Zero percent interest is a very attractive credit card feature that gains a lot of attention. Although credit cards have the potential of becoming a dangerous tool, they do have practical uses. For example, credit cards allow easy transactions when purchasing items online. Furthermore, credit cards are great to have when having cash flow problems. However, because of high interest rates, many consumers avoid using credit cards. Fortunately, there is a way to take advantage of credit cards without getting hit with a high interest rate. What are Zero Percent Interest Credit Cards? Perhaps you have seen a credit card offer featuring 0% percent interest. These types of credit cards are offered by several big name credit card lenders including Citi, Discover, and American Express. If you have good credit, a 0% interest credit card has many perks. Of course, the rate does not always remain at 0%. This is called an introductory rate. In other words, you can expect to pay 0% on all purchases for the first six or twelve months. At the conclusion of the interest-free period, applicants will pay a higher rate. How to Get Approved for a Zero Percent Interest Credit Card To get approved for a zero percent interest credit card, you must have good credit. Each lender has a different definition of good credit. Before applying for a zero percent interest credit card, contact the creditor and inquire about their credit approval guidelines. This way, you avoid unnecessary credit inquiries. Also, before submitting application, carefully read the terms of agreement. This section includes pertinent information such as late fees, over-the-limit-fees, penalties for late payments, etc. If acquiring a 0% interest credit card, do not submit late payments. By doing so, the creditor may immediately end the interest-free period. Moreover, being late on another credit account provides creditors just cause to end a 0% interest agreement. Advantages of Zero Percent Interest Cards Zero percent interest credit cards are ideal for financing large purchases in which you plan to payoff in a few short months. These cards are more practical than using high interest credit cards or obtaining a personal bank loan.
There are various credit card offers available. If you are an extensive credit card user, you are likely familiar with the different types of offers and rewards. One widely publicized credit card is the zero percent interest cards. Although these particular credit cards have several perks, they also have certain advantages and disadvantages. Types of Zero Percent Interest Credit Cards When applying for a zero percent interest credit card, it is important to know which charges qualify for zero percent. For example, if applying for a balance transfer with zero percent, the low introductory rate only applies to the dollar amount transferred from another credit card. On the other hand, some zero percent interest cards apply to new purchases. How Zero Percent Interest Credit Cards Work Zero percent interest credit cards are just like other credit cards, the only difference is that these cards come without the high interest. Zero percent cards are not permanent. Most credit companies offer the introductory rate for 12 - 15 months. During this period, all monthly payments are applied toward reducing the principle balance. Applying for a zero percent interest credit card has several advantages. However, these cards also come with certain pitfalls. For example, if obtaining a credit card with a low introductory rate, timely payments are extremely important. Some credit card companies allow a few mistakes. On the other hand, credit card companies offering zero percent will not tolerate irresponsible credit users. For example, if payments are a day late, the credit card company may revoke the introductory rate period and charge a much higher rate. Benefits of Zero Percent Interest Cards If hoping to consolidate and reduce credit card debt, zero percent interest credit cards can help. Because interest is not applied for the first 12 - 15 months, you can easily combine all credit card balances onto one card, and dramatically reduce the balance. Moreover, zero percent interest cards are perfect for financing home improvement projects or taking a vacation. To avoid paying a higher interest on purchases, the key is paying off the credit card before the introductory rate period ends.
