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6 Common Causes of Credit Card Debt

Multiple credit cards in one handCharging purchases on a credit card has steadily been the most preferred payment  method of consumers lately. About 1.5 billion credit cards in the country are helping fuel this way of life. According to Statisticbrain.com, there are about 176.8 million consumers who has a credit card in their wallet where the average card ownership per person is 3.5. This goes to show the dependency of the US market in credit card purchases.

The expense item is still in the top four debt item in the country. It is in the league of mortgage loans, student loans, and auto loans. In a consumer driven economy, credit cards play a vital role not only in the private lives of its users but the whole economy as well. It increases the purchasing power of the consumer and extends credit for an otherwise impossible purchase.

But there are a few people that despise credit cards because of all the financial trouble they are in at the moment. Some of them were not aware of the impact of credit cards in the credit score, how late charges worked and other details that dragged them down in debt and interest payments. Though there are those that are able to live off a credit card but still manage to maintain their finances in check .

Common Credit Card Problems

It is important to note that any unfavorable details in your credit score might take approximately seven years to repair. This is in stark contrast with how a consumer can do damage on the credit score in a matter of days or weeks. What is easily put on the report will be a very hard and long battle to recover from.

In most cases, the problem lies with the user and not the card. The consumer gets in all sorts of predicament because the usage of the card was not properly observed. Here are some of the top reasons why a person could walk right into a debt trap using a credit card.

Credit card ready

Most consumers are not ready. This is one basic flaw in the system where as young as high school students get access to a credit card. When they get to college, they see credit cards as an endless source of cash. They then come home to mom and dad pleading poverty with a tidy amount of credit card bill.

It is not only students because there are also professionals who are not ready for the added financial responsibility but still get their hands on a shiny new plastic. One basic requirement of owning a credit card is a steady income to pay off the purchases. It is impossible to pay for the charged items without a good and steady source of funds. It could be coming  from an allowance, salary from employment or even returns from investment ventures. You would need to understand budgeting as well for this.

More than you can handle

Most of the consumers started with one credit card. But not all of them stop at just one. A lot of people are taking in a lot more and sometimes go way in over their head. Assigning a specific function to each credit card is a great idea but only if you can be financially mature to handle multiple cards. If not, it is better to stick to one card.

Some consumers assign a specific card for groceries, gas and other items. This is a budgeting tool that allows them to see how much each cost item is being used through the credit card bill. This is useful but requires a lot of restraint and discipline. Restraint from using the credit card just because you feel like it and discipline in using the card for specific purposes only.

Debt overcomes income

As you make purchase using a credit card, you do not see actual money exchange hands. This could be one of the reasons why overspending with the card is a common occurrence. Plus the fact that the money being used to pay for the purchase is borrowed and not actual money of the holder makes it all too easy to spend.

Consumers need to keep tabs on their expenses to know if their salary or any other sources of income is enough to meet the payments once the bill arrives. For some, it is the longest few weeks of their livers from the time the purchase was made up to the time the statement arrives. It is important to know how much you can spend in your card and keep a close eye on your credit limit as well.

Payment dispute

A late payment and non-payment are reported to the credit bureaus by the lender. But if there are any dispute on purchases on the card, it is best to talk to your lender at the soonest possible time. This is to get to the bottom of the issue and be able to investigate the incident. At this point, it is best to keep an open line of communication with your creditor and to not hold any payments due as a sign of retaliation for the error.

Major life change

Credit.com points out that major life changes affects the finances as well. Getting married, expecting a baby, moving houses and other big ticket item purchases can have an effect on the personal finance of the consumer even up to their credit cards. It is best to be able to anticipate and plan your budget around the new chapter in your life and make the credit card to your advantage rather than a liability.

Understanding the fine print

It is ideal that a consumer knows the basic details of his or her credit card. The credit limit, payment due date and interest rate are just some of the items that is needed to be remembered by the person. But there are more details about the credit card that a consumer must understand in order to enjoy the benefits to the fullest.

With a card, it is best to understand how the late fees and other finance charges work on your loan. Knowing this can alert you even before buying an off-budget item. It is a great idea to understand how the point system works and if there are any fees related to transfers of balances into or out of the current one.

Credit card use

Consumers are not asked to splurge on clothes shopping everyday or to totally stop purchases with a credit card. There should be a fine line between the two and the consumer must be able to strike the balance between too much and too little. Though there are fast credit score fixes, a consumer must not rely in this possibility to lose track of credit card spending.

Proper money management, keeping a steady income source and managing credit card expenses are some of the prerequisites for properly handling the plastic. It is a tough job but the rewards are great. Staying away from debt is one of the top reasons why people are trying to be more aware of credit card usage. Debt is already an all too common circumstance for most people but the better handling of various credit tools such as a credit card, then debt will be kept at bay.

3 Very Big Questions (And Answers) About Personal Finances

young woman looking at credit cardPersonal finances are a bit like your health. You need to keep an eye on them just as you need to watch what happens to you physically. If you’re smart you’ll have a physical exam once a year just as you should give your personal finances the occasional checkup. And you probably have questions about your finances just as you have questions about your health. Recent college graduates were surveyed regarding their questions about personal finances and here are the three that came up most often.

Why not have just a debit card?

Since credit cards can be very dangerous why have one? Why not just use a debit card instead? Yes, credit cards can be troublesome. However, they do come with some benefits. If you have a credit card and use it responsibly, this will help your credit score. Second, merchants sometimes require a credit card rather than a debit card. If your identity is stolen, undoing the damage from a stolen credit card can be easier than with a debit card. If you run into a dispute with a merchant, it’s often better to have used a credit card as your credit card issuer will help you settle the dispute. Plus, almost every credit card now comes with rewards that can be beneficial – assuming you don’t go into debt or end up having to pay high interest.

The cons of debit cards

The money comes out of your account immediately when you use a debit card. In comparison, with a credit card you get a short-term free loan and your money stays in the bank earning a return. In fact, with most credit cards you would get at least a 27-day free loan every month. Given today’s historically low interest rates this may not amount to much but interest rates will go up eventually.

Is it better to have no credit or bad credit?

The problem with bad credit is that it’s very hard to fix. If you have bad credit the first thing you must stop running up more debt. You will need to create an emergency account and a budget that will require you to do and buy only what your income will cover. In addition, you will need to pay all your bills on time and in full, and pay down your debt. This includes everything even any accounts you have that were charged off. As you can imagine, this will require a lot of discipline and commitment – no matter why it was that you developed bad credit in the first place. If you have no credit it’s fairly easy to establish good credit. The reason why you want to do this is so that you will have it when you need it to get a home, a new car or for some other major purchase. You need to responsibly handle your savings and checking account and should get a debit card with no over-limit protection and maybe a secured credit card. If you have a secured credit card and use it responsibly then after six months you should be able to get an unsecured car with a low credit limit and no over limit protection. Of course, while you’re doing this you will have to pay all of your bills on time.

