REPOST: 9 Things You Can Do to Improve Your Credit Score This Year

If you’re planning on improving your credit score this year then you should read this article from

When it comes to finances, there are a number of goals that you might have already established on your list of 2014 resolutions. Goals like saving money, paying down debts and targeting new investments are popular objectives this time of year, but improving your credit score can easily be a neglected aspect of revamping your financial outlook.

Credit is an important facet of your financial stability, as it influences everything from buying a car or home to whether you get that job offer you’ve been hoping for.

Here are nine ways maintain good credit score marks across the board.

1. Keep Credit Card Balances Low

FICO scores, the most popular credit scoring method used by lenders, weighs 30 percent of your credit score on existing amounts owed on credit accounts. A 10 percent credit utilization is ideal when improving your credit score. Credit utilization is calculated as:

good credit

“Financial companies love profitable customers who run up their credit card balances, right? One might think,” said Randy Padawer, vice president of credit services at LexingtonLaw. “But interestingly, that same industry penalizes consumer credit scores as a direct result. To ensure a good credit score, never max out your credit cards. For an even better score, keep balances as low as possible.”

2. Avoid Impulsive Retail Decisions

Impulsiveness has its place in areas outside credit repair. When targeting a good credit score, however, making hasty decisions often ends in credit complications down the line.

Padawer warns shoppers of retail credit card solicitations at the checkout counter that promise a discount on purchases.

“Big box stores might offer small price reductions with credit approvals, but resist the fool’s bargain,” Padawer explained. “Too many cards may paint you as someone who depends upon borrowed money just to get by, and that’s why credit scores almost always suffer in turn.”

3. Look for Errors on Your Report

With prospective landlords, employers, lenders and other creditors scrutinizing your credit to determine your worthiness, it’s on your shoulders to do your due diligence in spotting errors on your annual credit report.

If you find a discrepancy, report the issue to credit reporting companies as soon as possible. According to the Federal Trade Commission, companies typically must investigate disputes within 30 days of receiving a correction request.

4. Make Timely Payments

Poor payment habits can be the biggest detriment to improving your credit. 35 percent of your FICO score is determined by your payment history. A track record of late payments or missed payments will result in a downgrade of your score.

Stay on top of payment due dates, and for added safety, make sure to schedule payments with enough time to clear before your creditor’s deadline.

5. Know All of Your Credit Scores

The FICO score isn’t the only credit score creditors can base their decisions on; in fact, the three credit reporting bureaus — TransUnion, Equifax and Experian — pulled together to create their own credit scoring model, called the VantageScore.

While FICO is used by more creditors to determine credit worthiness, being aware of your VantageScore and working to improve this score can help you look your best should a creditor decide to use this algorithm instead of the FICO. It can also be used as an educational tool to see where your strengths and weakness are.

6. Avoid Going on an Application Spree

In the same vein as Padawer’s warning that applying for retail credit cards could make credit bureaus question your sudden need for a bigger credit line, too many credit inquiries as a result of multiple credit card applications looks suspicious and can reduce your credit score.

New credit impacts your FICO score by 10 percent, which can be all that’s needed to kick your credit score one level up.

7. Use Credit to Get Good Credit

If you have bad credit and are in the process of rebuilding it, applying for a secured credit card can be a safe way to go about improving your credit score.

Secured credit cards are lines of credit that are secured with a deposit made by the cardholder. Usually, the deposit is a low amount and also acts as the limit on the secured card. Develop responsible usage and repayment habits, and you could see your credit score start to rise after a few months of steady use.

8. Diversify Your Credit Types

Installment lines of credit, such as a car loan, student loan or mortgage, contribute to your calculated score, but a good credit score has a mix of both installment credit and revolving credit, like a credit card or home equity. This balance of credit types accounts for 10 percent of your FICO, which is significant enough to not be neglected.

9. Enlist the Help of a Professional

“Credit report repair professionals can help you challenge questionable items with your creditors and with the credit bureaus,” explained John Heath, directing attorney of LexingtonLaw.

Seek the assistance of a credit repair service if you sense that you’ll need to dig deeper into negotiations to improve your score.

As you go through the process of raising your credit score, keep in mind that improving those three digits takes time. But by resolving to earn a good score, you’ll do your credit a great service beyond the new year.

Lending firm Brookwood Loans offers loans to consumers with good credit records and stable income sources. Visit this website for more details.


REPOST: How to rent an apartment with bad credit

A credit score is essential for one’s financial security and comfort.  This article from the Huffington Post talks about how someone with a bad credit score get to rent an apartment.

