Michael Finney answers consumer questions

Q. Do you need pet insurance?

A. You should never buy insurance for anything that you can't already afford and that you can't build into your budget. There are basically two different types of pet insurance. One generally tends to be sold by your local vet for a certain amount of money per month in exchange for your pet's check-ups, shots and other issues that may come up. But you have to watch that because sometimes you can pay more money in advance than if you paid as you went along. The other option is medical insurance for your pet. The problem with that is you have to read the policy just as closely as you would read a policy for yourself because some of them have caps and some of them have high deductibles. Before I wouldn't have recommended pet insurance but now I think you should take a look at it. I think there are some good deals out there, especially if you have a dog breed that has a bad hip.

Q. How do you lower the interest rate on my credit card?

A. The average rate right now is about 13 percent for a non-mileage or point card. So if you're paying more than 13 percent and have decent credit, it's time to do something about it. The first step is to call up your bank and tell them you're paying too much in credit and that you need your rate dropped. A lot of times they'll just say yes. Sometimes they'll half-argue with you and other times they'll say no. If that happens, you tell them you want to drop your current card and ask what other cards they have. A lot of times they'll be fine with that. They have an internal policy that says they can't drop a rate but they can give you a new card at a reduced rate.

Q. How do you stop automated political calls?

A. There is a law that says if you're telemarketing you cannot used pre-recorded calls. But there are two problems with that. The first is the law is never enforced. The second is politicians wrote themselves out of the law so it doesn't apply to them. So political calls and non-profit calls are allowed.

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