic has limited travel

    Consumers who have a travel rewards card may find that it hasn’t been all that useful during the pandemic since travel has been limited. But a number of card issuers have found other ways to offer their customers perks, even when they don’t leave home.

    MyFICO recently reported on how some card issuers are rewarding their home-bound cardholders. They’re expanding their higher-earning rewards categories to appeal to the shift away from travel spending. 

    For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is now offering more points for grocery purchases. Cardholders can earn two points per dollar on up to $1,000 in grocery store purchases from November 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021. 

    At the same time, cardholders can also accumulate two points per dollar spent on dining, which includes eligible delivery services and takeout.

    The Chase Sapphire Reserve Card is also offering more rewards on groceries and gasoline purchases. From June 30, 2020 through June 30, 2021, cardholders are getting an automatic statement credit on gas and grocery store purchases of up to $300.

    Grocery store purchases made between November 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021 will earn three points per dollar.

    Restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations

    Citi Premier, another popular travel card, has beefed up its points offered on restaurants, supermarkets, and gas purchases. Cardholders get three points per dollar when they use the card at restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations -- and it still rewards travel. Travelers get three points per dollar on travel expenses.

    Ordering out has become a household routine during the pandemic, and Capital One travel cards reward customers when they use UberEats. From now through January 31, 2021, the Capital One Venture and VentureOne are offering five points per dollar on UberEats food delivery purchases.

    If you’ve already racked up a lot of miles and points on your travel card, remember that they don’t always have to be redeemed for travel. If you check into your card’s rewards options, you may find that you can cash in your miles for statement credits, gift cards, and even merchandise.

    If you carry a travel rewards card in your wallet, it’s important to make it rewarding in some way. Many of these cards carry a hefty annual fee. If you aren’t getting rewards to at least cover the fee, there are many more efficient options.

    While closing an account can negatively affect your credit score, you may be able to stay with your same provider but switch from a card with an annual fee to one without one.

    Consumers who have a travel rewards card may find that it hasn’t been all that useful during the pandemic since travel has been limited. But a number of ca...
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