Planning for Christmas Yet?

Are you planning for Christmas yet?

I know, that’s a scary thought, but are you planning for this year’s Christmas gift buying yet?  Especially if you don’t have the cash to buy all those gifts at once, you should either be saving like crazy now OR you should be working on your credit score so that when the holidays roll around again, you’ll have the credit that you need to do this year’s Christmas shopping.

Now, of course there are a couple of different ways that you could be saving for this year’s gift giving extravaganza.  The first and probably, the easiest way to save is to simply have a certain amount taken out of your pay check each week and put into either a savings account or onto a prepaid debit card that you don’t use until it’s time for Christmas shopping.  (I know, emergencies do arise, but if you don’t use the card, come October you’ll have a tidy little sum to shop with.

AccountNow® Gold Visa® Prepaid CardAs far as prepaid cards go, there are a lot of options out there, but I like the Account Now Prepaid Gold Visa.  It’s easy to sign up for, easy to put money on, and the online interface is pretty neat.  And, once you start putting a certain amount on your prepaid card each week, it just gets easier and easier to keep going!

Here are a few of the benefits of the Account Now Prepaid Gold Visa:

 

Fingerhut Credit AccountThe other way that you can start planning this year’s Christmas season is to start working on your available credit now so that when the time comes, you have the credit you need to buy the gifts that you want.  One of the best ways to get a fresh start on your credit and get the credit that you need for Christmas shopping is to apply for a Fingerhut Credit account.

Unlike a lot of online shopping sites, Fingerhut is known for extending credit to those with less than stellar credit scores, and unlike other catalog shopping sites, Fingerhut has hundreds of thousands of name brand merchandise, priced competitively, and they tell you up front what the monthly payment will be, so there’s no guesswork nor any surprises to wreck your budget.

And, if you open your Fingerhut Credit Account now, you’ll be ready for Christmas shopping when it rolls around later!

Take a look at what Fingerhut can do for you:

Could Bad Credit Wreck Your Lovelife?

Although most people don’t really think much about a potential partner’s credit score when they’ve just met someone, once the relationship begins to develop into something more long term, having credit scores that are polar opposites can cause problems when finances and households are combined.

Credit Cards for Bad CreditIn fact, about 40% of the population indicate they might just cool things off in a hurry if a partner has a bad credit score… sadly, unless you’ve had a serious financial setback such as losing your job, getting a divorce, or having a catastrophic illness, having a poor credit history is often viewed as an indicator of your overall level of financial maturity.  Not paying your bills on time (or at all), running up the balances on credit cards, and even letting Mom & Dad pay for your car insurance or your cellphone are all indicators of irresponsible use of your money, and sadly, may appear to be a sign of how you’ll handle combined assets in a long term relationship.  (Likewise, if you’re the one with good credit, and the person that you’re seriously involved with has a poor credit score, wouldn’t you be concerned if finances were to be combined in the future?)

So, what do you do?  Even though you don’t want to know (or share) your financial details on the first date, it is a good idea to talk about your finances early on, before you start planning the wedding!  And if your credit is bad (or your partner’s credit is bad)?  The first thing that you need to do is to sit down and talk about it, openly and honestly.  Then, make a plan together to improve your (or his/her) credit score – and stick to it.

Study your credit reports, fix any errors, and start working on those areas where you’ll see the most improvement:  Payment History and Available Credit!

Not only can a poor credit score affect your relationship, but a poor credit score can also lower your partner’s/spouse’s credit score, and make it more difficult to buy a home or car, and seriously limit your job prospects.

Bad Credit? You Can Still Get That Car Loan!

Need to replace your car but worried that you won’t qualify for a loan?  Maybe your credit is less than perfect or you’re buying your first car and don’t have much of a credit history?  You can improve your chances for approval before you go car shopping just by doing a little extra planning!

First and foremost, have your down payment saved up well in advance.  The more that you can save, the better off you’ll be.  Not only will a potential lender look more favorably at a sizable down payment, but you’ll have a lower payment AND you’ll save money on interest.

