These 5 People Added up to 284 Points to Their Credit Scores by Making the Same Move

Everyone who’s saddled with bad credit has a unique story.

A man burdened with $ 6,000 in unpaid bills. A couple recovering from job loss and foreclosure. A woman who fell behind on payments while living abroad. A single mom with a terminally ill child. A young woman with so much debt she couldn’t even get a credit card.

One of the toughest parts about paying down debt and fixing your credit score is knowing where to begin.

To create a rebuilding plan, first you have to know what you’re dealing with.

Your credit report will give you this information. You can get a free copy of it once every 12 months from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus — but they can be tough to decipher.

If you want to keep a closer eye on your credit, get your credit score and “credit report card” for free from Credit Sesame. This website breaks down exactly what’s on your credit report in layman’s terms, how it affects your score and what you should do about it.

Folks who’ve used it tell us it’s a lifesaver.

5 People Who Raised Their Credit Scores Using Credit Sesame

We spoke with five different people who’ve had profound problems with their credit. All five turned things around with Credit Sesame.

James Cooper: +277 Points

James Cooper knows all about having bad credit. As recently as 2017, his credit score was a lousy 524.

“I never had a credit card,” he says. “I had $ 6,000 worth of unpaid bills.”

He vowed to sort out his financial situation and fix his credit.

Although there are legitimate credit repair services, there are also shady ones that demand money upfront and promise way more than they can deliver. Then they’ll milk you for money until you wise up.

Cooper and a friend went through this ordeal with three companies. Then they found Credit Sesame, and the free credit monitoring service taught them how to fix their credit.

Cooper raised his score by 277 points — from 524 to 801 — over the six months from June to November 2017.

Inspired by his experience, now Cooper teaches high school students the importance of good credit.

Jerry Morgan: +120 Points

In 2008, the housing bubble burst. The three-bedroom home in New Port Richey, Florida, where Jerry Morgan and his wife, Vivienne, had lived for 10 years plunged into the foreclosure process.

Then Vivienne lost her job.

By 2017, the family’s financial situation started to look up again. So in September, Morgan decided to address his credit score.

“Frankly, with the experiences we have gone through, I was embarrassed to even check my score,” he said.

Before coming across Credit Sesame, Morgan hadn’t bothered to check his credit score in, well, quite a while. He says finally getting his finances on stable ground encouraged him to take a peek at this three-digit number.

Following recommendations from the service, he’s raised his score 120 points in six months.

Elisabeth Nyang: +168 Points

At the end of 2016, Elisabeth Nyang was in debt to the tune of $ 17,500 — a mix of credit card debt, overdue bills and lingering student loans. She found herself there after two years of living in China.

In China, where it’s difficult to send money to the U.S., Nyang fell behind on her payments. In hindsight, she admits, the difficulty in transferring money was just an excuse — out of sight, out of mind.

But when she decided to move back to the States, she knew she needed to get her finances back on track.

“I can’t live like that,” she remembers thinking.

Since signing up for Credit Sesame in January 2017, Nyang has paid off that $ 17,500 pile of debt and raised her score from 495 to 663. That’s a 168-point jump.

Melinda Smieja: + 284 Points

In 2005, Melinda Smieja’s 13-year-old daughter was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor.

“So here I am a single mom, and my daughter gets sick,” she explains. “And I’m like, ‘What am I gonna do?’”

Between continuing to care for her younger daughter and moving from Seabeck, Washington, to Seattle to be near her 13-year-old’s medical care, she racked up credit card debt.

“I used [a credit card] for dinners, I used it for food,” she says. “For a place to stay. It got to the point where all of my credit cards were maxed out.”

Her credit score was down to 480 by the time she checked. And she’d racked up somewhere between $ 20,000 and $ 30,000 in debt on 11 credit cards.

In 2010, an email campaign led her to Credit Sesame, a new company (at the time) offering an easier way to monitor your credit history.

“It was something that I had been searching for [without realizing it],” Smieja explains.

It made her overwhelming situation manageable.

“I could look and I could say, ‘Okay, this is what’s all going on here. This is my debt. This is what’s happening. This is what’s making my credit [interest] high.’”

And she could finally tackle her debts, one at a time. The work wasn’t quick. It was slow and steady — but it paid off.

In 2016, for the first time, Smieja’s credit score hit 680, crossing the line of what lenders consider “good credit.” By late 2017, it was up to 764.

Dana Sitar: +68 Points

At 30, Dana Sitar’s history with credit cards, student loans and medical bills was pretty bad.

Student loan interest was piling up. Hospital bills were out to collection agencies. No one would give her a credit card. She landed a loan for a new car by the skin of her teeth. Her security deposits for car rentals and apartments were through the roof.

She wanted to fix it, but didn’t even know where to start.

Sitar, an editor for The Penny Hoarder, found Credit Sesame in 2016, and today, she’s breathing a little easier.

Credit Sesame, Sitar writes for The Penny Hoarder, is “answering all the questions swirling in my head, keeping me awake at night and threatening a panic attack every time I authorize a credit check.”

Since she started tracking her credit score with the app, she’s watched it rise — slowly but surely — by 68 points.

“Motivated by the easy access to my free credit report card through the app,” she says, “I haven’t been able to ignore my credit like I used to.”

Keep an Eye on Your Credit Score

Your credit score is important.

And why is that?

The better your score, the better deal you’ll get on a mortgage, car loan or credit card. We’re talking big money here.

To keep a closer eye on your credit, get your credit score and a credit report card for free from Credit Sesame.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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How to Pay Off Credit Card Debt When You Have No Idea Where to Start

We know how easy it is to rack up credit card debt. Over 41% of American households carry a credit card balance, and the average balance for those households is $ 9,333, according to a study from financial data website ValuePenguin.

But here’s the thing about credit cards: They only benefit you when you’re building credit and receiving perks — but not paying interest. If you’re carrying a balance beyond an interest-free period, your cards only benefit the card issuers.

With average interest rates on new credit cards north of 17%, paying off credit card debt is a smart move.

If you’re ready to get rid of credit card debt, be prepared for inconvenient choices and a lot of saying no. But you can do it. And every difficult step will be worth it.

How to Pay Off Debt From Multiple Credit Cards

A woman sitting at her table contemplating expenses

Before you start, you should stop using your credit cards altogether until you can use them without putting yourself in financial risk. Though the specifics will vary based on your situation, we only recommend using credit cards if:

  • You don’t have any consumer debt.
  • You have an emergency fund with three to six months’ worth of expenses saved.
  • You can pay off your balance in full every month.

However you do it, make paying off your credit cards — and learning to use them responsibly — a high priority.

Credit card usage has a huge impact on your credit score. If you spend too much of your overall limit or miss payments, you’ll hurt your score. If you keep your balances low and make on-time payments, your score will probably increase over time.

1. Debt Snowball vs. Debt Avalanche: Determine Your Plan of Attack

First, determine how much credit card debt you have. You can do this using a tool like Credit Sesame.

Instead of looking at your debt in its entirety, we recommend approaching it bit by bit. By breaking your debt down into manageable chunks, you’ll experience quicker wins and stay motivated.

Two popular ways to break down debt repayments are the debt avalanche and debt snowball methods.

Using the debt avalanche method, you’ll order your credit card debts from the highest interest rate to the lowest. You’ll make minimum payments on all your cards, and any extra income you have will go toward the highest-interest card.

Eventually, that card will be paid off. Then, you’ll attack the debt with the next-highest interest rate, and so on, until all your cards are paid off.

With the debt snowball method, you’ll order your debts from the lowest balance to highest, regardless of the interest rates on the cards. You’ll make minimum payments on all your cards, and any extra income will go to the credit card with the smallest balance.

Starting with the smallest balance allows you to experience wins faster than you would with the avalanche, but you will spend more money on interest. While both have trade-offs, you can’t go wrong with either method.

Here’s an example of how each method would work if you’re paying off four credit cards of varying balances and interest rates.

