Credit Cards: What We Found in the Fine Print

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At the end of every monthly credit card statement, you’ll find text that outlines the terms of your agreement. This section defines the APR (annual percentage rate) and VR (variable rate) as well as the terms and conditions for using your card and more. For such “fine” print, it’s hardly light reading.

Important information about your credit line may be buried in the details. Consumers now have protections that shield them from unfair practices. For one, Congress introduced the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 (the “Credit CARD Act”) to control how and when companies collect credit card fees, apply interest rates, and more. Still, it’s possible for consumers to miss or misinterpret the agreement’s terms and rate information.

To better inform consumers, we pulled information from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s semi-annual survey of credit card plans. Are you really getting a deal with that zero-interest card? Read on to find out.

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Why don’t credit reports from different bureaus share the same score?

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If you have ever compared your credit reports from the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion), you probably noticed that they are not identical. Items that appear on one or two credit reports may not appear on the others. This is because the credit bureaus are separate entities that operate independently of one another. Creditors that report to one bureau may choose not to report to the other two bureaus. Some creditors may report updates to different bureaus at different times, or the bureaus may choose to update their files at different times, resulting in differences between credit reports.

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How Do Student Loans Affect My Credit Utilization?

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Debt utilization is a vital part of credit scoring and financial health. Also known as credit utilization, it accounts for 30 percent of your credit score, measuring your total debt compared with total credit limit. For example, suppose you have a credit card with a $10,000 limit and a $5,500 balance. Here’s how your ratio is calculated:

$5,500 balance/$10,000 limit=0.55 x 100 percent = 55% ratio

Consumers with FICO scores of 800 and above maintain utilization ratios of 25 percent or less. Low debt equals low risk and greater potential for credit score improvement.

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Quiz: Does Bad Credit Rule Your Life?

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The effects of bad credit can creep in slowly, causing damage, emotional stress and even legal trouble. Does bad credit rule your life? Take the quiz to find out.

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10 Ways Working From Home Can Boost Emergency Savings

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Telecommuting is a fast-growing trend in America’s workforce. By 2020, it’s estimated that at least 40% of employees will work from home at least part-time. In addition to benefitting from comfort and convenience, remote employment has the power to repair your credit as well. Emergency savings is a vital part of financial stability. Maintaining three-to-six months of savings allows you to:

  • Avoid relying on credit during a crisis
  • Recover from recent injury or employment loss without fear lost income and credit damage
  • Protect your credit score, current insurance rates and credit card interest rates

Although saving is difficult in an expensive world, telecommuting makes it easier by cutting a myriad of work-related expenses. If you are considering the work-from-home route, consider bulking up your savings in the process.

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What Not To Do When Disputing a Negative Item

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Your credit report and has become indispensable to your financial life. Your credit report is used to determine your credit worthiness. Your ability to get a loan for a home, to rent an apartment, to acquire insurance and even to become employed. It is therefore crucial that your credit report is fair, accurate and substantiated. What this means is that you credit report should fairly report the facts that comprise your financial life. These facts should be correct. The credit bureaus who report this information should have taken the time to make sure these facts are correct before they are reported. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Items are reported that oftentimes do not tell the whole story, are incorrect or have never been checked. In these cases we have a mechanism to remove these listings. This mechanism allows for you to dispute the information with the credit bureaus.      

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