The best time to pay your bills

Everyone knows that when building credit it is imperative that you pay your bills on time. It's even more important to know exactly when to pay. You see, in order to get full credit for your payments you should never pay your bill until the creditor posts your statement online or you receive it in the mail.

The reason for this is because if you pay your bill "before" your statement posts, your payment will not count towards your current billing statement. It will apply to the previous billing statement. The bill will be paid but you'll still owe for the current month's bill which could result in a late payment and impact your credit score.

If you pay "after" your statement posts, it shows the credit card company that you have made a timely payment and this payment will be sure to post for the current month's bill and not your previous one. Additionally, if you are paying your bill in full each month, this method keeps your credit utilization lower which will increase your credit score.

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Plant your credit cards in the garden

When considering new credit cards, you must do so with a plan in mind. By plan, I mean that when you are trying to build credit it is best that you focus on credit cards that will grow rapidly in the garden. "The Garden" is a term for getting a credit card for the primary purpose of growing its credit limit as quickly as possible. The more credit that you have available, the lower your credit utilization. The lower your credit utilization, the higher your credit score.

There are certain department and specialty store cards and the companies that finance them that will raise your credit limits faster than major credit cards like Visa and MasterCard. Comenity Bank and Synchrony Bank are known for giving frequent and large credit limit increases that are all soft pulls that won't affect your credit scores.

Wayfair and Overstock are two such credit cards that are financed by Comenity Bank that have been known to raise your credit limits to over 30K with very few purchases needed. My initial Wayfair starting limit was just $800. On the day the account opened, I requested a credit limit increase and was instantly granted a $1550 limit. Just three months later my credit limit is $4550.

Given this trend, I predict that my Wayfair credit limit will reach 10K somewhere between the 12-18 month window of initially opening the account. My Overstock credit card has had a similar credit limit increase within the same time frame. That's potentially 20K worth of available credit within one and a half years. Plant your credit cards in the garden and watch them grow!

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How to build credit with limited funds

Building credit with limited funds is not impossible but it will be challenging. Challenging because one of the primary principles of credit rebuilding is based upon paying down your current debt. The good news is...it's not a dealbreaker.

If you are not in the position to plop down large amounts of cash to reduce your existing debt quickly, the next best thing to do is to continuously pay the bills that you currently have on time and never, ever again be late.

Now, after you've gotten into the mindset of never being late again, the next thing I want you to do is to go to www.fingerhut.com and open an account. A lot of people will scoff at a Fingerhut credit account. Don't listen to these people.

Fingerhut is responsible for improving more people's credit profiles faster than any company that I've ever heard of. If you are too embarrassed to tell people that you have a Fingerhut account then don't tell them, just open the account and watch your credit grow.

Next, I want you to make a small purchase of $20-$30. The amount is not important. The key is getting something that you can pay off in full within a few days of your bill arriving, if not sooner. Then repeat.

Fingerhut will double if not triple your initial credit limit within the first 3 months. The moment they increase your limit, then I want you to go to www.gettington.com and open an account with them.

Gettington Credit is financed by WebBank, which is the same company that finances Fingerhut and they will reward you just as quickly for making simple, on-time payments. These two accounts alone will open the door for several other credit cards in a short amount of time and you've spent practically nothing.

If you follow these three simple steps, I promise you that within six months your credit score will show significant improvement, and within a year your score will have jumped by at least 100 points if not more.

A year might sound like a long time but trust me, it won't feel like it because you will be receiving small rewards and a sense of accomplishment along the way.

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How Fingerhut helped me reach a 700 credit score!

There was once a point in time when Fingerhut would not let me renew a previously defaulted account with them no matter how many calls I made to their customer service department. I came just short of begging them to accept me back as a customer once I learned the true credit building value of Fingerhut but they kept telling me no.

I couldn't believe it. I mean, this was Fingerhut. Not some major credit company or lender. That's where I made my first mistake with my initial Fingerhut account. I basically burned them without paying them back because I was under the understanding that no harm would come of it. I seriously underestimated just how much of an excellent credit builder they were and they made me pay dearly for it.

It wasn't until I finally cleaned up my other credit and my score started to rise that I decided to reapply and finally after about two years of denials, they accepted me back as a customer and I was so grateful. Fingerhut has changed my credit for the better and is responsible for single-handedly improving my scores at each credit bureau by at least 50 points on its own which were just enough to push one of my scores over 700 for the first time ever and I know the others are soon to follow.

So the next time that someone talks down to you about having or wanting a Fingerhut Credit account, be sure to tell them that they can do whatever they want to do but you choose to improve your scores across the board by investing in Fingerhut for better credit now and into the future!

You might also like: Fingerhut Credit

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From Payday Loans to Installment Loans

In an attempt to stay ahead of legislation's latest efforts to thwart the payday loan industry and its predatory lending practices, payday loan stores have once again outsmarted the system that has been trying to shut them down for years.

In the past, payday loan companies thrived on taking advantage of people who have fallen on hard times and find themselves living paycheck to paycheck just trying to survive life's day to day challenges.

In the traditional cat and mouse fashion, a law was passed in an attempt to shut down payday loans forever, but as usual, legislation was a day late and a dollar short. The payday loan companies were tipped off of the forthcoming changes with enough time to plan a counter-attack.