  1. $ 654 with 0% interest
  2. $ 5,054 with 15% interest
  3. $ 2,541 with 23% interest
  4. $ 945 with 17% interest

If you followed the avalanche method, you would pay off card 3 first, followed by 4, 2 and 1. If you followed the snowball method, you would pay off card 1 first, followed by 4, 3 and 2.

Let’s say you have $ 600 per month to put toward debt. Using the snowball and avalanche comparison calculator from Dough Roller, you can see that it would take you 18 months to pay all of your cards off using either method.

The debt avalanche method would save you $ 105.73 of interest in the end, but you’d pay off your first card six months faster by going with the snowball.

Choosing the right method comes down to deciding whether you’d rather get quick results or save money on interest. We encourage you to check out Dough Roller’s calculator yourself, so you can calculate what each method would cost you.

2. Don’t Let Credit Card Companies Trick You Into Overspending

Credit card companies make it so easy to get in the habit of overspending. The introductory APR offers, new credit card sign-up bonuses and cash back offers are designed to get us using cards more frequently and thinking less about what items cost.

So if you want to be credit card debt-free, you need to change your lifestyle to lower your spending and maybe even increase your income.

Stop Blowing Your Money on These 3 Things

The quickest way to save a lot of money isn’t to nickel-and-dime your spending. It’s to save as much as possible on big-ticket items.

The three largest expenses in the average American family’s budget are housing, transportation and food, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

To save on housing, you can rent a cheaper apartment or house if it’s not too far away from work. You can rent out a room in your house to a roommate or on Airbnb. You could even try an alternative living situation like an RV.

The easiest way to save on transportation is to get rid of your car payment. Trade in your vehicle for a used car you can pay cash for. If that’s not a possibility, consider trading it in for a car with a smaller payment. It may also be in your best interest to move closer to work if rent in that area is comparable or cheaper.

Finally, to lower your food spending, you’ll have to cut back on eating out and making random purchases at grocery and convenience stores. Plan out your meals each week based on what’s on sale, and try to use what’s in your pantry and fridge before you buy new groceries.

Side-Hustle Your Way to Paying Off Debt Faster

A side hustle is a great way to make money fast to put toward debt. You can use an app like Uber or TaskRabbit to get small jobs or see the unique services you can offer with your talents.

Taking surveys or doing mystery shopping won’t bring in cash fast enough to make a dent in your credit cards, so look for opportunities that don’t require spending upfront and pay more than minimum wage.

This credit card debt calculator is a great tool for estimating how much extra income you need to pay off your debt and how much you can save by paying it off faster.

3. Try These 4 Strategies to Lower Your Interest Rates

Cutting up credit cards

Many people will start by trying to lower their interest rates, but that typically doesn’t help. It can often just trick you into thinking you’ve solved your problem. This step is better left until you have a plan and are already working it.

Once you’ve started paying off your debt, you may find that you don’t need to go through the hassle of getting a lower rate. But if your debt payoff is going to take a significant amount of time, here are some of the ways you can get lower rates and save a little money.

Balance-Transfer Credit Card

If you have good to excellent credit (typically a FICO score of 690 or above) and can feasibly pay off your debt within a year, a balance-transfer credit card is a great option. Balance-transfer cards can save you money on interest charges by letting you transfer the balance of a card with a high interest rate to a card with zero percent interest.

Most of these cards offer zero percent interest for 12 to 18 months with no annual fee. They generally have a 2-5% balance-transfer fee, but you can easily find balance-transfer cards with no fee. A higher credit score will help you qualify for a card with better terms.

Personal Loan

You can also consolidate your debt with a personal loan. Online banks will allow you to prequalify for a personal loan without doing a hard inquiry of your credit, so if you want to shop around, head there first. Then, try your local credit union; they’re known for having the most affordable rates on loans.

It’s also important to note that lenders may tack on origination fees and prepayment penalties, or even require collateral. Read the fine print before you commit to anything.

Debt Consolidation Loan

If you don’t qualify for a personal loan, you can try for a debt consolidation loan. You’ll take out a new loan to pay off multiple debts, and then pay back the new loan — essentially consolidating your debt into one loan.

Debt consolidation is the go-to method for people who’ve fallen on temporary hard times or who have done the work to improve their finances and want to take care of their debt quickly.

It’s important to know that your debt consolidation loan may not cover the entirety of your debt. In those cases, you’ll want to prioritize paying off the remaining debts based on the terms of your new loan.

Home Equity Loan

If you own a home with equity, you have the option of taking out a home equity loan or home equity line of credit, or doing a cash-out refinance.

For homeowners, these options will most likely offer the lowest interest rates, but they’re also the riskiest, because your home is the collateral.

4. Get Help if You Need It

The world of debt collections and creditors can be confusing, intimidating and sometimes even illegal. There’s a common misconception, for example, that someone can take your house or you can go to jail for not making your payments. But credit card debt is unsecured civil debt, meaning no one can put you in jail or take your house for not paying it.

If you’re being harassed by creditors or have circumstances that make your debt repayment confusing, don’t give up before finding out what options you have for assistance.

You’ll also want to be careful when seeking help. While some companies are legitimately there to assist you, others take your money and do very little to help your situation. Always seek reviews online and referrals from friends and family, and go with your gut when talking to their representatives.

Debt Management Program

With a debt management program, a credit counseling company will handle your consolidation in hopes of getting you better interest rates and lower fees. You’ll be assigned a counselor, who will set up a repayment and education plan for you. This program is specifically for unsecured debt, like credit cards and medical bills.

A debt management program pays your creditor for you to ensure you stay current on your debt payments. Your credit score may even improve during the program. But if you miss a payment, you can be dropped, and you’ll lose all the benefits you gained.

The program typically lasts three to five years, so it won’t help if you want to pay off your debt faster, but it is typically the best option for those who can’t.

Credit Card Debt Settlement

If you’re in more than just a temporary season of financial instability, and you can’t see yourself affording the amount of credit card debt you owe, debt settlement is an option, though we regard it as a last resort.

Debt settlement reduces the amount of debt you owe, but it will significantly lower your credit score and negatively impact your credit report.

The process isn’t as simple as debt consolidation, either. You have to convince every creditor that if they don’t settle with you, they probably won’t get anything at all. So, of course, during that time you won’t be making any payments — while interest and late fees accrue.

You can do this on your own, but most people seek the help of a debt settlement company.

Like a debt management program, a debt settlement firm will negotiate debts on your behalf, and the company will make lump-sum payments to creditors while you make monthly payments to the debt settlement company.

While you’re paying the debt settlement company, you’ll still be delinquent with any creditors the company hasn’t yet negotiated with, meaning you’ll still get calls from those creditors.

And there’s no guarantee the company will be successful. If it isn’t successful in negotiating, you’ll still be responsible for the full debt amount, plus any extra interest that accrued.

If the company is successful, you’ll have to pay the settlement amount in full. Then in April, you’ll owe taxes on the amount forgiven.

The settlement company will also charge you up to 25% in fees on top of the settlement.

Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy is another last resort. The two major types for individuals are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows the filer to completely discharge all their debts in four to six months by liquidating their assets. A trustee gathers and sells all of your nonexempt assets to pay off your debt. Those assets can include property that’s not your primary residence, a vehicle with equity, investments or valuable collections.

Those who earn a high income or have significant assets typically choose Chapter 13, which allows them to keep certain assets while still repaying some of the debts. It’s a long, arduous process that doesn’t guarantee to resolve your debt. It can be reversed if your income increases, and it wrecks your credit.

Both bankruptcy options have negative long-term ramifications on your credit.

Jen Smith is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She and her husband paid off $ 78,000 of debt in less than two years on two less-than-average salaries. She gives money-saving and debt-payoff tips on Instagram at @modernfrugality.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

The Penny Hoarder Promise: We provide accurate, reliable information. Here’s why you can trust us and how we make money.

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How criminals use Uber and Airbnb to launder money stolen from your credit card

Cybercriminals are mixing old school and new school methods of money laundering, including innovative methods for mixing ill-gotten cryptocurrencies with legitimate cash and recruiting Airbnb hosts and Uber drivers via the dark web.
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Crypto exchange Binance now lets you buy Bitcoin with a credit card

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Despite the plummeting prices, buying your way into the world of cryptocurrencies is getting easier every day. 

Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by volume, announced on Thursday it now supports purchases via credit and debit cards. 

Visa and Mastercard are currently supported, and users can buy Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and XRP. To do so, go here, choose the coin, enter the amount of coins you want to buy, enter your credit card details and you’re ready to trade those with the 150 coins and tokens supported by Binance.  Read more…

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Here’s a Simple Trick to Snag 1% Cash Back on Anything (Without a Credit Card)

Remember that sweet surround sound system you bought a year ago? “Game of Thrones” never sounded so cool!

You even used your special credit card so you could earn some cash back on that baby. Well, that was the idea, anyway. Six months later, when you still had a balance on that card, you realized you paid a lot more in interest than what you earned in cash back.

The score? Credit card company: 1. You: 0

Believe it or not, you don’t have to use a credit card to enjoy the benefits of cash back. You can earn 1% cash back just for making your everyday debit card purchases — if you have an Empower banking account

You Can Get Cash Back — Without the Risk

You love cash back. Who doesn’t?

The problem is, your credit card offers you a small percentage of cash back, but it charges you an astronomical interest rate.

Why not just get cash back without the risk of paying crazy interest rates?

Here’s the trick: Don’t get a cash-back credit card — get a cash-back debit card with Empower.

When you open an Empower checking account, you can start earning cash 1% back on your everyday purchases with your debit card up to the first $ 1,000 spent each month. Refer your friends to this awesomeness, and you could boost that number up to 2%.

Your morning coffee stop? Cash back.

Lunch? Yep, cash back.

That weekly trip to stock up on groceries? You guessed it. Cash back.

Stop risking your money with credit cards just to get cash back. With Empower, you can get the rewards you love without risking big interest charges. Plus, there are no ATM fees, annual fees or overdraft fees.

Handle all of your finances right from your phone with Empower. Pay nothing and earn cash back just for using your debit card.

The score? Credit card company: 0. You: 1%.

Winner winner.

Tyler Omoth is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder who loves soaking up the sun and finding creative ways to help others. Catch him on Twitter at @Tyomoth.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

The Penny Hoarder Promise: We provide accurate, reliable information. Here’s why you can trust us and how we make money.

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How to Raise Your Credit Score in 2019

Working at Experian and in banking, I have knowledge on how to raise your credit score in 2019. For instance, did you know you should have two credit cards maximum, for personal or business use? As always: pay your bills on time; keep long-line history. And two new credit programs can help you boost your credit score in 2019.

New Credit Program from Experian 

Experian recently announced Experian Boost, which will allow consumers to influence their credit scores by showing on-time payments for utilities, phones, and cable TV.

In order for the program to work for you, you have to give Experian permission to access your bank account information so that the agency can access your payment history. Once access is given, you can calculate your immediate score. Roughly 8 million people could potentially move into the fair (580-669) or good (670-739) credit ranges under the new system,” according to Experian. This credit boost can help with getting apartments, homes, insurance, and more.

UltraFICO Program 

Another new program is Ultra FICO. UltraFICO was created for people with dings on their credit histories. About 4 million consumers may see an increase of 20 points with the new program, according to representatives at FICO. The average card interest rate is currently at a record 17.41%, according to CreditCards.com. That’s up from 16.15% one year earlier and 15.22% two years ago. Credit card debt is now $ 1 trillion. In addition, tax liens have now been excluded from credit reports for a little time now.

In addition, remember:

  • Keep your credit utilization below 30%
  • Dispute inaccuracies on your credit report either online or by letters in the mail
  • Use 0% interest balance transfers to your advantage
  • Do not close long-standing credit card lines
  • Keep inquiries to a minimum

Black Enterprise Contributors Network 

The post How to Raise Your Credit Score in 2019 appeared first on Black Enterprise.

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1.18.19 Paying bills will increase your credit score; Clark Stinks

Paying bills could now have a direct positive impact on your credit score thanks to Experian; Christa reads listener posts about how Clark has missed the mark in his advice this week. If you have a “Clark Stinks” to share you can leave it here

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Man Uses Stolen Credit Card To Buy $3K Piece Of Pool Equipment

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Investigators are looking for a man who may be part of a “ring of thieves” targeting small businesses in the Houston area.

Click 2 Houston reports, surveillance cameras at a Pool Supply store captured images of the suspect entering the store and helping load a nearly $ 3,000 pool heater into a truck.

According to store owner Jeff Harper, there was nothing unusual about the transaction at first.

“We accepted the credit card, the customer paid for the heater and came and picked up the next day, it was gone,” Harper said.

The man reportedly called himself Christopher, and said he was calling from Austin, and needed the heater “for a job.” He said he would call around to check on pricing and call back.

When he did, Harper checked his phone number, address and email, to be sure he was legitimate.

But two weeks after the sale, American Express informed Harper the credit card used to buy the heater had been stolen from someone in Michigan.

According to police this incident is connected to a large ring of thieves and Harper is not the only victim.

“It takes a lot of effort for me and my dad to even buy that heater to be able to sell to someone,” Harper’s son, Dylan, said. “For someone to just come in and just take it and then there’s no recourse. We don’t have that money in our account.”

Click 2 reports, the bumper on the white van that hauled away the heater had been stolen from a junkyard to disguise the getaway vehicle.

To contact the Harris County Sheriff’s Office with information about this case, call 713-221-6000.

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1.15.19 Hospitals now posting prices; Car theft on the rise; Contactless credit cards

Hospitals are now posting prices but it doesn’t look like it will actually help consumers right now; Car theft is on the rise mostly because drivers are leaving their key fobs in their cars; Contactless credit cards are coming to your mailbox this year in droves.

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12.27.18 Flight cancellations and what to do; Are credit card annual fees worth it?

Clark tells you what to do in the case your flight is cancelled; Credit card annual fees are often said to be bad. But sometimes they can be worth it. Clark tells you how to judge whether a card with an annual fee is worth it for you or not.

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The best travel rewards credit cards of 2019

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Traveling can be pretty expensive, you’ll have to pay for flights, hotels, transport, and food. The costs soon add up, but there are ways that you can save money by spending money. Many financial companies will offer travel rewards credit cards to encourage their customers to spend money while they are on vacation. Here are the best of the bunch that are worth investing in.

Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card

Many travel rewards cards require you to pay an annual renewal fee, but that is not the case with this card from Bank of America. You earn points on everything that you buy with this card, 1.5 points per dollar spent and if you spend $ 1,000 in the first 90 days of signing up, you will get a free bonus of 20,000 points, which adds up to $ 200 worth. It’s a pretty quick return on signing up with the credit card service as you can book your vacation after signing up and pretty much make yourself $ 200 in points just spending money were going to spend anyway. If you are a Bank of America customer, you can earn a bonus ranging from 10% to 75% when you redeem your points, all depending on how much money you have in your bank account.

The Platinum Card, American Express

The Platinum Card doesn’t come cheap, but you get some incredible perks for your money. It’ll cost $ 550 to renew each year, but some will say that is money well spent. Using your card within your first three months can earn you up to 60,000 reward points, allowing you to make $ 5,000 worth of purchases. You’ll get $ 200 worth of Uber credits each year and also $ 200 worth of credit for airline fees. For every dollar you spend using your card you’ll receive five reward points, meaning the rewards will soon add up if you travel a lot. The Platinum Card will gain you access to over 1,000 airport lounges across the world, meaning you’ll be able to grab some food and a drink in peace away from the masses in the main airport lounges of the world.

Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card

For many people, they don’t really care about how they get to their vacation destination as long as they can enjoy their stay when they are there. For those people, the hotel they stay in is more important than pretty much anything else. For those who spend most of their travel budget on their hotel then the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus card is for them. It has a low annual renewal fee of $ 95, and for each year that you remain a customer, Marriott will gift you a free stay in one of their hotels. Each dollar that you spend at a Marriott Rewards participating hotel will earn you 6 reward points, meaning you can rack up the points pretty quickly on vacation. You’ll be upgraded to silver status on renewing your account, giving you exclusive offers, late checkout options and a 20% bonus on rewards points earned.