Girl looking worriedWhat’s the best way to pay off credit card debts?

The first thing you need to do is create an emergency savings account to make sure that if something happens you don’t fall into more debt. You also need an honest and realistic budget so you can see what you spend your money on and whether it is a wish, a want, a luxury or a convenience that you could do without. Once you have done these things the next step is to get to work and pay off those credit card debts as quickly as you can. There are several schools of thought as to the best way to do this. The financial guru, Dave Ramsey, recommends what he calls the snowball method of paying off credit card debts. What this amounts to putting your debts in order from the one with the lowest balance down to the one with the largest. You then focus all of your efforts on paying off the one with the lowest balance while continuing to make the minimum monthly payments on your other credit card debts. When you get that first debt paid off you will have extra money you can use to pay off the credit card with the next lowest balance and so on. Dave calls this the snowball method because like a snowball rolling downhill you will pick up more and more momentum as you pay off each debt. However there are other financial experts that believe it’s best to put your credit card debts in order from the one with the highest interest rate down to the one with the lowest. You then concentrate on paying off the one with the highest interest rate first as this will save you the most money. Which of these two methods would be best for you? It really boils down to a matter of personal choice. The important thing is to pick one and then stick to it.

How it used to be

Until very recently it was easy to understand how to handle credit cards to keep from having them negatively affect your credit score. All you had to do was… • Make every one of your payments – at least the minimums due – on time every month • Be sure to keep your balances below 30% of your credit cards’ credit limits. Of course, it’s better to have an even lower percentage but the difference that 10% or 20% make to your score is really very minimal when compared to 30%. • Make sure that you apply for a new credit card only when you need it. Your credit score can be negatively affected if you have a lot of recently opened accounts.

A new factor in credit scoring

But now there’s a new factor in credit scoring as the three credit bureaus are now using the amount by which you pay down your cards each month in calculating your score. It’s likely that other bureaus and scoring companies will soon follow suit. What’s the purpose of this? It’s to differentiate between people who pay down their balances in full each month (“transacters”) and people called “revolvers,” who carry forward their balances from one month to the next. The theory behind this is that people who pay off their balances each month are likely to be more credit worthy and so deserve higher scores. A spokesperson for FICO, the company that invented credit scoring, has said that it is still studying the data and hasn’t yet changed its systems. In addition to having invented credit scoring, FICO is the company whose credit scores are used in more than 90% of all lending decisions made in the US.

How this could affect you

If companies in the credit-reference industry and FICO begin to differentiate between “revolvers” and “transacters,” the “revolvers” could see their scores being downgraded even if they always make the minimum or higher payments on their credit cards on time every month. And this could lead to a significant change in how people view their credit cards and there could soon be fewer “revolvers.”

Bad news for the credit card issuers

In turn, this could be bad news for the credit card companies. Would you use your cards to borrow if you knew that this would probably make your home, auto and other loans more expensive? For that matter, the interest that credit card companies garner from those that roll forward their balances every month is an important revenue stream. One of the best-kept secrets of the credit card business is that people that always pay their balances on time are referred to as “deadbeats,” because they generate little or no profit for the credit card companies.

When Going Into Credit Card Debt Can Be A Good Thing

What You Can Learn From Successful People About Debt FreedomIt’s obvious that there are people who have too much debt. For that matter, one recent study revealed that the average US household has more than $15,191 just in credit card debt not including other debts such as a mortgage, personal loan, business loan or medical debts. And college graduates are now carrying an average of $33,607 in student loan debt.

But did you know there are people who actually have too little debt?

Should you live cash only?

It might sound like a good idea for you to shred all of your credit cards and pay for everything with a debit card, check or with cash. But if you live like this, it can trip you up. The problem is that if you have no debt, you don’t have a credit score. And this can complicate your life considerably.

Credit scores

Your credit score – if you have one – is created from monthly reports that lenders send to the three credit reporting bureaus. It will reflect how many creditors you have, how much money you owe, how quickly you pay, the size of your lines of credit and any defaults. Plus, it will have information from the courts such as tax liens and bankruptcies.

Why credit scores are important

Credit scores are important because lenders depend on them to determine how likely you are to repay a loan. The credit score that is used most widely comes from the company FICO. It ranges from a low of 300 to a high of 850. If you have a score of 750 or above, you generally can get a new credit card or borrow money on the best possible terms. If you have a score of 700-plus, you will still be able to get a competitively priced loan. However, if your score is below 620, don’t bother even asking. And of course if you have no score at all, you don’t even exist – at least so far as lenders are concerned.

Understanding your credit score

While no one except FICO itself understands the algorithm used to create credit scores, it is known that they are made up of five components as follows: your credit history, credit utilization, length of credit, types of credit and recent applications for credit. Of these five, your credit history and credit utilization are the most important as together they make up 65% of your credit score. As you might guess your credit history is just that – how you have used credit in the past. Since it is, well, history there is not much you can do about it. But credit utilization, which makes up 30% of your credit score, is something that you do have some control over. The way it’s calculated is to take the amount of credit you’ve used and divide it by your total credit limits. As an example of this, if you have total credit limits of $10,000 and have used up $3000 of it, your credit utilization would be 30%. Most lenders would see that as good. However, if you had used up $5,000 of your available credit, your credit utilization would be 50%, which would be much too high. You can calculate your credit utilization yourself. If it turns out to be above 40%, there are two things you could do to get it down. First, you might be able to get more credit or second, you could pay down some of your debts.

Here, courtesy of National Debt Relief is a short video with more information about understanding credit scores.

Open some new types of credit

You could also influence your credit score in a positive way by opening some different types of credit. In addition to a credit card, you might open a personal line of credit or take out an auto loan. The fact is that potential lenders like to see that you’ve had some different types of credit and have used them sensibly. But do keep in mind that this accounts for only 10% of your credit score so don’t go hog wild in applying for new types of credit.

Your score could disappear

Let’s say that you had credit cards or loans in the past. In this case you might assume that you always have a credit score – despite the fact that you are currently operating debt free. Unfortunately, this is not so. If you had no activity on at least one line of credit in the past six months, your score could vanish. And this is according to FICO’s Anthony Sprauve.

The disadvantages of being a member of the un-scored

If you find that you don’t have a credit score, this might not bother you – especially if you voluntarily gave up your debt and credit cards. Unfortunately, your credit score will affect your life in a number of other ways. If you don’t have a score or a high enough score, you might not be able to get a discount on your homeowner or auto insurance. When you sign up for utilities such as gas or water, you might have to make a higher deposit. In the event you need to rent an apartment, your landlord will probably require a good score before giving you a lease. Credit scores are even often checked to get cell phone service or cable.

