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7 Ways to Build Your Credit Score Without a Credit Card

Unless you have a ton of cash at your disposal, you’ll probably need credit at some point in your life. Whether you’re buying a home, car or big-ticket luxury item, the first thing that most lenders typically look at is your credit score.

If you have limited or no credit history, you’ll need to begin building your credit and boost your score before you apply for a major loan. Unfortunately, many believe that opening and using a credit card is the only way to go.

Here are a few alternatives to help raise your credit scores without the magic plastic:

1. Ask companies to report on your behalf

Do you have any recurring bills that you pay on a monthly basis, such as rent, utilities, cable or a cellphone? Try giving the providers a call and request that they report your account activity to the three major credit bureaus, TransUnion, Experian and Equifax.

Do this only if you have responsible payment habits, as payment history accounts for 35 percent of your credit scores and can have a significant impact if there is not a lot of other data in your credit reports.

Also, bear in mind that these companies are not obligated to report to the bureaus, and your request is simply a favor that they have the right to deny.

2. Become an authorized user on another credit card

Of course, there are pros and cons to becoming an authorized user. If the cardholder has a strong credit background, two thumbs up for you because signing on as an authorized user will enable their stellar behavior to improve your credit profile somewhat (perhaps not as much as you think). But, if things are the other way around, your credit scores could take a hit.

Either way, if you opt in and have a change of heart, the information will quickly vanish from your credit file when you request to be removed from the account.

3. Open an account with a credit union and take out a small personal loan

Some credit unions have restricted membership and limited accessibility, but credit unions generally offer financing options at lower interest rates than traditional banks. To give your credit score a boost, apply for a small personal loan.

If your request is denied, inquire about a secured loan in which your money, say, a certificate of deposit or savings account, will be used as collateral. The request will more than likely be approved because the risk to the institution is minimal. And you may have to pay a tad bit of interest, but the rate usually beats what’s available in the credit card world.

4. Apply for an installment loan

Installment loans paid in a timely manner over an extended period of time build your credit scores because they show creditors that you are a responsible borrower. The types of credit in your file make up only 10 percent of your score, but the impact has the potential to be greater if the information in your credit reports is limited.

Retailers sometimes offer promotional installment loans to customers with little to no introductory interest for a limited period of time. If you have the cash on hand, it may not be a bad idea to take this route. But be sure that you have the total sum of cash available upfront to make timely payments and eliminate the balance before the interest kicks in.

5. If you’re a student, take out a federal student loan

A credit check is not required to obtain a federal student loan. All you need to do is fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and you’re all set. Since it is an installment loan, it can help boost your credit score.

But don’t get the loan and blow through the money. Instead, aim for one that is subsidized and deposit the money into a safe interest-bearing account so the funds will be available when repayment starts.

6. Research peer-to-peer loans

Companies such as Prosper and Lending Club offer peer-to-peer loans in an environment where borrowers are connected with individual investors. The interest rates are usually lower than those of traditional financial institutions. And the lenders are eager to loan unsecured funds because the return they derive is competitive with other investments. (See “4 Things to Know About Peer Lending.”)

Most of the peer-to-peer lenders report to the major credit bureaus.

7. Try an alternative credit score

By reporting your payment history to an alternative to the big three credit bureaus, you can create a nontraditional credit score. Check out a service like Payment Reporting Builds Credit, known as PRBC, to learn more about how an alternative credit score service works.

Do you know of any other ways to improve your credit score without using a credit card? Feel free to share it in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

For more tips on raising your score, watch this video by finance expert Stacy Johnson:

Watch the video of ‘7 Ways to Build Your Credit Score Without a Credit Card’ on

This article was originally published on as ‘7 Ways to Build Your Credit Score Without a Credit Card’.

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Ruben Diaz Jr. slips Carl Heastie cash at Sharpton event

Carl Heastie’s new job as ­Assembly speaker is already paying off.

At the end of a meeting of the National Action Network in Harlem on Saturday in which Heastie waxed poetic about renewed focus on Albany ethics — and as the Rev. Al Sharpton pressed his high-profile guests for donations — Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. slipped Heastie a wad of cash.

But it wasn’t your typical Albany payoff. It was just Diaz trying to save his fellow Dem from looking ungenerous.

The two pols were seated next to each other on stage when Sharpton, as he usually does after his Saturday speeches, called out for handouts like an auctioneer.

