Credit basics podcast with Barry Paperno

This podcast originally appeared April 26, 2017 on CreditCards.com as “‘Charged up! podcast. Credit 101

Barry Paperno, a credit industry veteran and columnist for CreditCards.com, is an expert in the credit scoring game. In less than 30 minutes, Paperno educates us on Credit 101: What matters most, how to raise your score quickly, what makes a perfect credit score and the biggest mistake people make when it comes to their credit. Since credit affects our lives in a myriad of ways – from buying a home to getting a job and even renting an apartment, knowing the ins and outs of how the system works can save you a lot of money and a lot of anxiety down the line. Whether you have faced bankruptcy in the past or are new to the credit arena, this podcast will teach you what you need to know to master the credit game.

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Your score could benefit from this credit reporting change

This post originally appeared April 20, 2017 on CreditCards.com as “‘Will removal of civil judgments boost my credit score?

By Barry Paperno

Dear Speaking of Credit,
I have a 5-year-old civil judgment for an unpaid credit card debt on my credit report. I recently read about a new law that will force the credit bureaus to remove judgments and tax liens from credit reports. Is this true? And if so, how much will my credit score benefit from that judgment being gone? – Jake

Dear Jake,
Yes, some new credit reporting practices on the horizon could affect your credit reports and scores. Most notably, beginning July 1, 2017, and arising largely from the 2015 National Consumer Assistance Plan, the big three national credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – will only be allowed to add tax liens and civil judgments to your credit report if they include a name, an address and either a date of birth or Social Security number.

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Get the most bang for your monthly payment buck

This post originally appeared April 13, 2017 on CreditCards.com as “‘How and when to pay new cards to boost credit score

By Barry Paperno

Dear Speaking of Credit,
I have a couple of open credit card accounts that, in my mind, should be paid off as soon as possible. However, I’ve been advised that leaving them open, paying a little more than the minimum due and paying a few days earlier than the due date each month will increase my credit score. It was further explained that anything less than a year of credit reporting is not beneficial. I can pay off my store card account next month (and was planning to do so), but was advised to leave it open until at least September, which was when the account was opened. Which would you recommend for the best result and outcome for me? – McLean

Dear McLean,
I hope you don’t mind me using your excellent question to point out how the truth about credit scoring is often mixed with some long-held misconceptions. When acted on, these misconceptions can not only prevent your score from rising, but actually send it down.

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Debt may not be canceled entirely with a 1099-C

This post originally appeared April 6, 2017 on CreditCards.com as “‘Should I pay old card balance on a 1099-C I just received?

By Barry Paperno

Dear Speaking of Credit,
I had a credit card bill go to a charge-off and then to collections about five years ago. It never has been paid. I only just recently received a 1099-C form for this debt. And, although I can now pay most of it back, I’m wondering if I should. Any advice? – Chris

Dear Chris,
On the one hand, you owe a debt that you are obliged to pay. On the other, thanks to the passage of time and that 1099-C (Cancellation of Debt) form, your situation may provide a rare exception. As you’ll see, the impact of this 1099-C on your finances is likely to boil down to whether you could or couldn’t afford to pay the debt at the time it was effectively canceled.

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How a ‘deed in lieu of foreclosure’ can impact your score

This post originally appeared March 23, 2017 on CreditCards.com as “‘Deed in lieu: How it lowers your credit score, and what to do about it

By Barry Paperno

Dear Speaking of Credit,
I’m going through a deed in lieu, which is soon to go through. My credit score is approximately 605, give or take. I have bad marks on my credit report due to no payments on my mortgage. How will the deed in lieu affect my credit score? And for how long? – Darrell

Dear Darrell,
As the name implies, a deed in lieu of foreclosure (commonly known as deed in lieu) is an agreement that allows a homeowner to avoid foreclosure by voluntarily “deeding” – a fancy word for “turning” – over the property to the mortgage lender in return for being released from all obligations under the mortgage. The lender then sells the property to recoup the monetary loss, and the borrower is in the clear, both debt- and score-wise.

