How Much Money to Save for an Emergency

How Much Money to Save for an Emergency

A woman puts money in her piggy bank as she contemplates how much to put in her emergency fund.

An emergency fund is a must-have safety net. CNN reported that nearly 25% of American adults had no emergency savings whatsoever. Only 29% had the recommended six months of savings tucked away. This all begs the question, “How much emergency fund do you need?”

Experts agree that you should have at least enough saved to cover six to eight months of living expenses. That means if you spend an average of $1,000 a month, you need at least $6,000 saved for an emergency. Some people might find the thought of stashing money away too difficult. But it’s possible. Keep on reading to learn about a few emergencies you should save up for.

What Would You Do If Something Happened to Your Car?

Let’s use Carson as an example. Carson needs his car for the 20-mile commute to his job. One day, all four of his tires blow out due to a pile of debris he accidentally drove over. It costs $100 to replace one tire on a standard sedan, and up to $200 for a truck. To replace all four tires, Carson will have to pay anywhere between $400 to $1,000, depending on what car he drives. Luckily, he has $3,000 saved up for emergencies like this.

Unfortunately, tires are only the beginning. Car expenses of any kind can be costly. Replacing the brakes can cost $500, while replacing the alternator costs between $400 and $600. If Carson needs a new timing belt, it’ll cost $900 to get his car running again. Like many people, Carson can’t afford to go without his car for too long. That’s why having a decent emergency fund is imperative, in the case of an unexpected expense.

Joe, on the other hand, doesn’t have any savings. Instead of paying off his car repair right away, he has to put it on his credit. Because his card charges 20% interest, it takes him eight months to pay off his auto expenses. Joe has to pay thousands of dollars more for the same work as Carson. That’s where an emergency fund comes in handy.

What Would You Do If Your Pet Needed an Unexpected Vet Visit?

Sally’s dog, Rosie, ate a few coins the kids left on the floor. The cost of removing the obstruction from Rosie’s intestines can range anywhere from $800 to $7,000. There are a few factors that impact the price, including to where Sally lives, the length of Rosie’s hospital stay and the cost of any medication Rosie needs afterward.

Having money tucked away will help Sally cover the cost of the vet bills. Even if her emergency fund does not cover the total cost of the bill, she can at least put a dent in it. Sally may still need to put a little bit on a credit card. But because it’s a lower amount, she will not accumulate as much interest.

What Would You Do If You Needed to Buy a New TV?

Every parent fears for the day their TV breaks down. Many tantrums could ensue as a result. Todd’s TV recently broke down, and he’s taking a look at a 65-inch TV that costs around $913. As he continues to research the ideal TV set, he realizes that it might not be wise to use his emergency funds for a TV. In the end, Todd decides to purchase a cheaper model.

A brand-new television may not seem like a purchase worthy of dipping into an emergency fund. But in the end, it’s up to you to decide what purchases are worth taking out of your emergency fund. An emergency for one person or family can be completely different for another.

What Would You Do If You Needed to Repair Piping in Your Home?

A new TV may be an optional purchase, but fixing major piping issues is not. For example, Holly recently discovered a leaky pipe in her basement. Fixing a single leaking pipe can cost between $150 and $350 to repair. However, this doesn’t take into account the additional damages that could occur as a result. The water damage could have already spread, and Holly might need to spend an extra $1,000 for the repairs.

It is dangerous to live in a home with water damage and mold can quickly develop. Without an emergency fund to fall back on, one could find themselves either living in a home under dangerous conditions or using a credit card to pay for repairs.

How Can You Build an Emergency Fund?

Building an emergency fund can seem daunting. However, there are simple steps anyone can take to create this fund. For starters, you can track your monthly expenses. Take a look at how much of your paycheck needs to go toward the essentials. You can then put whatever’s leftover into your emergency. Even putting $20 every paycheck into an emergency fund will help give you peace of mind over time.

In the event you do not have any money left over, considering cutting back on your spending. If you go out to restaurants often, try eating at home. You can also look into getting a side job. In addition to your 9-to-5, you can work for Uber, Postmates or another service to bring in extra income.

What Should You Do Next?

Another way to build your emergency fund is to open a savings account with the aid of Credit.com. You can get an account where you accumulate 2.25% interest annually. That means if you put $1,000 in the account, it will become $1,022.50. In five years, you will get over $100 as long as you do not touch the savings. Essentially, the bank pays you. Now that you know how much emergency fund you need, contact Credit.com.

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7 Luxury Travel Perks You Can Actually Afford

7 Luxury Travel Perks You Can Actually Afford

Get the most out of your airline travel with these affordable luxury travel perks

[UPDATE: Some offers mentioned below have expired and/or are no longer available on our site. You can view the current offers from our partners in our credit card marketplace. DISCLOSURE: Cards from our partners are mentioned below.]

Modern-day travel may be fast, but unless you’re doing it in a premium class, it’s typically less than enjoyable, especially when flying. There’s security, long lines, cramped seating, delays, crying babies, abusive passengers (and sometimes crew), lousy food (if there’s any at all) and of course, jet lag if you’re going anywhere long distance.

While you may not be able to afford to fly first class, or even business class, there are things you can do to make your time on the ground and in the air more enjoyable. Heck, you might even feel pampered with these seven travel perks you can definitely afford.

1. Buy a Good Carry-On

Unless you plan to stay at home most of your life, a sturdy carry-on that’s built to last will pay for itself after a few years. It’s actually possible to buy luggage that could last you a lifetime. A stylish bag that can carry your essentials for before, during and after your flight can make a bad trip better (you may want to consider a good luggage set in general if you plan to travel a lot). Compare manufacturers that offer lifetime warranties, like Briggs & Riley, for example. Their warranty covers repair of all functional aspects of your bag. Did the airline damage it? Not a problem. Your dog chewed it up? It’s covered.

2. Pay for More Legroom

Some airlines offer seating with more room for a small charge (usually $50 to $65) that will put you closer to the front of the plane, but more importantly, especially for the long-legged among us, give you more legroom. That extra charge also ensures you’ll have an earlier boarding, plenty of room for your carry-on, quicker access to the forward restroom and a quicker time getting off the plane.

3. Invest in a Travel Kit

People who fly first and business class, especially on international flights, usually get a handy kit including a toothbrush and toothpaste, eye mask, ear plugs, lotion and other niceties. You can assemble your own to help you sleep better and feel fresher upon arrival.

4. Get Free Flights & Upgrades

If you have a favorite airline, it pays to sign up for the mileage program. You can earn a free ticket or upgrade on most airlines starting at around 20,000 miles (keep in mind you’ll still have to pay taxes and some other fees), which means you can typically begin reaping rewards after a few flights.

5. Get More Miles for More Perks

If you’re serious about getting free travel and upgrades, you’ll want to earn miles faster. You should consider a travel rewards credit card. You can sign up for a card associated with your airline to maximize your earning potential. For example, if you regularly fly Delta, you may want to sign up for the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, which comes with a welcome offer of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 in purchases within 3 months of account opening, which equals $500 in travel. After that, you earn 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Plus, you earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels, through January 2020; learn more at hotels.com/venture. This card also comes with a $0 annual fee.

