7 Steps To Improve Your Credit Score

Few things are worse than finding out that you have a bad credit score.  Many people know that they have this hanging over their head, where others are taken completely by surprise when they go to take a loan or just do a check.

If you have a bad credit score, then don’t wait to start fixing it.  Every step you take can count and help improve your score, and the faster you get started, the faster you can see your score move in the right direction.

Check your credit report for accuracy.

The first thing you should do is check your credit report to make sure that everything is accurate.  A bad score can come about with inaccurate information or if you’ve been the victim of identity theft and there are items that you don’t even know are there.

Work through any late payments.

If you’re late on any payments, you need to get this taken care of in order to gain any sort of traction at all.

Reduce your available debt.

If you have a lot of credit lines open, you can often improve your score by selectively closing credit cards or calling credit companies and asking for a lower credit limit.  Less available credit is often seen as less risk of default, which can improve your score.

Reduce the number of open balances.

If you are carrying a lot of different credit cards with balances, you want to start reducing this number as fast as possible. If you owe $5,000, it’s more favorable to have two cards splitting that balance than it is to have six or seven.  You can start by paying off cards that have the lowest balances.  You may also look for an existing card that will offer a good rate on balance transfers and bring some or all of your credit balances together into one spot.

Pay off your loans faster.

If you’re only making the minimum payments, you need to start bumping this number up.  Sell some stuff.  Take on a side gig.  Make lifestyle changes.  Whatever it takes, you want to start lowering your balances, which will improve your score.

Stop applying for credit.

Newer lines of credit are seen as riskier than older ones.  Every ‘new’ credit card you take can potentially damage your score.  As a general rule, don’t apply for any additional credit.

Stop charging.

If you pay off $500 on your balances but then add $400 in the month, you’re not going to get very far at all.  Make your purchases for what you need today via cash, check or a debit card.  This way, any activity on your cards is only serving to lower it.  Knowing that goes a long way.

The bottom line is that bad credit scores are awful, but they don’t last forever.  You may not be able to change it overnight.  However, you can certainly do so with an organized and disciplined approach.

Readers, have you ever actively taken measures to improve your credit score? How did it go?

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

The Credit Card of Tomorrow: Which Trends Will Change the Way You Pay

Though other countries have used EMV technology for nearly a decade, chips in credit cards are brand-new to the United States. To many Americans, it is unbelievable that such a small change mb-2016-01-creditcardcould have such a monumental effect on financial security.   The truth is that EMV chips are leaps-and-bounds better than magnetic strips for fending off fraud. It certainly makes you wonder what other fantastic tech could make paying with credit faster, easier, and better than before.

Though it certainly seems like the future is now, most experts predict the humble credit card to undergo a number of changes in the coming years. Here’s a sneak peek at what tomorrow’s credit card might look like.

PINs, Not Signatures

Perhaps the easiest and most likely shift in credit card tech will be the adoption of personal identification numbers (PINs). Across Europe, chip-and-PIN cards have been the norm for about a decade, but American financial institutions only just started to integrate chips into credit cards last year. Unfortunately, instead of opting for identify authentication using a PIN, card companies selected signatures ― to the detriment of cardholders.

Signatures are not nearly secure as PINS; in the event you lose your card, a thief could easily scribble any name in the signature line without worry of the transaction being flagged. A PIN is harder to crack, adding an extra layer of protection to your credit. Knowledge of the superior safety of PINS is becoming widespread, and it is doubtless that Americans will be using PINS in a few years’ time.

Shifting CVV Codes

You might know the number on the front of your credit card forwards and backwards, but the short string of digits on the back of your card is just as important. This is called the card verification value (CVV), and it helps ensure you are in possession of your card when you make purchases. Thieves can easily skim credit card numbers, but CVV codes are harder to obtain ― and they could get even harder.

Some card providers are introducing cards with dynamic CVVs, which include algorithms that change the CVV with every use of the card. Only the tech within the card knows what new number will unlock the payments, which makes certain methods of stealing credit card information, particularly skimming, entirely ineffective.


