Profiles

Daniel P. Ray

Daniel P. Ray

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I'm Daniel P. Ray, CreditCard.com's editor in chief, and I've been writing and editing consumer-oriented stories about personal finance -- especially debt-related issues -- for about 14 years. Before joining CreditCards.com in July, 2007, I was an editor at Bankrate.com, including six years as editor in chief.

I started out, fresh out of the University of Missouri, as a cub reporter at the Miami Herald, eventually spending 10 years there in various reporting and editing roles, covering everything from local politics to the cop shop to the courthouse. After that came five years as an editor for the music magazine, Country Weekly, where I learned to love Merle but failed miserably at the Electric Slide.

The latter job is also where I got my first taste of this new thing called the Internet. Back then, it wasn't the Internet we know now; the browser hadn't been invented yet. But I found it fascinating that with a few UUNET commands, I could browse the library of the University of Stockholm. And no, I don't speak a word of Swedish.

Along the way in my (now mostly online) journalism career, I picked up some nice hardware, including six "Best in Business" plaques from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers, and one from the Society of Professional Journalists.

My first credit card came at Mizzou, where it was at first just a piece of plastic that came with a free hat. The debt that I eventually racked up with it lasted far longer than the hat. Now, except for occasional splurges on music or vintage bicycle parts, I handle them much more responsibly.

Julie Sherrier

Julie Sherrier

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I clearly remember my first credit card. I was working as an editorial assistant in New York, making a pitiful entry-level salary. I could barely afford food and rent, and desperately needed a wardrobe update. So, I applied for an American Express card. Thus began my relationship with credit and debt (and shoes).

I am managing editor at CreditCards.com. I've worked as a writer and editor in New York and Austin. In my free time, when not relaxing at Barton Springs, I've edited numerous books and taught journalism to students at the University of Texas. I'm a graduate of the journalism program at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

The number of credit cards in my wallet has been on the decline over the years as I got smarter. I am now down to one general purpose Visa card, the essential Home Depot card and a Sears card for emergency appliance meltdowns.

Yasmin Ghahremani

Yasmin Ghahremani

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By day, I'm an assistant managing editor at CreditCards.com. In my spare time, I'm a credit card points scavenger.

Credit cards are all about rewards for me. I don't allow myself to carry a monthly balance, but bonus sign-up points and a dedication to plastic-fueled spending have helped finance my budget globetrotting habit far more than I care to admit. (Yes, I'm that person pulling out the plastic for a drink at the convenience store).

I've carried the habit with me while writing about business and technology from all over the US, as well as Europe, Asia and Australia. I've worked for CNN, CNBC and Asiaweek magazine, and contributed to numerous publications including The New York Times, Popular Science Australia and the San Antonio Business Journal. So far, I've found the best market for rewards cards is the US, but I'm always looking.

Fred O. Williams

Fred O. Williams

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Want to toughen your defenses against overspending? Try working as a debt collector. For me, a three-month stint as a collector during 2008 sealed my resolve never to get in over my head. Listening to the hardships of binge borrowers is great aversion therapy.

The collection job was a brief detour from my career as a business journalist. I started at the Binghamton (N.Y.) Press & Sun-Bulletin, went on loan to USA Today, then worked at a business weekly in Washington, D.C. before returning to upstate New York as a business writer at the Buffalo News.

The truth is, I was wary about debt even before working in collections. I don't remember a time when I paid less than the full balance on my credit card -- at least not intentionally. Even as a freshly minted graduate from Binghamton University in 1986, when my mother had to co-sign for my first Visa, I managed to avoid racking up interest. It helps to have inexpensive tastes -- I'm usually content with brown-bag lunches and homemade coffee in a Thermos mug.

Although I washed out as a collector, the experience reinforced my interest in how the world of consumer credit works. Now, as senior reporter at CreditCards.com, I can focus on credit issues exclusively. My favorite part of being a reporter is talking to people about their financial issues -- without having to warn them to pay up.

Sienna Kossman

Sienna Kossman

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My first interactions with credit cards occurred while working as a retail sales associate, pitching time-sensitive card perks to every customer who came through the checkout line. At the time, my 16-year-old self viewed credit only as an elusive gateway to overspending. Today, after many years of working odd jobs and completing a college degree, I hold a few lines of credit and understand that as long as you are proactive about maintaining financial literacy, credit can be a very beneficial tool, especially at a young age.

Prior to my graduation from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, I spent a summer writing consumer-friendly health and money articles for U.S. News & World Report. I’ve since developed a desire to continue learning how to better manage my personal finances and help others do the same. Today I am a staff reporter for CreditCards.com, delving into the world of credit scores and reports.

