Have You Checked Your Credit Cards Lately?

Have you checked the credit limits on your credit cards lately?  If not, you might want to take time to do just that, especially since roughly 50 million Americans’ credit card accounts were either closed or had their credit limit cut in the past 30 days.  That’s about 1 in 4 credit card holders, and of those, men between the ages of 18-38 years old were particularly affected.

Credit CardWhat’s even worse is that lenders are not even required to tell you when your credit limit is lowered, so you may not find out until you’re ready to actually use that credit card.  Why now, you wonder?  Truthfully, this is another financial side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Early on, lenders reviewed accounts, then lowered some credit limits to reduce their risk of loss if it appeared that consumers would struggle to make payments, or even use the cards to live on, as unemployment skyrocketed across the country.

Sadly, these credit cutbacks occurred just when household budgets were hit the hardest.  Not only are families using their cards frequently right now, but some are having to use them to make ends meet until unemployment funds start coming in, or to buy essential goods.

Unfortunately,  even though this makes sense for the credit card companies, it didn’t make things any easier for consumers.  But, in their defense, total credit card debt has been growing steadily since 2015, and is hovering right around $1.1 trillion nationwide.  And, even before the pandemic, delinquencies had already hit a seven year high as many families struggled to meet payments.

While we don’t have exact details, some cardholders have reported credit limit reductions in the thousands of dollars, so you’ll want to log in to every account to check your limits. Then, if you find your credit limit has been reduced, contact the issuer and request that they reconsider the reduction, or even in some cases, closures of accounts that have been dormant for some time.

In fact, you may want to consider moving a couple of small recurring payments to a dormant card, like Netflix or Hulu subscriptions, and set it up on autopay to handle payments, just so that the card is not considered dormant (and subsequently closed).  Just that one regular monthly charge will keep your credit card account active without adding any unnecessary expense to your budget, thereby  preserving the now-active card’s larger spending limit for true spending emergencies.

10 Ugly Truths About Credit Cards

Credit card debt is one of the most difficult financial obstacles to overcome – interest rates are high, minimum payments barely scratch the surface of the actual debt, and it’s just so, so easy to fall into the trap you set for yourself whenever you use your credit cards without having a real plan for paying them off.  Unfortunately, the ugly truth about credit card usage has only gotten uglier in the past few years.  Not only have interest rates risen, but credit card use itself has tripled, and there doesn’t appear to be an end in sight.

Here are just a few of the down and dirty truths about credit cards and the debts we carry… and you might be surprised at just how much you don’t really know!

1. Nearly Half of the Population is in the Same Boat You Are

That’s right, you’re not alone.  Nearly half (46%) of all adults carry a balance on their credit cards from month to month, and since interest rates rarely drop, we’re all paying a premium for those purchases we made on that card.

2. It Takes Years to Pay Off Some Balances

If you’re like most people, and there are months when you can only pay the minimum payment, it can be very difficult to pay your credit card balances in full, ever.  For example, if you carry $3,000.00 in debt, at 17% interest, over time, your interest charge can easily amount to another $3,000.00.  That’s DOUBLE your initial balance – take a look at how much of your monthly payment actually goes toward the principal.  You might be sick.

3. Americans Aren’t Paying Off the Balances

Even though we’re really good at spending money, it turns out we aren’t nearly as good when it comes to paying the balance off.  In fact, for every dollar on average that we pay off, we’re adding another $2.65 in new debt.  It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that this cannot continue indefinitely.

4. The Average Household Credit Card Debt Is $5,700 

Even though the overall economy has improved significantly, the average household still carries around $5,700 in credit card debt, and are still unable to pay off much of that debt.

5. Interest Rates Are Not Coming Down

Even though the economy has improved, and mortgage rates, car loans, and other types of loans have low interest rates right now, most credit cards average at or above 16% interest.  Make just one late payment, and that can jump to 30% (or higher).

6. Just One Late Payment Will Damage Your FICO Score 

Even though it’s better to pay late than not at all, making just one payment that is more than 30 days past the due date can really harm your credit score for a very long time.  Payment histories stay on your credit report for up to seven years and can cause your score to drop significantly.

7. Baby Boomers Have the Least Amount of Credit Card Debt 

Perhaps it’s because baby boomers are aging, but the least amount of credit card debt belongs to the Baby Boomer Generation, while Gen X owes the most.  Born between 1967 and 1981, the average Gen Xer holds a credit card balance that is nearly $8,000. Even more telling, credit scores have historically dropped lower with each successive generation, meaning the successive generations will likely carry a larger balance than the Gen Xers.

8. 20% Of Americans Have More Credit Card Debt Than They Have In Savings

Even though it’s recommended that we all build an emergency fund that will cover three-to-six months of living expenses, most people have less than $1,000 in savings, and another 12% don’t have any emergency savings at all.  That means an emergency can quickly put most people into credit card debt.

9. Women Carry Less Debt Than Men 

Even though women are the “shoppers,” men actually carry more credit card debt, coming in at an average of $7,407 vs. women, who carry about 22% less, or $5,245.

10. Most of Us Will Die Carrying Credit Card Debt

Approximately 65% of Americans will owe credit card debt up to the day we die.  That’s more than those of who are not expected to leave this earth without a mortgage.  The average debt, which is more than $4,000, also leaves a legacy that family members have to deal with.

In closing, understand that credit card debt is an ugly problem that we Americans have yet to take control of in our own lives. But, it doesn’t have to be the norm – not if you take action now.  Control costs where you can, pay as much as you can on those balances, and stop the cycle before you find yourself struggling. 

