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In our Education Center, we have provided you with information on financial topics like credit repair, building credit, mortgages, personal loans, credit cards, interest rates and so much  more!

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Figure out how to manage your high credit card usage.

How to Fix Your High Credit Utilization

By | Credit Scores

If you carry balances month to month on your credit cards, you could be unknowingly weakening your credit score. Credit utilization, or the measure of the amount of credit you owe compared to your overall credit limit, can signal one of two things — either that you are a responsible borrower likely to meet your payment obligations, or that you are dangerously overextended with an excessive credit card and loan balances. To calculate your credit utilization, divide your credit card balance by your credit limit and multiply by 100. Experts generally advise keeping your credit utilization at 30 percent or less. Credit scoring bureaus will calculate the credit utilization ratio for each card separately, as well as the ratio for all of your available credit as a whole. The good news: Once you slash your credit utilization, your credit score will recover rather quickly. These steps will help you kick your balance-lowering mission into high gear.

Monitor All of Your Accounts

Set a goal for yourself to keep all of your credit balances at or under the 30% credit utilization. The trick to achieving that goal is to check in with your accounts frequently. Many card issuers also allow you to sign up for balance alerts via text or email. The more reminders you can have that your balance is creeping past the 30 percent level, the better. That awareness will help you keep your spending in check. If you know that one card is over the 30 percent limit, make a note to use a different card for purchases until you have whittled down the original card’s balance. (This technique will only work if your other cards carry a lower balance.)

Time Your Payments Appropriately

You might not realize that the balance that gets reported to the credit bureaus is the one that appears on your monthly statement. Check a copy of your billing statements to find out the date your billing cycle ends (also known as your account statement closing date). You’ll want to make sure your balance is low just before that cycle ends. That may mean you have to tweak your payment schedule and make payments well before the due date — but it’s worth it for the changes to your credit utilization.

Make Smarter Payments

Paying down debt, as much as possible, is the most straightforward route to attacking a high credit utilization. It unfortunately won’t be the easiest option for everyone. If you can’t pay balances in full, try to at least pay more than the minimum, at least twice a month, to trim your balances. Allocate the highest payments to the card with the highest utilization ratio.

Keep Your Cards Open

When you close an account, you also effectively erase a source of available credit. That, in turn, spikes your credit utilization ratio, as it will appear that you have less credit to use. That’s why you should always keep credit cards open, even if — actually, especially if — they are paid off. An older, paid-off credit card that you don’t use can only enhance your credit score, since it lengthens your positive credit history.

Request a Higher Credit Limit

You may want to ask your credit card issuer to bump up your credit limit. The increase should be just enough to lower your credit utilization ratio. However, make sure that the higher credit limit won’t tempt you into increasing your spending as well — or taking this step could actually compound your high credit utilization woes.

Consider a Balance Transfer

If you have a high credit utilization spread across several cards, it might make sense to transfer all of those balances to a low-interest card. That way, you have freed up credit on several cards, which looks better for your credit overall. Because you will also be saving on interest fees, you can also attack that balance faster. As with the other steps, you need to exercise caution. When you make a balance transfer, remember you are committing to paying down that balance. It is not simply a temporary relief that allows you to continue spending elsewhere.

Having a healthy credit utilization goes hand in hand with building an excellent credit score, and it’s certainly not the only way you can improve your credit profile. Let our team at Ovation Credit help you on the path to improving your score. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Talk to a credit counselor before taking out a loan.

Need A Small Loan? Here’s What to Do

By | Loan

Despite your best efforts, unexpected emergencies can crop up and leave you scrambling to find ways to cover the expenses. Instead of financing the costs with a credit card, you might want to consider taking out a small personal loan (for a few thousand dollars or less). A small loan might offer a lower interest rate than you would find on a credit card. As a bonus, making regular payments on a personal loan will add some variety to your credit mix — one of the key elements of a high credit score. In order to protect your credit, it’s critical to do your research when you are considering taking out a small loan. Even though you might be tempted to resort to the quickest or easiest option, that probably wouldn’t be the right choice for your credit. Here are the steps to take when you need a small loan.

Contact Your Local Credit Union

A credit union can often extend very competitive loan rates for consumers with less-than-stellar credit scores. You will likely have to become a member before you can take out a loan with a credit union, but this could be a savvy financial move anyway. Be sure to check out the requirements for holding an account at a credit union. Along with lower interest rates, credit union loans also boast more flexible payment arrangements and, when evaluating your loan application, will typically review more than just your credit score. Because of the lower rates they offer, a credit union could be your least expensive option when you need a small loan.