6. Earn Miles on Every Purchase

If you’re not loyal to any particular airline, a general travel rewards card may be a better option for you. One of our favorites is the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard. It comes with serious kickback—2% miles back on all purchases, plus a 5% rebate when those miles are redeemed that you can use toward your next redemption. While it also comes with an $89 (waived first year) annual fee, that’s waived for the first year. All of this adds up to making free upgrades or free flights a real possibility.

7. Get a Luxury Travel Rewards Card

If you’re looking for luxury when it comes to travel perks, signing up for a card like the American Express Platinum Card can pay off. Yes, it comes with a steep annual fee of $550 and you’re going to need seriously good credit to qualify, but the cost is offset by a $200 annual airline credit, up to $200 in Uber credits, access to more than airport lounges worldwide and no foreign transaction fees (see the card agreement for full details).

Before You Apply

Remember, before applying for any credit card, it’s a good idea to check your credit scores to see where your credit stands. You can get your credit score, absolutely free, right here on Credit.com.

 

At publishing time, the CapitalOne VentureOne, Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard and American Express Platinum Card are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for these cards. However, these relationships do not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

Image: BraunS

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Fair Credit? You Have Credit Card Options

Fair Credit? You Have Credit Card Options

A stack of credit cards for fair credit lie on a table.

Credit scores. Most of us have them—more than one—and many of us hate them. If you’re like a lot of Americans, your credit score is in the fair zone—from 580 to 699, depending on which scoring model is used, FICO or VantageScore. And that fair credit score can be, well, unfair. It places you the subprime category where you won’t get approved for the best rates or even the best credit cards.

Most people with fair credit already have at least one credit card. They also have a total credit line of less than $5,000. That’s proof that with a fair credit score, you can still find a credit card. What you may not know is that you can find a card that fits your needs. You may even find one that helps you boost your score and/or lets you earn rewards.

Before delving into credit cards for fair credit, just what is a fair credit score?

Just What Is Fair Credit?

FICO credit scores and VantageScore credit scores are the two most popular credit-scoring models. FICO scores were developed by the Fair Isaac Corporation. VantageScore scores were developed by the major credit bureaus—Experian, Equifax and Transunion. Scores in both models range from 300 to 850. Within this range, the models group potential borrowers into five categories:

FICO Credit Score Ranges VantageScore Credit Score Ranges
800–850 Exceptional 750–850 Excellent
740–799 Very Good Not applicable
670–739 Good 700–749 Good
580–669 Fair 650–699 Fair
300–579 Very Poor 550–649 Poor
Not applicable 300–549 Very Poor

A lot of factors go into a credit score. Payment history is the single biggest factor for both FICO and VantageScore. It accounts for roughly 35% of your total score. If you have a fair score, chances are you’ve made at least one payment more than 60 days late in the last 12 months. That fair score also affects your chances of getting loans and credit cards and good interest rates on those you can get.

Your Credit Score and Getting Credit Cards and Loans

Your credit score is your lifeline to getting approved for new credit cards and loans. If you have a low score or no credit history, your odds of approval go down and/or your interest rate goes up.

  • Poor and very poor credit means you’re unlikely to qualify for a loan or credit card. Individuals in this category may benefit from a secured credit card, which requires a security deposit but helps to rebuild credit.
  • Fair credit means you can probably qualify for credit cards and some loans, but not at optimal interest rates.
  • Good credit lets you get approved for most loans and credit cards at lower interest rates than people with fair credit.
  • Very good, exceptional or excellent credit typically qualify you for the very best interest rates, credit card rewards programs and credit card and loan terms.

Your Credit Card Options for Fair Credit

If you have fair credit and need a new credit card to build or rebuild your credit or just to use, you have a few options.

  • Option 1 is to work to improve your credit before you apply for a new card.
  • Option 2 is to find the best credit card option available to you now—one that’s known to approve someone with a fair credit score.

A credit card can actually help you improve your credit. So, choosing option 2 may be a good idea depending on your situation. If you get a credit card now, you can always ask your card issuer to review—and increase—your interest rate when your credit score does improve.

These are some solid unsecured credit cards for fair credit.

Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards card is not only accessible to people with fair credit, it’s also a rewards credit card!  That combination makes this card a fairly unique offering.

Note though that that cash back does come at a cost. It will cost you a fairly high ongoing annual percentage rate (APR) of 26.96% (Variable) for both purchases and balance transfers. It will also cost you an annual fee of $39.

For those fees though, you do earn 1.5% cash-back rewards on all purchases every day. You also have $0 fraud liability if your card gets lost or is stolen.

And with your opportunity to earn cash back, you also have the chance to earn a better credit score and credit limit. Use your card responsibly and make your first five monthly payments on time, and Capital One will automatically increase your credit line. And you get complimentary access to Capital One’s CreditWise® app, which lets you track your credit profile as you improve your score.

Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® with Cash Back Rewards

Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® with Cash Back Rewards

Apply Now

on Credit One Bank’s secure website

Card Details
Intro Apr:
N/A


Ongoing Apr:
20.24% – 26.24% Variable


Balance Transfer:
N/A*


Annual Fee:
$0 – $99


Credit Needed:
Fair-Poor-Bad

Snapshot of Card Features
  • Seeing if you Pre-Qualify is fast, easy, and secure
  • Get 1% cash back rewards on eligible purchase, terms apply
  • Rewards post automatically to your account each month
  • Looking for more credit? Get credit line increase opportunities, a fee may apply
  • With $0 Fraud Liability, you won’t be responsible for unauthorized charges
  • Pick a card that fits your style. Multiple card designs are available, a fee may apply
  • Enjoy exclusive offers available to Credit One Bank card members through Visa® Discounts.
  • Your card includes travel accident and auto rental collision insurance from Visa®

Card Details +

The Credit One Bank Platinum Visa with Cash Back Rewards is also a rewards card. It lets you earn 1% cash back on eligible purchases—some terms do apply. Your rewards post to your account automatically each month. You also get access to offers only to Credit One Bank card members through Visa® Discounts. The card also includes travel accident and auto rental collision insurance from Visa.

You can see if you prequalify for the card quickly, easily and securely. So you can find out if you’re likely to get approved before putting a hard inquiry on your credit report.

The card does have an annual fee of $0 to $99. But that fee depends on your credit score. With a fair score, you’re more likely to pay on the lower end of that range. The ongoing APR is a bit nicer than the two Capital one cards at 20.24% – 26.24% Variable for purchases. You can’t do balance transfers with this card, so there’s no APR for that.

Credit One Bank will give you a chance to increase your credit line down the road, but a fee might apply.  As you use this card responsibly, your account will be automatically reviewed to see if you’re eligible for an increased credit line.

Last, but not least, this card speaks to your unique self by letting you pick from multiple card designs, a fee may apply.