It’s October!

Well, it’s October, and you know what that means? Yes, your mailbox is likely filled with all sorts of offers… credit cards with no interest, catalogs with pre-approved lines of credit, and personal loan offers! Some of them look pretty tempting, don’t they? But, should you fill any of them out and return them? Should you complete the application online? Should you even consider the offers at all?

Honestly, yes and no to all of these questions. While the offers are definitely worth considering, you also need to do your research before applying for ANY credit card, catalog card, or personal loan.

First and foremost, check your credit score! Most of the mailers that you receive are based on the demographics of your state, city, town, or even your specific neighborhood, and not necessarily on your specific credit profile, so checking your credit first gives you the basic information that you need to start with before you even consider a single offer. If the offer is for a credit score that’s much higher than yours, you are likely to be rejected, which definitely hurts your credit score. And if the offer is for a credit score that’s much lower than yours, you will most certainly pay a higher interest rate, additional fees, and lose out on the perks that come with a credit card for better credit. So, start with your credit score.

Once you have your credit score in hand, you’re ready to move on to the next step. Consider each offer carefully! Remember, these are bulk rate mailers, and they’re not necessarily tailored to your specific needs, so what looks good at first may not compare to other options that you most likely have with other credit card, catalog, or personal loan vendors.

The best place to start is the individual credit vendor’s website. Are they legitimate? Are the terms that you see in your offer the same as you find online? Are they typically for individuals with credit scores in the same range as your credit score? Remember, these days, everything and anything is fair game to scammers out there trying to steal your money, your identity, or worse, and as such, you must consider everything and anything as suspect.

Once you’ve determined that the offer is legitimate, then it’s time to compare the offer in your hands to other offers that are out there. Are you getting the best interest rate? Are you getting the best rewards? Would you be paying fees? Is there a better option for you?

Unless you do the research, you can and you will lose out on the best credit card offers, and that will most certainly cost you more in the long run. So, do the research first, and then enjoy the benefits of those credit offers!

Here’s a good place to start:


Want the Best Interest Rates? Time’s Almost Up

Getting the best interest rates on mortgages, auto loans, personal loans, and even credit cards depends largely on two things – your credit score and the market.  Yesterday, the Federal Reserve raised the interest rate by .25% and they “signaled” two more planned interest rate hikes this year alone – that means that the rates on every single loan of any kind can be expected to go up by that same .25%.

Now, while that doesn’t seem like a lot of money, over the term of any loan, it can add up to a significant amount of money that you will pay in interest.  For example, that 30 year home loan, or that 6 year car loan, or even those credit cards that you’re only paying the minimum payments on each month… ALL of them will cost more, and not just with this rate increase, but with the two more that are expected before the end of this year.

So, what should you do?  Well, if you’re considering buying a home or a new car, now is definitely the time to lock in those loans!  And those credit cards?  Maybe it’s time to take out a personal loan at a lower, fixed rate so that you can get those paid off, too.  But remember, interest rates are going up again, so you don’t have much time to waste.  Here are some of the best personal loan offers we’ve found today:

Taxes, Budgets & Planning

Well, it’s tax time again and you know what that means? Time to gather all of your 2017 wage and expense information, sit down with the numbers, and file that tax return. Of course, if you’re like most people, when you gather those receipts, you’ll also review your checkbook, bank statements, and even your credit card bills looking for every single deduction. And while you’re looking at all of the ways that you’ve spent money over the past year, you may want to take a little time to think about all of the ways that you might save money this year.

How many credit card statements did you have to review? How high are the balances? What’s the interest rate on each card? And even more importantly, how much could you save if you were able to pay off all those credit cards and make one single, low interest payment each month? Would you save hundreds or even thousands of dollars? How much sooner would you be able to pay off one bill if you had a lower interest rate and if that bill was the only loan that you had to pay each month?

Have we captured your attention yet? If any one of the questions that we have posed sounds like something that you might benefit from, then you might just want to look into taking out a personal loan from one of these lenders:

Want a Higher Limit on Your Credit Cards?

Ever wondered why your credit limit on your credit card is at whatever limit that it is? And how to go about raising that limit? Before the 2009 credit card reforms, it was fairly common to see people with excellent credit who had credit limits of $15,000, $25,000, or even $50,000 on some credit cards. Since then, credit limits have been scaled back so that the higher limits are usually around $5,000 or more, depending on your credit score.

Typically, those with a credit score over 750 are the ones who qualify for these cards, but there are also other tiers that most credit cards are based on:

850 to 781 (superprime): $9,543
780 to 661 (prime): $5,409
660 to 601 (near prime): $2,277
600 to 500 (subprime): $966
499 to 300 (deep subprime): $509

So, how do you get your credit limit increased?

Nearly every credit card company relies on your credit score to extend credit, but once you’ve been approved and have demonstrated responsible usage, the credit card company may utilize different criteria to determine if you’re eligible for a credit-limit increase. For example, they may ask you for updated personal information regarding your salary, they may look at your payment history (especially if you pay more than the minimum amount due), and they will likely look at your credit report.

Most of the time, assuming you have a solid history with a company, you’ll see “automatic” increases, but some companies don’t give automatic increases, and you’ll need to request an increase.

Bear in mind that requesting an increase can affect your credit score, just as having a higher credit limit that you’re utilizing to much of can also negatively affect your credit score, so use your larger credit limit just as wisely as you do the smaller one.