Raise Credit Score Avoiding Common Credit Mistakes Why Does Your Credit Card Rate Keep Going Up Should You Get A Gold Or Platinum Credit Card Bankruptcy Law Firms Getting Your Credit Report Is Easy And Will Soon Be Free

The majority of people with a low credit score have likely misused credit. Understandably, some people develop bad credit because of situations beyond their control. These may include sickness, loss of employment, etc.

Fortunately, there are ways to raise your credit score. However, to keep a high credit score, using credit wisely is a must. Here are a few tips to help you maintain a high credit rating.

Limit the Amount of Credit Accounts

If you have too much available credit, the temptation to spend money will arise. To avoid this common problem, avoid opening several lines of credit. If you are a student or have good credit, it is easy to get approved for a major credit card. Although credit card companies will generously extend credit, you do not have to accept their offer.

Closing a credit account may decrease your credit rating. If you are unable to exercise self-control and need to close a few credit accounts, it would be better to cancel the newest credit accounts.

Pay More than the Minimum Payments

Carrying a small revolving credit card balance is not harmful. However, if you use your credit card very regularly, it is essential to payoff the balance periodically. The minimum payments barely reduce the finance fees. Thus, to maintain a low credit card balance and a high credit rating, strive to pay more than the minimum payment.

Avoid Credit Card Cash Advances

Most credit cards offer cash advances. With this option, you may visit an ATM machine and withdraw funds from your credit account. Be aware that credit card companies charge high rates and extra fees for cash advances. In this case, minimum payments may increase until the cash advance funds are repaid.

Make Regular Credit Card Monthly Payments

Skipping a credit card payment has several consequences. Aside from the credit card company reporting late payments to the three credit bureaus, companies also charge late fees and may increase the interest rate by several points. Failure to repay a credit card will result in a snowball effect. When this happens, it becomes impossible to keep up with the payments.

Have your read your credit card contract through completely? Do you know when it is okay for your creditor to raise your interest rates? If you are not sure about how and when your rates can be affected over the life of your contract you should take a few minutes to read your contract thoroughly from beginning to end.

Creditors must have clauses in their contracts that give them the right to change your interest rates. And if your rates have gone up you can be pretty sure that they are there, you may have missed them on your first read through but they are there buried in the contract.

If even after reading your contract again you still cannot figure out just how your credit card issuer can do this to you ask yourself the following questions.

Have you been late paying your monthly credit card payment recently? If you have, your interest rate going up is most likely due to this factor. Whenever you are late making a payment the credit card company has the right to raise your interest rates.

Have you been late on any other debt payments? Any late payments can cause your interest rates to rise, even ones that are not associated with your credit card. Your creditors have access to your credit report and all payments that you make are on there, if they see you made a late payment to someone else it can get them concerned that you will do the same to them in the future. That is why it is so important to always make your payments on time every single month.

Has your credit card company merged with another company? Mergers can affect your contract. The acquiring company has the right to change the rules on you as long as they let you know what is going on and why.

It is amazing what credit card companies can get away with legally. All you can do is make sure that you understand the ins and out of your contract, that way you will not be stunned when you get hit with extra fees.

Credit cards are a big financial responsibility, before you sign for one decide if it is really the right thing for you financially.

When you sign your credit card contract you probably assume that the interest rate quoted in this contract is the rate that you will always be paying. This is not the case. Credit card companies have the right to up your interest rate. Knowing how and why can save you a lot of stress in the long run.

If you’re looking for credit, be wary of some ‘gold’ or ‘platinum’ card offers promising to get you credit cards or improve your credit rating.

While sounding like general-purpose credit cards, some ‘gold’ or ‘platinum’ cards permit you to buy merchandise only from specialized catalogues. Marketers of these credit cards often promise that by participating in their credit programs, you will be able to get major credit cards (such as an unsecured Visa or MasterCard), lines of credit from national specialty and department stores, better credit reports, and other financial benefits.

Rarely, however, can you improve your credit rating or get major credit cards by buying ‘gold’ or ‘platinum’ credit cards. Often the only major credit card you might get is a secured credit card that requires a substantial security deposit with a bank. In addition, many of these credit-card companies do not report to credit bureaus as they promise, and their cards seldom help secure lines of credit with other creditors.

Such ‘gold’ and ‘platinum’ credit-card offers usually are promoted through television or newspaper advertisements, direct mail, or telephone solicitations using automatic dialing machines and recorded messages. People who live in lower-income areas often are the target of these sales pitches.

Watch out for…

Be wary of ‘gold’ and ‘platinum’ card promotions that:

Charge upfront fees, without saying there may be additional costs.

Some ‘gold’ or ‘platinum’ card promoters charge $50 or more for their cards. Only after you agree to pay this fee are you told there’s an additional fee, sometimes $30 or more, to get the merchandise catalogues. Yet, these catalogs are the only places you can use the cards.

Use ‘900’ or ‘976’ telephone exchanges.

Ads for ‘gold’ and ‘platinum’ cards may urge you to call numbers with ‘900’ or ‘976’ exchanges for more information. You pay for phone calls with these prefixes — even if you never get the ‘gold’ or ‘platinum’ card. The cost for these calls can be high.