As people began tossing money into a wicker collection basket in front of the stage, the new speaker seemed to come up empty-handed.

At that point, Diaz divided the bills he had clumped in his own fist, discreetly handing half of the cash to his pal.

Diaz wouldn’t disclose the amount of the impromptu loan — the bills looked likely mostly ones and fives — but it seemed like he might forgive the debt.

Sharpton (left) gives Heastie a hug at the Nation Action Network in Harlem.Photo: R. Umar Abbasi

Asked if Heastie would be repaying him, Diaz chirped: “He doesn’t have to. He’s a great guy! Everybody knows who he is so he’s good for it.”

Fortunately for Heastie, an accountant by trade, he won’t have to list the loan on his annual financial -disclosure forms since it was likely smaller than $1,000.

One thing that is known about the donation is it’s going to a non-profit that, according to 2013 records, is saddled with more than $800,000 in unpaid taxes and led by a preacher who owes $3.77 million in federal and state taxes.

The payoff came the same morning Heastie was making his first public address since he was sworn in Tuesday as speaker, following the ouster of Sheldon Silver, who has been indicted by the feds on bribery charges.

It also came as he trumpeted a panel he formed to hire an Albany ethics watchdog.

A group of six Assembly members will lead a national search for an executive director of the new Office of Ethics and Compliance, according to Heastie.

The panel includes Republican Assemblywoman Janet Duprey. Duprey was the subject of an ethics complaint last election when her opponent accused her of bullying rival supporters.

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Student overdoses after payday loan


8 December 2014 Last updated at 15:06

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Delicious Digg Facebook reddit StumbleUpon Email Print Mitch Lewis alerted his friends on Facebook after taking the pills

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A student struggling for cash overdosed on slimming pills after taking out a payday loan which saw a £100 debt shoot up to £800 in just three months, an inquest has heard.

Physics undergraduate Courtney Mitchell Lewis, 21, from Aberdare, Rhondda Cynon Taf, took 17 tablets.

He alerted friends on Facebook but died in hospital, the Swansea hearing heard.

The coroner said Mr Lewis made “a cry for help” and recorded a verdict of misadventure.

Mr Lewis, known as Mitch, had been working as a barman while studying at Swansea University.

But he decided to use a payday loan company to borrow £100.

However, the loan debt rapidly increased to £800 within three months.

The company offering the payday loan was not identified at the inquest but it is understood it was investigated by police and found to be operating legally.

In May last year, following a night out with friends, Mr Lewis took Dinitrophenol (DNP), which he had bought to lose weight, at his flat in Swansea.

He later posted a message to friends on Facebook saying: “I don’t want to die, I think it is too late.”

His friends called the emergency services and he was taken to A&E, but later died.


DNP is deemed as unfit for human consumption and illegal for use in food but are used by bodybuilders and people trying to lose weight.

Colin Phillips, acting senior Swansea coroner, said: “Mitch was a loving and caring individual who was facing a number of personal problems.”

He added: “Mitch took 17 tablets as a cry for help, but despite alerting friends who took him to hospital he died of DNP toxicity.”

Mr Lewis was described as “the man who always smiled” by his friends.

Former students’ union president Luke James said: “His friendliness made it a better place to be every day.”


Payday loan adverts could be banned on television before 9pm …

Payday loan commercials could be banned from TV before the 9pm watershed, under proposals being considered by the UK advertising regulator.

The Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (Bcap), the body responsible for writing the rules for TV ads, is already looking at the content of payday loan commercials.

The government has now asked Bcap to extend the scope of its review to look at the scheduling of payday loans ads and a potential pre-watershed ban.

This extension of the investigation was revealed by Baroness Jolly, a Liberal Democrat peer, in a session in the Lords discussing the report stage of the consumer rights bill on Wednesday.

“Treasury ministers have asked Bcap to broaden the remit of its review to ensure that it also considers the appropriateness of its scheduling rules, as well as those around content,” she said. “Treasury ministers are writing to Bcap formally to set out this request. Bcap has agreed to this and will expand its review with a view to publication of its findings, in full, in the new year.”

The extension of the review will push back publication deadline of Bcap’s investigation into payday loan ads, which began in June and was due imminently.

The Advertising Standards Authority said it has banned 25 payday loan ads since April 2013.

The existing advertising code already prohibits payday loan ads from encouraging under 18s to either take out a loan or pester others to do so for them. The rules also require that ads must be socially responsible.