When searching for a 0 apr credit card, one with 0% annual percentage rate (apr) for a trial period, one of the best ways to find a good deal is to compare the credit card rate of several sites. One way to find reliable sites is to start with a bank credit card. Bank of America, Citibank, and many others offer endless resources online for credit card comparisons. You can find out annual fees, interest rates, balance transfer rates, and interest-free periods for each card to get the best credit card rate. If you want to apply online for a 0 apr credit card, you will find the convenience of Internet shopping a great benefit. No need to wait for offers to arrive in the mail or to call various lenders for their current terms and policies. All the information you need is at your fingertips on the computer. The bank credit card offers should be up to date with current interest rates listed and all the policies and terms available to read online. With new safety features, a bank credit card website is usually secure enough for your personal information that you must include on an application. But always look for the little gold lock symbol in the lower right hand corner of your computer screen to be sure that a site is secure before you enter anything on a form. Applying online for the best credit card rate is great for people who don’t have a credit history or who haven’t established a good history. These people may not receive credit card offers in the mail and need a place to look for good deals. Also, you can compare rates until you find that 0 apr credit card you’re looking for. This type of card is great for balance transfers. You wind up with one payment instead of several each month, and you get a grace period of anywhere from six to twelve months during which you do not have to pay any interest on either your transferred balances or your new purchases. But beware. Many lenders offer a 0 apr credit card as an incentive to get you signed up. Be sure to note when this trial period ends; usually after the rate rises you’re stuck paying much higher interest than with most other cards. Remember that you can find a credit card that has lower interest after your trial period ends, so do not stop making notes about cards you like just because you have found your no interest card. You will need another one in less than a year usually. Some no interest cards even come with cash back rewards. These cards give you a percentage of your purchase amount back each month. So you not only get no interest, but you earn points with every dollar you spend that you can use toward purchasing name brand merchandise, travel perks, and entertainment. Overall, when looking for a 0 apr credit card or just trying to find the best credit card rate with your credit history, remember to keep trying until you find one that suits all your needs.
If you have never been in debt before or you are young, then getting a credit card can be hard. Strangely, lenders trust people who have been in debt and paid it back more than people who have never had any debt. Although it may seem hard to get a card if you have not gotten one before, there are some ways to get a credit card. If you are unsure about how to go about getting your first credit card, then this article might be able to help you. Check your credit report The first thing you need to do is to check a copy of your credit report. This will tell you if you have any problems with credit, and if there are any errors you can clear them up. If your credit rating is good then you should have no problem getting a card. Apply to your bank Once you have established that your credit rating is good, then you should apply for your card. The first place you should start is with your bank. If you have a full-time job and have had no credit problems, then you bank is likely to give you a card with a low limit of probably a few hundred pounds. Now that you have a card you can use it and if you pay your bills on time then slowly your credit limit will get better. Store cards If your bank will not give you a credit card, you can improve your credit by getting a store card. Although these cards have very high rates, if you spend a little on them and pay it back then you credit will quickly improve. Don’t over apply One thing that you should avoid is applying for lots of cards at once. If you do this then the credit process will be started for each and your credit rating will be further weakened. Applying for lots of cards makes you look financially unstable and will harm your chances of getting one good card. Beware of ‘unbeatable’ offers If you are applying for a card you might feel the best option is to take one of the ‘amazing’ deals you get in the post every day. These deals offer you really low interest rates and tell you that you have been pre-approved already. All they mean by this is that you are pre-approved to apply, but you can still be turned down and even if you aren’t you are unlikely to get the rates they quote. If you are going to pay your balance each month then the interest rates at first do not matter. Apply to a company you know and trust and that will be fair when you want to renegotiate terms. Secured cards One of the best ways to get your first card is to get a secured credit card. This involves you paying a money deposit that is frozen whilst you have the card. This reduces the risk for the lender, and if you show that you can pay your bills then you can get upgraded to an unsecured card quickly. Never pay fees One thing you should avoid when getting your first card is to actually pay for it. Although secured cards require a deposit, there are other companies that charge myriad fees before you get hold of the card. If this is the case you may find just the fees eat half of your balance up, which almost defeats the point of getting the card. Even if you are getting a card for the first time you should not have to pay for the privilege.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) applies to personal, family, and household debts. This includes money you owe for the purchase of a car, for medical care, or for charge accounts. The FDCPA prohibits debt collectors from engaging in unfair, deceptive, or abusive practices while collecting these debts. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act: • Debt collectors may contact you only between 8 a. m. and 9 p. m. • Debt collectors may not contact you at work if they know your employer disapproves. • Debt collectors may not harass, oppress, or abuse you. • Debt collectors may not lie when collecting debts, such as falsely implying that you have committed a crime. • Debt collectors must identify themselves to you on the phone. • Debt collectors must stop contacting you if you ask them to do so in writing. Solving Your Credit Problems Your credit report can influence your purchasing power, as well as your opportunity to get a job, rent or buy an apartment or a house, and buy insurance. When negative information in your report is accurate, only the passage of time can assure its removal. A consumer reporting company can report most accurate negative information for seven years and bankruptcy information for 10 years. Information about an unpaid judgment against you can be reported for seven years or until the statute of limitations runs out, whichever is longer. There is no time limit on reporting information about criminal convictions; information reported in response to your application for a job that pays more than $75,000 a year; and information reported because you’ve applied for more than $150,000 worth of credit or life insurance. There is a standard method for calculating the seven-year reporting period. Generally, the period runs from the date that the event took place. If you are having problems paying your bills, contact your creditors immediately. Try to work out a modified payment plan with them that reduces your payments to a more manageable level. Don’t wait until your account has been turned over to a debt collector. Here are some additional tips for solving credit problems: • If you want to dispute a credit report, bill or credit denial, write to the appropriate company and send your letter “return receipt requested.” • When you dispute a billing error, include your name, account number, the dollar amount in question, and the reason you believe the bill is wrong. • If in doubt, request written verification of a debt. • Keep all your original documents, especially receipts, sales slips, and billing statements. You will need them if you dispute a credit bill or report. Send copies only. It may take more than one letter to correct a problem. • Be skeptical of businesses that offer instant solutions to credit problems: There aren’t any. • Be persistent. Resolving credit problems can take time and patience. • There is nothing that a credit repair company can charge you for that you cannot do for yourself for little or no cost. If you’re not disciplined enough to create a workable budget and stick to it, work out a repayment plan with your creditors, or keep track of mounting bills, consider contacting a credit counseling organization. Many credit counseling organizations are nonprofit and work with you to solve your financial problems. But not all are reputable. For example, just because an organization says it’s “nonprofit,” there’s no guarantee that its services are free, affordable, or even legitimate. In fact, some credit counseling organizations charge high fees, or hide their fees by pressuring consumers to make “voluntary” contributions that only cause more debt. Most credit counselors offer services through local offices, the Internet, or on the telephone. If possible, find an organization that offers in-person counseling. Many universities, military bases, credit unions, housing authorities, and branches of the U. S. Cooperative Extension Service operate nonprofit credit counseling programs. Your financial institution, local consumer protection agency, and friends and family also may be good sources of information and referrals. Reputable credit counseling organizations can advise you on managing your money and debts, help you develop a budget, and offer free educational materials and workshops. Their counselors are certified and trained in the areas of consumer credit, money and debt management, and budgeting. Counselors discuss your entire financial situation with you, and help you develop a personalized plan to solve your money problems. An initial counseling session typically lasts an hour, with an offer of follow-up sessions.
It's important for every consumer to learn what a credit score is and how to improve it. Most consumers do not know what their credit scores are, but these scores are used in dealings with such diverse agencies as credit card companies, home equity lenders, auto loan lenders, and finance companies when considering appications for credit or loans. Credit scores are usually calculated by a computer model created, most often, by Fair, Isaac & Company (or "FICO," leading to the common generic term "FICO score"). A credit score is intended to be a predictive summary of a loan applicant's credit history. A low score can mean denial of a credit card or loan, or if the application is accepted, a higher interest rate. Also, some lenders use credit scores and other information to set the "price" for processing a loan. Statistically, low credit scores also correlate with other risky behaviors such as fraud and auto accidents. There a many factors affecting the final credit score. Payment history accounts for 35%. A credit score is negatively affected by a history of late payment of bills, accounts sent to collection agencies, or declared bankruptcy. The more recent the problem, the lower the score -- a 30-day late payment a month ago has more effect than a bankruptcy five years ago. Outstanding debt accounts for 30%. If the amount owing is close to the consumer's credit limit, this will likely to have a negative effect on the credit score. A low balance on two cards is better than a high balance on one. Length of credit history accounts for 15%. The longer the accounts have been open, the better. Recent credit report inquiries account for 10%. If the applicant has recently applied for many new accounts, that may negatively affect the score. Promotional inquiries do not have any effect. Types of credit in use accounts for 10%. Loans from finance companies generally lower the credit score. FICO finds this more important when there is less of other types of credit information about the applicant upon which to base a score. Although this is a general guide as to what credit scoring companies deem important, it should be noted that some companies may consider different factors. Credit scores range from 300 to 900, with an average of approximately 750. According to the model, as the score increases, the risk of default decreases. Studies by the loan industry show a direct correlation between low scores and high default rates. Therefor, it may be difficult for an applicant with a low score to convince a creditor to offer an affordable loan, or even any loan at all. But just as credit history can vary from credit bureau to credit bureau, so can a credit scores. It is possible to have a high score with one credit bureau (Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion) and a low credit score with another, just as it is possible to have a clean credit history with one bureau and a sullied record with another. However, extremely wide-ranging credit scores are uncommon, though variations of up to 100 points have been noted by some lenders. To get an accurate