Marrying a credit score

Did you know that if you’re married you get a credit score by by sharing a debt with your spouse? As an example of this, you would get a credit score if you apply jointly for a credit card. In the event that one of you dies, shared credit cards are generally canceled. This means to keep them you would need to reapply. Otherwise, you would lose your credit score.

One isn’t the loneliest numberwoman thinking while holding a credit card

You might remember that song from the 1969 about one being the loneliest number. Well, in the case of credit cards one isn’t the loneliest number – it’s enough. No financial advisor or expert will suggest that you get a mortgage or take out a car loan just to make sure your credit score stays alive. All you really need is just one active credit card. For that matter, if you want to get a good credit score you don’t even need to have multiple credit sources. One card is enough assuming that you’ve had it for several years and use it once or twice a month – at least for small purchases such as gas or groceries – and then pay in full when the bill arrives.

Is it still good?

If you’ve been using cash, checks or a debit card to pay all of your expenses but have one credit card you’ve been keeping in a drawer for emergencies, you need to get it out and make sure it is still good. If you haven’t used the card for 12 to 18 months, the credit card issuer could lower your credit limit or even close your account. If you want to reactivate that card, it’s possible you would have to apply for it all over again.

For those with too much debt

Credit cards can be a trickier issue if you have too much debt. For example, should you cut them up or not? You would be at a danger point if your payments were more than 40% of your monthly income. Among adults aged 55 and up who carried debt in 2010, 8.5% hit that dangerous mark. People age 65 and up are carrying debt and in larger amounts than was true 15 years ago. And here’s an awful statistic – bankruptcy rates have risen to new heights especially among those 75 and up. If you’re trying to dig your way out of debt than cutting up cards might make sense. But make sure you keep one and use it at least once a month to keep your credit score alive.

Money Concerns In Your 20s: Setting Up Your Finances Right From The Start

young woman looking tiredMoney concerns in your 20s may seem like a trivial thing since you have just gotten out of school. But considering the current financial situation in the country, you may want to start being serious about your finances early on. Most people are looking for financial tips for new graduates because they are eager to set up their finances in such a way that will help them avoid the mistakes that their elders made. Millennials, or at least those who are still in their 20s have seen how their parents and grandparents struggled with their personal finances. That experience definitely left a mark and is influencing how people in their 20s are reacting towards financial situations.

According to an article published on Investopedia.com, the spending habits of young adults are influenced by their friends, social media and the latest recession. Different studies reveal that they are inclined to follow the financial habits of their friends and they rely heavily on what goes on in their social media networks. The Great Recession significantly reduced the appeal of credit cards for the young adults – after seeing how it nearly drove their parents and grandparents under.

Whether this is true for you or not (assuming you are in your 20s), you need to put your prejudices aside and figure out how you will set up your finances today. You need to start it right so that your momentum in building up your wealth will not be hampered by mistakes that could have been avoided early on.

Typically, your money concerns can be divided into two: your debts and your financial goals.

Dealing with your debts out of college

Let us start with your debts. Being in your 20s, you know that one of your major concerns right now is your student loans. The really bad news about student loan debt is simple – it keeps on increasing. Chances are, you graduated with a lot of them in your name.

If that is the case, you need to know that dealing with your debt as early as possible is the best course to follow. By prioritizing this, you are lowering the interest amount that your debt is accruing. It can also help you setup your finances so that you do not have to pass up on financial opportunities because of your debts.

According to an article published on TIME.com the student loans debt that is now more than $1 trillion is starting to hurt the economy. Not only is it keeping students from making personal investments, it is also causing the government some serious budget cuts on other programs. That is so they can divert funds to help save the delinquent student loans borrowers.

Given that effect, you know that other money concerns is not as great as your responsibility to pay off your debt. This is true even for those that you have incurred in the past like credit card debt or other personal loans.

So how do you do that? Here are some tips for you.

  • List how much you really owe. Make a list of the debts that you owe – from student loans, credit card debts and other accounts that you have opened in the past. Give the details of each debt: the lender, interest rate, current balance and monthly payments. This will help you categorize which of them requires your attention the most. Ideally, you want to concentrate on those with the highest interest.

  • Calculate your payment capabilities. If you already have a job, you need to calculate your income to figure out how much you can afford to contribute towards your debts every month. That way, you can figure out how you will set up your budget. If you do not have a job yet and the 6-month grace period for your student loans is up, you need to research how your unemployment can be used to delay your billing.

  • Create a budget plan. When you have your income, you should list your expenses and make sure that you have enough money to send towards your debts. If it is not enough, your choices are to earn more or cut back on your expenses.

  • Research on the different debt solutions you can use. There are various debt relief programs that you can use to help make your debt payments more organized. You can use debt consolidation programs to simplify the payment process that you have to go through. Research the processes that you can choose from and figure which is most suitable for your specific financial requirement.

Financial goals that you can set up in your 20s

Apart from getting out of debt, you still have other money concerns to take care of. We have consolidated them into your financial goals. What you have to realize is that as you get older, your priorities will change and so will your financial goals. So you need to be careful about how you focus on each one because while you are working on them, they might not be relevant anymore.

But just to get your started, here are some of the money concerns that you can work on in your 20s.

  • Build up your emergency fund. As important as getting out of debt is, you need to work on your emergency fund too. That way, you do not have to put yourself further in debt in case the unexpected happens. You can start with $1,000 as your rainy day fund and just put more money as you go along.

  • Contribute towards your retirement. You also have to start thinking about retirement – yes even as early as now. If you do not want to wait until you’re 80s to retire, you should start saving up for your future. The thing about starting early is you can make small contributions and you can still reach your target.

  • Raising your credit score. This is an important task for you to work on early in your career. This is not just about having debt, it is more of how you will behave towards your debts. You need to learn how to pay off your credit obligations properly. That is primarily, how you will raise your credit score. To give you some tips, here is a video from National Debt Relief that has some tips on how you can improve your credit score.

  • Establishing your career. This is not really a financial goal but it is still important because it will allow you to reach your targets. In fact, most people in their 20s are usually focused on this. Figure out what you want to do and if it can finance the type of lifestyle that you want to have.

  • Acquiring possessions. According to the MarketPlace.org, student loans, after reaching $1.1 trillion, is starting to affect the ability of young adults to make investments – like buying houses for instance. It ties up around $1,000 per year and any payment made towards interest is actually a lost investment. So as difficult as this may be because of your debts, you need to look into ways to acquire possessions. Do not let your debts keep you from doing that.