Kelly Dilworth

Kelly Dilworth

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I'm a former staff reporter at CreditCards.com. I began my career in journalism at The Atlantic in 2007, then detoured into nonfiction book publishing for several years. I returned to journalism in 2010 and since then have written about everything from 20-somethings with Herculean credit scores to the Federal Reserve's monetary policy decisions. I hold a degree in liberal arts from Sarah Lawrence College and live in Columbus, Ohio.


Martin Merzer

Martin Merzer

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Martin Merzer covers a wide variety of topics for CredtiCards.com.

A major media journalist for more than 35 years, Merzer has written for many big city newspapers, wire services and other publications. Among his areas of specialty: reporting, analyzing and writing about financial affairs and business news.

Jay MacDonald

Jay MacDonald

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Jay MacDonald is a professional writer and frequent contributor to CreditCards.com. His off-the-beaten-path feature stories explore the religious, astrological, psychological, aromatic and hygienic aspects of credit cards as well as their cultural significance in film, fashion and popular song. His one-on-one interviews include TV personalities, bestselling authors, a championship boxer, a hip-hop mogul, an etiquette expert, a secret agent and a meteor hunter. Of course he lives in Florida.


Tony Mecia

Tony Mecia

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Tony Mecia is a freelance business writer based in Charlotte, N.C. In addition to his articles for CreditCards.com, Tony writes for a variety of trade and general-interest publications and companies. As a reporter and editor with the Charlotte Observer, he won "Best in Business" awards from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers for his coverage of the airline and textile industries.


Emily Starbuck Crone

Emily Starbuck Crone

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I'm the former editorial assistant at CreditCards.com, and no, I don't like coffee (it's a family name). Upon finishing college, I was horrified to learn how little my friends and I knew about credit and personal finance. It seems our dear parents forgot to mention a few things, so I have made it my mission to help those in the dark understand the ins and outs of credit, debt, identity theft and other vital issues.

I graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in Radio-TV-Film, and with what I like to call "an unofficial major in journalism." I convinced the J-school to let me take a news writing and editing course, I interned at two magazines, was the editor of a student newspaper for over a year and have done lots of freelance writing and editing. Before joining the CreditCards.com team, I had a brief stint in public relations and marketing.

I am also a published photographer and classical and rock cellist. I reside in Austin, Texas, the live music capital of the world, with a mischievous Min Pin and a jerk of a cat.

Cynthia Drake

Cynthia Drake

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I'm a freelance writer based in Michigan who grew up hearing lots of savings mantras, such as, "Watch the pennies, and the dollars take care of themselves," from my dad, who grew up in an era when people were distrustful of the newly emerging credit card companies. In addition to inheriting his love of a good bargain, I took his advice to heart to live within my means and always pay off my credit card balances.

As a financial writer, I love uncovering the quirky, offbeat stories, whether it’s credit card designs that never made it to market or the latest tips for wrapping a gift card. You can also catch me in regular video features for CreditCards.com.


Jean Chatzky

Jean Chatzky

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Jean Chatzky, the financial editor for NBC's "TODAY" show, is an award-winning personal finance journalist, AARP's personal finance ambassador, and the host of "Cash Call with Jean Chatzky" on RLTV. She is a best-selling author, and her eighth book, "Money Rules," hit the stands in March 2012 to terrific reviews.

Jean believes knowing how to manage our money is one of the most important life skills for people at every age and has made it her mission to help simplify money matters, increasing financial literacy both now and for the future.


Ann Brenoff

Ann Brenoff

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Ann Brenoff wrote the nationally syndicated Hot Property column for the Los Angeles Times, where she worked for 18 years and won a shared Pulitzer Prize. She is a lead blogger and editor for several AOL websites and writes regularly for the Huffington Post and other venues about celebrity real estate. She is working on a book about Malibu, Calif., where she lives with her husband and children.


Kristie Aronow

Kristie Aronow

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It was May of 2010, mere weeks before I graduated from the University of Missouri with a degree in journalism, and I found myself in Banana Republic’s dressing room growing dizzy from sticker shock. I needed a suit for job interviews, and at least a week’s worth of work attire. So, as I approached checkout, I made peace with the fact that in order to afford my lavish, new wardrobe I’d be eating ramen for the next few months.

But at the counter something magical happened. The clerk offered me a credit card. And thus began my battle with debt.

Thankfully, I’ve put my impulse card sign-up habit behind me. Today, I’m a staff reporter for CreditCards.com. I have also worked as an assistant editor for two regional magazines in Naples, Fla., and as a freelance reporter in the finance field for various websites.

