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unpaid credit cards

Unpaid Credit Cards – You Can Still Repair Your Credit

By | Credit Cards

Statistics show that many Americans have bad credit, and one element that is a common factor is unpaid credit cards and how they affect your credit.

According to the statistics, VantageScore says there are about 220 million scorable people and 68 million of them have bad or poor scores (lower than 601), which is how they got to that 30 percent estimate. Figures from credit bureau TransUnion also say that 30 percent have subprime credit based on the VantageScore 3.0 model.

The good news is that you can fix it, but how do you repair credit when you have unpaid credit cards that, and possibly some in collections?

The First Step

Wondering how to fix your credit or how to improve your credit score? First thing is to find out your credit score and exactly what is on your credit report. Sometimes, there are items that should have been removed yet remain long after. These items are affecting your score and ability to do things like buying a home, buying a car, getting insurance, getting security deposits on utilities or, even worse, getting certain jobs.

If you have unpaid credit cards, they are often sent to third-party collection agencies that will try to collect the debt. One of the first things they do is list it on your credit report, which hurts your overall credit score. These debt collections remain active for seven years unless you take care of the charge, dispute it, or have it erased.

Disputing a Debt Collection

It is best to dispute a debt collection as soon as possible, generally within 30 days of when you were first contacted by the agency. This time frame is important because it allows you to request that the collection agency provide proof that you owe the debt. If they ignore your request or cannot prove the debt, then it has to be taken off of your credit report. If the debt does not belong to you in the first place, it has to be removed if they cannot prove it is yours.

Seven Year Dispute

After seven years, past due accounts have to be removed according to the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Keep in mind that some agencies do what is known as re-aging the account, which keeps the debt collection on your account longer and makes it look like the debt is more recent than it really is. If seven years have passed and the debt is still remaining, you can then dispute it and any backup information you have about the age of the account is helpful. The date of the collection starts from the moment you first went delinquent.

Deletion by Payment

How to dispute a credit report when it comes to deletion by payment is fairly easy. The one thing that debt collectors want is their payment. In some cases, the debt collector may agree to delete the debt collection from the credit report if you work out a deal to pay some or all of what you owe on your unpaid credit cards.

There are a few caveats to this deal. Make sure that if you are able to work out this type of agreement, do not rely on an oral agreement over the phone. You must get the agreement in writing so that the collection agency has to abide by what they agreed to do.

Any written correspondence should be sent by certified mail with a return receipt and if the collection agency does not follow through with their promise to delete the entry, you can then dispute it with the Credit Bureau by providing proof of what you were promised. Paying off the debt in collection alone will NOT improve your credit score.

Active Credit Cards

Strategic payments and credit line increases help with what is called your utilization rate. This is the percentage of credit limit you use and agencies that score credit look at this rate to determine your credit score. A good number to be at in your utilization rate is no higher than 30 percent.

If you have credit cards that are active and not in collections, there are ways to improve your score using these methods. This is done by having a lower utilization rate, where you are spending a lower portion of credit than what you have.

If your payments are on time and you have good standing with a credit card company, one way to improve your credit is to ask for a credit line increase without using it. It won’t be helpful to raise your score if you use up the credit line increase as soon as you get it.

For strategic payments, send in early payments and make fewer purchases to see results. Keep in mind that it is best to do this with all credit card accounts, not just the one you owe the most to.

For instance, you have three credit cards – $500, $300 and one with just $100 owed – do not just choose the largest to send extra payments. Instead, if you have planned on paying $100 extra, break that into three payments that you send to each debt equally. So, if your payments are $40 a month on all three, instead of paying $140 to the first card and $40 to the other two, pay $70 to all three to see faster results.

There are plenty of ways to help repair your credit even when you have unpaid credit cards. These are a few of the best that will help you on your way to a higher score.

