From The Tips Box: Credit Card Payments, Memorising Passwords

From The Tips Box: Credit Card Payments, Memorising Passwords

Readers offer their best tips for escaping late fees on your credit cards, jumping on the bus you just missed, and getting rid of old CDs.

Every day we receive boatloads of great reader tips in our inbox, but for various reasons — maybe they’re a bit too niche, maybe we couldn’t find a good way to present it, or maybe we just couldn’t fit it in — the tip didn’t make the front page. From the Tips Box is where we round up some of our favourites for your buffet-style consumption. Got a tip of your own to share? Email it to tips at

Avoid Credit Card Late Fees with a Phone Call


Photo by Jason Rogers.

Standardtune shares a tip that could save you a bit of cash:

Most people (that I’ve talked with anyway) don’t think about it, but calling your credit card company to ask for forgiveness if you’ve missed a payment is usually successful. As long as it’s not a frequent occurrence and you have a good record of paying stuff on time, most companies will waive the late fee and unmark your account as being overdue so you’re not penalised with crazy interest rates.

I know most credit card companies are known for being “evil,” but the customer service reps can and will help you out if you just ask.

Donate Old CDs to the Local Library Instead of Tossing Them


Photo by Matt Galman.

Sean gives us another repository for the old CDs cluttering up your house:

I’m moving residences this month and found an old box of around 100 music CDs while packing. Since I’ve digitized any of the CDs I want to keep and don’t use a CD player anymore, I wanted to find a spot to unload them in one shot. My local library accepted all of them as a donation, and anything they don’t add to their catalogue they will sell at their yearly book sale, with all the proceeds going back into the library.

Help Kids Memorise Info with Usernames and Passwords


Photo by David Rappaport.

Melanie Shelton tells us how she helps her child gradually learn new things:

I wanted my young son to memorize some basic info — spelling of name, address, phone number. He has his own log in on Windows Vista, so I set the information I want to memorize as the password. For example, when I wanted Liam to learn to spell his name, his password was liam, and the password hint was liam. I also had LIAM written on a index card where he could see it (upper case so it would match the keyboard). I didn’t want to quiz him — I just wanted him to think about and type the letters several times a day. It worked, and I’ve been using it for the last two years.


  • Sorry to be a spoilsport but it’s actually illegal to digitize (copy) your CDs and then give the originals away. If you give them away legally you need to delete the copies you’ve made of them.

      • Jon is right. You own the rights to the music because you own the CD. There’s a legal and a moral imperative here, and if you get rid of the CD you are also responsible for deleting any digital copies.

        Any comment about “ridiculous copyright laws” in this context is also ignoring basic morality – it’s a bit like selling a car but also demanding the right to continue to drive it.

        • I am under the impression that you do not own music that you buy, you just own a license to listen to it. He gave away the physical CD’s, not the license. It is not his fault if someone listens to them without a license.

          • Hey Matt, If nobody cares about an artists right to derive income from their creative works, maybe you might like to propose a better model for how they should make a living?
            Should we could lock them in a room and make them slaves to the people…. churning out their wares in return for a few scraps of food?
            I would love to hear your ideas, especially how we could force artists to volunteer to trade their souls in return for no reward!

          • There have been a few proposed models with varying levels of feasability.
            – funding coming from a benefactor, or a sugar daddy if you will, just like in the good ole renaissance days
            – Having a different source of funding such as director Francis Coppola and his winery.

            Also, are you perhaps morally opposed to the concept of the library given that unless I’m mistaken, authours don’t receive any extra proceeds from library loaned books? Or how about if none of the mp3s were kept but the CDs were sold to somrone else?

  • Making passwords some kind of study aid isn’t just for kids – I’ve been learning a second language and I’ll use a tough to spell word in that language as my password (along with the numbers and special characters etc).
    It’s handy when after a little while you’re 100% on it’s spelling (and hopefully meaning!) you just change your password to another challenging word and begin again.

  • The car analogy doesn’t work I’m afraid, because you can’t make a copy (clone) of your car the same way you can with music.

    I think the morality comes into it like this: if you paid for the music, have had it for quite some time, and then you give it to a public institution like a library, that’s actually a bit of community service and is going to make negligible difference to the income gained by the artist and label.

    If on the other hand you make copies of a new release for all your friends and seed a torrent of it on the internet, then you’re being immoral and are giving the artist/label a punch in the face.

    Just because the law is as it is, it doesn’t mean it’s exactly right or reasonable. In line with this, there is a push worldwide now to change some copyright laws and there will no doubt be more in the future.

    Since morality is largely arbitrary (apart from a few obvious things like not murdering people), what is morally “right” is probably what the majority of the population feel is “right”, and this may OR may not be the same as what record labels think is “right” when their primary interest is making a profit.

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