Change has to start somewhere, and for many people that change is easier to make if the starting point has some meaning. It can be a birthday, an anniversary, or any other date with some symbolic weight. Most commonly, people choose the beginning of the new year.
If you’re looking for some New Year’s resolutions that will truly change your life, consider adjusting your financial strategy. Here are five things you can do in 2021 to take your money game to the next level.
Interest rates are at near-historic lows, which makes this the perfect time to refinance your debt. Refinancing means switching your loans from your current lender to a new lender in order to take advantage of a lower interest rate. Refinancing can save you thousands of dollars, depending on the original interest rate and total balance.
Â For example, letâs say you have a $200,000 30-year mortgage with a 5% interest rate, and you refinance to a 3% interest rate. Your monthly payment will be $244 lower, and youâll save $31,173 in total interest over the life of the loan.Â
You can refinance auto loans, personal loans, and even student loans. However, if you have federal student loans, you may want to hold off on refinancing. Refinancing a federal student loan converts it into a private student loan. This means youâll give up extra perks and benefits like income-driven repayment plans and deferment and forbearance options.
Transfer Credit Card Debt
If you have credit card debt, you can pay less interest by transferring the balance to a new card with 0% APR on balance transfers. These special discounts usually last between 12 to 18 months, during which time you wonât be charged interest on the credit card balance.
For instance, letâs say you have a $5,000 balance on a card with a 17% APR. If you only make the minimum payments, youâll pay $1,223.61 in total interest. If you transfer that balance to a card with 0% APR for 12 months and repay the balance in that time, you wonât pay any interest.
There is often a small fee associated with balance transfers, around 3% of balance transfers. For example, if you transfer $5,000, youâll pay a $150 fee. That still leaves a net savings of $1,073.61 in the scenario outlined above.
Decrease Your Fixed Expenses
One of the best things to do for your budget in 2021 is to decrease fixed expenses like your car insurance, internet, cable, and cell phone. Call those providers and try to negotiate a lower rate.
Â Go through your transactions for the past few months and write down all the recurring subscriptions like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and DoorDash. Then, group them into categories like âfrequently use,â âsporadically useâ and ârarely useâ. Consider canceling anything you rarely use.
Â See if you can get a better deal on your most popular subscriptions. For example, if you and your significant other both pay for Spotify Premium, get a Spotify Duo account instead, and save yourself $83.88 a year.
Open a Better Bank Account
Most people are missing out on an easy way to earn money through your bank account. You could be leaving hundreds of dollars on the table if you still have a traditional savings account.
According to the FDIC, the current average interest rate on a savings account is 0.05%. Many high-yield savings accounts offer rates between .40% and .60%.Â
Letâs say you have $10,000 in a savings account with .05% interest. After one year, youâll have earned $5.04 in interest. If you moved that amount to a high-yield savings account with .5% interest, you would earn $49.92 in interest over that same time period.
If you’re not investing for retirement yet, this might be the most important financial resolution you can make. Thanks to the power of compound interest, you can start investing now and see huge growth by the time youâre ready to retire.
IRAs and 401(k)s are the two main retirement accounts. Anyone can open an IRA, while only those who have access to an employer-sponsored 401(k) can open one.
Â If you’re not sure how to invest in your retirement account, consider hiring a qualified financial planner through the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA).
If youâre not ready to work with a financial planner, you can use a robo advisor like Betterment or Wealthfront, which will create a portfolio based on your age, income, and expected retirement age. Robo advisors have low fees and are designed to help beginner investors.
How to Keep Financial Resolutions
First, start small. Pick one habit to change at a time. If you try to accomplish five goals at once, you’ll burn out quickly and give up.Â
When you decide on a resolution, break it up into smaller, more manageable tasks. For example, if your goal is to talk to a financial planner about investing, break it down into the following steps:
1) Research financial planners through NAPFA
2) Send introductory emails to three financial planners
3) Choose the one that seems like the best fit
4) Schedule a consultation
Give yourself a deadline to accomplish each of these tasks, and ask a friend to hold you accountable.
