New Credit Card Offers Added!

Just a quick post to let you know that we’re adding new credit card offers almost daily! In addition to credit cards for those of us with less than perfect credit, we’re now able to offer choices for those with Good to Excellent credit, Student credit cards, rewards cards and much more!

If you haven’t explored our financial products lately, you could be missing out!

Deep Clean Your Credit Report

When was the last time you took a good, hard look at your credit report? Identified and disputed errors? Made a plan to resolve any issues that are damaging your credit score? Worked toward improving that score? You haven’t done that?

Sadly, unless a person is specifically interested in getting a credit card, buying a new car, leasing a new apartment, or even buying a home, most people don’t pay that much attention to their credit report. And when they’re ready to make that big purchase? Often their credit score isn’t ready… that’s right, not paying attention to your credit report (and credit score) can not only cost you more in fees and interest, but it can even keep you from getting that new car or that new home. The best way to avoid that kind of disappointment is to pay attention to your score right now… long before you’re ready to get that new line of credit.

Start with getting your complete credit report, which will contain information about your credit and payment history, new credit inquiries, and personal information that is relevant to your identity and credit history. In the past, to get your credit report, you had to request it from one of the three credit bureaus and then wait about ten days for them to mail it to you. These days, you can get your credit report instantaneously and at absolutely no charge simply by enrolling in one of the many online credit reporting services, such as Credit Sesame 100% Free Credit Score & Credit Monitoring .

Once you have access to your credit report and score, it’s time to do a line by line review to determine what needs to be improved, corrected, disputed and removed. Here are the things you’ll want to study carefully:

  • Personal Information: Review your name, any other names used (maiden name, married name, etc.), addresses (current and previous), date of birth, employment history if listed, etc., to be sure that every detail is accurate. Any deviation and/or information that you don’t recognize could indicate identity theft exists.
  • Accounts & Balances: Review every account listed, checking for the length of time the account has been opened to the current balance amount for accuracy. This includes not only current accounts, but old, even closed accounts.
  • Credit Inquiries: Look carefully at all credit inquiries listed. Did you actually request the inquiry? Do you have multiple inquiries? Remember too many credit inquiries can lower your score, and if you did not request them, it is a strong indicator of identity theft.

After you’ve spent time reviewing your credit report, what happens next? One of the first things that you’ll want to do is to dispute any errors that you happen to find on your report. These errors can range from an old bill still listed as due, but that is paid in full, a late payment ding when you can prove the payment was on time, one or more incorrect addresses, and even multiple accounts that do not belong to you.

The initial dispute can be filed online or via U.S. Mail – just make sure that you file the dispute with all three credit bureaus, and not just one. And make sure that you include all pertinent documentation to support your rationale for disputing the incorrect information. While it takes time and patience to dispute items, 79% of disputes result in the information being removed from the credit report, so it is worthwhile to follow the process all the way through.

This determination and patience is especially important when it comes to cleaning up past blemishes on your credit report – even if you’ve corrected the problem, it can and likely will remain on your credit report for up to 10 years, depending upon the type of blemish it was.

Finally, once you’ve done everything that you can to correct any errors on your credit report, it’s time to figure out what else you can do to raise your credit score. Here, there are typically two areas that you can address:

  • High credit utilization: The balances that you are carrying on your credit cards at any given time may be hurting your credit score if they are more than 30% of your total credit availability. Paying down those balances will typically boost your credit score within 30-60 days.
  • Available credit: If you don’t have any credit available, you may want to consider getting a secured, catalog, or other type of account to establish that availability, and then use it carefully to begin building (or rebuilding) a good payment history.

Remember, cleaning up your credit report can and will take time, but once you identify and start repairing the issues that caused the blemishes, you will find that every little boost in that credit score is just the incentive that you need to keep going!


 

What’s On Your Credit Report

You know, when you’re just starting out financially, it’s not always easy to understand all of the financial terms, what they mean, and how they affect your credit score… truthfully, you may not even understand your credit report the first time that you request it, even though literally everyone says you should study it, make sure it’s right, and try to keep it in the good to excellent range. But, what exactly is on your credit report?