Lisa Bertagnoli

Lisa Bertagnoli

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Lisa Bertagnoli is a freelance journalist who lives and works in Chicago. She is a frequent contributor to Crain's Chicago Business, and in 2006, wrote "Scarlett Rules," a lighthearted life-lessons book based on her heroine, Scarlett O'Hara. Lisa holds bachelor's degrees in history and journalism, and a master's degree in linguistics. Before launching her freelance career, Lisa was managing editor of the late, great trade magazine, Restaurants & Institutions.


Melody Warnick

Melody Warnick

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Melody Warnick is a Virginia-based freelance writer whose work has been published in Woman's Day, Redbook, Better Homes and Gardens and other magazines. Her website is MelodyWarnick.com, and she will be happy if never has to see the inside of the driver's license office again


Susan Ladika

Susan Ladika

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Susan Ladika is a freelance writer and frequent contributor to CreditCards.com.


Jeannie Assimos

Jeannie Assimos

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After years of researching, writing and reporting about Hollywood's failed relationships, Jeannie ventured into the land of successful romances at eHarmony, and hasn't looked back since! On board since early 2008, she absorbs everything she can about daters' turn-ons, turnoffs, likes and dislikes -- and shares her observations on the eHarmony Advice site. Besides stories about true love, Jeannie adores her miniature Australian Shepherd Buster, her awesome husband and loves boot camp, baking and Bravo!

Kalen Smith

Kalen Smith

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Guest blogger Kalen Smith holds an MBA in finance. He discusses financial topics such as investing, credit cards and economic policy on the Money Crashers personal finance blog.


Rob Berger

Rob Berger

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Guest blogger Rob Berger is the founder of the popular personal finance blog, the Dough Roller.


Sally Herigstad

Sally Herigstad

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Sally Herigstad answers questions about credit every week for CreditCards.com. Herigstad is a certified public accountant, author and speaker. She also writes regularly for MSN Money, Interest.com, Bankrate.com and RedPlum.com, and has been a guest on Martha Stewart radio and other programs.


Andrea Travillian

Andrea Travillian

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Andrea Travillian has loved personal finance from an early age; her first stock purchase was in 6th grade! Deciding to make a career of it she got her BBA and MBA in finance. She currently covers personal finance topics including investing, debt and money emotions on her site, Take a Smart Step.


Philip Taylor

Philip Taylor

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Philip Taylor is the founder of PT Money: Personal Finance. Taylor's hope for the blog is that it could be a place where people can learn and share their thoughts, ideas, and best tips regarding personal finance with the primary topics being making money, saving money, and spending money wisely. He is also the creator of the Financial Blogger Conference. The second annual three-day event will take place in Denver in September 2012.


Geoff Whitmore

Geoff Whitmore

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Geoff Whitmore is lead traveler/writer at NoobTraveler.com, a blog dedicated to educating its readers on reward travel, travel tips, and cost-saving travel techniques. The blog particularly focuses on new travelers (or as they like to call them, "Noobs"), and it teaches its readers how to save BIG. All the while, the site maintains a humorous writing style that is both fun and informative. Geoff also curates the best rewards travel deals in his daily blog posts and articles.


Connie Prater

Connie Prater

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My official title is senior writer at CreditCards.com. In fact, I consider myself a savvy consumer, a mom, a penny-pincher/tightwad and an above average Scrabble player.

I have been a reporter and editor for print and online news organizations for more than 25 years. I was on the team of Miami Herald journalists that won the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting in a series of articles on voter fraud in the Miami city elections.

As a journalist, I have written about consumer affairs, social services for the working poor and health and medicine. Over the years, I've developed a knack for explaining complex topics in simple terms "that my mother can understand."

In April 2010, the Society of American Business Editors and Writers recognized my coverage of the credit card reform law with its Best in Business Award for creative use of online media.

I found out firsthand what identity theft victims go through in protecting their good names and credit ratings when my purse was stolen several years ago. I can share my tips on protecting your privacy and what not to haul around in those big purses and handbags.

I have a bachelor's degree in journalism from Northwestern University and a master's in business administration from Barry University in Miami Shores, Fla. In addition to the Miami Herald, I have been fortunate enough to work at the Detroit Free Press and Detroit News and iVillage.com.

What's in my wallet? A Visa credit card is on the top of the pile as the most frequently used plastic in my wallet.

Connie Prater was a senior writer for CreditCards.com from 2007 to 2012.

Jeremy Simon

Jeremy Simon

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A Texas transplant enjoying live music, barbecue and everything else Austin has to offer, I spent most of my formative years in the Northeast. I graduated with an English degree from Vassar College, before taking a job with Thomson Financial in New York City, where I wrote about stock markets from the same building where Bud Fox worked in "Wall Street" (he strolled through the lobby, that is).

