Here’s How to Boost Your Credit after a Big Purchase Impacts Your Score

Before you make a major purchase, like a home or car, you’ve probably put a lot of thought into the process. You might have worked to make sure your credit is in the best shape possible before you apply for a loan. Perhaps you’ve shopped around and compared interest rates to make sure you’re getting the best deal available on financing. 

Yet there’s one factor that many borrowers forget to consider before taking out a large loan–the impact it will have on your credit score.

Why a Big Purchase Might Harm Your Credit Score

A recent study found that in the six months after getting a mortgage, credit scores may fall by about 20 points on average across the nation’s 50 largest metros. However, most borrowers also saw their credit scores rebound to their pre-loan starting points in less than a year.

According to Jacob Channel, senior economic analyst for LendingTree, the credit score change occurs because adding a new account with a large balance to your credit report increases your credit risk.

“Taking out a new mortgage usually causes a person’s score to decrease as it adds a large new balance to their credit report that they haven’t yet proven their ability to pay off,” says Channel. He adds that the combination of a larger debt and lack of evidence that the consumer can manage the new account may lead to more risk in the eyes of lenders and, in turn, lower credit scores as a result.

According to credit scoring firm FICO®, even refinancing a large loan could potentially impact your credit score in a negative way (though that’s not always the case).

Additional Credit Score Factors

Credit reporting agency Experian explains two additional reasons why a new mortgage might lower your credit score:

  • A new loan will decrease your average age of credit (a factor, among others, that influences 15% of your FICO® Score). 
  • The new hard credit inquiry from the mortgage might have a negative credit score impact as well, though this typically isn’t significant. 

Credit Score Recovery Can Take Time

Seeing your credit score drop after a major purchase can be frustrating, especially if you have plans to apply for other financing. Unfortunately, the credit score recovery cycle takes around 339 days on average.

Channel says that borrowers need time to prove to lenders that they’re able to handle their new debt, noting that “one of the main ways to do this is to make multiple, one-time payments, which is a time-consuming process.” 

It’s also important to consider the fact that there are delays between when a borrower makes a payment and when that payment actually shows up on their credit report. Because of this phenomenon, credit scores might remain low for a while even after the borrower has made several on-time loan payments.

As Experian points out, your credit score will only change when information on your credit report updates. 

How to Rebuild Your Credit Score after a Decline

Smart credit moves after taking out a new mortgage have the potential to help you rebuild your credit score–perhaps even faster than average. 

Channel notes that the best step you can take toward better credit after a mortgage is to pay your credit obligations on time. That advice applies not just to your new mortgage loan, but to your other debts as well. 

“The more payments a borrower makes on time, the less risky they’ll appear to lenders and the higher their score will be,” he says. 

In addition to on-time payments, you might consider paying down any outstanding credit card balances you owe. Credit utilization–the connection between your credit card limits and balances–can have a significant impact on your credit score.

As you pay down your credit card debt, your utilization rate should go down. That reduction can have a positive impact on your credit score.

Debt consolidation is one strategy that some people use to lower their credit utilization levels when they can’t pay off all of their credit card debt at once. The approach can be helpful in many situations, as long as you can avoid running up new balances on your original credit cards after you pay them off with a consolidation loan or balance transfer.

Bottom Line

If you’re planning to make a major purchase, it’s in your best interest to make sure your credit is in good shape. The higher your credit score, the better your approval odds may be, and you could even secure better interest rates and terms, too. 

Channel adds that good credit can also work in your favor after you close on a new loan. 

“The stronger a borrower’s initial credit score, the less damage something like a new mortgage is likely to do,” he says. “As a result, borrowers who work hard to boost their scores before they get a mortgage can usually better avoid some of the drawbacks a drop in their credit score could bring.” 


Life Insurance for Seniors: Tips on Getting the Best

  • Life Insurance

Life insurance is essential if you want to provide for your family after your death and don’t have substantial assets to leave them. It’s something that everyone should consider when they have dependents, but if you’re over the age of 60 those insurance premiums could cost more than you can afford and more than they’re worth.

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If you need seniors life insurance that doesn’t cost the earth and provides the benefits you need, keep these tips in mind.

Why is Seniors Life Insurance So Expensive?

Insurance is an industry built on statistics and probability. You’ve probably heard detractors refer to it as gambling, using this as a reason to refuse any form of life, travel or home insurance. To an extent, they’re right.

Just like a casino, an insurance company studies the numbers and tweaks the outcomes to ensure they always fall in their favor. A policy may award an individual $200,000 when they’ve only paid $20,000, but for every big loss there are many big gains, just as a jackpot win is offset by the countless players who walk away with nothing.

