It’s estimated that about 50 million American adults don’t have a credit score.
That’s right — not good credit, OK credit or poor credit. We’re talking no credit. And that can be a huge problem if you’re unable to pay for something like a car or a home with cash and need to take out a loan to finance it. No credit score means no loan.
There are a few reasons why you might not have any sort of credit history. Perhaps you’ve gotten into the habit of paying for everything with cash? Or maybe you’ve established lines of credit, but haven’t used them within the past two years? If you’re new to America, it’s possible that you haven’t established it yet. Whatever the reason, we’d strongly suggest you start establishing some credit roots immediately, as that three-digit number holds so much weight when it comes to your financial future. This post will take a closer look at what to do if you don’t currently have a credit score. Here’s a look:
Don’t Have a Credit Score? Do This!
No credit score? Here are some considerations for how to establish credit:
Get a secured credit card: Think of these as credit cards for beginners. They work just like a credit card does, except you need to have a cash deposit to back up any usage. Usually, this cash deposit you put forward is the same amount as your credit limit. Secured cards work just as how regular credit cards do for the most part. You can charge purchases and you’ll have a payment date to abide by. Any balance not paid in full is subject to interest. After you’ve dipped your feet in the water with a secured card, it’s usually pretty easy to take the next step to an unsecured one.
Get a retail credit card: Yes, you can get some nice perks based on the store that offers it, but the real incentive is that these are usually easier cards to get approved for — even if your credit is lacking.
Find a co-signer: If you don’t want to go the secured card route, consider asking a friend or family member if they’ll co-sign with you on a credit card.
Ask to be an authorized user on a family member’s card: Don’t want to go the co-signer route? See if someone will add you as a user on their existing credit card. This can be a great way to build credit based on that card’s total usage, whether it’s you doing the spending or not.
Can your rent payments help you? Many landlords use rent-reporting services, which can help their tenants build credit, especially when it comes to making on-time payments. Not every scoring formula will take this into consideration, but many do.
How To Travel and Not “Go Broke”
Whether you’re a snowbird escaping the cold for warmer pastures, someone who always uses their annual vacation time right away or you just regularly travel this time of year as a pick-me-up following Christmas and New Year’s, getting away at any time – let alone during the winter – is always something to look forward to. That said, nothing can quite dampen your travel experiences like coming home with bad credit or no money.
So how can you travel and not go broke? Here’s a look:
Plan properly: The first step to traveling in a fiscally responsible manner is budgeting appropriately. Do your research on flights, lodging, meals, entertainment, etc. to come up with an accurate ballpark number of what you’ll need, then save until you meet this magic number so you’re not just charging everything and paying it off later.
Look for ways to save: If you won’t be able to hit your target budget or if you want to reduce your target budget, consider cashing in airline miles to help with flight costs or hotel rewards points for lodging. You may even be able to turn any earned credit card rewards points into something related to your trip. Some memberships, like AAA, can even get you discounts at certain places. If you don’t have a rewards account set up with certain vendors, start now. You can bank the points for future trips.
Consider cash: If you’ve saved enough to meet your projected budget, consider pulling the money in cash and paying for some of – if not all – of your expenses that way. This is beneficial for a few reasons. One, you likely won’t spend more than what you budgeted for. And two, paying in cash also helps prevent credit card fraud. Domestic and tourist hotspots abroad alike tend to be areas where identity theft is common.
Know the customs: This is especially true if you’re traveling abroad, as the country and city that you’re venturing to may have different customs on tipping. While it’s common in the U.S. to tip drivers and most service industry workers, this isn’t always the case abroad. You might think that a tip here or there wouldn’t add up, but if you spend $100 on dinner every night of a 10-day trip and think that 20 percent gratuity is the norm somewhere where it’s not, you’re throwing away a few hundred dollars that you don’t need to spend.
Look for low price alternatives: Conventional lodging and transportation methods might not be the best for your budget. That said, look into Airbnb for lodging to see if you can get a cheaper rate, take an Uber or Lyft instead of a taxi cabs, or consider public transportation for getting around town. The savings can significantly add up.
How to Survive a Financial Hardship and Not Ruin Your Credit
While we all hope we’ll never be in a situation where it’s difficult to pay the bills, things happen. You might be furloughed due to circumstances beyond your control, like the hundreds of thousands of people out of work right now with the partial government shutdown. Or perhaps you or your spouse were laid off, let go or forced to take a sizable pay cut. Maybe an unforeseen expense is making things difficult. Even if your financial hardship is temporary, that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Things can become especially dicey if you rely on your credit card to make ends meet on your bills, a strategy that can greatly raise your debt and lower your credit score.