Sources:

http://www.foxbusiness.com/features/2016/02/15/how-many-americans-have-bad-credit.html

https://www.thebalance.com/remove-debt-collections-from-your-credit-report-960376

https://www.credit.com/credit-repair/how-to-fix-your-credit/

https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/pdf-0096-fair-credit-reporting-act.pdf

repair your credit

4 Simple, Effective Ways to Repair Your Credit

By | Credit Repair

Anyone can make mistakes — and some of those mistakes can impact your credit standing. Even if you’ve always taken great care with your credit, unforeseeable crises can easily undo all your good work. Just as a few serious problems can torpedo your credit rating, a few smart strategies can help you bring it back to life. Fortunately, you don’t have to carry that burden indefinitely.  Here are some simple, effective things you can do to repair your credit.

Repair Your Credit Tip 1 – Start Over With Secured Credit

The worst-case scenario in the credit world is bankruptcy. This last-ditch move can indeed give individuals a fresh financial start, but in the process, you can expect to lose your credit. Oddly enough, you may start receiving credit card offers in the mail sooner than you’d expect. But this can prove a dangerous kind of trap. The creditors making the offers know that you won’t be permitted to file for bankruptcy again for at least 7 years, meaning that you’ll be stuck with paying them back even if you get into trouble.

Still, there is one kind of credit card you definitely should look into: a secured credit card. This card is backed up by a cash deposit, with the credit limit typically equalling the deposit amount. Use this card carefully and pay it off in full every month. By doing so, you’ll be rebuilding a positive credit history that can set the stage for your successful credit repair journey.

Repair Your Credit Tip 2 – Reduce Outstanding Credit Balances

You could have an excellent credit payment history, with multiple lines of credit going back many years, and still get turned down for a loan because of a high credit utilization ratio. This term refers to the amount of your credit tied up in outstanding balances. Lenders generally recommend that you keep your credit utilization ratio under 30 percent of your total credit limits. If you need to reduce your outstanding balances, you may want to try either of two popular debt payment techniques:

  • Snowballing – Snowballing involves paying down one credit line at a time, starting with the lowest balance. For instance, you might pay $25 above a $25 minimum payment (or $50 a month total) to accelerate repayment until the balance hits zero. You then take that $50 monthly payment and add it to the monthly minimum payment on the next-lowest balance. Repeat this process, and you’ll see that credit utilization drop at an ever-faster pace.
  • Stacking – Stacking is the same basic technique as snowballing, except that it involves paying the credit lines down in order of interest rate, with the highest interest rate going first. This may be less satisfying than seeing those smaller balances disappear quickly, but in the long run it’ll save you more money.

Repair Your Credit Tip 3 – Go Easy on the Applications

If you’re tempted to obtain a new credit card to make your credit utilization ratio lower, take care. While your utilization will indeed drop as your total available credit rises, that new credit line will require what’s known as a “hard pull,” or credit review. This type of review can temporarily make a bad credit score even worse. Actually using the card will compound your troubles if you don’t make certain to pay it off faithfully each month.

Other types of loan applications can also ding your credit, at least in the short term. Each car loan, home loan, or other kind of bank loan application will result in a hard pull. Too many of these inquiries can seriously disfigure your credit score. The fewer credit lines or shorter credit history you have, the more damage your score will take. If you need to shop around for the lowest rate among multiple lenders, make all those credit applications within the same 30-day credit cycle. Creditors recognize rate shopping when it occurs in this pattern, and they will score those multiple applications as a single hard pull.

Repair Your Credit Tip 4 – Watch Your Credit Report

Consumers who struggle with credit issues are only human — but so are the people who enter information into creditors’ databases and credit reports. It’s always possible that inaccurate data is depressing your credit score unfairly. You may also be suffering the effects of a co-signer or other party who has damaged your credit without your realizing it.

You can catch these issues by requesting and studying copies of your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion). You’re legally entitled to one free copy of each report per year, and you can also purchase additional copies. If you see something wrong, you can dispute that entry and possibly get it expunged from your record. Once you’ve sent a written dispute letter, ideally via Certified Mail, the reporting agency is required to investigate the possible error within 30 days’ time.

As you can see, there’s no single “magic bullet” to repair your credit. But the right combination of best practices, implemented with patience, intelligence, and consistency, can give you the power to fix those nagging credit issues and prevent them from recurring. Last but not least, you’ll enjoy the tremendous feeling of accomplishment and empowerment that comes from taking control of your own destiny — and that’s surely something worth taking credit for!

