Children and credit cards.  How to stay out of debt.

Tweens Teens and Credit Cards

Is your teen ready for a credit or debit card?  Financial education should begin as a very young age.  Don’t wait for your child to go away to college to learn about money management, credit and budgeting.  He or she should have a good concept about this before they pack their bags.  By all means, don’t arm your children with credit cards and no idea on how to handle it.  Understanding how credit works will help them avoid the trap of revolving credit.  Credit card companies are in the business of making money and keeping you in debt.

What to teach your teen:

  • What is a credit score.
  • How does credit affect me.
  • How do I keep tabs on my credit.
  • How do I protect my credit.
  • How to stay out of debt.
  • Don’t charge for items that you don’t have the money to pay for.
  • Don’t buy what you don’t need.  Credit means debt.  Debt means money that you will have to pay someone until you pay it off.
  • Help your child learn to save for what they want.  This is important to start at a very early age.
  • Teach and assist your child to set a standard for automatic saving.  Like 1/3 allowance and 1/2 of all birthday gifts.
Teaching your tween and teen responsible credit and budgeting.
Teaching your tween and teen responsible credit and budgeting.

As our children are growing up it is imperative that we teach them to be responsible with their finances.  Your teenager is more mobile and you may find that it’s important that they have access to funds in case of emergency or otherwise.  There are  options and a parent needs to consider if their child is responsible enough to be in control of a credit or debit card.  Let’s look over some of the different options to help in making a decision.

 

 

1.  Prepaid cards are a hybrid breed.  Just because it is called a prepaid credit card and works like a credit card does not make it a credit card.  These are cards that are reloadable and works like a debit card.  You choose the amount that you want to load on the card, use it like a debit card and it deducts the amount from your balance.  You can then reload and continue to use.  Being that these cards are associated with major credit card networks, American Express, Visa, Mastercard, these prepaid cards can be used anywhere the major credit cards can be used, whether it’s to purchase groceries, shopping at the mall, paying bills, or online shopping.  This card is ideal for tweens and teens.  No worry for over-drafting checking accounts or being accessed over-the-limit fees with credit cards.  Prepaid cards are an alternative to banks.  There are millions of people that do not want to use banks or traditional credit.  Although these cards are not connected to a checking account, it still allows you to things that require a credit card, such as rent a car or book a hotel room.  With many teens with a part-time job, cards even come with a checking and routing number so that a teen could have their check directly deposited onto the card.  Many prepaid cards offer features to be able to access funds at an ATM.  You also have the option of loading their allowance on the card.  Prepaid fees.  Be prepared to be charged with fees with a prepaid card. Each prepaid card comes with it’s own fee structure. Be sure and find a card that best fits your needs.  You are protected.  Prepaid cards offer the same theft and loss protection that major credit cards offer.  Which makes this a pretty safe bet.

Children and credit cards.  How to stay out of debt.
Children and credit cards. How to stay out of debt.

2.  Store card / major credit card.  While credit cards have a credit limit and you are able to use the card until the limit is exhausted.  Credit card companies may extend additional credit at a cost of an over-the-limit fee.  Eve with a credit card, it is important to keep tabs on your spending.  With interest rates charges it may become very difficult to get out of debt.  No one wants to head off to college in credit card debt and parents should not be left to clean up their teens out of control spending.  Choosing between a store card or credit card may be a challenge when trusting your tween or teen to spend sensible and not send you soaring into uneeded debt.  If you feel that your teen has not shown financial responsibility with their money and allowance, then you may want to rethink handing them a card to carry on a full-time basis.  You may choose to allow them to use the major credit card on a temporary basis and for particular purposes and allowing the to view the invoices and pay the payments.  Also educated them to understand the reality of charging and paying with money they earn from their job or allowance.  Although there are fees for reloadable prepaid cards, there are over-the-limit fees for many credit cards.  Just being charged one $39 over-the-limit fee is a large amount compared to prepaid card fees.

Teens learn from their parents money management.  By gradually graduating their freedom to using your credit cards you will be able to build good spending habits and trust.

So while there are differences in choosing a card, education and holding your teen responsible for their spending is the answer.   