As a result of the pending changes, payday loan companies introduced the casual shift from payday loans to the installment loan. Installment loans allow lenders to offer long term loans at basically the same rates which over time, ends up costing borrowers up to 5X more over the length of the loan.

This is bad news for people who live life on the financial edge because once you get into the installment loan system and spend the initial loan amount, now you are forced to enter into another year-long agreement with another lender the same as people did with payday loans.

The major difference is that there are no more 30 day loans. Installment loans are usually 12-month contracts and although you can pay it in advance, most people will not have the ability to do so. As an experiment, I took out a 12-month installment loan and despite paying it off in only 3 months, the accrued interest was through the roof and I did not find that the juice was worth the squeeze.

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Firestone Credit: For easy credit approvals

If you are looking for a nice card to have in case you run into unexpected car problems and don't keep a stash of cash lying around, I highly recommend the Firestone Complete Auto Care credit card that is financed by Credit First National Association (CFNA).

The Firestone credit card comes with a few perks right out of the box. For instance, there is no annual fee which is always nice but what's even better is that if you spend at least $299 on a purchase of new tires or auto repairs, you instantly qualify for no interest financing for six months.

Failure to pay off your balance within that time frame will result in you being charged the entire interest amount that would have accrued over the six months. When I purchased my tires I had good intentions but unfortunately, I was unable to pay my balance down in time to reap the zero interest benefits.

Another nice thing about the Firestone card is that you are not bound to using it strictly at Firestone stores. Your card is also accepted at any Bridgestone or Tires Plus repair facilities. Just call them first to make sure that they are still accepting Firestone cards for payment just to be sure.

The best thing about Firestone is that they offer very easy credit approvals. They say that a credit score around 600 will generally lead to approval but when I got my card over six years ago my credit score was nowhere near 600 so I know there is some flexibility there.

My initial credit limit was $800 which increased to $1200, then $2400 and after recently paying off several credit cards, my limit was just increased to $3200. The current APR at the time of this article is 22.8 percent which is not bad but you should be aware that it could change at any time. Apply for Firestone Credit.

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Should you answer debt collector calls?

I have a lot of experience with this so just hear me out. Most people will tell you that you should not duck your head in the sand and that you should stand up and face the music. Just pick up the phone, make arrangements and pay what you owe. You made the bill...pay the bill. I'm not most people.

Now, I'm not telling you that you should not pay what you owe. You should most definitely pay your bills unless you have the mental fortitude to deal with the onslaught of debt collector calls and harassment that will be headed your way the moment you decide to stop answering calls.

Stay with me for a moment. There is a method to the madness. It's all situational. By situational, I mean that whether you pay your past-due debt should depend on a couple of factors. One of which is how close are you to the statute of limitations for the state in which you incurred the debt?

If the debt is due to fall off 5 years from now and you are trying to rebuild your credit, then I suggest that you answer the call and try to work out a "reasonable" and viable settlement that works for both parties involved but never let yourself be raked over the coals by paying more than the original amount of the debt. That's just crazy.

However, if on the other hand, you are near the statute of limitations for debt collection which is roughly 7 years and 90 days, and the debt is due to fall off of your credit report organically, then I would ignore all debt collector calls. They are well aware that your debt is about to become non-collectable and they want to talk you into making a payment before it's too late.

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Can any credit score be fixed?

Credit scores vary in range from 300-850. In the past, I have personally seen scores in the low 400’s which is pretty bad. Having said that, any credit score can be fixed. Even if your score is in the low 300’s, you can improve it over time, but let me be clear…It will take you at least a couple of years and that’s with extreme discipline unless you hire professional help. It’s already a slow process and there’s just too much work to do.

Here are the necessary steps to improve your credit score:

Hire a credit repair company - With a credit score between 300-500, there is no need to go at it alone by attempting self credit repair. You are long past that point. I recommend “The Credit People” and have blogged about them in the past due to how effective they were in repairing my own credit. Their complete service is $419 if you pay in advance, while the industry average is $1200 a year.

Pay off any remaining debts - “The Credit People” do excellent work, but no company will guarantee 100% removal, so just assume that you will need to do your part in cleaning up any residual debts. You should first initiate a “Pay for Delete” (PFD) agreement in which you offer to pay the creditor a lesser amount of what is actually owed, in exchange for the removal of the debt from your credit report. I offer a free sample PFD letter on my blog that is available upon request.

Make all future payments on time - Even though you’ve hired professional help, you must still do your part by keeping up with all future payments and make a commitment to never be late again. This is a very important step for obvious reasons, but the biggest being that creditors place a heavier weight on how you’ve paid your debts lately, rather than how you’ve paid them in the past. This strategy will put you in a better position to apply for new credit in the future.

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Are collection agents trained to be rude?

I don’t believe for one moment that collection agents are trained to be rude. What I do believe is that they get paid on commission. The more they collect, the more they get paid…so they are extremely motivated.

Having said that, I certainly wouldn’t group all debt collectors as one and the same. There are good and bad employees in every occupation and the debt collection industry is no exception.

I have certainly had my fair share of dealings with the rudest of rude and the meanest of mean but I never let them aggravate me to the point where they caused me to lose control.

