interest rates http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/1797/all en-US 5 Times Buying a Home With Cash Is Bad for Your Budget http://www.wisebread.com/5-times-buying-a-home-with-cash-is-bad-for-your-budget <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-times-buying-a-home-with-cash-is-bad-for-your-budget" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/house_building_insurance_housewarming_loan_real_estate_home_concept.jpg" alt="House building, insurance, housewarming, loan, real estate, home concept" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Buying a home with cash is usually considered a smart financial move, if you can swing it. That's because taking out a mortgage loan to finance your home requires you to pay a ton of interest, even in today's low-interest rate environment. With cash, you don't have to worry about interest at all.</p> <p>For example, let's say you take out a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage of $200,000 at an interest rate of 3.93 percent. You'll pay more than $140,000 in interest if you take the full three decades to pay back your loan. If you pay in cash, that $140,000 stays in your pocket.</p> <p>What could possibly be the downside of paying this way? Here are a few possibilities.</p> <h2>1. When making an all-cash offer will deplete your savings</h2> <p>If you can afford to buy that $300,000 home with cash, that's great. But if that purchase leaves you with little or no money in your savings, it can put you in financial jeopardy.</p> <p>It's important to have cash reserves to handle life's emergencies. What if you lose your job? You might wish you still had some of those savings available.</p> <p>Remember, your investment in your home is largely <em>illiquid</em>. To access it, you'll have to sell your home or take out a home-equity loan or line of credit. Neither option is as appealing as having cash reserves on hand.</p> <p>If you do have plenty of cash &mdash; but not enough to have funds leftover after buying a home &mdash; consider coming up with an extra-large down payment instead. This way, you can reduce your mortgage while keeping some cash on hand.</p> <h2>2. When your cash is earning you money</h2> <p>Are your cash savings earning you plenty of big returns? Then it might not make sense to take a big chunk of this money and invest it in a house. Yes, it's nice not to have to make a mortgage payment each month. But you'll have to determine if the return that your invested dollars are generating outweighs the savings in interest you'd get by avoiding a mortgage.</p> <h2>3. When you'll miss out on a tax break</h2> <p>Homeowners can deduct the amount of interest they pay on their mortgage loans each year. This tax break is more valuable during the earliest years of a mortgage, when homeowners are paying the most interest.</p> <p>You'll have to determine how valuable this tax break is to you. If you do need to reduce your tax bill each year, using some of your cash to come up with a bigger down payment and then taking out a mortgage to finance the rest of your home purchase might make the most sense.</p> <h2>4. When your home's value might fall</h2> <p>There was a time when no one thought homes could lose value over a seven- or 10-year period. Then came 2007 and 2008, when home values suddenly plummeted.</p> <p>There's a lesson here: There is no guarantee that your home will increase in value after you buy it. There's also no guarantee that it won't lose value.</p> <p>The hope is that after buying your home in an all-cash offer, the property will become even more valuable. When it's time to sell, you'll earn a profit. But there is no guarantee that this will happen. And if you do have to sell your home at a loss one day, that money you invested in it will be lost.</p> <h2>5. When you'll miss out on great interest rates</h2> <p>Mortgage interest rates have risen, but they are still at historic lows. The Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Market Survey says that the average interest rate on a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage was 3.89 percent as of June 8, 2017. The average rate on a 15-year, fixed-rate mortgage was 3.16 percent. Those are great rates.</p> <p>Instead of investing a big chunk of your cash in a home, it might make more sense to take that same money and make a different investment that will generate bigger returns. You can then apply for a mortgage loan with the shortest possible term and enjoy interest rates that are still at near-historic lows.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-times-buying-a-home-with-cash-is-bad-for-your-budget">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-build-equity-in-your-home">How to Build Equity in Your Home</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-pay-your-mortgage-off-early">Should You Pay Your Mortgage Off Early?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ask-yourself-these-5-questions-before-buying-a-home">Ask Yourself These 5 Questions Before Buying a Home</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-you-shouldnt-buy-a-house-yet">5 Reasons You Shouldn&#039;t Buy a House (Yet)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/watch-out-for-these-5-last-minute-home-buying-costs">Watch Out for These 5 Last Minute Home Buying Costs</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing down payments downsides home buying homeownership interest rates mortgages new home paying cash tax breaks Thu, 22 Jun 2017 08:30:16 +0000 Dan Rafter 1965874 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Valuable Rights You Might Lose When You Refinance Student Loans http://www.wisebread.com/8-valuable-rights-you-might-lose-when-you-refinance-student-loans <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-valuable-rights-you-might-lose-when-you-refinance-student-loans" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/house_on_money_stack.jpg" alt="House on money stack" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Fannie Mae, the nation's largest buyer and guarantor of mortgage loans, made news recently when it announced it would sweeten the deal for folks who want to refinance their mortgage to pay off student loan debt. Fannie Mae works with 1,800 lenders nationwide, so their rule change affects many homeowners. At the same time, newer financial companies that target millennials have been pushing student loan refinances as a way to save money and simplify life.</p> <p>Fannie Mae's change will make it more affordable for graduates &mdash; or parents &mdash; to use home equity to pay off student loans by waiving the usual extra charge for taking out cash when you refinance a home. With mortgage interest rates still at historic lows, this could indeed be an opportunity for young adults with high-rate student loans to reduce their monthly payments. But proceed with caution.</p> <p>If you have a private student loan, you probably have nothing to lose by converting it into a mortgage, personal loan, or other consolidation loan. But if you have a federal loan, you should be more cautious about making changes. You may not realize you'd be losing these protections and options when you give up your federal student loan.</p> <h2>1. Deferment</h2> <p>If you lose your job or are unable to find a job after graduation, you may qualify for a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-things-you-need-to-know-about-deferring-student-loans" target="_blank">deferment</a>, which halts your loan payments until you're in a better position to pay. With certain federal loans, the government will even pay the interest during deferment.</p> <h2>2. Forbearance</h2> <p>Similar to deferment, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-is-student-loan-forbearance-anyway" target="_blank">forbearance</a> stops your payment obligation during a period of hardship. But unlike deferment, interest continues to accumulate.</p> <h2>3. Income-driven repayment plans</h2> <p>The government has rolled out a whole range of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/which-student-loan-repayment-plan-saves-you-the-most" target="_blank">flexible payment options</a> in recent years to help federal loan borrowers handle payments. These plans cap your monthly payment at a certain percentage of income (10 percent for the program known as Pay As You Earn and 15 percent for the Income-Contingent Repayment Plan). Another benefit of income-driven repayment plans that you would lose if you refinance: an end date. With PAYE, any balance you still owe after 20 years is forgiven; with ICE, loans are forgiven after 25 years. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-definitive-guide-to-pay-as-you-earn-a-great-student-loan-repayment-plan?ref=seealso" target="_blank">The Definitive Guide to Pay As You Earn</a>)</p> <h2>4. A second chance if you default</h2> <p>The Federal Loan Rehabilitation Program is a one-time opportunity to get a default removed from your credit report by making a series of on-time payments. This can save you from wrecking your credit and being unable to buy a home later.</p> <h2>5. A central source for tracking loans</h2> <p>If all your student loans are federal, you'll be able to check up on all of them online through the National Student Loan Data System. If you refinance some but not all of your loans, you may end up having to keep track of them using multiple resources.</p> <h2>6. An unsecured loan</h2> <p>If you default on your student loan, you can lose your good credit, but not much else. If you default on your mortgage, you can lose your house. Let that reality sink in before you jump to refinance a home loan to pay off student loan debt.</p> <h2>7. A fixed interest rate</h2> <p>Of course, you could use a fixed-interest mortgage or a fixed-rate personal loan to pay off your federal student loan. But make sure that's what you're getting. If you use a variable rate loan to consolidate your debt, you could get hit with a big payment increase when rates inevitably go up. Federal loans, on the other hand, are guaranteed to be fixed rate.</p> <h2>8. Prepayment penalties</h2> <p>Federal loans don't charge a fee if you pay more than you owe on any given month, but some private lenders do &mdash; check on that before you commit to a refinance.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-valuable-rights-you-might-lose-when-you-refinance-student-loans">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-ways-student-loan-debt-can-affect-your-mortgage-application">3 Ways Student Loan Debt Can Affect Your Mortgage Application</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-to-make-the-most-of-your-student-loan-grace-period">4 Ways to Make the Most of Your Student Loan Grace Period</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-is-student-loan-forbearance-anyway">What Is Student Loan Forbearance, Anyway?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-things-you-need-to-know-about-deferring-student-loans">4 Things You Need to Know About Deferring Student Loans</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-ignore-these-4-things-before-refinancing-your-student-loans">Don&#039;t Ignore These 4 Things Before Refinancing Your Student Loans</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Education & Training Real Estate and Housing debt default deferment fannie mae federal loans forbearance interest rates mortgages refinancing repayment plans student loans Thu, 15 Jun 2017 08:30:16 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1963763 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Make Sure You Don't Run Out of Money in Retirement http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-make-sure-you-dont-run-out-of-money-in-retirement <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-make-sure-you-dont-run-out-of-money-in-retirement" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/nest_made_of_american_currency_horizontal.jpg" alt="Nest Made of American Currency Horizontal" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>An annuity is a stream of fixed payments that's guaranteed, often for as long as you live. Having an annuity can make retirement more secure, but it's hard to recommend them as investment vehicles, because almost every annuity on the market is a terrible investment. They tend to be sold by salesmen, so they're often loaded with fees. And, because being upfront about the fees would make them hard to sell, these fees are obscure (often outright hidden) and are typically different for every product, making it especially hard to comparison shop. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-know-what-annuities-are-you-might-be-missing-out?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Should You Get an Annuity?</a>)</p> <p>But my experience these past few years &mdash; helping older relatives with their finances, and starting to take the little pension I earned as a software engineer &mdash; has given me a new perspective on annuities. Having an annuity is more than just nice: It's wonderful! It's just <em>buying</em> them that's usually terrible.</p> <p>Fortunately, there are a few that are worth buying. You don't hear about them often, because they don't siphon off a big chunk of your investment to pay a salesman, so salesmen don't push them.</p> <h2>Why annuities are great</h2> <p>It used to be that anyone with a good job retired with an annuity in the form of a pension. This is how I've gotten my recent experience with just how great it is to have an annuity: All my older relatives are now receiving pensions.</p> <h3>You never outlive your income</h3> <p>The main thing that's great about an annuity is that having one means you're never going to be broke. Even if you overspend and run down your savings, even if the stock market crashes or you make terrible investment decisions and your investment portfolio takes huge losses, you'll still get that monthly check for as long as you live.</p> <p>You don't <em>need</em> to have an annuity to arrange that &mdash; you can live off capital in a way that makes it last the rest of your life &mdash; but an annuity makes it much easier.</p> <h3>They can raise your income</h3> <p>The other thing that's great about an annuity is that it can, at least potentially, be more money to live on. See, the only safe way to live off capital is to just spend the income from your investments. But that's not much money (especially these days).</p> <p>If you knew how long you were going to live, you could spend down your capital so that you'd die with just enough money to pay off your last month's bills. But since you don't know how long you're going to live, you have to make a conservative estimate, holding back enough capital so that you won't go broke even if you live to 100. (Of course even that might not be enough. What if you live to 114?)</p> <p>The company that provides your annuity has a much easier job. They don't need to know whether you'll live to 97 or kick the bucket at 67. They count on the fact that the average person will live an average life span. They can arrange the terms of the annuities so that the payouts don't exhaust the total pool until the last person dies. The fact that some people die the month after their pension starts means that there's enough money to pay for the people who go on to live for decades.</p> <p>Offset against that is the fact that the company that's providing your annuity needs to make a profit, and it also needs to hold back a reserve against the possibility that it'll get unlucky and a bunch of their customers will live longer than average &mdash; but both of those factors are relatively small.</p> <h2>Annuitize, but how much?