Travel Often? Make Sure Your Credit Card Has These 6 Features

Americans are lucky to be offered hundreds of competing credit cards, but it can be difficult to find the right one to suit your needs. Therefore, it’s important to know what your spending habits are in order to choose the card that makes the most sense for you.

Cardholders who carry a balance should look for a card with the lowest interest rate, and possibly one with 0% APR introductory financing. A lower interest rate means you will pay less money toward interest charges as you pay down the balance. Meanwhile, those who can avoid interest charges by paying their balances in full every month should choose a card that offers the most valuable rewards in the form of points, miles or cash back.

Make sure you also generally meet the credit issuer’s criteria. It’s a good idea to know what your credit score is so that you can target your search to a card you’re more likely to get approved for.

You should consider any benefits offered by the card, such as purchase protection or travel insurance. Finally, applicants should also take into account any applicable fees — such as annual fees and foreign transaction fees.

Source: credit.com

The Dangers of Title Loans & Why You Should Avoid Them

A title loan is a form of short-term lending in which you give the title of your car as collateral in return for a loan. The lender gets authority to take your car as payment should you fail to pay the loan within the stipulated time.

The loan is payable as a lump sum, usually 30 days later or spread out in installments over a period of 3-6 months. A balloon payment is usually paid at the end of the loan term.

Title loans do not require a credit check or proof of income plus they can be processed super fast, you can literally walk in with your car title and walk out with cash. Sounds appealing right? Except they are not! If you are thinking of getting one, here are several reasons why you should steer clear of title loans.

You may Lose Your Car

Say No to Title LoansSay No to Title LoansThis is as plain as it sounds. When you put up your car as collateral for a loan, failure to repay gives the lender rights over your car. According to Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), 1 out of 5 cars used for title loans end up being repossessed.

This means that you have a 20% risk of losing your car with a title loan. How many aspects of your life will be affected by this?

You Risk Increasing the Cost of Borrowing for up to 3 Times your Initial Loan

The (APR), Annual Percentage Rate of title loans averages at 300%. APR translates to the amount of money in percentage that your loan will cost you if it was outstanding for a year.

If you are unable to pay your loan by the end of the loan term, you can have your car repossessed or request to have a roll-over. A roll-over translates to extended payment period at an extra fee.

With more amounts to pay now, you may have to keep on rolling over your loan. If you do it for up to a year, the accumulated cost of your loan in interest and rates can add up to 300% which translates to 3 times what you borrowed.

It Puts you into a Cycle of Debts

A Car Title Lending report by CFPB states that only 12% of title loan debtors are able to pay without renewing their loans. If you end up in the 88%, this means that you will have to either keep renewing your loan or opt to re-borrow in order to keep your car and pay either part or all of the accumulating debt.

CFPB also did an analysis on 3.5 Million single payment title loans given to more than 400,000 borrowers between 2010 and 2013. The report showed that 1 out of 3 borrowers defaulted. Of the remaining ones, 1 out of 3 renewed their loans up to 7 or more times.

The same analysis showed that loans that were re-borrowed on the same day that previous ones were repaid accounted for 83%. If you find yourself in such situations, you will be in caught up in a cycle of debts that goes on and on.

You might still be in Debt if your Repossessed Car fetches Less!

If you thought losing your car is the worst that can happen; you’ve got another thing coming! Before you are given the loan, your car is valued. Failure to pay leads to repossession after which it is put up for sale. There are instances when the car is sold for less than its value.

This can happen if the market value of the car goes down or if the lender fails to find a buyer who can buy it at the original price. They sell it to the highest bidder and in some states; you are required to assume the balance. On the other hand, if the car fetches more, you may not get the surplus depending on the state that you come from.

The Take Away

While taking a title loan is a decision you get to make on your own or as a family, it is important to weigh the risks against the benefits of such a decision. There must be a very good reason why 25 states have banned title loans. Be informed and make the right decision.

Source: creditabsolute.com

How to Maintain a Good Credit Score in College

College life brings a host of new and exciting experiences in the various aspects of your life. Financial independence and responsibility also come to play. While your achievements are important in putting you in your right career path, a good credit score is paramount in bettering the deals you will get when renting or buying a home, purchasing a car, getting a cellphone plan, applying for a student loan or in some instances, getting employment.

This calls on your effort to not only build but also maintain a good credit. It may sound complicated and intimidating especially when you don’t know how to go about it. Below, is all you need to know on how to maintain a good credit score in college.