Capital One® Platinum Credit Card

If you’d rather skip an annual fee and don’t care about rewards, the Capital One® Platinum Credit Card has no annual fee which is a rare perk among credit cards for fair credit. This card carries the same ongoing APR of 26.96% (Variable) for purchases and balances transfers as the Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards card. But if your goal is to solely build credit without having the temptation of spending more to earn rewards, this card is a great option.

This card offers fraud protection if your card is lost or stolen. And if you make your first five payments on time, Capital one will increase your credit line.

This card also gives you the option to choose your monthly payment due date as well as to pay online, by check or at a local bank branch.

Petal Visa Credit Card

Petal Visa Credit Card

Apply Now

on Petal’s secure website

Card Details
Intro Apr:
N/A


Ongoing Apr:
15.24% – 26.24% Variable


Balance Transfer:
N/A


Annual Fee:
$0


Credit Needed:
Fair-Poor-No Credit

Snapshot of Card Features
  • No fees whatsoever. No late fee, international fee, annual fee, or any-other-kind-of-fee, fee.
  • $500 – $10,000 credit limits
  • No credit history necessary for approval
  • Build credit by using responsibly.
  • Petal reports to all 3 major credit bureaus
  • Petal’s mobile app makes it effortless to manage your money, track your spending, and build credit without thinking much about it.
  • See if you’re pre-approved within minutes without impacting your credit score.
  • No deposits required.
  • Card issued by WebBank, member FDIC.

Card Details +

The Petal Visa credit card is unique among credit cards for fair credit. Why is it so special? This card not only has no annual fee, but you’ll never be charged a late fee, foreign transaction fees or any other type of fee. It also offers a credit line of up to $10,000, which is higher than typically available for this type of card, but dependent on your credit score nonetheless.

The most unique thing about the Petal Visa card though is that it uses your bank account activity, income level and other factors to determine your eligibility as well as your credit score. So if you have a weaker score or no credit history—or a weaker score due to a lack of credit history—but spend wisely, you may still get approved. Petal is giving people with smart spending habits a fair shake at getting a solid credit card.

This card has an ongoing APR of 15.24% – 26.24% Variable for purchases. No balance transfer APR as you can’t use the card for balance transfers.

Your payments are reported to all three major credit bureaus, so by using the Petal card responsibly, you can boost your credit score over time. You don’t need a deposit to qualify and can be pre-approved in minutes with no impact to your credit score. You can effortlessly track your account from the free Petal mobile app to manage your money on the go.

Avant Credit Card

Avant Credit Card

Apply Now

on Avant’s secure website

Card Details
Intro Apr:
N/A


Ongoing Apr:
26.24% (variable)


Balance Transfer:
N/a


Annual Fee:
$29


Credit Needed:
Fair

Snapshot of Card Features
  • No deposit required
  • No penalty APR
  • No hidden fees
  • Fast and easy application process
  • Help strengthen your credit history with responsible use
  • Disclosure: If you are charged interest, the charge will be no less than $1.00. Cash Advance Fee: 3%, Min: $5
  • Avant branded credit products are issued by WebBank, member FDIC

Card Details +

The Avant credit card is another solid card for you if you have fair credit. It’s a true unsecured credit card, like the Petal Visa card. It has a smaller annual fee of $29 compared to some cards. But, it has no penalty APR and no hidden fees.

Like the other cards here, use it responsibly and improve your credit history and score.

Find more options for fair credit, including secured credits cards, or compare cards side by side in the Credit.com credit card center.

Helping Your Fair Credit Score

Some of the factors that lower your credit score include late payments, using more than 30% of your available credit, significant outstanding debt compared to your income, negative public records like judgments and bankruptcies and several credit inquiries in a short time period. The length of your credit history and the mixture of different types of accounts also plays a role.

Using a credit card wisely can help you work toward a higher credit score. Increasing your available credit with a newer card lowers the amount of overall credit you’re using, which has a positive impact on your score.

When you get your new credit card, keep your combined balances of all cards below 30% of your combined credit limit to lower your credit utilization ratio, make on-time payments and pay off other debt to see the benefits of your hard work in improving your credit.

Even increasing your score from the fair to good category will let you qualify for credit cards, car loans and personal loans with lower interest rates. It also boosts the chances of approval for a mortgage or rental home. Auto and home insurance premiums are also lower for people with good credit.

Not Sure What Your Credit Score Is?

Knowing your credit score can help you narrow your search for a credit card. If you don’t know your score, you can get your Experian VantageScore credit score right here on Credit.com for free. And you can get your FICO score for just $1.

Your free Experian VantageScore score includes a free credit report card that shows where you stand the five key criteria used to calculate your score—payment history, credit utilization, credit age, account mix and credit inquiries. Your score and report card get updated every two weeks, so you can see how using your new card improves your credit or what you need to do differently if it’s not.

At publishing time, the cards mentioned here are offered through the Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for one of the cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

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What Happens If You Make a Late Credit Card Payment?

What Happens If You Make a Late Credit Card Payment?

credt card sitting on bill on keyboard to show late credit card payment

Uh-oh! You just received your credit card statement, and it shows interest charges and a $38 late fee that you didn’t expect. You realize you’re guilty of making a late credit card payment last month. Or worse, you realize you forgot to send your payment at all. Here’s a rundown of potential impacts that your missed payment may have on your account.

  1. You’re assessed a late fee. Most credit cards charge a late fee when you make a late payment. In most cases, the fee is a flat charge of up to $39. In other instances, the fee might be tiered. For example, the late fee could be $15 if the balance is less than $100, up to $25 if the balance is $100 to less than $250 and up to $39 if the balance is $250 or more.

But what exactly does “up to” mean? Federal laws now prohibit credit card issuers from charging late fees that are in excess of the amount due. So if you have a balance of only $12, then your late fee can’t be more than $12.

On the other hand, there are credit cards that charge no late fees at all, like the Petal Visa Credit Card. In addition, a few cards automatically waive a first late payment. Nevertheless, don’t interpret a late-payment forgiveness policy as an excuse to pay late.

  1. You lose your interest-free grace period. Many credit card users avoid interest charges by paying their balance in full and on time. But if you fail to pay your statement balance on time, the interest charges are applied to your next statement in addition to any fees. In fact, interest charges are assessed based on your average daily balance for each day of the entire statement period. For cardholders who are already carrying a balance, the increase in interest charges won’t be as dramatic, but it can be significant.
  2. You’re charged a penalty interest rate—AKA penalty APR. Not only are most cardholders hit with a late fee and additional interest charges, but a new, higher penalty interest rate can apply when cardholders miss payments. Thankfully, some of the same simple cards, like the Avant Credit Card don’t increase your APR as a penalty for late payments.
  3. Your credit score suffers. Making a late payment on your credit card account can affect your credit score, but it depends. It’s up to credit card issuers how late a payment must be before it’s reported to the credit bureaus, but any late payment can be reported.

Thankfully, most credit card issuers won’t report payments that are less than 30 days late. And some lenders wait as long as 60 days before reporting late credit card payments.