 

 

Got the Monday Blues? ( a tribute to my friend Lisa Crouse)

That’s right, today is Wednesday, but believe it or not millions of people have a “Monday phobia”.  It’s brought on by many reasons.  Difficult to cover all those reasons since I really don’t know them all, but I do know that people dread waking up, getting up and/or going to their workplace on MONDAYS!!  It’s a drag and many people would rather have the hangover they had the prior week-end than to have to face the reality of the week or the so-called “rat race”.

Many people just hate to work.  Me, on the other hand, I love to work.  I’ve even worked for a company for free. Yes, you heard it right..  I asked to intern.  I wanted to learn more and I showed up 3 to 4 days a week, working approximately 20 hours a week.  But, that’s another story.

I just don’t understand, for the most part, why so many people don’t enjoy their jobs or better yet, any job.  Seems like having too much idle time would get mundane after a week or so. Or, at least it does for me.  But that’s another story. So back to Wednesday.  It’s HUMP DAY.  You know, that day you have been waiting for, that shouts that the week-end is so near.  Not really sure why the week-end is supposed to be so much better than Monday through Friday, but for many people it’s the time they can mentally check out, party with their friends, lay on the couch and watch television, recover from the hang-over headache, kids sports, just dedicated time with family and for all the other activities there is Mastercard. So while I do understand that the week-ends or our days off from work, play a significant importance in our life and thus creating memories, I believe that our society misses the importance that work plays in the fabric of our beings and who we are.  Even when one enjoys their career I still can’t help but notice they regularly anticipate those two days they don’t have to be employed.

You may be wondering what has caused the bee in my bonnet.  Well that bee has been there many years.  Back to the reason at hand.  My good friend, Lisa Crouse, was laid to rest yesterday, May 12, 2015 less than one month after her 50th birthday.  She and I are the same age and met through mutual friends in 2004.  Although she lived in Gulf Shores, Alabama and I live in east of Birmingham, Alabama, we were able to meet up a couple of times when I was in her area and they visited Birmingham on a regular basis as part of the Jeremiah Castille Foundation as ministry partners. Lisa had a beautiful spirit, a dedicated and wonderful husband, Drew Crouse, and two talented and beautiful grown daughters.  She gave so much and I am blessed to have not only have known her, but more than that, we were friends. I can’t help but to believe that she would love and cherish another Monday here among us, with her husband, her children, church friends, and at the very least, just to get to do a job.  Monday’s would mean the world to Lisa, Drew and their family and friends.  Wow!  All the plans they would be making for a wonderful Monday. They would not be dreading Monday’s.  In fact, their last week-end was her spent in the hospital, fighting for her life.

If there is one thing I could encourage you to do is love life, love people and love each day of the week.  Each day is a gift, given to us by our heavenly Father.  Think of each day of the week as a “The Parable of the Talents” in Matthew 25. Although that was speaking of money, let’s equate it to days of the week.  Each one of us have been blessed with so many years, weeks and days in our life.  Some have been blessed with years, some with weeks and some with days, while many only receive hours or seconds.  Regardless, it’s what we do with it that matters.

Lisa blessed others.  She was given 50 years, 9 days, 4 hours and 55 minutes.  During that time, she loved God, her husband, her children and her family and friends. I will be forever affected with her infectious laugh and smile. Remember, that when you aren’t looking forward to next week there is an alternative escape route, but for most people, you would not choose it.  Love life, love God!  Find a way to be re-energized.  The reality of it is your perspective regarding life.  When you minutes are over and your funeral is finished, what will the Master say to you.  “Well done?” or “Depart from me”?

The life of Lisa Crouse
The life of Lisa Crouse

lisa letter  A note written by Lisa Crouse.

Thinking of filing BANKRUPTCY?

There may be a different option than filing Bankruptcy.  We offer #free, no obligation credit evaluations to determine if there is an option to avoid Chapter 7 or Chapter 13.  You may have already filed Bankruptcy in the last 10 years and find that this option is not available to you.

You may find yourself dreading to answer the phone and even opening the mailbox.  We at Kirkpatrick & Associates are educated in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.  These laws are set up to protect consumers, but consumers often times are not aware of them and thus doesn’t know how to use them.  We can help.

The following is important information that you need to know if you plan to file 7 or 13.  Remember, this will have a great impact on your credit and credit scores for many years.

If you have already filed Bankruptcy, and have been dismissed, we can help you rebuild your credit.  Tired of renting and want to purchase a home.  We can assist in rebuilding your credit and make this possible.

