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Great News for Credit Card Borrowers…

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Over the weekend, you may have received a letter from your credit card company about the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act (http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Fact-Sheet-Reforms-to-Protect-American-Credit-Card-Holders/). My bank sent me a list of the changes and included the effective date – February 2010. This Act was signed by the Obama Administration in May of this year, but I forgot about it until now.

This change to policy will be helpful to borrowers who struggle to make payments on time and suffer rising interest rates. It also forces credit card companies to apply payments to the debt with the higher interest rate first rather than pay off the teaser rate. I am hoping this will finally give those who find themselves continually stuck in the cycle of debt, a real chance to get ahead.

One of the changes, my favorite of all, is the restriction on issuing cards to those under 21. My first card was peddled to me on my college campus at the ripe old age of 19. I got in the habit of spending more than I made and by 21, I was more than $2,500 in debt.

Of course there is still a down side to this – I read an interesting article about how the changes will affect those who are careful with payments and are ‘good’ borrowers. It doesn’t look good! Check out the article at: http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1791592/us_credit_card_issuers_must_prepare_pg2.html?cat=3

Regardless, I think this change will be good for those seeking to become debt free.


Another Reason to Work on That Credit Score…

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Despite Dave Ramsey recommendations, I’m focused on my credit score and I try to encourage you to stay on top of yours as well. I’ve had the same credit card for 11 years (always carried a balance until last month) and I pay my mortgage on time – even if that means not eating… or selling something.

Sure, if I had no debt and had no plans or acquiring new debt, my credit score wouldn’t matter…

Or would it?

I was reading Parade magazine this week and was reminded of a very important reason to keep up those scores – employment. Employers are using credit scores as another way to narrow down candidates. In this rough job market, that’s the last thing you want to worry about.

My current employer ran a credit check on me prior to offering employment. I had been unemployed for 2 months but had managed to pay my bills. Had my credit score fallen, I likely would have been passed over.

Congress is considering blocking this practice but right now, it’s very legal.

Do you think credit checks are a fair way to judge potential employees?

You can read the article at Parade.com/creditscore


New Credit Card Rules…

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I was watching the news last night and was amazed by a story about a guy whose credit limit was reduced because of his new spending habits – more specifically, where he shopped. Changes in habits, like shopping at high end stores similar to Macy’s and Niemen Marcus then suddenly shopping only at dollar stores and Walmart, can influence your credit – or so the story goes.

Rather than let the issue drop, the man has turned into an activist for consumers. His website, though not updated regularly, gives some good information on important issues such as the Credit Card Bill of Rights and consumer lending laws.

If you’re having a slow day, check it out:

www.newcreditrules.com

On a side note, I think he has a good idea and his dedication is admirable but wouldn’t it be easier to not be taken advantage of if you get rid of the credit cards entirely? It seems like the site should read, ‘You are all VICTIMS’ at the top. Activism on consumer protection is necessary BUT so is consumer responsibility.

*Warning* I can’t verify the validity of his claims but he has been all over our local news stations and on Good Morning America and they are far better at fact checking than I am.


Insight on the Cash for Clunkers…

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I’ve missed three days of work and counting thanks to the flu. Rather than feeling better, I feel worse. My sister lovingly said, ‘I think that’s a sign of the swine flu.’

Thanks. Now I’ve got THAT to worry about.

In all my sitting at home time – most of which is spent in complete misery – I am able to squint open my eyes and read some of the daily news. I stumbled upon this headlining article at AOL…

http://autos.aol.com/article/cash-for-clunkers-greenwash

I found two quotes particularly eye opening…

‘Three revealing line items in a separate CNW survey noted that the drain on the family coffers would be offset by reducing the pay-down of credit card debt, deferring home improvement and removing money from non-targeted savings.’

and

‘Other critics groused that Cars for Clunkers took $2.8 billion from the general roster of 300 million citizens and handed it tax-free to a small group of 700,000 citizens.’

What are your thoughts?


Credit Card Damage Rolls In…

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Friday, my husband left on a cruise to Mexico with my brother’s bachelor party. As I said earlier, he charged the entire bill to our credit card since the cruise lines won’t let you split the tab.

I was angry since we had just paid off our card – and because we’ve been burned in the past when we allowed others to use our credit.

Just as I expected, there were problems… but not the kind of problems I had guessed. Not only did the guys pay before they left, they overpaid by $20 each (we’re giving it back).

Our credit card still took a hit from my husband (I’ll talk about the REAL expenses of a cruise in a later post) but we’ll be able to pay it off before it rolls over and starts to accrue interest. We won’t be able to pay extra on the auto loan but at least we’ll be heading into October without credit card debt.

Would I loan money again on my credit card? Even though it actually worked out this time, I’m still SOLIDLY on the no side.


Sliding Backwards into Credit Card Debt Again…

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Our credit card WAS paid off. Obvious emphasis on the past tense.

My husband is attending a bachelor party this weekend and the event required one credit card to book the trip for all five attendees (the bill could not be split). Most of our friends know about our recent credit card payoff (maybe shouting that fact from my roof and breaking into song was a clear sign) and naturally suggested that since we ‘had the room’ on our card (as if it were free), that my husband pay for the entire trip and be reimbursed later.

I’m not going to lie. I am upset.

Perhaps I’d be more trusting if this hadn’t happened before with concert and event tickets and in the end, we were always short. People conveniently ‘forget’ to pay or promise to pay later and then get annoyed when reminded. Plus, the credit card will be kept on file in case there are damages to the room or if alcohol is consumed.

When I asked why someone else couldn’t pony up a credit card, he told me it was because everyone is nearly maxed out but us. Um… isn’t that a good reason NOT to loan these people our credit card?

My husband and I rarely fight but this is a sensitive issue for me and I feel like we are opening ourselves up to a lot of potential debt.

Am I overreacting?


Check that Credit Report!

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I can’t believe it’s been four months already! It’s time to check that credit report again.

My score is up, but only slightly. The credit card payoff has not yet hit the reporting agencies (of course, if I had missed a payment, it would have likely been reported the same day). I hope to see a bigger jump in four more months.

If you decided to check your credit report with me and follow my once yearly free report check, this time I used:

Equifax