When dealing with debt collectors, one should acknowledge the fact that they have a job to do and are just trying to make an honest living, but you should never allow yourself to be verbally abused or threatened by one.

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Why I could never become a bill collector

I could never take a job as a bill collector even if my life depended on it. One of the many reasons is because I think they are the scum of the earth and I think much more highly of myself than scum. It's a dirty job and somebody has to do it but that somebody will never be me.

Calling some random stranger up and asking them for money that they haven't bothered to pay back in years just seems counterproductive to me. I mean, in most cases whenever I've had a years-long unpaid bill its generally because I have absolutely no plans to pay them.

Add the fact that 80% of all debts in America are never collected and that is a formula for a lot of cold nights and wondering where your next meal is coming from. No thank you! I'd rather sell bean pies on the street rather than accept that job...not that there's anything wrong with selling bean pies on the street!

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What happens if you stop using your credit cards?

It is always a good idea to keep all your credit cards at least minimally active, even if you pay the entire balance off on your next due date. The reason for this is because a lot of credit card companies will either reduce your credit limit or close the account altogether.

I have a credit card from the "Express Men's" store that started with a credit limit of $500, was raised to $650, then due to a couple of years of next to no activity on the card, they lowered my credit limit to just $100. They have since raised it incrementally to $850 but in some cases, they will simply just close the account.

In an attempt to be proactive, I recently purchased a few items from their online clearance selection and a nice pair of black chelsea boots just to show a little activity. My hope is that my debt to income ratio will improve enough in the near future and lead to higher credit limits and a higher credit score.

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Fingerhut Credit

I have been raving about Fingerhut Credit since day one. What I've realized over the years is that some people don't consider Fingerhut to be "real credit" just because they do not issue a traditional credit card that you can see and feel.

Honestly, I used to feel the same way. Part of the reason is that we have been programmed to associate "real credit" with a plastic card because to some of us, possessing a credit card gives us a sense of power that makes us feel good inside.

With companies like Fingerhut and Gettington, which happen to be owned by the same parent company, a physical credit card is not issued. Since neither company has a physical retail shopping store, it serves no purpose to offer a traditional credit card.

Having said that...both companies report to the three major credit bureaus and that is what's most important. Because both report and report often, this affords your credit score the opportunity to trend upwards at a much faster pace. My starting Fingerhut credit limit was $700 but in less than a year it is now $1400. My Gettington limit started at $400 and is now $1200.

It is worth noting that Fingerhut items will cost a little more than you would pay at a traditional retail store but in my opinion, it's worth it because Fingerhut reports to all 3 of the major credit bureaus to help get your credit back on track. Apply for Fingerhut Credit today!

You might also like: Fingerhut: The Quickest Road to Credit Repair

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Is Having a Good Credit Score Overrated?

There are a lot of things about credit that are overrated such as the number of credit inquiries on your report, but your credit score itself is certainly not one of them.

Sure, you could get away without credit for several years if you had to but without it you will eventually run into problems renting an apt, buying or repairing a vehicle, etc.

Having good credit essentially gives one access to short term loans in the event of an emergency or other situation when you don’t have the cash on hand to make purchases for the things you need.

You might also like: Credit Inquiries Are Overrated

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The Earnin App: An In-Depth Review

The Earnin app which is available in the Google Play Store offers what essentially amounts to a very low-cost payday loan with all business being conducted online over an app on your mobile phone.

The amount you can borrow starts out at $100 per pay period but can increase to $500 per pay period with continued use. The loan itself is free with no interest but you are asked to leave an optional tip that can be as little as $1.00 and up to $14.00 per loan but this is just a suggestion. Tipping is not required.

The Earnin app gives loans based on the money that you have already "earned" on your job. It uses GPS tracking to determine when you are at work and when you are at home. Once the app determines that you have worked that day, you can then withdraw that money right away and the same amount will be withheld from your next paycheck.

The app works great when it works but God forbid your payday falls on a different date than the one you entered during sign up, which is what happened to me. Once this happens you might as well consider that date the end of all future loans.

The company reached out to me via email stating that they cannot determine when my next payday is and when I told them that I typically get paid on the same day every pay period, but sometimes due to the month of February or any other month that may have 28, 29, 30 or 31 days in it, my payday will change.

For some unknown reason, they just can't seem to wrap their heads around this simple concept. Their solution to the problem is to request that I make a copy of my paystub and email it to their support team so that they can determine my payday.

After doing what they ask and hoping to resume my borrowing, I am again denied a loan based on the exact same reason. I reach out to the company again and tell them that I have already sent them my paystub as they have requested and their response was to have me send it again because they have no record of receiving it.

This scenario of me emailing my paystub and them telling me they never received it went on for at least three full cycles until I couldn't take it anymore and just gave up. If they haven't received my paystub in three attempts, they never will.

Either this is somebody's idea of a sick joke or this company is quite simply the worst at conducting day to day business since the beginning of time and mankind.

Fast forward to today, almost two years later, they are still sending me emails once a month stating that they are unable to determine my paydays and asking me to email a copy of my most recent paystub so that I can resume borrowing. I'm done.

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Store Cards vs Major Credit Cards

If you have a credit card that reports to any of the three major credit bureaus, preferably all of them, this will help in building your credit score as long as you are making at least the minimum monthly payment before the bill is due...I would suggest paying more whenever possible for the best results.

