Thinking about cutting up your credit cards? Closing credit card accounts that you are not using? Before you do either one of these things, you may want to think twice!
Let’s face it, at one time or another, we have all run up a credit card bill that seemed to take forever to pay off… and then, when it was paid off? Your first thought might be to cut up the card or close the account so you won’t be tempted to run that bill up that high ever again… Don’t do it! At least, don’t do it without looking at the effect that closing a credit card account could have on your total financial picture.
And by your total financial picture, I mean your credit score! That’s right, closing a credit card account can really affect your credit score, and not in a good way!
When you close a credit card account, you are essentially doing two things:
When you pay the balance in full, the credit utilization rate on the card will then be 0%, meaning that you are using none of the available credit on the card. This 0% credit utilization actually offsets the balances that you may be carrying on other cards, so if you’ve got two credit cards, one with a 75% credit utilization and one with a 0% utilization rate, and you close the one with the 0% utilization rate, you will actually lower your total available credit. Your credit utilization rate will then be 75%, and that’s not good for your credit score at all. Remember, your credit utilization is based on how much of your total available credit you are using… if you suddenly remove a portion of your total available credit, it can really affect your credit score.
When you close a credit card account, especially one that you’ve had for a long time, you could actually shave years of good payments off your credit history. Lenders like to see a longer payment history, closing an account could remove some of that history from your credit report.
What should you do instead of closing a credit card?
First and foremost, you should look at any annual or monthly fees that you may incur just for having the account… if there are fees, and you don’t need the info on your credit report to maintain a good credit score, then by all means close the account, or even consider closing one account and opening one with another credit card provider who won’t charge any fees. You might even qualify for a lower interest rate!
But, on the other hand, if you do need the info on your credit report, and there are little or no costs associated with keeping the account open, then keep the credit card. Just be sure that you put the card away so you aren’t tempted to make any impulsive purchases!
Keep the balance low and keep your credit score high!
A friend of mine is thinking about buying a house, in fact he’s been thinking about buying a house for a couple of years now. However, the last time he applied for a mortgage, he didn’t have enough credit, so his mortgage broker suggested he get a credit card or two to help build his credit score. Unfortunately, my friend didn’t know much about credit scores, credit cards, and such, so he went out and applied for multiple cards… and was rejected multiple times.
And that actually hurt his credit far more than he realized… his credit score plummeted almost twenty points. All because he applied for multiple credit cards that were actually “out of his credit league.” Had he been smart, he would have checked his credit score first, and then only applied for credit cards that he was likely to qualify for instead of the top tier cards that require excellent credit for approval.
What about you? Do you know enough about your credit score and credit cards to make smart choices when applying for credit cards? And, once you get approved for a credit card, do you know all the ins and outs? Have you read all the fine print? Do you understand it? If not, you might want to spend a little time learning a little more about credit cards and the benefits and the negative connotations that go with them. That way, you won’t be like my friend and have to learn the hard way.
Remember, using your credit cards responsibly can help you reach those big financial goals, like your first home, that new car, or even something as simple as this year’s vacation.
How do Credit Cards Work?
A credit card is really nothing more than a simple plastic card, equipped with a security chip, that is linked to a line of credit with a financial institution. Whenever you swipe your credit card to pay a bill, make a purchase (online or in person), or get a cash advance from an ATM, you’re actually borrowing money from the financial institution. While you don’t have to repay the full amount right away, if you don’t pay within a certain amount of time (usually 25-30 days from the date of purchase), you’ll have to pay interest on the unpaid balance. If the purchase is large enough, and if you take a long time to pay off the balance, the interest charged against the initial purchase can be significant as it will accrue against the amount that remains unpaid every month until you’ve paid it in full.
What are the Benefits of Using a Credit Card?
One of the biggest benefits of having a credit card is so that you can handle large or unexpected expenses, such as car repairs, home repairs, and other emergencies that crop up when you don’t have the cash to pay all at once. With a credit card, you can manage the expense by paying over time. (Just be sure that you pay it off as soon as you can.)
Some credit cards also offer rewards, such as cash back, travel rewards, and other perks, just for using the card to make purchases. Again, be sure to pay the balance off as soon as you can because the monthly interest charges can easily outweigh any rewards you may earn. Some credit cards also offer “purchase protection,” where items that you have purchased may be refunded if it’s defective or damaged. And of course, nearly every credit card offers protection against fraudulent use. (If yours doesn’t, you need to get another credit card!)
But, for a certain group of people, the biggest benefit of a credit card is the opportunity to build (or rebuild) a good credit history. Using your credit card to make purchases, paying your credit card bill on time every month, and keeping your total credit usage at or under 30% will demonstrate responsible credit usage, and this will be reflected on your credit report. Available credit and payment history are the two most significant factors in calculating credit scores, and lenders consider a solid payment history when you apply for new credit or a loan, so that a healthy history of on-time payments can help you get approved with lower interest rates than if you have had one or more missed payments.
What are the Risks of Using a Credit Card?