Having a bad credit score can make it difficult to do a lot of things, like obtain a credit card, a mortgage or even to rent an apartment or house. This presents some obvious problems since everyone has to live somewhere. Even people with a low credit rating may need to rent an apartment, including those who faced foreclosure during the housing crisis. Often, credit checks are part of the rental application process and often involve a fee.

Anyone who has been in the market for an apartment has probably seen rental offers such as “Low down payment with your approved credit” or other variation on this theme. These are usually for big apartment complexes which are typically managed by large rental management companies. Typically, these companies have strict, one-size-fits-all policies, and a bad credit score can be an automatic rejection, even for someone with an excellent rental history.

While it can be difficult to rent with a poor credit score, there are several ways to approach the situation and build a case for being a desirable rental applicant and rent an apartment with bad credit.

Be honest

First, be honest with the potential landlord. Ask if a credit check is part of the application process, and what the minimum required score is and if there is any flexibility with their policy. If you’ve had credit problems in the past, explain with sincerity and honesty about how the situation arose and steps being taken to avoid similar problems in the future. An individual owner may be more sympathetic, or at least have more leeway to be flexible about the requirements, than someone working for a property management company.

As written about frequently at MyBankTracker, everyone should know their credit score. Use a free service to get your rating, and check the report for errors. Work on addressing those errors, which may take some time.

If the errors aren’t resolved by the time meetings with landlords have been set up, be sure to take good notes and bring them along to explain the nature of the errors. Make a calm case for the errors without including any drama. Show that the problem is being tactfully and skillfully addressed and the potential landlord is likely to be impressed by the professionalism.

Go mom and pop

While most property management companies (which can include real estate agents) and apartment rental agencies have strict policies about credit, many individual owners are less likely to want to deal with the paperwork involved in running credit checks on potential renters. Instead, they may be more interested in the character of the applicant and what sort of lifestyle they lead — whether or not the renters will lively quietly and take care of the apartment well.

Offer a higher security deposit

Be prepared to save up for a hefty deposit on a rental when applying with a low credit score. Showing the ability to pay more up front, totaling several months of rent in addition to first and last month’s rent and a security deposit, is a good way to alleviate a landlord’s fears about default.

Provide proof of solid income

Anyone making a good salary and strong work history who is looking at apartments within their means has a better profile to a prospective landlord than someone who does not. When going to look at an apartment, bring copies of pay stubs, copies of prior years’ tax returns and any proof of additional income. It will not only provide proof of income, but also of being an organized person who is serious about taking care of business.

Anyone who has been the victim of a company closure or layoff in the last year or two may need to show a period of industriousness while laid off. Bring along any proof of income earned in that down time, such as eBay sales, or odd jobs done for friends and neighbors. Offer references when possible, and explain that living expenses were made first priority.

Have recommendations

Start collecting letters of reference to provide to a potential landlord. Include employers past and present, coworkers and other business affiliates, in addition to prior landlords and roommates.

Consider a cosigner

In some cases, a potential landlord may consider allowing a friend or relative with good credit and solid income to cosign as an applicant, even though they won’t live in the apartment. By cosigning, they agree to take over payments in the case of default, so be certain the situation is a good one and won’t lead to problems down the road.

Room with a friend

One option may be to move in with another person who already has an established place to live. Be careful, however, because most property management companies require all tenants to pass a credit check and require all adults to be named on the lease.

Loan services company Brookwood Loans offers consumer loans for clients in Alabama, Georgia, California, South Dakota, Utah, Missouri, Illinois, and Wisconsin with fair-to-good credit and stable sources of income. The company accepts loan applications online at  Once application is approved, Brookwood Loans wires the amount directly to the borrower’s bank account.

REPOST: Do I Need a Good Credit Score to Get Student Loans?

Lending institutions scrutinize a credit score when evaluating a consumer’s ability to repay financing. But for students wishing to apply for a loan to finance their studies, how does credit score come into play?’s Christine DiGangi explains in the article below.

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Consumers’ credit scores can determine their ability to get auto loans, mortgages, personal loans and all kinds of financing. But student loans are different. It can be challenging enough to get into a certain academic program — but do students have to make a certain credit grade to be able to pay for it, too?

It depends.

If you’re applying for federal loans, the answer is “No,” for the most part.

A loan applicant’s credit score has no effect on access to Stafford or Perkins loans. For a Federal PLUS loan — taken out by parents of dependent undergraduate students and graduate or professional students — an applicant’s credit score isn’t taken into account, but he or she cannot have an adverse credit history, like a 90-day delinquency or bankruptcy, according to

Federal Direct Loans are supposed to be low-interest loans, easily accessible by those who need them. They’re also nearly impossible to discharge through bankruptcy, though payments can be restructured. Basically, a borrower is bound to student loans for life, which is why they’re easy to get.