The great thing about working on your money concerns as early as when you are in your 20s is you get to have the time to make mistakes. Not that you would not be careful of course. You will still take your time to consider your options but the thing is, you can afford to make risks at this point. So know your options and start working on your finances as early as possible.

In case you need help with your student loans, National Debt Relief recently released their federal student loan product. This is a consultation service wherein they evaluate borrowers in terms of their financial, employment and student loan conditions. They will recommend the right program that you can avail and will even help you with the paperworks. This service will only cost you a one time flat fee that will be placed in an escrow account. National Debt Relief will only withdraw this amount when you are satisfied with the paperwork that was done on your behalf. If you do not get into a program, then the company will not get paid. There will be no maintenance fee or any upfront fees in the service.

What You Need To Know About The New FICO Score That’s Coming Soon

What You Need To Know About Debt ManagementThe Greek philosopher Diogenes once said, “There is nothing permanent except change” and this is true in the world of lending as it is in the rest of our lives. Lending is constantly changing, which means that the way we are scored needs to be updated periodically and in line with this here comes the latest – FICO Score 9.

Does the term “credit score” frighten you?

Even though you may be afraid of the term “credit score” it’s important that you know yours and how it affects your personal finances. Lenders generally look at credit scores as follows:

Between 700 and 850 – Very good or excellent credit score
Between 680 and 699 – Good credit score
Between 620 and 679 – Average or OK score
Between 580 and 619 – Low credit score
Between 500 and 579 – Poor credit score
Between 300 and 499 – Bad credit score

When you apply for any kind of credit, the first thing the lender will do is look at your credit score. As you can see from the ranges shown above, if you have a credit score of less than 580, the odds are that you will be turned down or, best case, charged a very high interest rate. If you don’t know your credit score it’s critical that you get it before you next apply for credit – or you could be in for a very unpleasant surprise.

What a credit score means

Credit scores are a three-digit representation of how creditworthy you are. Landlords, creditors and other creditors use it to decide if you should be given a credit card or a loan and how likely it is that you will repay the money. To put this another way, your credit score is a way for lenders to predict how risky you would be as a creditor.

Now comes FICO Score 9

While there are literally dozens of different credit scoring models, the first and most popular is the FICO score. It was developed by a company then called Fair Isaac Corporation as a way to simplify the whole credit granting process. Prior to FICO lenders were required to sit down and carefully analyze your credit report line by line. Plus, they had to review your reports from the three credit reporting bureaus because they could be and often were different. As you can imagine this was both tedious and time-consuming.

The updated model

The models for scoring created by FICO are considered to be the gold standard in terms of deciding consumer risk. Virtually all the credit granting businesses use them. For example, in 2013 alone lenders bought from FICO an amazing 10 billion scores to decide who would be granted loans or credit cards. However, things change over the years and FICO generally keeps creating new models to tackle these changes and do a better job of predicting how creditworthy a person would be. The newest in this long line of credit scoring models from FICO is FICO Score 9 and is to be released this summer.

Much the same as Score 8

FICO Score 9 will be much the same as FICO Score 8. However, FICO said in a recent press release that it will have better “predictive power” and will consist of a better representation of a person’s creditworthiness. Andrew Jennings, who is FICO’s chief analytic officer was quoted as saying, “Our innovative, multi-faceted modeling approach incorporates a more exhaustive characteristic selection process to build a score that is even more effective across a wide variety of situations.” To put this in simpler terms, FICO Score 9 is to do a better job than FICO Score 8 of predicting how risky you are.

Improved consistency

As noted above, there are three credit bureaus that provide scores to both lenders and individuals. They are Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. One thing that has made it tough for lenders to get the maximum value out of the credit scores they purchase is that there is sometimes a wide variation between the three bureaus regarding an a person’s score. In fact, when a lender orders a credit report it is not uncommon that each bureau provides a somewhat different score. These inconsistencies can sometimes be quite large, which makes it confusing for both creditors and individuals. So, according to FICO one of the biggest improvements that will come with FICO Score 9 is that these differences will be less apparent, which will make it faster and easier for lenders to decide whether or not they want to issue credit to an individual.

Many new scoring models

This change coming from FICO is just one of the many new scoring models that are on their way. The new ones are expected to focus on individual industries. As an example of this, there will be different scoring systems between credit cards, auto loans and mortgages. This is due to the fact that lenders are searching for ways to grant credit to new customers while still adhering to a number of historically important guidelines.

Watch for more news

FICO will have more details about Score 9 as it comes closer to releasing it. You should pay close attention to this so you’ll know how you might or might not be affected by these changes and your ability to get new credit.

Check your credit reportCredit Report

While it’s important for you to know your credit score it’s equally important for you to see your credit reports. The law entitles you to a free copy of each of your three reports once a year. You can choose to get them from each of the credit bureaus or altogether on the site www.annualcreditreport.com. People who are credit wise generally get one of their free credit reports every four months. This represents a way to kind of monitor your credit without having to pay a company to do it. Reviewing credit reports isn’t much fun but it’s important that you look over each one carefully. A study released last year by the FTC (Federal Trait Commission) showed that nearly 20% of us have credit reports that contain errors and that 5% of us have errors so serious they are affecting our credit scores.

What to look for

When you go over your credit report the negative items to look for include late payments, skipped payments, defaults, bankruptcies, charge offs, tax liens and collections. If you find any of these in one of your credit reports it’s important to make sure they are legitimate and not errors. If you do find errors you can dispute them with the appropriate credit bureau by writing a letter and enclosing whatever documentation you have to prove your claim. The credit bureau will then check with the institution that provided the negative item and ask that it be verified. In the event that the institution cannot verify or fails to respond within 30 days, the credit bureau must remove it from your credit report, which could lead to a nice boost in your credit score.
If you do need to dispute something in one of your credit reports, here’s a video on the right way to construct a  dispute letter.

In summary

Your credit life is ruled by that little three-digit number called your credit score. It’s critical that you know your credit score especially before you apply for a big loan such as an auto loan or mortgage. You need to get and review your credit reports so that you can dispute any errors that could be affecting your credit score. And finally, be sure to watch for more information about FICO Score 9 so you will know how it might affect your credit score and your financial life.

Trying To Rebuild Your Credit? Here’s How To Find An Affordable Secured Credit Card

frustrated looking woman looking at a laptopAlmost all of us wreck our credit at some point in our lives – usually when we’re young and not so great about the decisions we make. There is an old saying that good decisions come from experience, and experience comes from bad decisions. If you’re like us you probably made some bad decisions about credit and may even have been forced to file for bankruptcy.

If you did mishandle your credit and find that you can no longer get any credit at all, you need to learn from the bad decisions you made and begin rebuilding it.