A single department store credit card when used regularly and responsibly can build your credit just as quickly as having a stack of major credit cards at your disposal. It all comes down to how committed you are to achieving your credit goals.

Having multiple major credit cards might make you feel good inside, but they'll do nothing to improve your credit if you're delinquent every month trying to pay them all. When it comes to credit building, sometimes slow and steady is the way to go.

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What Do Credit Reporting Agencies Do?

Credit reporting agencies keep vital track of all your credit history that has been reported to them by “some” creditors that you have dealt with in the past. I say “some” because not all creditors report.

This reported information can be either good or bad but the goal is to keep your credit profile stuffed with as much positive information as possible as this will improve your overall credit score and increase your worthiness to potential creditors.

Conversely, poor credit history will negatively impact your credit score and greatly hamper your ability to earn trust and qualify for loans and other forms of credit in the future. Negative credit history can haunt you for years so it is always best to try to keep your credit as positive as possible.

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Credit Inquiries Are Overrated

Ask any finance professional about credit inquiries and most will tell you that multiple credit inquiries are very damaging to your credit and credit scores. And although there is some truth to that statement, it is nowhere near the doom and gloom that they make it out to be.

How do I know? It's because I've tested this theory time and time again and the credit score drop that you experience if any, is very minimal...usually between two and five points and it's only temporary. Your score will shoot back up in just a few weeks like nothing ever happened.

My credit is still a work in progress and I was able to get approved for over 10 unsecured credit cards. I would never have been able to accomplish this if I were not willing to risk credit inquiries to get there. The key is finding out what works and what doesn't in order to build a baseline so you know not to repeat the same mistake twice.

Now, you can't just go "willy nilly" all over the place applying for credit anywhere and everywhere hoping that someone will approve you. You have to have a plan. The good news is that I've done the work for you. You can reap the benefits of my mistakes so that you don't have to repeat them.

I have compiled a list of places that grant easy credit approvals...most of which have already been discussed on my blog but there are many more out there that for whatever reason serve me no purpose but you might find them useful. Examples are women's clothing stores, online furniture outlets, craft, and specialty stores. The list is almost endless if you know where to look.

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How To Make Late Payments Without Hurting Your Score

Contrary to popular belief, in most cases, you do not have to pay a credit card bill by the date of which the bill is due. The reason for this is because most credit card companies offer a 25-30 day grace period. This little known secret could come in handy if you're running short until payday.

Here's how the grace period works: Let's say that your bill is due on the 1st of the month. You can pay your bill anytime before the 25th or 30th (depending on your grace period) without it being reported as a late payment to the credit reporting agencies. They've allowed you a few days grace.

Now, this does not mean that you won't be charged a late fee for making the payment after the due date, because in most cases you will. It simply means that credit card companies that offer a grace period will not report your late payment to the credit bureaus as long as they receive a payment within the stated grace period on your credit agreement.

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Lower Balances Equal Higher Limits

Recently, I've decided to pay off all my existing credit card balances and what I discovered is that as you pay down your bills, credit card companies will automatically increase your existing credit limits. For example: When I paid off my Gettington and Firestone credit accounts, my Nordstrom credit limit automatically increased.

After recognizing this trend, I reached out to Firestone and Express and requested a manual credit limit increase and was approved for both. Firestone increased my existing limit from $1200 to $2400 and although my Express limit did not double, it did increase.

These increases would have probably happened organically without my manual requests if given enough time for the companies to perform their internal credit reviews, but I decided to speed up the process as there is nothing wrong with being proactive. The end result is more available credit. The more available credit you have, the higher your credit score.

UPDATE: My Firestone credit limit was increased to $3200 upon request.

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Are Prepaid Legal Services Worth It?

You bet your ass, they are! Let me explain. A few months ago a very old payday loan showed up on my Transunion credit report and in my mind, I'm thinking, no problem. I'll just dispute it and make it disappear like magic just like I always do. But this time it didn't work. Two months later I disputed it again but the credit bureau refused to remove it.

Suddenly, I realized that I had been paying $9.95 a month since 1999 for a prepaid legal service called ARAG. Now, ARAG has helped me in the past, most notably when a furniture company sued me unsuccessfully because ARAG Legal Services told me step by step what to do to defend myself and the case was dismissed less than 30 days after answering the summons.

Fast forward to today. I reached out to ARAG and requested that they send out a debt validation letter to the collection agency on my behalf and within a week I received a notification from Credit Karma informing me that the payday loan collection account had been removed! ARAG came through for me again!

In short, if you find yourself in similar situations every few months while you work on restoring your credit, I suggest that you arm yourself with ARAG or a similar company to help defend you in your time of need. Most prepaid legal services will provide the first hour at no charge. I've used ARAG at least 4 times and have never paid a cent beyond the $9.95 monthly fee.

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Credit Rebuilding: Slow and Steady Wins the Race!

Over the weekend I decided to try my luck once again in the credit card lottery and to my surprise, I was instantly approved for an Overstock.com credit card with an initial credit limit of $550. It is stated that a credit score of about 620 is required for approval but there are always outliers.

This approval is especially satisfying because I had been denied the last time I applied which was about 3 years ago. What I've learned from this experience is that as long as you continue to make payments on time and pay your debt down, you will improve your credit standing by default without the need to do anything special.