Good Credit in CollegeGood Credit in College

Taking Advantage of your Parent’s Good Credit

This is commonly referred to as ‘piggybacking’. It allows people with bad or no credit to enjoy a spillover of other people’s good credit. It is a great way of establishing and maintaining your credit especially if you need a little help in managing your budget. For you to qualify for this, you have to become an authorized user of your parents’ accounts.

This comes in handy especially if you can’t get your own credit card; according to Oct 1st 2013 Credit Act report, students and other persons below 21 years of age cannot get their own credit cards without proof of income or at least a co-signer. Apart from the credit boost you get from your parent’s account, your credit card use is forwarded to credit bureaus in your name.

Get the Most Suitable Credit Card

Your ability to qualify for a credit card opens you to the opportunity to choose from a variety of cards. You should research and shop around to find out what these cards have to offer before making your choice. Some of the benefits to look out for include low interest rate, no annual fees, convenient credit limits and other competitive incentives.

Better still, you can opt for student credit cards. These come with incentives such as cashback rewards, limited credit history requirement, no annual fees and 0% introductory APR among other benefits. Your own credit card comes with sole responsibility. This means that it’s up to you to stay on top of your billing statements so as to improve and maintain a good credit

Always Pay your Credit Balance

Your payment history accounts for 35% of your credit. Good credit of course depends on timely and full payment of your balance. Inability to pay or late payment may attract additional interest, accrue more debt and negatively affect your credit.

This can take a long time to repair. Besides this, it is also a sign that you are living beyond your means. Ideally, your credit balance should be about 30% of your credit limit or below.

Tip: The higher your credit balance in relation to your limit is, the worse your credit becomes.

Pay your Bills on Time

Late or failed payment of rent, utility bills, parking tickets, library or school fees and other payments can harm your credit; especially is if they are sent to collection agencies and reported to credit bureaus. Ways of beating this include setting up payment reminders and electronic billing. You can also organize for auto payments with your bank to ensure that timely payments are done.

If you live in an apartment, you might get credit for full and timely payments. You can take advantage of eRentPayment which transfers your payment reports to the three major credit bureaus; Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. This consequently improves your credit. However, your landlord needs to be registered and the lease needs to be in your name.

Limit Applications and Inquiries for New accounts

Numerous credit inquiries negatively impact your credit score. In the event that you need to make new credit applications that warrant hard inquiries, concentrate them into period of 14 days in which they will factor as one inquiry.

Once you decide to get a credit account, get all the facts right to avoid the urge to close and open others every now and then. Short credit histories with several new accounts are seen as riskier compared to a few accounts with long credit histories. When you close a credit card, you not only lower your available credit but also shorten your credit history both of which can reduce your score.

In a Nut Shell

Maintaining a good credit score in college is important if you are going to get any good deals in personal credit in the future. This requires vigilance on your part to ensure that you do not do anything that can have negative impact on it. When all is said and done, it all comes down to personal financial responsibility.

Source: creditabsolute.com

3 Credit Cards to Help You Bar Hop Responsibly

Americans are lucky to be offered hundreds of competing credit cards, but it can be difficult to find the right one to suit your needs. Therefore, it’s important to know what your spending habits are in order to choose the card that makes the most sense for you.

Cardholders who carry a balance should look for a card with the lowest interest rate, and possibly one with 0% APR introductory financing. A lower interest rate means you will pay less money toward interest charges as you pay down the balance. Meanwhile, those who can avoid interest charges by paying their balances in full every month should choose a card that offers the most valuable rewards in the form of points, miles or cash back.

Make sure you also generally meet the credit issuer’s criteria. It’s a good idea to know what your credit score is so that you can target your search to a card you’re more likely to get approved for.

You should consider any benefits offered by the card, such as purchase protection or travel insurance. Finally, applicants should also take into account any applicable fees — such as annual fees and foreign transaction fees.

Source: credit.com

4 Credit Cards to Help Prepare for Your New Baby

Americans are lucky to be offered hundreds of competing credit cards, but it can be difficult to find the right one to suit your needs. Therefore, it’s important to know what your spending habits are in order to choose the card that makes the most sense for you.

Cardholders who carry a balance should look for a card with the lowest interest rate, and possibly one with 0% APR introductory financing. A lower interest rate means you will pay less money toward interest charges as you pay down the balance. Meanwhile, those who can avoid interest charges by paying their balances in full every month should choose a card that offers the most valuable rewards in the form of points, miles or cash back.

Make sure you also generally meet the credit issuer’s criteria. It’s a good idea to know what your credit score is so that you can target your search to a card you’re more likely to get approved for.