Research Online Lenders

The loan market is rife with online lenders — some great, some good, and some downright predatory. As with most loans, you will generally need to present a decent credit score to qualify for the most favorable interest rates on these small loans. However, there are plenty of online lenders that cater especially to borrowers with middling or poor credit. To protect yourself, you’ll want to look for a lender offering fixed monthly payments for a short term, such as between three and 12 months. That limits the amount of interest you’ll ultimately be forking over.

Explore Small Loan Features

Comparing the APR rates on small loans is essential. The next step, then, should be nailing down exactly what you need from the loan. Make a list of your “must have” features, as well as the ones that would just be “nice to have.” Would you like the flexibility of being able to reschedule a payment? Is a loan with no introductory fees a must? Could your lender possibly restructure your interest rate while you’re in the middle of the repayment period? Make sure you investigate all the features of your small loan candidates; the added convenience and flexibility could be just as important as the APR rate.

Consider Banks

All banks offer personal loans, but you’re more likely to find friendly service and an understanding ear at your neighborhood financial institution. Similar to credit unions, local banks may offer the small personal loan amounts that you need, at a favorable rate. You can also resort to more well-known nationally run banks, but these are more likely to require higher credit scores among the loan application credentials, and some will not consider approving loans below a certain amount. It’s worth first checking with the bank where you currently hold accounts, as they may offer a discounted rate for already established customers.

What to Avoid

Some consumers pop into the nearest payday loan shop when they need a small loan. Payday loan shops are known for offering small loans to those with credit problems. But if you can, it’s best to avoid this quick fix at all costs. Payday loans generally come loaded with fees and steep interest rates, which will only sap your finances further. You might even end up having to take out another loan to cover the costs of the initial one, which could set a vicious cycle in motion.

Turn to Us for More Help

We know just how important it is to have a clean credit report when you need a small loan. After all, the better your credit appears to a new lender, the more attractive — and inexpensive — your loan package will ultimately be. Give us a shout today at Ovation Credit and find out how we can help you realize your low-cost personal loan goals.

It's easy to skim your credit card statement but make sure to check out the fine print.

Credit Card Statement Fine Print: 6 Key Areas to Watch

By | Credit Cards

If you’re like most credit card users, chances are that you quickly scan your credit card statement when it arrives in the mail, check your balance on the front page, and then chuck it into the trash. You could be making a big mistake if you neglect to scrutinize your credit card statement’s fine print, at least once every couple of months. The fine print is typically the place where credit card companies sneak in the most essential details about your account. If you aren’t aware of the various account terms and conditions — or any changes that could be in your future — you might set yourself up for some very costly blunders. Knowing how to decipher your credit card statement fine print arms you with the knowledge to become a more responsible credit card user. The next time your credit card statement arrives, be sure to check out these top six areas.

1. Notices of Changes to Interest Rate

If your credit card company has plans for an interest rate increase on the horizon, it is required to advise you of the increase at least 45 days before it takes effect. You should be able to find this information near the top of your credit card statement, typically under a boldface heading such as “Notice.” The information should also specify the date that the higher interest rate will become effective. The credit card company may or may not advise you if it will be increasing your interest rate if you miss a payment or reach your credit limit — but if it does have such a policy, you will likely be able to find that information in this area as well.

2. Dispute Charge Policy

When the time comes for you to dispute a charge with the credit card company, you need to know about your card’s specific guidelines for doing so. The credit card statement fine print will typically outline everything you need to know about their dispute policy — where to email or mail your correspondence, what documentation to include, and the basic framework for the card’s dispute investigation process.

3. Explanation of “Other” Fees

On the back of your credit card statement, the issuer explains various fees that may be applied to your account, depending on your usage. For instance, if your card allows cash advances, the fine print will clarify the fees you incur each time you use this perk. Be sure to peruse this area of your credit card statement thoroughly. The fine print may also address fees that most card users wouldn’t expect — such as fees for the card company to report your account activity to the credit bureaus, pay by telephone, or other customer services.

4. Interest Rate Calculation

If you want a comprehensive rundown of how your credit card applies interest to your purchases, your credit card statement is the place to find it. The fine print should also address the timing of the “grace period,” also known as the date by which you would need to make a payment before interest is assessed.