Bankruptcy іs а legal status оf а person оr оthеr entity thаt саnnоt repay thе debts іt owes tо creditors.  The bankruptcy laws are intended to provide an honest, but unfortunate debtor an opportunity for a “fresh start.” However bankruptcy is not a free ride.

Personal bankruptcy іs а legal wау tо gіvе people wіth overwhelming debt а fresh financial start. Маnу people dо nоt realize thаt thеrе аrе fіvе types оf bankruptcy options аvаіlаblе undеr thе U.Ѕ. Bankruptcy Code.  Most consumers don’t realize thеrе аrе rеаllу оnlу twо viable options; Chapter 7 аnd Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Іn а nutshell, mоst individuals аnd married couples hаvе twо types оf bankruptcy undеr thе Bankruptcy Code, Chapter 7 оr Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. While you can receive a discharge through Chapter 7, there are various differences in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13.

Federal Bankruptcy
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

While Bankruptcy may seem to be the answer to overwhelming debt, medical bills and phone calls from debt collectors, we at Kirkpatrick & Associates may be able to help you #avoid this.  There is never a charge to find out if we can help you.  Our credit report evaluations are absolutely free and regardless of the outcome, there is no obligation. 

To help you understand  the difference in Bankruptcy I will explain:

Chapter 7

Basics: Will discharge most types of unsecured debt.  The trustee will sell any significant nonexempt property in order to repay your creditors.

Time Frame:  Takes three to four months to complete.

Property:  Keep all or most of your property. Petitioners with significant equity or assists that are not exempt by law could lose them to satisfy some debts.  Meeting with a Bankruptcy attorney is a great way to get a better understanding of how this will affect your assets.

Your income:  If you are in a high income bracket you may not be eligible for Chapter 7.

Homeowners / Foreclosures:  Chapter 7 can temporarily stop foreclosure.  Unless you can get current on your mortgage, the foreclosure will eventually continue.

Eligibility:  Chapter 7 is available to those with income less than the median of their state, or if you can pas the means test.

Filing Complexity:  Filing Chapter 7 involves preparing a large set of forms and navigating some tricky legal issues.  Simple cases can be done pro se.  (PRO SE – without hiring an attorney)

Chapter 13

Basics:  You repay your creditors, some in full and some in part through a repayment plan set up through the court.

Time Frame: Payment plan lasts three or five years, depending on your income.  Many of your unsecured debts will be discharged at the end.

Property:  No property is liquidated under Chapter 13.

Your Income:  Chapter 13,  a regular income is required for making monthly payments.

Homeowners / Foreclosures:  This can stop a foreclosure and you can make up past due mortgage payments through your repayment plan.

Eligibilty:  Has no income requirement.  Unsecured debt has to be below $383,175 and secured debt below $1,149,525.

Filing Complexity:  Involves submitting a repayment plan to the court. Will almost always require bring an attorney to complete successfully.

Obtaining a mortgage loan with poor credit.

Do you have poor or weak credit but would like to purchase a home?  You may have been told that it’s not possible. You may have applied for credit and was denied and now you are convinced that obtaining a mortgage loan is not possible.  Well, it may be more possible than you think..  Of course your credit will need some attention. Kirkpatrick & Associates specializes in getting our clients lender-ready, but of course we will work with clients for most any purpose.

A lender qualifies a borrower based on a credit history and credit scores.  There are three major credit reporting agencies; Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.  You score ranges roughly between 500 and 850.  Lenders most often receive FICO scores, which are not the same scores or based on the same scoring models as the scores a person purchases or receives from the credit reporting agencies.  I recommend FICO.com to obtain the same scores that lenders get.  There are three scoring models for FICO scores.  Mortgage, revolving credit and auto loans.  They provide all three scoring models.

Bad credit loans
Home Sweet Home

 

EDUCATIONAL LOANS:  Once educational loans are being paid current it is possible to qualify for a mortgage, even if delinquent payments are being reported from the past.

CREDIT CARDS:  These payments need to be current and no late payments in the past 12 months.  Some lenders will allow a letter from consumer, explaining late credit card payments.  Credit cards balances need to be paid to below 19% of the credit limit.  IE:  $1,000 limit should have a balance of $190 or less.  Paying credit cards down will improve credit scores.

