Credit Cards

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Do I Need Debt to Boost My Credit?

Much like no news is good news, no debt is a good thing. But what happens to your credit score when you don’t have debt? The answer is complicated. The short version is no debt can pose a challenge to someone looking to land an excellent credit score. Credit scores are intended to report your credit risk. In other words, they reflect how you have handled debt in the past. But having a high credit score is more complex than simply carrying debt. Understanding the factors that impact your credit score are important. There are many different strategies you can use to increase your score. [Spoiler alert: Going into debt simply to boost your score should be your last resort.] What Factors Impact My Credit Score? A combination of factors creates your overall credit score. Payment history has the biggest impact on your score and recent credit has the smallest.…

Exposing 7 Popular Money Myths

Myths about money are common. Just because you’ve heard a saying or two through the years doesn’t make it true. Take advice from financial experts and learn the facts rather than accepting these common money myths: Myth #1: All Debt Is Bad Carrying a huge balance on a credit card or taking out a high-interest loan to pay off other debt is not good financial management, but certain debts can help you move ahead and achieve your personal financial goals. Funding an investment – in your home or in your education – can be financially beneficial in the long run. The interest rates on those types of loans are typically much lower than rates on credit cards or personal loans; plus, the interest can be tax deductible. When you do need to fund a valuable investment in your future, be sure to research the best rates available from quality lenders…

5 Personal Finance Milestones in Your 20s

Your 20s is an amazing time of adventure, career building, self-discovery and building the foundation for a path to navigate your financial life. Reaching life’s biggest financial goals requires a plan that starts with a series of important financial milestones. Follow along to learn about five major personal finance milestones in your 20s and how to achieve those important goals. Building an Emergency Fund The first financial milestone of your 20s involves savings. Specifically, emergency savings. A GoBankingRates survey found nearly two thirds of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings. That means they can’t afford to fix a broken car, cover a surprise medical bill or replace a dead furnace without dipping into credit cards or struggling to pay for other bills. At the bare minimum, you should have at least two weeks of cash or one paycheck in savings. This helps you avoid living paycheck to paycheck. Once…

Credit Cards: Fantastic Plastic or Financial Folly?

Credit cards. Are they good? Or are they evil? Are they an effective way to track and manage your spending? Or are they a road to a mountain of unmanageable debt? Throw those questions into a roomful of armchair money managers and you’ll have the makings of a lively discussion. The truth, as with so many things, rests somewhere in the middle. There are times when using a credit card is a great idea and there are times when you should probably keep the cards in your wallet and wait until you can pay cash. And actually, a credit card may not be right for you at all; perhaps your preferred plastic should be a debit card. There is only one situation in which you should always avoid using credit cards—if you aren’t in a position to pay your entire credit card balance each month. Carrying a balance on your…

Simple Tips to Avoid Credit Card Debt

With credit card offers making up a huge chunk of junk mail, it’s all too easy to say yes to yet another deal that may trigger a downward cycle of debt. It’s a fact – the best way to secure your financial future is to avoid credit card debt. Used properly, credit cards offer many advantages including convenience, a record of your purchases, protection against fraud, building a positive credit history, and perks including free travel, discounted merchandise and more.   Used to excess, a credit card is nothing more than a high interest loan rather than a substitute for cash. This is how many consumers get into credit card trouble: As debt builds, they take out yet another card that offers a balance transfer, low monthly payments, no interest for a defined period and other attractive perks. Yet caving into such offers practically ensures debt for years to come as…

How to Pay When Traveling Abroad

Traveling outside of the United States offers unlimited, wonderful experiences. But when you leave the country, the mighty United States dollar may not be as easy to use as it is at home. Whether you find yourself in need of Euros, Pesos, Pounds, Yen, or something else, follow these steps to safely pay when traveling abroad. Credit Cards Are the Safest Option Your best option to make a purchase abroad is your trusty credit card. Credit cards are the best option outside of the United States for many of the same reasons they are the best option at here at home. Here are a few benefits of paying using a credit card: Widely accepted – Visa and MasterCard are easy to use in almost any country. American Express and Discover card acceptance is more limited. Pay in either currency – Some stores can charge you in dollars (usually a bad…

How To Choose Your Next Credit Card

Credit cards can be a powerful tool or a horrible crutch for your personal finances. To enjoy success with credit cards, account holders have to juggle balances, due dates, minimum payments, interest rates, and other aspects of the account. When managed poorly, credit cards can lower your credit score and lead to thousands of dollars in interest. But when used responsibly, they can improve your credit score while offering valuable rewards like cash back and free travel. Decide if Credit Cards are Right for You Before you worry about which credit card is best, look at your finances and try to understand if a new credit card makes sense for you in general. Based on your past spending habits and experience with credit cards, are you able to manage and track your credit responsibly? Do you always make on-time payments or have you missed a few in the past? This…

3 Options to Help You Manage Your Budget Better

Budgeting is one of the most important parts of personal finance yet it’s a known fact that few people can say they truly enjoy it.  In the old days, budgeting required paper, a pen, a calculator, and a lot of time. Checking in on how you’re doing required a checkbook register and bank statement. Thanks to technology, things are much easier now. You can look at your spending by category in a couple of clicks! Here are three options you can use when budgeting to help keep things simple and easy. Automated Budgeting Mint.com launched in 2006 and led the first wave of online budgeting apps. Now joined by sites including You Need a Budget, Level Money, Mvelopes, and Wally, this industry offers a ton of budgeting features with a minimal time investment. Apps like Mint and Personal Capital connect to your bank, credit, loan, and investment accounts so you…

5 Ways to Stick to a Budget

It’s hard to argue with the importance of budgeting your expenses – after all, keeping a budget is right up there with having an income when it comes to being financially solvent. While breaking your expenses down by the week, month or year requires discipline and planning, committing to your budget is where the real work comes in. Worried you can’t hack it? Here are five ways to stick to a budget, no matter how strict it may be. Beware of Plastic Fewer people carry cash anymore, but beware of plastic – credit cards have a reputation for blowing budgets. According to an oft-cited study by Dun & Bradstreet, people spend 12-18 percent more when using credit cards instead of cash. One solution is not to keep credit cards in your wallet, or near any of your personal devices with an internet connection. A less drastic option is to get…

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