Just because issuers don’t immediately report a late payment doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Your credit reports show the payment history for all of your credit cards, so check your reports to see whether a late payment has been reported to the bureaus. You’re entitled to a free credit report from each of the credit reporting agencies once a year under federal law.

In between getting your free annual credit reports, you can see how your payment history is affecting your own credit by getting your free score and credit report card on Credit.com.

What to Do If You Miss a Payment

  1. Pay it as soon as possible.When you realize you missed a payment, make a payment immediately. The quickest way to make a payment is by phone or electronically—not by postal mail. Making sure the payment is received quickly reduces the likelihood that your late payment is reported to the major credit bureaus. It also increases the chance that the card issuer is willing to forgive any late fees and interest charges.
  2. Contact your credit card issuer.Once you’ve made a payment, if you were otherwise in good standing, you’re in an excellent position to request that any late fees and interest charges be waived. Simply call your credit card company and let it know the circumstances that caused you to pay late, such as if you didn’t receive your statement. In most cases, the credit card provider is happy to waive these charges in order to satisfy and retain you as a customer.
  3. Fix the problem.After you’ve done what you can to limit the immediate harm caused by a late credit card payment, take steps to keep it from happening again. For example, if your statement for your last billing cycle wasn’t delivered in the mail, switch to electronic statements. Alternatively, you can see if your credit card issuer offers payment reminders via text or email. Even better, set up automatic payments if you can.

It’s only human to miss a credit card payment sometime. It’s how quickly you address the error that matters to you, your credit score and your credit card issuer.

More on Credit Cards

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Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in this article may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

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7 Hacks for Using American Express’ Membership Rewards Program

7 Hacks for Using American Express’ Membership Rewards Program

Here's how to make the most of your Membership Rewards.

[UPDATE: Some offers mentioned below have expired and/or are no longer available on our site. You can view the current offers from our partners in our credit card marketplace. DISCLOSURE: Cards from our partners are mentioned below.]

There are a few different transferable points programs available, but over the years one of the most popular has always been American Express’ Membership Rewards program. The reason is because of the ample ways points can be used and the wide selection of credit cards that can help you earn points quickly. Let’s take a deeper look into how you can earn Membership Rewards points and the different ways you can receive ultimate value.

1. Transfer Points to Loyalty Partners

One of the best ways to receive maximum value for your Membership Rewards points is to transfer them to one of the many loyalty partners. There is a large selection of both hotels and airlines and each of the following partners will transfer 1-to-1 unless noted.

  • Aeromexico — 1-to-1.6
  • Air Canada (Aeroplan)
  • Air France/KLM (Flying Blue)
  • Alitalia
  • All Nippon Airways
  • Asia Miles
  • British Airways — 250-to-200
  • Delta Air Lines
  • El Al Israel Airlines — 1,000-to-20
  • Emirates
  • Etihad Airways
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Iberia Plus — 250-to-200
  • JetBlue Airways — 250-to-200
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Virgin America — 200-to-100
  • Virgin Atlantic Airways
  • Choice Hotels
  • Hilton Hotels — 1-to-1.5
  • Starwood Hotels — 1,000-to-333

To get the most value out of each point, you could use them for one of the following redemptions.

All Nippon Airways From the United States to Japan

Until recently, the All Nippon Airways award chart was based on distances. That used to provide many sweet spots for award travel. Even though they have changed to a region based award chart, there are still some great deals. One of them is round-trip flights from the United States to Japan. You can fly round-trip in coach for just 40,000 miles during low season and business class for 75,000 miles, also in the low season.

All Nippon Airways From the United States to Asia Zone 2

You could use All Nippon Airways miles to fly round-trip from the United States to Asia Zone 2 for just 55,000 in coach or 100,000 in business class. Asia Zone 2 is classified as Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand, Myanmar, India, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Flying Blue From the Continental United States to Hawaii

A great use of Flying Blue miles is to fly round-trip from anywhere in the continental United States to Hawaii for just 30,000 miles.

Aeroplan From the United States to Oceania

Transferring Membership Award points to Aeroplan will allow you to use 90,000 miles to fly round-trip from the United States to Australia, New Zealand or anywhere in the South Pacific. You could make this trip for 80,000 United miles, but what makes using Aeroplan miles worth it is that they will allow you to make two stopovers before reaching your destination. That means you could fly to Tahiti and make stops in both Australia and New Zealand on the way.

British Airways From Miami to Lima, Peru

If hiking to Machu Picchu is on your bucket list, you might want to consider flying British Airways from Miami to Lima, Peru. Because British Airways has a distance-based award chart, the flight in coach is just 12,500 miles each way.

2. Buy Gift Cards

Another way to use your Membership Rewards is to receive gift cards from different restaurants, retailers and for travel. The value you receive will be anywhere from a half-cent to one cent per point.

3. Go Shopping

You could also use your points to shop online with certain retailers. Amazon.com, Bestbuy.com and Newegg.com offer 0.7 cents per point. Other partner retailers give you a half-cent per point in value.

4. Use American Express Travel or Airbnb

There are a few different ways you can use your points on travel beyond transferring them to partners. You can book airfare on American Express Travel for one cent per point. You could also book with Airbnb for 0.7 cents per point.

5. Enjoy Entertainment

If you want to redeem your points for concert tickets or for a Broadway show you can do so through Ticketmaster.com, AXS and Telecharge.com. The value is a half-cent per point.

6. Ride With Uber

You could also use your Membership Reward points to pay for Uber rides. You will receive one cent value per point used.

7. Get a Statement Credit

Finally, you could choose to use your points to receive a statement credit. However, by doing this, you will only receive 0.6 cents value per point.

Cards That Earn Membership Rewards Points

There are quite a few different credit cards that give you the opportunity to earn Membership Rewards points. Below you will find a few of our favorite cards.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Apply Now

on American Express’s secure website

Card Details
Intro Apr:
N/A


Ongoing Apr:
N/A


Balance Transfer:
N/A


Annual Fee:
$550


Credit Needed:
Excellent-Good

Snapshot of Card Features
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.

Card Details +

The Platinum Card® from American Express has been one of the elite cards available for a few years. When you sign up you will receive 60,000 Membership Reward points after spending $5,000 in the first three months. You can then receive 5X Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on flights and hotels when booked through the airline and by using American Express Travel. All other purchases earn one point per dollar spent.

The annual fee on the Platinum card is $550. This puts the card out of reach for many people. But before you discard the idea of adding it to your wallet, consider the travel benefits. Not only will you receive a $200 airline fee credit, which will pay for things like change fees or baggage fees, you also receive up to $200 in annual Uber savings. And you get complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts among other perks.

American Express® Gold Card

American Express® Gold Card

Apply Now

on American Express’s secure website

Card Details
Intro Apr:
N/A


Ongoing Apr:
N/A


Balance Transfer:
N/A


Annual Fee:
$250


Credit Needed:
Excellent-Good

Snapshot of Card Features
  • Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $2,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. restaurants. Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with The Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Shake Shack, and Ruth’s Chris Steak House. This is an annual savings of up to $120. Enrollment required.
  • $100 Airline Fee Credit: up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year for incidental fees at one selected qualifying airline.
  • Choose to carry a balance with interest on eligible charges of $100 or more.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms apply.