Sources:

https://www.bankrate.com/finance/credit-cards/10-questions-before-getting-a-secured-credit-card-1.aspx

www.nerdwallet.com/blog/finance/improve-your-credit-utilization-ratio-fast/

https://www.thebalance.com/debt-snowball-vs-debt-stacking-453633

https://www.moneytalksnews.com/ask-an-expert-will-opening-a-new-credit-card-hurt-my-credit-score/

https://www.myfico.com/credit-education/credit-checks/credit-report-inquiries/

https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2015/08/22/nerdwallet-check-your-credit-reports/32129411/

https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0151-disputing-errors-credit-reports

5 Factors That Impact Your Credit Score

By | Credit Scores

Like it or not, your credit score probably affects where you live, the car you drive, the smartphone you use, and how you take vacations, go to college and care for your family. Even with a moderate or lower income, it’s important to understand the factors affecting your credit score. With smart moves and strategic thinking, you can build a foundation for the future and enjoy the benefits of plentiful low-interest credit. Here are the five factors to remember every time you’re considering a loan, card or new account:

1. Number of Accounts

Every time you open an account that requires faith in your ability to pay on time — and this includes phone lines, utilities and student loans — you add a record to your credit history. Most financial advisors recommend limiting yourself to the average amount of three or four cards. The reason is simple: The more cards you have, the higher chance you’ll miss or forget due dates. Alternately, you should get at least one card if you don’t have one. This is because you can’t build credit without having any.

Obviously, you can’t control the number of accounts for life necessities like heat, electricity, internet and phone. You can, however, limit the number of student loans, car loans and mortgages. If you’re married, work it out so both you and your spouse hold accounts for things you share. One partner might pay the power bill, the other the internet. This practice also allows each partner to practice good financial management and build a healthy score.

2. Age of Accounts

A long time ago, you took on a high-interest or secured credit card as a way to improve your score. Should you close that account when a better card comes your way? Maybe, but probably not. The age of your accounts is another factor that affects credit rating, so an old account is a plus instead of minus. Just make sure you have a low balance, no more than five percent of the limit, and pay on time to avoid fees. Be aware that closed accounts will drop off your record after a certain period of time — usually seven years. Keep track of open accounts by looking at your credit report frequently.

3. Number of Inquiries

Although it can be frustrating and seem unfair, your score is affected when lenders considering your request for a mortgage, business loan or credit card request your credit report. Sometimes, your credit history is also accessed by potential employers, agencies checking your background, or other instances in which your character may come into question. Keep the number of inquiries in check by planning ahead. Be strategic about major purchases, like a car, that will cause numerous checks on your credit as you search for the best financing. By limiting the number of inquiries in the months before the purchase, you’ll suffer less damage when lenders look at your record.

4. Outstanding Debt

Imagine that every cent of your credit is poured into a single, large bucket. This bucket, the total amount of credit assigned to you, is marked with three gauges — green at the top, yellow in the middle and red near the bottom. The point where the contents of the bucket settle represents your debt-to-credit ratio, one of the most important factors of a credit score. As a rule, your credit card balance shouldn’t be higher than one-third of your total allowed credit. Why? Consider how your high balances look from the viewpoint of lenders — if you have a crisis or emergency and no means to pay with your credit, the chance of late payment or bankruptcy increases.

5. Payment History

When you pay and how much is another important factor of total credit score. Establish the good habit of paying more than the minimum amount due to offset any interest charged to the account. When possible, pay all but five percent of the outstanding balance due. Leaving a small amount due in each account shows the account is active and confirms your commitment to the lender, but don’t forget it’s there, forget to pay and be charged a late fee.

If you have a record of late payments, it’s possible to recover. Pay a few payments on time and then call the lender and ask them to remove the negative mark. They might not agree, but you’ll never know unless you ask. The same goes for accounts in collections — once you are in the position to pay off the debt, call to negotiate with the agency or lender. Many times, they will reduce the total amount due if you agree to pay the amount due and close the account. Also note that you should speak carefully and cautiously when talking to debt collectors on the phone. Review your rights with a credit counselor first.

By setting goals, paying on time and making a sincere effort to raise your score, you can earn the good things in life. Low-interest credit opens doors to opportunities like self-employment, travel and education. Now that you know more about how credit scores are calculated, it’s time to get yours in shape for a better and brighter future.

