Paying with credit cards activates your brain to create ‘purchase cravings’ for more spending

You already know that buying things with a credit card puts you at risk of going deeper into debt. It’s just too easy to pay the minimum and push your goal to be debt-free into the next month. But, new research shows that the problems that credit card use can cause are even more insidious than that. Researchers at MIT put volunteers into an MRI to see exactly what is happening inside our brains when we make a purchase with plastic instead of cash.

Credit Cards Light Up Our Reward System

During the study, participants were shown items on a screen that they could add to a virtual shopping cart. Half were given the option to pay with cash, half with a credit card. Those who used the cards were more likely to buy more expensive items. They also spent more overall.

The reason for this could be the brain response associated with using the card. The MRI showed that the region of the brain associated with pleasure and rewards was activated when using the card. This area of the brain is responsible for the release of dopamine. 

Visual cues like credit card logos and buy-now buttons were also shown to prompt cravings for rewards. The study’s authors say that our brains have been chronically sensitized by previous experience with credit cards. Credit cards are associated with enjoyable purchases, so our brains are primed for pleasure when we are anticipating a purchase.

Why Cash Doesn’t Send the Same Signals

One interesting thing that researchers noticed is that paying cash for the same pleasurable purchases doesn’t set off our reward system the same way. This is likely because paying with a credit card instead of paying with cash makes costs abstract. It’s easy to put the money out of your mind when you aren’t physically seeing it leave your hands.

Breaking Overspending Habits

If it is your goal to become debt-free and fix credit issues from the past, the first thing you need to do is readjust your relationship with money. Try to only use cash for recreational purchases like games, restaurant meals, and beauty products. Not only does this ensure that you are only buying what you can pay for right now; you are also likely to make smaller purchases than you would if you were paying with a card.

Changes don’t happen overnight. It can take some time to fix old patterns and replace them with new ones. In the meantime, keep important goals like going debt-free at the forefront. While it doesn’t give the immediate rewards a pleasurable purchase does, the long-term improvement to your wellbeing is worth it.

Need some help getting started? We’ve helped thousands of people with credit repair, so they can accomplish their goals. Get in touch for a free consultation today. 

10 Important Credit-Related Questions to Ask Yourself

Understanding how to build, rebuild, or maintain a strong credit standing often raises a lot of questions. To help arm yourself to optimize your credit standing or determine if you need credit repair, here are 10 important credit-related questions and answers.

1. Can I earn a credit score without a credit history?

Consumers with no history can build credit. Four ways you can do this include getting a secured credit card, asking a family member to add you as a credit user, getting a cosigned loan, or earning a nontraditional credit score.

2. Does closing a credit card affect my credit?

The short answer is, it depends. If you have several credit cards, closing one shouldn’t harm your credit but if you only have one, keep it open. The main thing is to ensure your credit utilization rate is under 30%. If over, pay your debt down so you don’t end up having to focus on credit repair down the road.

3. Does getting married affect credit?

Getting married doesn’t change credit because spouses have separate credit files. However, if pursuing joint credit, if one spouse has poor credit this could impact any rates or terms.

4. Will bad credit affect a job application?

Not usually. The only time bad credit might affect a job application is if the job has fiduciary responsibilities because it suggests you might have poor money management skills.

5. Can collection agencies collect on old debt?

In some states, there is a statute of limitation on debt collection. If you pay towards an expired debt, it restarts the debt. Also, even if not expired, old debt can often be negotiated to pay less than originally owed.

6. Do too many cards hurt my credit?

No, as long as you make payments on time and avoid falling too far into debt and don’t need credit help that can drag down your score to resolve it.

7. Can a loan be paid off early?

While some loans don’t allow for early repayment, most do. Even if it doesn’t allow prepayment, paying debt off shouldn’t hurt credit very much.

8. Does bankruptcy affect credit forever?

Declaring bankruptcy does harm credit as it remains on your credit report for seven years. During this period of time, you’ll need to focus on credit repair. It takes time but can successfully be done.

9. If a spouse passes away, do I pay their debt?

In many cases, one spouse is not responsible for the other’s debt unless the debt is joint or cosigned. However, in community property states a spouse is often responsible.

10. Does cosigning a loan impact my credit?

Cosigning is putting your credit standing on the line. Your credit will be affected by any positive or negative activity on the loan.

Actively paying attention can go a long way towards preserving a good credit standing. However, even if you do falter, fortunately, there is debt help you can pursue. Over time, you can build your credit score and standing back to a healthy level, and achieve financial freedom

5 Credit Hacks That Will Change Your Life

 

One of the most important things to understand about credit repair is that no matter how daunting it may seem, it is absolutely possible – and it’s actually a lot more straightforward than you might think. In fact, there are not one but five credit hacks you should be aware of that won’t just give your scores a boost…

… they will change your life in the process.

Keep at Least Three Major Credit Cards

By far, one of the best ways that you can repair your credit (and maximize your credit score in the process) involves keeping at least three major credit cards open at all times.

Now, this isn’t necessarily going to be possible for everyone, and that’s okay. But if you can, keep them open and use each one sparingly. Making three payments on-time every month will always raise your credit faster than a single payment to one card.