Since moving to Austin, my writing career has included an internship in the editorial department of Texas Monthly and the chance to tackle freelance assignments for several local publications, before working for CreditCards.com as a staff writer.

Jeremy Simon was a staff reporter for CreditCards.com from 2006-2011.

Aundraya Ruse

Aundraya Ruse

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I'm a reporter at CreditCards.com, and it's my first job with a desk and my own phone line extension number -- though no one calls me on it. I hold a B.A. in English from Texas Tech University, and I've got the student loan debt to prove it.

Writing for CreditCards.com is giving me the opportunity to extend my own knowledge on personal finance while presenting that information in a relevant way to you, the reader.

When I'm not marveling at the fact that I'm officially a journalist (i.e., I've got a "big girl" job), I'm combatting my perpetual short-story writer's block and indulging in my guilty pleasure: performing magic tricks.

Aundraya Ruse was a reporter for CreditCards.com from 2011-2012.

Matt Schulz

Matt Schulz

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It has dawned on me just how massive an impact credit cards have had on my life since I began college.

First, there were the ignorance-is-bliss years of overspending on things like bootleg CDs and Italian dinners. Those good times led to the shocked-into-sobriety years of using every spare cent I had to pay off my debt. That difficult but necessary time eventually gave way to the making-them-work-for-me years during which we financed several trips by paying for virtually everything with a credit card just to get the miles and then -- usually -- paying the balance off at the end of each month. I'm still in that phase, though having a young son means the trips are much less frequent and much less exotic.

I have a journalism degree from the mighty University of Texas and have reported or edited for such publications as American Banker and the Houston Chronicle. Most recently, I've focused on the web, helping lead news sites like KXAN.com and Austin360.com and helping clients' businesses while at a high-tech marketing agency.

Most of my spare time is devoted to my son, though I still make time for date nights with my wife and obsessing about everything from politics and movies to writing and fantasy sports.

Matt was a managing editor for CreditCards.com 2008-2012

Tyler Metzger

Tyler Metzger

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One note. That's all it takes. One note. One note and my plastic is running fast, smooth through the machine and one moment later I have the record in my hand and one moment later it is blasting and one moment later nothing matters.

Like that my credit card use began. I am kind of a music junkie and live to have funk and jazz replace the silent spaces in my life. Consequently I can do nothing but burn money in a music store. So I do, when I have it, and when I don't, I charge it.

I arrived in Austin in September 2008 with my music, my debt and a journalism degree from the University of Missouri. During my college "episode," as some family members put it, I worked as a reporter and later as a graphic designer for the "Columbia Missourian." I then traveled to Argentina where I reported for "The Argentimes" in Buenos Aires. I returned sunburnt and jet-lagged and completed my studies while working as a music editor for "Vox Magazine."

Tyler Metzger is a former multimedia producer for CreditCards.com.

Anna Bleker

Anna Bleker

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I'm Anna Bleker, the multimedia intern at CreditCards.com. I help create illustrations and interactive features to accompany editorial stories. I also hog all of the Monster energy drinks in the break room. I'm physically dependent.

As a rhetoric major at the University of Texas at Austin, I've interned at a lifestyle magazine and small marketing company and freelanced countless design gigs over weak coffee and Ruffles. I'm also an avid painter: I show my work at a couple of Austin galleries and paint commissions for extra cash (mostly, to buy textbooks-well, hair dye, keyboarding equipment and cheesesteaks).

I plan to get sunburned purple at the Austin City Limits festival.

In my wallet there are a couple student IDs, about 40 business cards and the creepy Hawaii State Quarter, but no credit card: I just use debit for now. In a few months I'll get a credit card, once I'm sure I won't forfeit my credit score for chai lattes and puggle calendars.

Anna Bleker was an intern and multimedia assistant for CreditCards.com from 2009-2011.

Ryland Barton

Ryland Barton

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I'm a writer, Web editor, and SEO professional for CreditCards.com. In my free-time I'm an Ultimate Frisbee captain, blues singer and Shakespeare aficionado.

I've worked for KUT News, the Texas Observer and ReportingTexas.com, the University of Texas' digital media initiative. My reporting has covered a wide range of topics from forced relocations in rural China to armadillo leprosy in Texas.

Originally from Kentucky, I got my bachelor's degree in English from the University of Chicago and a master's degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin.


Ryland was a staff writer for CreditCards.com in 2011-2012.

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They're the pieces of plastic we love, and love to hate. Get the latest news, tips, research and more from the CreditCards.com staff.

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