BANKRUPTCY:  A consumer can technically qualify for a mortgage two years after a bankruptcy.  3 years if the Bankruptcy included a foreclosure.  Do keep in mind that credit has to be rebuilt during this time period.

LIENS AND JUDGMENTS:  These must be paid and showing satisfied with all credit reporting agencies that are reporting these on your credit reports.  Just because they are paid doesn’t mean they are reporting paid.  If this is an issue, this is a service that we can assist you with.  Call us at 205-352-3448

CHARGE-OFFS:  These may or may not need to be paid to qualify for a mortgage.  If there is one charge-off and otherwise good credit, then you may not have to pay.  If the charge-off is old and under a certain dollar amount, it may not have to be satisfied to qualify.  Worse case situation, you can contact the original or 3rd party debt collector and work out a settlement.  They may not remove it from your credit report, but it will show that it was paid, and thus helping you to qualify for a loan.  This can be a confusing process and we recommend that you call us when handling these situations.

MEDICAL COLLECTIONS;  Many times all medical collections do not need to be paid to qualify.  We at Kirkpatrick & Associates can help with this.  We specialize in helping with 3rd party collections.  If you are receiving too many or unwanted phone calls, we can stop the collectors from calling.

RENTAL HISTORY:  Yes, a potential borrow can use rental history for credit when applying for a home loan, even when it’s not reflecting on your credit reports.  Be sure and pay rental payments on time.  Mortgage underwriters will require your rental history.

SELF-EMPLOYED OR 1099:  You will need two years work history.  Check with your lender for their guidelines.  These can vary between lenders.

Do keep in mind that after taking care of all of these areas on your credit, you must have good accounts reporting on all of your credit reports.  You credit score must be at least 580 for some lenders and 620 for others and 640 for most any lender.  If you score is between 580 and 639 be prepared to have a larger down payment.  A down payment is usually 3 to 3-1/2%.  A lower credit score would require a much higher percentage for down payment.  Please note:  Do not depend on the scores from Credit Karma or any other 3rd party credit score service that does not specifically provide FICO scores.

We, at Kirkpatrick & Associates eat, think and obsess over credit related stuff.  We would love to help you through the credit maze.  It can be confusing and intimidating when trying to deal with credit related matters and paying collections.  We view your credit reports for any violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act.  While you are spending time with your family we are working hard for you.

Help with bad credit
Family time!

 

Free, really free credit services!

First of all Kirkpatrick & Associates offers free credit report evaluations.  For us to provide this service you will need current credit reports.               There are many companies that provide online credit monitoring for a fee.  The cost is usually between $14.99 and $24.99 a month and provides credit reports from the three major credit reporting agencies; Experian, TransUnion and Equifax and credit scores from each.  If you can’t or don’t want to pay for this monthly service I suggest that you sign up for creditkarma.com.  This service is absolutely, yes absolutely free.  No payment information is required to sign up or continue the service.  The only difference is that Credit Karma doesn’t provide a credit report or score from Experian.  But for a free service you get a great service that updates your credit reports regularly throughout each month.  So if you would like to monitor your credit reports and take it easy on the budget, then Credit Karma may be what you are looking for.  Check it out today.  Once you have viewed your credit reports, you may have credit issues.  A late pay that is incorrect.  An account you paid to a zero balance last summer and it still ahows a balance, accounts that aren’t yours, addresses that you have never lived at, credit inquiries that you didn’t authorize, collections that you weren’t aware of and the list goes on.  We can possibly help you and get your credit cleaned up and raise your credit scores.  Here at Kirkpatrick & Associates, credit report evaluations are free….yes, another free!  We want the opportunity to educate you in having a chance at better and stronger credit while educating you to keep it strong.  We don’t do gimmicks, nor do we have a magic wand to poof all kinds of accurate bad stuff from your reports, but we will explain what our services cover and how we can repair negative information and how our services can benefit you, for now, and your future.  Kirkpatrick & Associates specializes in assisting with all types of credit issues.  Possibly avoid Bankruptcy, foreclosure and charge off accounts, dealing with collections, as well as getting you lender-ready for a mortgage.  You may not have credit or collection issues and just need to build or rebuild credit.  There’s help there too.  I know, you want to know how much will this cost you.  After all, you may be living on a budget and paying hundreds or a couple of thousand $$$ is not possible.  Fear not, we have low month to month payments and you can cancel or place you account inactive at any time.                We eat, sleep and obsess about credit related stuff.

image

  There are other companies that provide credit repair, but we go beyond with excellent customer service and educating our clients which means you can spend more time relaxing and with your family, while we take care of you.  Call today.  205-352-3448 or email: ashley@kirkpatrickassoc.com.