</h2> <p>If you accept the idea that you probably ought to have an annuity of some size, the next question is: How big should the annuity be?</p> <p>At one extreme, you could just annuitize all your money &mdash; take all your savings and investments (except your checking account and your emergency fund) and buy an annuity. Then you'd know what your income would be for the rest of your life and you could budget for it.</p> <p>I recommend against that. There are many reasons why it's <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/on-the-importance-of-having-capital" target="_blank">worth having some capital</a>. Your capital earns an investment return and it also provides a measure of safety as a backup to your emergency fund. It makes it possible to fund expenses beyond your bare-bones budget. Perhaps most important, having some capital saves you money in all kinds of different ways &mdash; because you have funds on hand, you can take advantage of deals, you can avoid high-interest borrowing, and you have money to put down a large security deposit in cases where that will save you money.</p> <p>At the other extreme, you could annuitize none of your money and just live off your capital. I've just explained the downsides to that.</p> <p>You want to be somewhere in the middle. With a modest annuity, you're protected from running your income down to zero, and yet you can preserve some amount of capital.</p> <p>My advice is this: You should annuitize <em>enough to cover your rock-bottom expenses</em>, the lowest amount you could live on indefinitely. That way, you're putting yourself in a position where you can be sure you can get by no matter what happens to your investments, while preserving enough of an investment portfolio to fund your other life goals &mdash; travel, making a major purchase, leaving an estate to your heirs, etc.</p> <p>Before you start shopping for annuities, be sure to take into account any annuities you already have. But unless you're old, and even then only if you had a pretty good job at a pretty big company for many years, you probably aren't going to have a great pension. (If you're only kind of old, and worked at a pretty big company for a few years before they all phased out their traditional pensions in the early 2000s, maybe there's a small pension waiting for you. If so, that's great. Even if it's not enough to live on, it's a very positive contribution to your retirement income.)</p> <p>However, most people reading this probably won't get a good pension.</p> <p>Fortunately, there is an annuity you very likely do have.</p> <h2>The annuity you already have</h2> <p>You almost certainly already have an annuity in the form of a national pension scheme, such as Social Security. The amount of Social Security you will get depends on your own employment history. For most people, it will provide a large fraction of the &quot;rock-bottom expenses&quot; I recommend you cover with an annuity, but you can generally expect there to be some gap.</p> <p>If you have an employer-sponsored pension, even a small one, it may well cover the gap. If you don't, I recommend that you cover it with an annuity that you buy.</p> <h2>How to buy an annuity</h2> <p>As I said at the beginning, most of the annuities you can buy are terrible investments, but there are good ones. It is possible to buy an individual annuity and get an OK deal. It's just hard because the companies that sell them make it virtually impossible to compare one annuity to another.</p> <p>This is especially true for the sorts of annuities that are most like a pension: The ones set up so you make a payment every month starting in your 30s or 40s, then get a check every month starting when you're 65.</p> <p>Those are called deferred annuities (because you defer getting your money until age 65), and they're always terrible. They always have what are called &quot;back-end&quot; fees &mdash; money that the salesman gets to keep when you figure out that you've made a terrible deal and want to get (some of) your money back. The rules on back-end fees are always different.</p> <p>To make it even harder, these sorts of annuities are usually bundled with some sort of life insurance (supposedly so that if you die before you retire your estate won't &quot;lose&quot; all the money paid into the annuity) &mdash; and of course the details of those insurance policies are always different as well.</p> <h3>Comparison shopping</h3> <p>It is possible to buy an annuity in a way that does allow you to compare them. Don't buy one with monthly payments. Instead, save and invest the money in the stock market yourself during your working years. Then, when you're ready to retire, buy what's called a &quot;single premium immediate annuity&quot; &mdash; you put up a big chunk of money today, and then start receiving monthly payments immediately that last for the rest of your life. (The monthly payments, of course, should equal the gap you identified between your Social Security and your rock-bottom budget.)</p> <p>That is something that's easy to compare: How much do you have to pay today for a stream of income that starts next month and lasts the rest of your life? You can get a few quotes and pick the best deal.</p> <p>These sorts of annuities usually don't have the life insurance policy that supposedly protects against your dying before you start taking payments, because the payments start immediately. That's good. Bundling in life insurance just makes it harder to compare prices. If you need life insurance, buy a life insurance policy separately.</p> <p>Be very careful of letting them include any sort of survivor benefit, because that can also make the annuities harder to compare (although as long as the rules are exactly the same, it is at least possible). One alternative, if you need a survivor benefit, is to buy a life insurance policy that will pay off enough for your spouse to buy his or her own annuity.</p> <p>As an aside, let me mention that the annuity salesmen among you are going to jump in and point out that you're giving up an important tax advantage if you only consider an immediate annuity. This is technically true, but in fact is pretty unimportant. Let me just say this: If you are maxing out your 401(k), <em>and</em> your IRA, <em>and</em> your Roth IRA, there is an opportunity to tax shelter a bit more money through an annuity contract. In practice, I'm willing to bet that the tax advantage will never equal the fees you're going to end up paying.</p> <p>If you do save your money in a 401(k) or IRA, there are tax rules for using that money to buy your annuity. Follow the rules and you won't owe any taxes when the money is used to buy the annuity. You will, however, pay taxes on the annuity payments when you receive them (just like you would if you'd taken distributions from the tax-deferred plan directly).</p> <h3>Where to buy</h3> <p>Pretty much any life insurance company will sell you an annuity, but I only know of two places to get a good one: Vanguard and TIAA-CREF. (There used to be a third, but Berkshire Hathaway got out of the business a few years ago.)</p> <p>The main problem with buying directly from an insurance company is just that their annuity sales operations are organized around their annuity salesmen, who will immediately start trying to sell you something that's more profitable (to them) than a single premium immediate annuity &mdash; that's the step you avoid by going through Vanguard or TIAA-CREF. (They also have enough buying power to get especially good rates, because they bring in large numbers of customers.)</p> <p>If you're sure you can bear up under the sales pressure, there's no reason not to get quotes directly from the insurance companies. (Just because I don't know of any other good places to buy one doesn't mean there aren't any.) Insurance companies that sell annuities will be very easy to find &mdash; just do an internet search for information about annuities and you'll get a dozen ads for them and for online tools to compare their offerings.</p> <p>You're handing over a large fraction of your wealth and counting on the insurance company to be around for the rest of your life, so you want to have considerable confidence in the financial soundness of the company you pick. I would not consider any company rated less than A by the insurance grading firm A.M. Best, and I'd be happier with one rated A+.</p> <h3>Buy when rates are high</h3> <p>To buy an annuity, you have to put up a pretty sizable chunk of cash. (Vanguard quotes the cost today to a 65-year-old male buying a single premium immediate annuity of $1,000 a month for the rest of his life as being $180,052.)</p> <p>Unless you're rich, the cost of an annuity that covers your rock-bottom expenses is going to be a large fraction of your entire retirement savings &mdash; which is OK, because it's going to be a large chunk of your entire retirement income.</p> <p>The insurance company that sells you your annuity is going to invest that sizable chunk of cash in a portfolio of stocks and (mostly) bonds, and then use the dividends from those stocks and (mostly) the interest payments from those bonds to pay your annuity. Because of this, an annuity is much cheaper when interest rates are high.</p> <p>If you bought an annuity right before the financial crisis, you made out very well. If you wanted to buy one in the past eight or nine years, you probably found that they were incredibly expensive. But in the current era of rising interest rates, annuities are becoming more affordable again.</p> <p>Still, if you're approaching retirement age, understand that there is no rush. Figure out your rock-bottom expenses &mdash; and then live with that budget as an experiment. Maybe you'll find that you'll need more than that in retirement. Maybe you'll actually need less. Do some comparison shopping. Take your time. Then, when you've got a pretty good handle on the expense of your retirement lifestyle, at a time when interest rates are up a bit and you're ready to quit working, go ahead and buy that annuity.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-make-sure-you-dont-run-out-of-money-in-retirement">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-the-easiest-way-to-save-for-retirement">What You Need to Know About the Easiest Way to Save for Retirement</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-safe-investments-that-arent-bonds">9 Safe Investments That Aren&#039;t Bonds</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-stocks-and-bonds-that-will-profit-from-the-fed-rate-hike">10 Stocks and Bonds That Will Profit From the Fed Rate Hike</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-questions-financial-advisers-hear-most-often">8 Questions Financial Advisers Hear Most Often</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-sneaky-investment-fees-to-watch-for">4 Sneaky Investment Fees to Watch For</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Investment Retirement annuities benefits bonds fees interest rates investment vehicles life insurance pensions stocks Fri, 26 May 2017 08:30:09 +0000 Philip Brewer 1953940 at http://www.wisebread.com We Do the Math: Save for Retirement or Pay Off Credit Card Debt? http://www.wisebread.com/we-do-the-math-save-for-retirement-or-pay-off-credit-card-debt <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/we-do-the-math-save-for-retirement-or-pay-off-credit-card-debt" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-514332608.jpg" alt="Couple wondering if they should save for retirement or pay off debt" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Should you save for retirement or pay off credit card debt? If you're carrying a card balance, you may be wrestling with whether to put all your resources into attacking the debt, or start building your retirement nest egg while you slowly pay off debt.</p> <p>Which one will give you a better net worth? There's no simple answer. For some people the situation may warrant clearing credit card debt first; for others, it's better to start investing right away. To figure out which scenario is better in a given situation, we'll need to do some math. Don't worry, we'll show you how to do it in a few easy steps.</p> <h2>Step 1: Gather important numbers about your debt and your retirement plan</h2> <p>First, look through your credit card statements and accompanying information to pull up the following numbers:</p> <ul> <li>Credit card debt. You'll find this on the front of your credit card statement.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Credit card interest rate, or APR (Annual Percentage Rate). You'll find this further down on your statement, in a section labeled &quot;Interest Charged&quot; or something similar.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Minimum payment. You'll find this in your card's terms and conditions, under a discussion about how minimum payments are calculated. It will probably be a percentage, but there may also be a flat sum.</li> </ul> <p>Next, consider any retirement plan you are enrolled in or have available. What is the average annual return? You can identify past returns by reviewing your retirement account statements. For example, your 401(k) plan account may list your annual return. Note that past returns don't guarantee or predict future returns, but we'll use the average annual return as a proxy for future returns in this case, knowing that if our portfolio takes a long-term downward turn, our calculations will change.</p> <p>Finally, how much extra do you have in your monthly budget that you could put toward credit card payments, retirement investments, or both?</p> <p>Follow along as we consider a hypothetical debt situation and retirement opportunity. Let's say there's $500 in our monthly budget, which equals $6,000 annually ($500 x 12 months = $6,000) to put toward debt or retirement.</p> <p>Currently, the balance on our credit card is $5,000. Our APR is 22%. Our minimum monthly payment is 3% of our outstanding balance or $25, whichever is greater.</p> <p>Our employer offers a 401(k) plan. For the sake of keeping this illustration simple, we'll say our employer doesn't match employee contributions and we choose to make taxable contributions with a Roth designated account within the 401(k).</p> <p>In reality, you might choose instead to make tax-deductible contributions to a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-set-up-an-ira-to-build-wealth?ref=internal" target="_blank">traditional retirement account</a>. With a Roth 401(k) there are no immediate tax benefits, which makes our calculations simpler and therefore better suited for this purpose.</p> <p>We'll say the default investment in our 401(k) is a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-4-best-investments-for-lazy-investors?ref=internal" target="_blank">target-date mutual fund</a> with an average annual return of 6.3% since its inception. We know that future performance is unpredictable. But to run the numbers for the retirement vs. debt decision, we'll apply an annual return of 6% to our retirement account.</p> <p>We'll look at the retirement account and credit card balance after five years to compare the two choices: 1) making minimum payments on our card balance so we can start investing right away, or 2) putting all our extra money toward our credit card debt before we consider retirement investing.</p> <p>In both scenarios, we'll assume that we won't make additional charges on our credit card. In addition, we'll contribute to our retirement account when we have money available to invest.</p> <h2>Step 2: Calculate net worth if you prioritize retirement savings over paying off credit card debt quickly</h2> <p>In this scenario, we'll see what happens if we only make minimum payments on our credit card so that we can get started investing for retirement right away. Your credit card statement should state very clearly how long it will take to pay off your balance if you make minimum payments.