Secondly, pull your credit reports and scores from all three credit bureaus ahead of time so that, regardless of which one your lender pulls, you’ll have already seen it and you’ll know what’s out there.  (If your credit score needs work and you have time to do so, work on it before you buy that car!)

And finally, shop around BEFORE you go to the dealership.  Check with your bank, savings & loan, or credit union first, then, check online for potential lenders.  There are so many really good options out there that you can’t afford not to compare offers, even if your credit is not perfect.  Don’t just automatically use the financing offered by the dealer unless it is better than what you can get on your own – remember, their lenders are working for them and not necessarily for you, so it pays to know your options before you ever set foot on that dealers’ lot.

So You Want to Buy a House

So you want to buy a house… you’ve decided that you can afford a mortgage, insurance, and the inevitable repair bills?  And it’s better to be building equity of your own than paying someone else’s mortgage, insurance, and repair bills like you do when you pay rent, right?

But, do you really know what it takes to buy your first house?  Have you really investigated anything other than looking at your “dream home” on the real estate websites?  If you’re like most first time home buyers, the answer to that question is a resounding “NO.”


The truth is, there’s a lot more to buying a house than just looking at homes, then going to the bank and getting the loan.  A. Lot. More.  In fact, getting your first house may very well be the hardest thing that you will ever do financially… you’ll find yourself digging for bits and pieces of your credit history, check stubs, tax returns, and so much more, just to get approved for the loan.  And you’ll need a lot more money than just the down payment that the bank asks for up front.  Trust me, it can be a long drawn out process, and you’re never really, really sure that it’s all going to go through until the moment when you finally sign all of the paperwork and they hand you the keys to your new home.  (And that, too, will happen eventually!)

So, what can you do up front, before you actually find the home, make the offer, and then go to the bank?  Well, first and foremost, if you’re thinking about buying a home, you need to start with your credit score. If your credit score is below 600, you’re going to have a hard time finding a mortgage lender who is willing to work with you, and if you do, you’ll likely pay a higher interest rate than if you start out with a credit score in the mid 600’s.

Don’t know your credit score?  Well, that’s the absolute first place to start anytime that you want any kind of credit, be it a mortgage loan, an auto loan, or even just a credit card.

Of course, there are lots of places where you can get your credit score for free these days, and most of them are really good, but sometimes to get your full credit report as often as you’ll want to while you’re in the process of buying a house, it’s better to pay for credit monitoring for a few months.  That way, you can keep a really good eye on your score, and if your score isn’t where it needs to be, you can check it frequently while you work on cleaning up your credit to get ready to buy the house of your dreams.


 

Bad Credit Characteristics

Ever wondered exactly how some people end up with terrible credit?  What are the common characteristics of those at the very bottom of the credit scoring scale?  Are there things that you can do to avoid ending up with bad credit?

Generally speaking, people with poor credit (defined as a 300-600 score) tend to:

  • Make late payments
  • Pay only the minimum amount
  • Carry high percentage balances on multiple cards
  • Apply for multiple lines of credit within a short period of time

See yourself in any of these characteristics?  If so, then you need to make a concerted effort to start making your credit cards, car payments, house payments, etc., on time, work toward paying down the balance on credit cards, and stop applying for new credit cards.

It’s also a good idea to regularly review your credit reports for accuracy, as your credit score can be lowered considerably by inaccurate information.

 

Five Ways to Improve Your Credit Score

Overcoming obstacles to improving your credit score is never as easy as it sounds, and honestly, there are no magic buttons that you can push that will cause your score to skyrocket over the course of a few days, weeks, or even months, but there are steps that you can take that will start you on the path to good credit sooner rather than later.


