7 Charges Not To Put On Credit Cards


You have several credit cards and a couple of killer rewards programs. Why not put them to good use and charge every purchase that you can?

It’s smart to get the most out of your credit cards, but do so within a budget and with one thought in mind – “Is a credit card the best way to pay for this item?” Consider these seven items that are unwise to pay with your credit card.

1. College Tuition – If you put your college tuition on credit, you’ll get an extra lesson on interest rates – and a painful one at that. Undergraduate federal student loans taken out during the 2018-2019 academic year carry 5.05% interest. The highest rates of any student loans are 7.6% for PLUS loans that target parents and graduate students. Meanwhile, the average credit card annual percentage rate (APR) is almost 17%.

Still think you should charge your tuition? Take a math course or two and rethink your strategy.

2. Taxes – It’s okay to…

Don’t Let A Refi Hurt Your Credit Score


By Tracy Scott

Do you have a loan payment that is squeezing your monthly budget a bit tighter than you’d planned? When you borrowed the money five years ago, you may have been in a different job, childless or paying less on other household expenses. Refinancing may provide the needed relief for your financial situation. It may also prevent you from needing to make bad money choices such as maxing out your credit card for groceries or opening new lines of credit to pay your bills.

What Does Refinancing Mean?

Refinancing is paying off a current loan by originating a new one. The old debt still exists, but it is now in the form of a new loan, quite often with a lower payment and interest rate. You need good credit to qualify for a refinance. Just as when you applied for the original loan, approval is often based on your ability to repay the loan, your employment history, and your current credit score.

HARP To End This Year


The Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) has arguably been one of the most successful programs to assist homeowners affected by the subprime mortgage crisis. According to HousingWire, almost 3.5 million homeowners have been assisted by the program, with around 1 million of those homeowners having been underwater (owing more on their home than it was worth).

HARP was created to help homeowners who were in decent enough financial shape to avoid foreclosure, but who were unable to secure refinancing because the drop in their home values left them underwater or otherwise unable to meet traditional criteria. HARP does not reduce the amount of principal owed, but it does rework the terms in order to secure better interest rates, lower monthly payments, or save on collective interest.

Many homeowners who can take advantage of HARP refinancing have already done so. However, ther…

9 Alternatives To A Reverse Mortgage


A reverse mortgage allows you to convert the equity in your home to cash that you can use for other purposes. Essentially, you’re selling your home back to a lender in increments.

It’s a popular method for seniors to supplement living expenses. Repayments don’t begin until the owner permanently moves out of the home, passes away, or transfers ownership – as long as the home is maintained and property-related bills (taxes and insurance) are paid.

However, reverse mortgages have downsides, including equity-reducing fees and potential financial burdens to heirs – not to mention running out of equity before you run out of expenses. Consider these alternatives to a reverse mortgage before you commit.

1. Selling/Downsizing – Instead of selling in increments, why not sell all at once? You’ll probably receive more of your equity and can use some of those funds toward

Check Your Credit Before The Landlord Does


Your Credit Can Affect Your Housing

When you apply for credit, you expect a potential lender to check your credit report. The lender wants to assess the risk of lending you money before approving your application.

Did you realize that potential landlords could check your credit report as well? A 2014 study by the credit reporting agency TransUnion found that nearly half of landlords surveyed considered credit check results as one of the top three factors in evaluating a potential tenant’s application. Landlords want proof that you’ll make payments on time, just like lenders do.

Is your credit report being correctly compiled by the three major credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion) – and if so, is it being correctly represented to the landlord? You can’t take either one for granted.

Protecting Yourself Against Fraud And Theft Beyond Credit Freezes


Credit freezes are one of the strongest actions you can take to prevent damage from identity theft.

When you freeze your credit, lenders can’t access your credit report to assess the risk of lending you money. Even if they have your personal information, thieves can’t open new accounts in your name. You can’t, either – but you can thaw your account and re-freeze it once you’re finished with new credit applications.

Unfortunately, a credit freeze doesn’t cover all potential sources of fraud. Credit freezes don’t affect existing accounts. You must take separate steps to protect them.

To exploit existing accounts, thieves must have enough information to access them – such as log-ins and passwords. Start by assuming that your data has been breached and that you’re on the defensive.

Check all bank and credit card statements for any fraudulent charges and review a …

Is Your Credit Score As High As Your Peers’?


You may think you have an average credit score – but do you really? How does your credit score compare to the national average? How about within your age group? Thanks to new information from FICO, you can see where you stand.

The average FICO score reached an all-time high of 704 this year– right in the middle of the good credit range (670-739) according to the credit reporting agency Experian. However, the average clearly shifts upward with age. The youngest age group (ages 18-29) has an average credit score of 659, while the oldest age group (age sixty and older) has an average credit score of 747.

The other age groups follow the same credit score pattern. The 30-39 age group averages 677, the 40-49 age group averages 690, and the 50-59 age group averages 713.

Why would credit scores increase with age?

Credit scores are based on risk assessment. The …

91% Of Us Have Taken Steps To Protect Against Identity Theft


In September 2017, America learned about the massive data breach at the credit reporting agency Equifax that affected approximately 148 million consumers – one of the largest breaches ever. Identity thieves suddenly acquired a new batch of Social Security numbers, names, addresses, phone numbers, and other personal information.

Consumers were advised to take steps immediately to protect themselves against identity theft. Did they heed that advice? A new survey from CompareCards.com shows that the vast majority of Americans (91%) took at least one protective step against identity theft while the average American had taken at least three steps.

The most cited protective steps were reviewing online bank and credit card statements more often (65%), checking credit scores (51%), and setting up alerts to notify users when charges were made to their accounts (50%).

Zombie Debt 101


Zombie debt refers to old unpaid debt, declared dead and uncollectable long ago, that rises from the grave to ingest the bank accounts of the living. Who are the mad financial scientists that create this zombie debt, and how can you thwart them when it comes for you?

The zombie masters, if you will, are third-party debt collectors who specialize in purchasing uncollected debt from a variety of vendors at huge discount. The vendors are eager to get the debt off their books and will gladly take whatever they can get – literally pennies on the dollar.

If you have any connection to this debt in the eyes of the collection agency, they will contact you and attempt to get you to pay. It doesn’t matter to them whether you really are responsible for the debt, whether the statute of limitations has expired, whether it was wiped out by bankruptcy, or any other story – their job is to convince you to pay up. It is not uncommon for zombie debt to be the result of identity the…