According to research by the media regulator Ofcom children on average see around 1.3 payday loan ads on television per week, out of around 17 hours of weekly TV viewing.

Payday loans ads comprised a relatively small 0.6% of TV ads seen by children aged four to fifteen, according to Ofcom.

The Consumer Finance Association, which represents payday lenders making up 60% of the multibillion pound a year UK industry, and Wonga have explicit policies not to advertise on children’s TV.

“We are pleased to see the government recognise that this is a problem,” said Joanna Elson, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs the National Debtline.

“On the debt advice frontline we have become increasingly concerned that high cost credit is in danger of becoming normalised amongst young people. Restrictions on payday loan advertising before the watershed, on the same basis as those already in place for gambling and alcohol, would be a very welcome step.”

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This Startup Will Give You a Loan — But There's a Twist

When the opportunity to buy an established hair salon fell into Hayley Groll’s lap in June, she quickly took stock of her financing options.

The veteran hairstylist was not approved by the online lender she initially contacted. Then she found Austin-based Able, which bills itself as a “collaborative lender.”

Within three weeks, Groll had a three-year, $105,000 loan, enough to buy Shag Salon and renew its 1,850-square-foot commercial lease for a decade. Even better was her interest rate of 9 percent.

The brainchild of Harvard MBAs Will Davis and Evan Baehr, Able offers business owners one- to three-year loans of $25,000 to $250,000 at 8 to 16 percent interest—but with a twist: Borrowers must raise the first 25 percent of the sum from friends and family.

“What we’re really doing is trying to find the people who are being missed by traditional banks and even nontraditional online lenders,” Davis says.

Able conducted a beta test prior to its official launch in June, tweaking the terms and procedures with each loan. The online lender has so far made 50 loans ranging from $5,000 to $150,000, mostly in the Austin area, but has received nearly $40 million in loan requests from ’treps nationwide. The plan, Davis says, is for the 14-person startup to begin financing some of those by year’s end.

How it works

To qualify for a loan, businesses must be at least 6 months old. Davis wouldn’t stipulate revenue requirements but says Able’s borrowers to date make $1 million or less annually.

After a business owner fills out an online application, Able uses its proprietary technology to assess the company’s bank accounts, cash flow and credit history—pretty standard stuff. What’s new is that Able’s algorithm also looks at a company’s social media following and reviews via Yelp, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Davis wouldn’t reveal how a business’s online footprint is weighted or what metrics help or hinder an applicant, but he claims that Able receives a more complete picture of a company’s creditworthiness than any bank can acquire.

“This is really innovative,” says Charles Green, managing director of the Small Business Finance Institute, a resource site for commercial lenders. “You talk to a commercial banker about Facebook, and they don’t even know what it is, except that their daughter has an account.”

Finding backers

Once Able gives the green light, borrowers need to line up at least three backers (friends, relatives, mentors, colleagues or customers) to collectively kick in 25 percent of the approved loan. Backers must contribute at least $1,000 each, and family cannot contribute more than half of the 25 percent. Hairstylist Groll received $30,000 in all from five backers, including three long-standing clients. (Able’s software automatically confirms that backers and borrowers are indeed acquainted.)

Depending how fast the borrower lines up backers, funding can arrive within two weeks of applying, “much quicker than traditional bank financing,” Davis says.

What it costs

In addition to APR rates, Able charges a loan origination fee of 3 percent, but there are no early-repayment or other fees. Borrowers choose whether they wish to repay the loan in one, two or three years, and Able’s platform handles repaying the backers directly.

While Able dictates the APR of its 75 percent loan contribution, the individual backers providing the other 25 percent are free to choose their own interest rates. Able takes their terms and blends everyone’s interest rates into one composite rate.

“In some cases,” Davis says, “some of the backers come in with a lower APR rate that reduces the overall interest rate of the loan itself.”

LoansFinance […]

Payday loan charges cap announced


BBC News – Payday loan charges cap announced by FCA

FCA’s Martin Wheatley: It “may be the case” there will be no High Street payday lenders in a year’s time

“For most of the borrowers who do pay back their loans on time, the cap on fees and charges represents substantial protections,” he added.

The price cap plan – which includes both interest and fees – remains unchanged from proposals the regulator published in July.