The cost of travel soon adds up, so it is often worth getting a rewards card if you travel pretty regularly. You’re going to be spending that money anyway so you might as well try and get some rewards for doing so.

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85 Million Americans Could Have Credit Report Errors. Here’s How to Find the Mistakes

Your credit score is important. The better your score, the better deal you’ll get on a mortgage, car loan or credit card. We’re talking big money here.

Even if you’re not buying a house anytime soon, a lousy credit score means you’ll get hit with a high security deposit whenever you rent a car or move into a new apartment.

But did you know your credit score could be inaccurate? One out of four credit reports have an error, according to a study by the Federal Trade Commission.

To keep a closer eye on your credit, get your credit score and a “credit report card” for free from Credit Sesame. It breaks down exactly what’s on your credit report in layman’s terms, how it affects your score and how to address it.

Because it simplifies everything, you should be able to spot any errors. For instance, if you find an “unpaid” credit card that you know you paid, or a bill in collections you know never existed, you can dispute the incorrect information and raise your credit score.

James Cooper, a motivational speaker, raised his credit score 277 points using Credit Sesame. Now he talks to high school students about the importance of having good credit and uses what he’s learned through Credit Sesame as a blueprint for his lessons.

“We want to touch the Z Generation,” Cooper says “We’re not in the business of fixing credit. We want to get to you before you have to fix your credit.”

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

The Penny Hoarder Promise: We provide accurate, reliable information. Here’s why you can trust us and how we make money.

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Pay off Credit Card Debt Without Selling Jewelry or Getting a Second Job

If they made a movie about paying off your credit cards, it would be called “Mission: Impossible.”

Seriously, paying down your credit card debts is a Herculean task. It can feel like you’re trying to climb a mountain that’s made out of quicksand.

You reach a point where you’re paying so much interest, you can’t pay down the principal.  

It’s tempting to take drastic measures. Sell off all your jewelry. Take a second job and say goodbye to your free time. You don’t have to do that. Don’t despair.

We’ve Got Ideas You Haven’t Thought of

Before you drive to the pawn shop or check the job listings, we’ve got eight tips for how to pay off your credit cards.

1. Let This Company Cut Your Interest Rates

When you think about how much debt you have, you might feel a little anxious.

That’s where a company like Fiona can be helpful. It can help you find personalized lending options to refinance or consolidate your debt to potentially save thousands dollars in interest.

Fiona will show you all the lenders willing to help you pay off your credit cards and eliminate the headache of paying bills by allowing you to make one payment each month.

You can borrow up to $ 100,000 (no collateral needed) and compare interest rates, which start at 4.99%. The idea is to secure a loan at a lower interest rate, potentially helping you save thousands. Repayment plans range from 24 to 84 months.

Take, for example, Katherine, who faced $ 12,000 in credit-card debt. Holding her back? The 15.24% interest rate. By refinancing with a 5%-interest, seven-year personal loan, she saved $ 12,000 in interest.

If she’d kept on the same road, she would have paid something like $ 14,000 in interest alone over 25 years. Yikes.

So even if you’re simply curious about what’s out there, know that checking rates on Fiona won’t hurt your credit score — and can probably save you in interest.

2. Get a Strategic View of Your Debt

One of the toughest parts about paying down debt is knowing where to begin.

To get yourself out of this hole, first you have to know what you’re dealing with.

Your credit report will give you this information. You can get a free copy of it once every 12 months from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus — but they can be tough to decipher.

If you want to keep a closer eye on your credit, get your credit score and “credit report card” for free from Credit Sesame. This website breaks down exactly what’s on your credit report in layman’s terms, how it affects your score and what you should do about it.

It offers personalized tips for how to deal with your debts. Folks who’ve used it tell us it’s a lifesaver.

3. Find out If You’re Paying Too Much for Car Insurance

Woman posing in front of a mural of a car.

You’re probably overpaying for car insurance and wasting money you could use to pay down debt.

Have you shopped around lately? Have you compared rates from the 20 largest auto insurers that do business in your area? That sounds kind of difficult and time-consuming, doesn’t it?

Fortunately, a service called Gabi will do it for you, and you don’t even have to fill out any forms. Simply link your insurance account and provide your driver’s license number, and Gabi will go to work.

Once you link your insurance account to Gabi, it will:

  • Scan your existing insurance plan.
  • Analyze what coverage you have.
  • Compare the major insurers’ rates for that same coverage.
  • Help you switch on the spot if it finds you a better rate.

Gabi says it finds an average savings of $ 720 per year for its customers.

It is a true apples-to-apples comparison at the same coverage levels and deductibles you currently have. Once you sign up, you never have to shop again. Gabi’s software has your policy on file and keeps on monitoring for savings as your life changes.

4. Find Some Hidden Cash

Before you start hashing out a plan to tackle your debt, it might make you feel better to find areas in your life where you can save. Then you can funnel that money directly toward those outstanding balances.

For consistent savings, download TrueBill, an app that’ll negotiate your bills, cancel unwanted subscriptions and refund your bank fees. On average, Truebill says it saves customers $ 700 a year.

You can also try digging up some extra cash with Paribus — a tool that gets you money back for your online purchases. It’s free to sign up, and once you do, it will scan your email for any receipts. If it discovers you’ve purchased something from one of its monitored retailers, it will track the item’s price and help you get a refund when there’s a price drop.

One of our favorite ways to save on everything is with Ebates, a cash-back site that rewards you nearly every time you buy something online. For example, Ebates gives you 10% cash-back on online purchases at Walmart. Plus, you’ll get a free $ 10 gift card to Walmart for giving the site a try.

Disclosure: Paribus compensates us when you sign up using the links we provide.

5. Earn Rewards When You Repay Your Debt on Time

Woman on laptop.

When you were a kid, your mom probably gave you an allowance for washing the dishes and sweeping the floor. Now all you get for doing that is a kitchen that’s clean for, like, 15 minutes.

Now that you’re a grown-up, you no longer get rewarded for just doing the things that are expected of you — like, for instance, paying bills on time.

Not until now, anyway. MoneyLion, a free app for managing your personal finances, will reward you for things like paying your bills and monitoring your credit — even just setting up an account in the app.

Much like that childhood allowance, it’s basically bribing you to be good.

You’ll earn points in the app’s rewards program, and you can redeem them for gift cards to more than 15,000 retailers, including places like Walmart, Applebee’s and Amazon.

If you want to take it a step further and work on paying down debts, for example, MoneyLion can help with a loan to consolidate your debt and potentially reduce your interest rates. And it’ll reward you for that, too!

6. Start Saving Without Trying

Saving money is tough. So what if you could do it in a way where you wouldn’t even notice?

Digit makes that possible.

This innovative app automates saving for you. Simply link it to your checking account, and its algorithms will determine small (and safe!) amounts of money to withdraw into a separate, FDIC-insured savings account.

Bonus: Penny Hoarders will get an extra $ 5 just for signing up! Additionally, savers will receive a 1% bonus every three months.

Digit is free to use for the first 30 days, then it’s $ 2.99 per month afterward.

7. Make Extra Money While You Watch TV

For those times you choose the frugal route and stay in for the night, why not cash in on your free time? Survey sites aren’t the fastest way to earn money, but they’re a great way to build a little savings while you veg out.

Here are some of our favorites:

  • Swagbucks is definitely a reader favorite, probably because of the wide variety of ways to make money beyond taking surveys. Plus, you get a $ 5 bonus when earn 2,500 SB within your first 60 days.
  • InboxDollars lets you actually get paid to watch TV online. The site hosts a ton of stuff to watch, including cooking, entertainment, news and health shows. The shows are sponsored by brands that need to get them in front of as many eyeballs as possible. Every time you watch one, InboxDollars will credit your account with a little bit of cash.
  • MyPoints: This platform lets you earn gift cards for taking polls, answering surveys and other things you do online — a great way to cash in on long lines or an endless commute. You’ll earn a $ 5 bonus when you complete your first five surveys.