Another tip is to tie your resolutions to a bigger goal. Like dieting or starting a new exercise plan, changing your financial habits is hard. If you’re used to grabbing lunch with your co-workers every day, bringing leftovers from home instead will seem like a huge change.
The key is to imagine the future version of yourself who will benefit from the changes you make today. If your goal is to open and contribute to a retirement account, imagine yourself as a senior citizen living comfortably.
When youâre tempted to skip this monthâs retirement contribution to buy concert tickets, think about your future self, what youâd want for them and how they would appreciate your sacrifice. It can also help to remember some of the financial mistakes you’ve made in the past, and how much easier your life would be right now if you had made a different choice.
The post The 5 Best Financial New Year’s Resolutions appeared first on MintLife Blog.
If you have bad credit and need a car loan, there are some challenges when compared to obtaining a standard car loan. However, pick your head up because there are a handful of great lenders that specifically tailor their programs to people with bad credit. We researched the landscape of lenders that can help you get a car loan even if you have a below-average credit score.
Based on our study, OneMain Financial and LightStream are two of the top lenders offering bad credit card loans. This is due to factors including loan options, requirements to qualify, and interest rates offered. Of course, we offer in-depth reviews of all the top lenders who offer bad credit car loans further down in this piece.
Apply now with our top pick: OneMain Financial
In this guide we also help you understand the factors that go into selecting the right auto lender, and how to get the best rate you can.
Most Important Factors for Bad Credit Car Loans
If youâre in the market for a bad credit car loan, there are a plethora of factors to consider and compare. Here are the main loan details we looked at in our study, and the ones you should prioritize as you select the best car loan for your needs.
Check your credit score. And understand what is in your credit report.
FICO scores under 579 is considered ‘poor’. But you may need a bad credit loan with a score as high as 669.
Interest rates and fees matter. These can make a huge difference in how much you pay for an auto loan each month.
Compare loan terms. Consider your repayment timeline and compare lenders with this in mind.
Getting prequalified online can help. Some lenders, including ones that made our ranking, let you get prequalified for a loan online without a hard inquiry on your credit report.
Watch out for loan restrictions. Some lenders impose restrictions on what car you can purchase. Keep this in mind to avoid unpleasant surprises later.
The Best Bad Credit Car Loans of 2021
The best bad credit car loans make it easy for consumers to qualify for the financing they need. The following lenders made our list due to their superior loan offerings, excellent customer service, and reputation in this industry.
Car Loan Company
Best for Flexibility
Best Personal Loan Option
Best Loan for Bad Credit and No Credit
Best Loan Comparison Site
Best Big Bank Loan for Bad Credit
Best for Fast Funding
Why Some Lenders Didn’t Make the Cut
While the lenders we are profiling are the best of the best, there are plenty of bad credit car loans that didnât quite make the cut. We didnât include any lenders that only offer auto loan refinancing, for example, since we know many people need a car loan in order to purchase a new or used car or truck. We also stayed away from bad credit car loans that charge outrageous fees for consumers with the lowest credit scores.
Bad Credit Auto Loan Reviews
We listed the top companies we selected in our study above, but we also aim to provide readers with more insights and details on each. The reviews below highlight the highlights of each lender that made our list, plus our take on who they might be best for.
OneMain Financial: Best for Flexibility
OneMain Financial offers personal loans and auto loans with interest rates that range from 18.00% to 35.99%. You can repay your auto loan in 24, 36, 48, or 60 months, and you can use this lender to borrow up to $20,000 for a new or used car. You can apply for your auto loan online and from the comfort of your own home, and itâs possible to get approved within a matter of minutes.
While OneMain Financial doesnât list a minimum credit score requirement, itâs believed they will approve consumers with scores as low as 600. You should also note that auto loans from OneMain Financial come with an origination fee of up to 5% of your loan amount.
Sign Up With OneMain Financial Today
Why This Lender Made Our List: OneMain Financial offers a lot of flexibility in terms of your loan terms, including the option to repay your auto loan over five years. OneMain Financial also has pretty decent reviews from users for a bad credit lender, and they have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
Potential Downsides to Be Aware Of: OneMain Financial charges some pretty high rates for its bad credit loans, and donât forget that you may need to pay an origination fee that is up to 5% of your loan amount. Their loans are also capped at $20,000, which means this lender wonât work for everyone.