picture, lenders often take the average of all the applicant's scores. Narrow ranges of 20 or 25 points are more common. Consumers may obtain their credit scores from credit bureaus by paying a fee (the Federal Trade Commission sets the fee). The bureau must provide the score, the range of possible scores under the scoring model used, four key factors that affected the score, the date on which the score was created, and the name of the entity that provided the score (such as Fair, Isaac). Note that the score and the scoring model provided may vary from those a given lender uses. Federal law allows consumers three freee credit reports every year. If you get your credit score from one or more credit scorers, remember that the score may vary from one credit score company to the next. Fair, Isaac offers several reccommendations to consumers seeking to improve their credit scores. Pay bills on time; make up missed payments and keep all payments current. Maintain low balances on credit cards and other "revolving debt". Maintain the "balance-to-limit ratio" of credit cards below 50%. It is usually better to carry smaller balances on several cards than to pile everything onto one card. Apply for a new card if necessary, rather than piling all purchases onto one. Pay off debts rather than transferring them to a new account. Don't close a rarely-used credit account without opening a new one, as a history of wisely-used credit boosts the credit score. However, do not apply for new, unneeded credit cards just to increase available credit. Loan applicants should not give up seeking credit just because of a low credit score. Sometimes credit reports contain errors, and it is possible to obtain a copy of the report, fix the problem, and explain the situation to the lender. The majority of lenders will override credit scores if they feel an applicant is a good credit risk despite a low credit score.
What you don't know about credit inquires can destroy your credit score and effect what you can qualify for. Whether you are shopping for a cell phone, car, home loan, insurance, or just curious about wanting to see what you could qualify for, a credit inquiry can cost you points on your credit score. Even a reduction in credit points may seem trivial. A change in credit points over a 30 year period can cost 1000's if not 10,000's of dollars in higher interest payments. Furthermore to some it can mean the difference of being able to qualify for a home, car, or other financing that is necessary in today's world. Usually a credit inquiry will result in a less than a five point reduction in your credit score. However with multiple inquiries comes the likelihood that the score will plummet and the interest rates for purchases will go up. This will result in the consumer with a lower credit score to make higher payments for home, car, of other credit purchases. There are several different credit inquiries. An inquiry for a specific purchase will have a freezing point for a 2 week period. In other words if you were shopping for a car you could have your credit pulled, (also called an credit report inquiry) at several car lots during a two week period and it would only count as one inquiry. This type of inquiry usually results in less than five point drop in the credit score. This is because the credit bureau considers all the credit inquiries done in the two week period for the same credit purchase to only affect the credit score once. The second type of credit inquiry is when a person is attempting to obtain different types of credit that is not related, such as car financing inquiry and purchase of a cell phone. These two items are not related. When an inquiry is placed on the credit report it will cause the score to go down. This results in the score going down twice because of the different types of credit inquiries. Applying for credit to see what you can get and trying for different types of credit can lower your score significantly enough not to qualify for credit purchases at all. Another common credit inquiry is when a marketing company purchases a list from the credit bureau. Then the company uses that targeted list to send out unsolicited pre-approved credit offers. These offers usually come by mail and this type of inquiry does not affect your score. The credit bureau's theory is it would be unfair to penalize a person who hadn't inquired about a credit purchase and had no control of receiving the unsolicited offer. Even though these offers do not affect your credit score they can be an annoyance. This type of offer can be used by potential thieves as a source for identity theft or credit fraud. For that reason any unsolicited credit cards should not been thrown in the trash prior to shredding them completely. Reviewing your own credit from credit bureau sources will not affect your credit score. Your credit request (for simply review) does not hurt your score. It is your right to know what is in your complete credit file. The information on these credit reports are identical to what a lender, underwriter or creditor will see. However the credit scores on these credit reports can vary because of the way credit bureaus interpret your score. When considering a purchase of a home or car it is always best to check with a professional in that field of financing. That expert can help you determine the score that is relevant to your purchase and which credit bureaus will be used. Your credit score can be destroyed by simple credit inquiries. The way to avoid loosing credit points is to have your loan approved for a car, home, or other credit purchase prior to going on a shopping spree. The difference in a credit score going down even 5 points could result in getting a less desirable interest rate, the credit lender requiring more down payment, or even denial of your desired loan. Credit Inquiries are supposed to remain on your credit report for up to two years. The fact is you may have to ask the credit bureaus/creditors to have them removed after their expiration. The below numbers are directly to the credit bureaus and will allow you to order your credit reports directly. Reviewing credit through these sources are the best as they won't lower your credit score even when viewed often. Trans Union 1-866-887-2673 Equifax 1-800-685-1111 Experian 1-888-397-3742 Another good reason to review your credit report inquiries is to protect your credit from identity theft or credit fraud. By reviewing your credit you can see recent inquiries for credit purchases. Should you notice names of unfamiliar creditors, it could be an early sign of identity theft or credit fraud. Simply call the all three credit bureaus and have them place a fraud alert on your credit report. This will stop most credit theft. Today credit fraud and identity theft are more prevalent than ever before.