Here are our top five suggestions for getting started on the path to a better credit score:

  1. Pay your bills on time, every time. Your payment history makes up about 30% of your credit score, so even one late payment can seriously damage your credit score. And remember, it’s not just your credit cards that need to be paid on time. It’s also your mortgage, your car payment, your utility bills, your doctor bills, everything. So sit down every month, every week, or every time you get paid and pay your bills first. Then you can have that new outfit, or that extra night out, or whatever you’ve been craving… just make sure the bills are paid first.
  2. Pay attention to your credit card balances. Sure, it’s easy to tell yourself that you can put that vacation, or that new living room furniture, or even that new television on a credit card, but if that puts you over the 30% usage limit on the card (or on all your cards), then you could see your credit score suffer simply because you’re using too much of your “available credit.” So, do yourself a favor and use your credit responsibly. And in the event that you do have to use more than 30% of your available credit? Pay it down below that level as quickly as you can. Available credit is another 30% of your credit score. Use it wisely.
  3. Pay off any small balances on credit cards. For example, let’s say you have a couple of store credit cards with balances under $100.00, along with a couple of major credit cards, also with balances. Pay off the small store credit card balances first and then use those cards sparingly. Why? Because one of the items that is considered in credit score calculations is just how many of those small balances that you carry. So, the sooner you pay those off, the better it looks when your credit score is updated.
  4. Don’t try to get good debts removed from your credit report. By “good debts,” we mean those paid in full car loans, zero balance credit cards (don’t close the accounts), or even a paid in full mortgage. This illustrates that you have a good history of paying your bills on time, especially when it’s a long term commitment like a home or car loan, and looks attractive to the next lender that you may approach to buy that next car or that new home.
  5. Be careful of the number of credit inquiries you initiate. Although it’s not a huge part of your credit score, every time there is a “hard inquiry” on your credit report, it can and does affect your score for up to two years after the inquiry. So, if you’re shopping for credit cards, or a new car, or even a home, try to keep the number of credit inquiries at a minimum (and within a short time span, if possible). The easiest way to keep your credit inquiries to a minimum? Know your credit score and only apply for those credit cards and loans that fall within your credit scoring range. For example, don’t apply for a credit card that requires your credit score to be excellent if you know that your score is only fair. Instead, apply for a credit card that is specifically for fair credit – you’re more likely to be approved and you’ll only end up with the one credit inquiry.

Remember, when it comes to good credit, it’s a marathon, not a sprint, and time is the best cure that there is for a poor credit score.

First Progress Platinum Elite MasterCard® Secured Credit Card

Credit Report Changes Coming Soon!

Unpaid taxes, doctor bills, and old judgments keeping your credit score down?  Perhaps you have some erroneous data on your credit report that’s nearly impossible to get taken off?  Inasmuch as we all try to pay all of our bills on time, every time, there are times when information gets onto your credit report that may be inaccurate, outdated, or simply false. That may be about to change.

Through a settlement between the big three credit bureaus and 31 state attorneys general, the National Consumer Assistance Plan has several key pieces of the settlement that will come into play this year, including those that affect the reporting of authorized user accounts, medical debts, civil judgments, and tax liens.

How will that affect your credit report?

Most importantly, these changes should help reduce many of the credit report errors that keep individuals from qualifying for credit cards, car loans, mortgage loans, and even personal loans.  They may even help those who have been denied jobs based on the information contained in their credit reports.

Exactly what changes to credit reporting will we see?

  • First off, beginning July 1st, all civil judgement and public tax lien data that does not conform to the new reporting standards will be excluded by the three big credit bureaus.  In a nutshell, unless the data includes an individual’s name, address, and either a social security number or date of birth, it will be excluded from credit reports.  Further, this information must be physically verified every 90 days by making visits to courthouses.  Simply because of logistics and economics, the majority of civil judgments will likely be excluded after this date.  (If you have this type of information on your credit report, you may see a credit score increase of about 20 points.) Unfortunately, there is also a downside to this change.  Mortgage lenders may be forced to due more “due diligence,” and if so, prospective homeowners could face additional costs, red tape, and so forth when they are trying to get approved for financing.
  • Secondly, medical debts cannot be reported until 180 days after the date of delinquency.  This will protect you in the event that insurance payments are delayed due to verification issues, questions, etc.  And, once the bill is being paid or has been paid in full by insurance, any previously reported medical debt must be removed from credit reports.
  • And finally, authorized user data must include the full date of birth for any newly added user to all existing and new credit card accounts.