The problem that most people have, including me, is that we get too anxious and want great credit today and not six months from now. We have a burning desire for instant gratification but that's just not how the credit industry works. With credit, slow and steady wins the race.

Hiring a reputable credit repair company will speed up the process but if you're patient, you can improve your credit organically just by consistently paying your bills on time. Now, it might take a bit longer depending on your current financial situation but the reality is that this time will pass anyway so you might as well just wait it out.

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How To Get Approved With Bad Credit

Getting approved with bad credit is difficult but not impossible. I've acquired unsecured credit cards numbering in the teens and the majority of them I was able to obtain with poor credit. At the time, my credit scores ranged between 530 and 580. The reason why I was able to get approved time and time again is that I went in with a plan and I did my research.

I'm a firm believer in user reviews. Before purchasing my truck, I read over 400 reviews and I would have read 1000 if there had been that many. I'm the same way with credit. There are resources available online that will tell you the minimum score needed to get approved for certain cards as well as which credit bureau the card company uses to make credit decisions.

This information is not 100% foolproof but it does give me a certain level of confidence when applying for credit. It also limits the risk of being denied and adding more credit inquiries, which are overrated by the way, but that's a story for another day.

I also review credit reports to see if I've already applied for a particular card so that I don't apply again too soon and risk another denial. I constantly check for changes in credit card finance companies since certain companies are known for offering easier credit approvals than others. The information is out there...you just have to be willing to go get it.

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Join The Bill Collectors Hate Me Group!

You are cordially invited to join the "Bill Collectors Hate Me Group" where members can discuss credit-related issues in an open forum environment so that other members can view the discussion and share their experiences in similar situations.

This group will feature articles that are exclusive to group members and will not be available on the general public blog. Group membership will ensure that you have access to all that "Bill Collectors Hate Me" has to offer. There is also a group chat for "real-time" answers to your questions.

In closing, I ask that you continue to share "Bill Collectors Hate Me" as much as you feel comfortable and I will continue providing you with the most useful credit-related content available on the web today. Thank you for your ongoing support!

Join the "Bill Collectors Hate Me Group" HERE!

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Affirm: Installment Loans Without the Red Tape!

Let me tell you about a little known company called Affirm. I first discovered Affirm while shopping at Wayfair online for a large TV stand for the new 55" flat screen that I ordered from Walmart online just a day or two prior.

During checkout, I was given the standard payment options plus a new one that I'd never seen before called Affirm. After doing a little research, I discovered that Affirm is a newer payment alternative that allows you to make purchases ranging from clothes to furniture and airline tickets without the use of a credit card.

Affirm offers easy payment plans of either 3, 6, or 12 months, with interest rates ranging from 10-30% depending on your level of credit. A minimum credit score of about 540 is usually enough to get you approved for at least a couple hundred dollars to get you started.

Currently, the company only reports to Experian and all transactions are listed as installment loans which will look great on your credit report if you're rebuilding and happen to be lacking other forms of installment loans.

In the end, I decided to choose Affirm at checkout to purchase my TV stand with a purchase price of $225.71. I decided upon the 3-month plan which consisted of three equal payments of $79.02 including interest of $11.35, bringing my total purchase price to $237.06 out the door. I received my TV and stand on the same day and all was right in the world again!

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Is Filing Bankruptcy Really That Bad?

Despite the doom and gloom surrounding it, bankruptcy is not as uncommon as you might think. Due to its stigma, your best friend may have filed and you'd never even know it. Should you decide to go that route, bankruptcy could finally give you the fresh start you've been looking for.

Now, I'm not suggesting that you run out and file a BK, because if you're successful, it "WILL" set you back a bit. Bankruptcy is not as simple as just filing. You have to actually be approved by a judge in order to set the wheels in motion and have it finalized.

Although bankruptcy can stay on your credit reports up to 10 years, a reputable credit repair company can usually remove it sooner. Even if you do nothing, the bankruptcy only affects your credit buying power until it is discharged, which usually takes about 90-120 days.

Once you receive your discharge papers, you can buy a vehicle after 90 days or home after 2 years. In fact, you might find creditors eager to extend you credit because they know you can't file again for another 8 years. They're also counting on you to have learned your lesson, so it makes them feel better about taking a risk on you.

You'll soon find your mailbox stuffed with offers for credit cards almost daily. Before you get all excited, these will not be prime credit offers. They'll be the same high-interest rate offers you received before filing, but at least they'll give you a chance to start building up to something better.

In fact, a friend of mine had his bankruptcy recently discharged and was able to raise his credit score to just over 700 and he's less than two years post-discharge. With the right amount of focus and determination, I am confident that anyone else can do the same.

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Credit Rehab: Beyond The Ivory Tower

A lot of people have asked me why I apply for so much credit and the answer is simple. I apply for credit as a part of my research in order to find out what works and what doesn't. I then pass my findings on to my followers so that they can make an informed credit decision based on my results.

Of course, everyone's credit situation is different and there will always be outliers, but hopefully, my experiences will provide a baseline from which others can benefit. Much like the way in which my online research provides a baseline for me before I apply for credit.