You do know your credit score, right?
If you’re not able to get credit it’s probably due to your credit score. Lenders look at credit scores in the following ranges:

• Between 700 and 850 – Very good or excellent credit score
• Between 680 and 699 – Good credit score
• Between 620 and 679 – Average or OK score
• Between 580 and 619 – Low credit score
• Between 500 and 579 – Poor credit score
• Between 300 and 499 – Bad credit score

If you’re being denied credit, you probably have a credit score of less than 500. But the important thing is to learn your credit score. You can get it by going to the site www.myfico.com and either pay $19.95 or sign-up for a free trial of its Score Watch program. The three credit reporting bureaus – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion – offer free credit scores but you may have to jump through some hoops in order to get yours. We like CreditKarma and CreditSesame as good sources for a free credit report. Plus, a site such as CreditKarma offers a lot of other valuable information in addition to your credit score.

Now that you know your credit score

Once you get your credit score the next step is to get your credit reports so you can see why your score is so pitiful. The law mandates that you can get your credit reports free from the three credit reporting bureaus once a year. You can get yours by going to each of the credit reporting bureaus or on the site www.annualcreditreport.com.

What to look for

If you have a very low credit score it’s because there are damaging items in your credit report. The ones to look for are late payments, missed payments, collection accounts, judgments, bankruptcies, defaults and lawsuits. You should also be sure to look for errors. The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) released a study last year showing that 5% of us have errors in our credit reports so serious they are damaging our credit scores. If you’re lucky you might find that there are errors in your credit report that are dragging down your credit score. If this turns out to be the case, you will need to dispute the negative items by writing a letter to the appropriate credit bureau, along with whatever documentation you have that proves your case. If you can get the erroneous items deleted from your account, your credit score should get a very nice boost.

Get a secured cardcredit cards

In most cases you won’t find any errors in your credit report, which means you have basically shredded your credit. In this case you will need to begin rebuilding it and one of the best ways to do this is to get a secured credit card. If you’re not familiar with these cards this is where you make a security deposit in order to get a line of credit. Some of these cards will also have an annual fee and even interest rates that are higher-than-average. Instead of just jumping into the first secured card you find, do some comparison-shopping to ensure that you get one that’s affordable. Here is what to look for.

What’s the annual fee?

All companies that issue secured credit cards have different annual fee requirements. These can be from $29 to $39 or even more, depending on the individual card and its interest rate. For example, you might find that a card that has a low interest rate and low deposit requirements has a higher annual fee. On the other hand, a card with a low annual fee might have a higher interest rate and stiffer deposit requirements.

Check out what’s required for a line of credit

If you search carefully you might find a secured credit card where you could qualify for an increase in your credit line and without having to add more funds for a security deposit. In the event you believe you will be using that secured card for a year or more, think about getting one that offers this advantage. You will need to maintain your account in a good standing by making your payments on time every time to get such a benefit. But this should pay off for you.

Go to a credit union

Membership in a credit union used to be limited to people in a certain group such as the employees of a company or members of a union. However, today many credit unions are open to just about anyone. A lot of them offer secured credit cards and some will even forego the annual and application fees. In addition, the secured cards offered by credit unions usually have lower interest rates and more alternatives for rebuilding your credit – even if you’ve had a bankruptcy, illness, divorce or another life-altering situation that damaged your finances.

If you’re not familiar with credit unions, here’s a helpful video that discusses the differences between banks and credit unions.

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Check out credit-card comparison websites

There are many websites that have reviews of secured credit cards and their current rates. Try to monitor a few of these as this could help you learn the pros and cons of each secured credit card program. This can give you a great birds-eye view of the latest programs and the offers before you begin researching individual cards on your own.

Don’t look just at deposit requirements

The first thing you’ll probably look for in a secured credit card that would be affordable is the deposit requirements you will be required to make before you get the card. But do remember that the security deposit is just part of the card’s total cost . You need to check out annual fees, the interest you will be charged on any balances you carry forward, the application fee and any other required fees. Add up all the costs of the different cards you’re comparing and their terms. What a card costs you over the course of a year will be much higher than just the security deposit. So make sure you account for those other costs.

Be careful you don’t get scammed

This may shock you but not all companies that offer secured credit cards are legitimate. If you’re not careful you could actually run into a scam. Before you sign up for a card, go online and check out multiple sources and look for reviews of the card and the company behind it. If the company passes this test, you can be pretty sure that it’s legitimate.

Watch the fine print

There’s an old saying in the advertising business that the big print giveth and the small print taketh away. Once you boil down your selections to a few secured credit cards be sure to read all the fine print. You need to have a detailed understanding of the card’s annual fee, fixed or variable interest rates, security deposit requirement and any other fees you would be charged over the life of your contract. And don’t be afraid to call the card’s customer service department if you have any questions about the terms or if you need something clarified. There is another old saying that it’s better to be safe than sorry.

5 Steps To Make A Credit Check Work In Your Favor

woman looking at files and frustratedAre you planning to buy a home this year? Or maybe buy a car? Whatever it is that you want to purchase requires you to be concerned about your credit report, as long as it will involve a loan application.

Before a lender approves of your loan application, you need to go through a credit check. This is when they look at your credit report to compute your credit score. The whole purpose is to know if you are credit worthy or not. For instance, according to the latest mortgage law provisions published on ConsumerFinance.gov, one of the financial information that lenders should look into is the credit history of the borrower. This is to filter out the borrowers who has a high probability of not paying back their mortgage loan.

The credit check will help lenders determine if you can be trusted with a loan. In case you have a not so favorable credit report, that does not necessarily mean you will be disapproved immediately. The lender will try to protect themselves by imposing a high interest on your loan. While that will still get you the finances you applied for, it will cost you more money because of the interest.

5 steps to make credit inquiries work to your advantage

In case you applied for a loan or a new credit account, you may want to make sure that you will pass the credit inquiry that you will be subjected to. This way, you can make assumptions as to whether you will be approved of the loan or not.

So before they conduct a credit check on you, make sure you go through these 5 steps.

Step 1: Check your own credit report. The major credit bureaus will ask you to pay for a copy of your credit report but they are also mandated to give you one free copy every year. If you want to access them, you can go to AnnualCreditReport.com to download your free copy. Ideally, you want to do this a few months before you actually file your loan application. That way, you can read your credit report before the lender get access to it.

Step 2: See if there are errors and file a dispute against it. This is the reason why you want to get your report a few months before your application. In case there are errors, you can have it disputed so the credit bureaus can change it. A study done by the Federal Trade Commission revealed that one out of five consumers have reported that they found errors in their credit report. According to the study shown on the FTC.gov, this could have led them to pay more on loans due to a higher interest rate. In case you find out that you need to dispute an entry on your report, you should send a letter to the credit bureau involved. Send a copy of the document proving that the entry is wrong too. Once sent, you have to wait for them to respond, investigate and take action. That action may be to prove that their records are correct or to revise your report as per your data. If you are proven to be correct, they should send you a free copy of your credit report that contains the right information.