</p> <p>You can also find an&nbsp;<a href="http://www.calcxml.com/calculators/how-long-will-it-take-to-pay-off-my-credit-card" target="_blank">online calculator</a> to help you with these calculations. Here's the information we'll enter for our example (you can put in your own numbers from your real-life situation):</p> <ul> <li>Current credit card balance: $5,000<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Annual percentage rate: 22%<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Proposed additional monthly payment: $0<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Minimum payment percentage: 3%<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Minimum payment amount: $25<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Skip December payment when offered? No</li> </ul> <p>Results indicate that we'll carry this debt for more than 17 years (205 months) and pay more than $7,000 in interest during this time. Click the button that says &quot;Detailed Results&quot; to see a breakdown of the payments. Make sure that under the Assumptions tab, you've asked for a monthly table display.</p> <p>In the first month, our payment is $150 and this amount slowly diminishes until we're paying the minimum amount of $25 for the last several years.</p> <p>Since we're making minimum payments on the credit card, we'll be able to put $350 of our total available $500 toward retirement in the first month ($500 - $150 = $350). The second month and subsequent months, we'll be able to increase the amount we invest, as our credit card balance dwindles. Every month we also earn some interest (6%/12 months), so our retirement account balance grows in that way, too.</p> <p>After five years (60 months), our credit card balance will be trimmed to less than $2,500.</p> <p>At the end of five years, our retirement account grows to just over $27,300. Considering our debt and retirement balances, our net worth is $24,800 ($27,300 in assets and $2,500 in liabilities). Note that investment returns are not guaranteed; the 6% rate is for illustration purposes only.</p> <p>You can&nbsp;<a href="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/Rains_We Do The Math Spreadsheet - Sheet1.pdf" target="_blank">download the spreadsheet</a> with these calculations.</p> <h2>Step 3: Calculate net worth if you pay off credit card debt completely before investing for retirement</h2> <p>In this scenario, we'll apply all of our extra income to credit card debt first. When the debt is paid in full, we'll begin to contribute to the retirement account.</p> <p>We enter this information to learn how quickly we'll pay off the debt with $500 per month (again, enter your own information to get personalized results):</p> <ul> <li>Current credit card balance: $5,000<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Annual percentage rate: 22%<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Minimum payment percentage: 0%<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Minimum payment amount: $0<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Proposed additional monthly payment: $500<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Skip December payment when offered? No</li> </ul> <p>To keep the credit card payment at $500 per month (and pay off credit card debt first), we'll enter the minimum payment percentage as 0% and the minimum payment amount as $0 &mdash; even though the actual terms of the credit card agreement will most likely specify a percentage of 2% or more and a minimum payment of $10 or more. When we view the results, we find that the payoff happens in 12 months. We'll make 11 payments of $500 and one payment of $74.</p> <p>After we finish paying off the credit card debt, we can begin investing. We'll invest $426 in the twelfth month ($500&ndash;$74) and $500 in subsequent months. Consider using a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.calculator.net/future-value-calculator.html" target="_blank">Future Value calculator</a>, to determine how much your retirement account will be worth at the end of five years.</p> <p>Here's the information we entered into the Future Value calculator:</p> <ul> <li>Number of periods: 48. (We'll invest for four years, or 48 months.)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Start amount: $426. (We'll start with the first month's contribution as the balance in our account.)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Interest rate: 0.5% (6% annual rate divided by 12 months).<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Periodic deposit: $500.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Deposit made at the beginning or end of the period: End.</li> </ul> <p>If we earn 6% annually on our investments, our retirement account grows to $27,590 in five years. In addition, our credit card debt is paid off. Our net worth is $27,590 &mdash; that's $2,790 <em>more </em>than if we had prioritized retirement savings first and stuck with only paying the minimum on our credit card debt each month.</p> <h2>What else to consider</h2> <p>These calculations are a starting place. Your situation may be similar to this scenario, but it might not be. For instance, if your APR is considerably lower and your retirement returns higher than in the scenarios above, you may very well find that you're better off investing in the market while reducing your credit card debt slowly. Changes in one or several of these factors could alter results:</p> <ul> <li>Larger or smaller credit card balances;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Higher or lower credit card APRs;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Better or worse investment performance;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Availability of a company match on your 401(k);<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Administrative fees associated with your 401(k);<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Choosing to invest in a traditional 401(k).</li> </ul> <p>If you opt for a traditional 401(k), your contributions come out of your pretax income, thereby reducing your taxable income, which could result in a lower tax liability and a higher tax refund. A tax refund could be applied to your credit card balance, allowing you to more easily pay off debt while also saving for retirement.</p> <p>To calculate the immediate tax benefit of saving within a traditional 401(k) account, multiply the contribution amount by your marginal tax rate. In addition, you could be eligible for a&nbsp;<a href="https://www.irs.gov/retirement-plans/plan-participant-employee/retirement-savings-contributions-savers-credit" target="_blank">saver's credit</a>, which further increases the benefit of retirement savings.</p> <h2>How to get started with either scenario</h2> <p>Whatever path you choose, you may need help taking first steps. Consider these ways to get started:</p> <h3>Debt payoff</h3> <ul> <li>Consider transferring or consolidating your balances on a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-0-balance-transfer-credit-cards?ref=internal" target="_blank">0% balance transfer card</a>.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Consider a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-do-a-one-month-spending-freeze?ref=internal" target="_blank">no-spend week or month</a> in which you don't spend on anything except essentials.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Apply cash gifts from family to credit card balances.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Work a part-time job to pay down balances.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Find ways to spend less on everyday expenditures and apply savings to debt payoff.</li> </ul> <h3>Retirement saving</h3> <ul> <li>Consider enrolling in your employer's retirement plan, if offered. You may have the opportunity to contribute to a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/403b-vs-401k-how-are-they-different?ref=internal" target="_blank">401(k) or 403(b) account</a>, for example.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Set up an&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/choosing-a-retirement-account-whats-available-and-what-s-best-for-you?ref=internal" target="_blank">IRA</a> with a brokerage account or&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-trust-your-money-with-these-4-popular-financial-robo-advisers?ref=internal" target="_blank">robo-adviser</a>.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Start an&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-sep-ira-is-how-the-self-employed-do-retirement-like-a-boss?ref=internal" target="_blank">SEP-IRA</a> if you have self-employment income.</li> </ul> <p>When considering your choices, keep in mind that credit card interest rates are relatively fixed, whereas investment returns tend to be much more variable. The main instances in which credit card rates fluctuate these days are when the Federal Reserve raises the federal funds rate, or when you make late payments and are charged a penalty interest rate.</p> <p>The point is, if your card's APR is 22%, you could be certain to save at least 22% of your balance by paying off credit card interest early. In contrast, the precise benefit of early investing is less certain.</p> <p>Should you save for retirement or pay off credit card debt? Doing the math can help you make a decision.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/julie-rains">Julie Rains</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/we-do-the-math-save-for-retirement-or-pay-off-credit-card-debt">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-dirty-secrets-of-credit-cards">The Dirty Secrets of Credit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-face-4-ugly-truths-about-retirement-planning">How to Face 4 Ugly Truths About Retirement Planning</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/half-of-americans-are-wrong-about-their-retirement-savings">Half of Americans Are Wrong About Their Retirement Savings</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/all-the-ways-minimum-payments-are-evil">All the Ways Minimum Payments Are Evil</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-reasons-early-retirement-might-be-financially-risky">4 Reasons Early Retirement Might Be Financially Risky</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Debt Management Retirement 401(k) APR bills calculating comparisons interest rates nest egg Paying Off Debt Thu, 18 May 2017 08:30:15 +0000 Julie Rains 1949201 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Times You Need to Walk Away From Your Dream Home http://www.wisebread.com/8-times-you-need-to-walk-away-from-your-dream-home <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-times-you-need-to-walk-away-from-your-dream-home" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-647168754.jpg" alt="Woman learning when to walk away from her dream home" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You think you've found the perfect house. But before you plunge into homeownership, you need to watch out for any warning signs this sale isn't meant to be. Ask yourself whether any of these things apply to you. If so, buying the home of your dreams may just have to wait.</p> <h2>1. You can't afford 20 percent down</h2> <p>The house may have everything you are looking for, but you need to make sure that the sale price isn't beyond your means. Ideally, you want to make a down payment of at least 20 percent. This may be a substantial amount of money, but without that down payment, your lender will likely ask you to pay for <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-is-private-mortgage-insurance-anyway?ref=internal" target="_blank">private mortgage insurance</a> &mdash; which can add hundreds of dollars a year to your homeownership costs.</p> <p>Moreover, the more you can put down up front, the smaller your monthly mortgage payments will be. If you are in the market for a home but can't hit that 20 percent mark, consider holding off on buying until you have a larger sum saved. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-easy-ways-to-start-saving-for-a-down-payment-on-a-home?ref=seealso" target="_blank">4 Easy Ways to Start Saving for a Down Payment on a Home</a>)</p> <h2>2. Your mortgage payments would restrict your ability to save</h2> <p>Even if you have the ability to put 20 percent down on the house, you may find that the monthly mortgage payments are higher than you can reasonably afford. The U.S. government recommends spending no more than 30 percent of your gross monthly income on housing. That means if you earn $3,000 per month before taxes, you shouldn't spend more than $900 per month on your mortgage.</p> <p>You may get approved for a loan much bigger than you expected, but don't use this as an excuse to buy more house than you can afford. If your payments are too high, you will find it harder to live comfortably or save money for anything besides housing costs. If you have to go into additional debt in order to make house payments, then your &quot;dream home&quot; could become more of a financial nightmare. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-make-ends-meet-when-youre-house-poor?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Make Ends Meet When You're House Poor</a>)</p> <h2>3. You didn't get a favorable interest rate</h2> <p>There are two key things that impact how much you'll end up paying for a house: the sale price, and the interest rate on the mortgage loan. Even if the sale price is within your predetermined budget, you may find your monthly payments to be onerous if the interest rate is too high. A modest difference in interest rate can mean thousands of dollars in extra costs over the lifetime of a loan.</p> <p>Your past financial history, debt load, and credit score impacts the interest rate that banks are willing to offer. The worse your credit, the higher the rate will be. If your credit score is low, you may be better off in the long run financially if you take time to pay off debt and make yourself more attractive to lenders. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-improve-your-credit-score-fast?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Ways to Improve Your Credit Score Fast</a>)</p> <h2>4. Your income situation may change for the worse</h2> <p>You may have found your dream home, but your ability to pay for that house may be based on income that's no longer a sure thing. Have you recently lost your job, or are you on the verge of a layoff? Were you counting on income from investments that have not performed as well as expected?</p> <p>If your income situation is unfavorable, consider waiting to buy a home. You don't want to exacerbate a difficult financial situation by taking on more expense than you can handle at that moment. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/make-these-5-money-moves-before-applying-for-a-mortgage?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Make These 5 Money Moves Before Applying for a Mortgage</a>)</p> <h2>5. It's a money pit</h2> <p>You're not opposed to a fixer-upper, but this house has more needed repairs than you bargained for. You also learned that it's horribly inefficient when it comes to heating and cooling. On top of that, there are sizable homeowners association and community fees that you hadn't taken into account. All of this adds up to a house that busts through your budget, and it may be a good idea to walk away. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-signs-the-house-you-want-to-buy-is-a-money-pit?