Credit 
17
comments

Does Settling Credit Card Debt Hurt Your Credit Score?

Reader Dan told me a story of his friend who was considering settling an outstanding credit card debt but wasn’t sure of the credit score implications:
(Dan): my friend owes like $1100 on a credit card, and he had the balance for like two years and didn’t pay a dime, because he felt he was being taken advantage of
(Dan): well, he went to lease a car last weekend and found out the importance of credit
(Dan): he had bad credit and his new wife basically had none
(Dan): I told him step one would be to clear his balance
(Dan): he called just now, and he mentioned (in IM) something about them offering to settle for like, $700?
(Dan): does settling affect your credit score?

There are a few things going on here at once but in general, settling a debt will improve your credit score. It sounds counter-intuitive but it’ll make sense in a few sentences.

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 Credit 
21
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How to Cancel a Credit Card

MasterCard Visa WalletIn the last year, literature in personal finance focused a lot on financial defense like canceling a credit card. There was a lot of talk about credit, credit reports, and your credit score because it’s one of the cornerstones of the modern financial life, whether you like it or not. During that time, many card issuers started canceling cards, reducing credit limits, and otherwise reducing their overall financial risk. Rampant foreclosures and sinking home prices, issuers were scared and started cutting people based on where they shopped!

Now that the economy has recovered, many people don’t want to be in the position they were a year ago – feeling like the card issuers held them and their credit score hostage. The easiest way to do this is to reduce how much credit you use and the quickest way to do that is to cancel credit cards.

How do you cancel a credit card without significantly hurting your credit score?

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 Credit 
7
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Hard Credit Inquiries and Mortgage Rates

Every so often I get an email from readers or friends about credit and credit scores. With the economy recovering, a lot of credit cards are offering large signup bonuses for new cardmembers and they’re very tempting. Open up a card, spend some money, and get a statement credit of $50. The airline cards are even more generous, with some offers up in the 50,000 miles range.

They’re very tempting, especially to someone who is young and doesn’t mind the hassle, but credit cards always result in a hard inquiry and this can be counter-productive if you plan on buying a home or car in the near future. One of the big mysteries of the whole FICO system is how the various factors play into the score but I’ll try my best to get an answer to this vexing question.

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 Credit 
20
comments

Don’t Pay For Credit Score Monitoring

MasterCard Visa WalletCNNMoney tackled the question of why you don’t need credit score monitoring. Credit score monitoring is when you pay one of the credit bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion, Experian) a set fee each month to tell you if your score goes up or down. The fees range anywhere from $15 to $20 a month (or more) and that’s $15-$20 too much.

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 Credit 
5
comments

How Does Your FICO Credit Score Work

Credit CardsIf you thought that graduating meant the end of people grading and assigning you a number, think again. In the real world, it’s not your GPA that matters, but your FICO score. It’s a three digit number that is supposed to give creditors an idea of how credit worthy you are. Technically, it’s a measure of how likely you are to default on your debts.

It’s obvious why credit card companies, mortgage lenders, banks, and the like are interested in your credit score, but did you know that your employer, your landlord, your cell phone company, and your cable company are interested in it too? Anyone who may lend you something, like your cell phone company giving you cell phone minutes before you pay for them, is interested in how likely you are to make good on your financial promises. Your credit score has taken a life of its own, it’s about time you understood the beast.

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 NEWS 
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Adverse Action Free Credit Score Amendment

No Credit ChecksIf you are denied something because of your credit history (known as an adverse action), whether it’s a credit card, line of credit, or a job (or anything else), you will receive a letter that explains why you were denied. You will also be able to get a copy of the credit report used to reach that decision along with the applicable FICO risk factor reasons. This copy is outside the one you can get for free every twelve months because of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

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 Credit 
17
comments

Free Experian PLUS Credit Score

For a limited time, American Express is offering a free look at your Experian PLUS credit score and Experian credit report. The Experian PLUS credit score is not the same as your FICO score but there’s no way for you to see your FICO score based on Experian data, so this is about as close as you’ll ever get. Experian PLUS uses a different range too, from 330 to 830, versus the FICO score range of 300 to 850.

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 Personal Finance 
19
comments

Six Ways to Kill Your Credit Score

Feasting LionsSomewhere out there in the wild is a credit score with your name on it. It’s wandering the plains, being scoped by employers and lenders, seeing if it makes you worthy of a job or a loan. Perhaps you’ve even seen it, maybe once a year as the government would prefer, or perhaps you’ve just lived blissfully ignorant of what your little score has been doing all by itself. Well today I’m going to tell you six ways you can try to trap your credit score and kill it. I don’t mean hurt it a little, knocking it down a few points, I mean absolutely crush it so that it will be years before it can spread lies about you. I can guarantee that with these tips your credit score will never be the same.

Invariably someone will not recognize the sarcasm in this post so here’s the warning, prominently front and center: This post is a joke. If you do this and tank your score, I am not responsible because I’m telling you right now that by doing these six things you will lower your credit score and endanger your ability to get a loan, job, insurance, or cell phone in the future.

Let’s go credit score hunting!
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