Step 3: Calculate your credit score. The second step is to check your credit score. You may want to calculate it to know how you will fare in your loan application. This is the grading system that will allow the lender to determine your interest rate. If it is high, then you are considered to be a low risk borrower. That will keep your interest rate low because your lenders will not feel the need to protect themselves from the possibility of you failing to pay for your debts. Your score will help you determine how much you need to improve to get the rate that is most affordable to you.

Step 4: Send bigger payments towards your debts. The next part of your credit check is to pay off your debts significantly. If you followed our suggestion to check your report a few months before the loan application, you should have some time to make significant contributions towards your debts. Timely payments and a lower debt balance will help improve your credit report so it looks more appealing to lenders.

Step 5: Make sure there are no unauthorized charges or new accounts/inquiries. Since you are already holding your credit report, you may want to double check for any unauthorized or suspicious entries that could show that you are a victim of identity theft. You want to report this as soon as possible to keep them from stealing your money.

By doing your own credit check before the lender, you are giving yourself the chance to improve your credit score. That is a great way for you to prepare for your upcoming loan.

Who checks your credit report

Apart from lenders, there are also other people or organizations who are interested in your credit report. This is why credit scores have become king. If you will be transacting with any of them, you may want to conduct a credit check on yourself too.

  • Creditors. If you will open a new credit card account, these companies will check your credit report before approving your application.

  • Landlords/property owners. If you will be leasing a home or any property, the owner or landlord will naturally want to know your payment behavior. That will tell them how well you can be expected to pay them rent every month.

  • Insurance companies. This also involves a regular payment scheme so it is but natural for them to want to check out your payment behavior. In case your credit score is low, you can expect that they will give you higher premiums.

  • Utility companies. They will also do a credit check on you to see how well you will pay. Most of the time, this check is done in order for them to determine if deposit is needed from you or not. If your credit report is unfavorable, then you can expect to be asked to put down a deposit.

  • Collection agencies. This is simply to determine if you are financially hard-up as you claimed you are.

  • Employers. Although you are not paying your employer, the credit report will say a lot about your character. It will help them assume how responsible, organized and disciplined you are when it comes to your finances.

  • Government agencies. They require this from you in case you are asking for some assistance – especially when it comes to finances. It is usually to check your eligibility. Sometimes, it is reviewed for national security purposes.

  • Court. These include judgement creditors or bankruptcy courts. They use this as part of the documents to help decide on your case – or to see if creditors or collectors should start collecting from you.

Anyone who has a court order to get your credit report can also acquire it. Apart from that, no one can access your report.

When is the best time to look at your credit report

Apart from borrowing money, there are also other instances wherein you have to do a credit check on yourself. What you don’t know about your credit score can hurt you so it pays to take a look at it every now and then. Here are the instances when you have to look at your credit report.

  • Three times a year. This is your regular check ups to look for errors or any unauthorized activity on your report. You don’t really have to pay for anything because you get one free report from each of the major credit bureaus (TransUnion, Equifax, Experian) every year. You can download it from the Annual Credit Report website.

  • After a credit disapproval. When you are declined of any application, you may want to view your report to see why you are not approved. That way, you can ask them to reconsider in case the reason for the disapproval is wrong.

  • Possible identity theft. You also want to check it if your credit card or information is stolen and you think you are in danger of identity theft. This is your way to monitor if they are using your details already.

  • Credit repair. You also want to check your report, obviously, if you want to improve your credit score. You need to look at your current situation to figure out the improvement that needs to be made.

In case you find out that your credit score is low, here is a video from National Debt Relief that will reveal the fastest way you can increase your score.

Think You Have Good Credit? Know The 8 Credit Score Ranges To Be Sure

checklistAre you confused about your credit score? Well you are not alone. A lot of Americans are actually having a hard time understanding this score. In fact, based on a news release from ConsumerFed.org, ⅖ of consumers are unaware that mortgage lenders and credit card issuers refer to this number before making decisions. At least, ⅖ of the respondents of the survey initiated by VantageScore Solutions and the Consumer Federation of America. The same number of respondents also think that age and marital status are factors to consider when calculating their credit score.

Obviously, there is a need to teach consumers about this financial topic and why don’t we start with the different credit score ranges? Now you may be wondering, why are we concentrating on this? Why not something about how it is computed?

It is simple. You want to know about the various ranges of credit scores because they come from different companies. Each of them use varying computations. If you want to know if you have a high score or not, you have to understand where it will be coming from.

What are the 8 ranges of credit score

First of all, you may be wondering, why do we have so many credit score ranges anyway? According to the explanation from CreditKarma.com, it all began with just one – the FICO score. It is the reason why this remains to be the most popular model for computing credit scores. The FICO score was developed by Fair Isaacs Company back in the 1970’s to standardize the credit decisions done in the financial industry. Over the years, other credit score companies adapted the original algorithm from the FICO model and created their own by improving it as they see fit. The main runners in these improvements and credit score variations come from the three major credit bureaus – TransUnion, Experian and Equifax.

So what are the popular credit score ranges that you need to know about? Make sure to familiarize yourself with these because what you don’t know about your credit score can hurt you.

Fico Classic Score (300 to 850)

This score is developed by the Fair Isaac Company. This is one of the three type of scores that can be availed from this company. The higher the score is, the better it will be for the consumer. This is usually availed by lenders from the three credit bureaus while consumers typically go directly to Fair Isaac. This is the most popular range there is – even with other companies. It is typically used by credit card companies, lenders (auto, mortgage and student loans), banks, insurance companies, credit unions and other financial companies.

FICO Industry Option Score (250 to 925)

Obviously, this is another score coming from the Fair Isaac Corporation. Just like the Classic, this score is also sold to lender through the three major credit bureaus. However, this is not available to be directly availed by consumers. Those who get this score are usually the auto lenders and creditors from credit card companies – although there are lenders who avail of this too.

Fico NextGen Score (150 to 950)

This is the last of the three credit score ranges that is provided by the Fair Isaac Corporation. Just like the Industry Option, this is available to lenders through the 3 credit report agencies (credit bureaus) but it is not available to consumers directly. The primary user of this are credit card companies but other lenders can also look at this score.

