Archive for the ‘Clark Howard’ Category

Clark Howard: Be on the lookout for hidden rental car fees

Consumer expert Clark Howard’s column appears here each Thursday in conjunction with Deal Spotter, a weekly print section in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Listen to Clark's live radio show 8-10 p.m. weekdays on AM750 and 95.5FM News/Talk WSB.

Listen to Clark's live radio show 8-10 p.m. weekdays on AM750 and 95.5FM News/Talk WSB.

Many people only rent cars about twice a year, once during a summer vacation and once during the Thanksgiving or Christmas holidays. That leaves a lot of unsuspecting motorists open to common rip-off fees that the car-rental agencies like to push.

Before you take your trip, be sure to find out if your auto insurer covers you for temporary use of a rental car. That should always be your first line of defense against the most common rip-off called collision damage waiver.

When you’re at the rental counter, you will probably be warned about the consequences of not accepting the waiver, or CDW, also known by the codes LDW or PDW. Certain credit cards will provide this coverage and allow you to decline the CDW as an add-on. Check …

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Clark Howard: Credit scores really do matter

Consumer expert Clark Howard’s column appears here each Thursday in conjunction with Deal Spotter, a weekly print section in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Listen to Clark's live radio show 8-10 p.m. weekdays on AM750 and 95.5FM News/Talk WSB.

Listen to Clark's live radio show 8-10 p.m. weekdays on AM750 and 95.5FM News/Talk WSB.

Credit education is coming back in vogue at big banks and some credit unions.

As just one example, Wells Fargo has a limited-time offer for customers where they’ll give you a free credit score and free credit report through Nov. 15.

Unfortunately, the score you get is not your real FICO score. It is a made-up score that’s assessed based on the bank’s own proprietary scoring model.

The only real, true credit score is from Fair Isaac, the myFICO people. But this option from Wells Fargo gives you kind of like a temperature reading of how you’re doing with your credit.

I’ve talked in the past about CreditKarma.com as another option for getting your free non-FICO credit score as well.

Why is your credit rating important? A …

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Clark Howard: Efficient cars cut price at the pump

Consumer expert Clark Howard’s column appears here each Thursday in conjunction with Deal Spotter, a weekly print section in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Listen to Clark's live radio show 8-10 p.m. weekdays on AM750 and 95.5FM News/Talk WSB.

Listen to Clark's live radio show 8-10 p.m. weekdays on AM750 and 95.5FM News/Talk WSB.

Three new developments in the car world promise cheap rides in the near future.

First up, the Tata Nano that sells for less than $3,000 in India will be coming to the United States with an increased price tag. For the U.S. market, it will be designed to be a cheap urban runabout that costs less than $8,000 and should be in production by 2015.

The increased cost includes the expense of making government-required safety and emissions tweaks.

At $8,000, it will be the cheapest car sold in America, competing mainly with used cars and motorcycles. Of course, nobody’s yet sure if Americans will turn their noses up at the Nano, or if it will create a new car class.

At the other end of the spectrum, Lincoln’s new MKZ comes in a hybrid …

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Clark Howard: Tailor rewards credit card to your spending

Consumer expert Clark Howard’s column appears here each Thursday in conjunction with Deal Spotter, a weekly print section in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Listen to Clark's live radio show 8-10 p.m. weekdays on AM750 and 95.5FM News/Talk WSB.

Listen to Clark's live radio show 8-10 p.m. weekdays on AM750 and 95.5FM News/Talk WSB.

A new tally from Consumer Reports has named the nation’s top three cash-back credit cards.

The November 2012 issue of Consumer Reports lists Fidelity Rewards American Express as just about the best card out there. There’s no annual fee and you get 2 percent cash back when you link it with a Fidelity account.

This could be a good place to look if you’re a refugee from the defunct 2-percent-cash-back Charles Schwab credit card. The money can either go into a 529 plan, a Roth IRA or the Fidelity equivalent of a checking account and it’s your money to spend.

Next on the Consumer Reports list is American Express Blue Cash Preferred. This card has an annual fee of $75, and it’s skewed to favor those who spend heavily on …

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Clark Howard: Smarten up your phone service

Consumer expert Clark Howard’s column appears here each Thursday in conjunction with Deal Spotter, a weekly print section in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Listen to Clark's live radio show 1-3 p.m. weekdays on AM750 and 95.5FM News/Talk WSB.

Listen to Clark's live radio show 8-10 p.m. weekdays on AM750 and 95.5FM News/Talk WSB.

The iPhone 5 has created a lot of excitement among buyers, but I’m excited about it for a different reason.

For me, it’s all about the spin-off effect of all those people who will now want to dump their iPhone 4 or 4S or an even older model. Amazon will give customers gift cards when they trade in a fully functional iPhone. They’re paying $85 in gift cards for the iPhone 3, and up to $400 for a well-preserved iPhone 4S.

