Slow and steady choices build a credit score

by Shelton on May 19th, 2014

filed under Credit Scores

Driving back from the grocery store the other day, I spotted one of those clear-up-your-credit-score-quick signs that dot the corners of major roads.

As eye catching as the brightly colored signs are, of course, grabbing financial advice off the street is one way to pay high fees for something you can find for free. Or you might pay outlandish sums for services that you can do yourself.

The good news for consumers is that extra help regarding credit scores and credit reports is now available from a variety of sources. Unfortunately, many consumers still arent sure where to look or they dont want to be bothered.

More than half of consumers surveyed — 58% — didnt even know their credit score, according to a report the American Bankers Association released last fall.

Many times, consumers start caring about a score when a lender tells us that we dont qualify for a low rate on a major loan because of a low score. Unlike what signs on the road imply, there isnt a quick fix for boosting a credit score. But educational information can offer a realistic plan of attack.

Everybody wants the What Next? button, said Ian Cohen, CEO of

So has new personalized action plans to help consumers figure out what they can do to raise their credit scores. One strategy? Start paying more than the minimum required payment on credit cards to lead to lower balances and possibly raise the score.

Detroit-based, a provider of free credit reports and scores, offers free tools that used to be part of a premium package. No purchase or credit card is required.

We provide credit comparison, credit trending, a score analysis, and a credit time line that shows how your personal credit was built over time, said Todd Albery, CEO of Quizzle.

In January, Quizzle started a partnership with Equifax, Vantage Score and Now, Quizzle offers a completely free credit report from Equifax and a Vantage 3.0 Credit Score.

A score alone does not give consumers a full understanding of their credit health, Albery said. And thats where online advice can help.

Albery compares seeing ones credit score to being in high school and finding out you got a 76% on a geometry test. But what if you never saw what questions you got wrong on the actual test? How would you find ways to improve?

Finding out your credit score wasnt always as easy or simply as free as seeing a grade on a test. Now, though, some consumers are finding access to free credit scores via their credit card statements and online accounts, too.

Discover rolled out free, three-digit FICO scores on monthly statements for its card members after a test run last year. Barclays is offering free FICO scores to its cardholders, too, via their online accounts.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is turning up the heat on card issuers to release more credit score information.

The push for free credit scores is leading some online outfits to boost their offerings, as well.

Cohen, of, said the goal of the personal action plan is to help consumers solve real problems by learning strategies in as few clicks as possible.

Cohen walked me through the new program online and showed how a consumer can easily slide gadgets on the computer screen to figure out whats driving down their score. Is it their payment history? High debt? Mix of accounts?

Its enough to get people to act, Cohen said.

Sometimes, the strategy could involve taking steps to pay down more credit card debt and other debt to drive up the score.

Take a consumer who owes $2,562 on their credit card bills. It might not seem like a horrible amount of credit card debt. But if the credit limits on those cards is around $6,000 all that debt is driving down the score. The consumer in this example is using nearly 43% of their available credit — when a better score could be reached if one used only 10% of available credit.

Paying an extra $175 to $300 a month toward that credit card balance could drive up some scores 20 points to 35 points soon.

Other consumers could end up being warned that they dont want to apply for more credit right now. They might want an on-the-spot discount in a store but they could be driving up the cost of their overall borrowing on other loans because theyve applied for too much credit lately.

Driving a credit score higher, of course, can lead to lower interest rates when one does take out a loan and then push down the cost of borrowing over the long run. notes that even a so-so credit score can cost some consumers more than $103,000 in extra financing costs over a lifetime.

The data we pull on you is all yours. Here take it, Cohen said.

Follow Susan Tompor on Twitter @Tompor.

Three Top Credit Consolidation Loan Companies In Maryland, Announced by …

by Shelton on May 19th, 2014

filed under Debt Consolidation

Annapolis, MD (PRWEB) April 11, 2014

Consumers who have a lot of debt in the state of Maryland can always find debt help if they wish to hire a professional to help them out. But the problem is, there are debt relief scammers out there who prey on the desperate. This is why reviewed the debt relief companies in the state to provide residents of Maryland with a reliable point of reference.

The reviewers of the website looked over several companies offering credit consolidation loan programs and ranked them according to three vital categories. The first is about the debt solutions that is being offered to clients. The second involves the reasonable fees being charged to them. The third is the level of customer satisfaction that the clients feel after the program.

Of all the companies reviewed by Best Debt Consolidation Loans, the top three companies are revealed to be National Debt Relief, CuraDebt and American Debt Enders.

National Debt Relief got a 5 star rating because of their custom debt solution. Anyone who has a debt of $7,500 or more are carefully reviewed in terms of their debt and financial situation. Even the type of debt and the creditor of the client is taken into consideration when creating a debt payment plan. This makes the debt solutions of National Debt Relief very effective. This is one of the many reasons why they have consistently received an A rating with the Better Business Bureau. That proves that they have a very high customer satisfaction rating. In fact, they have a no cancellation fee policy that will let any consumer terminate the contract anytime – without any penalties.

CuraDebt is second on the list with 4 stars. The reviewers of Best Debt Consolidation Loans were impressed by how this company have been in the industry for a long time. With a debt of $10,000 or more, this company also offer custom debt solutions to their clients. Thanks to their long tenure in the industry, they have developed a respectable working relationship with various credit card companies. This makes them a great representative when it comes to negotiating credit card debt. They do not only help with credit cards, they can also help with tax debts, student loans and other defaulted credit accounts.