What makes up your credit report and your credit score? Basically, your credit report is your financial snapshot and it contains information directly related to your financial status. Here are the major categories of information that you should find on your credit report:

  1. Personal Information: In order to positively identify you, your report will contain your full name, including any variations such as maiden name, middle name, middle initial, misspelling and/or any other name that you may have used in your financial affairs. It will also contain your social security number, date of birth, and all addresses that you may have used over the course of your lifetime. It may include your telephone number and/or your places of employment.

  2. All Open and Closed Accounts: Your credit report will also contain a list of all credit that you’ve had over the past ten years (expect some variation on the length of time), including credit cards, mortgages, auto loans, etc. Each creditor will list their full name, your account number, balance owed (if any), payment history, and whether or not the account is current or past due.

  3. Public Records: Any public records, such as bankruptcies, judgments against you, and/or any liens.

These are the main items that you will see when you review your full credit report. Surprisingly, you won’t usually find identifiers such as marital status (although joint accounts will be included in both credit reports), level of income, bank balances, or level of education in your credit report.

Remember, the information contained in your credit report is used to paint your personal financial picture, therefore, it’s extremely important that you review all of the information carefully and report any discrepancies that you find to the credit bureau that listed it on your report.

Clawing Your Way Back Up

You know, when your credit score is really bad, it can seem like there is no point whatsoever in trying to improve it.  You know what I’m talking about, how many times have you or someone you know made the simple statement, “My credit score is so bad, I’ll never be able to buy a house (or a car, or anything else).”   The truth is, it can be daunting when you think about clawing your way back up to a decent credit score, especially if you’re starting at the bottom of the credit pit.  And sadly, that alone is enough justification for some people to just give up, accept that they will have damaged credit forever, and never do anything to change it.  But it can be done.

That’s right, no matter where you are on the credit scale, you can claw your way back up to a good or even an excellent credit score, as long as you are determined to work on it.  Note that I said determined and work.  Regardless of what anyone tells you, improving your credit score will take a lot of determination, a lot of work, and a certain amount of time.  But, if you never start the journey, then you will never get to the destination that you have in mind.

So where do you start?

First and perhaps foremost, you need to take the time to review your credit report, find out what your credit score is, and then make a plan for improving it.  And, by simply using the  technology at your fingertips, it’s really easy to get your credit score and your credit report at no cost, sign up for credit monitoring and protection, and keep a close eye on your progress.  (Some scores are updated weekly, some monthly, and a few quarterly.)  Once you know your credit score, depending on what range you fall into, you can start improving it by opening new accounts to increase available credit, paying down debts to get below the 30% credit utilization, or disputing things that are wrong on your credit report.

Now, if your credit score is really low, your choices will be limited when it comes to signing up for new (or even any) accounts.  But, keep in mind that there are a lot of other people who are in the same boat that you’re in, so there are options to start rebuilding your credit.  The most popular options are secured credit cards and catalog shopping cards, and there are companies that will work with you to make sure that you get the credit you need to start clawing your way back up the ladder… but, just like I mentioned in the beginning, if you don’t start, you’ll never get there.

Here are a couple of options to start rebuilding your credit today:

 

 

Raising Financially Responsible Adults

As parents, one of the most important things that we can teach our children is how to be responsible adults, and that means not just giving them everything they want, but teaching them how to get those things themselves. Too many parents think that by giving kids everything they want, they’ll somehow grow up “better” than they themselves did, but the simple truth is, if you don’t teach your children how to be adults, they may never get there.

Now while there are a lot of lessons that go into raising responsible adults, today we’re going to talk about raising financially responsible adults… you know, adults who budget wisely, live within their means, and who are financially independent.

Perhaps you’ve already started your children on the path to good financial habits with an allowance or even a savings account of his or her own, maybe you’ve even gone so far as to give them a debit card with a preset spending limit. If so, that’s fantastic, but there are a few other things that young adults need to learn before they’re ready to be on their own financially.

One of the most important things is managing a checking account – you would be amazed at the number of young people who do not understand how to actually balance a checking or savings account, write a check, or make a simple deposit. (And yet, they all know how to spend money online, right?)

