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650financially-fit.jpg Meet the Credit Score Perfectionists
creditscore.jpgLearn from some credit scoring superstars
While most Americans strive for good credit scores, others take special care to achieve great ones. Meet some credit score superstars -- and learn why and how they keep those precious three digits so high.

5 Ways to Quickly Boost Your Credit Score

Despite what all the advertisements say, there aren't many ways for you to increase your credit score quickly and legitimately. Many of the advertised tactics revolve around disputing old, negative information in the hopes that the original creditor won't respond and the mark will be removed. It's an entirely legitimate technique but it's a little dishonest. Some companies also advocate writing a letter to the original reporter of negative information and asking them to remove the mark for one reason or another. While less dishonest, it goes against the spirit of how the score was intended and while I have no problem with it, I think there are several honest moves you can make to give your score a boost without resorting to these tactics.

credit-sista.jpgHow will the CARD act affect you? That depends in part on which type of credit card you've got in your wallet.

The combined impact of the economic downturn and the restrictions placed on credit card companies by the Credit CARD Act mean card issuers will be changing how they do business in ways that will affect every credit card -- but the impact will vary depending on the type.

"I think we'll see a reverting back to the model of the 1980s -- annual fees and higher interest rates," says Dennis Moroney, research director for TowerGroup, a financial services industry research and consulting firm. "But in those days, everything was pretty plain vanilla -- there will be much more creativity now."

Here's how experts see the CARD Act's impact

Six Major Credit Card Mistakes

creditAre you having trouble getting your credit card balances under control? If so, don't beat yourself up over it - you're in the same boat as thousands of other consumers. Once you choose to change you spending habits, however, it is possible to make your debt manageable. Use these simple tips to stop adding to your existing credit card debt and start regaining control of your finances.

  1. Pay More Than the Minimum Balance It's tempting to send in the minimum monthly payment (often $15 to $25) when you're under financial duress.
  2. Don't do it.

  3. Not only will you never pay off your bill, but the interest rates that credit card companies charge will actually keep your bill growing every month. Instead, send as large of a payment as you can afford to. Where possible, reduce your spending in other areas to focus on paying off your credit card debt. It might be worth going without extras like cable television or new clothes for a while if it means you can sleep easier at night knowing that you'll soon be free of debt. (For more insight, read Understanding Credit Card Interest.)

How to Survive the Credit Crunch in a Down Economy

by Florence King

Employment

When applying for a job many employers will check your credit. A low credit score indicates to them you cant manage your money. They will not hire you because they do not trust you with their customers or business associates.

Tip: Before wasting your time on a job interview, find out in advance whether or not your credit will be a deciding factor in the hiring process. Remember most jobs pertaining to security, money or salaries paying more than $75,000 usually require a credit check.

Soft Inquiries

They cannot however, pull your credit without your permission. You must sign a form first before they are allowed to pull your credit. If they review your credit profile without your permission you have the right to have the inquiry removed. Pulling your credit for employment purposes does not affect your score.

Automobile Loan

Ten factors lenders will consider when someone is purchasing a new or used vehicle:

  1. Your total debt to income ratio should be less than 45% including your new car payment.
  2. 36 to 72 months for the total term of loan.
  3. No vehicle older than eight years.
  4. No more than 60,000 miles on the odometer.
  5. A down payment of $1,000 or more
  6. At least two to three years of time on the job.
  7. At least two to three years of residence.
  8. Your monthly income should be no less than $2,500 before taxes.
  9. Your credit score must be at least 540 or more with a least four trade lines. One should be in the form of an installment for a least a year.
  10. 85% to 130% loan to value.

In order to weather the storm you must pay down your revolving debt by at least 70%. Keep in mind every two credit cards an individual has in good standing for more than 5 years can generate 100 points.

If a consumer doesnt have any credit cards, a good way for them to jumpstart their scores is to get them to apply for a least two secured credit cards or have a family member with good history sign them on as a credit card user. They also may qualify for a loan at their financial institution, by using their paycheck as security.

Anyone with a score below 620 would be a sure target for sub-prime lending or would require a co-signer. Keep in mind the national credit score average is 693.

How To Raise Your Credit Score Over 730

creditUnderstanding how the credit scoring system will benefit you greatly in our society.

As mortgage rates decline, many would-be buyers and refinancers are missing the opportunity to
lock in loans at record lows. The reason? Their credit scores aren't high enough to qualify for the
best rates and in some cases are too low to qualify for any loan at all.