On top of that, many college hopefuls aren’t going to have much of a credit history, if any, so factoring that into loan accessibility would severely limit students’ ability to afford higher education.

“The lack of a credit score shouldn’t stop you from applying for student loans,” said Gerri Detweiler,’s director of consumer education. “As long as you’re not in default on another federal student loan, your credit is not a factor in getting approved for federal student loans.”

Private lenders are different, even though students are just as shackled to private loans as they are to federal ones. While some private loans do not look at credit scores in the application process, most do, and borrowers could have a tough time getting one with a FICO score below 650, according to

Many college financing experts recommend federal loans over private ones, as federal loan repayment can be more flexible. But if private loans are part of your plan for financing education, you’ll want to check your credit scores, and there are tools that allow you to do that for free.

Even if you’re not looking at private student loans, there’s still that bit of credit history the Department of Education looks at for PLUS loans. Any negative marks will be easy to spot on a credit report, and consumers are entitled to a free annual copy of their report from each of the three major credit bureaus.

With Brookwood Loans, consumers who have fair-to-good credit can qualify for collateral-free loans up to $3,500. For additional information, visit the company’s official website.

REPOST: Funds’ shift away from US isn’t just about the debt ceiling

With the influx of funds growing in Europe, America’s slice of the cake is increasingly pinned to being net sellers. The resilience in European stocks and securities led analysts to think that the economic region’s equities could potentially outperform those of the US in the near future.

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The flow of funds out of U.S. equities and bonds and into Europe isn’t just about the U.S. government’s shutdown and debt impasse, with improvements in Europe and structural issues in the U.S. also at play.

“While we don’t expect a U.S. debt default, an extension to the debt ceiling will only mean that U.S. equity markets will once again face the prospect of a readjustment of growth prospects,” Jefferies said in a note.

As its growth potential deteriorates, “the U.S. is trading beyond its merits,” while Europe’s structural reforms are spurring a “phenomenal” turnaround, said Dr. Marie Owens Thomsen, senior economist at Credit Agricole.

Funds are clearly flowing toward Europe. In the week ended October 9, European equity funds saw inflows of $1.6 billion, marking the 15th week of net inflows, while the continent’s bond and money markets saw inflows of $796 million and $5.3 billion respectively for the week, according to data from Jefferies.

But in the U.S., funds remained net sellers for the week, with money market funds shedding $27 billion, the heaviest outflow in nearly six months, while equity and bond funds saw $10 billion and $1.5 billion of net selling respectively, the data showed.

“The resilience in European equity inflows alongside a firming euro is likely to mean that European equities will outperform U.S. equities into year end,” Jefferies said.

Structural issues in the U.S. may extend its underperformance. The U.S. has seen its labor-force participation rate fall to 1970s-era levels, without productivity improvements, Owens Thomsen noted, citing a recent OECD study showing the country is moving backward on education levels, with older workers much better educated than their younger peers.

“There’s less labor and the labor we have is less productive,” she said, while adding that at the same time, companies are cash rich, but aren’t bothering to invest. Less labor and less capital make for a slower growth rate and slower potential growth, she said, adding the implications for U.S. monetary policy are huge.

“Inflation will resurface faster than certain people are pricing in at the moment. In terms of monetary policy, once they start raising rates, they will have to start raising rates by more than is expected,” she said, although tightening likely won’t happen soon.

In addition, the U.S. political stalemate means structural reforms aren’t possible, she noted. While the declining deficit is a positive, “they’re cutting spending on programs where they should be spending more money,” such as education, which would improve labor productivity, she said.

“It’s an over-focus on the birth moment and not enough on what we’re going to do with the baby,” she said. She expects the deficit to begin rising again “on the other side of 2015.”

By contrast, “there’s no time in history where Europe has managed so much structural reform in such a short period,” she said. Reforms included creating new institutions, new procedures for banks and cooperation on fiscal policy, while individual countries have seen “phenomenal” turnarounds in their fiscal conditions, with most likely to have balanced current accounts by year-end, she said.

Jefferies also sees a number of positives in Europe.

“European equities offer very high earnings per share growth for low forward multiples. U.S. earnings are forecast at just below double digits and are trading close to 15 times price-to-earnings. Equally, European equities offer double the dividend yield,” it said.

“The bottom line is, there is enough good news at the margin to cause a sentiment shift in favor of Europe, particularly when U.S. revenues from overseas account for over 45% of the S&P 500,” it said.

Brookwood Loans’ Internet-based consumer finance service is designed for people who have fair-to-good credit and stable income. For inquiries, click here.