So when is a good age to start? Honestly, as soon as your child understands money, it’s time to start teaching them how money is earned, how to save, and how to spend wisely.

Lots of banks offer options for young adults, teenagers, and even younger children to open both checking and savings accounts, so take the time to shop around with your child – teach him/her about the various benefits of each type of account, explain interest rates, fees, and so forth. Use it as a teaching experience and allow him/her to help make the decision and actually open the account.

Then, as odd as it may seem, the best way to start is with a good old fashioned check register, checkbook, and debit card. Write down every transaction, teach him/her how to write a check, how to use a debit card, and how to record everything in the check register, then balance it to the online banking account.

Not only does this teach him or her how to track the balance, but getting them in the habit of accounting for every expense (every time that debit card is swiped) may help them to really think about how their money is spent, and how they may not want to spend it in future transactions.

Remember, raising financially responsible adults is a long process… it won’t always be easy, and you’ll be legally responsible for any accounts that your children have, but in the end, it will be worth the patience and effort that you put into it.

Get a Fresh Start with Store Credit Cards

Need a fresh start on your credit?  Having trouble rebuilding your credit after you’ve suffered a serious financial setback?  Maybe you haven’t ever really had any credit but want to start building your credit score for the future?  While store credit cards may not provide the same flexibility as traditional credit cards, they are usually a pretty good option if you’re trying to build or rebuild your credit score, but before you sign up for just any store credit card, make sure you study the fine print.

Here are a few things to look for with store / catalog shopping cards:

  • Credit limit – Many store credit cards start out with a low credit limit, but over time and with a good payment history, your credit limit will typically increase.  You can actually use these increases over time as they will increase your available credit, and may increase your credit score, as well.  (Just remember to keep your credit utilization under the 30% recommended by the credit bureaus.)
  • Interest rates – Some store credit cards will have a higher interest rate than the national averages, however, if you’ll be utilizing the card to rebuild your credit score, this may not be a big factor, especially if you plan to pay in full on a monthly basis.
  • Limited usage – Most store credit cards are limited to the store or catalog shopping site that is extending the credit to you.  Again, if you’re utilizing the credit to rebuild your score, this isn’t a factor.  The important thing is to get the available credit onto your credit report.

Choosing the right store/catalog credit card can make it much easier to get that fresh start on your credit, but there’s more to it than just signup up for the first store/catalog card you run across – always consider your options carefully, make your purchases carefully, and have a plan to pay back anything that you charge.

 

 

Loan Options for Really Bad Credit

If your credit has ever been really bad, or if it is now, then you know how hard it is to get any kind of credit.  Even worse, you’re so convinced that you can’t get credit that you don’t even try, but there are options, even for those of us with really bad credit.

Let’s talk about some of those options:

  1. Payday Loans:  Payday loans are probably the most expensive type of loan that you can get.  The interest rates are typically significantly higher than traditional loans, and you must repay them on the due date (your next scheduled payday) or there will be steep fees added to the account.   That said, there are times when you absolutely have to have the money right now, and as such, a payday loan can be a life saver.
  2. High Interest Rate Loans:  There are loan companies that will work with you, but beware of the interest rate that you may be charged, pay attention to any fees, and make sure you can actually make the payments before you sign on the dotted line.
  3. Title Loan:  If you own your vehicle outright, a title loan can be a less expensive loan option, especially if your credit is less than perfect.  Interest rates on title loans tend to be lower than unsecured loans.   In exchange for the cash that you need, the loan company will place a lien on your vehicle while you make the required payments.  Once the loan is paid off, the lien is released.
  4. Home Equity Line of Credit:  If you own your home, and you have some equity in the home, then you may be able to borrow against the equity that you have in your home, but be sure that you can make the payments on this loan, as you are taking a big risk with this type of loan.
  5. Borrow Against Your Retirement Account: Again, this is not a favorable option because of early withdrawal penalties and tax repercussions associated with borrowing against your retirement account. However, in the event that you do have to borrow against your retirement, make certain that you opt for a loan and not a straight distribution from your account.
  6. Cosigners and Relatives:  Although this is the least favorable option, you can approach a relative to either loan you the money that you need or cosign along with you on the loan.  However, the cosigner’s credit will likely be affected by the joint loan and they are held responsible in the event that you don’t make the payments, so if at all possible, I would avoid this option.

