Paying Cash May Cost You More in the Long Run

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The NY Times recently featured an article that talked about Americans who are trying to make a conscious effort to use cash instead of plastic.  The catalyst for this paradigm shift isn’t driven by a need to conserve funds or to avoid finance charges as you might immediately suspect.  Some consumers are choosing cash over credit to insulate themselves from the risk of being a cyber-crook’s next victim.  It seems like a sensible solution on paper until you realize that misguided precautions along these lines are eventually going to hurt your credit score if you are too stringent in your new “cash only “payment habits.   Credit scoring is really a “use it or lose it” situation.  It’s important to remember to use your credit frequently even if you fully intend to pay off the … [Read more...]

Teaching Children to Save Early Part 1: K-4

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myFICO Kids – Making financial awareness, protection & health a part of the entire family.   Today is Teach Children to Save Day, a national program that organizes bankers who are willing to volunteer and to teach children about the importance of saving early on in life. This program has been going on since 1997 and has helped over 6 million students develop good saving habits early in life.   Saving early is essential to having a successful, debt-free life upon entering adulthood. Members of the class of 2011 graduated with an average of $26,000 in student loan debt. Had they saved or invested, I’m confident that number would be much lower. The general population believes financial education is becoming increasingly important, bordering detrimental to the … [Read more...]

myFICO Welcomes Financial Literacy Month

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While April is the official National Financial Literacy Month, we at myFICO like to think that sound financial literacy practices should be a 24/7 common practice for everyone.     And why shouldn’t it be when having a strong understanding of how to create/stick with a budget, the benefits of investing and saving, how the credit system works, how lenders evaluate applications for credit, how interest fees accrue and knowing your consumer rights can all save you thousands of dollars and loads of time.     At myFICO, we focus on that part of financial literacy related to consumer credit and encourage everyone to participate in this year’s National Financial Literacy month with the following activities:     Check your credit reports to … [Read more...]

5 Credit Spring Cleaning Tips

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After the holidays and long winter, it’s not just your house that needs a deep clean. Your credit reports, balances or savings might be looking a little dirty, too. While you’re making a checklist of things to throw out, clean or redo, we recommend adding a few credit items to the list. In the name of the season, we’ve got 5 spring cleaning tips for your credit!   1.       Check your credit reports for any errors   It’s extremely important to make sure there aren’t any errors on your credit report. An error is usually the result of a clerical typo made when processing an application, but it could also signify identity theft. Order all three of your credit reports and make sure you don’t see anything suspicious. Learn how to dispute an error on your credit reports, and … [Read more...]

Your Beginner’s Guide to Playing the Credit Card Game

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The credit card game is a little bit like a choose-your-own adventure. Do you want airline rewards? Take the path to your left. More interested in cash back? The door is behind you.  Sure you might meet some villains along the way, but there’s a treasure chest at the end.  If you act responsibly rather than impulsively, you can take advantage of some great rewards. To get you started, here’s a beginner’s play book.   Step 1: Choose your goal If you have credit card debt already, you’re best bet might be credit debt consolidation. Look for a card that has a lower interest rate than your current credit cards and that waives the balance transfer fee for the first few months. Consolidating your credit card debt can help you manage your monthly payments, save on interest rate costs … [Read more...]

5 Smart Ways to Use Your Tax Refund

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Wondering what to do with your tax refund? First of all, resist all urge to frivolously spend it on small purchases you don’t need. A Nordstrom’s shopping spree won’t help you pay off your bills or retire. And that large TV you’ve been coveting? Don’t even consider it unless you’re completely debt free. A good rule of thumb: If you couldn’t afford it before your refund, you shouldn’t be buying it now.   Instead, treat your tax refund, and any large bonus for that matter, as an investment opportunity. That doesn’t mean you can’t spend a dime. In fact many experts recommend spending a small percentage of it to help you stay motivated to save. Go for a small splurge—somewhere in between a new toothbrush and a new motorcycle. Then, do something smart with the remainder of your … [Read more...]

Paranoid, Apathetic or Empowered:
Your Smart-Consumer Action Plan

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Protecting yourself as a consumer is pragmatic, not paranoid. I by no means encourage you to obsessively guard all traces of your personal information. If you take that approach, you’ll end up a recluse with a hoarding problem. But the reality is, how we transact has changed—we’re mobile, online and nationwide. So we’ve got to change the way we protect ourselves.   National Consumer Protection Week might be coming to end, but being a smart consumer means developing lifelong habits. That’s why we’ve provided a smart-consumer action plan. Print these tips, reference them often. Eventually, these steps should become habits so that every time you purchase, share, invest, donate or borrow, you will be better protected.   Your Smart-Consumer Action Plan   1. … [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...]

Protecting Your Credit and Financial Reputation

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Most people use their credit and debit cards every day with little thought regarding the fact that criminals are desperately trying to get access to your card information so they can run up fraudulent charges, create counterfeit credit cards, withdraw cash from ATM machines  (if they can intercept your pin number) or sell your information to other criminals.   And I am not talking about the random thief who steals a wallet or purse and uses the cards to rack up a couple hundred dollars at a nearby convenience store.  I am talking about highly sophisticated fraud rings led by really smart people who leverage advanced technology to access credit and debit card information on a larger scale.   Case in point – recent data breach notifications by Target and Neiman Marcus … [Read more...]

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by a credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of a credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a credit card issuer. This site may be compensated by credit card issuers mentioned on the site by such companies.