You should consider any benefits offered by the card, such as purchase protection or travel insurance. Finally, applicants should also take into account any applicable fees — such as annual fees and foreign transaction fees.

Source: credit.com

5 Mortgage Misconceptions Set Straight

Looking for a home loan? Get your facts straight so you can proceed with confidence.

Getting a mortgage can be a breeze or a slog, depending on what you know about the process. To get organized and set your expectations properly, let’s debunk some common mortgage myths.

1. Lenders use your best credit scores

If you’re applying for a mortgage jointly with a co-borrower, logic suggests that your lender would use the highest credit score between both of you.

However, lenders take the middle of three credit scores (from Equifax, TransUnion and Experian) for each borrower, and then use the lowest score between both borrowers’ “middle scores.”

So, if you had a middle score of 780, and your co-borrower had a middle score of 660, most lenders would qualify and approve you using the 660 credit score.

Rates are tied to credit scores, so in this example, your rate would be based on the 660 credit score, which would push your rate up significantly — or potentially even make you ineligible for the loan.

There are exceptions to this lowest-case-credit-score rule. Most notably, if you have the higher credit score and are also the higher earner, some lenders will allow your higher credit score on the file — but this is mostly for jumbo loans above $417,000.

Ask your lender about exceptions if you have credit score disparity between co-borrowers, but know that these exceptions are rare.

2. The rate you’re quoted is the rate you’ll get

Unless you’re locking in a rate at the moment it’s quoted, that rate quote can change. Rates are tied to daily trading of mortgage bonds, so most lenders’ rates change throughout each day.

Refinancers can often lock a rate when it’s quoted — as long as you’ve given your lender enough information and documentation to determine if you qualify for the quoted rate.

You typically receive a quote when you’re beginning your pre-approval process, but a rate lock runs with a borrower and a property. So until you’ve found a home to buy, you can’t lock your rate. And while you’re home shopping, rates will be changing daily, so you’ll need updated quotes from your lender throughout your home shopping process.

Rate quotes also come with an annual percentage rate (APR), which is a federally required disclosure that shows what your rate would be if all loan fees are incorporated into the rate.

This can make you think that APR is the rate you’ll get, but your loan payment will always be based on your locked rate, and the APR is just a disclosure to help you understand fees.

3. Fixed-rate mortgages are always better than adjustable-rate mortgages

After the 2008 financial crisis, many borrowers started preferring 30-year fixed loans. For good reason too: The rate and payment on a 30-year fixed loan can never change. But the longer the rate is fixed for, the higher the rate.

So before settling on a 30-year fixed, ask yourself this question: How long am I going to own this home (or keep the loan) for?

Suppose the answer is five years. If you got a five-year adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) instead of a 30-year fixed, your rate would be about .875 percent lower. On a $200,000 loan, you’d save $146 per month in interest by taking the five-year ARM. On a $600,000 loan, the monthly interest cost savings is $438.

To optimize your home financing, peg the loan term as closely as you can to your expected time horizon in the home.

4. Real estate agents don’t care which lender you use

A federal law enacted in 1974 called the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) prohibits lenders and real estate agents from paying each other fees to refer customers to each other. So as a mortgage shopper, you’re always free to use any lender you choose.

But real estate agents who would represent you as a buyer do care which lender you use. They’ll often suggest that you use a local lender who’s experienced with your area’s nuances, such as local taxation rules, settlement procedures and appraisal methodologies.

These areas are all part of the loan process and can delay or kill deals if a nonlocal lender isn’t experienced enough to handle them.

Likewise, real estate agents representing sellers on homes you’re interested in will often prioritize purchase offers based on the quality of loan approvals. Local lenders who are known and respected by listing agents give your purchase offers more credibility.

5. Mortgage insurance is always required if you put less than 20 percent down

Mortgage insurance is a lender-risk premium placed on many home loans when you’re putting less than 20 percent down. In short, it means your total monthly housing cost is higher. But you can buy a home with less than 20 percent down and avoid mortgage insurance.

The most common way to do this is with a combination first and second mortgage — often called a piggyback — where the first mortgage is capped at 80 percent of the home’s value, and the second mortgage is for the balance of what you want to finance.

Related:

Originally published January 12, 2016.

Source: zillow.com

COVID-19 Super Savers Need to Carefully Navigate in a Post-Pandemic World

A little over a year ago, COVID-19 hit the United States, altering the fabric of our daily lives and turning the average American’s personal finances upside down. Within weeks, 52% of all households slashed their spending.  From all the upheaval and radical change emerged a new generation of risk-averse, financially conservative people: Meet the super savers.