: Not many people spend too much time thinking about it, but every one of us, has a computer file somewhere that contains all the information that makes up our credit history. This information will include our current and previous addresses, our income level, our outstanding debt and how much extra credit we currently have available to us. It will also show things like our repayment habits, whether or not we pay bills on time and if we have had any county court judgments made against us for payment. Checks It will be made available to companies who wish to see it for a fee and it is surprising how many different types of companies now routinely make use of such reports. There was a time when only banks and other lenders used credit reports when deciding whether or not to give you a loan. However, these days, if you are for example thinking of renting a property, it is likely that the property agency will require a credit check in order to satisfy itself that you will pay your rent on time. Insurance companies also make heavy use of credit reports when assessing insurance premiums. Even large employers are now using credit reports to screen job applicants when they assess candidates. Therefore, it can be seen that your credit rating can have a huge influence over you and your life. It can effect many important decisions that you might never have thought would be relevant to your credit history. For instance, you may not have been too worried about leaving an old phone bill unpaid after moving house, but the consequences can be quite serious. Tips for Keeping a Healthy Credit Rating There are some steps you can take to make sure your credit rating stays as healthy as possible. You can for instance pay your bills on time and reduce the amount of outstanding debt you have. You should also know that time is on your side because most negative elements on the report will not last forever. You have a right to view your credit report and this is generally a good idea as it allows you to make sure it is accurate. If there is any negative information on the report that is in error you can have it amended or corrected. The credit reporting company has a duty to keep all information accurate and up to date. It can make a big difference so you should always inform the reporting company of errors promptly and give them the correct information.
A credit report is a document that outlines your financial status, specifically your credit history. The three national reporting agencies, Experian, Trans Union and Equifax, work independently so it is advisable to get reports from all three for an accurate picture. Type Of Information The credit report contains personal, financial and public information along with recent requests. The credit report will provide personal information like your full name, frequently used nicknames and aliases, date of birth and social security number. It will also reveal your current and past addresses, present and past jobs and if applicable, information about your spouse as well. Financial information of all your accounts with their opening date and credit limit are noted in it. These could be accounts with banks, credit card companies, power and telephone companies and such like. It will also detail your loans like mortgages, student loan and installment loans with relevant information, such as, payment pattern, default in payment, debts that are less than seven years old and so on. Some records will appear permanently. These are salaries above $75,000, any credit transaction or application for a credit card or insurance beyond $150,000 and unpaid tax liens. Information from public records particularly those with a financial angle will always appear. These are usually obtained from state and county courts. It will include convictions, arrests, charges and monetary judgments. They can appear only for seven years. However under federal law, convictions will appear indefinitely. If you have declared bankruptcy, the same will appear on your credit report for not more than ten years. Certain records do not appear. Debt records more than seven years old and bankruptcy records more than ten years old cannot be given in a credit report. Your age, marital status and race cannot appear if a current or prospective employer asks for it. Medical records can appear only with your express permission. Any information that has been erased from the records cannot be put back again. Thus a credit report will help a person or organization make an informed judgment before entering into any transaction or deal with you.
