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Jelena Ewart

San Francisco, CA
General Manager, NerdWallet

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62 out of 67 people Jelena's answers helpful

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  • 38 out of 38 people found this answer helpful

    Does looking at my credit score on free services like Credit Karma affect my score?

    Credit Cards

    Good news! There is no penalty for checking one’s own score. In fact, you may check it as many times

    more »

    Good news! There is no penalty for checking one’s own score. In fact, you may check it as many times as you’d like within any time period and your score won’t be affected.


    There are two types of credit checks: soft inquiries and hard inquiries

    - Soft inquiries, or “soft pulls,” do not harm your credit score. A soft pull is triggered when you check your own credit through a credit bureau or through a monitoring service like myFICO or CreditKarma.  Employers use soft pulls during background checks. Credit card companies and mortgage lenders use soft pulls to pre-approve potential customers for financial products. Soft pulls occur frequently and often go unnoticed.

    - A hard pull, on the other hand, takes a bite out of your credit score. A hard pull occurs when you apply for a new loan, credit card, or apartment rental. The pull stays on record for a limited amount of time (up to a year or two) and adversely affects your credit score.


    A few credit cards companies now offer free credit scores to their customers. Our favorite cards that come with this feature are the Discover It (http://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/2012/discover-it-best-discover-do/) and the Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard (http://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/credit-cards/barclaycard-arrival-world-mastercard-review/).


    If you need help building your credit, check out our advice on http://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/credit-score/building-credit/.


    May 720+ scores be in your future!

    Was this a helpful answer?

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  • 7 out of 7 people found this answer helpful

    I applied for a Capital One secured card and was turned down.

    Credit Cards

    You might find it easier to qualify for a secured credit card if you already have an existing relationship

    more »

    You might find it easier to qualify for a secured credit card if you already have an existing relationship with a bank (such as a checking account). Alternatively, check out your local credit union as Andy suggested. Community development credit unions in particular are great for helping you rebuild credit.

    If you still can't get a secured card, don't worry -- you're not out of options! Just make sure the alternative to a secured card will extend a line of credit and report to credit bureaus (prepaid debit cards don't fit these criteria). All of the following options will help you rebuild credit:

    1) Secured share loan from a credit union. These are basically like secured credit cards. You deposit your money into a savings account, then borrow against that money. Since it’s no risk to the lender, you get a low interest rate, but it still helps build credit. Here are a few options:

    2) Credit builder loans from credit unions. These loans are meant for people looking to build up their credit, and usually range from $200-$1,000. Check your local credit union to see what’s offered.

    3) No credit check secured cards. This can be an expensive option if you want a secured credit card. The OpenSky Secured has no credit check, but still reports to the major credit bureaus. It has a $29 annual fee, and its interest rate is pretty high at 17.50%, so try not to carry a balance.

    Good luck!

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  • 8 out of 9 people found this answer helpful

    What credit card can I use that allows me to add an authorized user with a set spending limit?

    Credit Cards

    Excellent question! If you’re tired of feeling like the family ATM, American Express has you covered.

    more »

    Excellent question! If you’re tired of feeling like the family ATM, American Express has you covered.  They introduced spending limits for additional cards a few years ago. The feature is available to holders of the company’s charge cards, such as the Green, Gold, Platinum, and Centurion cards.  It’s worth pointing out that the folks at AmEx have also thought through the details:

    • all cardmembers have separate account numbers, so the entire account doesn't have to be closed in case of theft or loss of card,

    • all charges made on additional cards are listed separately, which makes household spending easier to manage,

    • cardmembers can sign up to receive emails or text messages to alert them when a set spending amount is being approached or has been reached on one of their additional cards, and

    • the primary cardmember can change the spending limit anytime, online or over the phone.

    Was this a helpful answer?

    Advisors offer free consultations to determine if you're a good fit for one another. Providing more information in the consultation request will help advisors have a better sense of what you're looking for. The advisor will contact you via email and set up a time to meet. Depending on the advisor, and your preferences, this could be an in-person or online meeting. You are under no obligation to engage them after meeting with them.
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  • 3 out of 4 people found this answer helpful

    I would like to find an EMV "chip & pin" credit card with no foreign transaction fee and no annual fee.

    Credit Cards

    The Andrews FCU GlobeTrek Visa Rewards has no annual or foreign transaction fees, making it one of the

    more »

    The Andrews FCU GlobeTrek Visa Rewards has no annual or foreign transaction fees, making it one of the best cards to use overseas. The rewards aren’t phenomenal – just one point per $1, and the redemption options are limited – but it sounds like it would be a great fit for your particular needs.  Anyone can join by becoming a member of the American Consumer Council. Check out the details here: https://www.andrewsfcu.org/credit_cards_and_loans/credit_cards/globetrek_rewards.html.