8. Negotiate Your Bills

Remember what your grandma used to say when you wanted a cookie? “Ask nicely!”

It turns out that’s amazing life advice when it comes to tackling your debt, as well.

Sometimes you can lower your bills, especially crippling medical bills, just by asking to have them reduced. Let your provider know a good reason why you can’t pay what it’s asking. You might get a little relief.

Also keep an eye on late fees and other sneaky charges that are added on to your bill. Those are easy for your debtors to remove if they choose.

It doesn’t hurt to ask, right?

Mike Brassfield is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

The Penny Hoarder Promise: We provide accurate, reliable information. Here’s why you can trust us and how we make money.

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7 Mistakes We All Make When We Have Credit Card Debt

Let’s just come right out and say it: We all make mistakes.

Accidentally dyed your whites a startling shade of pink in the washing machine? Check. Set off the fire alarm when you attempted your first home-cooked meal? Of course. Said “thank you” to a waiter when they told you to enjoy your meal? Find us one person who hasn’t done that.

And when it comes to money, particularly credit card debt, we’ve all had our fair share of missteps.

In fact, it seems like we’re all making the same mistakes over and over, a la “Groundhog Day.” But the time has come to break that cycle.

7 Mistakes We All Make When We Have Credit Card Debt

If you find yourself dealing with credit card debt and worry you’re not handling it in the best way possible, don’t worry. We’re all in the same boat.

1. Overpaying for Interest (and Never Questioning It)

A woman looks in her empty wallet.

When you think about how much debt you have, you might feel a little anxious.

That’s where a company like Fiona can be helpful. It can help you find personalized lending options to refinance or consolidate your debt to potentially save thousands dollars in interest.

Fiona will show you all the lenders willing to help you pay off your credit card and eliminate the headache of paying bills by allowing you to make one payment each month.

You can borrow up to $ 100,000 (no collateral needed) and compare interest rates, which start at 4.99%. The idea is to secure a loan at a lower interest rate, potentially helping you save thousands. Repayment plans range from 24 to 84 months.

Take, for example, Katherine, who faced $ 12,000 in credit-card debt. Holding her back? The 15.24% interest rate. By refinancing with a 5%-interest, seven-year personal loan, she saved $ 12,000 in interest.

If she’d kept on the same road, she would have paid something like $ 14,000 in interest alone over 25 years. Yikes.

So even if you’re simply curious about what’s out there, checking rates on Fiona won’t hurt your credit score — and can probably save you in interest.

2. Sticking to a Budget That Doesn’t Work For You

So, you decided you were going to tackle that credit card debt. The best place to start is making a budget, right?

You did some research, picked out a budget method and have followed it to a T — or tried to at least, because we all know budgeting hiccups are inevitable. So why, even though you did the so-called adult thing and made a budget, are you still feeling overwhelmed by looming credit card debt?

It’s pretty simple, actually: There isn’t one magical, cure-all budget. Everyone’s financial situation is different, so it’s important you find a method that actually fits your lifestyle. You want to control your budget, not the other way around.

Don’t just think about numbers such as income and debt when creating a budget. Consider outside factors that could make your planned budget destined for failure.

How much time and energy are you willing to devote? Are you a schedule-follower by nature, or more go-with-the-flow? Are there any obstacles conflicting with your budget, such as an irregular pay schedule?

Finding a budget that works for you will make you feel more in control of your finances, including that pesky credit card debt.

3. Overpaying for Other Monthly Bills

A notebook with a paged labeled budget sits on a bed with some pens.

You’ve made a budget, you’ve checked it twice — so why are you still wondering where the heck your money is going?

It’s time to dive deep and figure out which bills are taking more than their fair share. Instead of manually sorting through every single credit charge, let someone else do it for you… or something, really.

First, download TrueBill, an app that’ll negotiate your bills, cancel unwanted subscriptions and refund your bank fees. And yes, that includes the Barnes and Noble membership you’ve had since 2009 — even though you haven’t set foot in a brick-and-mortar bookstore in roughly five years. Tsk tsk.

Another bill that makes your eyes involuntarily widen every single month? You guessed it: Insurance.

Insurance bills can be hard to swallow, but the mere thought of shopping around for new rates is arguably worse. Fortunately, Gabi will do the leg work for you.

And the best part? You don’t even have to fill out any forms. Simply link your insurance account and provide your driver’s license number, and Gabi will go to work..

The service will compare major insurers’ rates for your same level of coverage, and even help you switch on the spot if it finds you a better rate.

Once you trim some of your monthly bills, you’ll have a bit more breathing room for paying off that credit card debt!

4. Overpaying for, Well, Everything Else

A woman sits on her couch and uses her laptop.

Dealing with credit card debt doesn’t mean you can just stop spending money. And a major part of life is shopping, whether it’s at the grocery store for necessities or at the mall for a treat yo’self day.

Luckily, there are services that can help you feel a little less guilty every time your swipe that card. How, you ask? By ensuring you’re getting the best deal possible, one way or another.

First up we’ve got Paribus, a tool that gets you money back for your online purchases. It’s free to sign up, and once you do, it will scan your email for any receipts. If it discovers you’ve purchased something from one of its monitored retailers, it will track the item’s price and help you get a refund when there’s a price drop.

For once, it’s a good thing to not clear out your inbox.

Another way to avoid overpaying while shopping online? Ebates, a cash-back shopping site that rewards you simply for buying something online! You can earn 1% to 25% on purchases from more than 2,500 online retailers.

There’s no charge, and Ebates even offers you a $ 10 Walmart gift card as a sign-up bonus.

Disclosure: Paribus compensates us when you sign up using the links we provide.

5. Letting Bills Fall Behind

It’s no secret that falling behind on payments is basically the opposite of what you want to do when dealing with credit card debt or any kind of debt, for that matter. What we all need in this situation is a little incentive to stay on track.

That’s where MoneyLion comes in This app offers rewards to help you develop healthy financial habits and will literally pay you for logging onto the app.

You connect it to your bank accounts, credit cards and other financial accounts. Based on your income and spending patterns, it offers personalized advice to help you save money, reduce your debt and improve your credit.

The app’s reward program will give you points for being financially responsible. Make a loan payment on time? Boom, 200 points right there. You can redeem them for gift cards to more than 15,000 retailers, including places like Walmart, Applebee’s and Amazon.

Let MoneyLion help you stay on top of those credit card bills, and handle them like a boss.

6. Thinking You Can’t Afford to Save

A man looks at the cash in his wallet.

Sure, you want to pay off your credit card debt as quickly as possible. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still be devoting some money to your savings.

What if you get hit with an unexpected expense, such as a busted water heater or a trip to the emergency room? Without ample savings to help you out, you’ll only add to your debt anxiety.

We know saving money can be tough, but what if you could do it without even thinking about it?

No, we’re not talking about sorcery, we’re talking about Digit, an innovative app that will automate your savings.

All you have to do is link your bank account, then Digit uses an algorithm to calculate how much money you can safely set aside each day. It will put that money into a FDIC-insured savings account.

The out of sight, out of mind strategy takes the stress and legwork out of saving. One Penny Hoarder, a self-proclaimed “bad saver,” managed to tuck away $ 4,300 using the app.

Digit is free to use for the first 30 days, then it’s $ 2.99 per month afterward.

7. Letting Your Debt Take All the Fun out of Life

Listen, we understand that credit card debt is always at the back of your mind, popping up uninvited, trying to stress you out. We’ve all been there.

But here is a money mantra we stick with and want you to give a try, too: My debt does not control me.

You can be responsible, make budgets and stick to them; pay your bills on time; and save on expenses when possible. And all the while, you can live your life without sacrificing all of the fun stuff. Your financial health is important, but so is your physical and mental health!

Constantly be on the lookout for sneaky ways to save while still enjoying your social life, like hosting happy hour at your house instead of going out. And if you’ve got the time, consider finding a side gig that not only lets you earn some extra income, but is just flat out fun.