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Signs the House You Want to Buy Is a Money Pit</a>)</p> <h2>6. There are signs that housing prices may drop</h2> <p>It's hard to predict where housing prices will go, but if the market is inflated, you may be better off waiting to see if prices come down. There are countless people who purchased homes during the housing bubble around 2005, only to see home prices drop precipitously. Many of these homeowners ended up underwater on their loans, and some even ended up losing their homes altogether.</p> <p>If you feel like the housing market is overheated and you are willing to be patient, you may save money on the purchase price if you wait for prices to drop. One big caveat to this is that it's also important to pay attention to interest rates. If interest rates are on the rise, it may be better to buy sooner rather than later.</p> <h2>7. The seller wants you to waive an inspection</h2> <p>During the housing boom more than a decade ago, competition for homes was so fierce that sellers often viewed a request for an inspection as a deal breaker. No matter how desperate you may be to land that perfect home, waiving an inspection is a risky proposition that could backfire on you. Without an inspection, you have no way of knowing if a home will be in dire need of repairs, now or down the road. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/thinking-of-skipping-the-home-inspection-heres-what-it-will-cost-you?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Thinking of Skipping the Home Inspection? Here's What It Will Cost You</a>)</p> <h2>8. The seller wants you to waive a title search</h2> <p>A search of a home's title is a crucial aspect of the homebuying process. This is where a buyer may uncover things about the history of the home, including when it was built, who has owned it, and whether there are any tax liens. It's extraordinarily risky to waive this contingency, so if a seller insists upon it, consider it a red flag and run. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/yes-you-need-home-title-insurance-heres-why?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Yes, You Need Home Title Insurance &mdash; Here's Why</a>)</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tim-lemke">Tim Lemke</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-times-you-need-to-walk-away-from-your-dream-home">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-reduce-mortgage-closing-costs">8 Ways to Reduce Mortgage Closing Costs</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-i-didnt-pay-my-mortgage-off-in-full">Why I Didn&#039;t Pay My Mortgage Off In Full</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-times-buying-a-home-with-cash-is-bad-for-your-budget">5 Times Buying a Home With Cash Is Bad for Your Budget</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/do-you-really-need-a-20-percent-down-payment-for-a-house">Do You Really Need a 20 Percent Down Payment for a House?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-signs-youre-paying-too-much-for-your-mortgage">8 Signs You&#039;re Paying Too Much for Your Mortgage</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing home buying home loans inspections interest rates mortgage private mortgage insurance red flags title search warning signs Tue, 25 Apr 2017 09:00:12 +0000 Tim Lemke 1931276 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Questions to Ask Before Signing Up for a New Credit Card http://www.wisebread.com/5-questions-to-ask-before-signing-up-for-a-new-credit-card <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-questions-to-ask-before-signing-up-for-a-new-credit-card" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-534306478.jpg" alt="questions to ask before signing up for a new credit card" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There's no shortage of attractive offers for new credit cards. The credit card industry is extremely competitive, and you are likely to come across advertising for new cards on television, in print, online, and even on airplanes. But as compelling as these offers can be, you still need to think carefully before applying. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/pre-approved-for-credit-card-offers-are-you-pre-qualified?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Pre-Approved for Credit Card Offers: What Does It Mean?</a>)</p> <p>Opening a new credit card account is an important financial decision, and you should consider these five things first.</p> <h2>1. Can you manage a new credit card account?</h2> <p>Before you even begin to consider which credit card to apply for, think about if you need a new credit card at all. If there's any chance that having a new credit card will entice you to overspend and incur debt, then it's best not to apply. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fastest-way-to-pay-off-10000-in-credit-card-debt?ref=seealso" target="_blank">The Fastest Way to Pay Off $10,000 in Credit Card Debt</a>)</p> <p>Keep in mind, too, that each new credit card you have will generate a new statement to review each month, and another bill to pay. If your new card is from a different issuer than your other cards, then you'll need to create a new online login and you might want to download a new mobile app. Having more cards than you can keep track of increases your chances of losing them or having one stolen.</p> <h2>2. Does this credit card meet your needs?</h2> <p>Just as there are dozens of different cars made for nearly any kind of use, there are hundreds of different credit cards designed to meet every conceivable need. If you tend to carry a balance on your credit cards, then you should be looking for a card with the lowest possible interest rate.</p> <p>You could also look for a card with an interest-free promotional financing offer, to help you pay off your debt sooner. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-pay-less-interest-on-your-credit-card-debt?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Pay Less Interest on Your Credit Card Debt</a>)</p> <p>If you always avoid interest charges by paying your entire statement balance in full, then you should be earning rewards for your spending in the form of points, miles, or cash back. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cash-back-vs-travel-rewards-pick-the-right-credit-card-for-you?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Cash Back vs Travel Rewards: Pick the Right Credit Card for You</a>)</p> <h2>3. What interest rates and fees will you have to pay?</h2> <p>Before you apply for a credit card, you should understand all of the costs of the card. Fortunately, credit card issuers are required to prominently disclose the important rates and fees in a standardized table. Any time you see a credit card application, you can look for a link to the &quot;terms and conditions&quot; or &quot;rates and fees.&quot; There, you will find a list of fees including the annual fee, late fee, cash advance fee, balance transfer fee, and foreign transaction fees, if any. It will also show you the standard interest rate and any promotional rates for new purchases, balances transfers, and cash advances. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/simple-guide-to-evaluating-a-credit-card-with-an-annual-fee?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Simple Guide to Evaluating a Credit Card With an Annual Fee</a>)</p> <h2>4. Do you qualify for approval?</h2> <p>There's no point in applying for a credit card if you won't be approved. First, you need to look up your credit score. Most credit card issuers now offer free access to your credit score online, and there are several websites that can also provide you with a free credit score.</p> <p>Next, you need to research the credit cards that you are applying for, and learn what kind of credit score is needed. For example, a credit card issuer's website may list each card according to the type of credit history needed, such as &quot;Average&quot; or &quot;Good.&quot; In addition, many credit card issuers will have special cards designated for people who are rebuilding their credit. Finally, you can assume that the most competitive premium rewards credit cards will only be offered to applicants with excellent credit. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-use-credit-cards-to-improve-your-credit-score?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Use Credit Cards to Improve Your Credit Score</a>)</p> <h2>5. Is this the most competitive offer available?</h2> <p>It's easy to find credit card offers, but it can take some time to locate the most competitive offer for your needs. If you are looking for a card with the lowest interest rate, then you need to look at the terms and conditions of multiple cards to find the best offer. And if you are trying to earn rewards, then you need to estimate the value of the rewards you would receive from the card, based on your own personal spending habits. Finally, you also need to take into account the value of any cardholder benefits offered, and the cost of the annual fee and other fees. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-sign-up-bonuses-for-airline-miles-credit-cards?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Credit Cards With the Best Sign Up Bonus Offers</a>)</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/jason-steele">Jason Steele</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-questions-to-ask-before-signing-up-for-a-new-credit-card">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-your-unused-credit-cards-may-be-costing-you">How Your Unused Credit Cards May Be Costing You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/stop-making-these-5-costly-credit-card-mistakes">Stop Making These 5 Costly Credit Card Mistakes</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-one-ratio-is-the-key-to-a-good-credit-score">This One Ratio Is the Key to a Good Credit Score</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-surprising-things-lenders-check-besides-your-credit-score">4 Surprising Things Lenders Check Besides Your Credit Score</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/building-a-credit-history">Building a Credit History</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards applications competitive offers credit card offers credit history credit score interest rates terms and conditions Tue, 18 Apr 2017 08:30:11 +0000 Jason Steele 1926749 at http://www.wisebread.com How a Credit Card Cash Advance Costs You More Than a Purchase http://www.wisebread.com/how-a-credit-card-cash-advance-costs-you-more-than-a-purchase <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-a-credit-card-cash-advance-costs-you-more-than-a-purchase" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-625782024.jpg" alt="Learning how a credit card cash advance costs more" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Credit cards are all about convenience. With one swipe, anything we want or need is right at our fingertips; and that includes cash. That convenience comes at a steep price, however &mdash; quite literally.</p> <p>Credit cards call it a &quot;cash advance&quot; when you use them to take cash out at an ATM, or use one of their convenience checks to pay for purchases (for example, when the vendor doesn't take credit cards, but will take a check).</p> <p>Here is what you need to know before even considering a cash advance, and some alternative solutions for when you need funds fast.</p> <h2>What is a credit card cash advance?</h2> <p>Taking a cash advance is done much the same way as making a withdrawal with your debit card. Instead of taking your own money out of your bank account, however, you borrow directly from your credit card. You may also receive checks in the mail from your card issuer that allow you to make credit card purchases via check payments. Again, this is not your money &mdash; the checks will pull funds from your credit card account.</p> <h2>What happens when you take a cash advance</h2> <p>Most credit card issuers impose entirely different terms on cash advance transactions. First, you will be charged a transaction fee, which will either be a flat rate or a percentage of the cash advance you're withdrawing (typically between 2 percent and 5 percent). Additional ATM fees and foreign transaction fees if you're out of the country may apply as well.</p> <p>In addition to fees, you'll likely be hit with a much higher interest rate. In some cases, the APR can be double the percentage for regular purchases. This catches many people off guard, since they're unaware different terms apply for cash advances. The longer it takes you to pay off this amount, the more that hefty interest will pile up.</p> <p>There is no grace period for cash advances, either. Typically, you have a month or so to pay off a credit card purchase in full before accruing any interest charges. This doesn't happen with a cash advance &mdash; you pay interest starting the day you make the transaction.</p> <p>Credit card companies also typically impose a separate limit on the amount of money you can take in a cash advance. This will often be much lower than your actual credit card limit.</p> <h2>How much will this actually cost you?</h2> <p>Let's say you are going out for dinner with friends, and you need to get a quick $40 from an ATM using your credit card. First, you will be hit with the cash advance fee. Next, you will start incurring interest on that withdrawal immediately (possibly around 30%). Furthermore, the operator of the ATM may also impose its own fees, which can be anywhere between $3&ndash;$5 per transaction. You could be looking at anywhere from $10&ndash;$15 in fees for taking out $40 (and that's assuming you pay it off by the next billing cycle). As you can see, that $40 dinner could wind up costing you $15 extra. Now imagine if you were borrowing $1,000 or more!</p> <h2>Alternatives to credit card cash advances</h2> <p>Simply put, you should always use a debit card to access cash instead of a credit card. Most major banks offer debit cards that can be used at in-network ATMs for no additional fees. In addition, many banks and credit unions are part of a larger ATM network that allows transactions for no additional fees.</p> <p>If the issue is that you're simply short on money, or stuck living paycheck-to-paycheck, a cash advance is not the solution. Instead, consider ways you can bring in extra income. Perhaps you can take up a part-time or side gig, sell a few items on eBay, or throw a big garage sale. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-come-up-with-1000-in-the-next-30-days?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Come Up With $1,000 in the Next 30 Days</a>)</p> <h2>When is it Ok to take a cash advance?</h2> <p>A cash advance isn't the best option, but if it's your <em>only</em> option in an emergency, take it. Be sure to understand that there will be fees involved and that you need to repay the money you borrowed as soon as possible.</p> <p>Cash advances should never be used for everyday expenses, &quot;fun&quot; money (shopping or gambling, for example), or even to make ends meet until your next paycheck. It can be all too easy to fall into a cycle of cash advances, which will ultimately lead to credit card debt. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fastest-way-to-pay-off-10000-in-credit-card-debt?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Fastest Way to Pay Off $10K in Credit Card Debt</a>)</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/jason-steele">Jason Steele</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-a-credit-card-cash-advance-costs-you-more-than-a-purchase">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-dirty-secrets-of-credit-cards">The Dirty Secrets of Credit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-a-balance-transfer-offer-a-good-deal">Is a Balance Transfer Offer a Good Deal?