Cloud Security: Keeping your information safe in the cloud

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Although we have a long ways to go to conquering outer space, we should look perhaps a bit closer to our own atmosphere and consider the following: How safe are the contents we store in the cloud?   What’s this ‘cloud’ you speak of? Good question. Cloud services are applications that are Software as a Service (SaaS) based and hosted on OPP — Other People’s Property — so that a user is not required to download and install a software package in order to use the service. All you need is the Internet browser of your choice and you’re good to go.   Millions of consumers interact and store massive amounts of personal data every day. For example, those of us who watch Netflix or use Instagram to send pictures — all that content is stored in the cloud. DropBox, a file storage … [Read more...]

Mortgage Tips: 9 Ways to Lower Your Monthly Payment

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We often hear information on how homeowners can use tactics like refinancing to lower their mortgage payments. But what about homebuyers? What tactics can you use to ensure you start out with the lowest possible mortgage payment?     Luckily, there’s quite a bit you can do as a homebuyer to keep your mortgage payments low. Here are just 9 ideas to get you started:     1. Boost your credit score     Your credit score is a big determining factor in your mortgage’s APR. And even a tiny difference in APR has a big impact on monthly payments (as well as interest paid over the life of your loan).     According to this FICO chart, average interest rates on a 30-year fixed mortgage range from 4.004% to 5.593% right now, … [Read more...]

Does Getting Married Affect Your Credit?

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Considering tying the knot? Congratulations! But, as any wedding couple knows, with wedding planning comes financial planning. The rings, the venue, the Pinterest-chic individualized party favors with gold flakes on them—with each addition to your perfect day comes a subtraction from your bank account.   All this spending most likely has you thinking about your financial future with your new spouse. I know how busy you are, so I’ve taken it upon myself to address the three most common questions couples ask me:   1. I don’t love my spouse’s spending habits. Should I try to teach my spouse new habits or just manage the finances myself?    One of the most important facts of life to know before you get married is that you can’t expect your spouse to … [Read more...]

The Dangers of 5 Popular Ways to Pay for College

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For many families, sending a child to college is a quintessential part of the American dream. But these days, you'd better start saving when they're still in diapers if you want to make higher education a reality. With the cost of college continuing to go through the roof, a growing majority of students are left searching for ways to subsidize the expense.   It has been said that education is the greatest investment, but to what lengths must you really go? When your savings, income, and even financial aid and grants  still aren't enough, alternative options are becoming increasingly necessary. While each has the potential to help pay the bills, they also come with inherent risks that often out-weigh rewards.   1. Credit Cards   Families often effectively … [Read more...]

Consumer Protection Rights & Your Children

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A blog post for myFICO Kids – Making financial awareness, protection & health a part of the entire family.   National Consumer Protection Week is an annual campaign that creates awareness about consumer information and protection. There’s actually a lot of regulation put into place to protect consumers that many people don’t even know about.   Thanks to the CARD Act, consumers are protected from unfair rate hikes, retroactive rates and late-fee traps, and important terms and conditions must be publicly available. That’s just to name a few. What you may not realize though, is that consumer protection isn’t extended just to adults; children need protection, too. Your child’s personal information, like yours, is protected by law. Sadly, identity theft threatens the … [Read more...]

The Who, Why and How Behind Your Credit Health

As a writer in the personal finance sector, I spend a lot of time reading blogs about how to improve or establish credit. The information out there is great. I’ve come across tons of articles that offer a variety of ways to improve your credit score. Reading between the lines, it’s become pretty clear to see that there is one thing that is most important above all when working on your credit. It’s not a credit card, it’s not a budget, and it’s not a plan. No, it’s a general understanding of how your credit works, and why you have a score in the first place.   Let’s Start With The Why   Credit scores didn’t just happen. There was a genuine need for a way to gauge the creditworthiness of consumers, businesses, and even entire countries. The reality is, before credit … [Read more...]

5 Factors to Consider Before Changing Jobs

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According to a report by Forbes, job-hopping is "the new normal" for an increasing number of Americans. However, labor experts agree that switching employers is never a decision to be taken lightly. It can be a major risk.   While the lure of greater opportunity, better environment, increased compensation, and change for change's sake are all compelling reasons to accept a new job, there are many variables to take into account before officially taking the plunge.   Whether you are currently fishing for available openings or are already reeling in what promises to be an excellent opportunity, ask yourself these five important questions before changing jobs:   1. How Is My Financial Footing? While money (perhaps surprisingly) is not the main reason most … [Read more...]

6 Major Credit Myths, Debunked

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There are a lot of myths and misconceptions floating around relating to your FICO® Score or credit report. Working in this industry, I get a lot of questions that absolutely blow my mind. Just this week someone told me they thought that getting a credit card with 0% APR for 18 months meant that they were not obligated to pay anything until after those 18 months. Another individual thought that getting a secured credit card meant they had to pay twice as much as someone with an unsecured credit card. Where are these myths coming from?   In last year's FINCON Conference, Gerry Detweiler (Credit.com), John Ulzheimer (worked at Equifax, FICO, and Credit.com) and Maxine Sweet (Experian) uncovered a few major credit myths in the panel “Everything Your Readers Need to Know About … [Read more...]

Do Consumers Actually Care About Their Credit Scores?

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If anyone asked us whether consumers care about their credit scores, we at First Bankcard would say, “OF COURSE, they should care!” How else can they qualify for our company’s incredible financial products without understanding their FICO® Score and what they can do to improve it?   As I thought about this, however, it occurred to me that we might be a touch biased on that topic. So back in early 2013, when First Bankcard, a division of First National Bank of Omaha, began to work with FICO to proactively provide our credit cardholders with their FICO® Scores through the FICO® Score Open Access program, we decided to actually ask our customers what they think.   We emailed a random sample of our credit cardholders a brief survey asking a few simple questions regarding … [Read more...]

Emergency Funds Could Save Your Credit Score

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FICO® Scores can take a hit from any direction, and many times it can be avoided if you think ahead. Performing simple, 5 minute tasks can aid in making sure you don’t miss a payment, such as setting up calendar reminders every month or automating the payments each month to be withdrawn from your bank. Some consumers even ignore payment requests and reminders, naively thinking they will just disappear or won’t affect their score. Two years ago Omar Al Chaar discovered that if you have unpaid parking tickets, your score will drop. Most people don’t know this.   What about those unavoidable expenses that pop up? One of the top reasons low and middle-income households in America see a drop in their credit score is due to emergencies. Here are some supporting facts: 40% of … [Read more...]

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