While not everyone will benefit from the credit bureaus’ commitment to cleaning up credit reporting, it will likely save most of us a lot of the stress that goes with trying to get inaccurate information off your credit report.

Upstart Loans

Does Fingerhut Really Help Rebuild Your Credit?

You know, here at Fresh Start Card Offers, we’re always recommending opening a Fingerhut Credit Account as a fast, easy way to start rebuilding your credit, but does it really work?  Can the simple act of entering your name and address to find out if you qualify for a Fingerhut Credit Account really put you back on the road to credit recovery?

Fingerhut Credit AccountThe quick answer to the question is yes, opening a Fingerhut account really can help you to rebuild your credit, assuming that you use your new account responsibly, make your payments on time, every time, and keep your available credit below the 30% recommended by the credit bureaus.  But if you’re like most people, you’d like a little more info… maybe even an example of how a Fingerhut account made a difference in a real person’s credit score…

Well, here is just such an example:

“A few years ago, I’d just gone through an ugly divorce, from a husband who not only wasn’t working but had run up our credit cards so much trying to ‘start his own business’ that we were forced to file bankruptcy for the second time.  Even worse, we were behind in the house payment, and his truck had just been repossessed, so you know that our credit score was literally about as low as it could get.

Honestly, the only way that I was able to afford to file for divorce was due to a settlement from an automobile accident that I’d been involved in a few months before we separated… that money not only paid for the divorce, but it funded the huge security deposit that was required on my new apartment, and enabled me to keep the payments current on the car I’d leased after the accident.  Otherwise, I would never have been able to get out on my own, away from the nightmare of alcoholism that we’d been living for most of our married life.

At first, I didn’t worry much about my credit score… I mean, seriously, it was so low that I knew no one would ever give me credit again, or at least that’s what I thought in the beginning.  Until I realized that I had less than two years left on the car lease that I’d taken out just before the second bankruptcy was filed.  How would I ever get another car with such a credit history?

And that’s when a friend suggested that it was time I started working on my credit score.  And that’s how I found out about Fingerhut. Yes, I know – we all know that Fingerhut has been around for decades.  My Mom shopped there and I’ll bet yours did, too.  I used to love looking at the catalogs when they came in the mail… I just never dreamed that having my own Fingerhut account would improve my credit score as much as it has.

Anyway, to make a long story short, that first Christmas in my new apartment, I had no money for gifts.  So, I took a chance and applied for a Fingerhut Credit Account, and to my complete surprise, I was approved for a $300.00 credit limit!  Not only did my kids have a nice Christmas, but once I’d paid on the account for a few months (I always paid extra), they raised my credit limit.  And I started getting special offers and sales catalogs from Fingerhut in the mail.  The more I spent and the more I paid my account down, the better the offers and the higher my credit limit went.  I couldn’t believe it – I was finally making some headway.

And then came the day that I went to turn in the car – just as I knew they would, they checked my credit.  Imagine my surprise when it had risen substantially and I was able to qualify on my own for loan to purchase a two year old car that I saw on the lot.

Since then, I’ve not only continued to use my Fingerhut account regularly, but my credit limit has climbed into the thousands, and I’ve watched my credit score steadily climb along with it.  And honestly, it all started with that one small step, opening my own Fingerhut Credit Account.”

What about you?  Are you ready to start rebuilding your credit?

 

The Top Two Ways to Get a Fresh Start!

Need a fresh start on your credit but can’t qualify for a major credit card?