Might we suggest dog-walking with Rover? I mean, come on: Getting paid to hang out with dogs? Sounds like a slam dunk.

In short, your credit card debt is obviously important, but don’t let it stop you from living your best — but still financially responsible — life!

Kaitlyn Blount is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s made her fair share of money mistakes on her debt journey. Do you have five, maybe six hours to spare to hear about them?

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

The Penny Hoarder Promise: We provide accurate, reliable information. Here’s why you can trust us and how we make money.

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How Many End Credit Scenes Are in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse?

With the reviews now in for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, we can reveal whether there are any end- or post-credit scenes in the Sony-Marvel film and, if so, how many.

Turn away now if you don’t want to know!

Still here? OK then…

There isn’t really a mid-credits scene in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, but there is a nice and touching tribute to Spider-Man creators Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.

The post-credits surprise, on the other hand, is a full-fledged scene.

Again, spoilers follow!

The scene features the surprise arrival of Spider-Man 2099, the Spider-Man of the future. The man under the mask is Miguel O’Hara, voiced by Oscar Isaac (a.k.a. Poe Dameron). His appearance leads to a fun retro-trip to the old Spidey cartoon from the 1960s.

Continue reading…

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Don’t panic, but the Labor Department might access your credit report

Dear John: I recently reviewed my TransUnion credit report and learned Labor Secretary Alex Acosta had accessed my credit reports. Since I don’t work for Labor and I’ve not applied for credit from Labor or its federal credit union, it is alarming to me that Acosta and his staff would access my credit reports. I…
Business | New York Post

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China to allow overseas firms to participate in credit info system-China Daily

China will allow overseas
credit information firms to participate in a nationwide credit
information monitoring system that the central bank is building,
the China Daily newspaper reported on Thursday, citing a senior
central bank official.


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She Ditched Her Debt Collectors — and Raised Her Credit Score Nearly 200 Points

Tabatha Pankop spends long days on her feet. She waits tables, sometimes working double shifts for 15 hours at a time. Like most hardworking Americans, she has dreams of financial stability and homeownership.

There was just one problem.

“I just never thought having a low credit score would really impact your everyday life,” the 31-year-old Tampa server says.

Some old, and apparently unpaid, bills had hurt her credit. They included an old cell phone bill and an old power bill, among others.

“I guess a deposit or some type of rent that I thought I paid off, but I didn’t,” she says.

With her credit score dropping into the low 500s, she and her boyfriend were living in an older apartment, because that’s all her credit would allow. Pankop dreamed of buying her own townhouse, but that looked out of reach.

The aggressive phone calls from debt collectors didn’t help, either.

“Debt collectors — ah, man, they just literally harass you,” Pankop says. “They will say things that are inappropriate, and sometimes they can make you cry because they will say things that are very rude.”

That’s when a co-worker told her about Collection Shield 360, a credit repair service that helps people clean up their credit reports and deal with collection agencies.

Quick Results: ‘My Credit Skyrocketed.’

She decided to give it a shot and signed up. She quickly saw a dramatic difference in her credit score.

“Within a few weeks — maybe three months at the most — my credit skyrocketed,” she says. “Before I started with Collection Shield, I was at [about] 520, 530. Now I’m almost at 700. It’s just amazing.”

Collection Shield 360 offers two membership options:

  • Basic membership provides free credit-repair services with no cost to sign up.
  • Premium membership provides faster results and includes automatic monthly updates of your TransUnion credit score and collection accounts. You can sign up for premium for $ 1 for a two-month trial; then it’s $ 9.48 a month.

Here’s what it does:

  • Contacts your debt collectors to have negative marks on your credit report removed.
  • Provides you with credit bureau dispute letters that can help scrub your credit report.
  • Connects you with consumer attorneys who provide free legal services to help you remove negative items from your credit reports.

In Pankop’s case, it helped her deal with lingering bills from T-Mobile, Bright House Networks and Verizon.

Now, Pankop has just signed a lease on a new apartment she never imagined she could get into. Next, she’ll start looking for a nice little townhouse to buy.

Then she’ll go to nursing school.

“With having great credit, I’m able to get student loans with a lower interest rate,” she says. “I plan on getting my RN within the next few years.”

For her, it’s like a breath of fresh air.

“This has put me in a position where I’m becoming an adult, instead of that young girl figuring out her life.”

Mike Brassfield (mike@thepennyhoarder.com) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. He knows what it’s like to get calls from debt collectors.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

The Penny Hoarder Promise: We provide accurate, reliable information. Here’s why you can trust us and how we make money.

The Penny Hoarder

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Here’s How The New FICO Credit Scoring Will Help Your Credit

Have you checked your credit score lately? Well, a new FICO credit scoring system is expected to debut in early 2019—and it may lead to a favorable boost in your credit if your bank activity is in line with standards.

The Fair Isaac Corp., the originators of the coveted FICO Score, is planning to create a more holistic credit scoring method. Traditionally, a borrower’s credit-worthiness has been calculated based on payment history (35%), amounts owed (30%), length of credit history (15%), new credit (10%), and credit mix (10%). Now, Fair Isaac Corp. will factor in a person’s ability to manage liquid assets such as checking, savings, and money-market accounts.

This new credit metric, the UltraFICO Score, is FICO’s solution to broadening lending eligibility. Experts believe this shift in credit scoring will increase access to credit products by leveraging consumer-driven bank information to assess an individual’s financial management capabilities. Lenders will now see an enhanced view of financial behavior that can impact lending outcomes and approval ratings.

Credit scores are synonymous to the report cards you get in school. It shows how well you’ve performed in a variety of financial areas to determine how likely you are to repay a loan. These scores are used by a variety of lenders to assess your credit personality and risk profile.

FICO estimates the UltraFICO Score scoring will improve credit access for the majority of Americans, especially those with credit scores ranging from the upper 500s to lower 600s and individuals with limited credit history or financially distressed individuals who are regaining their wind.

Most FICO scores range from 300 to 850, and the highest scores get access to the best interest rates in the market. According to FICO, the average FICO in the U.S. as of September 2018 was 704, rising approximately 15 points higher than average scores a decade ago when the recession was near its peak.

If you’re hoping the new credit scoring will work in your favor, pay close attention to the additional data points that will be taken into consideration and create a plan that will give you optimal results.

 

The post Here’s How The New FICO Credit Scoring Will Help Your Credit appeared first on Black Enterprise.

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A New Way To Score Credit Might Help You

YOU JOIN US THIS MORNING WITH CREDIT SCORE NEWS. WHAT DO YOU HAVE FOR US THIS MORNING?

An interesting story broke last week that could benefit some of our listeners with below average credit. Fair Isaac Corporation, the company responsible for the widely used FICO credit score, announced it would soon be testing a new score that takes a borrower’s bank account balances and cash management practices into account to supplement that traditional credit score metrics.

The goal of this new score is to provide a new path for people with borderline credit to qualify for loans or credit cards. Fair Isaac will partner with Experian, one of the big credit reporting bureaus, to test the new formula next year.

 \HOW WILL THIS NEW SCORE WORK?

The current system of calculating a FICO credit score – the three-digit number that lenders use to evaluate a borrower’s ability to repay a loan – are based primarily on a borrower’s history of repaying mortgages, loans and credit card balances.

The new score, which Fair Isaac is calling UltraFICO, would into account factors like how long accounts have been open, the frequency of activity and evidence of saving.

IF THEY ARE CONSIDERING ACCOUNT ACTIVITY, DOES THAT MEAN THEY HAVE ACCESS TO YOUR BANK STATEMENT?

A great question, Tom. Obviously, it would make many people nervous to let Fair Isaac or any company have access to your account details. Instead, UltraFICO would be offered to customers who were not otherwise able to qualify for credit or a loan with their traditional FICO score.

Lenders would then have to get a borrower’s sign off to collect information about their cash management habits and create an UltraFico score. Specifics like where you are spending money are currently not expected to be tested.

WHO WOULD BENEFIT?