Biometrics, or authentication through biological means, was the security buzzword of 2015. The possibility of unlocking tech with fingerprints or retina scans is thrillingly futuristic.  Initial uses of biometrics in smartphones has caused quite a stir. Plus, biometrics seem inherently secure, as no one else on Earth has the same biology as you.

That’s precisely why some credit card companies are beginning to experiment with biometric tech. The most promising developments have come from a Norway-based company named Zwipe, which has built fingerprint scanners directly into their cards. Zwipe is fast-tracking its tech, and you might start seeing signature-less, PIN-less payments in the next few months.

Higher-Interest Rates

Not all forecasted credit card developments are enticing; the credit card of the future just might come with astoundingly high rates. The Federal Reserve resisted increasing interest rates for more than seven years.  But, in the final weeks of 2015, it allowed a small rate hike of .25 percent. This small gain has convinced economists that rates will climb steadily higher in the coming years. Though smart credit users should be largely unaffected by the changes, elevated rates can be dangerous.  Everyone who takes out loans in the coming years should be prepared.

Plastic Alternatives

Few people consider the materials that make up credit cards.  As the world goes green, the plastics used in your favorite plastic payments are becoming more and more problematic. More than 17 billion credit cards are produced every year.  The majority are produced from polyvinyl chloride (PVC).  This variety of plastic is potentially harmful to the environment. Not only does PVC release dioxins when incinerated, but it takes thousands of years for it to degrade in landfills.  Most credit cards live long after their expiration.

A few credit card companies are already producing biodegradable credit cards that are eco-friendlier than most plastic payments.  The cost of these cards can be 20 percent higher than traditional plastic.  So, you might be waiting a bit longer for corn-based credit.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

7 Ways To Improve Your Credit Score

Nobody knows the exact methods by which your credit score is calculated, but you should definitely understand the importance of having a good score, and some methods which will help you improve your credit score.

Here are 7 Ways To Improve Your Credit Score

Pay on time.  Every time .

The biggest knock on a credit score is late or missed payments.  While you can’t erase the sins of the past, you can make sure that moving forward you prove your credit worthiness by paying every bill on time.

Reduce the number of open debts.

It’s been thought that, all things equal, the number of debts you have can adversely affect your limit. For example, if you have $4,000 in credit card debt, you might have a lower score if you have this spread across eight cards versus consolidating the debt down to one or two cards.

Keep open available credit.

One thing that likely factors into your credit score is how much of your available credit you have in use.  Again, using the $4,000 credit card balance, mb-201402creditcard400you might find yourself with a lower score if your overall limit is $5,000 versus if it’s $10,000.  Not to say that you should open up new cards to increase your limit, but instead of closing cards and lowering your overall limit, you can just stop using them.

Understand different types of credit.

A $4,000 auto loan may have a different impact on your credit score than $4,000 in credit card debt.  A mix of different types of debts is likely more favorable than just having one type of debt.  Again, not advising that you run out and open more types of credit, but understanding the potential impact, especially before potentially taking on a new loan, is very important.

Keep aged credit.

Two people with identical credit situations can find themselves with vastly different credit scores simply depending on the age of their credit.  If your oldest credit card was taken out just a year ago, you will likely have a lower score someone else whose oldest card was issued ten years ago, all other things equal.  Before you start closing cards, again, take this into consideration.

Know that stability counts.

Many people open and close credit cards to take advantage of different reward programs.  A few years ago, it was common to have reward cards available that would give you 5% or more back on your purchases, but the catch was that this was just a teaser, and the rewards would decline after a few months.  People would simply move on once the premium rewards disappeared in order to continue to maximize their overall rewards.  This can add up to big bucks in rewards but this will have a negative impact on your score.  If you already have a top score, this will likely be negligible. For someone with an average score, this could actually do more harm than good.  Weigh not just the reward benefits, but also the long term potential costs.

Keep working hard.