If you’ve had a severe financial setback, getting the credit that you need can be nearly impossible.  You know that you need to work on your credit score, but no one will give you credit… it’s a never ending circle.  You need credit to work on your credit score, but no one will give you credit, and every time you apply for a card and get rejected, it lowers your credit score a few more points!

How will you ever get the fresh start that you need to start rebuilding your credit?

Believe it or not, you can get that fresh start that you need, and it’s not nearly as hard as you think.  There are two ways that you can still get credit when it seems like no one will give you credit.  The first and probably most obvious way it to get a secured credit card.  Unlike conventional credit cards, you won’t be denied a secured credit card because you secure the credit card with a deposit of your own choosing, so you can make your credit “limit” whatever amount you want.  (I know, this is not the easy answer that you’re looking for, but trust me, it does work.)

Once you sign up for a secured credit card, you make the deposit, and then use the card just like a credit card to make purchases, and make regular payments on the balance.  The credit card company then reports your new credit limit, responsible usage and regular payment history to the credit bureaus every month.  In no time at all, you will begin to see the positive effect this will have on your credit score.

The other way that you can get a fresh start is by opening a Fingerhut Credit Account, which can actually be an unsecured account or, in the rare event that you don’t qualify, could be a special Fingerhut “fresh start” account.  I say that it can be one of the two because, even though nearly everyone qualifies for the first option, and open Fingerhut Credit Account, there are occasionally times when you may have to start with the second type of account.  Either way, opening an account with Fingerhut is truly one of the fastest ways to raise your credit score that I’ve ever seen.

Typically you’ll start out with a credit limit of about $300.00 – use it responsibly, make your payments on time every time, and you’ll not only see your credit score begin to improve, but you’ll also be amazed at how quickly your credit limit will be increased, and you’ll love the special offers (6 months interest free, no payments for several months, the Fingerhut major purchase program, and more!)

So, there you have it – the two best ways to improve your credit score quickly and almost painlessly!  All you have to do is pick one (or both) and get started!

Need a Fresh Start on Your Credit?

Need a fresh start on your credit?

Maybe you’ve missed a few payments?  Perhaps there is a bankruptcy or a repossession in your background?  Maybe you lost your job, got a divorce, or worse? Trust me, I understand all about the reasons that you might need a fresh start on your credit… when I first started working on my credit score, it was in the mid 400’s, and that is an extremely POOR credit score.  At first, I thought it was hopeless… that I could never climb out of the credit pit that I’d gotten myself into, and I was tempted to just give up and accept the fact that my credit would be poor forever… Purchases would always have to be made in cash, that a new car would be forever beyond my reach, that I would never own a home…  Sound familiar?

It doesn’t have to be that way!  You can get a fresh start on your credit!  With just a little work and by choosing the right credit options, you can improve even the worst credit score in a relatively short period of time.

How do you get a fresh start on your credit?

Basically, the fastest and easiest way to get that fresh start on your credit is to work on those areas where your credit score has taken the worst hits.  Not sure of where that is?  First and foremost, you need to know your credit score AND you need to have a detailed credit report in hand so that you can review it indepth and determine those areas where you can improve, those areas where there is inaccurate or missing information, and those areas where you aren’t able to do much more than just wait for them to drop off your credit report (typically seven years).


Now, there are dozens of places popping up online these days that will allow you to study your credit report for free, but you’ll want to make sure that you choose a reputable site to use, one that not only gives you your credit score and report, but also offers credit monitoring, protection, etc.  Although you don’t necessarily have to use it at first, at some point, I highly recommend signing up for credit monitoring AND actually using it!  There is a small monthly fee with most of these places, but in the long run, that monthly fee is miniscule compared to the improvements that you can make simply by being able to see all of your credit information in one place ANY TIME you want to see it.  (Most of the free places only allow you to see just a little information on a monthly or even quarterly basis – if you’re serious about improving your credit, that is not nearly often enough!)