Who Itâs Best For: This lender is best for consumers with really poor credit who need auto financing but canât get approved for a better loan.
Upgrade: Best Personal Loan Option
Upgrade is an online lender that offers personal loans with fixed interest rates, fixed monthly payments, and a fixed repayment timeline. You can borrow up to $50,000 in an unsecured loan, which means you wonât actually use the car you purchase as collateral for the loan.
You can repay the money you borrow over 36 to 60 months, which makes it possible for you to tweak your loan offer to secure a monthly payment you can afford. Upgrade has a minimum credit score requirement of 620 to qualify, although theyâll consider additional factors such as your income and employment history.
Sign Up With Upgrade Today
Why This Lender Made Our List: Upgrade lets you âcheck your rateâ online without a hard inquiry on your credit report. This makes it easy to shop around and compare this loan offer to others without having to fill out a full loan application. Also note that Upgrade has an A+ rating with the BBB.
Potential Downsides to Be Aware Of: Upgrade charges APRs as high as 35.89% for consumers with the worst credit, and an origination fee of up to 6% of your loan amount might also apply.
Who Itâs Best For: Upgrade is best for consumers with decent credit who need to borrow a larger loan amount. This loan is also best for anyone who wants an auto loan that isnât secured by their vehicle.
AutoCreditExpress.com: Best Loan for Bad Credit and No Credit
AutoCreditExpress.com is an online platform that lets consumers with bad credit and even no credit get the financing they need. Once you fill out some basic loan information, youâll be connected with a lender who can offer you financing as well as a dealership in your area. From there, youâll head to the local dealership and pull the pieces of your auto loan together, including the purchase price of the car you want.
Sign Up With Autocreditexpress.com Today
Why This Lender Made Our List: AutoCreditExpress.com has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. This platform also makes it possible for consumers with no credit at all to finance a car, which is a welcome relief for people who are building credit for the first time.
Potential Downsides to Be Aware Of: This website is a loan platform but they donât offer loans directly to consumers. This means you wonât have any idea on rates and terms until you fill out an application and get connected with a lender.
Who Itâs Best For: This loan is best for consumers with no credit or minimal credit history who cannot get approved for a loan elsewhere.
MyAutoLoan.com: Best Loan Comparison Site
MyAutoLoan.com is a loan comparison site that makes it easy to compare up to four auto loan offers in a matter of minutes. You can use this website to apply for a new auto loan, but you can also utilize it to consider refinancing offers for an auto loan you already have. You can also use funds from this platform to purchase a car from a dealer or from a private seller.
Sign Up With MyAutoLoan.com Today
Why This Lender Made Our List: Comparing auto loans in terms of their terms, rates, and fees is the best way to save money and wind up with the best deal. Since MyAutoLoan.com is a loan comparison site, they make it easy to shop around and compare competing offers.
Potential Downsides to Be Aware Of: Loan comparison sites connect you with other lenders who have their own loan terms and minimum requirements for approval. Make sure you know and understand all the details of loans youâre considering before you sign on the dotted line.
Who Itâs Best For: MyAutoLoan.com is best for consumers who want to do all their auto loan shopping with a single website.
Capital One: Best Big Bank Loan for Bad Credit
Capital One offers online auto loan financing in conjunction with a program called Auto NavigatorÂ®. This program lets you get prequalified for an auto loan online, then work with a participating dealer to coordinate a loan for the car you want. Capital One also lets you search available vehicles at participating dealerships before you apply for financing, making it easy to figure out how much you might need to borrow ahead of time.
Sign Up With Capital One Today
Why This Lender Made Our List: Capital One offers the huge benefit of letting you get prequalified online without a hard inquiry to your credit report. Capital One is also a reputable bank with a long history, which should give borrowers some comfort. They have an A+ rating with the BBB and plenty of decent reviews from consumers.