Insurance premiums are fixed based on a series of probabilities. Where life insurance is concerned, the underwriters will look at previous health conditions, genetic disorders, mental health history, drug/alcohol abuse and more, before determining how likely that individual is to cash-out the policy.

For instance, they know that smokers live 10 years less on average, and that heavy drinking and a sedentary lifestyle are two leading causes of preventable death. The average life expectancy in the US is around 78 to 79 years. If you’re purchasing a 30-year policy aged 40, and you’re a heavy smoker, recovering alcoholic who works as a writer, designer, or IT technician, and doesn’t exercise, you fall into all those demographics. 

There is a high probability that you will not make it to the end of the term, in which case you’re a high risk and may be charged higher premiums, offered a reduced term or denied a policy altogether.

As a senior, you’re high risk because you’re more likely to cash in the policy than someone aged 20, 30 or 40. As a result, many insurance companies may refuse to work with you while others will simply offer you expensive policies and limited terms. To get around this, you may need to work with specialist senior life insurance companies. 

Do you Need Seniors Life Insurance?

At the outset of this guide, we noted that life insurance was essential if you have dependents and no assets. That “if” is key here, because with those things, it becomes less of a concern. It would certainly benefit your family more to have a cash payout on your death, but there is no guarantee and without that guarantee you could be paying into a policy that never pays out, thus taking valuable money from your pocket and your estate.

Life insurance should be considered for seniors who:

  • Have a mortgage to repay
  • Don’t have sizeable cash reserves or assets
  • Are the main breadwinner
  • Have debts

That final point is important, because if you have lots of debt then it won’t matter if you have assets because the debt could take them away. As discussed in our guide to what happens to your money when you die, your debt will be passed onto your estate (and if you live in a Community Property Estate, it could be passed onto your spouse). 

Prioritization will be declared, and tax debt will be placed at the top of the pile, after which all unsecured creditors can collect their pound of flesh.

If your debts are greater than the value of your estate, you could lose everything, assuming those debts are not forgiven upon your demise (as is the case with most student loan debt). At that point, your family will have nothing.

In this scenario, life insurance is essential. It’s also important to assign beneficiaries, ensuring that the money goes to them and not to the estate.

If your mortgage hasn’t been repaid in full and is passed onto your estate, your heirs will either need to continue making those payments or repay in full (either in cash or by selling the house). If there are additional debts that do not exceed the sum of the estate, these will be repaid, and your heirs will get what’s left.

Therefore, when calculating whether you need seniors life insurance, you need to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I live in a Community Property State? (includes Louisiana, California, Washington, Idaho, Nevada, Wisconsin, New Mexico, and Arizona).
  • Do I owe a lot on my mortgage?
  • Will my heirs struggle to pay for my funeral?
  • Are my debts greater than my assets?
  • Will I leave my heirs with substantial debts and obligations?

If your answers are negative, life insurance is an optional extra. It’s something that we recommend looking into, but not something you should commit to if you can’t find a suitable deal. 

If you answered yes to most of these questions and you don’t have an existing policy, it’s worth doing all you can to acquire life insurance or to find another means of supporting your family after you’re gone.

Options for Senior Life Insurance

Unlike whole life policies, which are designed to pay out substantial sums of money in the event the policyholder dies, senior’s life insurance is often designed to payout relatively small sums. 

There are typically two options for seniors seeking the protection of life insurance:

Funeral and Burial Insurance

Funerals are expensive and can cost upwards of $10,000 if you want a burial with a premium casket and all the trimmings. That’s a lot of money for your heirs to handle, but it’s something that funeral and burial insurance can cover.

Funeral and burial insurance can either be purchased through an agent or through an insurance company. In the first instance, you can make the funeral home your beneficiary, which allows you to arrange and plan your own funeral in advance, knowing that the costs will be covered and your loved ones won’t have to deal with the stress of planning and paying for a funeral while grieving.

In the second instance, everything is arranged through an insurance company and the money goes to your heirs. There is no prerequisite stating that this money must be used to pay for your funeral, but you can prepare instructions for when you pass.

Generally, these policies cost anywhere from $10 to $100 a month, depending on how much coverage you want. We recommend looking at some catalogs and discussing with funeral homes to discover how much your desired funeral will cost before applying for this insurance.

Term Life Insurance

Whole life insurance is rare for seniors due to the high risk involved. As the name suggests, whole life insurance is designed to be paid for the whole of your life, at the end of which there will be a payout. The alternative is known as term life insurance and is fixed over a specific period.