Probably the single biggest risk of using credit cards is how easy it is to get in over your head, spending money you don’t have, and strapping you with monthly payments that you can’t afford (often for years). For every month that you can’ pay your balance in full, the interest accumulates and increases that debt. The best way to avoid getting in over your head is to only use your credit cards when you can pay the balance in full, or when you have an unexpected expense (such as car trouble) and need to pay for the expense over time. Just be sure to have a repayment plan and stick to it!
There are other risks with credit cards, as well. Paying late, missing payments, carrying a balance over 30% of the total available credit, opening and closing too many accounts can all have a negative effect on your credit score, so use your credit cards responsibly.
What Credit Cards Should I Apply For?
Before you apply for a credit card, check your credit report and your FICO score to see what kind of credit card you’re most likely to be approved for when you apply. Remember every time you apply for a credit card, the credit card issuer reviews your credit report. This causes a “hard inquiry,” which can negatively affect your credit score, especially if you apply for too many credit cards all at once.
(Prequalification on the other hand would be a soft inquiry, since it is not firm approval, and provides an estimation of what you could qualify for. Not all prequalifications will lead to approval, since other factors such as income would be additional factors for the approval process.)
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Need to get a fresh start on your credit right now? Looking for a fast, easy way to get that fresh start?
One of the hardest things about improving your credit score is having the patience to wait the months and sometimes years that it can take to dig yourself out of the credit “hole” that you’re in, and even worse, it seems like no one will give you the credit you need to actually begin the process of rebuilding your payment history, available credit, and so forth. It can be an agonizing process… and you can’t afford not to get it right the first time. (Every time you try for a credit card and are rejected, your score can drop even more!)
Rather than take the risk of dinging your credit report for credit cards that you can’t get approved for, why not get that fresh start today with a Fingerhut Credit Account. That’s right, Fingerhut Credit normally approves almost everyone for an account, and in the event that you don’t get approved right away, they may even offer you a special Fingerhut “Fresh Start” account. So, either way, with Fingerhut, you’ll only have one credit inquiry on your account. And at a time when every point matters, that single credit inquiry means a lot.
Once you are approved for a Fingerhut Credit account, you’ll want to use it sparingly and wisely. Keep your balance around 30% of your total credit availability and make every payment on time, every time. These are the two most critical areas of your credit report. Total credit availability and payment history count for about 30% of your credit score EACH. So, if you use your Fingerhut account properly, you can see significant improvement in your credit score relatively quickly because Fingerhut reports your credit availability and your regular payment history to the credit bureaus EVERY MONTH. And these days your credit scores are updated several times a month, so every payment, every inquiry, and every purchase you make matters!
Even better, Fingerhut is literally one of the best companies when it comes to credit line increases, special no interest purchases, and super sales! If you sign up for Fingerhut and you use your account regularly (and wisely), you’ll be amazed at the offers that you’ll get via email and regular mail. (I recently qualified for their “Major Purchase Program,” where you can buy all new furniture, pay it off in a certain amount of time, and pay little or no interest!)
And the merchandise… there are literally hundreds of thousands of name brand, competitively priced products on their website. Everything from clothing, shoes, jewelry, and appliances to rugs, linens, and yes, furniture for every room in your house!
When you consider all of the advantages to using Fingerhut to jumpstart your credit score, why wouldn’t you want to open a Fingerhut Credit Account?
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Planning a trip to the beach for spring break? Don’t forget to take your credit card when you go!
Even if you have more than enough money saved to pay for your trip to the beach this spring break, you still should have at least one credit card in your pocket to cover you just in case you have an emergency expense!
What if you have car trouble? Need repairs? An accident? Let’s face it, it’s nearly impossible to rent a car without a major credit card! And using your debit card just doesn’t make sense… not only will the rental car company hold several hundred dollars on the card, but you’ll also lose the use of that money while you’re away from home!
What if something goes wrong with the rental that you paid for months ago? What if you need to find a place to stay for even one night in a hotel while you’re gone? Again, you can use your debit card, but did you have emergency expenses planned into your budget?
If you’re like most of us, you’ve scrimped and saved all year to have the money to take that beach vacation (or you’re using that income tax refund), and you’ve got just enough money to enjoy your week at the beach, or in the mountains, or at that theme park, but you don’t really have enough to cover unexpected expenses like replacing a tire, paying for an unplanned car rental or hotel room. It wouldn’t take much for your trip to be ruined, would it?
Relax. The best way to plan for those unplanned expenses is to have one credit card that you only use for emergencies…
If you’re like the majority of Americans these days, you’re drowning in credit card debt simply because, with the current state of the economy, you don’t have the money to anything more than the minimum payment due each month, and then, as soon as you’ve paid a credit card balance down even a little, you end up having to use the credit card and you’re maxed out yet again! It’s a truly vicious circle… and unless you do something, it’ll never change.
Relax… There is a better way to handle credit card debt!