Essentially, I am doing the research and absorbing all the credit inquiries and associated risks of being denied credit so that you don't have to. I will only recommend the credit opportunities that I feel will give you the very best opportunity of being approved.

My credit situation is far from perfect, but I've been successfully approved for well over 10 unsecured credit cards. I attribute this to putting in the necessary research required to improve my chances of credit approval and then I pass this information along to you.

I don't concern myself with the number of credit inquiries that I rack up because it's just part of the process...The price of doing business. I will go into much greater detail regarding credit inquiries in an upcoming article entitled: "Credit Inquiries are Overrated."

You see, I am no different from you. I am seeking credit improvement in the same way that you are. I am not one of those people that sits atop an ivory tower and preaches down to the lowly people below them who struggle with credit and are constantly judged because of it. I am not only one of you...I AM you!

You might also like: Bad Credit: Life's Dirty Little Secret

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Target REDcard for Easy Credit Approvals

Yesterday I was just sitting around thinking that I could really use another credit card to increase my available credit in order to improve my debt to credit ratio. After a brief google search for department store cards with easy credit approvals, I stumbled upon the Target REDcard.

After reviewing the card's description, I discovered that one of its perks was a 5% discount on any item purchased in-store or online, so I decided to apply. I was instantly approved with a "temporary credit limit" of $300 which I later found out was only a portion of my full credit limit which has yet to be disclosed.

I should also mention that upon setting up my online account, it revealed that I had been a valued customer since 2015. Perplexed, I had to think back and I realized that the Target REDcard is financed by TD Bank which is the same company that financed my Nordstrom credit card that I got back in 2015. So it appears that TD Bank combines all its cards under the same umbrella.

So, if you've been thinking about applying for a Target REDcard but not quite sure if the risk was worth the hard credit pull, my research revealed that a FICO score of 615 is recommended but not a requirement for approval...You're just going to have to trust me on this one. If you think your FICO is somewhere in the ballpark, then I'd say go for it!

You might also like: Nordstrom Credit

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Subscribe To Bill Collectors Hate Me!!!

Thanks to Facebook's updated algorithm, even if a person follows my FB page, the majority will never see my posts on their news feeds. Subscriptions guarantee that every article is delivered straight to your inbox so you never miss another post.

Subscribers will receive special offers that may not be available to non-subscribers. This could include things like unpublished articles, advanced announcements or early releases of creative materials.

Signing up is easy. Simply enter your email address in the "Subscribe Now" box and click on submit. Now, just wait until you receive a confirmation email and once you confirm, whenever a new article is posted, you'll be the first to know!

IMPORTANT: You "must" confirm your request via the follow-up email you receive immediately after signup in order to activate your subscription.

You might also like: Pre-Order Your "FREE" Credit Repair Guide!

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Pre-Order Your FREE Credit Repair Guide!

My "D.I.Y. Credit Repair Guide" (The Blueprint) will give you step by step instructions on how to dispute derogatory items and have them removed from your credit reports. It will also go over a brief history of credit repair and how the process has changed over the years.

My guide will dispel all the myths associated with credit repair in regards to what can and cannot be removed. Everything can be removed...even if the debt legitimately belongs to you. I have no doubt that my credit repair guide will assist you in removing derogatories from all three credit reports but it will only work to the level of time and commitment that you are willing to put into it.

This guide will be available for a limited time by email request only. You may pre-order your copy by using the "Subscribe Now" form. Once I have received a satisfactory amount of requests, I will distribute the guide to all subscribers in a single deployment. Your email address will not be visible.

Beyond the guide distribution, you will receive notification emails letting you know whenever a new article has been posted to the blog so that you don't have to keep checking back every day. You will also be notified of any special offers in the future.

This guide is available by email request only...SUBSCRIBE NOW!!!

IMPORTANT: You "must" confirm your request via the follow-up email you receive immediately after signup in order to activate your subscription.

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Pre-Approved Credit Card Offers

People on the brink of credit improvement but not quite there yet, often find themselves faced with a dilemma. Do you accept the first pre-approved credit card offer that comes your way regardless of interest and fees, or do you hold out and wait for something better to come along?

I know that having someone willing to take a chance on you and extend an offer for new credit makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, but be careful. Offers like this can sometimes have negative strings attached such as high-interest rates and maintenance fees.

Some companies will make an offer for credit but only if you agree to pay a yearly maintenance fee that's usually broken down into 12 equal monthly payments. This is the equivalent to petty theft! You're already being gouged with high-interest rates, and now they want to charge you monthly for the privilege to do so? It doesn't make sense.

Look, paying a higher interest rate is to be expected because we already know you have bad credit...but the amount of interest you pay should have an automatic cutoff point. Here's what I mean. A person with poor credit should expect to pay an interest rate somewhere between 23-29%. That's a given, and you do it until your credit improves enough to do better.

But if you receive an offer for credit and it's touting 36% interest or worse, tear it up and toss it in the trash. You can do better. Don't let these creditors prey upon you. It's hard enough to pay debts down while trying to rebuild credit but it's next to impossible to pay down debt if most of your payments are going to the interest rather than the principal. Just say NO!

You might also like: Pre-Approved Visa: Merrick Bank

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Prism: A Money Management Tool

Every now and then we all forget to pay a bill or two if it is not sitting on a desk right in front of us. Now, on the surface this seems like no big deal, right? You're late a couple of days or in the worst-case scenario, you forget about the bill completely until the following month.