As you can see, you do have loan options, even with really bad credit – the main thing is to be certain that you choose wisely, and once you’ve made your choice, that you pay the loan back as soon as possible!

Recovering from Bankruptcy

But what can you do to improve your score before the seven years passes?

Even though it may seem impossible, you can actually begin to rebuild your credit almost immediately by working with companies that offer secured credit cards, small installment loans, or catalog shopping accounts (such as a Fingerhut Credit Account issued by WebBank).  Many of these creditors specialize in working with those of us with less than perfect credit, offering special “fresh start” style programs designed to help rebuild credit.  Once you’ve opened such an account, make sure you make your payments on-time, every time, and keep your credit utilization below 30%, and in a few years, your credit score could be as high as 700 or more.

While it may seem like it at the time, bankruptcy does not ruin have to ruin your credit forever, you just have to make sure that you use the “fresh start” that bankruptcy provides wisely by practicing good financial habits and working to rebuild your credit.

Here are a few options to consider when you’re ready to start rebuilding your credit, whether you have a bankruptcy or not:

What Are You Doing With Your Tax Refund?

Well, it’s that time of year again!  That’s right, most of us are getting our tax refunds back!

What are you doing with your tax refund this year?  Last weekend, I was out doing my regular Saturday morning grocery shopping, and I happened to stop in the home improvement store to pick up something that I needed to fix something else in the house.  You’d have thought it would be a quick trip – in and out in minutes.  Not so!  The store was packed with people and they were spending money like crazy!  So, I asked a friend who happens to work there what was going on, and she said that people were spending their tax refunds.  Hundred dollar bills were flying around like nothing, she said.  And then I thought about that… if I could afford to do that, would I spend my entire tax refund?  Probably not.

Unlike the people who are spending their refunds on home improvements, vacations to the beach, or something totally frivolous, you could use your tax refund constructively, and pay down a little debt, get a fresh start on a less than stellar credit rating, or even put it into a savings account for a rainy day.

While it’s not quite the same as the instant gratification you’ll get from spending it all on a Saturday afternoon, the long term benefits can be just as rewarding… especially if you see what happens to your credit score after you pay something off or use some of the cash to open up a secured credit card.  Both options will increase your available credit, which will typically increase your credit score!   And a better credit score means better credit options down the line… when it’s time to apply for that new job, buy that car, or even qualify for that new home you’ve been dreaming of!

Interested?  Check out these secured credit cards and use that tax refund right!

Freshen Up Your Credit with Fingerhut

Spring is here!  And with spring, many of us are starting our spring cleaning… dusting, mopping, washing, and replacing things all over the house…

Have you ever thought about freshening up your credit while you’re at it?   That’s right.  You can do a little spring credit cleaning while you are doing that spring cleaning around your house!

How do you spring clean your credit?  One of the first things you’ll want to do is to inspect your credit.  Look at where your credit score is, how much available credit you have, and what you can do to improve your credit.  The easiest way to do that is to check your credit report on one of the many sites, like Credit Sesame 100% Free Credit Score & Credit Monitoring, that offer access to your credit report and scores.

Once you’ve seen where your credit score is, you may decide that you want or need to increase your available credit, or perhaps you need to start the process of rebuilding your credit score.  If that’s the case, then you may want to consider applying for a Fingerhut Credit Account issued by WebBank. 

Fingerhut is perhaps one of the most well known catalog shopping sites in the world, and they are known specifically for working with those of us with less than perfect credit, so opening an account with Fingerhut won’t be a problem for most people, and the boost to your available credit that opening your Fingerhut Credit Account issued by WebBank normally creates?  Well worth it!

Oh, and did I mention that Fingerhut has literally hundreds of thousands of name brand, competitively priced products for you to choose from, with payments that you can afford?   So, while you’re spring cleaning, you might just decide that you want to freshen up your decor while you’re at it!