Use Your Tax Refund To Build Credit


What do you plan to do with your tax refund? Maybe you have your eye on upgrading your phone, buying a new computer, or splurging on a long overdue vacation.

Have you considered using your tax refund to build your credit?

Granted, credit building doesn’t compare with lying on the beach enjoying the sunshine, but you’ll get long-term benefits that go beyond good memories and a tan. Last year’s federal tax refunds averaged $2,899, which could go a long way toward establishing new credit or restoring damaged credit.

If you don’t have any credit at all, your tax refund could help you get a secured credit card. Traditional credit cards require a minimum credit score, but secured credit cards usually don’t because they’re backed by a cash deposit that determines your credit limit.

By making small regular charges and paying them off on time and in full each month, you’ll b…

Are You Prepared For An Economic Slowdown?


Beware of Credit Score Inflation

America’s credit scores have improved along with the improving economy. Compared to 2006, there are approximately fifteen million fewer Americans with credit scores below 660 and a corresponding increase of fifteen million Americans with scores greater than 740.

That’s good news, with a potential downside. Federal Reserve research suggests that we’re experiencing credit score inflation, similar to grade inflation in college. The economy is doing so well that the true risk of marginal borrowers may not be properly represented. Analysts are concerned that today’s consumer with a credit score of 660 – considered the boundary for subprime lending – may reflect higher risk than a consumer with a 660 credit score a decade ago.

Consumers may be doing okay now with a 660 score in a strong economy, when they are more likely to have a decent paying job – but what happens in tougher times? Are they properly prepared for an ec…

Why You Don’t Want To Be “Credit-Retired”


You’ve reached a point where you don’t have to use credit cards anymore. Your home is paid off. You don’t have other outstanding debts. You must be an excellent credit risk, right?

As strange as it sounds, creditors do consider you a risk when you’ve become “credit-retired.” If you haven’t been using credit for some time, you don’t have any recent information in your credit report – which is the primary method lenders use to assess your risk. If lenders can’t assess your risk, they won’t extend credit.

Why do you care about credit ratings if you have resources to pay for everything? For one reason, you can’t count on those resources lasting – consider a stock market crash, an expensive medical condition, or other event that could rapidly drain your resources. You could eventually be in a situation where you need credit again for a large purchase – such as replacing your car or downsizing to a new home – and cash simply isn’t feasible at the time….

Credit Score Limits Dropping For Mortgages


If you’re in the market for a home, a high credit score is key to qualifying for a mortgage loan and getting the lowest interest rates possible. What do you do if your credit score is toward the lower edge of qualification?

The March 2019 Chartbook from the Urban Institute’s Housing Finance Policy Center has good news for you. Median FICO credit score limits dropped from 730 to 727 from November 2018 to February 2019 – not much of a change, but every point matters when you’re near the edge.

The housing crisis drove qualifying FICO credit scores for mortgages up significantly. Median scores for mortgages rose from 700 pre-crisis to 733 in 2013, but at the 10th percentile – generally the lowest acceptable credit score to qualify for a mortgage – borrower scores rose from less than 600 to just over 650 in 2013. As of February 2019, the 10th percentile borrower credit score was at 642, well above pre-crisis levels.

Potential homebuyers…

45% Of People Who Lose Their Wallets Have To Spend An Entire Day Or More To Undo The Damage


You reach for the bill, and then realize that your wallet is missing. You mentally retrace your steps, add up how much cash was in there, and stress over whether someone will use your credit cards and try to steal your identity. Besides all the time it will take to cancel your credit cards and debit cards and get a new driver’s license, how much is this fiasco going to cost you?

Says Greg Scott, IT professional and identity theft victim, “Think about replacing a driver’s license, Social Security card, insurance cards, all your credit cards, your blood donor card, changing your locks so nobody can use the spare key you kept in your wallet, and everything else you found important enough to carry all the time.”

In an exclusive MoneyTips survey, we asked 509 Americans in November whether they had ever lost or had stolen their wallets, purses, pocke…

These Crooks Got 25,000 Credit Cards For Non-Existent People


It’s bad enough when someone steals your identity and opens accounts in your name. What happens if thieves steal part of your identity and use it to create a non-existent person?

Synthetic identity theft occurs when criminals “synthesize” a false identity using made-up Social Security numbers and other personal information. Sometimes, synthetic identity thieves start with a single piece of real information – for example, a child’s stolen Social Security number – and fill in the rest with false information. Once the false identity has been created, thieves rack up huge bills under the identity and simply disappear, sticking creditors with the losses.

When criminals pool their talents, synthetic identity theft can reach astonishing scale. According to the

How Does Your Credit Score Compare To Your Neighbors?


Few things get people more fired up than rivalries between states. State lines become battlegrounds over sports, economics, culture … and credit scores?

A credit score comparison may not have the same intensity as a college football game, but we’re Americans. We make everything a competition.

So, who’s number one in high credit scores? According to the latest Experian State of Credit report, Minnesota tops the list with a 709 average on the VantageScore scale (ranging from 300 to 850).

The report, released in 2018 using data from 2017, shows strong regional blocks of credit score trends.

Nine of the top ten credit score states are located in either the upper Midwest or the Northeast. Behind Minnesota, the top credit scores are Vermont (702…

Nearly Half Of Those Who Lose Credit Or Debit Cards Don’t Know Any Of Their Card Numbers


Do you know your credit card numbers by heart? Or at least have them recorded somewhere safe? If you can’t locate them, you want to make sure you can put a stop to them before someone else racks up charges on your cards. It’s much better to know or record them before they vanish and it’s too late.

We surveyed 509 Americans in November to learn that nearly 2 in 3 Americans had either lost or had stolen their wallets, purses, pocketbooks or money clips (we’ll use ‘wallet’ from now on to represent these four accessories). Since the law protects people who report missing credit and debit cards quickly, we then asked those who found themselves in this predicament:

21% said they didn’t have missing cards, and an additional 8.2% reported recovering the cards, so they …

Sexual Chemistry More Important For Singles With Lower Credit Scores


What are your top five must-have factors in a romantic partner? If you selected trust, communication, honesty compatibility, and sexual chemistry, you’re in sync with most respondents in a new survey from Elevate’s Center for the New Middle Class.

The Elevate survey was designed to study how finances play a role in dating for both prime and non-prime Americans. Elevate defines prime consumers as those with credit scores above 700, while non-prime consumers – the New Middle Class – have credit scores below 700. You can check your credit score and read your credit report for free within minutes by joining MoneyTips.

Both prime and non-prime Americans cite the same five critical factors listed above, and non-prime Americans were slightly more likely than prime Americans to consider each element i…