Learn How an Instant Credit Report Can Help You Get a Mortgage

If you are contemplating buying a home, you should first order up an instant credit report so that you can see exactly where you stand with regards to your credit history.

Get a 3 in 1 credit report so you can see your credit history as it is reported by the three credit bureaus, TransUnion, Equifax and Experian.

The reason you need to get your report from all three bureaus is because the bureaus each compile their own reports and the information can be different.

By ordering your 3 in 1 credit report online you will know almost immediately what your credit history is, and how it affects your all important credit score.

Your credit score is basically a summation of the contents of your credit report broken down into a mathematical formula that then yields a three digit number.

The range is 350-850. As a rule of thumb, a credit score of 720 or higher is considered to be very good and is looked upon quite favorably by creditors.

Click here now to get your Credit Report, Credit Score & FICO Score!

If your credit score is below the magic 720 level, fear not, there is no need to panic. There are several ways that you can improve your credit score in a relatively short period of time.

When we talk about a big ticket debt item like a mortgage, improved interest rates can add up to tens of thousands of dollars in savings over the life of the loan.

With that said, you can see why it is so vitally important to know exactly what information your credit report contains.

Be prepared and avoid unpleasant surprises. Order your instant credit report before you apply for a mortgage. You’ll be glad you did.

There are 5 key components that make up your credit report. Making improvements in just one of these areas will have a positive affect on your credit score. Generally speaking, these components are:

* Bill paying history – 35 percent of your total score
* Current debt vs. available credit – 30 percent
* Length of your established credit history – 15 percent
* New credit applications – 10 percent
* Current outstanding loans and lines of credit – 10 percent

If you have the discipline, and are dedicated to taking the necessary steps, such as paying your bills on time and reducing your level of debt, you will see your credit score gradually improve.

It won’t happen overnight, but you will see your credit score start to rise in a few months. That is the advantage of having an instant credit report. It allows you to see exactly where you stand as far as credit-worthiness goes.

Having the opportunity to see your credit report also allows you to check for errors and inaccurate information.

Locating and fixing reporting errors can have a profound affect on your credit score so you most definitely want to file a dispute claim, if and when errant information is discovered. The payoff is a better credit score, which translates into better mortgage rates.

Issuers Raising Rates Ahead of Consumer Protections

Well, I don’t know about you but I got mine last week. I’m talking about a letter from my credit card company telling me that they are going to raise my interest rates. Millions of these letters in fact have gone out as the credit card issuers raise interest rates as the first of the consumer protections kick in this week.

The first provision of the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act (CARD) that was passed earlier this year goes into effect on August 20, 2009. That provision states that the credit card companies must send out their bills at least 21 days in advance of the due date.

Currently the credit card issuers are required to send out their bills 14 days prior to the due date. The extra 7 days is designed to give those cardholders that carry a balance from month to month more notice and hopefully it will mean fewer will get hit by late fees due to the post office not delivering their bills promptly.

The second provision, that will go into effect this week, will require that credit card companies give their customers 45 days notice prior to raising their interest rates. Currently credit card issuers are only required to give their customers 15 days notice before they can raise their rates.

All of the provisions of the act will fully go into effect by February 2010. The reason so many people are seeing hikes in their interest rates now is because the credit card companies want to get ahead of the new laws. No surprise there at all.

The only questions that remain are why didn’t the provisions go into effect immediately? Why such a long lag-time between when the bill is signed and when it actually goes into effect? Could it have been a deal worked out between Congress and the lobbyists of the credit card companies in which the credit card companies were given time to raise rates before the reforms went into effect? Just asking.

How Small Businesses Use Their Credit Cards

A survey was done recently to find out how small business use their credit cards. This survey reported among other primary uses 22 percent of the users used their credit cards for record keeping purposes while 20 percent used them because they are convenient. 18 percent of those surveyed liked the rewards earned with the purchases they made and 10 percent used them for short-term cash flow.

