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How to prepare for your 2015 taxes now

With tax day behind us, most tax payers (about 8 out of 10 of you) are thinking of ways to spend their refunds wisely and debating between an indulgent purchase or a responsible investment. If you’re looking for a smart way to spend your refund, this article isn’t for you (although last year we covered this topic in detail). This article is for the poor, disheartened remaining tax payers who found themselves in the negative this year.   Let’s start by noting that you should absolutely not ignore paying taxes you owe to the IRS. If your taxes are not paid in a timely manner, the IRS can report the delinquent taxes to the credit bureaus. This is called a tax lien. Tax liens are considered by FICO Scores and stay on your credit reports for seven years or more, so it’s important … [Read more...]

Why the upcoming credit bureau changes are a big deal for consumers

The three major U.S. credit bureaus—Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax— are soon going to change the way they handle credit report errors and unpaid medical bills.   The credit bureaus maintain data on millions of U.S. borrowers—data that is used to generate your FICO® Scores—so overhauling the way disputes are handled to make fixing credit report errors easier could be good news for your scores. The new guidelines for how the bureaus will list medical debts might also have a positive impact for consumers’ FICO Scores.   The announced changes have been variously described as “huge,” “colossal,” and any other synonyms you can think of for “really, really big.” So what exactly is changing, and how will the changes affect you? Read on to find out.   What’s … [Read more...]

How to Apply for Student Loans While Minding Your Credit

At CommonBond, we get a lot of questions from student loan applicants who are concerned about how applying for a student loan will affect their credit. The fact is, you can’t ruin your credit simply by applying – the worst that it will do is trigger a hard credit inquiry on your credit reports (more on this below) that affects your FICO® Scores in the short term. Still, there are a few ways you can manage the student loan application process wisely in order to safeguard your future scores.   1. Get as much info as you can from a lender without authorizing a hard credit inquiry   As you may know, there is an important distinction between “soft” and “hard” credit inquiries. Soft inquiries are made by businesses that check your credit report and scores even though you … [Read more...]

Interactive credit score map:
Median FICO Score 8 by state

In the name of Financial Literacy Month, we had a little fun with some FICO Score data! While where you live is not considered in the calculation of your FICO® Scores, it's still interesting to compare FICO Score trends across the 50 states.   The median FICO® Score 8 for the entire U.S. is 713 as of October 2014 (median score means the point where 50% of the population scores above and below that score). Can you guess which states had the highest and lowest median FICO® Scores?   Check out the median FICO® Score 8 for your state on the map below and keep reading to find out which states ranked!       People in northern states in the midwest as well as New England states, on average, tend to have higher FICO® Scores – Minnesota and North … [Read more...]

9 Easy ways to Spring clean your finances

In the midst of warm weather, new growth, yard work and deep cleaning, don’t let your finances be overlooked. Leverage that spring-cleaning feeling and take the sponge to your finances. Here are 9 ways to clean up your finances for a squeaky clean year. (For 6 more tips, head to our spring cleaning page!).       Spring cleaning tips for beginners   1. Evaluate your budget   Your budget is the foundation of your financial health, so it’s a great place to kick off your spring cleaning.  Use a spend analyzer through your bank or a third-party application to figure out where your money has been going. Or simply review your transactions from the last few months. Then compare those trends with your budget. Have you been staying on … [Read more...]

6 Ways to maximize credit card rewards

In the credit card world, there’s really no better feeling than earning rewards for your spending. Who doesn't like getting a little bonus for purchasing everyday expenses with some plastic?   But lost in the excitement of air miles, cash back and gift cards is the fact that getting the most out of your credit card rewards requires some extra know-how and a bit of work. Want to squeeze every last drop of value out of that rewards card? Here are some tips.   1. Pick a rewards card that matches your lifestyle   Even the best of the best rewards cards will fall short for you if the rewards you’re earning are a poor fit. Not much of a traveler? Acquiring airline miles and hotel points won’t be of any use. Drive an electric car? A gas rewards card won’t do you … [Read more...]

Quiz: How well do you know FICO Scores?

Happy credit education month! Think you know everything about FICO Scores? Now is your chance to test your FICO Score knowledge. Take this quick, fun quiz to see how well you know FICO Scores. Questions range from easy to a little more challenging, and most questions provide a detailed explanation of the answer. Quiz yourself, learn and share with your friends!     … [Read more...]

How student loans affect your FICO® Scores

Here are some sobering statistics for anyone who recently graduated from college:   1. 70% of students graduating with a bachelor’s degree are leaving school with student-loan debt   2. The average class of 2014 graduate with student-loan debt owed $33,000—earning them the distinction of the most indebted class ever   3. 2014 graduates faced an 8.5% unemployment rate and 16.8 underemployment rate   Recent college grads are leaving school with more debt than ever and entering a job market with fewer opportunities for them to use their degrees and, in turn, pay back their loans.   It’s easy to forgive a young grad buried to the neck in student-loan debt for overlooking the impact of his loan repayment on his FICO Scores. The fact … [Read more...]

New FICO credit education video series: Understanding your credit

We’re excited to introduce a new education video series from FICO—Understanding Your Credit. We created these three initial short videos to help you understand FICO® Score basics. Watch them and learn what a FICO Score is, how it’s calculated from your credit reports, how lenders use them to evaluate your credit risk, and plenty more!   What is a FICO Score?   Every day, thousands of U.S. lenders use FICO Scores to make more well-informed credit-granting decisions. But what does that mean for you? And why is it important to understand how lenders use them?   This video takes a look at what a FICO Score is and why it matters to consumers and lenders alike. Watch to learn how FICO Scores streamline the lending process, making it faster and fairer for … [Read more...]

5 Smart credit card moves that could help your scores

We all know the consequences of using credit cards irresponsibly: crushing debt, late and missed payment fees, poor FICO® Scores, bad breath (okay, maybe not one of those).   Of course, using credit cards wisely comes with a number of benefits. In addition to being a secure and convenient way to make payments, credit cards can help you establish and build credit, give you access to valuable rewards, and can even help improve your scores. To help you play the credit card game wisely, here are 5 smart moves to make.   1. Ask for a credit limit increase   Your issuer might occasionally surprise you with an unprompted credit limit increase, but it never hurts to take matters into your own hands if you've been pining for a higher credit line. A limit increase … [Read more...]

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