The Visa credit card has a long and interesting history with a slew of different tiers that have come and gone. As of today, only two tiers remain: Visa Platinum, and Visa Signature. Sometime in the past, Visa Platinum was the premium Visa credit card, and before that, Visa Gold was the premium Visa card. Now the torch has been passed down to Visa Signature. Continue reading What is a Visa Signature credit card?
Today, after watching some NFL games, I suddenly became curious about bankruptcy, so I did a quick google search and the first figure I found was astonishing. According to official records, in 2013 there were over 1 million non-business bankruptcy filings. 1 million. 1,000,000. On average, for every 300 people in the US you know, 1 of them filed for personal bankruptcy last year. This figuratively blew my mind.
So the topic for my blog post today was quickly decided.
You know, life happens. Someone in your family falls critically ill and you have to borrow money to pay for medical expenses without being able to pay it back. You lose a job because of the financial crisis and can no longer pay your bills. I offer my condolences to those that have a legitimate reason to file for bankruptcy. The road ahead, credit-wise, is going to be tough. Bankruptcy stays on credit reports for up to 10 years, and this is not the kind of record you want on your credit profile. Lenders that see bankruptcy when reviewing your credit report will not be very likely to extend you credit.
So, if bankruptcy is inevitable, how can you minimize its negative impact on your credit?
2 years ago, when I had just started this blog, the Discover More was one of the first credit cards that I reviewed. Since then, Discover Financial Services has replaced the card with the Discover It which is in many ways the same as the Discover More. I personally still have the Discover More, but most people these days have already switched over to the Discover It. It is about time I reviewed the Discover It as well.
Recently, a friend of mine asked me if he should pay off his auto loan he had acquired years ago. While the interest rate on the loan is very low, less than 3%, he wanted to be free of debt and felt tempted to finish making monthly payments for the loan. He makes good income and is very disciplined about expenses, so paying the remaining balance would not cause any financial burden to him, and neither would maintain the monthly payments. His main concern was the impact on his credit.
I talked him out of it.
How I achieved 760 FICO credit score in just over 2 years
My credit journey has now lasted for 2 years and 10 months, and I’m in the mood for reflecting on the journey thus far. I did a lot of research about credit along the way, especially in the first year, to make sure I could achieve the most, credit-wise, in the shortest amount of time. And at this moment, I am about exactly where I wanted to be, and in just about the best position there could be for someone with 2 years and 10 months of credit history.
760 FICO credit score has long been considered a hallmark of excellent credit, and I hit it about 3 months ago.
I have written this guide as a balanced approach to building credit if you are starting out. It is not intended to give you the maximum credit score, since that would require that you know perfectly how to manage credit from the beginning, an unrealistic expectation. If you follow this guide, at the end of the first year you should have a solid credit history that would allow you to get approved for most credit cards and obtain reasonable interest rates on auto loans.
Even though I said that a good FICO credit score takes a long time to build, there are situations where time is against you and the last few points really matter. Many mortgage lenders have FICO score thresholds for interest rates, and you may fall a few points short of the next threshold which may mean thousands of dollars’ worth of payments. You don’t have another few years to carry your FICO score to that threshold. So what to do?
Travel accident insurance is yet another travel protection benefit that many credit cards provide for free. I honestly have never paid attention to this benefit, because deep down, I really hope that nobody ever has to use it. It is what it sounds like: insurance against travel accidents. Most, if not all, travel rewards credit cards cover this, and the coverage limit is typically very high, up to $1,000,000 (1 million dollars!). Restrictions apply.
I don’t seem to have good luck with checked in baggage. For the approximately 20 one-way trips I have made with checked in bags, I have had baggage delay 3 times, all within the past 2 years. One of these times, on my flight from Seattle to Boston in December 2013, I had an opportunity to test out the baggage delay reimbursement feature of my credit card, the Barclaycard Arrival World Mastercard (later name changed to the Arrival +).
For those of us that travel and drive often, rental car insurance is a pretty big concern. You hit the road with a car that you have never driven before, and drive hundreds of miles a day to see the Grand Canyon, the Yosemite, the Hoover Dam,….
Accidents are a real risk, and can ruin your trip, especially when you are thousands of miles away from home in unfamiliar territory. Rental car agencies understand the fear, and sell product that insures you against rental car accidents. Added together, these insurance products can be more costly than the cost of renting the car itself.
One of the most popular insurance products for rental cars is collision damage waiver, a policy that releases you from the liability for any damage taken on the car during the rental period. This service usually costs around $15 plus tax a day. It’s really not a bad idea to pay $15 a day for the peace of mind. But if you travel a lot, it adds up quickly.