Others sited all of the above were extremely valuable in the operating of a small business. The surveys main finding is most small business owners tend to pay the balance in full at the end of each month. This information implies that owners of small businesses are not likely to make a purchase they are unable to pay off at the end of the month.

It has also been noted by Visa the surge in the use of credit cards for tax payment and tax preparations by the business owner. Visa also noted the tax preparations and other tax payment transaction are 3 times larger than the dollar amount on other purchases.

It is understandable for a small business to use a credit card to make tax payments because of a large account receivable customer base. They may experience a shortage of cash flow while waiting to get paid.

It has also been noted more and more entrepreneurs are starting their businesses with credit cards. Experts say, Self-financing your small business with credit cards is a faster path to success. An entrepreneur will avoid unscrupulous moneylenders who would attempt to take a controlling share of the company’s interest.

Read the fine print and compare the features and benefits of the various small business credit cards to find which one best suits your needs.


How Credit Card Reform Will Affect Consumers

So now we know exactly what the changes will be with the new Credit Card Reform Act now signed into law. We also know that it will take about nine months before the new laws kick in. The relief that these new laws will bring to consumers isn’t exactly going to happen overnight but at least it is a little bit quicker than the Federal Reserve regulations that are not set to go into effect in July 2010.

Lets talk a little bit about what these new regulations will mean to us, the consumer. First off, be warned. The credit card companies are a pretty crafty lot so expect to see some new fees that are not covered by this law. No doubt loopholes will be exploited and new ways to bilk revenue from cardholders will be created.

But let us focus on the good news. Credit card companies will be required to give 45 days advance notice before raising your interest rates. The credit card companies will also be required to accept payment through not only the mail, but also the Internet and telephone…. and they cannot charge any type of “convenience fee” for it.

The archaic rule that credit card companies would only accept payment between certain hours of the day will be wiped out. Quite simply, if your payment arrives by 5 p.m. on the date in which it is due, then it must be accepted as such. Credit card issuers will still be allowed to offer promotional rates but they must last for at least six months and interest rates cannot be raised within the first year of opening the account.

You will no longer be subjected to fine print that is virtually unreadable on your credit card statements. The print must be in 12 point type or larger. The credit card companies will no longer be able to immediately penalize you with higher rates if you’re late making a payment, but must wait 60 days before raising your interest rates.

And for those consumers that fall 60 days and beyond in making your payments, you can have your previous interest rates restored if you pay at least your minimum payments on time for six consecutive months. It will also become more difficult for individuals under the age of 21 to open up a credit card account without first having to prove they have the means to repay their debts or can get a parent to cosign with them.

Well there it is ladies and gentlemen. For better or worse that is the credit card reform legislation in a nutshell. You can bet politicians that are facing tough reelections such as Christopher Dodd of Connecticut will be jumping up and down patting themselves on the back while exclaiming how wonderful they are for finally doing something.


Debit Cards Becoming Increasingly More Popular for Several Reasons

Debit cards have seen a huge increase in popularity over the past year. Debit cards, also commonly referred to as prepaid credit cards, have seen steady growth over the past five years because they are an extremely convenient way to pay when compared to carrying cash or writing checks.

Well of course nothing is more convenient than paying with cash but if you lose it you’re out of luck. That’s not the case with debit cards because of the built-in protections that the banks that issue them provide. And as for writing checks, well it’s just a big pain in the butt all the way around.

For the first time ever last year (2008) in the 4th quarter debit card spending exceeded credit card spending. That trend continued into the 1st quarter of 2009 where debit card purchases totaled $202 billion as compared to $176 billion worth of goods and services bought with credit cards.

The reasons for the incredible growth are rather obvious. The recession has caused many credit card companies to either close accounts on cardholders or to slash their lines of credit. And as for people that are applying for new credit cards, well they can pretty much forget about that unless they have near-perfect credit ratings.