‘Tighter checks’

The confirmed measures will see:

Initial cap of 0.8% a day in interest charges. Someone who takes out a loan of £100 over 30 days, and pays back on time, will therefore pay no more than £24 in interest A cap of £15 on the one-off default fee. Borrowers who fail to pay back on time can be charged a maximum of £15, plus a maximum of 0.8% a day in interest and fees Total cost cap of 100%. If a borrower defaults, the interest on the debt will build up, but he or she will never have to pay back more than twice the amount they borrowed

Russell Hamblin-Boone, chief executive of the Consumer Finance Association, said the payday loans industry had already put in place higher standards of conduct.

“We’ve restricted, for example, extending loans, rolling over loans, [and] we’ve got tighter checks on people before we approve loans,” he told BBC Radio Four’s Today programme.

“This [cap], if you like, is the cherry on a rather heavily-iced cake,” he said.

The £2.8bn industry was expected to shrink as a consequence of the cap, which could make people vulnerable to loan sharks, he added.

“We’ll inevitably see fewer people getting fewer loans from fewer lenders,” Mr Hamblin-Boone said. “The fact is, the demand is not going to go away. What we need to do is make sure we have an alternative, and that we’re catching people, and that they’re not going to illegal lenders.”

Zoe Conway, Reporter, BBC Radio 4 Today: The view from Byker, Newcastle

In the High Street in Byker, there are pawn shops, and brightly coloured Money Shops and Cash Converters. It does not take long to meet someone struggling with debt.

Kevin, behind on a loan from a doorstep lender, says people have very few options. “I’ve actually been approached in the street,” he says. “It was one of those ‘legs broke if you don’t pay’ sort of things.”

There is concern in this community that if it gets harder for people to access payday loans, the loan sharks will take over. That is certainly the view at the Byker Moneywise Credit Union. They offer payday loans at much lower rates but few people locally know about them and, admits manager Christine Callaghan, the Union is not big enough to meet the demand for short-term loans.

At The Big Grill, the owner, John, is making bacon sandwiches. He is worried that people may have to resort to stealing to make ends meet. “They’ll turn to crime to get what they want especially for their kids,” he says.

It is a view shared by resident Alison who thinks the government needs to step in to give people more options and better places to turn to.

Responsible lending

Mr Wheatley, of the FCA, said that the regulator’s research had shown that 70,000 people who were able to secure a payday loan now would not be able to do so under the new, stricter rules. They represent about 7% of current borrowers.

However, he disputed the industry’s view that many of these people would be driven into the arms of illegal loan sharks. He said most would do without getting a loan, some would turn to their families or employers for help, and only 2% would go to loan sharks.

He added that he wanted to see a responsible, mature industry for short-term loans.

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “People who are in a position to borrow need a responsible short-term credit market. A vital part of this is greater choice. High Street banks should seize the opportunity to meet demand and offer their customers a better alternative to payday loans.

“The FCA should monitor the cap, including whether it is set at the right level, to make sure it is working for consumers. They must also keep a close eye on whether lenders are sticking to the rules.”

Earlier this year, the government legislated to require the FCA to introduce a cap on the cost of payday loans. Chancellor George Osborne said the decision would “make sure some of the absolutely outrageous fees and unacceptable practices are dealt with”.

Meanwhile, Cathy Jamieson, Labour’s shadow financial secretary to the Treasury, said she was glad that action was being taken.

“However, we believe these changes will need to be regularly monitored to ensure they are effective. That is why we want to see a review by the end of 2015 – much earlier than is currently being recommended by the FCA,” she said.

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0 Percent Car Financing Could Save You Thousands


It’s car-buying season and if you read this column often, you know that when it comes to vehicles, I’m a fan of buying used and paying cash. But I’m also a realist. I know many of you are fans of buying new and taking out a loan. Here’s how you can save even if you disagree with my approach: 0 percent financing.

Shoppers Have a New Way to Save Money at WalmartHow to Get Half a Million More From Uncle Sam for Your Retirement

As a consumer reporter, I was skeptical of free auto financing, at first. After all in other businesses “0 Percent Interest!” is a come-on with potentially dangerous consequences. Take the furniture industry. Typically, if you sign up for zero percent interest on furniture, you have a year to pay off the loan in full. If you don’t, then not only are you charged interest, the interest is retroactive to the date of your purchase. Ugh. I’m happy to say that is not the case in the auto industry.

