You’re ready for a relationship. But is your credit?

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If one of your New Year’s resolutions included finding that special someone to settle down with, you need to be ready and able for that special relationship. This includes your credit.   Talking about money issues with a romantic partner can be awkward, but once the relationship gets serious, it’s important to be able to be open and transparent with one another. Having money discussions is a great way to practice this important relationship skill.   Issues related to money are one of the top reasons for divorce, so sorting out all the money stuff before a lifetime commitment or marriage can give your relationship a much greater chance of surviving and thriving.   Now, I’m not a therapist or even a relationship specialist, but I have had relationships myself … [Read more...]

6 Ways to protect your identity in the wake of the Anthem breach

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This has been an extremely difficult week for consumers everywhere. Anthem, the second largest health insurer in the US, announced that sophisticated criminals perpetrated a daring cyber theft of at least 80 million consumer records from their databases.   Anthem is warning consumers that phishing scams related to this data breach are targeting current and past covered members. Tax preparation giant Turbotax® announced that it is temporarily suspending State tax e-file services nationwide as a result of fraudulent activity that most certainly involves identity theft as a means to tap into the tax refunds of innocent tax-paying US citizens.   Quick Fraud Facts As many as 1.84 million people may have been affected by medical identity theft in 2013, according to the … [Read more...]

5 Big credit mistakes you should avoid at all costs

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When it comes to credit, some people prefer the ignorant bliss method: Don’t look at your credit, don’t worry about your credit, don’t even think about your credit. This method can actually be quite effective for several months or even years – that is until you’re thinking about buying a new home, leasing a new car, financing a new computer, or whatever else you've been dreaming up.   When you’re actually looking for credit, it will quickly become clear that the ignorant bliss method was a mistake. Those financial decisions you carelessly made might actually hurt your FICO® Scores or credit history.   You don’t have to be the type of person that worries about credit constantly (although a periodic review of your FICO® Scores and credit reports is always a good idea). … [Read more...]

President Obama says credit scores are an “early warning system” for fraud. Is he right?

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On Jan 12th, in his lead-up to the 2015 State of the Union Address, President Obama gave a speech at the Federal Trade Commission outlining proposed legislation that would help “better protect American consumers from identity theft and ensure our privacy.”   In addition to previewing a new data breach notification law, which would require businesses to notify consumers of a breach within 30 days, the President lauded the recent efforts of several lenders who are offering free FICO® Scores to their customers.   He specifically thanked JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, USAA, the State Employees’ Credit Union, and Ally Financial  for “stepping up and equipping Americans with another weapon against identity theft, and that’s access to their credit scores, free of … [Read more...]

4 credit score factors investors
should watch out for

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If you’re an investor, you know the value of making every dollar work for you. That’s why your FICO® Scores are so important. Since 90% of top lenders use FICO Scores to help make lending decisions, a high score will improve your chances of qualifying for the best rates and offers—which ultimately means more money in your pocket from investments.   On a $216,000, 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, the difference between a 620 FICO Score and a 760 FICO Score could be the difference between a $1,139 and $941 monthly payment. FICO Scores make a difference when it comes to investing.   With that in mind, here are four FICO Score factors any prudent investor should be aware of.   1. Do your rate shopping within a short time period Applying for mortgages, loans, and … [Read more...]

The major 2015 credit card change you need to know about

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Magnetic stripe credit cards are going to start getting phased out. Here’s what you need to know.   All that plastic in your wallet might look a little different come this time next year. That’s because by the end of 2015 a projected 70% of all U.S. credit cards and 41% of U.S. debit cards1 will come equipped with an embedded microchip based on the global “EMV” smartcard standard.   At this point, you might be wondering what exactly an “EMV smartcard” is, or why the U.S. is suddenly making the shift to this new credit card standard. And you’re probably wondering what this all means to you, anyway. So here’s everything you need to know about the upcoming nationwide shift to new credit card technology.   Meet EMV   EMV—which stands for Europay, … [Read more...]

Your guide to the different types of mortgages

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Home buying is at once an extremely exciting and highly daunting process. One of the most important decisions you’ll need to make right at the start is choosing what type of mortgage to apply for. The first thing you’ll want to do is get familiar with the different types of mortgages so that you can apply for the one that’s right for you.   Common Rate Types   There are two mortgage rate types offered by financial institutions: Fixed-rate and adjustable-rate. Both have their pros and cons, and which type makes the most sense for you is dependent on your unique situation.   Fixed-rate mortgage   A fixed-rate mortgage allows you to choose the term of the mortgage (how long you want the mortgage to last), which is typically 15, 20 or 30 years. As … [Read more...]

5 Totally painless ways to save money

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  It’s one of those things that sounds easy in theory. Just don’t spend so much on groceries – easy peasy! Next thing you know you’re in a Whole Foods on an empty stomach and nothing sounds better than organic, fair-trade chocolate infused with espresso and shipped directly from Brazil. 15 impulse buys later and you’re walking away with a one-night smorgasbord and 100 less dollars to your name.   Turns out, saving money is hard. It’s like your mother always told you, if it was easy everybody would be doing it. And just to be clear: A lot of you aren’t saving money. According to a study conducted by Bankrate.com1, over a quarter of Americans have no savings at all. Of those that do have savings, 67% don’t have enough to cover 6 months of expenses. If this sounds like you, … [Read more...]

These 4 credit scoring myths could be hurting your scores

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Some myths are innocuous. Thinking that the Great Wall of China is visible from space (it’s not) or that sharks don’t get cancer (they do) won’t have much of an impact on your life.   The same can’t be said, however, for some of the common misconceptions about credit scoring.  If you believe any of these 4 credit scoring myths, you could be doing damage to credit score without even knowing it.   1. “My poor score will haunt me forever” Believing this myth has the effect of a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you think that trying to rebuild your credit is futile, there’s little chance you’ll take the necessary steps to start down the path toward a higher score.   The truth is, even something as devastating to your score as a foreclosure can be rebounded from … [Read more...]

Should I transfer my credit card balance to another credit card?

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If you’ve been stuck on the credit card debt treadmill for a while, struggling to make anything more than the minimum monthly payments, you’re probably looking for a way out.   Maybe at some point this brilliant idea occurred to you (maybe it was in the middle of the night and it came to you in a dream and you shot straight up like they do on TV and said it aloud): “I know what I’ll do! I’ll pay off my credit card with another credit card.”   Yes, you can use one credit card to pay off your balance on another—though it isn’t all that simple and comes with a few caveats.   First thing: You can’t actually pay off credit debt with credit. Unfortunately, none of the major credit card issuers allow credit card debt payment by credit card.   And … [Read more...]

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