Card Details +

Another of the elite cards is American Express® Gold Card. When you sign up for this card, you receive 35,000 Membership Reward points after spending $2,000 in the first three months. You receive 3X Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on any airfare purchased directly with airlines. You also receive 4X points on up to $25,000 in purchases per year at U.S. restaurants, gas stations and supermarkets. All other purchases earn one point per dollar. There is a $250 annual fee. Other than the earnings potential, the other benefits can make the annual fee worthwhile to travelers. Each year you receive a $100 airline fee credit. You can also earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with The Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Shake Shack and Ruth’s Chris Steak House. That’s an annual savings of up to $120. Enrollment  is required.

If you don’t already have one of these cards keep in mind you’ll need excellent credit to qualify. You can see where your credit stands by getting your free credit score right here on Credit.com.

Image: AleksandarNakic

At publishing time, the Platinum Card from American Express, American Express® Gold Card and Amex EveryDay Preferred card are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for this card. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

The post 7 Hacks for Using American Express’ Membership Rewards Program appeared first on Credit.com.

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A Bad Union—Closed Accounts and Your Credit Report

A Bad Union—Closed Accounts and Your Credit Report

Credit report close up: Are closed accounts on credit report bad?

Credit’s a tricky thing. Some things obviously hurt your credit, like a late payment or no payment or maxing out your credit cards. But the effect of some things on your credit isn’t obvious at all and are almost counterintuitive. Those things seem like they should help your credit but can actually hurt. One of those things is closing accounts. But are closed account on your credit report bad? Well, yes. But why?

Closed Account Are Bad for Your Credit

Yes Virginia, closing an account, such as a credit card account, can hurt your credit. But why?

There are five key areas that are tracked on your credit file by the major credit bureaus:

  • Payment history
  • Debt usage or credit utilization ratio
  • Credit age
  • Account mix
  • Credit inquiries

The credit bureaus run credit scoring models against those five factors to calculate your credit score. Payment history makes up roughly 35% of your score, debt usage 30%, credit age 15% and account mix and credit inquiries 10% each.

And while it may seem like closing credit cards is a good idea. It’s actually as hurtful to your credit as missing payments. Closing an account is a triple threat to your credit score as it impacts your:

That potentially 55% of your score that’s impacted by closing an account—20% more than missing a payment that affects your payment history. Ouch!

How Closed Accounts Hurt Your Credit

Just how does closing an account affect so many areas used to calculate your credit scores? Here’s how.

Closing an Account Hurts Your Credit Utilization Ratio

“Revolving utilization” is the amount of your revolving credit card limits you’re currently using. So your available credit limits compared to your actual credit card balances. For example, if you have an open credit card with a $2,000 credit limit and a $1,000 balance then you are 50% “utilized” on that account because you’re using half of your credit limit.

The same applies if you had one credit card with a $1,500 limit and one with a $500 limit and balance of $1,000 across both cards. In other words, your total credit limit and your total balance(s) are what matters.

Credit card issuers, lenders and the credit scoring models like to see your credit utilization ratio at no more than 30% and ideally no more than 10%. Having a ratio of 30% or less is almost as important to your credit scores as making your payments on time. As the ratio increases, your credit score decreases.

The assumption is that the more you charge, the less responsible and therefore riskier you are.

But where does a closed account come in? Well, an open account adds to your credit limit. A closed account subtracts from it. And when you close an account, that account’s credit limit no longer applies toward your credit utilization ratio.

So, in the example above where you have one card with a $1,500 limit and one with a $500 limit, if you close the one with the $500 limit, but still have a $1,000 balance, your credit utilization ratio jumps from 50% to 67%! That’s 17% farther away from the 30% max that lenders and creditors want to see.

Bottom line, it’s better to keep the account open and not use it or only use it sparingly.

Closing an Account Hurts Your Credit Age or History

You’d think credit age was a simple measure of how long you’ve been using credit in general. Not so. It’s actually a measure of how long you’ve had any given account or loan. And while closed accounts don’t immediately fall off your credit report, they do fall off sooner than open accounts.

In most cases, negative credit information stays on your credit files for seven years from the date the debt first becomes delinquent. Positive credit information can stay indefinitely. Closed accounts in good standing are usually removed from the credit report within 10 years after closing. And while credit scores continue to benefit from the positive history associated with an account for as long as it remains on the credit report—open or closed—once the account is removed from your credit report all of that history is gone.

And the credit scoring models favor a long credit history. Consumers with a younger credit history are seen as riskier borrowers than consumers who’ve had credit for a longer time.

Bottom line, hang on to those old accounts by leaving them open. Keeping them open doesn’t mean you have to use them—although you want to make sure the issuer won’t close the account if you don’t use it. If they will, simply use that account one year or so for a small purchase.

Closing an Account Hurts Your Account Mix

Lenders and creditors like to see well-rounded consumers. They don’t want consumers with only credit cards and no loans. And they don’t want consumers with only loans and no credit cards. That mix of different types of accounts—revolving credit and installment loans—is your account mix.

While you can’t realistically extend the term of an installment loan. For example, extending a 30-year mortgage to a 45-year mortgage. You can keep credit card accounts open so you have a beefier account mix. And if you don’t have any installment loans, consider taking out a small personal loan just to add to your account mix now and again if needed and assuming it won’t cause you financial issues. Even an auto loan is an installment loan. If you can swing a 0% loan for your next car, that can be a beautiful boost to your credit score.

Note too that open accounts are included in your account mix. Open accounts are those that are paid off monthly, such as utilities, your cell phone, and charge cards.

When to Consider Closing an Account

Sometimes closed accounts on your credit report aren’t as bad as the consequences of keeping the account open. Cases, when it may be best to close the account, include:

  • The account is a joint card with a former spouse, business partner or another person that you need to sever ties with and/or who creates a financial liability for you.
  • You tend to overspend and the temptation of the account is too great.
  • The account has high recurring fees, such as a credit card with a high annual fee.

Can You Reopen a Closed Account on a Credit Report?

You don’t have a lot of options to re-open accounts closed due to delinquency. You can though ask that an issuer re-open an account that was in good standing but that you chose to close. The credit card company may update the status of the original account to open or make create a new account. You can ask which approach it uses. Reopening an old account can build on your established credit history.

Where Is Your Credit?

To find out where your credit currently stands, you can check all three of your credit reports free once a year at AnnualCreditReport.com. If you’d like to know your score and keep an eye on your credit more regularly, Credit.com’s free Experian credit score and credit report card gives you an easy-to-understand breakdown of your credit report’s details using letter grades, along with free credit score updated every 14 days.

The Credit.com credit report card for someone with a good credit score. Your report card can show closed accounts and how they effect your credit.