After COVID reached the United States, we saw a pronounced jump nationwide in the personal savings rate — the amount of people’s disposable income that gets saved or invested. For the last two decades that savings rate sat at just under 10%. In April of 2020 it exploded to 33.7%, more than three times its usual number, according to Federal Reserve data. 

Fast-forward to 2021. The pandemic continues to wreak havoc, and a staggering 61% of Americans say they are in danger of running out of their emergency savings. Super savers are on the opposite end of that spectrum. They are middle-class families who’ve embraced an aggressive level of precautionary saving, or they are people with high incomes who’ve seen their disposable expenses, like entertainment and travel, drop off drastically.   

There may be a light at the end of the tunnel for COVID-19: The current administration expects 300 million vaccines to be administered by the end of July. Things may be on their way back to normal, but where does that leave the super savers who’ve embraced extreme and unsustainable frugality? They had the luxury of an altered pandemic budget working in their favor, but when a sense of normalcy returns to our daily lives later this year, how will they cope?

Super savers will be faced with the opportunity to spend their new nest egg and may feel like they deserve to make up for lost time. When quarantines finally come to an end there will be infinite temptation. If super savers aren’t careful, the pendulum could swing the other way, paving the way for bad spending habits to emerge. They will need to sensibly allocate their funds ahead of time instead of falling into the trap of overindulgence.

Here are some practical tips to keep in mind as they move forward into a return to normalcy:

Don’t Stop Investing

We’ve experienced a high degree of societal turbulence over the last few months, which has bled into the long-term investment practices of so many Americans. Households guided by extreme frugality may have decreased their 401(k) contributions to have more liquid cash on hand. That’s a corner you can’t afford to cut. In the post-pandemic world, super savers must continue their long-term investment strategies. 

Despite a historic level of stock market volatility during the past few months, super savers should not let their hallmark level of risk adversity affect their willingness to invest. This year has been filled with incredible investment opportunities for those willing to embrace even a little risk. But for those geared toward frugality, the age-old advice holds true: Stay the course. Maintaining a solid investment portfolio is worth more than hanging onto your cash, and super savers are in an opportune position to ride out market instability.

Keep Your Debt Under Control

Too much extra cash on hand and nowhere to spend it? That’s the challenge facing super savers when COVID-19 subsides. It’ll be tempting for even the most frugal person to go on a spending spree; that’s human nature. Whether it’s a major home improvement, a new car or extra spending on entertainment, super savers will be hard-pressed to guard the nest egg they’ve built. 

With interest rates at all-time lows, now is the time to make those rates work for you. Look for ways to curb your existing debt —by refinancing your mortgage or seeking lower APR on your credit cards — instead of accruing new debt. 

Curb Extraneous Monthly Expenses 

COVID-19 transformed our homes from a simple living space into a hub for work, school and entertainment. Over the course of the pandemic, it’s been too easy to justify paying for dozens of streaming services, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime or HBO Max. 

As the world opens back up, it’s time to analyze the services you pay for and cut back where you can. As things like travel and entertainment expenses come back online, little recurring charges can add up without providing the same level of value that they previously did.    

Keep Your Budget Flexible and Plan for the Near Future

COVID-19 has made many households fiscally conservative by accident. Families with stable income and a lack of goods and services to spend it on might seem responsible on the surface, but quick and radical changes to personal finances can breed bad spending habits down the road. 

A more realistic budget is one that is flexible and geared toward the near future. When things return to normal, as they inevitably will, super saving patterns will no longer be feasible. To continue enjoying good financial health, avoid large impulsive purchases that further saddle your household with debt, and think about real world costs, such as child care, gas and food. Plan for the concrete and build in money for emergencies, but don’t hoard for a doomsday scenario. By adopting a solid and sensible budget now, super savers can avoid financial pitfalls when we all come back down to earth.   

Securities and investment advisory services offered through Royal Alliance Associates Inc., (RAA), member FINRA / SIPC. RAA is separately owned, and other entities and/or marking names, products or services referenced here are independent of RAA.

CEO and Co-Founder, Mint Wealth Management

For more than 18 years, Adam Lampe has helped high net-worth-individuals, affluent families, foundations and institutions work toward their financial goals through holistic financial planning. As the CEO & Co-Founder of Mint Wealth Management, he leads all development efforts within the firm. Alongside his extensive work serving clients, Adam also teaches retirement planning courses through Lone Star College and Prairie View A&M University satellite campuses around Houston.

Source: kiplinger.com