The good news is there are certain tips and tactics you can follow if you’ve fallen on tough times to help you navigate your way through things without killing your credit score. Here’s a look at how to do it:
How to Keep Your Credit Score in Tough Times
Look into hardship plans with your credit card company: The credit card companies typically don’t publicize this benefit, so there’s a good chance that it’ll be up to you to initiate it. However, many companies do offer hardship plans to help people better manage their debt. Essentially, hardship plans are repayment plans specifically catered toward a particular consumer’s financial situation – and enrolling in such a plan has no direct impact on your credit. Be honest with your creditor about why you need to enroll in such a plan.
Stick to the necessities: You likely need to stay up on your car payments, mortgage payments, utilities and perhaps your phone bill. But your cable bill? Your Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video and other streaming services? Eating out? Your daily morning Starbucks? Those are all things you can likely live without. Don’t be afraid to cancel or put a hold on these luxuries until you can get back on your feet. You’ll thank yourself in the long run.
Pick up a part-time job: If you’re out of work and your unemployment benefits aren’t cutting it, don’t be too prideful to get a part-time job to help you get through the tough times. Even just bringing in a few hundred dollars more per week can help you knock out some of the essential bills you’re on the hook for. Plus, you can always leave the part-time gig as soon as you secure full-time work in your desired field once again.
Minimally, always make on-time payments: Even if you can only pay the minimum payment on your credit card, make sure you do it. Credit scores are largely weighed on whether or not you make on-time payments. Skipping even once can cause your score to dip – and you don’t want to get docked for something so seemingly simple to avoid.
Most of all, if you’ve fallen on hard financial times – don’t panic. Come up with a strategy of how you’re going to address your situation, then act. It’s possible to do without sacrificing your credit score.
How to Maintain Your Credit in the New Year
What’s your New Year’s resolution?
To go to the gym more? To eat healthier? To be more patient?
The aforementioned are all great ideas, but we’d like to propose one additional resolution that’s worth considering: repairing and maintaining your credit score. That’s right, while many focus their New Year’s resolutions on their bodily health, we’d propose you put some focus on your financial health. And there’s arguably no more important number to your financial future than that little three-digit credit score. If your credit is less than stellar, make sure that you take the necessary steps to repair it. And if your credit is in good or excellent condition, then just as important is making sure that you stay in this range. Here’s a look at some tips and tricks for maintaining your credit score:
Tips for Maintaining Your Credit Score in 2019
Maintaining and/or repairing your credit score is all about knowing where your money is going. Between bill auto-pay and the convenience of just swiping a credit card when you need items, it can be very easy to lose track of where your money is going. And too free of spending can quickly undo any credit repair you made and cause those credit card bills to escalate.
That’s why one great tip is to track all of your expenses for a month to get a better idea of where your money is going and what you’re spending it on. This will allow you to analyze said expenses, eliminate ones that are unnecessary (or not in the budget any longer), and move on from there. Simply knowing where your money is going can help you prevent overspending and allocate additional funds that could go to repay certain debt.
Here’s a look at some other credit maintenance tips:
Consider a money management tool: If you want to keep a closer eye on your spending – and thereby your financial health – it’s never a bad idea to consider a money management tool. If you’re self-disciplined, a great one is Mint, which can be downloaded as an app. However, you may also choose to check with your bank to see what – if any – tools it offers.
Shop credit cards: Think your interest rate is too high on your current credit card? Don’t be afraid to shop around and see if someone is willing to give you a lower one. You could also circle back with your current credit card company and ask for a better rate. Studies show that most people who do are successful.
Budget for occasional expenses: The water bill that’s due quarterly. Your taxes twice a year. Some occasional expenses have a tendency to sneak up on you, potentially leaving you scrambling for a way to pay them. That’s why we suggest opening an additional account and allocating a certain amount of money per month toward any of these occasional expenses. You’ll be glad you did when you can pay these bills without having to get creative.
Experian offering potentially higher credit scores in exchange for access to people’s bank accounts.
Your Credit Minute Show Notes:
00:01 What’s up everyone. Nik Tsoukales here with Key Credit Repair. I’ve got some quick credit news for you, hot off the press from Housing Wire uh, yesterday morning. Um, we have Experian offering potentially high credit scores in exchange to access to people’s bank accounts, and a lot of people are wondering what this is all about. And a lot of people are wondering about some other news, that kind of coincides with this about having cell phone usage, or how you’re paying your cell phone, uh, affect your credit in a positive way.
00:28 So, in the past, what has always happened was if you’ve made your uh, utility payments on time, um, including your cell phone payments, it didn’t report to the credit agencies. But, if you wanted to default, it quickly reported as a collection. It’s probably the number one thing that we work on here at Key Credit Repair. But, you never got the positives from it, only the negatives if things fell apart. Well, Experian today, or yesterday, uh, announced that it’s releasing a new program called Experian Boost. Kind of an interesting little uh, little program. How beneficial it’s going to be, um, kind of up for debate, because it’s only Experian’s program. Obviously, we want to see all three credit agencies, and all three credit scores looking good. Experian, Trinity and then Equifax. But even so, this is a step in the right direction.