VantageScore (1.0 and 2.0: 501 to 990) and (3.0: 300 to 850)

This was the old version of the VantageScore that is provided by VantageScore Solutions. The three credit bureaus actually invested in this because they wanted an alternative to the FICO Score. This score has an unusual range and according to the company, it required lenders and creditors to change some of their rules. That is the main reason why a lot of them opted not to use it. In fact, only 10% use this for their lending decisions. The 3.0 is the new version of the VantageScore that was only recently released in 2013. Lenders get their credit scores from the three credit bureaus but only Equifax and TransUnion make it available to consumers. Most financial institutions use this already when making their lending decisions.

TransUnion Risk Model (300 to 850)

This used to be known as TransRisk. Obviously, this was developed by TransUnion and unlike the previous credit score ranges, this is only available through this company. Consumers can avail of this score through other sites as long as they are owned or affiliated with TransUnion. The main clients of this score are credit companies, debt collection agencies, auto lenders, insurance companies and most large banks.

PLUS Score (330 to 830)

Experian developed this score and surprisingly, this is not made available to lenders. The main clients of this credit score are the consumers themselves. The main purpose of this score is to educate consumers and help them improve their scores. They can avail of this score through websites owned or affiliated with Experian.

Experian National Equivalency Score (360 to 840)

This is another score that is developed by Experian and it can be availed by lenders through them alone. For consumers, they can avail of this credit score but only through the Credit Sesame website – for free. Most financial lending and credit institutions avail of this but they are also joined by lawyers, property management companies and even the federal government.

Equifax Credit Score (280 to 850)

As the name carries it, Equifax developed this credit score and lenders can avail of this with them. It is also available to consumers through Equifax too. The company is secretive as to who uses it but it can be assumed that financial institutions use it for variety.

Regardless of the company computing your credit score, it is important to note that all of them refer to the same source – your credit report.

What does a high credit score mean?

When you are trying to buy a home and you have a low credit score, you know that it will cost you a low interest rate. So the main purpose of knowing all of these data is to eventually improve and maintain a high credit score.

But what exactly does a high score mean?

Based on the infographic from Credit.org, the FICO score of 680 and above is a good score. It will allow consumers to get a 4.2% on a housing loan. In fact, the median score in the US is right 723 – a bit above this range. If the score of the consumer is 740 and above, that is considered as excellent. It can land them a 3.9% on their mortgage rate. The lowest range of score at 300 to 550 means the consumer will get a 9.5% on their home loan.

Obviously, with the varying credit score ranges, you know that the “high” requirement will vary among them. For instance, the 800 score of PLUS Score may not be good enough for a FICO NextGen Score – since their ceiling is until 950. You have to consider where your score is being taken from so you can understand how you can improve it.

So before you can really start working on your credit score, know the company that computed it so you will know where it falls under the credit score range it is taken from.

Tips To Help Increase Your Credit Score Without Using A Credit Card

woman looking at documentsA lot of people are asking: will opening more credit cards improve my credit score? This is actually a good question. Some people are convinced that this is the only way that you can start building up your credit score.

Here’s the thing. Your credit score is dependent on your credit report. This report holds details about any debt that you have. So if you have not taken any debt yet, then what information can you place on your report? And here’s where it gets more complicated: you need a credit score to be able to take on any debt. Given all of these requirements, how can you hope to build up your credit score?

This is where credit cards are “supposedly” there to help out. However, this is something that people are hesitating. After all, credit card debt put a lot of people under some serious financial trouble. A lot of our youth witnessed how it made the life of their parents and grandparents difficult. They do not want to follow the same footsteps.

Different ways to build your credit ranking without needing a card

Well if you do not want to follow their credit card mistakes, then you don’t have to. You are probably thinking about the next question by now: how will you build up your credit score if you cannot get any type of debt?

Here’s an important truth that you need to know: there are options to get a loan without the need for a credit score. It is limited, but there are other options. Let us list them down for you.

  • Get a federal student loan. If you are young and you are still in school, you may want to start working on your credit score by taking on a student loan. The approval of this loan does not really depend on your credit score. These do not require a credit check. Of course, for it to help you improve your credit standing means you have to know how to deal with student loan debt. That basically means knowing how to pay it back properly. Try not to be late, pay as much as you can – these are the usual tips that you will get so your student loan can help you build up a high score.

  • Try to apply for an installment loan. Sometimes, retailers will allow you to purchase a product and pay for it in installment. The great thing about this option is you are expected to pay for it over a long period of time. That will help you build up your credit score without making the payment too much of a burden. The important thing that creditors and lenders are looking for in your score is how well you can be trusted to pay back what they will allow you to borrow. That is the core purpose of this financial measurement. If you do good in this loan, then you can expect to have a good credit score.

  • Loan money from a credit union. First and foremost, this will require you to be a member. Look for a credit union that you can qualify to join and open an account with them. They operate in the same way as a bank – but instead of being governed by a board of directors, it is managed by the members themselves (more specifically appointed members). When you are finally a member, you can opt to get a small loan to help you work on your credit report. Based on the September 2013 data released by the Credit Union National Association through their site CUNA.org, credit unions have loaned an amount worth $642 billion. They have an asset worth $1.06 trillion. This proves that they are capable of loaning you money. If they decline because you do not have any background on debt, you can opt to get a secured loan. That means your loan is backed by the money in your account. They should be able to give you approval then.

  • Look into peer to peer loans. These are companies that operate online and connect you to private individuals who are willing to lend you money. No bank or financial institution is involved here. Also known as social lending, this is a great option for you to get the loan that will help you build up your score. Since it operated online, the overhead costs will not be as high for the companies managing them. That means they are not compelled to get a high interest rate from you. Although they look into your credit score, it will not cost you a very high score.

  • Request existing companies to file on your credit report. If you have rent, utilities and even phone bills that are recurring every month, you can ask them to file a credit report on your behalf. They are allowed to do so but it will be more of a favor for you than out of obligation. That should help boost your credit score. At least, it will if you had never been late on your payments.

These are some of the options that you have. There are other choices but we do not really recommend them – or we haven’t heard about them yet.

If you really want to use a card to improve your credit report…

In case some of these are not appealing to you, that is alright. You can still use credit cards to help you arrive at the high credit score that you are aiming for. Just make sure you will not commit the biggest credit mistake that you can ever make – and that is to bury yourself in credit card debt.

Just remember that the actual credit card ownership is not how you will get a good score. It is your attitude towards it. You have to know how you will use these cards so you can be viewed as a creditworthy consumer. Here are some tips that we have for you to help ensure that being a cardholder will really benefit your credit report.

Pay your dues on time. The most important thing that you can do to help your credit score go up is to avoid late payments. According to the information provided in MyFICO.com, late payments can affect your score based on how recent, severe or frequent you do them. Basically, they are saying that a recent late payment can put more damage in your score than a frequent late payments in the past. So try not to be late if you really want to boost your score.