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-questions-to-ask-before-accepting-a-credit-card-offer">10 Questions to Ask Before Accepting a Credit Card Offer</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-pay-off-high-interest-credit-card-debt">5 Ways to Pay Off High Interest Credit Card Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/i-dont-love-capital-one-how-to-get-a-lower-apr-or-possibly-not">How to Get a Lower APR, or Possibly Not</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards APR borrowing money cash advance debt emergencies fees interest rates limits transactions Fri, 14 Apr 2017 08:30:14 +0000 Jason Steele 1925859 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Protect Yourself From Predatory Lending http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-yourself-from-predatory-lending <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-protect-yourself-from-predatory-lending" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-479413254_0.jpg" alt="Man learning how to recognize predatory lending" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="142" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Predatory lending has long been a problem for consumers. There is no exact definition of a predatory lender, but in general, these lenders either try to overcharge consumers for loans, or talk them into riskier loans that come with higher interest rates. Predatory lenders have one goal: They want to make as much money as possible on their loans, regardless of whether the loan product actually makes financial sense for the consumers.</p> <p>How, exactly, do people fall for this? It's actually not surprising when you understand the degree of manipulation predatory lenders will use. By targeting mainly elderly, low-income, or simply uninformed victims, these financial predators bank on convincing folks with poor or no credit that they have no other options for obtaining financing.</p> <p>If you don't fit the above criteria, don't think you're completely off their radar, either. Should you ever lose your job, need cash for an emergency, or suddenly find yourself facing steep medical bills, you just might be the next target of a predatory lender.</p> <p>Worried that a predatory lender might have targeted you? Here are the warning signs.</p> <h2>The Lender Wants You to Sign Now</h2> <p>Honest lenders will never pressure you to sign loan documents before you are comfortable. Legitimate lenders give you time to study the paperwork and research the fees and rates associated with the loan.</p> <p>Predatory lenders want you to sign paperwork as quickly as possible. That way, they can stick you with their high-cost loans before you have the chance to research lower-cost alternatives. Never do business with a lender who pressures you to act quickly. The odds are high that such a lender is a predator.</p> <h2>The Interest Rate Suddenly Rises</h2> <p>Predatory lenders like to entice new customers by advertising below-market interest rates on their websites or print ads. But when you actually call these lenders, you're told that you don't qualify for these low rates. Once these lenders have you on the phone, they'll try to convince you to sign up for a loan with a far higher rate.</p> <p>Don't fall for this trick. Companies that advertise interest rates that are far lower than their competitors are usually not trustworthy. The odds are high that these are predatory lenders trying to trick gullible borrowers.</p> <h2>They Tell You Not to Worry About Your Credit Score</h2> <p>Legitimate lenders rely heavily on your FICO credit score to determine if you should qualify for a loan and at what interest rate. This score tells lenders how well you've paid your bills in the past.</p> <p>Beware of lenders who say that your credit score doesn't matter or that they can approve you for a loan no matter how low your score is. Lenders who make these promises will charge you sky-high interest rates because they know that you're desperate for a loan. You're much better off working to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-use-credit-cards-to-improve-your-credit-score?ref=internal" target="_blank">improve your credit score</a> than taking out a costly high-interest-rate loan. Pay all your bills on time and pay down as much of your credit card debt as possible. Slowly, but steadily, your credit score will start to rise, and you can avoid the high rates of predatory lenders. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-pay-off-high-interest-credit-card-debt?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Ways to Pay Off High Interest Credit Card Debt</a>)</p> <h2>The Lender Asks You to Lie</h2> <p>Making false claims about your income or debt on a loan application is a crime, and you could face significant fines if you do. Predatory lenders, though, might encourage you to inflate your income or provide other false information.</p> <p>Ignore this temptation. No legitimate lender will ask you to lie on an application. Instead, lenders will take extra steps to make sure that the information you do provide on an application is true. For instance, they'll ask you to provide copies of your most recent paycheck stubs, bank account statements, and tax returns to verify your income.</p> <h2>Your Lender Tries to Talk You Into a Riskier Loan</h2> <p>Be careful if your lender continues to push a loan that sounds risky. Maybe you want to apply for a fixed-rate loan with a term of 15 or 30 years. If your lender pressures you to instead apply for an interest-only loan with a balloon payment &mdash; or something equally as complicated or risky &mdash; walk away. Legitimate lenders will never try to talk you into a loan that you don't want.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-yourself-from-predatory-lending">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-the-age-of-your-credit-history-matters">Why the Age of Your Credit History Matters</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-you-shouldnt-panic-if-your-credit-score-drops">Why You Shouldn&#039;t Panic If Your Credit Score Drops</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-surprising-ways-revolving-debt-helps-you">5 Surprising Ways Revolving Debt Helps You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-avoid-a-sweetheart-scam">How to Avoid a &quot;Sweetheart Scam&quot;</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-surprising-things-lenders-check-besides-your-credit-score">4 Surprising Things Lenders Check Besides Your Credit Score</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Consumer Affairs credit score interest rates lies loans manipulation predatory lending risk scams warning signs Tue, 07 Mar 2017 10:31:34 +0000 Dan Rafter 1901334 at http://www.wisebread.com Why the Age of Your Credit History Matters http://www.wisebread.com/why-the-age-of-your-credit-history-matters <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/why-the-age-of-your-credit-history-matters" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-472468032.jpg" alt="the age of your credit history" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>A healthy credit score shouldn't be underestimated.</p> <p>This three-digit number plays a pivotal role in your financial life, including whether or not you'll qualify for auto loans, mortgages, or credit cards, and if so, what interest rates you'll pay. It can even affect your career, particularly if it's in the finance field: A brokerage firm isn't likely to hire a candidate they suspect isn't good with money. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-surprising-ways-bad-credit-can-hurt-you?ref=seealso" target="_blank">15 Surprising Ways Bad Credit Can Hurt You</a>)</p> <p>Given how much weight your credit score carries, you should do everything within your power to maintain a high score. Yet, before you can maintain a good score, you have to understand the components that make up your credit score.</p> <h2>What Makes Up Your Credit Score</h2> <p>Credit scores aren't determined by a single factor, but rather multiple factors. Once you open a credit account, your creditors report account activity to the credit bureaus on a regular basis. The bureaus compile data related to your accounts, and based on reported information, the bureaus formulate a credit score.</p> <p>It probably comes as no surprise that your payment history and the amounts you owe have a tremendous impact on your personal score. Your payment history makes up 35% of your score, while the amount you owe makes up 30% of your score. If you pay your bills on time, avoid delinquencies, and keep your balances within a reasonable range, you'll eventually build up to a solid score.</p> <p>But even when you take these measures, good credit doesn't happen overnight. Because there's another factor that contributes to your overall score: When credit bureaus formulate credit scores, they also take into account the <em>age </em>of your credit history.</p> <p>The age or length of your credit history &mdash; which makes up 15% of your credit score &mdash; doesn't have as big an impact on your score as your payment history and amounts owed. Still, you shouldn't downplay the importance of credit age.</p> <h2>How Credit Age Relates to Credit Risk</h2> <p>Most of us rely on credit for an auto loan, a house, and a credit card. Even so, being a creditor is risky business, and banks don't arbitrarily approve credit applications. They consider several factors before approving financing, such as your income and your credit score. Even if you have adequate income and pay your bills on time, the bank might reject your application if you don't meet the minimum credit score requirement for a loan. This can happen if you have a young credit history. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-you-need-credit-and-how-to-build-it-from-scratch?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Build Your Credit From Scratch</a>)</p> <p>The age of credit history affects overall scores because a longer history provides a better assessment of risk level. Credit age takes two elements into consideration: the age of your oldest account, and the average age of all your accounts. The longer accounts remain open, the more your credit matures. And as your credit matures, credit scoring models slowly add points to your score.</p> <p>To illustrate, if you've had a credit history for the past six years with no negative activity appearing on your credit report, credit bureaus evaluate your entire borrowing pattern, and based on your history and record, deem you a responsible borrower. This is a fairly accurate assessment given the length of credit history. As a responsible borrower, you're rewarded with additional credit score points.</p> <p>But let's say you've only had a credit file for six months or a year. Given your short credit history, credit bureaus can't accurately rate creditworthiness. Despite paying your bills on time, you don't have a long borrowing track record. There just isn't enough evidence to gauge how well you manage credit &mdash; this happens with time. You have a short credit history, and unfortunately, your credit score pays the price. The good news, however, is that this is a temporary problem.</p> <h2>What Can You Do?</h2> <p>Credit scores range from 300 to 850. If you're aiming for a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-life-is-amazing-with-an-800-credit-score?ref=internal" target="_blank">perfect credit score</a>, understand that it takes years of responsible credit habits to achieve. It doesn't matter how well you manage your credit accounts in the first one or two years, you probably won't have as high of a credit score as someone who's had A+ credit for eight or nine years &mdash; but you can get there.</p> <p>Remember, your payment history and the amount you owe make up 35% and 30% of your credit score, respectively. So while your credit score might be low due to a short credit history today, keeping your credit card balances low and making timely monthly payments will gradually increase your score. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-use-credit-cards-to-improve-your-credit-score?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Use Credit Cards to Improve Your Credit Score</a>)</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-the-age-of-your-credit-history-matters">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-yourself-from-predatory-lending">How to Protect Yourself From Predatory Lending</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-why-credit-scores-and-reports-are-not-the-same">Here&#039;s Why Credit Scores and Reports Are Not the Same</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-you-shouldnt-panic-if-your-credit-score-drops">Why You Shouldn&#039;t Panic If Your Credit Score Drops</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-surprising-ways-revolving-debt-helps-you">5 Surprising Ways Revolving Debt Helps You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-reasons-why-youre-too-old-or-too-young-for-a-mortgage-loan">4 Reasons Why You&#039;re Too Old — Or Too Young — For a Mortgage Loan</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance age credit bureaus credit history credit score interest rates loans on time payments risk Tue, 07 Mar 2017 10:01:04 +0000 Mikey Rox 1901331 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Sales Strategies Your Bank Uses to Make Money http://www.wisebread.com/5-sales-strategies-your-bank-uses-to-make-money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-sales-strategies-your-bank-uses-to-make-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-482043394.jpg" alt="Woman learning sales strategies her bank is using" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Many people fail to realize that their banking institution is, in fact, a business. And as such, they're using a wide range of marketing and sales strategies on you, whether you realize it or not. It's up to you to be the smart customer. Let's review five of the sales strategies you should keep an eye on.</p> <h2>1. Cash or Gift Card Offer for Opening an Account</h2> <p>When a new bank branch opens in your neighborhood, you may receive a mailer informing you that you could receive a hefty cash bonus or gift card for opening a new account. Free money may sound great, until you realize that there is a catch. Very often you have to meet a minimum balance deposit for a required period of time, effectively locking you into doing business with the bank. Think about it: How often do you switch banks? Consider whether you really want to deal with having a new bank account before you jump at the offer.</p> <h2>2. Free Checking Account</h2> <p>There's no such thing as a free lunch, and some <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/banks-still-offering-free-checking-and-great-interest-rates?ref=internal" target="_blank">free checking accounts</a> are no exception. Common requirements that banks impose on their customers include:</p> <ul> <li>Maintaining a minimum balance. Some banks require a minimum daily balance per statement cycle to have a $0 monthly maintenance fee;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Meeting a minimum number of transactions. Some banks may require you to use your debit card a minimum of 10 to 12 times per month; or<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Making at least one monthly deposit. Often, that monthly deposit must be a direct deposit from your employer.