If you have a 600 credit score, it’s not going to jump up to 800 overnight.  But, it can be done as long as you work hard and understand that time is on your side.  While there are many offers out there that claim to improve your credit score overnight, the best and most stable method is to make solid choices as noted above and do so over time.  That will outlast any gimmick!

Readers, what have you done that’s improved your credit score? Have you found any methods to work against you?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

This Crook Had No Idea What He Was Dealing With

I work in an office area that’s fairly open. We have half walls and the cube layouts are broken out into areas where three of us sit in a shared area.  Each of us has a corner with one corner open to enter and exit.   I like the two people I share space with a lot, but it’s often easy to overhear conversations given the layout.

I couldn’t help but hear bits and pieces of a conversation from JV, who was looking into a charge that he didn’t recognize.  It was for a pizza place in Ann Arbor, about an hour and a half away from our area. The charge was for $53.00.

First, he contacted his wife, then I heard him talking to the bank.  I wasn’t eavesdropping, but it was unavoidable to hear that he had gotten it worked out to get the charge removed, and to get a new card issued and the old card disabled.

The fun really started the next day.

I heard him on the phone again, and I couldn’t let the words waft past after I heard the word ‘Police Report’.

After that, I heard him going over in great detail personal information about the person who had stolen his identity.  He was offering up name, address, description, and phone number.

After he was done, I couldn’t help but spin around in my chair and ask for the story.  He went over that the charge had appeared, that he had been nowhere near, and that he’d gotten the info and contacted both his bank and the police.

I couldn’t help but wonder how he got the persons information.

He explained that it was through solid research and dealing with helpful people as well as a moronic thief:

  • He contacted the pizza place, asked to speak to a manager, and explained the
    The crook in the story might be getting heartburn from his pizza
    The crook in the story might be getting heartburn from his pizza


  • The manager was very helpful and offered to verify the charge against the receipts.
  • Sure enough, there was a receipt that matched the exact amount.
  • The manager noted that the order had been placed…and it was called in as a delivery order.  The address that the pizza went to was right there on file.
  • The manager gave JV the address, which he maybe shouldn’t have done, but he did anyway.
  • JV asked the manager if he could talk to the person that made the delivery to get a description of the guy.  The manager agreed and said he would call back.
  • In the meantime, JV went online and looked up the address.  After Google searching and looking through public records, he found the name associated with the address.
  • He ran a Google search on the name and found that the guy had a YouTube account where he was on film.
  • The manager called back and said that he’d talked to the driver, and provided the description. JV noted that it exactly matched the info on YouTube.
  • He ran the name and address through a few more searches and came up with a couple of potential phone numbers.

At that point, he had everything he needed.  He had the name of the person, the address, the description, and the phone number.

The police took it all down, and he sent them over some of the search info, and they said they’d be paying the address a visit.

JV went out of town, so I haven’t been able to follow up on whether he heard anything back or looked up any arrest records (also public info), but I was very impressed.

It’s Not About The Money

JV is a cool guy.  He’s in his mid-to-late 20’s and recently got married and has a young baby girl.  From the time I’ve known him, I can tell that he’s driven by strong morals.  While we were talking, without even being prompted, he said that he knows that he put an awful lot of time into this, but he did so because it wasn’t about how much the person ‘stole’, but it was about the fact that they tried to steal at all.

He pointed out, and he was probably very correct, that a lot of people might have not even noticed the charge, or if they did, they simply would have called the bank and left it at that, figuring going through the rest of the process wasn’t worth the trouble.

But in his mind, not only was it the right option, for him it was the only option.  He knew that if he ‘let the guy off the hook’ by not following through to the next step, the guy would go right on with it.  Whether he would  have tried using JVs account again or used other accounts is hard to say, but it’s pretty clear he would have continued, and JV could not stand by and let that happen.

I admire JV for not only taking care of his own personal situation in this circumstance, but also for addressing the situation from a broader perspective, by trying to help other people from this happening to them by taking the opportunity to steal away.

That’s pretty awesome.

Readers, have you ever had to deal with this type of situation?  To what lengths did you go through to not only get yourself straightened out, but also to try to catch the bad guy?

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.