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Cash Back or Travel Rewards: Choosing the Right Credit Card for Your Needs

3 Ways to Increase Your Income - If You DareThere are lots of credit cards out there, and they all want to get you on board. To get your custom, they will probably offer some sort of incentive, like interest-free transfers, travel miles, or cash back. It can be a complicated business deciding where to sign up

First Things First

Before you consider your rewards, you need to be clear about how you use your credit cards.

  • To manage your debts, look for a card that offers a competitive charge for transfers and a 0% interest period afterward.
  • To make a one-off major expense, get a card that offers a 0% interest period for purchases.
  • If you permanently have a small balance, you want a low rate of interest indefinitely.
  • If you have a poor credit rating, it is important only to apply for cards when you are likely to be accepted.
  • If you travel a great deal, you want a card that does not charge a premium for foreign currency transactions.

Consult a good source of credit card application information before you act.

Cash Back Cards

If you are in the enviable position of paying your credit card bill in full every month, there are some very good offers of cards that give cash back on your purchases. Deals available change regularly, but suppliers stick with the terms of the offer for a realistic period.

Some offer a flat rate of cash back on everything, typically 1% or 2%. Others offer a higher rate, but only on selected types of purchases, such as groceries. Sometimes the target products change on a quarterly basis. Some cards offer a combination of different types of cash back. So you need to target your choice on those that will best reward your style of shopping.

The best cash back deals are often attached to a card with an annual fee. You need to do some math to work out whether you would be better off paying the fee and taking a higher rate of cash back or sticking with a lower rate and no fee.

Travel Rewards

If you like the idea of using your card to save towards the cost of travel, instead of putting cash in your back pocket, you might want to try one of the many credit cards with travel miles attached. Different cards offer points that are redeemable on different airlines, so choose one that is useful to you as well as looking at the rate.

Airlines often offer credit cards that give a higher reward, sometimes with a generous introductory bonus. These are generally not transferable to other airlines, so pick one that you will definitely use.

Choose Carefully

There is no great disadvantage in having a fee-free card that you do not use, but you do not want to be applying for a lot of cards in a short period. Weigh up carefully the offers of each card, and stick with it long enough to draw a real advantage.

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Knocking Down Your Numbers: Do Multiple Credit Card Applications Really Damage Your Credit Score?

money-256314_640If you think that applying for as many credit cards as you can will up your chances of getting one, please think again. Multiple and simultaneous credit card applications can wreak havoc with your credit ratings. Want to know how to apply smartly? Here are a few tips and tricks that are sure to improve your credit score in a hurry.

The Catch-22 of credit

You need some sort of credit in order to have a score with Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. These are the agencies to which credit card companies and other lenders turn when they want to know if you’re a good risk. The best way to establish a good credit score is to obtain one card and use it wisely. Pay it off each month, if you can. If not, at least pay more than the minimum balance due. This will gradually yet effectively raise your credit score.

Apply for one card and wait. If you get the card, great. If not, apply for another. Don’t apply for a bunch of credit cards at once, though. Do that, and your credit score may be dinged, says Wise Piggy magazine. You see, a portion of your credit score at Experian and other reporting agencies is based on new credit inquiries. A so-called “hard credit inquiry” that is more than a mere review of your score can drop your rating by several points. If your credit’s good, these few points might not make much of an impact. If your credit is new or if you have an already low score, these few points can be significant.

If you keep making timely payments on your existing card, you may be able to reverse the point deficit in a few months, although the inquiry may remain on your credit score for up to two years, advises Nerd Wallet magazine.

Mortgage inquiries may not count against you

Bear in mind that not all “hard inquiries” will hurt your credit score. For instance, if you are seeking a mortgage, you may apply to several lenders at one time in order to find the one who offers the best deal. Say you apply to six lenders. Because all applications are about a single mortgage and not for a credit card, the inquiries count as only one hard inquiry. Credit card applications are completely different. Apply for plastic from several companies at once, and lenders may see you as a risky borrower.

Fix your finances 

Get out of debt as quickly as you can. If you find that your bills are impossible to pay, you may wish to consult with a credit counselor for help with consolidating your debts. There’s no shame in asking for help, and debt consolidation may get you back on the path to financial wellness.

Money’s important and credit is, too. But they’re not the most important things in life. Manage your debt, pay your bills on time and be sure to stop and smell the proverbial roses.

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No Numbers Necessary: Plastic-Free Ways for Finding Your Credit Score Fast

money-256314_640Staying on top of your credit score is an important part of your financial well-being: knowing what you can be approved for, or if you need to improve your score, is an invaluable tool when you are assessing your finances.

The problem is, there are a lot of companies out there that want to charge you for your score, or at least will require you to enter your credit card number. If you don’t want to pay, however, or if you just don’t feel comfortable giving a company your credit card information, there are other ways you can find your score. Here a quick guide to understanding what your credit score is and for getting your score without using your plastic.

What is a Credit Score?

Your credit score is a numerical rating that is averaged from the three main credit reporting companies. The score typically ranges from 300 to 850, with 850 being perfect, but there are some scores that may differ by 50 points or so either way.

Your score is important because it’s one of the ways that financial lenders determine whether you are qualified for a loan or not. The lower your score, the less chance you have of being approved for a loan, or you may have to pay higher interests rates when you are approved.