Now, that's where your troubles begin because once you become 30 days late, your creditors can tack on a hefty late fee which is often times larger than your monthly payment for the bill itself! Believe me, I've been down that road more times than I care to remember!

I've always had good intentions but when you have monthly bills numbering in the teens, you're bound to overlook, misplace or forget to pay one or two of them. This can cause late fees to skyrocket and cost you money that could have been used to pay down other outstanding debt.

It's a hard lesson that has cost me hundreds if not thousands of dollars in fees over the years until I stumbled upon a great money management app called Prism. Prism was not the first app that I've used to manage my money but it is without a doubt the best.

I have highlighted a few of Prism's key features below:

1. Prism will notify you a few days in advance to let you know that a payment is coming due. Prism will send a second reminder on the due date if you have not paid your bill to date. This may not seem like a big deal but it has saved me hundreds of dollars in late fees which has indirectly contributed to improving my credit because I have stopped being late.

2. Once you have entered all your bills and payment options into Prism, you can pay each bill individually as they come due or pay them all on the same day through the app! Bill payments through Prism are 100% free and will usually post the same day or in 2-3 business days, depending on your biller.

3. There's no need to keep track of paper bills, account numbers or multiple passwords for all your online accounts because they remain stored securely within the Prism app. Prism's simple, clean design lets you know at a glance the exact amount you owe at any given time for a single bill or all bills combined. I am convinced that Prism is a "game changer" in the field of money management.

You might also like: Prism Money

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Gettington Credit: An Updated Review

Last month I wrote a post entitled: "Gettington: Credit As Easy As 1-2-3." In the post, I explained how I came upon them by accident while browsing the Credit Karma website. As Credit Karma is known to do, they recommended that I apply for Gettington Credit because they felt that based on my current credit score, I had a great chance of being approved.

As it turns out, they were right. I was instantly approved online for Gettington Credit in January 2019 with a starting credit limit of $400.00. Fast forward to May 2019, just four months later and Gettington notified me that my credit limit has just been increased to $800.00. I was more than excited because what I initially thought was a good credit decision suddenly turned into a great one!

Since I had no way of knowing that my credit limit would double in just 4 months of minimal usage, I thought it was important that I provided an updated review just in case you were still undecided about whether to apply. I hope this update has made your decision easier. Please post a comment below and share your experience with Gettington!

Update: 12/10/19 My credit limit is now at $1200!

You might also like: Gettington: Credit As Easy As 1-2-3

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Does Paying Collections Improve Your Credit?

At one time I took a very hard stance of never paying a collection account because no benefit was gained by it. It would not improve your credit nor would it make it worse. You'd just be out of a little cash. As time has passed, I have softened my stance quite a bit with regards to paying past due collection accounts and now I’d say it just depends.

The decision to pay or not pay depends on two key factors:

1. The first factor is: How old is the debt? If the debt is very near the 7-year point of which it is scheduled to fall off your reports organically, then I would say do nothing and just let it fall off. If it’s a new collection and you’ve still got a ways to go, then I would make my decision to pay or not pay based on factor #2.

2. The second factor is: How much do you owe? If you owe smaller cable or electric bills of $100 or so, then I would suggest that you go ahead and pay them. It makes no sense having an unpaid collection showing for such a small amount. If the debt is significantly larger, I’d leave it be and focus on your current bills that are active and in good standing. Creditors put more weight on how you're paying your bills now, vs how you paid them years ago. Focus on the now.

You might also like: Collections Most Wanted

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Pre-qualify for Capital One Credit Cards

One of the many great things I like about Capital One is that you can fill out a simple online prequalification form to see if you qualify for any of their many credit card offerings.

Prequalifying does not count against you as a hard inquiry so they do not hurt your credit score in any way by applying for credit using this method.

The form requires about 60 seconds of basic identification such as your name, address and social security number along with your annual salary and monthly rent or mortgage payment.

By prequalifying, you can know in just seconds which cards, if any, that you qualify for and feel confident about applying for them without fear of rejection.

I have personally used this method to apply for all three of my Capital One credit cards and each time that I prequalified, I was approved for the card that I selected.

To prequalify now, click here.

Please post a comment below and share your experience with Capital One!

You might also like: Capital One Credit Card Offers

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Which Credit Cards Offer High Credit Limits?

Capital One offers some of the fastest growing credit limits in the industry. It doesn't matter if your initial credit limit starts out low or high. Capital One will automatically increase it in five-month increments as long as you continue to make on-time payments.

Capital One will also increase your credit limit by phone or online request from your profile page. The request process is simple. They simply ask for your annual salary, your monthly rent amount, and your requested credit limit. Now you just hit the submit button and you'll have an answer within 60 seconds.

So if you are looking for a card that offers generous credit limit increases and generally easy credit approvals as a whole, then look no further than Capital One. They have been all that I could ever ask for in a credit card company.

You might also like: Capital One Credit Card Offers

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Should you carry credit card balances?

Over the years I have found that several people have different opinions on this subject and I can certainly see both sides of the coin. After reading this article I'm sure you'll agree with my final analysis and see yourself in one of the two categories. So let's begin.