01:12 So essentially, what’s going to happen is you’re going to be providing Experian, and obviously this is an opt-in, you’re going to be providing Experian with your bank account information. Experian will then use some fancy software to log into your bank account and essentially analyze your transactions and look at things like utility payments, okay? They will then report those on-time payments to your utility companies, as well as your cell phone company, um, to uh, the Experian credit report. That will then get taken into account under their new FICO eight algorithm, and will potentially increase your credit scores.
01:45 Now, let’s say you’re not making a cell phone payment, or let’s say you stopped. You get a late. That’s one of the questions we’ve been asked today about this, and the answer to that is right now, probably not. What they’re telling us is if you stopped making a payment, maybe a payment’s not due, um, what’ll happen is if you stop making those payments, 90 days later the Experian Boost program simply will not take that account, uh, will not take that account into account. So, it will no longer report to uh, the Experian credit report, so keep that in mind. So, you shouldn’t be negatively affected. Obviously, if you miss payments for 90 days, it will then go into collections anyway, so you’ll get the negative ramifications of that then.
02:26 Um, some quick stuff. This is uh, for utility bills. Um, cell phones. Again, uh, if you stop paying, it will discontinue in 90 days. This is being used for FICO eight. Keep in mind, banks and lenders, for the purpose of mortgage lending, they’re not using FICO eight. They’re using FICO four. They’re using some prehistoric versions of the FICO algorithm. FICO eight is not the score of choice for home lending. And I say this, and I, and I warn everyone, because this is the credit score that our typical client is using to finance a home. Um, most of our clients are trying to buy a home eventually. They’re trying to become uh, homeowners from lenders, so it’s very important.
03:06 Um, also something to keep in the back of your mind is the fact that you are linking up your bank account information to Experian. Not to say that al-, already have everything on us, uh, they already have a lot of our data, but you’re also linking up your bank account information. So, they’ll have the ability to see uh, your spending habits, and where your money’s going, so that’s something to think about as well. Do we want to share that aspect of our finances with one of the credit agencies? We all know the credit agencies do resell data, okay? They’re big marketing company as well, so that’s another thing to keep in mind. Uh, guys, this is Nick Tsoukales with Credit News Daily. I’m going to include a link here for the text, or transcript of this blog. Feel free to read through it, and feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have any questions on how this could adversely affect you, or even benefit you in the future. Thanks and have a great day.
What’s the best way to manage your credit card spending?
Your Credit Minute Show Notes:
00:00 Hey guys, credit question of the day coming from [Shanta Clark 00:00:03]. Thank you so much for sending us this message, um, and for giving us this post. So- so Shanta asked, “What’s the best way to manage your credit card spend?” Guys, the best way to manage it is to not use them. Call me old school. I’ve met a lot of rich people in the last 10 years and the general consensus is cash is king. Spend all the money in your pocket. Budget all you want, but if you can’t budget, don’t worry about it.
00:28 Save some money every week out of your paycheck. Um, and then if you wanna burn through everything else, burn through. Have fun spending it. Have a ball, okay? Let’s stay away from credit card debt. There shouldn’t be credit card spending. There shouldn’t be, uh, any credit card spending management. That shouldn’t be a tool. It shouldn’t be in system … It shouldn’t be a system. If you’re caught up in the points game, you’re dead in the water already guys.
00:52 So again, my suggestion … Um, Shanta Clark, again, thanks for your question, but my suggestion is stay away from the whole darn thing. It’s the number one wealth buster in the United States.
How much money should you save in case of an emergency?
Your Credit Minute Show Notes:
00:00 All right guys. Credit question of the day. And we’ll actually make this a finance question of the day, is coming from [Sherry Lynn White 00:00:06]. Sherry Lynn thank you so much for posting your question on our Facebook page and the question is: How much money should you save in case of an emergency? Well, let’s think about this. In 2008, I would have said a year’s worth. Why? Because when people lost jobs in 2008, it took a lot longer to get a job. Now, the economy is a little stronger, if you’re going to apply for another job, it might be a shorter time frame. So, I would say the minimum should be six months. Okay. You want to look at all of your monthly expenses, you should be able to jot this down on a small piece of paper, even a napkin. Jot down those expenses, times six, that’s what you want to have in the bank. Now, if you’re getting out of debt, I would suggest actually putting that to the side. Okay. The debt’s probably costing you 20 plus percent, get a $1,000 in the bank, just in case of an emergency, something breaks down, you got a car issue, you need to rent a car, something happens. Okay. And attack the debt, don’t worry about your reserve.
