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Personal finance tips: Beware of cards bearing gifts, and more

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Beware of cards bearing gifts

If you’ve been receiving a flood of credit-card offers, you aren’t alone, said Kara McGuire at the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Credit experts say card offers “are hitting the mailbox at rates not seen in a long while.” Since fewer Americans carry a credit-card balance these days, lenders are trying to make up lost profits by netting new customers and encouraging existing ones to use their cards more often. The offers are often tempting, including 0 percent balance transfers, waived annual fees, and thousands of free frequent-flier miles. “But there’s usually a catch.” If you get an offer that seems too good to pass up, read “every last bit of fine print.” Take stock of your financial situation, too, and make sure you aren’t “missing any terms or conditions that would cost” you in the long run.

Rules for smart renters

 Before signing a lease, take care “to avoid common and costly renter’s errors,” said A.J. Smith at Credit.com. The most important — and obvious — thing to do is to read the lease. “Bring up any issues you have with the document” before you sign, and make sure you fully understand any fees and requirements. That includes policies covering security deposits, utilities, neighbor disputes, pets, and roommates. Next, consider renter’s insurance, which will protect your personal property and cover you from liability if anyone gets hurt in your new place. Finally, “it’s a good idea to take photos or videos documenting the apartment’s condition and note any pre-existing damage” before you move in. Your security deposit will thank you.

Help choosing disability insurance

If your company has ditched long-term disability insurance, don’t despair, said Ron Lieber at The New York Times. Many employers are lowering their disability-insurance payouts or leaving workers to find their own coverage. The insurance replaces some fraction of your income in the event an illness or injury prevents you from working; premiums tend to run roughly 1 to 3 percent of your annual salary. But few people give the coverage much thought, and deciding on a policy can be tough. Luckily, you can see whether disability insurance is a smart purchase for you with the help of a site called PolicyGenius.com, which aims to eliminate consumers’ confusion with an online “insurance checkup” tool that can provide quotes and clear comparisons for different types of coverage and policies.

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