Zero percent loans are a good deal for car dealers, because cars are such a huge purchase that it’s a way to get people to buy. And they’re a good deal for customers because they can save you money, according to auto website

“I think people don’t realize how much you save by getting a lower interest rate,” said Edmunds Senior Consumer Advice Editor Philip Reed. “If people took the time to calculate it they would be stunned by how much they’re paying in interest and that’s money that’s lost forever.”

Actually, you don’t have to calculate it yourself. A new analysis by Edmunds says a zero percent loan can save you as much as $3,554 compared with a typical auto financing deal! To give you an idea, the website did the math using a $28,000 loan at 4.31 percent for 67 months.

Understanding the potential savings means you should actually factor zero percent financing into your car shopping. If you’re trying to choose between two different makes and models, perhaps you can break the tie by going with the one that has a free financing deal. Edmunds lists these deals on the Incentives and Rebates page of its site.

A few things to know:

•Free financing is only offered to people with tip-top credit.

•Most zero loans are shorter, like three years long.

•Incentives such as zero percent financing are often regional. Be sure to plug your zip code into Edmunds to find the offers for your area.

•Zero percent financing is most common for vans, followed by non-luxury cars and non-luxury SUVs.

And one final warning from your humble columnist who’d rather see you buy used and pay cash: don’t let a zero percent financing deal lure you into buying a more expensive car than you can really afford. And keep that car as long as you can stand it to save the most money of all.

Opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author.

Elisabeth Leamy is a 20-year consumer advocate for programs such as “Good Morning America” and “The Dr. Oz Show.” She is the author of Save BIG and The Savvy Consumer. Elisabeth is also a professional speaker, delivering talks nationwide on saving money, media relations, and career success. Elisabeth receives her best story tips from readers, so please connect with her via Facebook, Twitter or her website, to share your ideas.


Mortgage Experts at Network Capital Funding Renews Sponsorship of The Mortgage Radio Show

IRVINE, CA–(Marketwired – Oct 28, 2014) – Network Capital Funding, an award-winning national full-service leader in mortgage lending, is proud to continue its ongoing sponsorship of “The Mortgage Radio Show.” Launched in 2009, “The Mortgage Radio Show” is a popular podcast that delivers useful updates on mortgage rates, negotiating terms, working through the loan process, and other helpful information. Whether the topic is purchasing a first home, refinancing for a lower payment/term, or pulling cash from home equity, “The Mortgage Radio Show” provides experienced, professional advice. Co-hosts of the show include Emmy-winning writer and well-known radio personality Teresa Strasser and mortgage expert Sean Meador. Strasser’s credits include co-host on “The Adam Carolla Show,” “Win Ben Stein’s Money,” and TLC’s “While You Were Out.” Sean Meador, with over ten years’ experience, has become one of the top performing producers in the mortgage industry. He advises listeners on the mortgage loan process, loan programs, and credit qualifications, such as first and second mortgages, as well as numerous government programs. He loves the close relationships he develops with clients while helping them to save money and accomplish their mortgage goals.

With mortgage rates at their lowest in over 50 years, anyone who owns a home or is looking to buy one is the prime audience for “The Mortgage Radio Show.” Everyone should have the opportunity to take advantage of low rates and the radio show offers great advice on how one, regardless of lifestyle or living situation, might improve his or her financial outlook.

Finding a mortgage is often stressful and time-consuming notwithstanding whether the borrower is a first-time homebuyer or a seasoned veteran. Founded in 2002, Irvine-based Network Capital Funding works to make the process simpler for each and every one of their clients. They were recently honored by making Inc. Magazine’s 2014 list for the “Fastest-Growing Companies in the U.S.” — their fourth year in a row, which have seen over 1,027% growth for the Irvine-based company. Other recognitions have included being named one of “The Best Places to Work,” 2012 – 2014, by the Best Companies Group and the Orange County Business Journal. The company enjoys an overall 98% customer satisfaction rate.

Network Capital Funding works to make homes affordable by eliminating lender fees, upfront application fees, rate lock-in fees, and offers some of the lowest rates available on the market. Working as a direct lender, they have taken the middleman out of the loan granting equation and by fully underwriting a file, the company can offer a “Same as Cash” pre-approval process which allows a buyer to compete with cash offers. They can often close within as little as seven days rather than the typical 30-45 days of escrow. Loan options include $0 down payment for a VA Loan; 3.5% down payment for an FHA Loan; and 5% down payment for a Conventional Loan.

