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Making Your Credit Card Work For You: Tips For Business and Personal Users

Finance

Opening a credit card certainly has its perks, but it also comes with a great deal of responsibility. Whether you are opening the card for business or personal, use credit cards can wreak havoc on your personal or business finances – which is the last thing you want. The key to successfully navigating and managing credit cards – for you or your business – is to be thoroughly educated on the basics. Here are some tips to get you started.


"Having healthy business credit will be beneficial to your company in the long run if you need to rent space or equipment, open accounts with suppliers or take out a business loan" - Leslie Tayne

Business Use

Choose the Best Card for Your Business

As in any major decision for your business, it's best to do some research first. Check out some reviews of some of the top business credit cards offered to see what may best suit your needs. Some cards specifically cater to small business owners, while corporate cards are offered for larger companies. Researching the interest rates and rewards offered can be helpful in choosing what makes the most sense for your business. Additionally, it may be best to use a card provided by the institution where you already do your business banking. Keeping all of your finances under one roof can be beneficial for managing your accounts and for contacting the company for customer service.

Keep Track of Your Interest

If you are carrying a balance from month to month on your business credit card, monitoring your interest will be crucial. It is important to remember that you need to account not only for the charges you've made but also the interest they will accrue, meaning you should be aware of your exact interest rate. If you open a card that is interest-free for the first year, be sure you are attentive to when interest will start to be added. Keeping track of your interest and including it in your monthly budget will allow you to have a better grasp on your business's overall financial situation.

Build Good Credit

Making consistent and timely payments – and paying off your full balance when possible – will help build good credit for your business. Many services offer free credit reports to help track progress with your credit. Having healthy business credit will be beneficial to your company in the long run if you need to rent space or equipment, open accounts with suppliers or take out a business loan.

Keep Your Business Credit Separate From Your Personal Credit

Be aware of whether your business credit is tied to you personally. Unfortunately, if you're not careful, business credit can affect your personal credit score without you knowing, so be sure to look into this when opening a business credit card.

"Some cards specifically cater to small business owners, while corporate cards are offered for larger companies. Researching the interest rates and rewards offered can be helpful in choosing what makes the most sense for your business." - Leslie Tayne

Personal Use

Find the Card That's Right For You – And Stick With It

As with a business credit card, do your research before you decide to open a personal card. Consider interest rates and rewards bonuses. If you plan to use your credit card mostly for travel, look into cards that have airline or hotel rewards. If you are looking for a card for more general use, one that offers straight percentage cash back may be best. Once you have found the card that suits your needs best, try to stick with just the one or as few cards as possible. Having fewer cards makes managing your payments much more manageable and can help you maximize your rewards.

Pay Off Your Balance Every Month

If you can, pay off your balance in full every month. Doing so allows you to avoid racking up interest on your bill.

Never Skip a Payment

Even if you can't pay off your full balance, it is always best to make sure you are at least able to make the minimum payment every month. By ensuring you never miss a payment, you will avoid late fees and will decrease the amount of your interest payments. Missing a payment can also lead to a dock on your credit score, and missing multiple and building up late fees can be disastrous. Make a habit never to charge more than you have available in your bank account.

Only Use The Card When Absolutely Necessary

You can think of a credit card as a personal loan to yourself when you may not feel comfortable having that money taken from your checking account. But consider only using this tactic for essential purchases, such as paying a bill that is coming due or buying significant items for your home. Using your credit card for frivolous spending can lead to trouble in the long run.

Never Use Your Full Limit

To keep your credit score healthy, it is best never to use more than 30 percent of your credit limit. Your utilization rate is a crucial component to determine your credit score. Keeping your usage to a smaller percentage of your credit line will help keep payments and interest manageable.

"As with a business credit card, do your research before you decide to open a personal card" - Leslie Tayne

Never Use Your Full Limit

To keep your credit score healthy, it is best never to use more than 30 percent of your credit limit. Your utilization rate is a crucial component to determine your credit score. Keeping your usage to a smaller percentage of your credit line will help keep payments and interest manageable.

"Even if you can't pay off your full balance, it is always best to make sure you are at least able to make the minimum payment every month. By ensuring you never miss a payment, you will avoid late fees and will decrease the amount of your interest payments." - Leslie Tayne

The key takeaways to remember when opening credit cards for yourself or your business is to be educated and to be proactive. By knowing the kind of card you are using, and understanding both the interest rates and the rewards offered, you will have a solid grasp on your financial situation as it relates to your credit. And by taking in active role in managing your credit – tracking your payments and interest, keeping an eye on your usage, budgeting effectively – you can ensure that you are making your credit cards work for you, and not the other way around.

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Stop Asking if America is “Ready” for a Woman President

It's the question on everyone's tongues. It's what motivates every conversation about whether or not Liz Warren is "electable," every bit of hand-wringing that a woman just "can't win this year," and every joke about menstrual cycles and nuclear missiles. Is America ready for a woman president?