Potential Downsides to Be Aware Of: You should be aware that Capital One auto loans only work at participating dealers, so you may be limited in terms of available cars to choose from.
Who Itâs Best For: Capital One auto loans are best for consumers who find a car they want to buy at one of the participating lenders that works with this program.
LightStream: Best for Fast Funding
LightStream offers online loans for a variety of purposes, including auto financing. Their auto loans for consumers with excellent credit start at just 3.99% with autopay, and even their loans for consumers with lower credit scores only run as high as 16.79% with autopay.
You can apply for your LightStream loan online and get approved in a matter of minutes. This lender can also send your funds as soon as the same business day you apply.
A minimum credit score of 660 is required for loan approval, although other factors like your work history and income are considered.
Sign Up With LightStream Today
Why This Lender Made Our List: LightStream offers auto loans with exceptional terms, and thatâs even true for consumers with less than perfect credit. You can also get your loan funded as soon as the same business day you apply, which is crucial if you need auto financing so you can get back on the road.
Potential Downsides to Be Aware Of: With a minimum credit score requirement of 660, these loans wonât work for consumers with the lowest credit scores.
Who Itâs Best For: LightStream is best for people with decent credit who need to get auto loan financing as quickly as possible.
What You Need To Know When Applying For A Car Loan With Bad Credit
Interest rates and fees matter.
If you think your interest rate and loan fees wonât make a big difference in your monthly payment, think again. The reality is that rates and fees can make a huge difference in how much you pay for an auto loan each month. Consider this: A $10,000 loan with an APR of 35.89% will require you to pay $361 per month for five years. The same loan amount at 21.99% APR will only set you back $276 per month. At 9.99%, you would pay only $212 per month for five years. The bottom line: Make sure to compare auto loans for bad credit so you wind up with the lowest possible APR you can qualify for.
Take steps to improve your credit score before you apply.
Itâs not always possible to wait to apply for a car loan, but you may be able to secure a lower interest rate and better loan terms if you can improve your credit score before you borrow money. The most important steps you can take to improve your score include paying all your bills early or on time, as well as paying down debt in order to decrease your credit utilization. You should also refrain from opening or closing too many credit card accounts in order to avoid new inquiries on your credit report and maintain the longest average length of your credit history possible.
Compare loan terms.
Some lenders let you borrow money for up to 84 months, while others let you repay your loan over 36 or 60 months at most. If you need to repay your loan over a longer timeline in order to secure an affordable monthly payment, make sure to compare lenders based on this factor. If youâre having trouble figuring out how much can you can afford, gauging affordability based on the monthly payments you can handle can also help in that effort.
Getting prequalified online can help.
Some lenders, including ones that made our ranking, let you get prequalified for a loan online without a hard inquiry on your credit report. This makes it considerably easier to compare rates and shop around without formally applying for an auto loan. Getting prequalified with more than one lender can also help you determine which one might offer the lowest rate without having to fill out a full loan application.
Watch out for loan restrictions.
As you compare the lenders on this list, keep in mind that not all lenders extend loans for any car you want. Some only let you finance cars with participating lenders in their network, which can drastically limit your options and make it impossible to purchase a car from a private seller. If you hope to purchase a car from someone you know or a website like craigslist.org, you may want to consider reaching out to your personal bank or a credit union you have a relationship with.
Bad credit car loans donât have to be forever.
Finally, you should know that a car loan for bad credit doesnât have to last forever. You may need to borrow money for a car right now regardless of the interest rate and terms you can qualify for, but it may be possible to refinance your loan into a better loan product later on. This is especially true if you focus on improving your credit score right away, and if you use your auto loan as an opportunity to prove your creditworthiness.
How to Get the Best Rate
1. Check your credit score.
Your credit score is one of the most important defining factors that dictate loan costs. Before you apply for an auto loan, it can help you check your credit score to see where you stand. Your score may not be as bad as you realize, but it could also be worse than you ever imagined. Either way, it helps to know this important information before you start shopping for an auto loan.