The marketplace value of a used iPhone is high enough to cover the fee of breaking a contract with one wireless carrier to go to another and keep your number. This is your chance to exit from AT&T for iPhone service that is too costly and unreliable.

For a really Clark Smart move, take an older unlocked …

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Clark Howard: Wireless ‘land line’ cuts phone bill

Consumer expert Clark Howard’s column appears here each Thursday in conjunction with Deal Spotter, a weekly print section in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Listen to Clark's live radio show 1-3 p.m. weekdays on AM750 and 95.5FM News/Talk WSB.

Listen to Clark's live radio show 1-3 p.m. weekdays on AM750 and 95.5FM News/Talk WSB.

Still stuck paying $35 or more for a home phone that you can’t or don’t want to give up? I have a new option that could lower your cost for the same service to $15 a month.

Verizon and Straight Talk are teaming up to introduce something called Home Phone Connect, which promises unlimited local and long distance calling, voicemail, caller ID, three-way calling and more, all with no contract. Visit VerizonWireless .com or StraightTalk.com for more details.

This home phone service does not require an Internet connection. You purchase a $99 wireless base station that you put wherever you get a good signal in your home.

Once you purchase it, you can even port your number over from the monopoly local phone company.

Meanwhile, most …

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Clark Howard: Travel at the last minute and save

Consumer expert Clark Howard’s column appears here each Thursday in conjunction with Deal Spotter, a weekly print section in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

ClarkHoward

Find more answers to your consumer questions at ClarkHoward.com. Listen to his radio show live 1-3 p.m. Monday through Friday on WSB 750 AM and 95.5 FM.

On a recent Friday afternoon, I learned that everybody in my house was busy for the weekend except me and my 7-year-old son Grant. I quickly went online and saw frequent flier seats at the lowest possible redemption rate to city after city, going Friday and coming back Sunday. Then I cross-checked weather and general hotel availability for different cities.

Guess what happened next? My son and I were on the plane 100 minutes later going to Boston.

When we started our flight, we had no hotel arrangements whatsoever. But while in the air, I used the free Wi-Fi to do Priceline bids. I ended up with a 4 star in central Boston for $99.

My son had the best time ever in …

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Clark Howard: New Kindle changes landscape for tablet market

Consumer expert Clark Howard’s column appears here each Thursday in conjunction with Deal Spotter, a weekly print section in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Listen to Clark's live radio show 1-3 p.m. weekdays on AM750 and 95.5FM News/Talk WSB.

Listen to Clark's live radio show 1-3 p.m. weekdays on AM750 and 95.5FM News/Talk WSB.

The tablet marketplace is widening, but we still may be one selling season away from mass-market adoption.

Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD tablets are a real value proposition starting at $199 and $299. But they do come with ads to make up for the money Amazon is losing on each tablet it sells.

The ads created a backlash and Amazon now has a solution: You can pay $15 more to not have the ads bombard you. We’ll see what people do. I’d rather save the $15 and see the ads, but that’s just me.

The Kindle Fire HD has all kinds of capabilities that blow past the shortcomings of the original Kindle Fire. There are no restrictive prohibitions on Android apps, and it has a built-in camera and built-in Skype. The goal is to get you more and …

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Clark Howard: Walmart cards cut the cost of gas

Consumer expert Clark Howard’s column appears here each Thursday in conjunction with Deal Spotter, a weekly print section in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Listen to Clark's live radio show 1-3 p.m. weekdays on AM750 and 95.5FM News/Talk WSB.

Listen to Clark's live radio show 1-3 p.m. weekdays on AM750 and 95.5FM News/Talk WSB.

If you are looking to save money on gas, the nation’s largest retailer has an offer for you in nearly two dozen states.

The cost of gas at wholesale is dropping after a run-up in price leading up to Hurricane/Tropical Storm Isaac. There has been no damage to drilling rigs or refineries in the Gulf Coast area to speak of. So day by day, more production is coming back online. Of course, the price at retail always lags behind wholesale, but the overall fears about Isaac running up gas prices across the nation didn’t play out.

Now Walmart has come out with a promotion offering a discount of 15 cents per gallon through Dec. 24. You simply fill up at any Walmart gas station and, if you use a Walmart money card or credit card, the discount …

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Clark Howard: Tossing out food costs way too much

Consumer expert Clark Howard’s column appears here each Thursday in conjunction with Deal Spotter, a weekly print section in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

ClarkHowardI have a way to add more than $2,000 to your annual household income and there’s no pay increase needed.

A new study from the Natural Resources Defense Council finds Americans now throw away 40 percent of their food each year — at home, in restaurants and in the supermarket. That equates to $165 billion in wasted food each year.

The typical family of four ends up throwing out nearly $2,300 in food annually.

We’re all guilty of this. I think about myself in my own life. I was going to serve my kids some milk from the fridge and it had that rank smell. So I poured out about 20 percent of the gallon. I did that just out of habit.

Then I think about how many times things go out of date or spoil at my house. I ate a banana last night that was marginal. There was a peach that went unloved so I threw it out. We do this …

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