Network Capital Funding Blog:



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ACE Cash Express Joins the Green Dot Reload Network, Adding 1,500 Locations


ACE Cash Express, Inc. (ACE) and Green Dot Corporation (GDOT) have signed a distribution agreement, making ACE an authorized retailer for the Green Dot Reload Network. Beginning this month, any cardholder with a Green Dot Network-enabled prepaid card can now reload cash to their card at any of ACE’s 1,500 locations in 35 states and the District of Columbia. Additionally, in 2015, Green Dot will begin selling other Green Dot-branded products at ACE locations.

Green Dot owns and operates the nation’s largest reload network. More than 200 programs representing millions of cardholders utilize Green Dot’s network for reload services through approximately 100,000 retail locations nationwide. Green Dot’s recent expansion into leading financial services center (FSC) retailers throughout the U.S. has met with strong retailer and consumer demand. In just the past twelve months, Green Dot has gone from no distribution in this important customer channel to now, with the addition of ACE, nearly 3,000 FSC locations coast to coast selling its products and services.

About ACE Cash Express

ACE Cash Express, Inc. is a leading retailer of financial services, including payday loans, installment loans, title loans, check cashing, bill payment, wire transfer, money orders and prepaid debit card services. ACE is the largest owner and operator of check cashing stores in the United States and the second largest owner and operator of short-term consumer loan stores in the United States. ACE focuses on serving consumers, many of whom seek alternatives to traditional banking relationships in order to gain convenient and immediate access to financial services. For additional information about ACE Cash Express, visit

ACE Cash Express on Twitter and ACE Cash Express on Facebook

About Green Dot Corporation

Green Dot Corporation and its wholly owned subsidiary bank, Green Dot Bank, are focused exclusively on serving Low and Moderate Income American families with modern, fair and feature-rich financial products and services, including prepaid cards, checking accounts and cash processing services distributed through a network of some 100,000 retail stores, neighborhood financial service centers and via digital channels. The Company is headquartered in Pasadena, California with Green Dot Bank located in Provo, Utah.

Green Dot Corporation Contact:

Investor Relations

Green Dot Corporation

Christopher Mammone, 626-765-2427


Media Relations

ICR for Green Dot Corporation

Brian Ruby, 203-682-8268


ACE Cash Express

Victoria Daugherty, 972-550-5161

Communication Manager […]

Do US presidents carry cash?


18 October 2014 Last updated at 00:33

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President Barack Obama’s credit card was rejected in a restaurant. How often do US heads of state spend their own money, asks Jon Kelly.

It’s commonly said the Queen doesn’t carry cash. It seems her American counterpart doesn’t get his wallet out too much either. Barack Obama told an audience that his credit card was rejected in a New York restaurant last month: “It turned out, I guess, I don’t use it enough.” During his term in office, Bill Clinton once had his credit card rejected too.

In the 1995 film The American President, Michael Douglas’s commander-in-chief attempts to buy flowers but is told his cards are “in storage with the rest of your private things”. It’s a similar situation for real-life White House occupants, says presidential historian Thomas Whalen of Boston University: “Everything’s provided for them – they really don’t need money.” The Secret Service agents who are on hand at all times can provide a loan if necessary. John F Kennedy “didn’t carry any cash at all, even before he was president. His friends would have to foot the bill for the privilege of hanging out with him”, says Whalen.

Others have been less parsimonious. A wallet belonging to George Washington contained a 1776 two-thirds dollar bill and a 1779 one-dollar bill until it was stolen from a museum in 1992. Abraham Lincoln was carrying a $5 Confederate bill on the night he was assassinated. In 1984 Ronald Reagan was once photographed paying for a $2.46 Big Mac meal with a $20 note, and his successor George HW Bush once showed his American Express card (plain green, not gold) to an eight-year-old who had reacted sceptically when informed that she was talking to the president. Some 14 years later, however, his son George W Bush told a Spanish-speaking journalist that all he had in his pockets was a handkerchief. “No dinero,” Bush added. “No wallet.”

The current incumbent – who earns $400,000 (£248,000) each year and has an annual expense allowance of $50,000 – has been filmed and photographed on numerous occasions paying for food with cash. In July he paid for a $300-plus bill at a takeaway barbecue restaurant in Austin, Texas, with a JP Morgan credit card (he was allowed to jump the queue). But now it appears that in New York last month the transaction wasn’t so successful. Thankfully for the president, his wife Michelle was present on that occasion to pick up the tab.

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