2. Improve your credit over time.
If your credit score needs work, youâll want to take steps to start improving it right away. The most important steps you can take to boost your credit score include paying all your bills early or on time and paying down debt to decrease your credit utilization. Also, make sure youâre not opening or closing too many credit accounts within a short amount of time.
3. Check your credit reports.
Use the website AnnualCreditReport.com to get a free copy of your credit reports from all three credit bureaus. Once you have this information, check over your credit reports for errors. If you find false information that might be hurting your score, take the steps to have the incorrect information removed.
4. Compare loan offers from at least three lenders.
A crucial step to get the best rate involves shopping around and comparing loan offers from at least three different lenders. This is important since lenders with different criteria might offer a lower APR or better terms than others.
5. Be flexible with repayment terms.
Also consider a few different loan terms provided you can afford the monthly payment with each. Some auto lenders offer better rates for shorter terms, which can help you save money if you can afford to repay your loan over 24 or 36 months instead of 60+.
How We Chose the Best Auto Loans
The lenders on our list werenât plucked out of thin air. In fact, the team behind this guide spent hours comparing auto lenders based on a wide range of criteria. Hereâs everything we considered when comparing the best bad credit car loans of 2021:
Interest Rates and Loan Terms: Our team looked for loans that offer reasonable rates and terms for consumers with poor credit. While higher APRs are typically charged to consumers with a low credit score, we only considered lenders that offer sensible rates that donât seem out of line for the auto loan market.
Ratings and Reviews: We gave preference to lenders who have decent reviews online, either through Consumer Affairs, Trustpilot, or another third party website. We also gave higher marks to lenders who have a positive rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
Online Availability: Lenders who offer full loan details online were definitely given top priority in our ranking, and lenders who let you get prequalified online without a hard inquiry on your credit report were given the most points in this category. But since not everyone wants to apply for a loan online, we also included some lenders that let you apply over the phone.
Approval Requirements: Finally, we looked for lenders that extend credit to consumers with low credit scores in the first place. Not all lenders offer specific information on approval requirements, but we did our best to sort out lenders that only accept borrowers with good or excellent credit.
Summary: Best Bad Credit Card Loans of 2021
Best for Flexibility: OneMain Financial
Best Personal Loan Option: Upgrade
Best Loan for Bad Credit and No credit: AutoCreditExpress.com
Best Loan Comparison Site: MyAutoLoan.com
Best Big Bank Loan for Bad Credit: CapitalOne
Best for Fast Funding: LightStream
The post What Are the Best Car Loans When You Have Bad Credit? appeared first on Good Financial CentsÂ®.
Credit card balances edged down in December, even as consumers engaged in holiday shopping, as uncertainty about a second round of stimulus checks extended to the latter part of the month.
Consumer revolving debt â which is mostly based on credit card balances â was down $3 billion on a seasonally adjusted basis in December to $975.9 billion, according to the FedâsÂ G. 19 consumer credit reportÂ released Feb. 5.
In December, credit card balances were off 3.6% on an annualized basis, following Novemberâs revised 0.8% dip and Octoberâs 6.7% drop, which came on the heels of Septemberâs 3.2% annualized gain.
The Fed also reported that student loan debt outstanding for the fourth quarter rose to $1.707 trillion, from the third quarterâs $1.704 trillion. And auto loan debt outstanding gained to $1.228 trillion, from the third quarterâs $1.219 trillion.
Total consumer debt outstanding â which includes student loans and auto loans, as well as revolving debt â continued to grow and rose $9.7 billion to $4.184 trillion in December, a 2.8% annualized gain.
For the entire year, credit card balances were down 11.2%.
Card balances had been growing before the coronavirus impacted consumer spending and bank lending in 2020. They dipped below the $1 trillion mark last May, for the first time since September 2017.
See related: 51% of consumers accrued more debt duringÂ the pandemic
ABA sees brighter days ahead for credit availability
The American Bankers Association reports, based on input provided by chief economists of large North American banks to its credit conditions index for the first quarter of 2021, that credit conditions (both credit quality and availability) have rebounded from their lows of last summer.