Budget every credit card use. To help you avoid late payments, one tip that we have for you is to include your credit card use in your budget plan. That means allocating an amount that you can afford. You have to plan how much you can charge on your card to avoid overusing it. Also, it will help you put aside the money that will allow you to pay for your full balance at the end of every month.

Know how to use your card properly. Lastly, you have to educate yourself on how you can use your credit card properly. That means you have to understand what the interest is and how it can affect the finance charges on your balance. You have to know how the finance charge, late payment fees and other charges can grow your debt significantly. Also, you have to understand how the grace period can keep you from credit card debt.

Understand that credit cards are quite harmless if you know how to use it properly. You can own it, use to have a high credit score and still end up with zero balance every month. It is not about the debt itself that will build up your credit score. It is how you pay for it.

Consumers Are In Need Of Credit Score Education

woman looking at a documentAre you confused about your credit score? If you are, then you may want to pay attention to this article because we will try to give you some of the basic credit score education that you need.

A consumer’s credit score is taken from their credit report. This report holds vital information about you. It shows a list of your credit accounts plus any good and bad behavior that you have displayed. In fact, that is the whole purpose of your score. It says a lot about your credit behavior. It is a number that represents your debt situation and how you rank at managing it. Simply put, when you are in a bad financial situation, chances are, you have a low credit score.

People usually encounter this score when they are trying to apply for a new credit account. Lenders and credit card companies will always check if a consumer is a responsible credit holder. Anyone who will let you borrow their money will naturally be interested in how you will pay it back. It does not matter if you have the income to pay your dues. Some people borrow money and forgets about it. This is something that lenders and creditors want to avoid.

Apart from loans and new credit accounts, employers will also look at your credit score before hiring you. Utility companies and even landlords can use this information to check out your credit behavior. These inquiries about you makes credit score education all the more important.

Study shows a lot of consumers do not understand credit scores

Unfortunately, everyone may know about credit scores but not all of them fully understand it. An article recently published by CNN.com discussed a survey done by VantageScore – one of the providers of credit score information. Apparently, lenders follow the Dodd-Frank Act by providing consumers with a disclosure notice to explain a credit application disapproval, but most consumers do not understand it. These reasons could include a current delinquent account or too many credit inquiries, but consumers have no idea what all of these mean so they fail to take the steps to help improve their score.

VantageScore surveyed 200 lenders and it revealed an increasing need for credit score education. The highlights of the survey as mentioned in the article includes the following:

  • 75% of lender participants are concerned that their clients do not understand what is written in disclosure notices.

  • 10% of lenders think their customers understand the disclosure notice “reason codes.”

  • 10% of lenders do not have a Spanish translation for their disclosure notice.

  • 38% of lenders are willing to help provide applicants with tips to help improve their credit score.

  • 33% of lender believe that a clearer and simple language will help make disclosure notices more understandable.

A separate survey, that is a joint effort of VantageScore Solutions and the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), revealed that a lot of consumers know very little about credit scores. The survey results as published on the ConsumerFed.org and it showed the following information:

  • ⅖ of consumer respondents are not aware that credit card companies and lenders refer to credit scores when it comes to making decisions about pricing and approval.

  • ⅖ believe that age and marital status influence credit scores.

  • ¼ to ⅓ of consumers do not know that they have the right to be informed of the reason for credit decisions (loan disapproval, interest rates, etc).

  • ⅓ to ⅖ of respondents are not aware that even the credit score of co-signers can be affected by student loans.

  • ¼ or more of respondents do not know how to improve or keep their credit scores from declining.

  • ⅓ of consumer respondents are misinformed about credit repair agencies.

Source: http://www.consumerfed.org/pdfs/CFA-VSS-Survey-Results.pdf

All of these statistics prove that more than ever, consumers should take time to get credit score education. You need to learn how to utilize this so it will not have any effect on any financial opportunity that comes your way in the future.

Here is a video from National Debt Relief that discusses why credit scores are important and how it can affect your plans to refinance your home.

Important credit score concepts you need to know

Now that you understand why credit score education is needed, let us discuss the basic concepts that you need to learn. If anything, this information will help you fix your credit score fast – or at least, in time for you to keep it from ruining financial opportunities that will come your way.

Here are 5 things about credit scores that you need to know about.

What is a credit score?

A credit score is a measurement of a consumer’s credit worthiness. As mentioned, it depends on your credit report. The data found on this report is a compilation of all your credit information from the various credit and financial institutions that you have transacted with. The three major credit bureaus (TransUnion, Experian and Equifax), compile this information and put it on your credit report.

A credit score range will depend on the company behind it but the average is from 300 to 850. A high credit score indicates that you are creditworthy while a low credit score would raise warning bells for lenders.

How is your score computed?

The exact formula to compute your credit score will vary. Fico Score and VantageScore, for instance, will compute your score differently. But all of them will base your score on your payment history, debt amount, credit history, new accounts, and type of accounts. These are the 5 important factors affecting your credit score.

Based on the FICO Score, the payment history affects 35% of your score. When you have a late payment, this will be affected. The next part is your debt amount – which is 30% of your score. When you have a high debt amount, this will suffer. Your credit history is 15% of your score. The older the account, the higher your score will be. The fourth involves new inquiries – which is 10% of a credit score. When you apply for a new loan and the lender looks at your credit report, that can affect your score negatively. The fifth also affects 10% of your score and it is the type of accounts that you use. The more variations, the higher your score will be.

Who looks at your score?

The majority of the people who will look at your score includes lenders and credit card companies. If you plan on transacting with any of them, you need to brush up on your credit score education. They make up the majority because you are borrowing money from them. Other viewers of your score includes employers, landlords, insurance companies and utility companies.

How to check credit scores?

If you want to take a look at your credit score, you need to get a copy of your credit report first. You can get a paid copy from one of the major credit bureaus or you can download a free copy from the Annual Credit Report website. The government mandates the three major credit bureaus to provide consumers with a free copy of their report every year. That means you get three free copies annually.

Once you have your credit report, you can proceed to search for a credit score calculator. There are many free calculators online – just make sure you will go with a site that is trustworthy and secure. Simply input the data in your credit report to get an estimate of your credit score.

What happens when you have a bad credit score?

Probably the most important question in credit score education is what will happen when you have a bad score. It really depends on who will look at your score. A bad score would mean higher interest rates from lenders and credit card companies. It will not really mean a disapproval – unless your score is really very low. For landlords, they may keep you from leasing their place or they will get a higher rental deposit from you. For employers, a bad credit score can cost you a job. For insurance companies, it can mean a higher premium payment. For utility companies, it can be the same as the landlord, you could be asked for a deposit.

Nothing is wrong with keeping your credit score high so you might as well try to take care of it. Start by learning more about it through credit score education. Added knowledge will never put you in a bad light.

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