The must-know graph for credit scores

The chart from FICO, the company that provides the most widely used credit scores, says it all:

ce_scorebreakdown

That is it, folks. To achieve a high FICO credit score, we only need to improve these 5 components. In order of importance, here are the 5 things we should do to increase our FICO scores:

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Why is your credit card bill so huge: how credit card interest is calculated and what grace period means

I personally don’t carry a credit card balance unless my credit card is offering a 0% APR promotion because one of my goals in the credit quest is to build a perfect credit history without paying a penny in interest. But from my observation, I’m not the norm. Many people I know carry balances from time to time, and when they come to me for advice, I always tell them to at least pay the minimum to avoid late payment fees, and over time I have helped them save quite a bit of money from that.

Honestly though, paying just the minimum amount is never going to pull you out of debt since credit card interest accumulates everyday at an absurdly high rate. There are many reasons to underestimate interest charges.
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Do you need to carry a balance to build credit?

I often get inspiration for my blog posts from people I interact with. I learn of my readers’ needs through talking with friends, acquaintances, colleagues, and everyone else with whom I have a conversation that involves personal finance matters. In a recent conversation like that, I learned of someone who keeps her credit active by making a large purchase on her credit card and paying the balance gradually, over months, obviously accumulating and paying interests. She learned of this practice from someone else.

You know that I advocate paying off balances before due dates so you’d never pay a penny in interest. Let’s discuss which approach is better for your credit.

Continue reading Do you need to carry a balance to build credit?

Bank of America’s credit cards: an insider’s view

Last week, I featured Bank of America’s BankAmericard Cash Rewards credit card, compiling most relevant information that is more or less public, meaning that you can obtain the information without actually having the card. As an actual cardholder, I have the advantage of knowing exactly what’s inside Bank of America’s online banking system, what other benefits a BofA card offers, as well as the details of the card’s features.

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