The post A Bad Union—Closed Accounts and Your Credit Report appeared first on Credit.com.

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What Exactly is “Fair” Credit?

What Exactly is “Fair” Credit?

What Exactly is "Fair" Credit?

UPDATE: Article Updated by Brian Acton 4/9/18

There’s always a lot of buzz about the extreme ends of the credit scoring spectrum. How can you get excellent credit? What should you do if you have bad credit?

Less attention is paid to fair credit, which is ironic considering that’s where a large segment of consumers land. While credit scoring models and lender standards differ, the average American credit score is often nestled firmly in a range that could be considered fair.

This may leave many consumers wondering what defines fair credit, how they got a fair credit score, and what they can do to improve it.

What is Fair Credit?

Because there are many credit scoring models available, and because lenders may define credit differently, there’s no hard definition for a fair credit score (or any other type, for that matter). However, a typical breakdown of credit tiers looks like this:

  • Excellent Credit: 750+
  • Good Credit: 700-749
  • Fair Credit: 650-699
  • Poor Credit: 600-649
  • Bad Credit: below 600

Again, the definition of fair credit is open to interpretation, and may differ based on the credit scoring model used, the type of credit you’re applying for at the time, and the interpretations of the lender. The credit bureaus don’t even agree; Experian considers a fair score to be in the 580 – 669 range, while Transunion has stated that 668 – 719 is middle of the road. To further complicate matters, credit scoring models are frequently changing.

Here’s a good rule of thumb: if your credit lands firmly in the middle of the above ratings (and keep in mind, there is some wiggle room), chances are that your credit score might be considered fair by at least some lenders.

Why Do I Have Fair Credit?

If your credit score is hovering in the fair range, there’s good and bad news. You probably don’t have many negative items on your credit report, but your credit isn’t exactly impressive either. Luckily, fair credit isn’t a permanent state, and over time you can move the needle into the good or excellent credit range.

One cause of your fair credit could be your credit utilization rate, or the amount of available credit you have tied up in debt. This typically applies to credit cards – if you have a credit card with a $1,000 credit limit and a $500 balance, your utilization for that card is 50%. Generally, you should keep your utilization of all available credit under 30%. If your utilization is too high, it could be dragging down your score a bit.

Another reason could be a late payment on your credit report. Payment history is the largest determining factor of your credit score, and a missed or late payment can drag your score down. If the late payment on your credit report is in error, you may be able to dispute it and get it removed from your report. If it’s valid, you will just have to avoid missing payments in the future to build up a better payment history. Over time, the effect of a late payment lessens, and after seven years it will disappear from your credit report entirely.

A limited credit history can also lead to fair credit. If you just recently started building credit within the past year or so, your credit profile may simply be too thin for an impressive credit score. Over time, as you let accounts age, add new accounts, and manage your debts responsibly, your credit score will grow.

The best way to grow your score is to use common sense: make all your payments on time, don’t borrow more than you can afford to pay back, and don’t max out your credit cards.

Build Your Credit with the Avant Credit Card

Avant Credit Card

Apply Now

on Avant’s secure website

Card Details
Intro Apr:
N/A


Ongoing Apr:
26.24% (variable)


Balance Transfer:
N/a


Annual Fee:
$29


Credit Needed:
Fair

Snapshot of Card Features
  • No deposit required
  • No penalty APR
  • No hidden fees
  • Fast and easy application process
  • Help strengthen your credit history with responsible use
  • Disclosure: If you are charged interest, the charge will be no less than $1.00. Cash Advance Fee: 3%, Min: $5
  • Avant branded credit products are issued by WebBank, member FDIC

Card Details +

Having fair credit isn’t a bad thing—but it’s not exactly good, either. If it’s time to start building your credit score, what can you do? Give a starter credit card a try, like the Avant Credit Card.

The Avant Credit Card has no security deposit, no penalty APR and a quick application process. Avant allows you to see if you can qualify by providing you with the credit line and annual fee you qualify for—all without affecting your credit score.

Monitoring Your Credit

To track your credit progress, you should monitor your credit report and credit scores. You can check your credit reports from each of the three credit bureaus for free annually at AnnualCreditReport.com. As for your credit score, you can check two of your credit scores, updated every 14 days, for free at Credit.com
If you’re concerned about your credit, you can check your three credit reports for free once a year. To track your credit more regularly, Credit.com’s free Credit Report Card is an easy-to-understand breakdown of your credit report information that uses letter grades—plus you get two free credit scores updated every 14 days.

You can also carry on the conversation on our social media platforms. Like and follow us on Facebook and leave us a tweet on Twitter.

The post What Exactly is “Fair” Credit? appeared first on Credit.com.

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How Is a Fraud Alert Different from a Credit Freeze or Lock?

How Is a Fraud Alert Different from a Credit Freeze or Lock?

credit-fraud-alert

Hackers steal more than 250,000 records globally every hour. And improvements in technology make it easier—not harder—all the time for cyber thieves to access your personal and financial information. While identity theft is a scary thought, you aren’t helpless.

The three major credit bureaus—Experian, Equifax and Transunion—offer three ways to help you protect yourself from someone opening an account in your name—a fraud alert, credit freeze and a credit lock. Though they sound the same, each one provides a different level of protection and impact and each has different requirements.

What Are Fraud Alerts?

A fraud alert is a basic form of credit protection. It acts as a roadblock that makes it harder for thieves to open an account in your name. If you have a fraud alert in place, a lender or other business isn’t supposed to open an account for you without first taking steps to verify that the account is, in fact, for you and not someone pretending to be you.

Unlike with a credit freeze, your credit file is still accessible to business and lenders. There’s just an added step that must be taken before the lender or another business opens an account in your name.

Because you provide your contact information when you set up the alert, inquiring banks often use your telephone number to contact you if someone, including you, is trying to open a new account in your name. This gives you the opportunity to confirm or deny that you applied for the account.

Two Types of Fraud Alerts

There are three different types of fraud alerts that you can add to your credit reports at the three credit bureaus.

  • An initial fraud alert can be added by anyone at any time and for any reason. You can add it at any one of the three reporting agencies. The bureau you request an alert from has to let the other bureaus know about The other two then have to add an initial fraud alert to your report as well. An initial alert automatically expires after a year.
  • An extended fraud alert requires that you verify that you’re a victim of identity theft or fraud. Verification involves sending an identity theft report with a copy of a police or other law enforcement report. Requesting an extended alert, as with an initial fraud alert, can be done at one of the reporting agencies who then has to alert the other two bureaus on your behalf. An extended fraud alert stays on your report for seven years.
  • An active-duty alert or active-duty fraud alert is used for active military service members. Like an initial fraud alert, it lasts for one year but can be extended if the service member remains deployed. Like the other alerts, opening an active-duty at one bureau requires that reporting agency share it with the other two.

What Is a Credit Freeze and Credit Lock?

While a fraud alert instructs businesses to take steps to verify your identity before opening a new account, it doesn’t keep them from looking at your credit file. A credit lock or credit freeze, also called a security freeze, does prevent anyone from looking at—or making a hard inquiry on—your credit report.

