Hollywood Writers Back to Work

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Hollywood’s writer’s block is over. This week the Writer’s Guild of America union members returned to typing out television and movie scripts. Hit shows including Heroes (NBC) CSI: NY (CBS) resumed production as did stalled movie projects such as “Angels & Demons,” the sequel to “The Da Vinci Code,” starring Tom Hanks.

“I think it was an amazingly well-run strike up and down the line,” says Joe Toplyn, a writer for Monk (USA). “We got a very good contract.” That contract is important because the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation estimates writers and production workers lost $772 million during the three-month work stoppage.

Now with paychecks on the way, the art of spending can make its triumphant (yet sensible) return to Tinseltown. Prudent strikers who cut up their VISA and MasterCards (MA) can now get new cards. In light of the recent interest rates cuts, finding the perfect plastic requires doing your homework. “Don’t take the first offer you receive in the mail,” says Dave Fernandes, a financial planner in Scottsdale, Arizona. Instead, begin by checking your credit score, says Emily Davidson at Credit.com. It’s not your income the credit card companies care so much about so much as your credit history.

“A good score is 700 and above which qualifies you for American Express (AXP) and Discover – premium cards,” says Davidson. “A score between 600 and 700 is going to leave you more cautious as there are a lot more traps for you in the cards you qualify for.” And low scorers of less than 600 should get a secured card, she says. These are alternatives to the expensive sub prime unsecured cards. “An unsecured card takes a big risk for the bank so you pay more fees and interest rates.” Good secured cards include Orchard Bank and New Millennium which are good for rebuilding your credit, says Davidson. Unsecured sub prime cards to avoid include Total Visa and Access Visa, according to Davidson.

Go online to compare annual percentage rates. But don’t stop your search at APR and annual fees, says Davidson. Investigate for embedded and miscellaneous fees. Card companies don’t make the charges obvious, says Davidson. “Look at ATM fees, late fees and over limit fees,” says Davidson. “Sometimes there are application fees separate from annual fees. Something that looks very affordable up front can actually be quite expensive once you dive into those fees.”

And once you get your card and begin charging, be on the look out for identity fraud. “Save your receipts and verify all of your charges at the end of each month on your credit card statement,” says Fernandes. “Identity theft is rampant. Notify the credit card company immediately if you find a charge that you did not authorize.”

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