</li> </ul> <p>Banks may set only one of these requirements or a combination of them. If you were to fall short on any of these requirements &mdash; such as making only 11 out of 12 required monthly transactions, or having an account balance below the required minimum for even just one day &mdash; you would get charged a fee for using your &quot;free&quot; checking account. Make sure you can easily meet their requirements before signing up.</p> <h2>3. Higher Interest Rate on Savings</h2> <p>A bank may offer what sounds like a very high savings rate, but the bank will use language such as &quot;up to 2% APY.&quot; To get the promised 2%, you'd have to keep a very high balance. Depending on the amount of money you actually have to put into the savings account, you might end up with a lower rate than you already have &mdash; 0.20% or 0.25% APY, for example. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-online-savings-accounts?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Best Online Savings Accounts</a>)</p> <h2>4. ATM Fees Refund</h2> <p>Let's face it: ATM fees are annoying, and some banks will offer to reimburse all or some of the ATM fees to make up for the inconvenience. However, the limit of the ATM fee reimbursement varies widely per banks. Some banks offer $10, $15, or $20 per statement cycle or month. With the average ATM fee at $2.90 in 2016, you could easily eat up any of those refunds in just a few trips to the ATM. Consider your ATM needs and options in your area before you sign up with a bank with limited network ATMs. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-make-sure-you-never-pay-an-atm-fee?ref=seealso" target="_blank">8 Ways to Avoid ATM Fees</a>)</p> <h2>5. Mobile Check Deposit</h2> <p>You've seen the TV ads: a busy Millennial, mom, or retiree totally ecstatic about how they can save time by depositing checks on the go with their smartphone. Snap, click, deposit! It's great for the average person with a few checks for small amounts, but if you're a freelancer or small business owner who thinks this will save you trips to the bank, think again. There are all sorts of limits on the amount per check (and even amount per 30 days) that you can deposit this way. Some banks offer special equipment that allows higher limits, but still, it may not be as convenient as you think. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-modern-ways-to-send-money-to-your-kid?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Modern Ways to Send Money Instead of Using a Check</a>)</p> <h2>The Bottom Line: Know Your Bank Fees!</h2> <p>When you're unhappy with your current financial institution, the promise of better banking through a higher savings interest rate, lack of fees, or refund of all ATM fees may sound enticing. While some of these selling points can indeed improve your financial situation, make sure to thoroughly review the requirements, if any, to gain access to the promised features. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/switch-to-a-better-bank-in-5-easy-steps?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Switch to a Better Bank in 5 Easy Steps</a>)</p> <p>When facing a list of potential requirements, do a cost-benefit analysis. For example, can I leave a $5,000 deposit to get a 1.5% APY without putting any pressure on my monthly budget? If so, then take advantage of that higher savings rate. Be a smart bank user, shop around, and evaluate all of your options.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!&nbsp;</h2> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a href="//www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2F5-sales-strategies-your-bank-uses-to-make-money&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2F5%20Sales%20Strategies%20Your%20Bank%20Uses%20to%20Make%20Money.jpg&amp;description=5%20Sales%20Strategies%20Your%20Bank%20Uses%20to%20Make%20Money" data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-config="above" data-pin-color="red" data-pin-height="28"><img src="//assets.pinterest.com/images/pidgets/pinit_fg_en_rect_red_28.png" alt="" /></a> </p> <!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><script type="text/javascript" async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/5%20Sales%20Strategies%20Your%20Bank%20Uses%20to%20Make%20Money.jpg" alt="5 Sales Strategies Your Bank Uses to Make Money" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-sales-strategies-your-bank-uses-to-make-money">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/switch-to-a-better-bank-in-5-easy-steps">Switch to a Better Bank in 5 Easy Steps</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-earn-a-good-interest-rate-in-a-low-rate-environment">How to Earn a Good Interest Rate in a Low-Rate Environment</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-signs-its-time-to-find-a-new-bank">5 Signs It&#039;s Time to Find a New Bank</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-unions-vs-banks-whats-the-difference">Credit Unions vs. Banks: What&#039;s the Difference?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-benefits-and-drawbacks-of-credit-unions">The Benefits and Drawbacks of Credit Unions</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Banking atm fees atms cash incentives credit unions interest rates mobile deposits sales strategies savings accounts Tue, 21 Feb 2017 10:31:29 +0000 Damian Davila 1893288 at http://www.wisebread.com The 25 Best Credit Cards From Credit Unions http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-credit-cards-from-credit-unions <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-best-credit-cards-from-credit-unions" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_smile_credit_card_588598074.jpg" alt="Woman using best credit cards from credit unions" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Credit unions have come a long way from their local, affinity group roots. These days credit unions offer all of the convenience and service of their much larger brethren, but usually at lower cost &mdash; and often with more personal customer service. Joining a credit union has never been easier, as most credit unions make membership available to almost anyone through affiliated nonprofits and groups. Of course, credit cards are among the banking products a credit union will offer.</p> <p>We've collected 25 of the best credit union credit cards on offer, many equal or superior to big bank cards. Have a look, and then decide if it's time to finally <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-good-reasons-to-choose-a-credit-union-instead-of-a-bank">dump your bank and join a credit union</a>.</p> <h2>Our Top 10 Credit Union Credit Cards</h2> <p>The 10 cards at the top of our list feature relatively low interest rates and familiar credit card features and perks.</p> <h3>State Department Federal Credit Union: Visa Platinum Card</h3> <p>The SDFCU offers a pair of Platinum Visa cards with several attractive benefits, including no balance transfer fees, and a rewards program called &quot;Flexpoint.&quot; Variable interest rates range between 7.49% and 15.24%, depending on credit score. The SDFCU is open to employees of the US State Department and their families, affiliated companies, and members of the American Consumer Council, which anyone can join.</p> <h3>GTE Financial Credit Union: Visa Platinum Card</h3> <p>The Platinum Visa from GTE Federal Credit Union offers attractive interest rates (8.49% for the best credit scores) and no balance transfer fees. Many credit union cards are shy with the rewards points, but this card features 2x and 3x points on promotional purchases throughout the year. Visa Alerts and Travel and Baggage insurance round out the perks. Membership in the GTEFCU is through employers, family members, or by joining GTE's CU Savers club.</p> <h3>Air Force Federal Credit Union: Visa Platinum Card<strong> </strong></h3> <p>You don't have to be a pilot to enjoy the benefits of the AFFCU Platinum Visa.There's no annual fee for this card, relatively low interest rates (starting at 8% for those with excellent credit scores), and 2,500 bonus CURewards points just for signing up. Membership is open to military service personnel and their families, government employees and their families, DOD contractors, and members of the Airman Heritage Foundation, which anyone can join for a fee.</p> <h3>Navy Federal Credit Union: cashRewards Credit Card</h3> <p>This card features no annual fee and an attractive cash back rewards program that returns 1.5% for every dollar spent. Interest rates start at 9.9%, so be sure to take advantage of the rewards while keeping balances at zero. There are no annual fees, no balance transfer fees, and no foreign transaction fees with this card. Membership is open to current and former service members, DOD civilians, and their families.</p> <h3>Pentagon Federal Credit Union: Platinum Rewards Visa Signature Card</h3> <p>The relatively high interest rates on this card (starting at 10.24%), make it an unwise choice for cardholders who carry a balance. For those who can keep balances low, the attractive rewards program can pay well, with 5x points for gasoline purchases and 3x for groceries. No annual fee and no foreign transactions fee keep the cost of this card down. PenFed membership is open to service members and their families, affiliate organizations, and members of Voices for America's Troops or the National Military Family Association, both of which anyone can join for a one-time fee.</p> <h3>Pentagon Federal Credit Union: Premium Travel Rewards American Express</h3> <p>As with the other PenFed card on this list, interest rates aren't the lowest, but the rewards are attractive, especially for frequent travelers. This card features a 12 month 0% balance transfer APR and pays 20,000 bonus points if new cardholders spend $2,500 in the first three months. There's no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees. PenFed membership is open to service members and their families, members of affiliate organizations, and members of Voices for America's Troops or the National Military Family Association, which anyone can join for a one-time fee.</p> <h3>Navy Federal Credit Union: Go Rewards Visa Signature Card</h3> <p>This Visa Signature card offers a decent rewards program &mdash; 3x points for restaurants, 2x for gasoline and 1x for everything else &mdash; at the cost of relatively high interest rates (9.74% to 18%, depending on credit score). There is no annual fee, no balance transfer fee, and no foreign transaction fee. Membership is open to current and former service members, DOD civilians, and their families.</p> <h3>Affinity Plus Credit Union: Visa Premier Classic</h3> <p>This no frills card from Affinity Plus Credit Union offers relatively low interest rates (8.65% to 18%, depending on creditworthiness), no annual fee, and no balance transfer fee. Other perks include a Rental vehicle damage waiver and Visa spending alerts. Membership is open to employees of the State of Minnesota, affiliate organizations, and members of the Affinity Plus Foundation, which anyone can join for a one-time fee.</p> <h3>NASA Federal Credit Union: Visa Platinum Advantage Rewards</h3> <p>This basic rewards card offers a point per dollar spent, which are redeemable for travel and merchandise. There is no annual fee and no balance transfer fee. Interest rates range from 10.17% to 18%, with a balance transfer rate of 7.90% on transfers made in the first 90 days. Membership is open to NASA employees and their families, affiliate organizations, and members of the National Space Society, which is free to join.</p> <h3>McGraw-Hill Federal Credit Union: Visa Platinum Card</h3> <p>This Platinum Visa card features interest rates between 9.9% and 18%, which is middle of the pack for this collection of cards. There is no annual fee. The rewards program requires a separate login on the credit union's website. The card offers Visa services not every credit union card offers, such as roadside assistance and car rental insurance. Membership is open to employer groups, members of their families, and members of VOICE foundation, which anyone can join.</p> <h2>Other Credit Union Credit Cards to Consider</h2> <p>If none of the above suit your needs, consider one of these.</p> <h3>Pentagon Federal Credit Union: Gold Visa Card</h3> <p>No frills, no fees, and relatively low interest rates (8.99% to 18%).</p> <p>PenFed membership is open to service members and their families, affiliate organizations, and members of Voices for America's Troops or the National Military Family Association, which anyone can join for a one-time fee.</p> <h3>Pentagon Federal Credit Union: Platinum Cash Rewards Visa Card</h3> <p>Cash back on gas of 3% or 5%, depending on which card you qualify for (Standard or Plus).</p> <p>PenFed membership is open to service members and their families, affiliate organizations, and members of Voices for America's Troops or the National Military Family Association, which anyone can join for a one-time fee.</p> <h3>Pentagon Federal Credit Union: Promise Visa Card</h3> <p>No fees, relatively low interest rates (8.99% to 18%).</p> <p>PenFed membership is open to service members and their families, affiliate organizations, and members of Voices for America's Troops or the National Military Family Association, which anyone can join for a one-time fee.</p> <h3>Pentagon Federal Credit Union: Defender Visa Signature Card</h3> <p>Cash back on all purchases of 1.5% and $100 bonus credit if new cardholders spend $1500 in the first three months.</p> <p>PenFed membership is open to service members and their families, affiliate organizations, and members of Voices for America's Troops or the National Military Family Association, which anyone can join for a one-time fee.</p> <h3>Lake Michigan Credit Union: Prime Platinum Visa Card</h3> <p>This card offers a relatively low interest rate (Prime + 3.00%) and no annual fee.</p> <p>Membership is open residents of Michigan, family members, and members of the ALS foundation, which requires a one-time fee.</p> <h2>Lake Michigan Credit Union: Max Rewards Visa Card</h2> <p>Cash back of 3% on gas (up to $500 per month), 2% on groceries (unlimited) and 1% on everything else (unlimited), redeemable via the CURewards program. No annual fee and no balance transfer fee.</p> <p>Membership is open residents of Michigan, family members, and members of the ALS foundation, which requires a one-time fee.</p> <h3>NASA Federal Credit Union: Visa Platinum Cash Rewards</h3> <p>Unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases. No annual, balance transfer, or foreign transaction fees.</p> <p>Membership is open to NASA employees and their families, affiliate organizations, and members of the National Space Society, which is free to join.</p> <h3>Affinity Plus Credit Union: Visa Premier Select Rewards</h3> <p>No annual or balance transfer fees. Earn one CURewards point per dollar spent, Visa Signature perks such as travel accident insurance and cell phone protection.</p> <p>Membership is open to employees of the State of Minnesota, affiliate organizations, and members of the Affinity Plus Foundation, which anyone can join for a one-time fee.</p> <h3>Apple Federal Credit Union: Visa Platinum</h3> <p>Low variable interest rates (5.99% to 18%) and no penalty APR. No annual, balance transfer, or foreign transaction fees.</p> <p>Membership in the credit union is open to anyone who lives, works, worships, volunteers, or attends school in several Northern Virginia counties, their families, and affiliated employee groups.</p> <h3>Apple Federal Credit Union: Signature Reward Visa</h3> <p>No annual, balance transfer, or foreign transaction fees. Earn 3x points on gas, 2x on groceries and 1x on everything else.