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?
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.
Back in January I shared with you my personal experience with Bank of America throughout my credit journey: https://hiepsfinance.com/2013/01/30/bank-of-america-is-awesome/ . To sum it up, Bank of America has done all the good things for me: gave me a secured card with cashback rewards, unsecured it and eliminated the annual fee a year later, and then raised the credit limit six-fold! 2 days ago I took another step further and asked them to lower my APR of 20.24% typical of secured cards but a little high for a non-secured card.
The representative looked at my profile to see if my account would be eligible for a lower APR. Sure enough, she came back with a new interest rate of 11.99%, the lowest in my current credit card portfolio by a wide margin!
Let me clarify why I asked for a lower APR. I didn’t ask for an APR lowering because I planned to carry a balance; I wanted a low APR in case of emergency when I may have to make a large purchase without sufficient cash. If I had a house struck down by lightning for example, I’d need some cash flow available immediately to start rebuilding, and if I had just paid a large medical bill I probably wouldn’t have the cash at my disposal right away. In that kind of scenario, the BofA card with a relatively reasonable APR would come in handy.
I may give BofA another call in a few months to see if they can bring the APR down to below 10% – that would be the last thing I need from Bank of America for this incredible Cash Rewards card.
I am a loyal customer of Bank of America, at least for their credit card and banking products. If you are still looking for a bank to get your first credit card from, seriously consider BofA.
In my first blog post: Personal Finance 101, I explained the benefits that typical credit cards offer. When it comes to choosing a particular credit card to apply for, it’s hard to make a decision sometimes because of the ocean of options available. I’ve put off writing about credit card offers in favor of helping you – my dear readers – build a knowledge base of credit profile and credit cards. However, today is special.
Dear readers, today is the best day to apply for the Discover More, the signature credit card by Discover, one of the largest card issuers in America. Among my credit card portfolio, the Discover More is my favorite, and I’ve had it for just 2 months! If you’re reading this and already have a decent credit history that is longer than 6 months even if you do not have a credit history at all, you should apply for the card. And here’s why: Continue reading Discover More