People with a habit of being a bit "frugal", tend to use their credit cards for the purpose of credit building and cash back rewards. These people choose to pay their credit cards off in full each month. They believe in making their credit cards work for them.

Others like myself, don't mind carrying a balance and paying on them each month. I just make sure to pay a few dollars more than the minimum amount due on each card in an effort to decrease the balance as much as I can, as soon as I can.

People who choose to pay their bills off every month have generally been doing so from day one, so their balances never have a chance to balloon out of control. These people usually have "excellent" credit scores.

In contrast, people who carry monthly card balances are accustomed to doing so from day one, so they repeat this habit again and again because that's what they've always done. These people usually struggle to reach or keep even a "good" credit score.

When comparing myself to others, all of my conservative friends have excellent credit scores while all my non-conservative friends do not. What this tells me is that our state of finances usually mimics our personalities.

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Does Credit Karma Increase Your Credit Score?

Credit Karma does not increase your credit score directly, but it can assist you in navigating your finances in such a way that you can increase your credit score over time.

By using Credit Karma you will be able to view your credit score to get a good idea of where you stand. They will also offer you tips and suggestions on things you can do to improve your credit.

Keep in mind that the scores that Credit Karma provides are not FICO scores. Their scores are based on the Vantage credit scoring system which is not used by the majority of lenders. The FICO score is the lenders scoring system of choice.

With that said, your Vantage score is usually within the range of your FICO score and in some cases, your FICO might actually be higher. Due to the subtle variables between the two, it's hard to say with 100% certainty either way, so just keep that in mind when viewing scores on Credit Karma.

Please post a comment below and share your experience with Credit Karma!

You might also like: Comenity Bank 4 EZ Credit Approvals

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Gettington: Credit As Easy As 1-2-3

I want to tell you about a great little company that specializes in easy credit approvals and offers a variety of products from small appliances, to clothing, to furniture and electronics. You can find all these things and more at Gettington Credit.

I happened upon them by accident while visiting Credit Karma who indicated that I had a great chance of approval so I went ahead and applied. Somewhat surprised, I was instantly approved for a $400 credit limit. It's not much, but I'll take it.

I've had the account for about 3 weeks and have ordered a couple of small items that I've always wanted to purchase but just never thought about when I had spare cash to spend. Both items were delivered quickly and with no issues whatsoever.

An added bonus about Gettington is that they report to all three major credit bureaus which are always a welcomed bonus, but a word of caution...they will email blast you to death until you opt out of receiving them.

Oh and one more thing. Their prices are slightly higher than what you would expect to pay for items at a retail store but that's to be expected since they are basically handing out credit to just about anyone who's willing to ask for it. Please post a comment below and share your experience with Gettington!

You might also like: Gettington Credit: An Updated Review

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Clicky Web Analytics: A Review

I am somewhat new to “Clicky” but so far I am very impressed with this lightweight but powerful website analytics app. Clicky is one of the more popular analytics apps available and in my opinion, outshines most of the competition. I find it to be a viable alternative to Google Analytics.

Clicky Web Analytics does similar things as Google Analytics, but does them with a much cleaner, more streamlined look and feel. You won’t find multilayered data stacked on top of data that is hard to navigate and keep track of where you are and then struggle to remember how to get back to where you've been.

Google Analytics is like a maze within a maze. I find it to be much too bloated for the average person to navigate easily without getting frustrated and repeatedly getting lost. It's still a quality product but I think the learning curve will be a bit steep for most users to reap the full benefits of its offerings.

Not so, with Clicky. Within a day or so, you’ll find yourself zooming through stats like a pro. The data is laid out clearly and simply, making navigation to all your vital web statistics a breeze.
Clicky comes in both free and paid versions. All signups begin with a free trial of the paid version that lasts for 21 days. After your trial ends, your plan automatically converts to the free version.

Although the paid version has a lot more bells and whistles, for my simple day to day needs, I don’t consider them to be worth paying extra for, but perhaps you will. Give it a spin and try it out for yourself. Feel free to leave comments and let me know what you think.

UPDATE 5/1/19: I have recently upgraded to the paid pro version and I love it!

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Unreal Mobile: Unlimited Service For $10 a Month!

Unreal Mobile is the latest iteration of Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO) which rent the towers of larger, more well known cellular companies such as Sprint, Verizon and AT&T but at a significantly lower price.

Unreal Mobile is touted as a premium cellular phone service that was developed by the makers of Freedompop but that's where the similarities end. Customer service has greatly improved over its former predecessor. The sound is crystal clear on both ends and I have yet to experience a dropped call. Just great service at an excellent price.

I am currently paying just $10 a month for 1 Gig of high-speed 4G LTE data and when that runs out, I have unlimited 2G data. With LTE I have no usage limitations but once it throttles down to 2G, watching videos can be a challenge unless I'm connected to a wireless network but all other features work just fine.

Unreal Mobile sells compatible refurbished phones on their website for your convenience or you may bring your own device (BYOD) which is what I chose to do. My Samsung S6 works great on their network and I have had no issues. Overall, I am very pleased with Unreal Mobile's quality and value and I am quite certain that you will be too!

Please post a comment below and share your experience with Unreal Mobile!

You might also like: FreedomPop Mobile

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