I prefer Credit Sesame because they offer exactly the kind of information (for all three credit bureaus) that I need when I need it – and there are lots of other benefits to using their paid services. Trust me, you will want to check all three credit bureaus regularly because your score will be different at each, and when you correct something at one credit bureau, you will have to correct it at all three because they don’t share information!

Once you’ve had the chance to review the information on your credit report, then you can begin to improve it, first by reporting any inaccuracies (disputing is easy – you just submit it online!), and then by working on two other key items:

  1. Available Credit
  2. Payment History

These two components of your credit score are the two easiest areas to improve upon, and they’re also two of the most important factors in your credit score calculation, so let’s look at what you can do to improve them!

Get a fresh start on your available credit and your payment history!

One of the fastest, best ways to get a fresh start on your available credit is to pick the right credit source, apply for your card, and then keep the balance open on the card.  But what if you can’t qualify for any credit card?  And will a simple $300.00 credit balance be enough to really improve your score?  That actually depends – if you’re just starting out and you have no credit, then having an open $300.00 credit line will certainly help your score.  But, if you’re trying to rebuild a poor credit score, there is an easier way.

It’s long been said that “store” or “catalog” credit cards are the easiest credit cards to get, especially if you have bad credit – but is there one of those credit “cards” that is better than the other?  The short answer is yes – not only has this been my personal experience, but that of millions of other Americans, as well. So, what’s our recommendation for the best store/catalog credit card available?

Fingerhut is the best store/catalog account when it comes to getting a fresh start on your credit!

Find out instantly if you're pre-approved with Fingerhut Credit.That’s right, we highly recommend Fingerhut.com.  Why do we recommend Fingerhut?  Well, lets start with the features Fingerhut say that you can expect when you open a Fingerhut account:

Find out instantly if you’re pre-approved with Fingerhut Credit.

  • Build your Credit with Fingerhut!
  • Shop Great Brands.
  • With a WebBank/FingerHut Credit Account, buy favorite brands with low payments.*
  • Apply for Fingerhut Credit today. Fill out our easy online application.

Apply for a Fingerhut Account Now!

Now, here are the benefits that Fingerhut doesn’t advertise:

  • Fingerhut regularly reports the status of your account to at least one of the three major credit bureaus.  This status includes not only the balance due on your account and if your payments are made in a timely manner, but they also report your available credit, and that’s what we’re trying to improve.
  • Fingerhut regularly reviews your account to see if you are making your payments in a timely manner, how much you’ve paid, etc., and if your account is in good standing, they may offer you a credit line increase of a couple hundred to even several hundred dollars!  That’s right, it’s been my experience that Fingerhut will significantly raise your credit limit the more that you use the account to purchase items and as long as you make regular, timely payments.  And that significant credit limit can also significantly improve your credit score!
  • Fingerhut offers an interest rate on purchases that is often equal to, or even lower than, other store/catalog sites and even many credit cards.  Especially if your credit is less than perfect, you are likely paying as much as 33% and even as high as 39% interest on some credit cards – a typical Fingerhut account will be in the mid to slightly up 20’s when it comes to your interest rate.
  • Fingerhut does not charge a monthly or even an annual fee simply for having an account through WebBank.  Compare this with other store/catalog sites and most credit cards and you’ll see just what a benefit this is!
  • Fingerhut offers brand name merchandise at reasonably competitive prices.  Yes, you may sometimes pay a little more than you would at your local big box or discount department store, but you will also find that you will oftentimes pay less than at other catalog/store sites, and even at some of your local retailers.  Ordering is fast, easy, and your order is shipped promptly… right to your door!
  • Check out Fingerhut.com now to see how fantastic their site really is!

Still think you can’t get a fresh start on your credit?  

It’s far easier to get a fresh start on your credit once you actually get started.  My low credit score kept me from so many things… but once I really started studying my credit report, once I removed the inaccuracies, and once I made a real effort to improve my score, it didn’t take near as much time as I thought it would… and improving my score not only helped me to purchase a new car at a low interest rate, but two years ago, I bought my first house!

What are you waiting for?  Get started today!