Stop a debt collector from calling.

Need help with dealing with debt collectors calling?  Have you lost your job?  Laid off?  Medical issues? Divorce?  There are many reasons why someone may not be able to pay all of their bills.  Once a bill hasn’t been paid it may be turned over to a third-party debt collector.  When this happens, it helps to know how to handle the situation.

debt collectors
Debt collectors calling?

Okay!  Let’s get equipped.  You need a notepad, pen and keep it with you at all times.  I  suggest that you record your calls just so you can relisten to the call for complete notes.  If you want to use the recording for a lawsuit be sure and check the laws for One Party State or Two Party State for recording calls.  Check for apps available to install on your cell phone.  Droid has a free one, RECORD MY CALL.  This begins recording as soon as the call is activated.  Now that you are ready for the calls, answer them.

1.  STOPPING THE CALLS.  Answer the phone.  Ask the person on the other end of the line for their name, name of their company, their mailing address for disputes and their phone number; making notes of all that is said.  Now that you have this information write a letter to the company telling them not to call you and if you have ever given them permission to call you, you revoke it now.   Dispute the debt and asking for validation. I personally do not recommend sending a Cease and Desist letter. I recommend stopping the calls and receiving the mail.  Mail it certified mail return receipt and be sure and keep accurate records and do not lose this documentation.  Save a copy of the letter and on each certified mail receipt in a safe place.  Once they have received the letter it is a violation for them to continue to call your phone.  They can however, contact you again to inform you that they plan to take specific action against you, such as a lawsuit.  In my opinion, I would welcome that call so that you would possibly have an opportunity to work out suitable payment arrangements before a suit is filed.

Please note:  A Cease and Desist letter or a letter demanding that they no longer call you, does not make the debt go away if you actually owe it.

Now that the letters are mailed and received be sure and answer your calls documenting any voicemail or answered calls.  Many times debt collectors will continue to call even after they legally are not supposed to.  When this happens you may have legal grounds for a lawsuit against them.  There are attorneys that specialize in these cases on a Pro-Bono.

The FDCPA states that every time a collector contacts a debtor they must disclose who they are and what they are calling about. It helps keep collectors from being deceptive or misleading. This is known as the Mini-Miranda and generally goes as follows:
“THIS IS AN ATTEMPT TO COLLECT A DEBT AND ANY INFORMATION OBTAINED WILL BE USED FOR THAT PURPOSE. THIS IS A COMMUNICATION FROM A DEBT COLLECTOR”

Information to keep in mind.  A debt collector can not:

  1. Call you before 8:00 am or after 9:00 pm.
  2. Harass you with excessive phone calls.  Document with phone records.
  3. Receive phone calls at work, AFTER you have informed them not to call you there.
  4. Pretend to be an attorney, law firm or government agency.
  5. Inform others of your debt without expressed permission from you.
  6. Attempt to collect a debt from you that is not yours.
  7. Attempt to collect a debt that you have previously been sued for.
  8. Threaten to have you arrested.  Tell you there has been a warrant sworn out for your arrest, especially when they haven’t.  I see this with unpaid internet loans.  These companies regularly do this and it’s against the law.
  9. Call you at a time or place that you have informed them is not convenient.

There are many things that debt collectors do that is not legal.  If you find that you are in this situation please call us for help.  There are many things that we can help you with, and when needed, you may need the assistance of an attorney.  Call us today at 205-352-3448.  Kirkpatrick & Associates, LLC