Credit cards are an excellent way to help you manage your finances each month. Used wisely, they are an excellent financial tool. Used unwisely and people will quickly discover that their credit cards can rear their ugly heads and cause long-term financial problems. But credit cards aren’t all bad. If we could live our lives without them, we would. But we can’t. The world is simply not built that way anymore. More and more often, companies require credit cards as the best way to receive payment or security, rather than cash or checks. But a credit card is just a loan. Few people realize it as such, but that’s all it is: Simply a loan that you can use if you want, but you don’t always use. A credit card is like a constant line of credit that is represented by the piece of plastic you carry in your wallet or purse. It says to the shop owner that someone has checked you out and deemed you worthy to receive a certain amount of credit line in order purchase the product offered for sale. Used wisely, a credit card is an excellent financial tool. The first advantage a credit card offers is the ability to manage your finances. This means that you can buy things you want or need and defer payment until you choose. If you have a credit card that provides you with reward points or rebates or discount opportunities, an advantage that credit card offers is to help you leverage your current purchases by building up points or generating discounts on the money you spend. The third advantage a credit card can offer you is the additional layer of purchase protection. Some credit cards come with an extra insurance package so that purchases you make it any retailer are also covered by the credit card. The fourth advantage a credit card can offer you depends on the credit card you get. Some credit cards offer travel insurance, car rental insurance, and even concierge services for a small fee. Depending on how busy your life is, or how often you travel or rent a car, having these advantages built into your credit card may be a wise financial decision for you. A credit card is just an ongoing loan to you represented by a piece of plastic. But used wisely, this loan can offer you much more than other types of loans. Credit cards are not always bad. Consider whether you should add a couple to your financial portfolio.
The use of credit cards in Australia is escalating possibly on the back of a good economy breeding confidence although do people know how to service this debt and how much it could be costing? Australians owe $32 billion in credit card debt, according to Reserve Bank figures, and some experts predict this will balloon to almost $50 billion by 2009. Thats a staggering figure and as it would it appear it's definately on the rise with Baycorp Advantage, a credit information provider, saying that credit card applications were up 11 per cent on last year with 875,000 applications for credit cards in October, November and December. This is the concern, only seven years ago, the fees incurred on cards was $136 million but they have now soared to a staggering $787 million. This is partly due to an increase in the charge for late payment from $20 to $29. Analysts it would take five years of minimum repayments to pay off the $2399 shown by the Reserve Bank to be the average credit card debt in December. The average credit limit rose to $6754. This probably doesn't apply to Australia alone as the trends in other countries are very similar. From these figures it could be seen that there is a lack of knowledge on how to use credit effectively and safely and also possibly a lack of research into the terms and fees related to the particular card being used. Some say this could be due to the heavy marketing around bonus point systems shifting the customers decision making from 'terms and conditions' to 'what do i get for nothing'. Consumer groups have renewed calls for reform of the Uniform Credit Code to stop banks promoting unsolicited limit increases, and requiring them to print warnings of how long it will take to repay their debt at current interest rates. Credit cards are not all bad though. Credit cards are convenient and safer to carry than cash. You can also earn rewards or get cash back on your purchases. They can also help build your credit rating. Sensible and disciplined use are important as well as a good understanding of how your particular card applies charges and choosing the right credit card for you in the first instance. The important factors should be considered when applying for and using a credit card. Asking questions of yourself is probably the first step. For example 'Do I need a credit card' and 'Will the payments fit into my budget'. Choosing the right card should involve at least reviewing : The interest rate - Some cards offer an attractive honeymoon rate although it is the rate after this that is important. The interest free period - this can differ from card to card. How is the interest calculated - from the time of purchase or time of statement? The annual fee - some time bonus systems are offset by this annual fee. Administration fees - are there any and what are they? Late payment & over the limit fees - when does it apply and how much? Other charges - what other charges are there? Cash advance - if you are going to use review the conditions carefully and be aware of how it works and what charges apply. Credit cards are a useful item by offering buyers protection in some cases by being able to cancel transactions, offering convienience by eliminating the need to carry cash and an almost necessity for travellers. Research and discipline are the keys success.