It’s All About That Credit Utilization

Likewise, you’ll also want to pay close attention to your credit utilization – that is, the percentage of your total credit that you are currently using on a regular basis.

For the biggest impact on your credit score, try to keep the total of all of your balances around 25% to 30% for as long as you can.

Increase Your Credit Limits as Much as Possible

This one may seem somewhat odd, but it actually plays directly into the piece of advice recommended above.

The higher your credit limits are, the lower your utilization actually is. So if you have a card with $1,000 in available credit and a $500 balance, you’re using 50% of your available credit. But if that same card could be raised to a $1,500 total credit limit, suddenly that $500 balance only represents 33% of what you could be spending.

It’s a great way to practice credit repair without really doing much of anything at all.

Resist Those Hard Inquiries

As you embark on your own credit repair journey, you may have the urge to try to apply for a new card with a lower interest rate to help ease some of the burdens. If possible, don’t do this – as applying for a new credit card will always result in a “hard pull” on your credit, which will harm your score in the short-term.

If you’re able to find other ways to fix your credit for a year and don’t have any “hard pulls” during that time, you’ll enjoy an almost immediate boost once those 12 months are over.

Focus on Those Installment Loans

Finally, one of the best ways to repair your credit involves paying down installment loans as quickly as possible. Installment loans are seen as a different “type” of credit than traditional credit cards, and they can include things like car loans, student loans, and more.

If you’d like to find out more information about five credit hacks that will change your life, or if you just have additional questions that you’d like to discuss with someone in a bit more detail, please don’t delay – contact us today.

What Is the Best Way To Build Your Credit When You Have None? 

If you have been told that you need to get credit if you want to have credit, then this can be incredibly frustrating. Some of the major milestones in life such as purchasing a car, purchasing a house, and taking out education loans will require a relatively high credit score. On the other hand, if your credit score is low (or nonexistent), you might have a hard time applying for these loans successfully. Fortunately, there are a few ways that you can build credit even if you currently have none.

1. Get Approved as an Authorized User

Think about getting approved as an authorized user on a family member or friend’s credit card. You can use the primary account holder credit card and build your own credit history. Furthermore, you will not have any liability, so this is a relatively low-risk way to start your credit history.

Of course, you have to make sure that your family member or friend is comfortable with this arrangement and that he or she uses his or her credit card responsibly. You don’t want to end up as an authorized user on the account that has a history of late or missed payments, as this could impact your credit score as well.

2. Apply for a Secured Credit Card

Another option that you may want to consider is getting your own credit card. A secured credit card is another low-risk way that you can build extra on credit history. You will deposit money into an account and the amount of money you deposit is the limit of the credit card. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about overspending your credit limit. Try to find a secured credit card that does not have an annual fee.

3. Pay Your Monthly Bills on Time

Even if you do not have a major loan, such as a home loan, you may still have cell phone bills, internet bills, and other utility bills that recur monthly. Make sure that you pay all of these bills on time, every time. There are services available that will provide you with credit for paying your return bills on time, helping you build a strong credit score.

Build a Strong Credit Score from the Ground Up

These are a few of the top ways that you can build a strong credit score even if you are starting from zero. The more bills you pay on time, the higher your credit score is going to go. Then, you will be able to apply for more competitive, larger loans. For help with credit building, rely on Key Credit Repair to help you with all of your credit repair and improvement needs. Give us a call today!

 

The Biden Administration Is Looking To Change how Credit Scores Work in the United States

If you’re looking to take out a loan in the future, there’s a good chance that your credit score is going to play a role. Did you know that there is a chance that the credit industry may change in the near future? With the new administration in the White House, the Biden presidency is looking to change how the credit industry operates. Right now, there are three major credit companies in the United States. Equifax, Experian, and Transunion act as black boxes. They gather, organize, and sell data on their consumers. Then, they issue grades on our financial behavior without revealing how scores are calculated. Furthermore, there are concerns that the credit industry is exacerbating existing racial disparities as they work.

The Prospect of a Public Credit Reporting Agency

In the eyes of many financial experts, the answer might be a public credit reporting agency. Already, Joe Biden has announced that he has adopted a proposal to create a public credit reporting agency. The goal is to create a new publicly run credit reporting agency within the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Over the next few years, the goal is to eventually phase out the current credit industry in the United States, which is for profit. The goal is to run an agency that is steered by the needs of consumers instead of Revenue generation.

Credit Scores Have a Major Impact on the Everyday Lives of Americans

Supporters of this plan are pointing toward the massive impact that credit scores have on the everyday lives of Americans. Those who do not have positive credit scores (as calculated by for-profit credit bureaus) may end up paying significantly higher interest rates when they apply for home loans or car loans. Or, they might be denied a loan entirely. In some situations, a poor credit score may make it harder for someone to get a job as well. Therefore, it is important to take a look at how the current credit system can be improved.

Invest in Professional Credit Repair Services

Regardless of whether the future of the credit system is for-profit or publicly run, it is important for everyone to think about how they can fix credit. By investing in professional credit repair services, individuals can increase their ability to compete for the best interest rates possible when they apply for a loan in the future. Furthermore, a positive credit score may make it easier for someone to compete for a popular job offer.