Credit scores are three-digit numbers lenders use to gauge your creditworthiness, and in recent
years a 700 FICO credit score was enough to get the best rates and terms. Even people with
lower scores could get a decent deal, and at the peak of the lending boom it seemed no score was so low that it merited a rejection.

How To Pay Down Your Debt

creditAmericans currently owe $917 billion on revolving credit lines, according to the latest Federal Reserve statistics. Almost all of it is a result of charging purchases to credit cards. About $69 billion of it is currently past due.

We can keep piling on the bad news for debtors and creditors, much of which youve undoubtedly heard or read before. Credit-card issuers are drastically reducing lines of creditone analyst thinks that a year from now credit lines will be half their current levels. And despite low interest rates nearly everywhere else, rates on credit cards are increasing as lenders put hikes in place before next year, when new legislation that curbs some abusive lending practices comes into full effect.

The depth and length of the current recession is giving lenders another excuse (as if they needed one) to recoup their losses by any means possible.

The Truth About Credit Repair Scams

creditHave you ever heard this before: Credit Problems? No Problem! Your Bad Credit Erased100% Guaranteed? Beware if you have ever read this type of advertisement! There are numerous companies throughout the United States that claim they can fix your credit reports for a fee. However, they do little and sometimes nothing in most cases to fix your credit reports. What ends up happening is these companies take your money and disappear with it and youre left with the same bad credit and even less money. Many companies also claim that they can create a new credit file for you by getting you a new Social Security number. This is illegal and never actually works.

Card Issuers: Rate Hikes for Everyone!

creditMuch to the aggravation of tens of thousands of consumers, credit cards seem to be beyond the influence of the Federal Reserve and its rapid fire succession of seven interest rates cuts in the last year. Consumers saw mortgage and savings rates nose-dive after the Fed cut the federal funds rate down to a record low of 0% to 0.25%. But rates on credit cards? They've just climbed higher. According to Bankrate.com, which monitors the interest rates offered at the 10 biggest credit-card issuers, low-rate cards now average 11.67%, balance-transfer cards are at 13.20% and cash-back cards at 13.83%

How to Blow Your Credit Limit Without Spending

creditIf you havent had the credit limit cut on your credit card recently, count yourself lucky. Risk-averse card issuers are getting slash happy. And while many cardholders gripe that such cuts slice razor-close to their balance amounts, for an unfortunate few the cuts go far deeper: below what they currently owe.

Under different circumstances, David Chaplin-Loebell wouldnt have minded that American Express cut his unlimited credit line to just $5,000. Except that when AmEx reduced his line in October, he had an outstanding balance of $10,000.

Credit-Card Issuers: Buy Something or Else!

creditOne of the biggest causes of the financial crisis was that Americans were borrowing (and spending) more money than they could afford to pay back. So how are credit-card issuers reacting to consumers attempts to live a more financially responsible lifestyle? Theyre threatening to cut their credit cards off if they don't spend enough.

Loretta Maxwell of Troy, Mich., thought her credit score of 790 buffered her against most of the fallout of the credit crunch.

When Chase closed her $6,000-limit card in December without warning after two years of inactivity, she called to fight it. She was unsuccessful. If youre not using it, they entice you to do so, and then the moment you dont spend enough, they cut your limit, she says.

Card Issuers: How Can We Make You Go Away?

creditConsumers who carried a big balance and made the bare minimum payment each month used to be a credit-card issuer's dream. Now, they are their worst nightmare.

With defaults on the rise, credit-card issuers are employing all sorts of tactics to persuade consumers to reduce their balances and, ideally, close their accounts. Some issuers are using carrots: American Express is offering some cardholders a $300 gift certificate if they zero out their balance by April 30, and Citibank is offering to match a portion of the payments some cardholders make beyond the minimum amount due. Others are using sticks: Chase is tacking on a $10 monthly fee to the accounts of consumers who have carried a large balance for more than two years.

Card Issuers: Our Rewards Cards Aren't So Rewarding

creditPromises of points, miles and cash back used to be one way card issuers lured in new customers -- and kept them loyal. But now plenty of those promises are being broken as a number of issuers cut back on rewards and other programs.

Citibank just invoked sweeping changes to its Thank You Network rewards program. It swapped a tiered system for flight redemption (which offered flights valued at $400 or less for 20,000 points) in favor of one that charges 100 points per dollar. More changes are slated for March 15 when Citi plans to invoke an expiration date for points, a fee to use points on accounts with a late payment and a requirement that cardholders must forfeit their rewards when the account is closed.

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