It's a question that would be laughable if it wasn't indicative of deeper problems and wielded like a weapon against our ambitions. Whether thinly-veiled misogyny or not (I'm not going to issue a blanket condemnation of everybody who's ever asked), it certainly has the same effect: to tell us "someday, but not yet." It's cold comfort when "someday" never seems to come.

What are the arguments? That a woman can't win? That the country would reject her authority? That the troops would refuse to take her orders? That congress would neuter the office? Just the other day, The New York Times ran yet another in a long series of op-eds from every major newspaper in America addressing this question. However, this one made a fascinating point, referencing yet another article on the topic in The Atlantic (examining the question during Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential bid), which cited a study by two Yale researchers who found that people were either the same or more likely to vote for a fictional male senator when told that he was ambitious; and yet, both men and women alike were less likely to vote for a woman when told that she was ambitious, even reacting with "feelings of moral outrage" including "contempt, anger, and disgust."

The question isn't whether a woman could be president, or whether a woman can be elected president – let's not forget that Hillary Clinton won three million more votes than the wildly unqualified man currently sitting in the oval office – it's whether or not it's appropriate for a woman to run for president, in a pre-conscious, visceral, gut-check way. In short, it's about misogyny. Not your neighbors' misogyny, that oft-cited imaginary scapegoat, but yours. Ours. Mine. The misogyny we've got embedded deeply in our brains from living in a society that doesn't value women, the overcoming of which is key for our own growth, well-being, and emotional health.

Why didn't we ever ask if America was ready for Trump?

That misogyny, too, is reinforced by every question asking people to validate a woman even seeking the position. Upfront, eo ipso, before considering anything of their merit or experience or thought, whether a woman should be president, that, if given the choice between a qualified woman and an unqualified man, the man wins (which, let's not forget, is what happened four years ago). To ask the question at all is to recognize the legitimacy of the difference in opinion, that this is a question about which reasonable people might disagree. In reality, it's a question that reason doesn't factor into at all. It's an emotional question provoking an emotional response: to whom belong the levers of power? It's also one we seem eager to dodge.

"Sure, I'd vote for a woman, but I don't think my neighbor would. I'd vote for a woman, but will South Carolina? Or Nebraska? Or the Dakotas?" At worst, it's a way to sort through the cognitive dissonance the question provokes in us – it's an obviously remarkable idea, seeing as we've never had a woman president – and at best, it's sincere surrender to our lesser angels, allowing misogyny to win by default. It starts with the assumption that a woman can't be president, and therefore we shouldn't nominate one, because she can't win. It's a utilitarian argument for excluding half of the country's population from eligibility for its highest office not even by virtue of some essential deficiency, but in submission to the will of a presumed minority of voters before a single vote has ever been cast. I don't know what else to call that but misogyny by other means.

We can, and must, do better than that. We can't call a woman's viability into question solely because she's a woman. To do so isn't to "think strategically," but to give ground before the race even starts. It's to hobble a candidate. It's to make sure voters see her, first and foremost, as a gendered object instead of a potential leader. I have immense respect for the refusal of women like Hillary Clinton, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, and pioneers like Carol Mosley-Braun, going as far back as Victoria Woodhull, to accede to this narrative and stick to their arguments over the course of their respective campaigns, regardless of any policy differences with them. It's by women standing up and forcing the world to see us as people that we push through, not by letting them tell us where they think we belong.

One of the themes I come back to over and over again in my writing is women asserting independence from control and dignity in our lives. It's the dominant note in feminist writing going back decades, that plea for recognition not only of our political and civil rights, but our existence as moral agents as capable as any man in the same position, as deserving of respect, as deserving of being heard and taking our shot. What then do we make of the question "is America ready for a woman president?" Is America ready? Perhaps not. But perhaps "ready" isn't something that exists. Perhaps, in the truest fashion of human politics, it's impossible until it, suddenly, isn't, and thereafter seems inevitable.

I think, for example, of the powerful witness Barack Obama brought to the office of president, not simply by occupying it but by trying to be a voice speaking to America's cruel and racist history and its ongoing effects. By extension, then, I think there is very real, radical benefit to electing a chief executive who has herself been subject to patriarchal control in the way only women (and those who others identify as women) can experience.

I look at reproductive rights like abortion and birth control, and that is what I see: patriarchal control over bodies, something no single president has ever experienced. I think about wage equality; no US president has ever been penalized for their sex in their ability to provide for themselves and their families. I look at climate change, and I remember that wealth and power are inextricably bound to privilege, and that the rapacious hunger to extract value from the earth maps onto the exploitation women have been subject to for millennia.

That's the challenge of our day. We've watched, over the last decade, the radicalized right go from the fringes of ridicule to the halls of power. We've watched them spit at the truth and invent their own reality. All while some of our best leaders were told to wait their turn. Why, then, all this question of whether we're ready for something far simpler?

Why didn't we ever ask if America was ready for Trump?