</p> <p>Membership in the credit union is open to anyone who lives, works, worships, volunteers, or attends school in several Northern Virginia counties, their families, and affiliated employee groups.</p> <h3>Kitsap Credit Union: Visa Gold Card</h3> <p>Low variable APR (Prime +2.9%) and no annual, balance transfer, or foreign transaction fees.</p> <p>Membership is open to people who live work, or worship in the state of Washington.</p> <h3>Abri Credit Union: Visa Platinum Credit Card</h3> <p>Low interest rates (Prime + 3.9%), no annual, balance transfer, or foreign transaction fees. Promotional balance transfer rate of 1.99% for six months.</p> <p>Membership is open to people who live in select Chicagoland counties and their families.</p> <h3>Fort Community Credit Union: Visa Platinum Credit Card</h3> <p>Low variable APR (Prime + 3.99%), no annual, balance transfer, or foreign transaction fees. Cash back of 1% on all purchases.</p> <p>Membership is open to people who live and work in select counties in and around Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and their families.</p> <h3>America First Credit Union: Visa Platinum Credit Card</h3> <p>Cash back of 1.5% on all purchases, no annual or balance transfer fees.</p> <p>Membership is open to those who live, work, or worship in select Utah, Arizona, and Nevada counties.</p> <h3>Suncoast Credit Union: Reward Platinum Visa</h3> <p>Variable interest rates starting at 8.9%, one rewards point for every dollar spent, redeemable for travel and merchandise. No annual or balance transfer fees.</p> <p>Membership is open to those who live or work in select Florida counties and their families.</p> <h3>Alliant Credit Union: Visa Platinum Credit Card</h3> <p>Introductory APR of 0% for 12 months; variable after (9.74% to 21.74%). No annual fee, no balance transfer fee.</p> <p>Membership is open to select employer groups, people who live or work in select Chicagoland counties, or members of a nonprofit, which anyone can join for a one-time fee.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/greg-go">Greg Go</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-credit-cards-from-credit-unions">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-dirty-secrets-of-credit-cards">The Dirty Secrets of Credit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-a-credit-card-cash-advance-costs-you-more-than-a-purchase">How a Credit Card Cash Advance Costs You More Than a Purchase</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-card-fees-hidden-and-otherwise">Credit Card Fees: Hidden and Otherwise</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-a-balance-transfer-offer-a-good-deal">Is a Balance Transfer Offer a Good Deal?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-0-balance-transfer-credit-cards">The Best 0% Balance Transfer Credit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards APR cash back credit unions interest rates rewards cards Sat, 28 Jan 2017 01:09:38 +0000 Greg Go 1882265 at http://www.wisebread.com Why You Shouldn't Panic If Your Credit Score Drops http://www.wisebread.com/why-you-shouldnt-panic-if-your-credit-score-drops <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/why-you-shouldnt-panic-if-your-credit-score-drops" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_shocked_bills_183361464.jpg" alt="Woman learning not to panic after a credit score drop" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Credit scores matter &mdash; in a big way. Mortgage lenders rely on these numbers to determine who qualifies for home loans and at what interest rates. You'll struggle to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-credit-cards-for-people-with-excellent-credit?ref=internal">qualify for the best credit cards</a> if your score is too low. And getting an auto loan? A low score will leave you again with higher interest rates, if you can find financing at all.</p> <p>So what if your credit score takes a fall? First, don't panic. Second, it's time to take the steps necessary to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-rebuild-your-credit-in-8-simple-steps?ref=internal">boost your score</a>.</p> <h2>How Scores Work</h2> <p>Before panicking over a credit score drop, it's important to learn how scores work.</p> <p>The most important credit score is your FICO credit score. Generally, lenders consider a FICO score of 740 or more to be in the top range. But if your score is under 640, you'll struggle to qualify for mortgage or auto loans. And when you do qualify, you'll pay high interest rates because lenders view you as a risky borrower.</p> <p>Your credit score is a quick representation of how well you've handled your credit in the past. If you have a history of mailing in credit card payments late, your score will fall. If you've missed payments on your auto loan in the recent past, your score will, again, take a tumble. A large amount of credit card debt could hurt your score, too. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-one-ratio-is-the-key-to-a-good-credit-score?ref=seealso">The Most Important Ratio That Determines Your Credit Score</a>)</p> <p>If you instead have a history of paying your bills on time and have a manageable amount of credit card debt, you should have a solid FICO credit score.</p> <h2>Checking Your Score</h2> <p>You can order one free copy of each of your three credit reports &mdash; maintained by the national credit bureaus of TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax &mdash; each year from AnnualCreditReport.com. This report will list your credit card, auto, mortgage, and other open accounts. It will also list any of your missed or late payments from the last seven years.</p> <p>This is important information to have: It can tell you quickly why your credit score might be lower than you thought. A single missed or late payment can drop your credit score by more than 100 points.</p> <p>But a credit report doesn't list your credit score. To get your score, you'll usually have to pay. You can spend about $15 to order your FICO credit score from Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion. Each of the scores from these credit bureaus might be slightly different, but they should all be fairly similar.</p> <p>Your credit card provider might <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-that-offer-free-credit-scores?ref=internal">provide your credit score</a> with each bill it sends you, too. A growing number of card providers are doing this. Be careful, though: This score might not be your official FICO score, but instead an alternative score. These alternative scores do generally sync up with what your actual FICO score might be, but it's best to order your FICO score if you want to see the same credit score that mortgage and auto lenders will see.</p> <h2>If Your Score Has Dropped</h2> <p>What if your score has taken a fall since the last time you reviewed it? What if it's much lower than you expected?</p> <p>Again, this is not the time to panic. It's the time to act.</p> <p>First, try to determine <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-surprising-ways-to-negatively-affect-your-credit-score?ref=internal">why your score might have fallen</a>. Some reasons are obvious: If you forgot to pay your auto loan earlier this year or if you sent in a credit card payment more than 30 days late, your score could dip by 100 points or more. But smaller dips &mdash; ranging from 10 to 60 points or so &mdash; can be the result of less obvious financial missteps.</p> <p>Did you close a credit card lately? You might think that's a smart financial move. After all, once you've paid off a credit card account, you don't want to run up its balance again. By closing it, that can't happen.</p> <p>But closing a credit card can ruin something called your <em>credit utilization ratio</em>. This ratio measures how much of your available credit you are using at any one time. Using too much of your available credit can cause your FICO score to fall. Closing an open credit card account can immediately weaken this ratio. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-times-its-okay-to-close-a-credit-card?ref=seealso">5 Times It's Okay to Close a Credit Card</a>)</p> <p>Here's an example: Say you have three credit cards all with an available credit limit of $3,000. This gives you a total available credit of $9,000. Say you also have $3,000 worth of credit card debt. You are now using 33% of your available credit.</p> <p>If you close one of those cards, you'll immediately lower the amount of credit available to you by $3,000, from $9,000 to $6,000. If you have the same $3,000 of credit card debt, you are now using 50% of your available credit, for a significantly higher credit utilization ratio.</p> <p>Another reason for a sudden fall in your FICO credit score: Have you been applying for several new credit cards? If you are, your score can fall. Every time you apply for a new form of credit, something called an <em>inquiry </em>is filed on your credit report. Each inquiry can cause your credit score to fall by a small amount, maybe one to five points. If you make several inquiries for new credit at the same time, this can cause a bigger drop to your score.</p> <p>The good news is that inquiries don't always hurt your score by much. Say you are ready to apply for a mortgage loan and you are shopping around with different mortgage lenders. Each of these lenders will run a credit check on you. Each of the inquiries that these lenders make, though, will be counted as just one total inquiry. That's because you are applying for one mortgage loan, not several new credit cards.</p> <h2>Fixing a Drop</h2> <p>Once you determine why your credit score has fallen, it's time to fix the problem.</p> <p>Realize, though, that if your score has fallen significantly from a missed or late payment, it will take time to recover. Pay your bills on time and cut back on your credit card debt. Do this for a long enough period of time &mdash; several months, maybe a year or longer &mdash; and your FICO credit score will steadily improve. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-increase-your-credit-score-quickly?ref=seealso">How to Improve Your Credit Score Quickly</a>)</p> <p>If your score has fallen by a smaller amount, say 10 to 50 points, your recovery period will be shorter. Often, these drops will fix themselves. Pay down a good chunk of your credit card debt &mdash; without closing any credit card accounts &mdash; and your score should improve. Keep paying your bills on time every month, and, again, your score will rise.</p> <p>There are no quick fixes for drops in your credit score. But there are also no scores that can't be rebuilt. All it requires is patience, a willingness to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fastest-way-to-pay-off-10000-in-credit-card-debt?ref=internal">pay down large amounts of credit card debt</a> and a vow to pay all of your bills on time every month.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-you-shouldnt-panic-if-your-credit-score-drops">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-surprising-things-lenders-check-besides-your-credit-score">4 Surprising Things Lenders Check Besides Your Credit Score</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-why-credit-scores-and-reports-are-not-the-same">Here&#039;s Why Credit Scores and Reports Are Not the Same</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-the-age-of-your-credit-history-matters">Why the Age of Your Credit History Matters</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-surprising-ways-revolving-debt-helps-you">5 Surprising Ways Revolving Debt Helps You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-protect-yourself-from-predatory-lending">How to Protect Yourself From Predatory Lending</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance credit history credit score FICO score interest rates loans qualifying Thu, 15 Dec 2016 10:00:09 +0000 Dan Rafter 1852821 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Investments That May Soar During Trump's Term http://www.wisebread.com/8-investments-that-may-soar-during-trumps-term <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-investments-that-may-soar-during-trumps-term" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/donald_trump_speech_609937238.jpg" alt="Learning investments that may soar during Trump&#039;s term" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>What will the presidency of Donald J. Trump mean for your finances? No one knows just yet, but it's possible to make some educated guesses based on some of his public statements.</p> <p>President-Elect Trump has advocated for lower taxes and higher spending on infrastructure and defense. He's also pushed for policies that could lead to higher interest rates and inflation.</p> <p>It's worth noting that all investment returns are based on a variety of factors separate from who lives in the White House. But here are some investments that might do well under a Trump presidency.</p> <h2>1. Defense Contractors</h2> <p>At various times, President-Elect Trump has spoken about the need to bolster the U.S. Military and has talked about acting more aggressively against terrorism. So it's not a bad bet to look at major defense contractors including Lockheed Martin [NYSE: <a href="https://www.google.com/finance?cid=21553">LMT</a>], Northrop Grumman [NYSE: <a href="https://www.google.com/finance?q=NYSE%3ANOC&amp;ei=D9I9WICUI8yJef_Us_AL">NOC</a>], and Raytheon [NYSE: <a href="https://www.google.com/finance?q=RTN&amp;ei=NdI9WJmYH8_BeuKspbAL">RTN</a>]. If you're not comfortable picking individual stocks, take a look at mutual funds like the Fidelity Select Defense&amp; Aerospace fund [NYSE: <a href="https://www.google.com/finance?q=FSDAX&amp;ei=QtI9WJDHLJLteM3pgcgL">FSDAX</a>] or ETFs like the iShares Aerospace&amp; Defense ETF [NYSE: <a href="https://www.google.com/finance?q=ITA&amp;ei=W9I9WPDdGsmPeYPRs-AL">ITA</a>].</p> <h2>2. Oil Stocks</h2> <p>Trump has voiced support for allowing oil companies to drill on more land, including offshore areas that were declared off limits under President Obama. Such a change would, in theory, give companies like Exxon [NYSE: <a href="https://www.google.com/finance?q=NYSE%3AXOM&amp;ei=fNI9WNDlDcq_evSXhOAL">XOM</a>] and Chevron [NYSE: <a href="https://www.google.com/finance?q=CVX&amp;ei=wtI9WNm-J8LLeZnHi-AM">CVX</a>] access to more supply. There is one big caveat here, which is that oil prices have already dropped due to a glut of supply versus demand, so it's unclear what impact any changes might immediately have.</p> <h2>3. Heavy Equipment Manufacturers</h2> <p>The President-Elect has said he will &quot;Make America Great Again&quot; through massive investment in infrastructure. This means big construction and repairs of roads, bridges, buildings, and airports. And that work can't be carried out without big machines. Look to a stock like Caterpillar [NYSE: <a href="https://www.google.com/finance?q=CAT&amp;ei=1dI9WMHkHdibee3Wn6AL">CAT</a>], which saw shares rise 7% immediately after Trump's election. Asian companies including Doosan (the maker of Bobcat), Hitachi, and Komatsu could also see good results from an infrastructure spending binge.</p> <h2>4. Steel Companies</h2> <p>The steel industry would also get a boost from more infrastructure spending, and Trump has also promised to crack down on the illegal &quot;dumping&quot; of Chinese steel into the U.S. market. If indeed he's serious about support for American steel, that could be a boon for companies like Nucor [NYSE: <a href="https://www.google.com/finance?q=NYSE%3ANUE&amp;ei=ANM9WNHtNNSIe63PqagL">NUE</a>] and U.S. Steel, [NYSE: <a href="https://www.google.com/finance?q=NYSE%3AX&amp;ei=GNM9WOmbI86feYqyrdAL">X</a>].