This way, there is a chance that you won’t die during the term, which means the insurance company doesn’t have to payout, reducing the risk and the costs and allowing them to offer you some favorable terms.

Term life insurance for seniors typically begins at age 60 (if you’re younger, you can apply for traditional term life insurance). Many insurance companies will stop providing these plans when you hit 75, at which point the liability is too high. 

You pay a fixed sum of money every month for a predefined term, often 10 or 20 years. The insurance company will then pay out an amount if you die during that term. As an example, a healthy 60-year-old applicant on a 10-year term can expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $150 a month with a $250,000 payout. 

As soon as you include previous and existing health conditions into the mix, those premiums increase. You’ll also pay a lot more for a 20-year term as that will take you to 80 years old.

The Best Life Insurance Policies for Seniors

Here for a few options to consider for seniors life insurance. But don’t just take our word for it. Do some research of your own, get as many quotes as you can, and choose the best one only when you’re absolutely satisfied that you’re getting the best deal.

Haven Life

With Haven Life, you can begin your cover up to your 65th birthday. The application process is quick and simple and it’s one of the cheapest options around for seniors, with term policies costing between $50 and $100 a month on average. If you’re 59 or younger, you don’t even need a medical exam for your cover to be finalized.

Haven Life policies are underwritten by MassMutual, an insurer that has existed for over 160 years.

AIG Life

One of the biggest insurers in the United States is also one of the cheapest for seniors. You can get up to $25,000 without the need for a medical exam. This is offered to all applicants aged between 50 and 85, with payouts that begin at just $5,000.


Transamerica offers a final expense policy, which provides a cash sum to be used for funeral expenses and other costs. This ranges from $5,000 to $50,000 and there are multiple policy options aimed at applicants up to the age of 85.

Mutual of Omaha

Although the costs can be a little higher and the options fewer, Mutual of Omaha offers coverage up to $100,000 without the need for a medical. This is rare and will come as a welcome relief to countless applicants who don’t want the additional stress and worry of a medical exam. 

What’s more, Mutual of Omaha will release part of your benefit in the event of a terminal or chronic illness.

New York Life

Apply for a policy that lasts for between 5 and 20 years and get a death benefit paid to your family when you die. There are many policy options to add and remove and very respectable premiums and payouts.

Summary: When to Apply for Seniors Life Insurance

The sooner you apply, the greater your options will be. Whether you’re 29 or 59, if you need life insurance then now is a good time to apply. A single year can make a massive difference the older you get, potentially adding tens of dollars to your monthly premiums and reducing your chances of getting the payout you seek.

As soon as you have dependents, bills, and responsibilities, look into getting a whole life or extended-term life insurance.


Using Rebuilding Credit Cards to Rebuild Your Credit Score

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How do you start to rebuild your credit when you can’t get approved for a line of credit in the first place?

Let’s use this as a scenario: A consumer takes out a reasonably-sized loan. Maybe it’s for school, maybe for a house, maybe to start a small business. They make their payments on time and their debt slowly starts to dissolve.

Then, something bad happens.

Whether it’s a medical emergency or some other personal disaster, the borrower is no longer in a position to make their payments. They scrape and scramble to pay what they can, but their credit score continues to tank. When the dust settles, they can’t even get approved for a credit card.

This story is all too common, and the way forward isn’t always clear.

But a secured credit card might be able to help.

Whether you have a rocky credit history or have yet to establish one, a secured credit card is a great way to safely raise your score over time. Here’s what you need to know about how they work and how to use them.

Use the links below to skip ahead or read end-to-end for a comprehensive take on secured credit cards.

What Is a Secured Credit Card?

A secured credit card is halfway between a traditional unsecured credit card and a prepaid debit card. The main difference between the two is that issuers who provide secured credit cards require a cash deposit to act as collateral before giving out the card.

The deposit must usually be the same amount as the credit limit. For instance, if you get a card with a $200 credit limit you’ll have to deposit $200 of your own money. Sometimes you might qualify for a card with a deposit less than the credit limit, but it’s not very common.

Just like a security deposit pays for any damages you might incur while renting an apartment, a secured credit card deposit reassures the credit card company that you won’t run up a balance and then default on your payments.

Borrowers typically take out secured credit cards because their credit isn’t good enough to qualify for “normal” credit cards, or because they don’t have any credit history. A normal or unsecured credit card generally requires a score of 600 or more, and a score of 700 or higher is usually necessary for a first-rate cash back or travel rewards card.

Keep in mind, there are many options you can take advantage of if you’re still building your credit (in addition to secured credit cards). Student credit cards for example, are credit cards offered to current college students generally at lower credit limits and interest rates than a regular credit card.

