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Baby steps to boost your credit score Wednesday, March 20, 2013

I am trying to raise my credit score as much as possible. Is it better to charge around $5 per month on each of my four credit cards that have no balances, and pay them off before the statement cuts to show activity and on-time payments? Is using and paying off four credit cards before the statement cuts more effective at raising my credit score than only doing this with one of the cards?

First, kudos to you for being a conscientious credit card holder. Not everyone takes the time to consider how to manage a pocketful of credit cards. The easy and general answer to your question is to keep charges low relative to credit limits and pay your bills on time every month to boost your credit score.

With that said, I went to the credit-scoring experts at FICO and VantageScore to get their thoughts.

"I'd say that charging and paying off more than one card each month is better than using only one, but the optimal number of cards showing a balance on the credit report (even though it's paid off each month) can vary," FICO spokesman Anthony Sprauve says.

For example, the average person with a FICO score above 780 -- considered a very good credit score -- has three credit cards that report a balance, Sprauve says. That same person also has a total of four to five cards, open and/or closed, on his or her credit report. With that in mind, Sprauve recommends using more than one card but no more than three to four each month.

Sarah Davies, senior vice president of product management and analytics at VantageScore Solutions LLC, also agrees with spreading the charges among several credit cards to avoid a high utilization ratio on one card.

Utilization is the percentage of how much of your available credit you use. It is calculated for each credit card individually and combined. A lower percentage -- generally below 10 percent -- lifts your credit score.

Of course, if your credit limits are high on each card and your monthly spending is very low, you could maintain a low utilization rate even if all the charges are on one card. If that's the case, you may consider rotating which card you use every month to maintain activity on each account but make bill-paying less cumbersome.

If you're determined to keep your utilization rate at an all-time low, here's a little secret courtesy of John Ulzheimer, president of consumer education at Pay off your credit cards before the statement's closing date rather than the payment due date. That way, an issuer will report a zero balance to the credit bureaus. Issuers typically report the balance of the last statement to the credit bureaus.

In general, it's best to avoid micromanaging your credit score and instead focus on good financial habits overall, says Davies.

"Your credit score will take care of itself," she says.

Posted by at 13:15:22

When should you dispute a credit report? Friday, March 15, 2013

Simple answer: When it is incorrect. Your credit report tells the world a lot about you. What if it's saying something it shouldn't? Can you dispute your credit report?

The short answer is "yes." But before you raise that red flag, you should know about the types of errors that typically occur, and which ones are more harmful than others.

As more Americans learn how to pull their credit histories, many are finding their reports aren't giving a clear picture to potential creditors. Names are sometimes misspelled, and addresses are outdated. Even more discomforting, some people find information they don't recognize.

Some of these inaccuracies are harmless, but others could hurt your chances at getting a loan. This is why experts urge people to keep track of their credit histories and to watch for anything that looks out of whack.

Here are six common errors that turn up on credit reports, and what you can do if you find one.

Read more:

Posted by at 12:40:31

Are late payments stuck on credit report? Thursday, March 07, 2013

If my debt is due to late payments, and I know it is my fault, how do I approach trying to get these removed from my credit reports? Should I still try to write to the reporting agencies and explain why the payments were late? Should I write to the credit card companies to explain and try to have them removed? Or am I wasting my time because it was my fault?

Did you break a mirror recently? I ask this because it sounds like your credit report will be having seven years of bad luck! Unfortunately, accurate negative information on your credit reports will not be removed until the rules of the Fair Credit Reporting Act require that it be removed. Most negative items, including your late payments, must be removed from your credit report seven years from the date of the delinquency. Some notable exceptions include Chapter 7 bankruptcies, student loan defaults and government debts, including IRS and overdue child support payments.

I want you to be sure all the negative information contained on your credit reports is really yours and that if it is, it's accurate. If you go to, you can order one free copy of your credit report from each of the three major reporting agencies once a year. Check your info and dispute any items on your credit report that you believe may be in error. The credit bureau that is reporting it has 30 days after it receives a dispute to investigate the item under dispute and report to you the findings of the investigation. If the item cannot be verified as accurate, it must be removed.

What will help your credit report and your financial situation is to bring your accounts current (pay all past due amounts) and make on-time and as-agreed payments moving forward. Using online banking is a good way to make sure your payments get to the lender before they are late because of mail delays. I set my bills up for payment the day I get them. That way I have a fail-safe way to make sure my bills are paid whether I forget or even if I'm on vacation.

Your late payment information already reflected on your credit report will not go away, but your credit report will show that you paid your past due amounts. This is much better for you than having an unpaid delinquent item outstanding. Future payments will be reported as a positive "paid as agreed" every month your payment is received on time. A small bonus is that every month going forward, your old negative data will count for less in your credit score while your new positive on time payment info will count for more.

In the future, if you know you are going to make a payment late, it may be a good idea to contact your creditor and let them know. If you have been a good customer, they may remove the late fee from your account. In addition, from a credit reporting perspective, the creditor may use its discretion when reporting an account 30 days late if the customer has a good payment track record and you let them know the payment will be received quickly. After all, good customers are hard to find and even good customers make a mistake sooner or later -- just not too often.

Good luck!


