Thursday, November 21, 2013

Increasing Your Credit Limit

Your credit score is extremely important. It can affect if you can get a large loan like a mortgage. If you are able to get one, it will affect how much you pay in interest, which could be the different between saving or spending thousands of dollars. It is vital to your financial future!

That said, a lot of people do not know what goes into the credit score, or what you can do to improve it. One thing that impacts your score is the amount of money that you owe, and the percentage of that amount compared to your limit. In other words, your credit utilization. So, if you are able to increase your credit limit (and increase the amount that you could spend), it will lower your utilization, which could help your credit score.

So how do you increase your credit limit? The first thing is to make sure that you have a solid financial foundation and look like someone worthy of a high limit. That means you need to be someone who pays their bills on time, and hopefully has a long relationship with the creditor (so that they know you are trustworthy). If you are frequently making late payments, nobody will want to give you an increase.

The next step is having a reason to increase your limit, and be able to state that to the creditor. When you call to ask for an increase, give them a reason for your asking for an increased limit (perhaps an upcoming vacation, or even that you know it can help your credit score), and you need to be able to tell them why they should give you a higher limit. If you have a higher income than when you first got the card, or have paid off other debts, those types of things that could help convince them to increase the limit.

Last, you simply need to call the creditor and ask for the increase. Once you know you have a strong case, you have good reasons, and you are someone who is a good customer for them, call them and ask. If you don't take the first step in asking, it's not going to happen for you.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Credit Card advice for college students

This article can also be found here.

Once you reach college, it is likely that you will get a credit card for the first time. With so many different expenses, having a credit card is a good thing to have around. Plus, if you use it responsibly, it can help build your credit rating, which will be very beneficial when you are trying to build a car, house, boat, or any other big purchase. However, a credit card can also be a dangerous thing. Many people treat it like a blank check, forgetting that they eventually are going to have to pay it off. That can lead to a lot of frivolous spending with the card, with no idea what to do when the bill comes. This time of attitude can mean that you'll be paying off that credit card for a very long time.

The best credit card advice I can give, whether it's for college students or not, is to only use your credit card if you can pay the charges off in full at the end of the month. Otherwise you will get big interest payments, it will be harder to pay, and well, it's just not a good idea. Credit card interest rates are typically extremely large, and so racking up bills there will lead to a lot of extra expenses. Plus, it can ruin your credit rating if you don't pay. You already will likely have a lot of student loan debt, you don't want to add to that with credit card debt.

Specifically for college students, all your money will tend to be spent already on things like tuition, books, food, and everything else you have to have to get by. So, without any extra spare cash, the temptation for many people is to just go out and charge things with their credit card, figuring that they'll already be in deep debt, so what's the difference? That's not a good plan. The difference between being in student loan debt and credit card debt is that credit cards charge a lot higher interest and can be a lot more unforgiving when you're trying to pay them off. If you can't by that fancy new gadget with cash or a debit card, do not charge it on your credit card. You can probably get by without it, at least until you can save up the money.

So that's my credit card advice for students... don't use it when you don't have to, and pay off whatever you charge at the end of the month. If not, your student loan debt isn't the only debt you'll be paying off after college. Trust me, when it comes time to pay the bills, you will be thanking yourself a lot if a credit card bill is not one that you have to pay off.

How many credit cards is too many?

This article can also be found here.

The question is, how many can you handle?

If you can handle having multiple cards and you pay them all off at the end of each month, then I'm not sure there is a such thing as "too many" credit cards, aside from having to keep a look at your credit rating.

However, for some people, even one credit card is too many. It all depends on your mindset.

If you use the card with the mindset that, "This is free money," then you're going to have problems no matter how many credit cards you have. It is not free money, it is a short term loan that you have to pay back. And like with any loan, the longer it takes for you to pay it back, the more you have to pay in interest and the harder it is to keep track of.

But, if you use the card with the mindset that, "I'll use this for rewards or for ease of use," and then plan on and follow through with playing the balance of each month, you'll be in good shape. You can't abuse the use of the card or you will be in big trouble, but if you respect it and use it wisely, it will not matter how many credit cards you have.

So there is no right or wrong answer to this question, it all depends on the mindset and thinking of each person. If you have the wrong mindset, then even one credit card is too many for you to handle.

Should credit card companies target college students?

This article can also be found here.

Yes, credit card companies should be targeting college students. Why? Simply put, the demand is there, and the credit card companies are trying to make money. It may not be "right" for credit card companies to target these students when, in some cases, they might now know any better, but as they try to make money, they'd actually prefer it that way.

On the other side of the coin, credit cards can be very beneficial to students. Obviously they can cause you a lot of problems, but that is not a problem exclusive (by any stretch of the imagination) to college students. On the positive side, having credit cards allows students to learn some responsibily, discipline, and build up a credit history. If credit card companies did not target college students, they might not have a chance to build up a credit history, which would be a bad thing in the long run.