How Can I Make the Best Use of a Secured Credit Card to Build My Credit Rating?

Building a credit score can be a bit of a catch-22. To build your credit, you need to apply and be approved for credit—but to be approved, you need good credit already.

That’s where secured credit cards come in. They report your activity to all three credit bureaus, allowing your credit to improve as you use the card. Since card providers ask for a deposit, they’re protected in case you stop making payments. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Many consumers get prepaid cards and secured credit cards confused with one another, but they act very differently. Prepaid cards are more like gift cards or debit cards than credit cards, and using them won’t help you establish a solid credit history like secured cards do. Prepaid cards also tend to charge excessive fees when you reload the card, withdraw cash, or pay your bills online.

Building credit with a secured credit card isn’t difficult. All you need to do is make one or two transactions on it every month, pay off the balance when the bill comes, and watch your credit score rise.

Here’s an easy way to use a secured card responsibly: pick a recurring monthly bill that doesn’t make up more than 30% of your credit limit and put it on the secured card. As long as you don’t use the card for anything else, this will keep you consistently under the 30% credit utilization limit needed to improve your credit score.

For example, if you have a $200 credit limit and your monthly cell phone bill is $50 a month, that’s below the 30% mark. Pay your cell phone bill with the secured card every month and wait for the billing statement to be issued. Then, pay the secured card bill.

After a few months of paying your bills on time, the credit card issuer may automatically offer you a traditional credit card and return your deposit to you. You can also call and ask them to convert the card to a normal one. Depending on your previous credit history, this may only take a few months.

Once you get a normal credit card, continue the same pattern. Pay a few bills with it, wait for the statement to come, and then pay off the total balance.

To see if the secured card is working, check your credit score once a month. You can find your credit score for free through your Mint account, and you can request a free copy of your credit report from each of the three credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – through You’re entitled to a free copy of your credit report once a year, so most experts recommend checking your credit report every quarter with one of the three credit bureaus.

Some secured credit cards provide a free credit score as a special feature, including Capital One and First National Bank.

Where Can I Get a Secured Credit Card?

If a secured credit card seems like a viable option for your financial situation, you’ll be glad to know you have plenty of choices when it comes to finding credit cards for rebuilding credit. Many major banks offer secured credit card programs including:

  • Bank of America
  • Capital One
  • Citi
  • Discover
  • USAA
  • U.S. Bank
  • Wells Fargo 

Do all banks offer secured credit cards?

Not all banks offer secured credit cards, but those that do all have their own way of structuring their card agreements—so it’s important to know how to compare your options.

How to Compare Secured Credit Cards

Like normal credit cards, every secured credit card has its own fees, interest rates, and perks. Here are the criteria to use when comparing different secured cards.

What kind of charges will there be?

Interest rate or APR

Each card has a unique interest rate or APR that can vary depending on your credit history. Secured cards usually have higher APRs than traditional credit cards. The interest rate only matters if you don’t pay off the entire balance when it’s due, so ignore this if you’re a responsible borrower.

Annual fee

Some secured cards will charge you a nonrefundable annual fee, ranging from $29 to $99. Not every card has an annual fee, so if possible you should apply for ones that don’t.

Late fee

Each card has its own schedule, but most fees are between $25 and $35. You can avoid these easily by paying on time every month or setting up auto-pay.

Foreign transaction fees

If you love to travel, you probably know that using a credit card abroad can result in unnecessary fees. Before you sign up for a secured card, check their policy on foreign transaction fees. Most charge the standard 3% foreign transaction fee, but a few, like Discover it® Secured, don’t.

Other factors to consider

Cash-back or other rewards

Almost every credit card these days offers cash-back or points when you use the card. It’s less common for a secured card to provide perks, but a few offer cash-back, like Discover it® Secured. Most secured cards at least give free travel accident insurance, rental car coverage, and fraud protection.

Security deposit

The required security deposit is unique for each card. Most ask that you put down an amount equal to the credit limit, but some cards give you the option of putting down less. This special option is only available if you don’t have a terrible credit history. The security deposit will be returned when you close the account unless you’re behind on payments.

Credit limit

The credit limit on secured cards is generally low, usually with a max of $200 to $300. There are exceptions to the rule, such as the First National Bank Secured Visa® Card with a $5,000 credit cap.

Takeaways: Secured Credit Cards

Whether you’re looking for credit cards for rebuilding credit or cards that will help you establish a credit history in the first place, secured credit cards are a great option to consider. When comparing secured credit card offers, be sure to review each credit agreement to ensure you’re making a decision that makes the most sense for you.

Learn more about security

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