The Home Depot Data Breach: 3 Things You Can Do Now to Protect Yourself

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As you have probably heard, Home Depot announced that their payment systems have been hacked, resulting in what might be one of the biggest data breaches yet. Between Target, Neiman Marcus, Goodwill and now this, it seems that hackers aren’t losing any speed nor audacity.   If the rise in breaches and identity theft hasn’t gotten your attention yet, it should. Every time you hear of a major data breach at a place where you shop, you should be taking steps to protect yourself. Here are three ways you can take action now.     1. Request a new credit card If you regularly use your credit card, it’s time to request another one. The service is usually free and this simple step can save you the pain of fraud resolution. Just make sure you have a backup payment method … [Read more...]

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...]

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 Ways to Start Getting Out of Debt

Jeff Rose from Good Financial Cents shares five ways to start tackling your debt now:   … [Read more...]

A Diet for Your Debt

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Are you still feeling the impact of the holidays? That extra helping of turkey or that second or third cookie might have inspired you to make a resolution about losing weight.   But that's not the only place where we could use a little trimming. Our credit might also feel bloated and overweight after a Christmas season of extra spending. And when we get that credit card statement in the mail, it feels the same as adjusting your belt buckle – not good! So if you've been making a weight-related New Year's resolution, perhaps it's time to put your credit on a much-needed diet as well.   If your credit card statements are bulging, one of the first things you should do is make a plan to pay them off as quickly as possible. After all, failing to pay off your Christmas debt … [Read more...]

10 Steps to Achieve Your FICO Score Resolutions

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Many of us are preparing to make New Year resolutions – such as eating healthier, exercising more, being more productive and improving financial health. All of these are lofty goals, but in terms of enhancing your wallet, there are a few simple things you can do in regards to your FICO Score that can reap long-term financial benefits.   So after you pack up the holiday decorations, finish that last piece of fruit cake and send off 2012 with a bang, follow these 10 steps to help increase your financial fitness – in 2013 and beyond.   1. Get your credit report. Your credit report is a snapshot of how lenders see you. There are three national credit reporting agencies in the U.S. (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) and you should get a copy of your report from each. … [Read more...]

Good Credit Habits: The Gift that Keeps Giving

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It's everyone's favorite season! The holidays are filled with cheer, goodwill and generosity — and so much candy! You've probably spent plenty of time thinking about what to get your children, spouse, family and friends …but have you considered what to get yourself?   I'm not talking about splurging on a big-screen TV, or cute new designer shoes. It can be tempting to treat yourself to something exciting since you're already out shopping for everyone else. However, there’s one gift you can give yourself now that you’ll enjoy for years to come: the gift of developing good credit habits that will lead to a strong FICO score.   Here are just a few reasons why you should give yourself the gift of good credit habits:   -Life often throws us unexpected … [Read more...]

8 Tips for Smart Holiday Spending

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As the economy continues to sluggishly recover, each year around Black Friday retailers fret that shoppers will forgo holiday gift shopping, or drastically cut back on spending. However, a recent myFICO survey  indicated that while folks plan to flex their credit cards this holiday season, most are planning a modest budget — 65% of respondents said they’d expect to charge less than $500 on their credit cards this year. That’s good news for retailers and for shoppers’ credit health. But it’s one thing to plan not to overspend, and another thing to successfully execute said plan. How many of us plan not to overindulge on treats at holiday parties, but inadvertently wind up with a belly ache, a scattering of red & green crumbs around our shirt, wondering how we managed to pack in that … [Read more...]

Don’t Let Black Friday Darken Your FICO Score

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Rev up your wallet! The holiday shopping season kicks off this Friday after Thanksgiving, and retailers hope to attract us with big sales events and special operating hours so we’ll buy, buy, buy.   In addition, many retailers will work hard to persuade you to open new credit card accounts. They may offer sweet enticements such as an extra 10% discount on all purchases you make that day - or they might give you a special gift just for applying.   It's easy to get caught up, as retailers make applying for store credit so convenient and easy.  Just give the sales clerk your name and address, and within seconds you’ll know if you've been approved for instant credit at your fingertips.   Unfortunately, many of us don’t understand that applying for credit can … [Read more...]

College Students: Study These Tips to Build Good Credit

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Is a friend or someone in your family going off to college soon? Here's some credit advice to pass along to the college-aged loved ones in your life:     One card is enough. Students should establish a responsible credit history before adding additional cards. Browse good choices for student cards.   Be diligent with payments. Be sure to emphasize credit decisions can have a critical financial impact later in life. Understand the effect of late payments.   Keep a low balance. Start early, and encourage the habit of using only a small portion of available credit. Read more about the effect of amounts owed.   Learn about credit. Add Credit 101 to the curriculum. Read this free booklet "Understanding Your FICO Score" for a great intro … [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.