Surefire ways to get denied for a home loan

Surefire ways to create money and credit problems.  If you plan to get denied for a loan or mortgage the following plan will work great for you.  1.  Go ahead, charge those clothes, shoes and stuff that you can’t afford.  After all, you worked hard all week and you deserve it, but you’re a little short on cash.  You are short on cash every week but it’s such a good deal, and it’s only a total of $126.52.  After all, you can pay that back in 6 months, well unless you use the card again for the unforseen medical bill of $225.  After all, there is no savings to fall back on.  Now your card is up to $351.52, oh and the two late fees of $35.  Guess that’s now $421.52.  Maybe when you get you income tax refund you can pay off the credit card.  Maybe?  Had you not purchased the clothes and worked out and interest free repayment plan with the medical bill, this debt could have been avoided.  2.  Don’t shop around and pay full price whenever possible. Internet price shopping can save lots of $$$ but why bother.  You want it now!  3.  Transfer balances to 0% rate credit cards, then make the minimum payment.  4.  Add balances to newly empty cards.  5.  Apply frequently for new credit.  6.  Deal with finances….hmmmm…tomorrow.  7.  Use Payday loans for emergency money.  8.  Pay credit cards with home equity.  9.  Save money after paying bills.  10.  Get financial advice from friends.   

Consolidate gift cards with small balances to one card!

Those gift cards!  You received a few for Christmas, then your birthday and you aren’t sure where the others came from. You used them to make various purchases and  and found that you now have gift cards with a few dollars left on them?  Forget to use them or maybe you aren’t sure how much is left on the card?  You may be thinking that you will eventually use them but the amount is so small.  Well there may be a solution to this problem so you can make sure those balances don’t go to waste,  This solution really only works on gift cards with a credit card logo on them such as Visa, Mastercard or American Express.  Basically any card you can use at ANY store.

Consolidate gift cards into one card.
Consolidate gift cards into one card.

Note: You may have to REGISTER the card with the bank in order to use it, especially with American Express. So if the transaction doesn’t go through, you may have to call the issuing service and assign your name, address and phone number to the card. Make 100% sure they match your Amazon account.

  • Step 1: Gather all your old gift cards that still have small balances on them.  Get them all!
  • Step 2: If you don’t already have a Amazon account, sign up for a shopping cart.
  • Step 3: Go to the gift cards page on Amazon.com and select and email gift card.
  • Step 4: Grab one of your gift cards and call the # on the card (or use the web) to check the balance left on the card.
  • Step 5: Enter the amount left on the card into the box labelled “amount” in the Amazon E-mail gift card details box (.50 cents is the least amount it will take).
  • Step 6: Enter one of your own email addresses in the recipient email box.
  • Step 7: Click ‘add to order’ on the lower right.
    • Step 8: Click ‘proceed to checkout’ on the right side.
    • Step 9: Sign into your account when prompted.
    • Step 10: Under “more payment options“, select Add a Card and enter the card number, name and the expiration date for the gift card you just checked the balance of and click ‘continue.’
    • Step 11: Double check all the info and click ‘Place your order.’
    • Step 12: Wait for email with gift card claim code and copy the code to your computer clipboard.
    • Step 13: Go back to Amazon.com and then select ‘your account’ on the menu at the top.
    • Step 14: In the second area under ‘Gift Cards‘ select ‘apply a gift card to your account‘ and paste your claim code into the box and click ‘apply to your account.’
    • Step 15: Repeat steps 3-14 for each of the gift cards you collected that have small balances on them.

Now that you have all of these cards registered on Amazon you can now use the card to purchase at one place.  Once you receive the email from Amazon.com with your gift card claim code, throw away those old gift cards immediately.

While this may seem complicated, it’s really very easy.

What is a Good Credit Score?

Most credit scores operate within the range of 301 to 850. Within that range, there are different categories, from bad to excellent.

  • Excellent Credit: 781 – 850
  • Good Credit: 661-780
  • Fair Credit: 601-660
  • Poor Credit: 501-600
  • Bad Credit: below 500

But even these aren’t set in stone. That’s because lenders all have their own definitions of what is a good credit score. One lender that is looking to approve more borrowers might approve applicants with credit scores of 680 or higher. Another might be more selective and only approve those with scores of 750 or higher. Or both lenders might offer credit to anyone with a score of at least 650, but charge consumers with scores below 700 a higher interest rate!

The Credit Score Range Scale

There are many different credit scores available to lenders, and they each develop their own credit score range. Why is that important? Because if you get your credit score, you need to know the credit score range you are looking at so you understand where your number fits in.

The Credit Score Range Using Various Scoring Models:

  • FICO Score range: 300-850
  • VantageScore 3.0 range: 300–850
  • VantageScore scale (versions 1.0 and 2.0): 501–990
  • PLUS Score: 330-830
  • TransRisk Score: 100-900
  • Equifax Credit Score: 280–850

With all of the scores listed above, the higher the number the lower the risk. That means consumers with higher scores are more likely to get approved for credit, and to get the best interest rates when they do. And they are more likely to get discounts on insurance. What is considered a “high” score depends on what type of score is being used.

