Credit

Free Credit Freeze

One piece of protecting your identity is preventing scammers from opening accounts in your name without your knowledge. One way to do that is to “freeze” your accounts with the credit reporting agencies, Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax, Naturally, you don’t want the accounts to be frozen when you yourself are applying for anything that involves a credit check, but when you aren’t, it’s a safe practice. 

A new law goes into effect after September 21 that requires the agencies to freeze and unfreeze your accounts without charge. 

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No Fee No Interest Balance Transfers

Paying too much interest on your credit card debt? Could be any interest is too much interest.

When I had to replace the windows in my condo (thanks a whole lot, Hurricane Irma), I put the charge on my reward credit card, to get the points. After a while, I found a no-fee balance transfer through CreditKarma.com and moved the balance to a no-interest card. So for 18 months every payment I make really goes to pay down the balance.

When the 18 months are up, I’ll look for another no-fee, no-interest balance transfer offer. I may be paying for these windows for the rest of my life, but at least I won’t be throwing away money on interest charges.

Search on “no-fee no-interest balance transfer credit card 2018.”

Credit Score: It’s Not What You Make, It’s What You Do With It

Think about it–no matter how much you earn, it won’t make your credit score go up. No matter how little you earn, your score won’t go down (unless you fail to pay your bills).

A credit score reflects only how skillfully you manage debt. It doesn’t care if you’re The World’s Best Dad, have the strongest marriage, the most prestigious job, live in a lovely neighborhood, or are 20 years old or 120. It only cares how you manage debt.

The more available credit you have compared to how much you’ve used, the better. A credit limit of $3,000 with a balance owing of $25 is great. A limit of $3,000 with a balance owing of $2,900 lowers your score.

The more you don’t use what you have, the better your credit score. That may feel a bit contrary, like life is saying, “Here’s a bag of marshmallows, but if you don’t eat them you win!” Available credit isn’t like money, standing by for you to spend it. It’s more like those well-trained dogs that will sit with a treat on their nose and not eat it until allowed.

Focus and Goals

Years ago I knew someone who was intensely focussed on the goal of paying off his mortgage very early. This is an admirable goal, but he was so intense about it, his kids were doing without and the family didn’t have any fun.

Goals need to stay in balance. Sure, make advance principal payment on a debt, but also go to the discount movies once in a while.

If you hyper-focus on building up a savings account, there’s a risk you might spend more on the credit cards. If you have to put a bit less in savings to avoid accumulating consumer debt, so be it. Keep the balance.

 

 

When Exactly is the Last Minute?

When making a last-minute credit card payment by phone, the definition of “last minute” matters. Does the company consider the day to end when they close at five, or at midnight? Are they assuming Eastern time or some other time zone?

Even if you usually pay ahead of time, it couldn’t hurt to call and find out when their “last minute” is, and make a note of it. Things happen sometimes, and you may want to know at some point in the future.

If it happens that you miss the last minute and incur a late fee, it can’t hurt to call and explain what happened. Maybe they’ll reverse it, especially if you have a strong previous payment record.

 

Thinking of Co-Signing a Loan?

Think about this: three out of four co-signers end up paying the debt themselves.

http://www.stretcher.com/stories/16/16sep26e.cfm?STT0928

Co-signing isn’t just a recommendation or a personal reference. It’s a financial obligation.

Even the most conscientious person can lose their job or get sick, and then you’re stuck with either paying their debt or taking the hit on your own credit report.

Uh-Oh, Check Your Credit Report Real Soon

https://www.yahoo.com/finance/news/wells-fargo-customers-recall-their-shock-upon-discovering-fraudulent-accounts-124902698.html

You may have heard the latest Big Bank scandal. Under pressure to get customers to open all kinds of accounts, Wells-Fargo employees have been opening accounts that people don’t know about. Some of the victims had only the briefest interaction with the bank, and ended up with credit cards and other accounts they didn’t know about. Some of those accounts incurred fees, and others will have damaged a person’s credit score.

It might be a good idea to go down to your nearest branch and ask one of the desk people to search their records for any accounts in your name.

If you haven’t done it lately, a free check on your credit report could show you any nefarious activity:  https://www.annualcreditreport.com/requestReport/landingPage.action

Another free source is http://www.creditkarma.com.

Don’t fall for the name in freecreditreport.com, it’s only free with a paid membership.