Sources

TransUnion.com: “What is a credit score?” https://www.transunion.com/credit-score

Credit Karma.com: “How many credit cards does the average American have?” https://www.creditkarma.com/credit-cards/i/how-many-credit-cards-does-the-average-american-have/

TransUnion.com: “How closing accounts affects my credit score”: “https://www.transunion.com/article/closing-accounts-and-your-credit-score”

4 Tips to Avoid Paying Credit Card Interest

By | Credit Cards

Can you imagine spending an additional $16 for every purchase of $100 you make? An expensive dinner at a nice new restaurant, a new handbag, even a parking space at a professional sporting event can cost you $100. Now, add $16 to each one of those expenses – before even considering the tax – and you are really paying $116.

This is essentially what you are doing each time you use your credit card. Today, a typical credit card is going to charge an interest rate of approximately 16 percent a year on your balances. There are some that charge up to 29 percent if you have been late on a payment and must cover the fee and penalty interest.

The best way to avoid paying these additional charges is by not keeping a credit card balance, and paying the bill prior to the due date every month. However, this is a rare occurrence. Three out of every five credit card accounts will have a balance from one month to the next according to information from a payment study done by the Federal Reserve.

Additionally, there is the factor that credit card companies regularly increase the interest rates on their cards. After all, these rates are tied to the federal funds rate, which is something the Federal Reserve is expected to increase again. This happened twice in 2017.

There is good news. Even though credit card interest rates are often high, there are steps you can take to avoid having to pay interest at all. Four ways to do this are found here.

1. Get to Know Your Credit Card’s Grace Period

This is the easiest and most common way to avoid having to pay interest on your credit card purchases. Chances are you already know something about this. However, there is a bit more to know than just when your bill is due.

The majority of people believe they only have a single month to pay their credit card bill; however, when you find out the company’s grace period, you may discover you actually have more time. The grace period is the amount of time the company gives you to pay off your balance without having to pay any interest. It begins at the last day of your billing cycle and goes through the due date of the cycle.

When you know what the billing cycle for your card is, it can provide you with an additional three weeks to pay off the purchases you make. The key to this is to not forget what the actual payment due date is and pay it in full on or before that date.

2. Pay for the Balance as You Make Purchases

If you want to make sure there is no chance you will have to pay credit card interest, then you should pay off any charge you make as soon as it is made. Your credit card companies will be more than happy to accept a payment anytime you want to make one. As a result, there is no penalty for paying off a purchase right away.

3. Switch Your Credit Cards

This is just a one-time option; however, if you are dealing with a high credit card balance and you must pay a huge amount of interest on it, there is an option to move it to another credit card. For example, if you get a credit card offer of zero percent interest for a year, and you can pay the debt within the time period, it will help you save money to do this.

There are quite a few credit cards that offer introductory deals such as this to encourage you to use their services. When you transfer to a card with zero percent interest for a certain amount of time, you can save quite a bit of money. However, there are a few caveats to be aware of:

  • If you are unable to pay the balance during the promotional time, you may be charged interest for the whole amount.
  • You should not add additional purchases to the new card, as this will increase the amount you have to pay each month.

4. Pay Your Balances in Full Each Month

If you don’t think you can manage the steps above, then all you have to do to avoid credit card interest payments is to pay your credit card balances off every month. You should do whatever you can to make sure the bill is paid by the due date. This includes sending yourself alerts via email and keeping track of the purchases you make to ensure you can pay the bill. You should also create and stick to a budget to prevent you from overspending.

Keep in mind, when you pay your bills on time you can increase your credit rating. Additionally, if you do this consistently, it could help you acquire credit cards with lower interest rates. But, the best benefit of using the tips here is that you will be able to purchase things on your credit card and earn the reward points or other perks without having to use cash.

To find more tips and information about managing and reducing your debt, visit the Ovation Credit Services website, or contact their friendly staff.

Sources:

https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/what-credit-card-grace-period.html

http://money.cnn.com/2017/06/14/news/economy/federal-reserve-june-meeting/index.html

https://www.newyorkfed.org/microeconomics/hhdc.html

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