</p> <h2>5. Cement Companies</h2> <p>Another sector that could see good profits from more infrastructure spending. And if Trump somehow manages to build that wall along the Mexican border, it has to be made out of something. Most of the largest cement manufacturers are overseas, but look at France-based Lafarge, Germany-based Heidelberg, Mexico-based Cemex, and a host of Chinese manufacturers.</p> <h2>6. Private Prisons</h2> <p>The Obama administration this year announced that the Justice Department would phase out its use of private prisons. But there's no guarantee Trump won't halt that process. And if he follows through on his efforts to deport millions of illegal immigrants, the country may need jail capacity to hold them as they go through a judicial process. Companies including Geo Group [NYSE: <a href="https://www.google.com/finance?q=NYSE%3AGEO&amp;ei=JdM9WIn8N8LLeZnHi-AM">GEO</a>] and CoreCivic [NYSE: <a href="https://www.google.com/finance?q=CXW&amp;ei=TtM9WOnyBtibee3Wn6AL">CXW</a>] could cash in. Also look to companies that provide health care and phone services to prisons.</p> <h2>7. Banks</h2> <p>President-Elect Trump has said he will roll back many regulations that were put in place after the financial crisis in 2009. Some supporters have argued that repeal of the Dodd-Frank legislation will free banks up to lend more. Shares of JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs, and Bank of America have shot up since the election. Investors in big banks also may be excited by proposals for lower taxes and more infrastructure savings.</p> <h2>8. Commodities</h2> <p>Many observers predict that Trump's economic policies could lead to inflation. And when prices go up, it's usually a good thing for things like precious metals, oil, and agriculture products. It's possible to invest in commodities directly, or invest in mutual funds and exchange-traded funds that track all commodities or commodity sectors as a group.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tim-lemke">Tim Lemke</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-investments-that-may-soar-during-trumps-term">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/could-trump-bring-higher-interest-rates-and-inflation-consider-these-money-moves">Could Trump Bring Higher Interest Rates and Inflation? Consider These Money Moves</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-cool-things-bonds-tell-you-about-the-economy">7 Cool Things Bonds Tell You About the Economy</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/while-waiting-for-rates-i-bonds">While Waiting for Rates: I-Bonds</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-make-sure-you-dont-run-out-of-money-in-retirement">How to Make Sure You Don&#039;t Run Out of Money in Retirement</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-much-money-will-you-need-to-retire">How Much Money Will You Need to Retire?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Investment donald trump inflation infrastructure interest rates military oil presidency prisons steel Mon, 05 Dec 2016 11:00:09 +0000 Tim Lemke 1845282 at http://www.wisebread.com Could Trump Bring Higher Interest Rates and Inflation? Consider These Money Moves http://www.wisebread.com/could-trump-bring-higher-interest-rates-and-inflation-consider-these-money-moves <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/could-trump-bring-higher-interest-rates-and-inflation-consider-these-money-moves" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/donald_trump_98978789.jpg" alt="Donald Trump could bring higher interest rates and inflation" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>In a matter of weeks, America will have a new President, and people are already speculating as to what a new man in the White House will mean for the economy.</p> <p>Donald Trump outlined a series of policy proposals on the campaign trail, including some that, according to economists, may impact inflation and interest rates. This comes at a time when the Federal Reserve has been hinting at raising interest rates for a while. So if all of this happens, what should you do with your money? Here are some ideas.</p> <h2>If There's Inflation</h2> <p>Ifd the federal government opens up the fiscal spigot, inflation is sure to follow.</p> <h3>1. Take a Look at Gold</h3> <p>Gold has long been a popular investment for those seeking protection against inflation, especially during times of political and global uncertainty. Prices for gold spiked in the immediate aftermath of Trump's election, but are still quite low from a historical standpoint.</p> <p>There are several ways to purchase gold. You can buy gold bars or bullion and store it, or purchase shares of companies involved in gold mining. There are also exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that track the performance of gold or gold-related industries.</p> <h3>2. Get Into TIPS</h3> <p>The U.S. Treasury offers something called Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities, or TIPS. These are pegged to the Consumer Price Index, so when the index rises, the value of the investment rises with it. These are solid, low-risk investments that are perfect for when inflation is a possibility, and they are exempt from state and local income taxes. It's also possible to own TIPS in a retirement fund, via an ETF or mutual fund.</p> <h3>3. Invest in Commodities</h3> <p>In addition to gold, there are other commodities that can be used as a hedge against inflation. Many commodities, including oil, wheat, and even live cattle naturally rise with inflation. If you're unsure of which commodities to buy, consider looking at a fund or ETF that invests in commodities broadly. The PowerShares DB Commodity Index Tracking Fund [NYSE: <a href="http://www.google.com/finance?cid=722064">DBC</a>]) and the Fidelity Series Commodity Strategy Fund [NYSE: <a href="https://www.google.com/finance?q=FCSSX&amp;ei=4G48WJC_BdWNmAHcobLABw">FCSSX</a>] are two examples.</p> <h3>4. Get Real With Real Estate</h3> <p>Real estate is another area that often does well during an inflationary period. There are many ways to obtain real estate, either by purchasing property directly, or by buying shares of real estate investment trusts, or REITs. The caveat here is that if interest rates rise, then the cost of a mortgage to purchase real estate will also go up. So it may be smart to get in now while interest rates are still at historic lows.</p> <h2>If Interest Rates Rise</h2> <p>The Federal Reserve is expected to tick interest rates up a bit soon, while Trump's economic proposals could accelerate that process.</p> <h3>1. Invest in Banks</h3> <p>Banks generally do better when interest rates are higher than they are now. Right now, these companies have a low &quot;net interest margin&quot; &mdash; the difference between the interest they earn and the interest they pay out. Higher rates will increase this margin, thus increasing the bank's profitability.</p> <h3>2. Lock in a Fixed Rate</h3> <p>If you have a mortgage with an adjustable rate, now is the time to lock into something more stable, before interest rates rise. Convert your mortgage to a fixed-rate loan now, while interest rates are low. If you don't do this, your rate could adjust upward to a level that you may find unsustainable.</p> <h3>3. Switch to Short-Term Bonds</h3> <p>If interest rates are about to go up, you don't want your money tied up in something that's not paying a high rate. Placing your money in shorter term bonds and bond funds will allow you to remove your money earlier and then reinvest it in something with a higher return once rates rise. Long-term bonds do pay a higher rate than short-term bonds, but you lose flexibility.</p> <h3>4. Bolster Your Cash Holdings</h3> <p>With interest rates at ultralow levels, there hasn't been much incentive to hold on to a lot of cash. But if interest rates rise, you may find it's worth it to have a little more cash on hand, as it will generate some income for you. Stocks and other investments will probably still be more lucrative, but higher interest rates means there won't be as much downside to having more liquid savings, and it may give you more peace of mind.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tim-lemke">Tim Lemke</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/could-trump-bring-higher-interest-rates-and-inflation-consider-these-money-moves">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/oh-noes-inflation">Oh noes! Inflation!</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-best-money-management-tips-from-john-oliver">7 Best Money Management Tips From John Oliver</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-investments-that-may-soar-during-trumps-term">8 Investments That May Soar During Trump&#039;s Term</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/can-a-little-inflation-be-good">Can a Little Inflation Be Good?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-rising-interest-rates-can-help-your-wallet">8 Ways Rising Interest Rates Can Help Your Wallet</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Financial News bonds donald trump federal reserve gold inflation interest rates investing president Wed, 30 Nov 2016 12:00:11 +0000 Tim Lemke 1843966 at http://www.wisebread.com Surprise! There's a Gender Gap in Mortgages, Too http://www.wisebread.com/surprise-theres-a-gender-gap-in-mortgages-too <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/surprise-theres-a-gender-gap-in-mortgages-too" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_chalk_house_29878474.jpg" alt="Woman facing gender gap in mortgage lending" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The gender gap in earnings is well known. According to a recent report by the Economic Policy Institute, the typical woman can expect to earn 83 cents for every dollar that the typical man earns.</p> <p>But studies show another gender gap that negatively impacts women: Research published by the Urban Institute in September said that women tend to pay more for their mortgages even though they are statistically more likely to pay their loans on time than men.</p> <h2>The Numbers</h2> <p>According to the Urban Institute, about 15.6% of female borrowers have what is known as a &quot;higher-priced mortgage.&quot; Borrowers with such mortgages are charged higher interest rates to borrow their home-loan dollars.</p> <p>How high these rates are at any given time varies. The Urban Institute uses the same definition of higher-priced mortgage used by the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act: a mortgage loan with an annual percentage rate that is higher than the benchmark interest rate known as the Average Prime Offer Rate. That rate stood at 3.58% for a 30-year fixed-rate loan as of June 20 of this year.</p> <p>The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau considers a first mortgage loan to be a higher-priced mortgage if its annual percentage rate is 1.5% or more higher than the Average Prime Offer Rate.</p> <p>The Urban Institute found that while 15.6% of female-only borrowers are paying off higher-priced mortgages, just 15% of male-only borrowers are doing the same. The institute found that male-female borrowers who apply for loans together receive higher-priced mortgages only 7.6% of the time.</p> <h2>Why Are Women Paying More?</h2> <p>Why do single women pay more for their mortgages? It's difficult to tell. It might come down to income. The Urban Institute reported that single female borrowers tend to have lower annual incomes than single males. According to the institute, single female borrowers earned an average of $69,200 a year. Single male borrowers had an average income of $94,700. Male-female borrowers had an even higher annual income of $119,000.</p> <p>Income is one of the financial factors that lenders consider when deciding who qualifies for a mortgage and what interest rates they pay. Lenders often charge higher rates as a form of financial protection when they worry that borrowers' incomes are lower, because they fear that these borrowers will be less likely to pay their loans back on time.</p> <p>Borrowers with lower incomes also have less money for a down payment. When borrowers put down less for a house, they are typically charged a higher interest rate, again to make up for the extra risk that lenders take on when loaning them money. Lenders assume that borrowers who put less money down are more likely to stop paying their mortgage loan if they suffer a financial crisis.</p> <p>But what about FICO credit scores? These three-digit numbers tell lenders whether borrowers have a history of paying their bills on time or if they tend to miss payments and run up credit card debt. Lenders charge higher interest rates to borrowers with low credit scores.</p> <p>But from 2004 to 2014, the Urban Institute found, female-only borrowers had an average FICO credit score of 711, similar to the average 712 score of male-only borrowers. That score is significantly lower, though, than the 725 average score submitted by joint male-female borrowers.</p> <p>Credit bureau Experian reported in March of this year that the average FICO credit score for all women is 675, a bit higher than the average score of 670 for men. Women also had 3.7% less average debt than men, according to Experian.</p> <h2>Better Record</h2> <p>Despite paying more for their mortgages, female-only borrowers tend to do a slightly better job of paying them on time than do male-only borrowers. According to the Urban Institute, female-only borrowers had a default rate on their loans of 9.6% from 2008 through 2010. Male-only borrowers had a slightly higher default rate of 9.7% during this same time.</p> <h2>What to Do?</h2> <p>What does all this mean for women applying for mortgage loans? If they are applying for mortgages on their own and want the lowest interest rates possible, they need to make sure that their finances are strong.</p> <p>This means that their FICO credit score should be at least 740 if they want to qualify for the lowest interest rates. It also means that their monthly debts, including their estimated new mortgage payment, should be 43% or less than their gross monthly income.</p> <p>Single male borrowers need to focus on the same factors, of course. But the research from the Urban Institute indicates that strong FICO scores and debt-to-income ratios are especially important for single females who want to avoid the financial burden of a higher-priced mortgage.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/surprise-theres-a-gender-gap-in-mortgages-too">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-it-safe-to-re-finance-your-home-close-to-retirement">Is it Safe to Re-Finance Your Home Close to Retirement?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-times-you-need-to-walk-away-from-your-dream-home">8 Times You Need to Walk Away From Your Dream Home</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-you-should-consider-an-adjustable-rate-mortgage">Why You Should Consider an Adjustable-Rate Mortgage</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-times-buying-a-home-with-cash-is-bad-for-your-budget">5 Times Buying a Home With Cash Is Bad for Your Budget</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-valuable-rights-you-might-lose-when-you-refinance-student-loans">8 Valuable Rights You Might Lose When You Refinance Student Loans</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing gender home loans interest rates mortgage gap wage gap women Tue, 29 Nov 2016 11:00:09 +0000 Dan Rafter 1834563 at http://www.wisebread.com