American Debt Enders is the third company that made it on the list of Best Debt Consolidation Loans. They got a 4 star rating because of a high customer satisfaction rating. Apparently, working with them is one of the best experience because of their friendly, honest and compassionate debt experts. With a debt of $5,000 or more, consumers can avail of their service that can even extend to credit repair should they wish to avail of it. If consumers from Maryland are interested in what they have to offer, they simply have to visit their website to find the details that they need to know. The website of American Debt Enders is well built to answer the basic questions of consumers about debt relief.

Best Debt Consolidation Loans encourage the residents of Maryland to do more research about these companies if they wish to hire anyone of them. That way, they can scrutinize them further to determine if they are perfect for their specific debt situation.

To read the full review on the three companies, visit the website of Best Debt Consolidation Loans.

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Free credit scores grow in popularity, but what is it really costing you?

by Shelton on May 19th, 2014

filed under Credit Scores

CLEVELAND, Ohio — For most of your life, it was almost impossible for you to find out your
credit score.

Disclosure became reality in 2001, if you were willing to pay $8 or $10
every time you requested it.

Today, credit card issuers and other companies are falling all over
themselves to offer you your credit score totally free. While credit reports must be provided free once a year by law, the bureaus can and do charge to show you your score.

But pretty soon, it will be fairly easy for you to learn your credit score
at no charge, perhaps as often as every month. But consumers should be careful
about whom they give their personal information and what the cost of the score
is, even if its not monetary.

Before giving a Social Security number and other information to someone
who promises a free credit score, consumers must do their homework, said Eva Velasquez, president of
the national nonprofit Identity Theft Resource Center in California.

consumers must find out whom their information will be shared with and what
terms theyre agreeing to, she said.

consumers must learn why the company is willing to give them their credit score
at no charge.

is anything free, Velasquez said.
Someone has to pay for it. That is how the world works.

scores are a hot piece of information. Your score is determined by plugging
your credit history into a mathematical formula. Factors such as how you pay
your bills, how much money you owe and even whether youve ever had a car loan
(never having one might hurt your total) go in to the calculation. Scores range from 300 to 850; higher is better.

histories for some 200 million US consumers are maintained electronically by
three major national credit bureaus.

How important is your score? It can determine whether you are approved for a
loan or credit card and what interest rate you pay, whether an auto insurer
accepts you as a customer and what your premium will be, and whether a
landlord will agree to rent to you.

credit bureaus used to ferociously guard credit scores and even sued companies
for telling customers what their scores were.

There are two possibilities emerging for free

1. A
few credit card companies are starting to provide it to customers at no charge
on their monthly statement.

2. Independent companies such as Credit Karma and are working out
deals with one or more of the credit bureaus so they can provide accurate
credit scores to consumers, in exchange for advertising revenue they gain from
companies who want to reach consumers meeting different profiles.

A few credit card companies such as Discover Card have been trendsetters by
providing customers with their updated FICO credit score on their statement
every month. Discover began the practice late last year and all Discover
customers were getting their score monthly by March. FICO scores are calculated
by Fair Isaac Corp. and are the most popular measure of credit worthiness and
are the scores most commonly used by lenders.

executives say they want to differentiate themselves from other creditors and
create loyalty. Discover also wants to educate customers about how to manage
their credit well, so that theyre more likely to be able to pay their bills on

an early adopter is First Bankcard, which holds
many credit card accounts for Ohio Savings and other
banks. First Bankcard also started
providing credit scores to customers on their monthly statements last fall.
Also provided are information about the factors contributing to their scores
and recommendations to improve it.

Bankcard, which is a division of First National Bank of Omaha, issues cards for
more than 400 financial institutions and does co-branding and affinity cards
for companies such as and Sheetz Inc.

is another large creditor that jumped in
late last year to offer FICO scores to all customers.

The credit card
companies already have your personal information and have access to your credit
score. They may be the best place to get your score, said Jay Seaton, a
personal finance expert who retired last winter as president of Consumer Credit
Counseling Service of Northeast Ohio.

I continue to
think that knowledge of your report contents and scores, if you can get bothfor
free, is the No. 1 step to take to gain control of your finances and begin to
build wealth, Seaton said.

Seaton said he
recommends that if someone is considering getting a new credit card anyway, she
should apply for a Discover Card – because of the free monthly credit score and
reputation of the company.

You can expect to see more creditors flocking to offer credit scores
because of competition and because the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau two
months ago notified the nations largest credit card companies that theyre
being urged to do the same.

The CFPB, one of the large financial regulators, reasons that credit
scores are a critical piece of information for a persons financial health. Further,
between October 2012 and Feb. 1, 2014, the CFPB fielded roughly 31,000
complaints from consumers who were aggravated by something the credit bureaus
did or didnt do.

About 75 percent of the complaints concerned information in credit files
that consumers said was inaccurate. The
errors ranged from debts reported as delinquent when they werent and
information belonging to other people in their files.

Other complaints stemmed from a credit bureau failing to investigate a
complaint about inaccurate information and their frustration with trying to get
copies of their credit report or credit score.