A lock or freeze prevents a business or lender from even considering you for a loan or account, where an alert lets them see your credit report. With an alert, they can get to the point of wanting to extend you the loan or account, but not actually opening it without first verifying you’re the one who wants the loan or account.

With a freeze or lock in place, the lender can still make a soft inquiry against your credit report. So you can still get pre-approved credit card offers or have a prospective employer check your credit.

Initial fraud alerts and credit freezes are covered by government laws, specifically the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, which requires they be free for one year.

Credit locks are not necessarily free or covered by laws. They are credit industry products.

Locks and freezes last until you lift them. Ending a freeze requires a PIN you receive when you place the freeze. Ending a lock can be done simply by asking the company who placed the lock usually online or by phone.

When to Place a Fraud Alert

Requesting a credit card fraud alert is easy and won’t hurt your credit score or affect your reports. It’s okay to request one at any time. Because an alert only lasts a year, you may want to reserve requesting one for when you think you might be in jeopardy, such as:

  • You notice fraudulent activity on any of your accounts.
  • You think you are a victim of fraud.
  • Your information may be at risk in a data breach.
  • Your wallet, credit card, Social Security card, etc. was lost or stolen.
  • You want to take extra precautions against identity theft.

When in doubt, a fraud alert gives you some reassurance. If you’re planning to take out a loan or apply for a credit card soon, an alert gives you some protection without restricting your ability to apply for financing.

If you have a credit freeze or lock in place and you apply for a loan or credit card, you’ll have to at least temporarily lift the freeze or lock and take extra steps. Those steps aren’t cumbersome but will take a small amount of time. If you choose a lock or freeze, simply know that you’ll have to do some work—more than answering a phone call—if you need a new loan or credit card and have one in place.

How to Apply for a Fraud Alert

Experian lets you submit a fraud alert request online. You can enter either your personal information or identifiers from a recent credit report. If you’d prefer not to input your Social Security number, you have the option to upload other documents to verify your identity.

TransUnion lets you request a fraud alert online through TransUnion by creating an account and completing the online form.

Equifax lets you create an account and file for a fraud alert online. With Equifax, you can also mail in an application or set up an alert by phone at 800-525-6285.

What Else Can You Do to Protect Yourself?

A fraud alert, credit freeze or credit lock are just some of the tools you can use to protect yourself from identity theft. Another tool you can use is your credit score. Using a service, such as Credit.com, to monitor your credit score can alert you to any changes in your score which can indicate something—or someone—has abused your credit.

You can sign up for a free Experian VantageScore credit score or a $1 FICO credit score from Credit.com. Your score includes access to a free credit report card—shown below—that tracks the five key areas that go into your score—payment history, debt usage, credit history, account mix and inquiries.  Your score and your report card are updated every two weeks, so you can see any changes and take action if needed, including adding a fraud alert, freeze or lock when needed.

Credit.com Credit Report Card Image

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Life Events That Can Affect Credit: Going to College

Life Events That Can Affect Credit: Going to College

Going to college can have a big impact on a credit score.

For many first-time college students, pursing a higher education is a journey that comes with newfound responsibilities. Managing money while simultaneously balancing school, work and social obligations proves difficult for many. When embarking on educational pursuits, don’t forget to keep credit scores at the forefront of financial commitments.

There are many ways to go into debt as a student. While building a future through formal learning, remain vigilant in keeping a solid foundation of good credit. The following six scenarios can impact college students and credit.

1. Obtaining Student Loans

In order to pay for rising college costs, a majority of higher education students now attain student loans. Financing schooling costs does impact credit. Whether the impact is positive or negative depends on how the loan is taken out and how it is managed.

When acquiring the initial loan, a hard credit inquiry may make a minor impact on overall credit score. A credit check done by the potential lender may ding a few points off of the total score. The impact is small and can be recuperated in time.

In order to shop for the loan with the best value, the credit reporting system allows multiple credit inquiries in a short period of time. This gives the borrower anywhere from 14-45 days to research the best interest rates and find a loan that meets their needs and budget.

Once a loan has been selected and balances are due, students should remain rigorous about making timely payments. Staying on-track can impact a credit score for the better. By showing the capacity to payback the student loan debt, the borrower strengthens credit and builds a strong credit score.

Conversely, missing scheduled payments can lead to the slow and steady withering of strong credit. Credit scores can soar when managed properly. If students or graduates feel themselves drowning in large student loan repayment, they can contact the loan servicer. Many times, deferment or other alterations can be arranged to make payments more manageable.

2. Using Cards as Income

For the college students and credit card beginners in the audience, it is important to remember that credit cards are not free money or unlimited cash. Being approved for a credit card with a $5,000 limit is not equivalent to a receiving $5,000 payday. Using a credit card to make any purchase, large or small, comes with the obligation to pay back the card balance.

Furthermore, credit card companies may tack on fees in addition to accrued card balances. Common card fees may include the following:

  • Late payments
  • Charges for foreign transactions
  • Annual membership fees

One of the common pitfalls of student spending is utilizing credit cards as a way to make ends meet until cash comes along. For some college students, carrying a credit balance over from one month to the next is their solution for getting through economic hardship. While this temporary fix may seem to suffice for a time, the long-term impact can be difficult to repair.

Credit card interest rates and card fees vary. The cost of paying credit card interest and carrying a balance can add up in a matter of months and may be more significant than most students realize. Applying for credit cards and spending to the limit is a quick way to get into credit card debt and destroy a credit score.

3. Missing Payment Deadlines

Paying off a card balance or loan increment on time has the most impact of any of the credit decisions a college student makes. Payment history accounts for 35% of the points in a standard credit score. After a single missed payment, a positive overall score is said to drop somewhere between 90 to 110 points.

But according to FICO, a single late payment will not cause irreversible damage to one’s credit score. While the score drop may make an initial dent, getting back on track can rapidly repair the damage done.

Significant harm comes to the score of a borrower who consistently shows negligence overtime. Missing multiple or consecutive payments can impair a once-decent score. As a student with many expenses and little cash to spare, don’t postpone the due date. Aside from the credit impact, many major credit card companies will also inflict late payment fees that only add to the total balance due.

4. Paying the Minimum Balance Due

Making only a minimum payment can also negatively impact a credit score. When done consistently over time, paying the minimum balance can become a trap for college students to fall into. Interest payments will rack up quickly and the total payment will only grow. In order to avoid paying outrageous interest fees altogether, students should strive to completely payoff card balances. This is best done by charging only what one can afford.

5. Applying for Loans and Credit Cards

As aforementioned, applying for a loan can take a small rift out of a growing credit score. Likewise, applying for a new credit card can have the same effect. Each time a new creditor obtains a credit application, they pull the credit information. While it does not impact credit to obtain a copy of a free personal credit score each year, it does leave a mark when checked by a potential lender.

