Today is the 278th birthday of John Hancock, an American patriot and the first signer of the Declaration of Independence. He’s best known for is audacious signature on the document, and his name has been passed down as a moniker for a signature. In his honor, today is National Handwriting Day, which was created to encourage more legible handwriting (are you listening, doctors?).
Your John Hancock is extremely important when it comes to finances; once you sign on a dotted line (or give your electronic signature online) you are committed to a set of terms and rates that can come back to haunt you later if you neglected to read the fine print. In this week’s roundup of the best posts from the personal finance blogosphere, let’s celebrate John Hancock and the importance of knowing what you sign when it comes to credit cards and debit cards.
1. Free Money Finance spoke to Visa and learned that merchants can choose precisely what type of card they accept (such as business, debit, credit).
2. The Digerati Life also talked to Visa, and they discussed what types of limits merchants are allowed to place when it comes to accepting debit cards. Think you have to make a $3 minimum purchase at the coffee shop before you can use your plastic? The merchants actually are supposed to allow you to sign that credit card receipt regardless of the purchase price.
3. Do you need a crash course in credit and debit cards? Blueprint for Financial Prosperity outlines all the basics; how they work, what grace periods are, how the fees work, what to do if you lose your cards and so on. Better to know what to look for before you sign the card agreement.
4. Connie at Ask Mr. Credit Card explains how to get your credit card spending under control. One big one? Just use your brain! For some people, having to pause and sign a receipt doesn’t make one difference and they just spend, spend, spend. Instead, before you head to checkout, stop and think about whether you really need to spend that money.
5. New mommy Kacie at Sense to Save explains all the reasons why she is determined to get out of debt. She doesn’t want to sign on the dotted line for any more loans; she doesn’t want the burden of owing money to anyone.
6. Do you ever wonder how long you should keep old documents — such as credit card statements, bank statements and real estate records — lying around? My Dollar Plan explains how long you should hang on to each type of document.
7. You have to sign an agreement to get a credit card, but no signature is needed to lose it: Credit card companies can cancel your card at any time, for any reason. A guest post on The Consumerist explains how you can protect your credit lines from being taken away.
8. No Credit Needed details five different methods for getting out of debt and outlines the pros and cons of each. If none of these methods is really getting you out of the hole, consider asking your creditors if you can negotiate. They may be willing to put aside the agreement you signed and give you some lenience when it comes to balances due or interest rates.
9. GenXFinance explains what you need to understand about a loan (or any financial agreement, for that matter) signing on the dotted line. OK, so this blog post was not published this week, or even this month, but it’s full of great information and fits in so perfectly with the theme!
See related: Struggling debt collectors say to debtors: “Let’s make a deal”