5. The Date Your Card Issuer Reports to the Credit Bureaus

Knowing when the credit card company reports to the credit bureaus is essential if you have goals of improving your credit score. Some card companies are more helpful in this area than others. If you are scheduled to make a payment after the credit card company reports to the credit bureaus, the company will likely report the balance it had on file for you at the time — even if you paid it off in full just a few days later. Sometimes, the credit card company reports the information on your statement closing date — but this can vary from issuer to issuer (which is why checking your statement is so important!).

6. Rewards Cards Provisions

Many Americans carry at least one rewards card in their wallets. As valuable as they can be, rewards cards often come with their own elaborate set of terms and exceptions. For instance, your credit card issuer might stipulate that you will have to wait a number of weeks for rewards points to be applied to your account. The fine print will also discuss the conditions that must be in play to remain eligible for those rewards — such as the length of time your account has been open and whether or not you have missed a payment.

Keep Up the Momentum

Reviewing your credit card statement is also an excellent way to spot errors or even fraudulent charges. If you find either one, you’ll have a solid reason to take up a dispute with your credit card company. At Ovation Credit, we can help with that dispute process, saving you the time involved in building a case yourself. Contact us here for a free consultation.

Ovation Credit Services can help your repair your credit and maintain a good credit report.

5 Ways Credit Repair Can Help You Now

By | Credit Repair

If you’re dealing with debt problems, you aren’t alone. According to a 2018 report from WalletHub, the average U.S. household is currently grappling with $8,284 in credit card debt. Although many of those debt-laden consumers have probably considered possible debt reduction strategies, they likely are not aware of the many benefits of credit repair services. Far from being a last resort, a credit repair service can address your credit crisis more quickly and effectively than your own solo efforts. With debt levels climbing higher and higher, now is the ideal time to consider a credit repair service as part of your overall credit-boosting goals. Here are the five ways credit repair can help you now.

1. Removing Negative or False Items

A whopping 54 percent of credit reports contain information that is outdated, incorrect, or fraudulent, according to research from Ovation Credit. You could dispute that information with the credit bureaus yourself, of course. But the average consumer lacks the technical know-how to spot those erroneous items — not to mention the most effective strategies of disputing them with the credit bureaus. Credit repair can help you save the time of writing letters and gathering documentation to prove your case to the credit bureaus. The credit specialist assigned to your case has the professional expertise — and knowledge of the litany of federal consumer protection laws — to guide your case to a more satisfying end result.

2. Boosting Your Credit Score

You might eventually achieve a higher credit score with diligent efforts on your own, but it would probably take a much longer time — and involve more failed attempts. Working with a professional credit repair service will typically secure you faster, more impressive results than you would see through your own efforts. When a repair service successfully manages to remove negative items from your credit report, your credit score will bounce back. The improvement in your score could open you up to a host of other benefits — like improved eligibility for larger loans for houses or cars.

3. Saving You Money on Interest

When your credit score rises, you will then go on to qualify for more favorable interest rates when you apply for loans and credit cards. Lower interest rates add up to thousands of dollars in potential savings — a substantial return on your initial investment of credit repair. You’ll be able to apply the money you saved on interest in building emergency savings or funding other everyday purchases (without having to resort to using plastic). By hiring a credit repair service, you will likely be able to achieve lower interest rates in a much shorter amount of time.

4. Solving Complex Credit Concerns

Disputing erroneous credit card charges isn’t the only benefit of a credit repair service. The most highly regarded companies will also advocate on your behalf on more complex and serious credit issues. This could include sending your creditors goodwill letters, which prove your good standing and request that they review your account as a courtesy, recommendation letters, and requests for validation of certain charges. A credit repair service may also offer to monitor your credit report for any changes that could affect your credit score. They may counsel you on ways to head off future problems with any of your accounts, like paying down balances on any cards that are approaching the credit limit.

5. Opening up More Job Opportunities

More employers than ever utilize a credit check as part of the job application process. If you have lingering credit issues, you might be concerned that they are holding you back from achieving a more financially and personally rewarding position. Credit repair can help you attain your credit score goals faster than you would on your own. And that means you’ll be able to apply for jobs with a clean credit record — so that it doesn’t distract from the rest of your application.

Leave Credit Repair to the Pros

Most of us wouldn’t try to fix our own cars when the transmission is acting up. The same logic should hold true for your credit. When you are ready to seek out a credit repair service, consider the friendly team here at Ovation Credit. Hundreds of thousands of customers have reached out to us for a free consultation and ended up with higher credit scores and better credit lives. Learn more here.

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