Misrepresent prices and payments for merchandise.

You’re not allowed to charge the total amount when you buy merchandise from ‘gold’ or ‘platinum’ card catalogues. Instead, you often must pay a cash deposit on each item you charge — an amount usually equal to what the company paid for the product. Only after you pay your deposit can you charge the balance. Also, catalogue prices can be much higher than discount store prices.

Promise to easily get you “better credit.”

Marketers of ‘gold’ and ‘platinum’ cards often claim its easy to get major credit cards after using their cards for a few months. In fact, the only major cards you usually can get through these marketers are secured. A secured card requires you to open and maintain a savings account as security for your line of credit. The required deposit may range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. Your credit line is a percentage of the deposit, typically 50 to 100 percent.

How to protect yourself

Follow these precautions to avoid becoming a victim of ‘gold’ and ‘platinum’ card scams:

Think twice about any offer to get “easy credit.”

Be skeptical of promises to erase bad credit or to secure major credit cards regardless of your past credit problems. There are no “easy” solutions to a poor credit rating that’s based on accurate information. Only time and good credit habits will restore your credit worthiness.

Investigate an offer before enrolling.

Contact your local Better Business Bureau, consumer protection agency, or state Attorney General’s office to see if any complaints have been filed against a particular promoter of ‘gold’ or ‘platinum’ cards.

If a marketer promises that a card is accepted at certain retail chains, verify it with the stores.

If a marketer assures you that reliable information about you will be reported to credit bureaus, call the bureaus to confirm that the merchant is a member. Unless ‘gold’ or ‘platinum’ card merchants are subscribers to credit bureaus, they won’t be able to report information about your credit experience.

Be cautious about calling ‘900’ or ‘976’ telephone numbers.

Calls to numbers with ‘900’ or ‘976’ prefixes cost money. Don’t confuse these exchanges with toll-free ‘800’ numbers. If you dial a pay-per-call number mistakenly, contact your local phone company immediately. They may be able to remove the charge from your bill.

Filing for bankruptcy can be an excruciating moment. Individuals or firms have the option of filing for bankruptcy as a last option when their debts are out of control. Bankruptcy is filed when the debt is extremely high and the creditors are practically camping at the door. Expenses due to medical, legal, or credit card expenses usually make a person lean towards the option of bankruptcy.

Even though bankruptcy provides the individual with a credit free life later, it affects the credit rating for about 10 years, so filing for bankruptcy is not really a very easy option. Also, some cases, such as those dealing with mortgage and alimony, may not even be considered in the court as proper reasons for bankruptcy. Bankruptcy must also be considered only when all other options have been exhausted.

It is possible for the individual to represent himself in court when filing for bankruptcy. However, most bankruptcy laws can seem to be very complicated to a common citizen, so it is suggested to pay a visit to an attorney before filing for bankruptcy. Most attorneys will be able to give clients the general gist of the procedure and an attorney dealing with credit counseling will be able to provide proper guidance.

Most attorneys provide a free consultation regarding the case. It is very important to choose a proper attorney as they can make or break the case by not being actively involved.

It is suggested to run a few enquiries rather than hiring an attorney solely based on the attractive advertisements. Many law firms have licensed attorneys specialized in dealing with bankruptcy cases. It is suggested to select one of these attorneys to deal with the case.

ACcording to a new bankruptcy law that was passed in 2005, credit counseling from a licensed firm is a must at least six months before filing for bankruptcy. Keeping this into account, lots of law firms have started offering these services to the public. These companies are licensed and have representative agents who can help individuals and firms with the credit problems. They might even be able to provide a solution so that the firm or the individual can reach to some form of settlement with the creditors.

Obtaining a copy of your credit report is easy and, thanks to Uncle Sam, it soon will be free.

That’s welcome news since it’s a good idea, especially before applying for a loan or other credit, to know where you stand by checking your credit report (which details how well you pay your loans, bills and credit card purchases).

Under legislation passed by Congress in December 2003 and new Federal Trade Commission rules, consumers can request a free copy of their credit report every 12 months.

Once you obtain your credit report, visit yourcreditcounts.com for tips on how to read and understand it – and on how to improve your credit standing, if necessary.

This Web site, sponsored by leading financial services company HSBC – North America, provides new tools and other valuable information about borrowing, saving and credit management.

The three major national credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – are establishing a centralized source for accepting consumer requests for the free reports. That source will include a dedicated Web site, a toll-free telephone number and a postal address.

The free credit report program rolls out across the country beginning Dec. 1, 2004, when consumers in 13 Western states can start requesting their reports. Residents of 12 Midwestern states will become eligible on March 1, 2005; 11 Southern states on June 1, 2005; and the remaining 14 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and all U.S. territories on Sept. 1, 2005.

It’s a good idea to time a request for your credit report well before you apply for a major loan, advises HSBC. Check your credit at least three to six months before applying for a home mortgage; for an auto loan, check your credit and line up financing with your bank or credit union before you start shopping. This will allow you sufficient time to review the report and correct any errors you find.

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