In order to prevent credit checks from significantly bringing down a credit score, students should be prudent in the number of loans and credit cards they apply for. Many students are tempted by credit card rewards programs available to consumers. By sticking to a few manageable credit cards, students can better control their spending and avoid the credit impact of card applications.

6. Maxing Out Cards

According to Time Magazine, student debt is being wracked-up by more than just the cost of college tuition. Extra college expenses include school books, transportation, housing and the use of electronic devices. For first-timers facing the price tag that comes with academic study, maxing out credit cards may seem the obvious solution.

Whether paid-in-full or carrying a balance, a card that meets its credit limit poses a significant threat to a teetering credit record. Weighing in at 30% of a total credit score, a factor called credit utilization is a critical component of credit reporting. Credit utilization refers to the debt to limit ratio.

To calculate the debt to limit ratio, divide the current card balance by the maximum card limit. The higher the percentage, the more negative the impact on credit utilization.

To improve credit, consider spreading out expenses to multiple cards. This lessens the debt to limit ratio. It gives evidence that the full amount of credit is not required by the borrower. Another way to help credit scores improve may be to request a higher credit limit. When possible, payoff balances on time. A higher limit will aid credit utilization and may lead to a more stable credit score.

Monitor Credit Activity

When pursing the path towards higher education, don’t loose sight of long-term financial goals. While going to college can impact credit scores in the long run, the affects don’t have to be negative. Apply for a student credit card that builds credit for students and recent graduates. Sign up for the Credit Report Card from Credit.com to get advice, credit scores and a free action plan to monitor credit growth and build a strong financial future.

The post Life Events That Can Affect Credit: Going to College appeared first on Credit.com.

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8 Reasons to Save Money in 2019

8 Reasons to Save Money in 2019

A car is a great reason to save your money in 2019.

There are numerous reasons to save money in the coming year. Whether you’ve recently graduated college or have been in the workforce for years, it’s never a bad time to take a good, hard look at your finances. You never know what 2019 may bring, but you want to be ready for anything. Here are some good excuses to boost your savings account over the year.

Getting a Pet

Most people want a furry animal to come home to after a long day at work. Whether you are a dog person or prefer cats, you can never start saving too early for a pet. The ASPCA released a table of common expenses that come with animals, showing that pet owners can expect to spend $120 annually on food for a medium-sized dog.

You also need to consider medical expenses, toys, treats, crates and training classes. With everything added together, you will likely spend upwards of $1,000 a year to care for your furry companion.

It’s also important to have enough money to cover medical emergencies. Certain medical procedures, such as removing an obstruction from a dog’s intestines, can cost thousands of dollars. Make sure to save enough money to handle these expenses, so you’re not at a loss for what to do when emergencies happen.

Pet owners should also seriously consider purchasing pet insurance to help cover the cost for these emergencies. It may sound like a lot, but pet insurance gives you the peace of mind of being able to provide for your pet.

Invest in New Tech

There are all kinds of cool gadgets that are coming out this year. Virtual reality has taken the world by storm, and you can get in on the action with the HTC VIVE Pro Virtual Reality Headset. It features sharper graphics and colors than ever before. You get 360 degree controller tracking to cover all of your movements. The immersive audio provides sound all around you to really add depth to any game you play.

Is virtual reality not your thing? There are plenty of other great toys to look into. Some of the most popular include:

  • LG Signature OLED TV R9
  • MoodoGo Portable Diffuser
  • Nreal Light Mixed Reality Glasses
  • Lenovo Smart Clock with Google Assistant
  • Gillette Heated Razor
  • Withings Move Activity Tracking Watch
  • Harley-Davidson LiveWire Motorcycle
  • Mophie Juice Pack Access
  • Samsung TVs
  • KitchenAid Cook Processor Connect

You may not think you have a reason to invest in a food processor or heated razor. However, once you start using it, you’ll wonder how you ever got by without it.

Purchase Your Own Netflix Account

Most people get by with using someone else’s Netflix or Hulu account. While it is free, this can be inconvenient. With a standard Netflix account, only two people can watch binge their favorite TV series at a time. If you share an account with more than two people, you may get locked out on Friday night with nothing else to do.

Consider getting your own account. A basic Netflix account only costs $8.99 a month. You’ll feel much better when you don’t have to constantly ask your parents for the family’s Netflix password.

Buy a New Car

Are you tired of driving the same hunk of junk around? One of the most common reasons to save money is to finally purchase a new car or motorcycle. In 2018, the average car buyer had to borrow $31,453 to get a new set of wheels. Even with a good down payment, the average monthly loan payment was $523 in the United States. If you want something new, then you should be ready to pay more.

There are ways to save money for a car. Instead of purchasing a new vehicle that came out in 2019, you can purchase something a few years older. It will come with many of the same features, but it’ll be substantially more affordable.

Either way, you need to look at your current monthly expenses and budget accordingly. You want to make sure you will be able to make your car payments while still affording everything else. It is a good idea to start saving now, so you can make a higher down payment.

Subscribe to a Food Delivery Service

Services like Blue Apron and HelloFresh have changed the way many people eat. When you get home from work, you may not feel like spending an hour over a hot stove. With many of the recipes from these services, you can prepare a delicious meal in less than 30 minutes. You will learn how to prepare new meals you may not have through of before.

Signing up for one of these services can also help you cut down on waste. You get the exact amount of food for as many people as you want. That means if you need to make food for you and your partner, you each get a full serving. You do not have to worry about leftovers and throwing food away. Plus, you’ll be able to branch out and try new meals. With a food delivery service, you’ll actually enjoy the time you spend in the kitchen.

Repay Your Debts

Not all reasons to save money are exciting. While it’s fun to consider purchasing a new video game console, you also need to be practical. If you have student loan debt or debt from credit cards, then you need to think about how you will repay those debts.

After saving some money, you can tackle these debts more effectively. You can make higher payments, so you’re not resorting to the minimum. You can also focus your payments on the debts with the highest interest rates. With more money in the bank, you can start working toward financial freedom.

Develop an Emergency Fund

You should have enough money in the bank to cover six to eight months of living expenses. This is money you keep in a savings account that you don’t touch unless you have genuine emergency on your hands. If your car breaks down or you need to unexpectedly see the doctor, you have the funds necessary to do so. With an emergency fund, you do not have to worry as much about falling deeper into debt. You won’t have to pay for these expenses with your credit card, so they won’t accumulate interest over time.

Plan for Retirement

Whether you’re 25 or 65, you need to think about retirement now. Out of all the reasons to save money, this is arguably the most important. You should be able to retire when you are 65. But if you don’t have enough money in savings, you may need to work longer. If your employer offers a 401(k) match, then you should take advantage of it. Even investing 1% of your total income will help you in the long run. You should also consider opening a Roth account. Using this account wisely can help you stay in a lower tax bracket.

A great way to save more money is to open a savings account that gives you compound interest. By investing wisely, you can passively earn more money without doing anything. It’s a great way to have more money for when emergencies arise or when you want to retire sooner. Credit.com can help you save your money appropriately, so get in touch with us today.

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