    The PenFed Promise card also offers all of the benefits you are looking for, but without a rewards program. It now comes in a chip-and-PIN version upon request. This card requires excellent credit, although it doesn't sound like that would be an issue for you. See our summary of rates and fees here: http://www.nerdwallet.com/card-details/card-name/PenFed-Promise.

    Happy travels!

    Was this a helpful answer?

    Advisors offer free consultations to determine if you're a good fit for one another. Providing more information in the consultation request will help advisors have a better sense of what you're looking for. The advisor will contact you via email and set up a time to meet. Depending on the advisor, and your preferences, this could be an in-person or online meeting. You are under no obligation to engage them after meeting with them.
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  • 2 out of 3 people found this answer helpful

    I want to find a credit card that I could do a balance transfer.

    Credit Cards

    This is a great question! A lot of balance transfer credit cards offer 0% introductory APR on balances

    more »

    This is a great question! A lot of balance transfer credit cards offer 0% introductory APR on balances and balance transfers, but charge a 3% balance transfer fee. The Chase Slate lets you have your cake and eat it too -- not only does it currently have a no balance transfer fee offer, but it also has 0% interest on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months.

    Check out our complete review of the Chase Slate here: http://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/top-credit-cards/no-balance-transfer-fee-credit-cards/.

    Was this a helpful answer?

    Advisors offer free consultations to determine if you're a good fit for one another. Providing more information in the consultation request will help advisors have a better sense of what you're looking for. The advisor will contact you via email and set up a time to meet. Depending on the advisor, and your preferences, this could be an in-person or online meeting. You are under no obligation to engage them after meeting with them.
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  • 2 out of 3 people found this answer helpful

    My mother recently entered an assisted living. We are going to put her house on the market but need credit until the house sells. Which zero percent card would be best? Which card offers the most months? Thank you

    Credit Cards

    You should check out the Simplicity card from Citibank: http://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/credit-cards/citi-simplicity-review/.

    more »

    You should check out the Simplicity card from Citibank: http://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/credit-cards/citi-simplicity-review/.  It offers an outstanding 18 months of 0% intro APR on balance transfers and purchases.  It also has no late or annual fees and no penalty APR, so even if your mother or you forget to make a payment on time one month, you won't get slammed with penalty charges.

    Best of luck!

    Was this a helpful answer?

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  • 1 out of 1 person found this answer helpful

    Which credit cards have Chip and Signature for international use?

    Credit Cards

    Be sure to check out our roundup of best chip-with-signature cards with an overview of adoption rates

    more »

    Be sure to check out our roundup of best chip-with-signature cards with an overview of adoption rates worldwide: http://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/top-credit-cards/nerdwallets-best-emv-chip-credit-cards/.


    If you're looking for a quick and easy pick, your best choice right now is probably the Chase Sapphire Preferred.  You can't go wrong with double points on travel & dining and a signing bonus worth just over $600 if you add an authorized user and redeem your points for travel booked through Chase.  See more about the card here: http://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/2013/news-chase-sapphire-preferred-card-emv-technology/.


    Enjoy your travels!

    Was this a helpful answer?

    Advisors offer free consultations to determine if you're a good fit for one another. Providing more information in the consultation request will help advisors have a better sense of what you're looking for. The advisor will contact you via email and set up a time to meet. Depending on the advisor, and your preferences, this could be an in-person or online meeting. You are under no obligation to engage them after meeting with them.
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  • 1 out of 2 person found this answer helpful

    What are some of the best cash back credit cards?

    Credit Cards

    You're definitely on the right track with the Capital One Quicksilver.  It’s a straightforward

    more »

    You're definitely on the right track with the Capital One Quicksilver.  It’s a straightforward no annual fee, no foreign transaction fee card. The only other no annual fee card that may work better for you would be the American Express Blue Cash.  While the Quicksilver gives you a flat 1.5% cash back rate, the Blue Cash gets you 3% back on up to $6k spent on groceries, unlimited 2% at gas stations and department stores, and 1% elsewhere.  Take a look at our review of the Quicksilver (featuring a more detailed description of how it stacks up against competitors, including the Blue Cash): http://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/credit-cards/capital-one-quicksilver-review/.

    In case you’re open to getting a card with an annual fee in exchange for better rewards, consider the American Express Blue Cash Preferred. It offers a back-door way to get a full 6% rewards on Amazon – and cash back, too. It’s one of the best cash back credit cards out there, earning a stellar 6% cash back on groceries (up to $6k spent annually), 3% on gas and department stores and 1% elsewhere, as well as a 100 Reward Dollars statement credit after you make $1,000 in purchases with your new Card in the first three months, plus one year of Amazon Prime after you sign up for a new membership with your Card and meet the spending requirement in the same time period. The key here is buying gift cards at the grocery store. Pick up an Amazon gift card at your local Safeway or Stop’n'Shop, and you’ll earn the full 6% that you’d get at the checkout line. That’s double what the Amazon card gets you. Plus, you can extend the Amazon gift card method to Starbucks, Macy’s or whatever gift cards you can find to earn 6% back there as well. Still not convinced?  Keep in mind that just $25 spent on groceries every week will be enough to offset the $75 annual fee.  See our detailed overview of the Blue Cash Preferred here: http://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/credit-cards/american-express-blue-cash-review/.