With a personal loan, you pay off all those high interest credit cards, and you make only one payment each month for the term of your loan. Since the interest rate is usually drastically lower, you’ll pay less each month AND you’ll be able to pay the loan off sooner than you would have been able to pay off the credit cards.
Unlike debt consolidation companies, personal loans will typically improve your credit score because you’re actually paying off your credit cards, not negotiating for reduced payments, lower interest rates, and so forth.
But, what if your credit is not perfect?
Even if you’ve had a financial setback, you may still qualify for a personal loan! If you’re serious about getting out of debt, and you meet the loan company’s criteria, then a personal loan is an option that is definitely worth seriously considering:
For the past couple of weeks, I’ve seen lots of Christmas in July advertising… there’s always a Christmas in July Sale going on at one store or another and there’s even a special Christmas in July week on one of my favorite channels. But let me ask you this. Are you ready for Christmas this year? Even if it is only July, have you thought about how you will pay for Christmas this year?
If your credit is less than perfect, it’s actually time to start thinking about this year’s Christmas season. Otherwise, December will roll around, and you won’t have the money saved to buy gifts! And if you have bad credit, getting a last minute credit card set up for the holidays can be tough. There is a better way! Why not start planning for Christmas now, in July? Then, when December rolls around, you’ll be all set! Believe it or not, one of the best ways to start planning for this year’s Christmas is also one of the best ways to get a FreshStart on your credit!
That’s right, get a FreshStart on your credit AND get the credit you need, and it all starts with a Fingerhut Credit Account!
Setting up an account with Fingerhut has never been easier! And, Fingerhut has a special program just for those of us with less than perfect credit. You start out with a lower credit limit BUT if you make your payments on time, every time, they will re-evaluate your account regularly and chances are, your credit limit will increase over time. So why wait? Get started with Fingerhut today and you’ll be ready to celebrate when Christmas in December rolls around!
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Even if you’ve already saved the money for your summer vacation, it only makes sense to have a good credit card available just in case you have an unexpected emergency expense that crops up while you’re away from home.
You never know when you’ll have car trouble, lose some or all of your cash, or if you simply overspend and end up running low on funds before it’s time to go home. (Who doesn’t overspend on vacation?) That’s why you shouldn’t leave home without the security of knowing that you have a way to replace that tire, rent a car, or pay for that extra expense you just weren’t planning for when you were saving for your summer vacation.
But what if your credit is less than perfect? Who’s going to give you a credit card?
Even if your credit is less than perfect, you can still qualify for several types of credit cards. Many people qualify even with a bankruptcy still on their credit report, chances are you will too! Even better, once you’ve got the credit card, they will report your responsible usage and payment history to all three major credit bureaus, so you can continue to improve your credit score!
Did you know that credit card companies, banks, and other lenders are increasingly using purchasing data to determine whether or not you are a good credit risk?
Imagine being denied a credit card, car loan, or even a home loan because some little pencil pusher in a back office somewhere doesn’t approve of what you buy using credit cards, your store cards, or even your bank account! Believe it or not, it can happen.
Of course, there is an alternative – you can keep those prying eyes out of your business by using a prepaid card when you shop at places you’d rather keep to yourself. Places like casinos, secondhand clothing stores, marijuana / smoking shops, adult book stores, certain sites on the internet…anywhere that might cast you in a less than perfect sight!
(A prepaid card is also a great way to LIMIT your spending when you go to the casino! You can’t lose what you don’t have access to while you’re there!)
In your life you may get trapped into tough financial bind and have to face thousands of odd situations. There can be situations where you have to take out loans to purchase a new car or repay your credit card debts. Your credit score will be quite low and in such a situation you cannot apply for a new credit for your loved ones which is acutely required. The only way you can help them is you have to co-sign a loan for them. Although it’s a helpful gesture to help people in tough times, but you have to consider certain things when you co-sign for a loan.
Your credit score will decrease:
If you’re not a borrower and just a co signer for a loan, then also it will be reported to the credit bureaus. This loan will appear both on the credit reports of the borrower as well as the co-signer. Hence, if the borrower fails to repay the amount, then you’ll be responsible to pay the amount and your credit score will be negatively affected.
Difficult to apply for a new credit:
If in future you have to take out loans to repay your credit card bills or refinancing your home loans then you may be charged high rate of interest. It’s because, according to the lender you’re liable to pay the loan you have co-signed. Moreover, your debt to income ratio will not be favorable to provide you a new loan. Hence, co-signing a loan might affect your chances of getting a loan in future.
You might get sued:
While you co-sign for a loan, it doesn’t mean that you’re only liable to repay the loan amount but you have to take the responsibility of paying the late fees and unpaid accrued interest. If the borrower fails to pay down the amount, then the debt might be handed over to the collection agency and situation will get worse. They may even sue you or the court might order them to garnish your wages and put a lien on your assets.
According to the recent study by the Federal Trade Commission, 75% of all the co-signed loans that have gone into default have been paid by the co-signer. Hence, there are quite a number of potential hazards of co-signing a loan. So if you have to help somebody, then you must limit your liability as a co-signer.