Fair Isaac Corporation has said the UltraFICO would likely be most helpful for  people with credit scores in the high 500s to the low 600s, or those with scores just outside of a lender’s cutoff. A

dditionally, people who have limited credit history, like young people, and those who had a financial rough patch and are restoring their credit would likely benefit too. The company said that those who opt for UltraFICO could see their score jump 20 points if their banking behavior is deemed positive.

THIS IS AN INTERESTING PROPOSAL, BUT CAN YOU REMIND US HOW TO BOOST OUR REGULAR CREDIT SCORES?

It’s about the fundamentals. First, pay your bills on time. Because credit scores are designed to give lenders an idea of how reliable you are, the best thing you can do is be consistent. If you often forget the date or pay late, I would recommend signing up for automatic payments.

You also want to pay close attention to your credit cards. First, you want to keep your credit card balances as low as possible, if not at zero. High balances and high credit usage – the ratio of credit used to credit available – will be noted.

You also want to avoid having balances across a number of cards. Finally, review your credit reports regularly. With increased hacking and scammer activity, you want to be vigilant for false activity on your credit report.

 


HEAD BACK TO THE BLACKAMERICAWEB.COM HOMEPAGE

 

 

 

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Identity Theft Concerns? Freeze Your Credit for Free, Now

A law that went into effect Sept. 21 allows you to freeze your credit with all three credit bureaus: TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax.

Why You May Want to Freeze Your Credit

According to the Federal Trade Commission, a credit freeze, also called a ‘security freeze,’ “lets you restrict access to your credit report, which in turn makes it more difficult for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name.”

Freezing credit is not something new, however many states allowed the credit bureaus to charge to do so, according to BizJournal.

Congress made credit freezing ubiquitously free after a hack compromised an estimated 143 million people’s personal information on Equifax’s servers in 2017. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) pushed for the Freedom from Equifax Exploitation (FREE) Act.

FAQs about Credit Freeze

From the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Information web page:

Does a credit freeze affect your credit score?

A credit freeze has no negative effect on your credit score. It also does not prevent you from getting your free annual credit report. Nor does a freeze prevent you from “opening a new account, applying for a job, renting an apartment, or buying insurance.” However, you do have to lift the freeze before embarking on anything that requires a credit check (more on that later).

What is the difference between a credit freeze and a fraud alert?

A credit freeze prevents a crook from opening up an account using your credit or from identity theft. A fraud alert will not prevent identity theft but will alert you when there is suspicion of something shady going on.

Is credit freezing a 100% guarantee that your data and credit won’t be compromised?

No. According to a post on Experian’s blog, “In the event your credit card number falls into a fraudster’s hands after a data breach, know that a credit freeze won’t help.”

How to Freeze Your Credit

You can freeze your credit online or by calling each individual credit bureau. You will need your Social Security number, name, address, and date of birth. Additionally, each bureau will ask you to verify your identity by answering a series of questions: checking off previous addresses; past loans or leases you may have taken out, etc.

Here are the websites and phone number for each bureau:

Equifax

Equifax.com/personal/credit-report-services

800-685-1111

Experian

Experian.com/help

888-EXPERIAN (888-397-3742)

TransUnion

TransUnion.com/credit-help

888-909-8872

Lifting a Freeze 

After you’ve placed a freeze, each bureau will provide you with a PIN (Personal Identification Number). You must keep this PIN in a safe place because you will need it whenever you want to lift the freeze.

Also, there have been reports that since the law was passed, the credit bureau’s websites have been inundated with credit freeze requests. There may be some wonkiness with some of the sites (I had trouble placing a freeze on TransUnion’s site this past weekend). If you can’t use the site, call the bureau to place the freeze (and expect long waits to speak to someone, for now).

In the meantime, if you are trying to clean you your credit, check out:

FIX YOUR SHADY FICO SCORE AND FIX YOUR CREDIT

FOUR TIPS TO INCREASE YOUR CREDIT SCORE FROM A CREDIT EXPERT

4 STEPS FOR BLACK ENTREPRENEURS TO BUILD THEIR FIRST BUSINESS CREDIT REPORT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The post Identity Theft Concerns? Freeze Your Credit for Free, Now appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Money | Black Enterprise

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Credit Card Debt? These 4 Sites Could Help You Pay It Down Faster

So, you have thousands of dollars in credit card debt, and the burden of paying off all that — and interest — is gobbling up your income.

Instead of financially treading water making minimum payments and paying maximum interest, make the smart move, and take out a debt consolidation loan. It’s a personal loan, usually at a lower interest rate that you can use to pay off your high-interest credit cards.

In the long term, you can save a ton of money, but first you have to shop around for a loan.

Sound difficult? It doesn’t have to be. Instead of spending hours scouring the internet, you can go window-shopping at an online marketplace that’ll help pinpoint the best loan for you.

We recommend you try more than one site and see what kind of results you get. Heck, try them all if you want. It won’t take long, and you have nothing to lose: Seeing your options won’t cost you anything, and it won’t hurt your credit score.

4 Marketplaces for a Credit Card Debt Consolidation Loan

To start, you’ll need to know your credit score, but that’s super easy. Just sign up for Credit Sesame, a free credit-monitoring service that helps you keep track of your credit. It’ll immediately show you your credit score, and it’ll offer you personalized tips to better manage your credit.

Here are four different options for places to find a loan online. At the end of this article, you’ll find a chart comparing them at a glance.

Credible

Credible is a one-stop shopping place where you can compare rates side-by-side from multiple lenders who are competing against each other for your business.

It allows you to compare quotes from seven different lenders: Avant, Best Egg, Freedomplus, Lending Club, Payoff, Prosper and Upstart.

Through Credible, you can borrow $ 1,000 to $ 50,000 with a loan term of two to five years, at interest rates ranging from 4.99% to 35.99%. The interest rates you’re offered will depend on your individual credit profile.

Credible is best for borrowers who have good credit scores and just want to consolidate their debt. It requires you to have a credit score of at least 680.

Even Financial

Compared to Credible, Even Financial allows you to borrow more money and borrow it for a longer period of time — if that’s what you want to do.

You can borrow up to $ 100,000 and spend up to seven years paying it back. That’s more money and time than you can get from any of these other three lending marketplaces.

Even’s lending partners include Avant, Best Egg, Freedomplus, Lending Club, LendingPoint, LightStream, Payoff, Prosper, SoFi and Upgrade.

You’ll need a credit score of at least 580. Interest rates range from 4.99% to 35.99%.

Lendvious

Lendvious is the newest of these four online loan websites.

Depending on your credit score and how much you want to borrow, you’ll immediately get offers from up to 10 lenders. You can borrow up to $ 50,000 with no collateral required.

Different lenders are looking for minimum credit scores ranging from 560 to 650. The company’s lending partners include Avant, Best Egg, Freedomplus, LendingPoint, Lending Club, Marcus, OneMain Financial, Prosper and Upgrade.

Interest rates range from 4.99% to 35.99%.

If your credit isn’t great, Lendvious might be your best option.

Upstart

Unlike those others, Upstart is a lending platform that manages the process from pre-approval through servicing your loan.

Founded by ex-Googlers, Upstart is a lending platform that’s striving to change the personal loan game. Rather than solely focusing on your credit score to determine your borrowing power, it looks at other factors, too, including your education and employment history.

Upstart tends to be especially helpful for recent grads, who have a short credit history and a mound of debt.

Many lenders judge consumers based only on their credit history. But Upstart believes this leaves out an entire segment of the population — even though they’re totally qualified.

When it comes to the length of the loan, Upstart offers three options: three, five or seven years. The company says its average three-year loan has a 16% interest rate*, with 36 monthly payments of $ 35 per $ 1,000 borrowed.

Comparing Your Options One More Time

Seeing your quotes from each of these platforms takes 5 minutes, tops, so you can easily try out more than one. Each conducts a soft inquiry on your credit, meaning it won’t affect your credit score at all.

Once you actually apply for a loan, the lender will perform a hard inquiry on your credit, which will ding your credit temporarily.