    Was this a helpful answer?

    Advisors offer free consultations to determine if you're a good fit for one another. Providing more information in the consultation request will help advisors have a better sense of what you're looking for. The advisor will contact you via email and set up a time to meet. Depending on the advisor, and your preferences, this could be an in-person or online meeting. You are under no obligation to engage them after meeting with them.
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  • 0 out of 0 people found this answer helpful

    What is the best credit card for travel? I spend at least 3000 a month on hotels, cars, gas and what not.

    Credit Cards

    Given the amount you spend on travel each month, you should look for a high rewards rate card with a

    more »

    Given the amount you spend on travel each month, you should look for a high rewards rate card with a reasonable annual fee.


    Best option for flexible travel rewards:

    The Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard earns a rate of 2.2% if you redeem your miles as a statement credit against travel purchases. It also comes with a signing bonus of 40,000 miles, which amounts to about $440 worth of travel rewards since you get 10% miles back when you redeem for travel. There are no mileage caps or foreign transaction fees. Keep in mind that the “miles” are simply used to offset travel expenses at a rate of 100 miles to $1 -- they have nothing to do with airline frequent flier miles. Check out our comprehensive review of the card here: http://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/credit-cards/barclaycard-arrival-world-mastercard-review/.


    Best option for domestic hotel stays:

    With a rate of 2.3%, the Starwood American Express offers the highest rewards rate in the travel category. The rewards rate gets even better if you earn elite status and if you mostly stay at the Starwood hotels. Keep in mind that you’ll only receive the full estimated 2.3-cent value if you redeem for hotel stays. The card currently offers an excellent signing bonus worth $575.  This card unfortunately has a foreign transaction fee of 2.7%, which makes it less than ideal for international travel. Find out more here: http://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/credit-cards/starwood-american-express-review/.


    Best option for international travel:

    With a chip-and-signature option, double points on travel and dining, and a signing bonus worth just over $600 if you add an authorized user and redeem your points for travel booked through Chase, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a clear winner for international travelers. In addition, the chip version of the card, just like the original, is made of metal and may just be the nicest looking credit card out there. See all the details here:http://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/2013/news-chase-sapphire-preferred-card-emv-technology/.

    Was this a helpful answer?

    Advisors offer free consultations to determine if you're a good fit for one another. Providing more information in the consultation request will help advisors have a better sense of what you're looking for. The advisor will contact you via email and set up a time to meet. Depending on the advisor, and your preferences, this could be an in-person or online meeting. You are under no obligation to engage them after meeting with them.
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  • 0 out of 0 people found this answer helpful

    Can you recommend a credit card for our 21 year old college student traveling to Rome for 6 months?

    Credit Cards

    This is a great question that highlights an issue a lot of travelers face.  Your daughter should

    more »

    This is a great question that highlights an issue a lot of travelers face.  Your daughter should ideally get both a debit card and a credit card for international travel.

    Using a credit card at the ATM is a risky proposition that should only be used in emergencies. If she gets cash with a credit card, she'll have to pay a cash advance fee (usually 5%, more than the standard foreign transaction fee), and unlike with regular purchases, she won’t have a month or so to pay off her balance before she's charged interest. Instead, she'll start accruing interest the day she takes the money out, and the APR can sometimes be higher than that for purchases. I strongly recommend that you get your daughter a debit card that has no international ATM fees, or one with no foreign transaction fees. The Capital One 360 account is the best deal currently on the market: http://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/banking/debit-card-foreign-transaction-international-atm-fees/.

    As for the credit card, you should look for one with no foreign transaction fees and chip-and-signature technology if possible:

    - If you are willing to apply for a card yourself and add your daughter as an authorized user, you can’t do better than the Chase Sapphire Preferred. This card comes with chip-and-signature technology, double points on travel & dining, and a signing bonus worth just over $600 if you add an authorized user and redeem your points for travel booked through Chase. The annual fee is waived for the first year, and you can always cancel or downgrade to the no-fee version after the promotional period is over. See more about the card here: http://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/2013/news-chase-sapphire-preferred-card-emv-technology/.

    - If your daughter will apply for a card on her own without much of a credit history to her name, you may want to consider the Capital One Journey: http://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/credit-cards/capital-journey-student-review/.  It’s doesn't have a chip, but it's designed to help students build good credit with responsible use, and it has no annual or foreign transaction fees.

    Buon viaggio!

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jelena@nerdwallet.com
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