If your FICO score is 840, for example, you’re just 10 points shy of the highest score possible and your credit is “superprime.” But if you have an 840 VantageScore (using version 2.0), it’s not as spectacular because you’re 150 points away from the highest possible score.

What’s Your Score?

Don’t assume your score is good (or isn’t) just because you have always paid your bills on time (or haven’t.) The only way to know whether you have a good credit score is to check. You can get your credit score free once a month at Credit.com. This is a truly free credit score – no payment information is requested. In addition to the number, you’ll see a breakdown of the factors that affect your score and get recommendations for making your credit as strong as possible.

How Are Credit Scores Generated?

Credit scores compare factors like payment history, debt levels and the age of credit accounts to figure out what consumers who pay their bills on time have in common. The goal is to predict how new and existing customers will handle credit.

Ultimately then, a credit score summarizes the information in your credit report, which makes it easier and faster for a lender to process a loan application and make a determination as to how likely you are to pay back the loan in question.

The Benefits of a Good Credit Score

A good credit score will help you borrow money for a car or home, or open a credit card with a comparatively lower interest rate. That means you will pay less over time for the money.

Consider this: if you’re buying a $300,000 house with a 30 year fixed mortgage, and you have bad credit, then you could end up paying more than $90,000 more for that house over the life of the loan than if you had good credit.

So, in the end, it really pays to understand your credit scores and to make them as strong as possible.

Article by: Gerri Detweiler  Credit.com

Understanding Credit Scores

Kirkpatrick & Associates can assist in improving the worst credit scores and even improving healthy credit scores.  Higher credit scores means paying less in interest rates.  Lower credit scores will result in higher insurance premiums and higher interest rates.

FICO, or Fair Isaac Corporation, has been the leader in credit scoring since the 1950s. The FICO score is used by more than 90% of lenders and is considered the industry standard. Your score will range from 300 to 850, the higher the better. It is calculated as follows:

FICO Scores
How credit scores are calculated

Have you ever been turned down for a loan or an apartment lease and wondered why? It could be due to your credit history. Let’s face it–our credit says a lot about who we are. It is our financial report card, and can affect many aspects of our lives.  If you are experiencing being turned down and high interest rates call us today.  We can help you rebuild your credit and raise your credit scores.

HOW DOES CREDIT WORK

When you apply for credit (say a loan or a credit card), the lender has to decide if you are a good candidate for receiving the loan. The lender’s decision is based heavily on your credit history. They have to assess the level of risk involved if they are to extend credit to you. If you have displayed a poor repayment history, it is less likely that you will be approved for the loan or a line of credit.

The data available through the credit reporting agency that’s been selected to calculate your score (Equifax, Experian or TransUnion) will determine that three-digit number, whether that data is right or wrong. That’s why it is so important to review your credit reports; at a minimum get your free credit reports from all three bureaus once a year look them over to determine if all of the accounts are yours, any late payments that aren’t accurate, liens or judgments that aren’t yours or updated as paid.

One of my former clients did not realize that he had a judgment on his credit reports that was not his.  Mr. John Doe’s daughter had provided his name as an emergency contact for the apartment she rented.  She defaulted on the apartment rent and was sued.  Once this happened the apartment manager placed the judgment on her father’s credit reports.  It was illegal and had affected his chances of getting a loan.  I was able to take care of this and had it removed within 35 days or less.

Since the three agencies don’t share information with each other, you’ll want to check all three. After all, you never know which reporting agency a lender will use to obtain your score, so you want all of them to be as accurate as possible.

Better FICO scores
Rebuilding your credit without the high fees and interest rates.

FREE CREDIT SCORES

In an effort to obtain your credit score for free, you may have signed up with Credit Karma or Credit Sesame. But then you applied for a credit card or car loan and realized your FICO score was different than the free score. Why is this?

Both Credit Karma and Credit Sesame calculate your credit score based on proprietary scores from two of the major credit reporting bureaus. However, this is not the same thing as a FICO score. Instead of using the FICO algorithm, the bureaus use their own algorithm for free scores.