It is important to check credit billing and electronic fund transfer account statements regularly because these documents may contain mistakes that could damage your credit status or reflect improper charges or transfers. If you find an error or discrepancy, notify the company and dispute the error immediately. The Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) and Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA) establish procedures for resolving mistakes on credit billing and electronic fund transfer account statements, including: • charges or electronic fund transfers that you – or anyone you have authorized to use your account – have not made; • charges or electronic fund transfers that are incorrectly identified or show the wrong date or amount; • math errors; • failure to post payments, credits, or electronic fund transfers properly; • failure to send bills to your current address – provided the creditor receives your change of address, in writing, at least 20 days before the billing period ends; • charges or electronic fund transfers for which you ask for an explanation or written proof of purchase along with a claimed error or request for clarification. The FCBA generally applies only to “open end” credit accounts – credit cards and revolving charge accounts, like department store accounts. It does not apply to loans or credit sales that are paid according to a fixed schedule until the entire amount is paid back, like an automobile loan. The EFTA applies to electronic fund transfers, like those involving automatic teller machines (ATMs), point-of-sale debit transactions, and other electronic banking transactions. Knowing your rights is the first step in keeping track of your electronic transactions and thwarting identity thieves. Checking your records for charges or transfers that you didn’t make will ensure that your credit record is correct and erroneous charges aren’t made. You are the first line of defense against the bad guys who are trying to access your electronic accounts. Use common sense when making an electronic transaction and ensure that the transaction is secure. Checking your account online daily will allow you to see any unusual purchases or transfers and report them in a timely fashion instead of waiting for your monthly paper bill to arrive. You are the first line of defense and can help protect your good credit with very little effort. It only takes a minute or two per day to log in to your account and make sure that everything is OK. Take the time and enjoy the peace of mind.
Sometimes, things happen that can cause credit problems: a temporary loss of income, an illness, even a computer error. Solving credit problems may take time and patience, but it doesn’t have to be an ordeal. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enforces the credit laws that protect your right to get, use and maintain credit. These laws do not guarantee that everyone will receive credit. Instead, the credit laws protect your rights by requiring businesses to give all consumers a fair and equal opportunity to get credit and to resolve disputes over credit errors. This article explains your rights under these laws and offers practical tips to help you solve credit problems. Your Credit Report Your credit report contains information about where you live, how you pay your bills, and whether you’ve been sued, arrested, or filed for bankruptcy. Consumer reporting companies sell the information in your report to businesses that use it to evaluate your applications for credit, insurance, employment, or renting a home. The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) promotes the accuracy and privacy of information in the files of the nation’s consumer reporting companies. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act: • You have the right to receive a copy of your credit report. The copy of your report must contain all the information in your file at the time of your request. • Each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – is required to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months. Consumers from coast to coast will have access to a free annual credit report if they ask for it. • Under federal law, you’re also entitled to a free report if a company takes adverse action against you, like denying your application for credit, insurance, or employment, and you ask for your report within 60 days of receiving notice of the action. The notice will give you the name, address, and phone number of the consumer reporting company. You’re also entitled to one free report a year if you’re unemployed and plan to look for a job within 60 days; if you’re on welfare; or if your report is inaccurate because of fraud, including identity theft. • Otherwise, a consumer reporting company may charge you up to $9.50 for another copy of your report within a 12-month period. • You have the right to know who asked for your report within the past year – two years for employment related requests. • If a company denies your application, you have the right to the name and address of the consumer reporting company they contacted, provided the denial was based on information given by the consumer reporting company. • If you question the accuracy or completeness of information in your report, you have the right to file a dispute with the consumer reporting company and the information provider (that is, the person, company, or organization that provided information about you to the consumer reporting company). Both the consumer reporting company and the information provider are obligated to investigate your claim, and responsible for correcting inaccurate or incomplete information in your report. • You have a right to add a summary explanation to your credit report if your dispute is not resolved to your satisfaction. You also can ask the consumer reporting company to provide your statement to anyone who received a copy of your report in the recent past. You can expect to pay a fee for this service.