01:03 SO the order is, put a thousand bucks in the bank, pay off the debt, and then move to get six months reserves. And once you’re done with the six months reserves, then you want to start investing in putting money into retirement. Thanks, guys. Have a great day.
Is it better to pay off debt slowly or all at once?
Your Credit Minute Show Notes:
00:01 Marlena Perkins, thank you for your credit question on our Facebook page earlier. And Marlena’s question is, “This would be a blessing. Is it better to pay off debt slowly or all at once?”
00:13 Okay. Real simple, guys. It’s just the numbers. If you’ve got the money in the bank, it’s earning .0015%, like literally nothing. Okay? Your money, uh, if you compare it to, or if you compare the interest rate you’re getting from the bank to the inflation, your money’s actually losing value in the bank. Your credit card company’s charging you 28%. Right?
00:36 So, your money’s sitting in the bank is costing you 28%. Okay? If you’re nursing credit card debt. So, should you pay it off at once if you have the money? Absolutely. Hell, yes. You better do it. Um, you will be fine if you want to leave $100.00 in your pocket just in case something happens between now and the next paycheck. Rock and roll, but pay off the debt. Don’t nurse it. It’s not your friend. Credit card companies don’t like you. They’re trying to get paid by you. Okay. So, get away from debt. If you need to pay it slowly, then what you want to do is start with the smallest debt, pay the minimums on everything else. Pay that sucker off and move your way up the list. It’s called the Snowball Effect, but we can talk about that another time.
01:16 Have a great day, guys.
Is it okay to only pay the minimum payment on my credit card? (Curse words)
Your Credit Minute Show Notes:
00:00 All right, guys. Credit question from Paige, Paige Majelki. I’m sorry if I butchered your name, Paige, and the credit question of the moment is, is it okay to only pay the minimum payment on my credit card? And, I’m going to give you- I’m going to- I’m going to use a curse word. Hell no.
00:19 Guys, if you’ve read the disclosure, if you’ve read your credit card bill, you’re going to see there’s a little disclosure box that shows how much you will pay back and how long it will take you to pay off a credit card, um, if you only pay the minimum payments. And, you know what the average is ladies and gentleman on a $2,000 credit card? 18 years. 18 years because you bought a coat. That’s insane.
00:45 So, the answer is hell no. Even if you have to send in a dollar extra, you need to do it guys. You cannot maintain these balances. You- You cannot send in the minimum. You can’t nurse these things. They’re not your friend. If you have too many credit cards or you have to list them out on a spreadsheet, you’ve got a problem. You cannot organize credit card debt. It’s debt. It’s the devil. Get away from it ASAP.
What is the best way to manage your credit card spending?
Your Credit Minute Show Notes:
00:00 All right guys, awesome credit question. What is the best way to manage your credit card spending? You want to know the best way? Don’t use them. It sounds insane. Guys, you just don’t use them. Carry cash. I know it sounds insane. You want to spend all the money in your pocket, rock and roll.
00:20 I’m not a believer in budgeting, okay? When you get paid, put some money aside. Everything else, if you want to burn through it, burn through it. Guess what? If you’ve simply burned through the money in your pocket and haven’t accumulated debt, you are doing better than the average American that’s got about $14,000 per household or some absurd number that keeps going up on a consistent level. Stay away from it. Don’t use it. You don’t need it.
00:44 If you feel like you can’t avoid the temptation, I would say, I wouldn’t say close out the credit cards. Um, if you’ve seen some of my previous videos, I’m going to teach you a little hack. Take those credit cards, stick ’em in a cup, a red cup. Everyone’s got a red beer cup at their house. Stick ’em in a cup, fill the cup up with water, stick that sucker in the freezer.
01:02 You think I’m insane? Think about the psychology. You find something shiny. You want to buy it, okay, but you can’t because you don’t have the credit card on you. Or maybe you’re just using your cash, so be it, that’s fantastic. Use your cash, but let’s say you don’t have enough. You need your credit card. Well, guess what? You gotta leave the mall, you gotta drive home, you gotta walk into your kitchen. Everyone’s yelling at you, the kids are yelling, it’s, it’s, it’s a busy house. You’ve probably forgotten about your purchase, and if you haven’t, you gotta go into the freezer, take this cup out of the freezer, stick it on your counter, and wait for it to melt.
01:36 How silly do you feel doing this? Well, guess what, in feeling silly about this, you might, number one, change your mind, okay? Also, time will pass. It’s gonna take a day or so for that thing to melt, right? Time will pass, you’ll get busy, and you’ll probably see something else that’s shinier, and you might just forget about it, okay? Compulsion has, uh, an expiration, and it’s usually about six to 12 hours, okay, so if you can get through that compulsion period, um, you can make a more educated decision. If you really want it at that point, again, I don’t recommend buying it, whatever you need on the credit card, but at least you had given yourself a chance to think about it, guys, so see ya later.