• Posts Tagged ‘credit_score’

    Paying Off Credit Card Debt and Improving Your Credit Score

    by  • April 10, 2013 • Tagged: ,  • Comments

    There is no doubt that having credit card debt is stressful – especially when you know that it just keeps on growing day after day. Paying down credit card debt can be just as stressful as trying to ignore it, however, paying off your debt is recommended – ignoring it is not!

    There are a number of options open to you if you have decided it’s finally time to get rid of that debt. We’re going to look at balance transfer credit cards, to see if that is the right route for you.

    Balance Transfer Credit Cards

    Transferring the balance from your current store or credit cards onto a balance transfer card can give you a great opportunity to pay down debt, without having to worry about interest. Transferred balances will attract low or no interest for a given period of time, giving you a chance to pay off more of your actual debt, while taking a break from interest.

    To do this properly, it’s important to choose the right balance transfer offer. Offers vary according to the card provider, so you could get a card with 0% on balance transfers for six months, or another card with 3% on balance transfers for 12 months.

    To choose the right offer, you will need to work out how long you need to pay off your debt. If you’re certain you can pay it off quickly, go for a card with the lowest possible interest over a shorter period of time.

    If you think you will need longer to pay off your debt, you may need to choose a longer offer. Bear in mind that longer offers can sometimes charge higher interest – but, you will still be paying a lot less interest than a standard credit card.

    Try using a balance transfer calculator or a credit card calculator to work out what you can afford, and what is the best option for you. Also be aware of the card’s reversion rates, what happens when the offer ends, and be sure to read the terms and conditions of the card.

    After You’ve Paid Off Your Debt

    Congratulations, you’ve paid off your debt! Now it’s time to think about whether the balance transfer card is still the best card for you. You may find that the card has reverted to a much higher interest rate, in which case, you need to decide if it’s still affordable.

    If you pay off your balance at the end of the month, you shouldn’t need to worry too much about the card’s interest rate. However, if you have trouble paying it off each month, then you may want to switch to a low interest credit card. This will help you keep a lid on the amount of interest you’re paying on your debt.

    While you may not always be able to pay off your balance each month, it is certainly something to aim for. Never just pay the minimum repayment, or it’s likely you’ll end up in trouble with your credit card again sooner rather than later.

    Again, it’s a good idea to use a credit card calculator and a comparison site, to find the best credit card for you, and to ensure you get what you need from your card.

    Improving your Credit Score

    Treating your credit cards with respect can help to improve your credit score. This means, always pay your bills on time, try to pay off the balance in full each month, don’t apply for more than one credit card at once, and keep a good relationship with your credit card provider.

    Credit Card Conundrum

    by  • June 17, 2010 • Tagged: ,  • Comments

    ccards.jpg

    photo: Andres Rueda

    Over the past few months I’ve chosen to close a few credit card accounts. I think that in each case, the card carriers were going to start charging an annual fee unless we started using the card. The most recent example was my Citibank card, as they wanted us to spend at least $2400 per year to have them waive a $60 fee.

    The problem with all of the recent cancellations are that 1) the cards were among the oldest that I had and 2) they had pretty high credit limits. Cancelling those cards has reduced the average age of my credit history and has decreased my overall credit limit. I do still have a relatively high overall credit limit around $35,000 and my oldest card was opened in 2000, with others opened from 2005 to 2007. But still, it sucks that I had to cancel those cards.

    Of the remaining credit cards that I have, I use two of them regularly. Both are rewards cards, but one of them has a $45 yearly fee. Oh, and Her also has that card as well. So yes, we’re paying the $45 annual fee twice.

    So naturally, I’m contemplating closing that card as well so that we don’t have to pay the annual fee more times than we need to. The problem is that card is also the second oldest card that I have and has the second highest credit limit; closing the card would effectively halve my overall credit limit. I don’t want to take another ding on my credit score. I’ve had this card for almost 5 years, so we’ve paid $180 in fees so far – soon to be $225. We have definitely received much more in rewards (5-star hotels in Europe are a very nice perk), and so far have accumulated enough points to go on more awesome vacations.

    Do you think it’s worth it for me to still have this card? What alternatives could you think of instead?

     

    FICO as a Mathematical and Sociological Challenge

    by  • March 17, 2006 • Tagged: ,  • Comments

    Mathematically speaking, a FICO score is nothing more than the result of an equation that considers multiple variables. The exact equation is a closely guarded industry secret. After all, the credit bureau couldn’t sell you your FICO score if you could calculate it yourself. But I’ve been pondering this equation for about a week now and I just can’t come up with a good reason why nobody has cracked the equation.

    First, consider it as a mathematical challenge. I assume the equation could probably be determined by using linear regression. This is a math trick that allows you to isolate a single variable among many and solve for its value. It is used most commonly to determine real estate values. For example, imagine that you and your neighbor have identical houses on identical properties. The only difference is that your house has a fire place and your neighbor’s house does not. Now imagine you both sell your respective houses on the same day. He sells his for $100,000 and you sell yours for $105,000. It’s pretty easy to determine that, all else being equal, your fireplace was worth $5,000. It gets more complicated in the real world; because of course no two houses are completely identical. Even in a development with rows of identical houses, one might have a nicer view of the lake while the other may be closer to a busy street. So real estate agents use linear regression to isolate the base home price and the value of each add-on (like a fireplace or nice view) or detractor (such as noise). Then they can predict a fair price for your home.

    It makes sense to me that the FICO formula would work the same way. You would get a base number to start with, and then each good thing (on-time payments, low debt-to-credit ratio, etc) would add points and each bad thing (missed payments, late payments, etc) would detract from your score. This is the perfect situation for linear regression.

    While linear regression is time consuming, it isn’t hard. And it isn’t as though we don’t have some basic FICO equation information already. Here’s what we do know, because the FICO company has made this information public:

    1. The solution (your FICO score) can range from 250 to 900.
    2. There are not more than 33 variables and we know how much each one deducts from your score.
    3. If your credit report is accurate, you have all the same raw data they use to calculate your FICO score.

    So why hasn’t anyone cracked the formula? With all the brilliant mathematicians on the planet today, can’t one of them whip out a FICO equation? Imagine the fame and fortune that would follow such a revelation! That person could sell “FICO” scores at a discount and undercut the big guys, or he could work to improve the formula and sell a better score.

    The final aspect of this mystery is human nature. The FICO score equation is a secret only so long as nobody spills the beans. With all the employees who have worked at the Fair Isaac Corporation, surely one or two of them have seen the equation. Are their employees really that loyal and trustworthy?

    How does such a simple secret stay a secret for so long?