Banks are also making it more attractive for people to use debit cards. They are now offering rewards for people that use their debit cards a certain amount of time each month. While of course they cannot charge interest because they are not offering credit, they do make a lot of money charging merchants transaction fees.

As a matter of fact, in light of all the revenue that credit card companies have lost due to the growing number of defaults and bankruptcies many are now turning to debit cards in a big way to supplement their earnings.

When you add in the fact that the new credit card laws will also reign in the high interest rates and fees that credit card issuers have depended upon for so many years you can see why more and more of them are finding debit cards so attractive.

Credit Card Interest Rate Increases to Be Looked at by Regulators

You can put this one away in your ‘I can’t believe they didn’t see this one coming’ file but the Senate Banking Committee chaired by Sen. Chris Dodd is now asking regulators to check into interest rate increases made by credit card companies since the first of the year. Last Thursday the committee called for regulators to implement new rules forcing the credit card issuers to review rate hikes dating back to January 1, 2009.

Christopher Dodd (D-CT) stated that he is “disturbed” by reports that he has been receiving of credit card companies aggressively raising interest rates on the existing balances of cardholders ahead of the new laws that were put in place to prohibit this very practice. But once again I must ask, how in the hell did they not see this coming from a mile away to begin with?

Put another way, why didn’t they make the credit card reform legislation effective immediately and not put it off 9 months into the future? Sometimes I wonder what planet these politicians are from. At the very heart of the legislation are mechanisms to prohibit predatory practices by the credit card companies but they gave them an open 9 month window to do just that.

How could the lawmakers not see that by giving credit card issuers 9 months to do just about whatever they wanted to that they would not take full advantage of that? If this credit card reform legislation is a great idea in February of 2010 then how is it not a great idea… Right Now? Why would it not be immediately implemented?

Well, in any event Dodd wrote a letter to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke asked if they would draft regulations that would allow them to immediately begin enforcing the provisions that will take effect next year. Those provisions call for credit card companies to do a review every 6 months and to reduce the interest rate of cardholders that they deem to be less of a credit risk.

But that in itself begs another question, what is the definition of a credit risk and who defines it? If you detect a tone of disgust in this post then you are dead-on. It absolutely amazes me how obtuse these politicians can be. To say that they are out of touch with everyday people is an incredible understatement.

Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009

President Obama just signed the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 (Credit CARD Act). We have discussed in length what the legislation will do in previous posts so feel free to read them over if you haven’t done so already.

What we have not done is discuss exactly what and when the various pieces of the legislation go into effect. Let us now take a look at the various stages of the legislation and how it will be phased into law over the next 15 months.

The first piece of legislation will be in place by August 20, 2009 and it calls for card issuers to give 45 day notice whenever they make any changes to the terms of service of their credit cards.

August 20th also will see a change in the deadline for cardholders to pay their monthly bills. At this time credit card account holders have 14 days to pay their bills. The new legislation will give cardholders 21 days to submit payments.

February 22, 2010 is when the vast majority of consumer protection facets of the Credit CARD Act will take effect. These consumer protections include placing limits on interest rate increases, getting rid of double cycle billing and placing restrictions that would make it more difficult for minors to get credit cards.

These provisions actually came under fire by many consumer groups that argued that putting them off until February 22nd of next year offers no assistance or relief for consumers that are struggling and need help right now.

Two other provisions that haven’t gotten much ink will go into effect on August 22, 2010. The first being that gift cards must be valid for no less than five years and the second is the restoration of interest rates to prior levels when credit card holders prove to act responsibly in repaying what they owe.

These are the combined efforts of the House and Senate and they overlap with new laws that were recently approved by the Federal Reserve Board. Those laws will not go into effect until July 1, 2010.

Changes in the Credit Card Industry

The credit card business as we know it is going to cease to exist. In light of the poor economy and record default and bankruptcy rates, credit card issuers are scrambling to reinvent themselves.

The first of the provisions in the credit card reform act have already been put in place. The credit card companies are now responding in kind by making major adjustments in the way they do business.