Tips on how to get started now. You will not be able to build good credit overnight. It will take discipline and persistence on your part to change your credit for the better. After you have fixed and improved your credit rating in the eyes of lenders, you will notice more opportunities offered to you to borrow money at more desireable terms than when your credit was bad. Just because you have bad credit does not mean that you can not borrow money or get a loan, it just means that less opportunities will be available. The funds you can get will come at a greater cost in terms of higher interest rates and more stringent repayment terms. Many banks and lending companies are less likely to make loans to people with bad credit. Therefore, it only makes sense that you strive to improve your creditworthiness in order to convince potential lenders that you are a good credit risk. Once you have improved your credit history and track record you will be have better opportunities to buy a car, finance a personal loan, or buy a house. If you have already been trying to financed for any large purchases, then you may have noticed the hurdles you've been put through trying to get approved. Fixing your credit rating may be as easy as getting any inaccurate statements off of your credit report. Therefore it is important to frequently check yours to see if everything on it is correct. If you do find inaccuracies immediately contact the credit bureau and work with them to get them corrected and off of your credit report. For others, fixing or repairing their credit rating may be a lot more involved and complicated. Start by getting your personal budget balanced. You should not be spending more each month than what you bring in each month. If you are, then get that straightened out immediately. Cut out all unnecessary spending and charging. It is critical that you get your budget and debt repayment plan balanced, while making all debt payments on time. Not making on time payments each month increases the late payment fees you will have to pay, bring about increased interest rates and continue to negatively your credit rating. Once you start making and continue to make your monthly debt payments on time, you should see your credit score start to rise. If you find that you can not do this on your own, there are many companies that can provide debt consolidation services. So in essence to improve your credit: • Create and live by a personal budget that balances your monthly income with your monthly expenses. • Create a plan to save money and pay off your credit cards and debt. • Use credit wisely. • Pay your bills on time every month. Once you have put all of these tips into action and your credit score begins to improve, you should see your borrowing opportunities improve as well. But remember, good credit habits must be worked at every day, so do not give up and make it a lifetime habit.
When applying for loans, credit cards, or even trying to lease a new apartment your credit score is the major determinant of how well you will fair. Ironically very few people know what their credit score is and are not aware of the fact that they may be doing various things to hurt their credit score. If a high credit score is important to you, and it should be, beware of the following things to keep your credit score in check. Have you ever had one of those months where everything seems to pile up and you just can’t make ends meet? You take a look at what you owe, who you owe it to, and finally decide that the credit card payment is going to have to wait until the next check. Not even that, lets cay you just forget to make your credit card payment on time. This is the first and most common mistake: missing payments or making late payments. If you know it or not every time you make a payment to any of your lenders, they report what amount you have paid, and whether you were on time or late. If your late basically consider it much like getting a test question wrong, your credit score drops. In addition, they will report how late you were, and your record of “lateness” will be represented on your report. Now you want to get a loan for a new car and the dealer pulls your credit report and your credit score shows you were late X amount of times last year. Put yourself in his shoes. If you lend your buddy $20 and he pays you back immediately you will lend him money again but if you have been waiting for that $20 for over a year next time he asks you’re not going to be as keen on it are you? If it’s clear that you have a habitual pattern of paying your bills late, they will think twice about lending you money. Second, this is another one people never consider will hurt their credit report and I know when you read this you will realize you are guilty of it. If you get a mailing promoting a 0% credit card or a new great rewards credit card and figure you could use another card do you apply for it? Well if you do you could be docking your credit score yet again. Every time you submit an application for a credit card or apply for a loan the credit agencies are notified of your credit report being pulled and checked. If this happens too many times it will undoubtedly hurt your credit score. The credit agencies will look at those inquiries as attempts to get credit or a loan and if those don’t follow the inquiry it reflects poorly because it seems as though you’re not getting approval. No one (except the credit reporting agencies) knows the formula for how many inquires will hurt your report, but the general rule of thumb is simply not to apply for credit unless it’s absolutely necessary. Lastly is another tip to look out for that I am sure most people don’t really think about and that’s leaving credit cards on your credit report. I know it’s the opposite of what you have been taught but let’s think about it. If you have a credit card on your credit report that has been paid on time every time it’s a star on your credit report. Removing it would dock your score believe it or not. Of course credit scores favor accounts that are active so try and keep charging small items and paying them off regularly to maintain this benefit on your credit score and you’ll be surprised how quickly your credit score will increase. All rights reserved, You may reprint this content as long as it remains unedited and the links remain active.