Having a good credit history allows you to get things like home or car loans at a better interest rate, because you probably won't be able to pay for these types of things entirely in cash. If you have no credit or bad credit, chances are you'll be paying a lot more than you otherwise would be on interest on long-term loans.

So at first it seems evil that credit card companies would target college students who might not know any better... but delving into it, this can actually be very valuable for college students, who learn important financial lessons as well as build up a credit history, which can be very valuable later in life.

How to ask for a lower rate on your account

This article can also be found here.

Credit card debt is a huge problem in our country, and it can be especially dangerous because of the high interest rest that the companies charge.The interest rate that some credit cards charge can be absolutely ridiculous. They are extremely high, and this can be a big blow to your account. The interest will accumulate so much that sometimes it might seem like every payment isn't really doing anything.

If the interest accumulation is almost as much as your payment per month because of the high interest rate, it will take you much longer than it probably should to pay that off.So it's important to try and get as low of an interest rate as you possibly can. So how can you do that? Sometimes all you have to do to get a lower interest rate is to ask. In the end, a lot of things such as credit card companies are just trying to make money, and if they can retain your business by giving you good customer service and a little better rate now, they might just do that.

This can be an especially effective method for credit cards. One thing you can possibly do is to threaten to stop using the card and take your business elsewhere. Of course you would still have to pay off whatever you owe now, but if the credit card company thinks that you will stop using their card, in all likelihood they will budge a little bit to keep your business.

If you give them an ultimatum of them lowering your interest rate a bit (nothing too outlandish) or you'll change to a new card, chances are they will give you a lower interest rate. They are simply trying to make as much money as they can, and they know that keeping you as a satisfying customer that uses their card frequently is the best way to do that.

Another thing that you can do to get them to lower your rate is to "threaten" them and say that you'll transfer everything to a 0% card. You could use a balance transfer to free up the cash, pay off the card, and then they would be getting none of the interest, so it could be in their best interest to reduce the rate some and have you keep paying. Again, they are simply trying to make the most money that they can, and the best way for them to do that is to have you slowly pay them back, little by little.

So sometimes, all you have to do is ask. Other, a little friendly threat might be in order for you to get what you want. Either way, if you don't ask, you won't be able to get a lower rate. And with the high interest rates that many credit card companies charge, if your way is not as low as you can get it, you could be throwing away money.

How to tell a secure shopping site

This article can also be found here.

Identity theft is becoming more and more prevalent in our society. As it seems to be such a difficult crime to solve, and you can steal a lot of information from the comfort of your own home, many criminals are turning to identity theft. One of the most popular ways to do this is by getting passwords and sensitive information online. If you are not careful about what you are doing online and what sites you are going to, you could wind up going to an insecure site and having your sensitive information stolen, leading to have your identity stolen.

So how can you tell what is and what is not a secure shopping site? There are a few different ways. One way is to check the URL of whatever web site that you're on. That is, check the part that is like If you are on a secure site, that will be an https. That means that the site is secure and the whatever you type in and submit will be encrypted, which obviously makes it far less likely that someone will be able to steal that information. If you are inputting anything like credit card information or sensitive passwords, you need to check to make sure that it is https, otherwise you are putting yourself very much at risk.

Another thing to look for is the little "lock" icon. This will be in a different place depending on what web browser you're using, but it will usually be in one of the corners. This will also signal that you are using a secure site. So look around for that and if you see the lock icon everything should be secure. Once again, this is a must for you to find if you are inputting any type of sensitive information that you don't want anyone else to know.

There are some other things and indicators to look at to make sure a site is secure... things such as high visibility certain site seals that may be difficult to duplicate, which could mean that the site is not simply set up to steal your information. But the two main things to look for are the https and the lock icon. If you can see those two things, you can be pretty certain that you're on a secure shopping site and all of your information will be encrypted. If not, you could be putting yourself at risk for identity theft. With more and more hackers and identity thieves out there, if you are not very careful, eventually something will happen. Spare yourself that hassle and just spend a little extra to be careful to prevent anything before it happens.

Microsoft Exel tips: basic formulas

This article can also be found here.

There are hundreds of formulas and functions that you can use with Excel that will be enormously helpful to you. With more advanced things, you can find out things like how much you'll have to pay for a loan, how long it will take to pay it off, etc.

But for now, let's just look at the basics.

First off, all formulas in Excel will start with an = sign. You can also start it with a + sign, though that will eventually lead you to an = sign. So remember to start any formula with that.

After you know that, it's pretty easy for the basic formulas. You basically just type in what you want to do or how you would see it on a piece of paper, and then it finds the answer.

For example, if you want to add 2 + 3, type in: =2+3
If you want to multiply: =2*3
To divide: =2/3

So basic formulas in Excel are really pretty easy to do... all you have to do is type an = sign and then whatever you want figured out. They're easy to do, but they can be very beneficial because you can save a lot of time.