There are a few things you should be aware of for improving your credit score. Always make your payments on time, try not to accumulate too much debt to income ration and always repay any loans that have defaulted that are dragging your score down.

Find a Site With Free Credit Reporting

One of the easiest ways you can get a free credit score without having to use your credit card is to find one of the many websites that offer free scores. There are plenty out there, so finding one shouldn’t be a problem.

While you will get a free credit score on these sites, some of them only offer to give you one of the possible three scores. If you want a complete picture, make sure you use a site that gives you three scores for free. If there are large discrepancies between these scores, it should be a red flag that something is reporting wrong on one of them and you should take care of it quickly.

Websites like these are your best bet for free credit scores.

Ask Your Bank

In some instances, you can receive a free credit score from your bank. You can ask if they will give you one and, nowadays, many banks may comply once a year or so.

If you are turned down for a loan or have to pay higher interest rates because of your credit, you may also get a free credit score from your bank.

Staying on top of your credit score is important, so try one of these methods if you don’t want to pay for one.

Nicole Humphries works in personal finance and is a contributor to a selection of personal finance blogs where she shares her knowledge.

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Risks and Rewards: Why Your Credit Score Really Matters

pants-1826127_640Statistics show that almost 60% of today’s Americans have no idea what their credit score is. This strongly suggests that a huge chunk of us don’t realize how important knowing your credit score actually is, meaning we’re not taking our credit health as seriously as we should.

Having a bad credit score can not only affect you financially but it can also have serious emotional consequences too. If you haven’t checked your score recently you may not even realize the negative position you could be in. If you’re still unsure of the importance of your credit score and how to improve it if you need to, below you’ll find everything essential you need to know.

Why does your credit score matter?

In addition to any emotional turmoil caused as a result of having a bad credit score, one of the main factors bad credit can affect is applying for credit. Whether it’s a mortgage, credit card or a loan, all legitimate lenders won’t take your request any further until they’ve checked your credit report and established your credit score.

If your score is good, you likely won’t have a problem applying for any form of credit. However, if your report is tainted with a bad credit history, there’s a high chance the majority of lenders will refuse any credit application no matter what it is. It’s therefore essential to regularly check your credit score regularly even if you don’t need to borrow credit right away, as you never know when you’ll be needing a loan in the future.

If you’ve checked your score and it’s bad, it can be easy to assume there’s no way out. However, there are some legitimate loans for bad credit you can look into whilst working to improve your score – read on to discover some sure-fire methods of doing this.

Improving your credit score

Improving your score isn’t as long-winded and difficult as you may think. In fact, if you regularly follow the following steps, you’re almost guaranteed to see some sort of improvement in time:

  • Budget your earnings to ensure you pay all bills on time. Late or missed payments can stay on your report for up to a huge six years, so it’s vital to be strategic and start turning things around as soon as possible.
  • Regularly review your credit report and ensure it’s up-to-date. If you see anything that looks inaccurate, contact your report provider to get things straightened out. Even a minor error in your address could have a significant impact.
  • Prove to lenders that you’re responsible with money and are capable of making payments on time. A good way to do this is taking out a credit card with a high-interest rate and only use it to spend amounts you know you can quickly clear.

Lenders take credit scores extremely seriously when reviewing credit applications, so it’s essential you take it seriously too. But by simply keeping up-to-date and being sensible with payments, expect to see a boost in your score!

Finally, if you want to check your credit score for free consider reading Clever Dude’s recent article on 4 Ways to Check Your Credit Score for Free.

Sofia Hunt writes about personal finance matters for a range of blogs; both finance and lifestyle.

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What to Look For When Buying a Car

Buying a new car can be a fun experience, especially when it comes to test driving it and having that new car smell.  However, it can also be a hassle to negotiate with a salesperson and to know whether you are getting the best price or not.  That is why it is so important to do your homework and know all your options when it comes to buying a car,

Your Needs

The first thing to look at is your needs.  What exactly are you buying a new car for?  (When I say new, I don’t mean the newest model year either.  I just mean it is new for you).  Do you need it to replace an existing vehicle?  Is your family growing and you need something larger?

All of these questions will play into what type of car you should buy.  Once you’ve figured out your needs, you should do your homework online and see what types of vehicles match those needs.  There are a lot of good resources, like Kelly Blue Book and Edmunds that offer vehicle reviews and give estimated prices for different car types with different mileages.

When you finally go to the dealer, you will be armed with all the information you need.

Your Costs

The next part is the tougher one – dealing with the costs.  Are you planning on paying cash or financing the car?  If you’re financing, do you already have a car loan lined up, or are you planning to get one from the dealer.

If you’re getting a car loan, it is a good idea to shop around at a site like Creditplus, where you can compare the rates of up to 50 companies to find the one that best suits your needs.  Make sure that you look at the requirements for the loan, such as having enough to put down, and what your monthly payments will be.

Beyond the monthly loan payments (if applicable), you will also need to look at insurance costs (they could be higher), and fuel/maintenance costs (which could also be higher if you get a bigger car).  Make sure you know all your money facts before going in.

If your credit score is preventing you from getting a loan, and buying a car, contact a credit repair service and get your credit back in line.