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Kristin McGrath author page: CreditCardForum.com blog

A list of Kristin McGrath's blog articles on credit cards and personal finance.

How did a thief use my card if it never left my possession?

Your credit or debit card is safely tucked into your wallet (or sock drawer), and yet somehow, a thief managed to buy a stereo system with it. So, how can someone use your card when it never left your possession? We asked a couple security experts how it's done - and how to protect yourself.

Now you can use AmEx Membership Rewards points for Airbnb

Today, American Express (a CreditCardForum advertising partner) and Airbnb announced a partnership that allows you to book Airbnb rentals directly with your Membership Rewards points - and makes Airbnb more streamlined for cardholders. Perks that all AmEx cardholders are eligible for If you have a card that earns Membership Rewards points, you get an additional perk (more on that below).

It's customary to share scary stories around Halloween. So we put out a request for frightening credit tales - and heard back from several people whose good intentions, trust in others and just plain bad luck landed them in unenviable situations. These accounts aren't meant just to horrify, though, but to educate.

Those wishing to consolidate card debt and minimize interest payments now have a new option to consider. It's called SimplyCredit, and it combines the worlds of debt-consolidation, auto-payments and even credit building. There's nothing quite like SimplyCredit in the consumer lending industry right now.

How to securely dispose of an old credit card

With EMV chip cards rolling out in the United States, you can expect your issuer to send you a replacement card with a chip soon (if it hasn't already). All those new cards arriving in mailboxes means old cards are destined for the trash, where they can be easy pickings for fraudsters.

How to maximize rewards by minimizing your card collection

With tiny houses and capsule wardrobes becoming popular, simplicity and minimalism are in right now. But can you apply those same principles to your credit life? We talked to a couple card bloggers about whether it's possible to downsize your credit card collection and still play the rewards game.

Considering how hard it can be to redeem your miles and points for a good value, you might think nobody would be interested in stealing them. You'd be wrong. In November 2014, cyber thieves helped themselves to Hilton HHonors members' rewards points.

Merchants talk EMV challenges

In a matter of days, the EMV liability shift goes into effect. Just tuning in? This will bring you up to speed. Simply put, from here on, if a customer uses a counterfeit card in a store, the party (merchant or card issuer) responsible for a transaction NOT going through as a secure EMV chip transaction will be held financially liable by the card networks (Visa, MasterCard, etc.)

It's no fun getting turned down for credit, but here's some silver lining: The company you applied with can't just ghost you - it is legally required to tell you why you were rejected and even provide information that could set you up for success next time.

How many FICO scores are there?

A lot of credit advice centers on your FICO score. "Check your FICO score," "Monitor your FICO score." "Try to achieve a FICO score of at least [fill in arbitrary number]." But the very nature of this advice is oversimplified - because nobody has a "FICO score" - that is to say, a single FICO score.

5 underutilized rewards-card strategies

Reward redemption and use of card benefits are on an incline, according to 2015 numbers from J.D. Power. More than half (53 percent) of cardholders redeemed rewards in the past 6 months, compared with 49 percent in 2014. What's more, 67 percent of customers used at least one of their card's benefits in the past year, compared to 57 percent in 2014.

If the little metal chip on the new credit or debit card from your bank hasn't clued you in, here's a heads up: The United States is moving toward EMV technology (already the norm in other parts of the world), and it will change the way transactions are conducted.

Can you change your credit card's due date?

Some bills (like your rent) can't usually be shuffled around, but luckily, your credit card due date generally can be. Here's how to change it - and why you might want to. Changing your card's due date is simple Changing a due date is generally an easy favor for banks to grant.

What to do if you co-signed a friend's student loans

If you read our Halloween-themed credit horror stories, you probably remember the story from a recent grad who co-signed her friend's student loan debt - and found herself with credit damage when that friend stopped paying. It's a troubling situation and one that's all too easy for young people to get into.

Card benefits that ease holiday family travel

Toting your young kids through a busy airport, taking them on a long, crowded flight and then staying in a hotel room without all the comforts of home may be something you avoid most of the year. But, if you live far from family, "home for the holidays" may require all those things.

Does your card's travel insurance cover winter weather?

In February 2014, Holly Johnson, founder and author of frugality site Club Thrifty, found herself stuck in paradise. The day she and her husband were scheduled to leave Jamaica, winter storms blocked nearly all flights from the Caribbean to East-Coast cities in the U.S.

How to check your business credit

If you're launching a business, add one more thing to your endless to-do list: Keeping tabs on your business credit. "There are so many options for businesses to get financing," says Levi King, founder and CEO of Creditera, a company that helps business owners check their credit and understand their financing options.

Credit card rewards strategies for back-to-school shopping

Whether you're staring down your elementary school student's very specific, itemized school shopping list or outfitting your new college freshman's dorm, back-to-school shopping can dent your family's finances. If you're strategic, though, the cards in your wallet can help you earn cash back and points toward future travel.

Got debt like Scott Walker? What to do

Presidential hopeful and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is in some headline-making credit card debt. According to financial disclosure documents required of candidates, Walker is carrying between $10,000 and $15,000 on a Barclaycard credit card with a 27.24 percent APR, a similar amount at 11.99 percent on a Bank of America card, and about $100,000 student loans (taken out for his children).

If you're looking for a card for your small business, the cards in the OPEN network from American Express (a CreditCardForum advertising partner) may have piqued your interest. OPEN encompasses a suite of cards created for business owners. There are about a dozen cards in the program.

You picked the wrong credit card -- what to do next

Call it card regret: You applied for a credit card, got approved and, soon after, realized it was the wrong choice. Even if your regret is immediate, there's no turning back the clock - you're stuck with the credit inquiry. So we asked a couple experts how to make the most of your situation.

Extra costs of using a card abroad - and how to avoid them

Credit cards are designed for convenience, but they don't cross boarders seamlessly. In addition to EMV compatibility issues and false fraud alerts, there may be some extra costs to use the card. To prevent your trip from being more expensive than it already is, be mindful of these two costs you might encounter.

How to lower you interest rate on a credit card

If you're carrying a balance, cutting your APR is the best way to save money on interest payments - or even shave several months off your projected pay-down timeline. A $3,000 balance at a 17 percent APR for example, will cost you $472 in interest over 12 months.

For young people, credit goals are clear: Get a card and build credit so you can get good terms on life's milestones - like car loans and mortgages. If you're a retiree, though, the road ahead is less defined, especially if the house and car are paid off, you're downsizing and there's no need to acquire more credit.

Mobile geolocation could prevent card denials for travelers

Having your card declined while you're traveling can be embarrassing, annoying and even distressing, if you're trying to use it in an emergency. Unfortunately, it's a necessary evil, as it's part of your bank's mission to prevent fraud; if someone is buying train tickets from Paris to Milan, and you live in Phoenix, the bank may block the transaction and wait for you to call and confirm it.