Posted by at 13:43:32

Check Your Credit Reports! Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is urging consumers to take control of their credit history. “If they are not responsible with that one card, it could end up costing them a lot more down the line when they go to take out a mortgage,” bureau Director Richard Cordray says. Most Americans take a hands-off approach, and that could harm them when they need a loan. “Only about 44 million consumers, just one in five people with a credit history, actually check their report in a given year,” Cordray says. “This is a shame because the most effective way for individual consumers to identify errors in their reports is to obtain copies of them and review them.” The bureau’s study finds lenders often check up on your financial habits. Each year approximately 36 billion updates are made to consumer credit files, according to the agency.
Posted by at 23:45:23

Many Will Not Benefit From Low Mortgage Rates Sunday, September 07, 2008

NEW YORK – Mortgage rates have hit lows for the year and could soon near the decades-low levels of last year.

Those rates are providing an incentive for buyers, along with falling home prices. They're tempting for refinancers, too.

Still, analysts say the combination isn't likely to lift the depressed housing industry or contribute much to the overall economy. In many metro areas, real estate is straining under the weight of foreclosures, higher down-payment requirements, tighter credit, still-high unemployment and buyers' expectations of even lower prices.

"If people aren't confident about the economy, about jobs and home prices, they certainly aren't going to sign up for the biggest purchase of their lives," said Greg McBride, a senior analyst at

But for those with jobs, money and creditworthiness, today's rates can be tantalizing.

This week, a qualified buyer could expect to finance a home over 30 years at an average fixed rate of 4.63 percent, according to mortgage buyer Freddie Mac. That's the lowest average rate in five months. In November, the rate hit a four-decade low of 4.17 percent.

The 15-year fixed mortgage, popular with refinancers, is down to 3.82 percent. That's also the lowest point since December.

Mortgage rates have fallen for four straight weeks, tracking the yield on the 10-year Treasury note. The 10-year yield has dropped as investors have snapped up Treasurys and other safe securities because of uncertainties about the global economy and the volatile prices of oil and other commodities.

Weak sales and a growing belief that prices have yet to hit bottom five years after the housing bubble burst have become a major obstacle for the economy. Homebuilding is down. Fewer first-time buyers are entering the market. The pace of home sales remains far below the level economists view as healthy.

But the biggest threat is foreclosures, said Mark Vitner, a senior economist at Wells Fargo. A wave of foreclosures is forcing down prices in most major U.S. cities.

About 3.7 million homeowners are at serious risk of losing their houses, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. Foreclosures typically drag down the prices of nearby homes, putting even more homeowners in a financial bind.

More than a quarter of homeowners can't sell their homes because they owe more on their mortgage than their house is worth. And many would-be buyers are holding off on a purchase, mindful that prices might fall further.

"What good is a low rate if you're upside down on your mortgage?" said J. Philip Faranda, who runs a real estate firm in Westchester County, N.Y.

Even those who do feel ready to buy are having a harder time qualifying for a mortgage. The average credit score for a loan backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac has jumped to 760, compared with 720 four years ago, according to the government-run mortgage buyers that back 90 percent of new loans. Fewer than half of American adults have credit scores as high as 760.

And banks are insisting on higher down payments. The median down payment rose to 22 percent last year in at least nine major U.S. cities, according to a survey by, a real estate data firm. That's up from 4 percent in 2006.

"Lenders are reluctant to hand out loans unless you can bring some skin to the deal, in the form of a bigger deposit," said Patrick Newport, U.S. economist for HIS Global Insight. "Until that changes, low mortgage rates aren't going to make that much of a difference. Credit is simply hard to get."

Home-loan financing has remained tight despite a wave of hiring, stronger consumer and business spending and a steadily rising economy. About 92 percent of banks say credit standards on mortgage loans have remained basically unchanged, according to the Federal Reserve's senior loan office opinion survey released last month. About 45 percent said demand for home loans has been moderately weaker.

"There aren't many buyers with deep enough pockets who can put 20 to 25 percent down," said Julie Longtin, a real estate agent with RE/MAX Cityside in Providence, R.I.

And only two-thirds of Americans view homeownership as a safe investment, down from 83 percent in 2003, according to a Fannie Mae survey this year. Few economists see home values rebounding this year.

"The concern is, 'Are values going to go up at this point, or go down or flatline?'" said Ben Coleman, broker-owner of Century 21 Hartford Properties in San Francisco. "I've seen where interest rates were dropping, and it's almost like a 'ho-hum.'"

The rate on the 30-year mortgage has spent most of the past year below 5 percent. Until last year, that would have been considered a bargain. This time, even those who could afford to buy will likely take a pass.

"What really may be the catalyst for buyers is when rates start moving back up," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics. "Rates are low and still seem to be falling, so there's no pressure now to pull the trigger."

Posted by jerry at 23:30:35

Free Credit Report Available Here Sunday, September 07, 2008 is helping consumers get a free copy of their credit reports by visiting

The program requires a subscription with triple advanatge from Experian.

Posted by Seth at 23:06:15

Do I need a Credit Monitoring Service? Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Are they worth it?
Posted by Jamal at 01:30:29

Credit Reports Thursday, March 13, 2008

Credit reports Credit report is a record of individual’s or company’s past borrowing and repaying , including information about late payments and bankruptcy. Credit ratings are determined using payment records , control of debt and credit inquiries. A credit bureau may sella person’s contact information to an advertiser purchasing a list of people with similar characteristics like homeowners with excellent credit. A creditor can check a person’s credit periodically. When customer fills out an application for credit from a bank or credit card company their information is forwarded to credit buereau. This information is used by lenders such as credit card companies to determine an individuals means and willingness to repay an indebtedness. This helps determine whether to extend credit , and on what terms . With the adoption of risk based pricing on almost all lending in the financial services industry , this report has become even more important since it is usually the sole element used to choose the annual percentage rate (APR).
Posted by Steva at 11:16:22


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