Friday Grab Bag – 7/17/2009


If your lease is coming due and you think you might be paying too much for rent, check out the Rent-o-meter. This new website lets you quickly and clearly see the going rate for apartments in your area. Granted, it doesn’t seem to take into account the fact that you have a killer view of the city skyline while your neighbors look onto a dingy back alley, but it does show prices for various apartment complexes in your zip code for comparison’s sake.

Woman Sues for $3

I have to hand it to Chicago-resident Sheryl Stone. Instead of just shrugging her shoulders at the $3 ATM fee that Marquette Bank charged her, she brought a lawsuit against them. While most of us would have been too daunted by the bureaucratic nightmare that suing a financial institution entails, Ms. Stone fearlessly forged ahead. Her case rests on the fact that, according to the Electronic Funds Transfer Act, a bank can’t legally charge fees for using an ATM unless it clearly displays a notice saying it’s going to. Lucky for Stone, the bank chose to settle. She will end up pocketing $1,000 after lawyer fees.

Will that be debit or credit?

Jim at Bargaineering points out 8 ways that credit cards beat some debit card you-know-what. His best argument is probably the fact that you can’t build credit history with debit. Of course, if you can’t control your spending, you’re better off with debit. And if you’re looking for ways to cut spending all together, try avoiding both credit and debit – use cash only. Studies have shown that the psychological distress of parting with greenbacks is apparently deeper felt than simply whipping out a little plastic card; you’re thereby more likely to cut spending if you only carry cash in your wallet.

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Visa experiencing quadrillion-dollar technical difficulties

Apparently, some Visa customers are seeing a few more zeroes than they should on their debit card transactions.  A recent Visa programming error means that it charged some customers exactly $23,148,855,308,184,500.00 for purchases made at drugstores and other places. And because this number overdraws their account, Visa automatically slapped them with a $20 negative-balance fee and suspended their accounts. Visa has supposedly resolved the problem and removed overdraft fees, but only after thousands of customers spent hours on the phone trying to get to the bottom of the problem.

Minimum wage going up to $7.25

On July 24th, millions will be taking home larger paychecks due to the increased minimum wage. While $7.25 still seems like such a paltry hourly rate, it’s hard to believe that it could have the devastating effect on our economy that many are predicting. WiseBread offers an interesting take on how the new wage hike could impact you.

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