Here’s the chart we promised you:

  Credible Even Financial Lendvious Upstart
Interest rate 4.99% to 35.99% 4.99% to 35.99% 4.99% to 35.99% 8.92% to 29.99%
Term Two to five years Two to seven years One to five years Three or five years
Loan amount $ 1,000 to $ 50,000 $ 1,000 to $ 100,000 $ 1,000 to $ 50,000 $ 1,000 to $ 50, 000
Minimum credit score 680 580 560 620

*The average three-year loan offered across all lenders using the Upstart Platform will have an APR of 20% and 36 monthly payments of $ 35 per $ 1,000 borrowed. There is no down payment and no prepayment penalty. Average APR is calculated based on three-year rates offered in the last one month. Your APR will be determined based on your credit, income and certain other information provided in your loan application. Not all applicants will be approved.

All loans are made by Cross River Bank, an FDIC insured New Jersey state chartered commercial bank, equal housing lender.

Mike Brassfield (mike@thepennyhoarder.com) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. He knows a lot about credit card debt from personal experience.

The Penny Hoarder Promise: We provide accurate, reliable information. Here’s why you can trust us and how we make money.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.


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Why Your Credit Cards May Deserve A Second Chance

(AP Photo)

While paying off $ 1,700 in credit card debt in 2014, Jamie Griffin cut up his card. To tackle the remaining $ 90,000 in student loans he and his wife carried, he read personal finance experts’ tips and turned to cash and a spreadsheet to budget. Now that most of their debt is paid off, he’s giving credit cards a cautious second chance.

Griffin has come to see credit cards as a way that he and his wife, Jenna, who are both teachers, can potentially defray the costs of travel. Instead of immediately applying for a travel credit card, though, the 31-year-old from Duluth, Minnesota, let his wife’s longtime rewards credit card lead the way as they transitioned from using cash to credit for most purchases.

“We wanted to practice to make sure we could actually do it rather than reverting back to our old spending habits of just swiping a card because we could,” Jamie Griffin says. “We haven’t had to pay any interest. We haven’t had any late payments.”

If you, too, have developed new spending habits — and potentially higher credit scores — since paying off debt, you might be a good fit for rewards credit cards that earn cash back for your emergency fund or miles for a vacation. Here are factors to consider.

REWARDS CAN HELP WITH EXPENSES

Rewards credit cards generally require a credit score of 690 or higher. They can earn cash back, points or airline miles in specific categories or on everyday spending. Rewards rates vary by card and some also offer sign-up bonuses with introductory zero percent interest rates for new cardholders.

Depending on the card, rewards can be redeemed for things like cash, statement credit, travel, gift cards or merchandise — all of which can help with household expenses, as long as you pay credit card bills in full every month to avoid interest charges.

Since early 2017, the Griffins have collected 38,000 points — that’s over $ 300 in cash back. They redeemed 20,000 points (about $ 200) into their bank account earlier this summer.

YOUR CREDIT MAY DEPEND ON IT

Paying off debt is a worthy goal. But if you later stop using a credit card, it can hurt your credit scores. That’s because credit utilization and length of credit history are key factors in the calculation of those scores, according to FICO.

Say you were to close an older high-limit credit card after paying it off — or that you use the card so infrequently that the issuer ends up closing the account for you. Shutting down the account would not only decrease your amount of total available credit; you would also lose the card’s account history.

Another factor in your credit scores is credit mix — the combination of different kinds of credit accounts. A healthy credit mix might include a mortgage or car loans, for example, and also credit cards.

“If you have a healthy mix of credit, and you’re using them wisely, and you have a good history, that should reflect in your credit score,” says Jeffrey Arevalo, financial wellness expert at GreenPath, a credit counseling agency.

Of course, without piles of cash on hand, you’ll need good credit if you want to qualify for a home or car loan at the lowest interest rates. Keeping a credit card active and using it responsibly is an easy way to maintain good credit.

But if the temptation to overspend is too great, closing a credit card account may be the way to go, Arevalo says.

CREDIT CARDS CAN HELP YOU PLAN

Before moving most of their expenses to credit, Jenna Griffin asked the issuer about benefits for longtime customers. The couple secured a six-month safety net with a zero percent interest rate that they didn’t have to use.

Recently, the couple was approved for a credit card that earns miles to help them save money on travel expenses. Jamie Griffin continues tracking all of their expenses on his spreadsheet.

If you’re ready to give credit cards a second chance, here’s how to use a rewards credit card and maintain good credit:

– Pay your bill in full and on time every month.

– Don’t stray from your budget just to earn credit card rewards.

– Keep charges below 30% of your available credit.

– Use your credit card as a budgeting tool to track your spending and review your purchases.

– Keep your no-annual-fee accounts open and active to avoid hurting your credit score.

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Identity Theft Concerns? Freeze Your Credit for Free, Now

A law that went into effect Sept. 21 allows you to freeze your credit with all three credit bureaus: TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax.

Why You May Want to Freeze Your Credit

According to the Federal Trade Commission, a credit freeze, also called a ‘security freeze,’ “lets you restrict access to your credit report, which in turn makes it more difficult for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name.”

Freezing credit is not something new, however many states allowed the credit bureaus to charge to do so, according to BizJournal.

Congress made credit freezing ubiquitously free after a hack compromised an estimated 143 million people’s personal information on Equifax’s servers in 2017. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) pushed for the Freedom from Equifax Exploitation (FREE) Act.

FAQs about Credit Freeze

From the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Information web page:

Does a credit freeze affect your credit score?

A credit freeze has no negative effect on your credit score. It also does not prevent you from getting your free annual credit report. Nor does a freeze prevent you from “opening a new account, applying for a job, renting an apartment, or buying insurance.” However, you do have to lift the freeze before embarking on anything that requires a credit check (more on that later).

What is the difference between a credit freeze and a fraud alert?

A credit freeze prevents a crook from opening up an account using your credit or from identity theft. A fraud alert will not prevent identity theft but will alert you when there is suspicion of something shady going on.

Is credit freezing a 100% guarantee that your data and credit won’t be compromised?

No. According to a post on Experian’s blog, “In the event your credit card number falls into a fraudster’s hands after a data breach, know that a credit freeze won’t help.”

How to Freeze Your Credit

You can freeze your credit online or by calling each individual credit bureau. You will need your Social Security number, name, address, and date of birth. Additionally, each bureau will ask you to verify your identity by answering a series of questions: checking off previous addresses; past loans or leases you may have taken out, etc.

Here are the websites and phone number for each bureau:

Equifax

Equifax.com/personal/credit-report-services

800-685-1111

Experian

Experian.com/help

888-EXPERIAN (888-397-3742)

TransUnion

TransUnion.com/credit-help

888-909-8872

Lifting a Freeze 

After you’ve placed a freeze, each bureau will provide you with a PIN (Personal Identification Number). You must keep this PIN in a safe place because you will need it whenever you want to lift the freeze.

Also, there have been reports that since the law was passed, the credit bureau’s websites have been inundated with credit freeze requests. There may be some wonkiness with some of the sites (I had trouble placing a freeze on TransUnion’s site this past weekend). If you can’t use the site, call the bureau to place the freeze (and expect long waits to speak to someone, for now).

In the meantime, if you are trying to clean you your credit, check out:

FIX YOUR SHADY FICO SCORE AND FIX YOUR CREDIT

FOUR TIPS TO INCREASE YOUR CREDIT SCORE FROM A CREDIT EXPERT

4 STEPS FOR BLACK ENTREPRENEURS TO BUILD THEIR FIRST BUSINESS CREDIT REPORT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The post Identity Theft Concerns? Freeze Your Credit for Free, Now appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Money | Black Enterprise

FASHION DEAL UPDATE:

Shop select Free People sale and clearance items at Bloomingdales.com!

10.1.18 Thawing credit getting easier; Spam cell phone calls; Great online banks

Thawing your credit might not require PIN numbers anymore. And that’s not good; Spam calls to your cell phone are becoming a pervasive problem; There are new online bank offerings that you should consider that pay more and offer more benefits and convenience.

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