Video: Why Seniors Should Care About Their Credit Scores

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Do you know an older American who is struggling with credit? Or doesn’t have any? In our exclusive video above, Nav Education Director Gerri Detweiler explains why a good credit score is important even in retirement.

You can check your credit score and read your credit report for free within minutes by joining MoneyTips.

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Top Benefits Of Credit Cards

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What’s the benefit of having a credit card? That’s easy – it allows you to buy things with money you don’t currently have. (Of course, that may also be the biggest drawback of having a credit card, if you can’t control your spending.)

All credit cards allow basic purchases, but what specific benefits draw you to choose one credit card over another? A recent survey and report by Market Strategies International digs into the specific features that users prefer. Their #1 choice? No annual fee.

Given that 80% of card users aren’t clear about the benefits of their existing primary credit card, card issuers are better served by focusing on the top perceived benefits. The report suggests that card issuers must focus on the “must haves” and not depend on narrower benefits (listed in the survey as “tailored extras”).

Eighteen different credit card benefits were ranked and categorized into tailored extras, cost and value-related benefits, or baseline items that m…

Credit Checks And Jobs

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Finding a job can be a stressful and difficult task – and if you have poor credit, you may have an even harder time finding a job. A 2016 CareerBuilder study found that almost one-third of employers run credit checks on their potential hires, on the assumption that people with good credit are more likely to be productive employees.

That assumption may or may not be true – but, in most states, an employer is able to use your credit as part of the hiring evaluation process. The District of Columbia and eleven states currently limit the gathering or use of credit history in making employment decisions: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. Aside from these states and a few cities in other states, including New York City, NY, and Philadelphia, PA, your credit history is fair game.

When credit is considered in the hiring process, the unemployed with low credit scores can fall into a “poverty t…

How Medical Debt Affects Your Credit

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The Crushing Effects Of Medical Debt

How pervasive is America’s medical debt problem? According to 2017 data from the credit bureau Experian, unpaid medical debt in America topped $127 billion. New data from Consumer Reports shows that almost 30% of insured Americans had unpaid medical debt turned over to collection agencies in the past two years. A 2013 analysis by NerdWallet Health found that unpaid medical bills were the number one cause of bankruptcies, surpassing unpaid mortgages or credit card debts.

Even if you aren’t driven into bankruptcy, unpaid medical debt will eventually show up on your credit report – resulting in a lower credit score that further degrades your financial health. The Consumer Reports survey found that nearly one in five Americans has suffered a credit score drop related to unpaid medical bills. You can check your credit score and read your credit report for free within minutes by

Credit Freeze Vs. Credit Locks

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Thanks to large data breaches in recent years, both credit freezes and credit locks are gaining in popularity. What’s the difference between these two important identity protection tools, and which one is the best for you?

Both tools stop lenders from accessing your credit information – and lenders won’t extend credit if they can’t assess the risk that you won’t pay them back. In both cases, you can remove the tool to make legitimate credit applications and reapply the tool when you’re done. You have to apply either tool with each of the three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) to receive full protection.

However, there are a few significant differences between credit freezes and locks.

Credit bureaus are required by federal law to offer credit freezes. Each freeze and thaw at each credit bureau used to have a fee set by individual state laws – but as of September 21, all credit freezes are

More Than 1 In 10 Believe They Will Die In Debt

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We all incur debt during our lives, but will we ever become debt-free? A significant number of people say no. According to a new survey by Northwestern Mutual, 13% of Americans expect to be in debt until they die.

The Depths of Debt section of Northwestern Mutual’s Planning and Progress Study 2018 contains many other sobering debt statistics. The average debt among debt holders rose to $38,000 in 2018 – even though over half of respondents called debt reduction their top financial priority and approximately 20% of respondents allocate 50% to 100% of their income toward reducing debt.

It’s surprising that more people don’t expect to die with debt. Only 23% of survey respondents had no debt at all, down from 27% in the previous year.

Compare that with the 13% who expect to die in debt. Those figures imply that well over half of Americans expect to climb out of their existing debt and become debt-free before they die.

A 2017 survey by Credit.com …

3 Of 4 Know Their Credit Score… Do You?

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What’s your credit score? If you don’t know, you’re in the minority – according to the Chase Slate 2018 Credit Outlook.

The 2018 survey found that 77% of Americans know their credit score, an increase of ten percentage points in just one year. With that knowledge comes the desire to improve. Four out of five respondents are taking steps to improve their credit score in 2018, up from 72% in 2017. Are you?

Americans overwhelmingly understand the importance of good credit. Approximately 90% of respondents believe that access to credit is important. Similar percentages of respondents understand the importance of credit when it comes to purchasing a home or a car, applying for a loan or a credit card, or even starting a small business.

A poorer credit score can cost many thousands of dollars over a lifetime due to higher interest rates. You can negate this effect on a credit card by…

Video: Seniors, Don’t Worry About Timeshares You Can’t Afford

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By Eric Olsen, Executive Director, HELPS
Nonprofit Law Firm

I just got off the phone with a senior couple who have a timeshare they can’t afford and don’t use any longer. They had called a company who advertised that they help people get out of timeshares. (I hear such advertisements on the radio and television regularly.) The senior couple had paid this company nearly $3,000. The next payment of $1,000 was scheduled to come out of their account in a few days. I took a deep breath and explained that they didn’t actually need to keep paying for their timeshare, let alone pay someone to help get out of it. The timeshare company couldn’t take anything from them if they simply stopped paying. The law protects their retirement income from collection – including wage garnishments and bank levies from the timeshare company. That includes Social Security, pensions, VA benefits …

Could Rent Payments Build Your Credit Score?

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Not All On-Time Payments Build Credit

You’re fiscally responsible. You pay your credit card bills and your rent on time, every month.

Paying your credit card bill on time is a major factor in raising your credit score. On-time mortgage payments also raise your credit score – but paying rent on time generally has no effect on your credit score.

Why is fiscal responsibility rewarded in one case and not the other?

While all credit card payments are reported to the three major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion), most rental payments aren’t. Your credit score is calculated based on the information in your credit report. Payments that aren’t reported can’t be considered – and not all credit-scoring systems take rental payments into account even when they are reported.

Lower-income Americans are hurt the most by this policy, since they’re more likely to be renters and to pay…