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A foolproof way to count inquiries affecting your score

This post originally appeared March 16, 2017 on CreditCards.com as “‘Q&A: With multiple credit checks, timing is key

By Barry Paperno

Dear Speaking of Credit,
I’m slowly shopping for a new car, and a new car loan. Two months ago, I almost pulled the trigger on a deal. But after the loan paperwork was drawn up, I didn’t like the credit terms, and ended up backing out. I know my credit took a slight hit from that hard inquiry. If I go car shopping again this weekend and get another credit check, will I take another credit hit? – Sam

Dear Sam,
Shopping for the best credit terms is a must for any savvy consumer. It is also important to be aware that multiple inquiries from different lenders to peek into your credit past might affect your credit score.

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Not giving in to unfair doctor bill? It’s going to cost you!

This post originally appeared March 9, 2017 on CreditCards.com as “‘Refusing to pay bills on principle has consequences

By Barry Paperno

Dear Speaking of Credit,
I have four medical bills I tried disputing with the family practice they originated from. The doctor coded my visit in such a way that I disagreed with. I had moved to a new city and was simply establishing a relationship with a local practice in case I needed a doctor. He took my medical history and then billed the visit as if he diagnosed my illnesses. I was floored when I received the bills.

However, I didn’t get anywhere with the practice when I responded to their charges. They eventually went to collections because I refused to pay them. They are still showing active in collections, and my credit score took a serious hit because of them. What do you suggest I do to remedy this situation? I’m so frustrated! – Mary

Dear Mary,
I’d be frustrated, too! And while you haven’t shared the amount of these bills, this major misunderstanding is clearly going to cost you plenty – both in money and in your credit score.

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Add a card or loan to a young credit report for a better score

This post originally appeared March 2, 2017 on CreditCards.com as “‘A two-step plan for building young credit

By Barry Paperno

Dear Speaking of Credit,
Hello! So I have had a credit card for about seven months now and wasn’t exactly using it how I should have and now have a low credit score. Since I found this out, the card has been paid off.

I just opened another account thinking I can use both and keep them under 30 percent of their limit and pay them off monthly to help. Is this a good idea or not? I have already been approved for the new card and it is on its way. Afterward I read that having two cards with a low balance can actually hurt your credit. If so what should I do? Neither of them have fees and both have low interest. Thank you! – Alyssa

Dear Alyssa,
When saying you weren’t “exactly using it how I should have,” let’s assume you were 1) late on at least one card payment, and 2) running a high balance, as late payments and high credit utilization tend to go hand-in-hand. This is especially true when the credit file is thin and the length of history short.

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Leave 1% balance on 1 card, $0 on all others for higher score

This post originally appeared February 23, 2017 on CreditCards.com as “‘Tips for getting a big score boost when paying maxed-out cards

By Barry Paperno

Dear Speaking of Credit,
Hello! I have a question that I’ve searched for an answer, but I cannot get clear direction. I have four cards that are all maxed out: Discover ($200), Amazon ($730), Bank of America ($1,000) and Capital One ($500). I have one installment loan with $725 of $1,000 remaining. My FICO is at 649, and I am trying to get to 670 for top tier rate at a credit union for auto purchase.

Today I paid off three of four cards, so at statement time they will show $0. I will also do the same for the installment loan and remaining card. Therefore, cards and installments will all show $0. My question is will this be effective for a decent boost this month? Or should I leave small balances on them to show activity?

I have read I should use them and pay them off in small amounts, but I also understand that the trigger is what’s reported to the bureau at statement closing each month. So I am not certain whether the $0 balance has a greater impact for a score boost or do I need to charge $20 or so on the cards before statement closing? Thanks. – Jeff

Dear Jeff,
What’s best: a $0 or small balance left on that last remaining unpaid card? Regardless of how you apply those last payments, which we will discuss, going from 100 percent credit utilization to 0 percent or so on those cards, your score should easily see that 21-point boost you’re looking for. And you should see it within the 30 days or so it takes for new balances to report to the credit bureaus.

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Think twice before voluntarily lowering card limits

This post originally appeared February 16, 2017 on CreditCards.com as “‘How lowering your card limit hurts your credit score

By Barry Paperno

Dear Speaking of Credit,
If I want to lower my credit card limit voluntarily, will it have a negative effect on my credit score? – Carolyn

Dear Carolyn,
I’ll start with a question for you: Why? Why lower your credit limit when, as you’ll see, the good arguments are only against – not for – voluntarily lowering a card limit?

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