First off, we may have seen the end of fixed rate credit cards. The new reform legislation lays out strict guidelines on how the credit card companies must inform cardholders with fixed rate credit cards when their interest rates will go up.

With variable rate credit cards however, your card’s interest rate will go up automatically when the prime interest rate is raised. Credit card companies charge interest based on the prime interest rate plus percentage points.

This in effect gets around the notification provision for raising interest rates. We certainly knew that the credit card issuers would make adjustments and find loopholes and now we are seeing that come to fruition.

Because there have been so many bankruptcies and defaults the credit card companies are also greatly scaling back their rewards programs. They are also charging fees as high as 5% for a balance transfer.

It was just a few short years ago when balance transfers were all the rage as the credit card companies competed very aggressively with each other. Those days are over… at least for now anyway.

American Express Is Recovering Nicely

The recent financial crisis has taken its toll on just about every company in America, both big and small, but few have felt its effects as much as the banking industry. Of course, many could make the argument that it was indeed caused by financial institutions to begin with.

In any event, credit card issuers including American Express, Discover, Bank of America and Capital One were hit extremely hard due to delinquencies and defaults. When people no longer pay their bills, the credit card companies have to eat the loss and that wreaks havoc on the bottom line.

Recently released data suggests that some credit card companies felt the sting worse than others as a recovery, albeit a slow one, appears to be in the works.

It appears as if the credit card issuer that is in the best position to take advantage of an improving economy is American Express. Amex traditionally focuses on higher end clients and businesses and is now starting to see a precipitous decline in late paying customers at a faster rate than its competitors.

For other credit card companies it is a different story. Capital One and Bank of America both focused their credit card business heavily on customers with less than stellar credit ratings. That has come back to haunt them in a big way as their delinquency rates continue to climb.

Discover also is suffering from delinquency rates. As unemployment improves so to should the bottom lines of all credit card issuers as people are in a better position to be able to afford to pay their bills. But unemployment is a lagging economic indicator and we have yet to see any real improvement nationwide.

What explains the quick recovery of American Express as opposed to their counterparts? The company has taken an aggressive stance against issuing cards to risky customers. They have also severed ties with many customers that they deem to be potential credit risks.

They were also hit quite hard because of their heavy exposure in California and Florida. It appears as though the real estate bubble, which was especially bad in those two states, had a ripple effect on the credit card market as well. The real estate market is showing signs of stabilizing which is good news for credit card companies.

Chase Credit Cards Can Make Life Easy

Chase credit cards can be used for multiple purposes and are available for almost every type of credit. They come in various credit limits and offer fun and helpful deals and discounts. You can search several sites online including the Chase site itself for credit card details. Below are several of the credit card types offered through Chase.

Chase Credit Cards for Every Need

• General purpose – Whether it’s used for gas, groceries or the occasional shopping trip, general purpose credit cards can come in handy.
• Rebates – You an earn rebates and rewards simply by making your usual purchases with your card. They can be reward points or even cash back rewards depending on which you prefer.
• Entertainment – You can earn points for events and VIP access and seating.
• Travel – Earn discount for flights and fuel with this card
• Auto/Gas – Earn rewards when you use your card for fuel or other gas station purchases
• Retail – Shop to save
• Student – Establish credit for your future while you purchase school materials
• College/ University Alumni – Earn rewards and support your school of choice
• Organization – Support your favorite charity with your Chase credit card
• Military – Support our men and women in uniform, it’s the least we can do
• Sports – Support your favorite sport or team
• Business – Earn points on business purchases and receive discounts

There are numerous card types and uses available through Chase. You can see from above every persons needs can be met through one of the above Chase credit cards. You can view and compare card features and APR’s online.

You can search by low interest rate or annual fees as well as balance transfer availability. You will be able to find the card that best suits your purchasing needs in just a matter of moments. Do yourself a favor and see how Chase credit cards can meet your financial needs.