However, all three components of the index (the headline credit index, the consumer credit index and the business credit index) remain below 50, which is not a robust index reading. It indicates that while bank economists expect credit conditions to remain âsoftâ in the coming six months, they are less pessimistic than they were in September 2020 when the ABAÂ conducted its last credit conditions survey.
The consumer credit index component of the survey gained to 45.3, its highest level since mid-2019. Economists are optimistic about both the availability and quality of consumer credit compared to September. They expect credit to be more available to consumers in the coming six months, although a small majority expects credit quality to decline.
âAlthough credit quality is still expected to worsen over the first half of the year for both consumers and businesses, the overall outlook for credit markets has improved significantly since the summer and fall,â said Rob Strand, ABA senior economist. âAs widespread inoculations against the virus and new fiscal stimulus measures help heal the economy, banks will continue to work closely with policymakers, consumers and businesses to ensure that affordable credit remains available and recovery strengthens.”
Fed reports easing of credit card lending standards in fourth quarter
According to the Fedâs senior loan officer opinion survey on bank lending practices for January 2021 (which is based on input related to the fourth quarter of 2020), a âmoderate net share of banksâ reported that they had eased up on credit card loans.
As a result, a âmodest net share of banksâ also hiked up their credit limits on credit card accounts. And a âmoderate net share of banksâ reported that there was higher demand for credit card loans during the fourth quarter.
As for the outlook, a âsignificant net share of banksâ is expected to ease up on their standards for credit card loans. They are doing so in anticipation of an improvement in their loan portfoliosâ credit quality, as well as a hike in their tolerance for risk.
Also, the New York Fedâs survey of consumer expectations for December 2020 finds that consumers are less concerned about the possibility of missing a minimum debt payment in the coming three months. The average perceived probability of this occurrence dipped to 10.5% for December, from Novemberâs 10.9%.
See related: What happens when you miss a credit card payment?
Jobs edge up in January
The New York Fed survey also finds that on average fewer consumers expect the unemployment rate to be higher a year from now, with this probability declining to 38.9%, from Novemberâs 40.1%.
While the average perceived probability of losing a job in the coming 12 months rose up a bit to 15% (mainly on account of those without a college degree), respondents were also more likely to leave their job voluntarily. However, they were less optimistic about landing a new job if they lost their current ones.
The U.S employment situation was about stable in January, with the economy adding 49,000 jobs, the government reported Feb. 5. âThe labor market continued to reflect the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and efforts to contain it,â according to the Department of Laborâs employment report media release. The unemployment rate dipped 0.4 percentage points to 6.3% and average hourly earnings were up $0.06 to $29.96. Also, the job numbers for both November and December were revised down, with November down 77,000 jobs (to 264,000) and December losing an additional 87,000 jobs (to minus 227,000).
In his daily email commentary, Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, noted, âCoupled with the -159K net revision, this is a significantly softer report than expected, at least in terms of payrolls. Bulls will cite the large and unexpected drop in the unemployment rate, but two-third(s) of the decline was due to a 405K drop in the size of the labor force â a sign of discouragement â while household employment rose 201K.â
He added that âthe labor market was frozen at the start of the year, and is completely dependent on the pace of reopening, which in turn is contingent on the speed and sustainability of the fall in hospitalizations.â
Editorial Note: This content is not provided by the credit card issuer. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the authorâs alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer.
If left unchecked, extensive amounts of credit card debt can cripple your finances. The good news is there are many ways to handle debt, though each requires a dedicated effort on your part. But if you can manage to consolidate credit card debt, you will reduce your burden relatively quickly. In the process, youâll avoid the exorbitant interest rates that accompany most credit cards. Below we take a look at some of the most effective techniques you can use to make this goal a reality.
Find Out Your Credit Score
Before you can work on improving your credit and minimizing your debt, you have to know where you currently stand.
Many credit card issuers allow cardholders to see their FICOÂ® credit score free of charge once a month, so check out if any of your cards include that free credit score. The three major credit bureaus â TransUnion, Experian and Equifax â also give out free annual credit reports. If thatâs not enough, websites like Credit Karmaâ¢ and Credit Sesame provide a free look at your credit score and reports as well.
It is vital to review your credit report with a fine-tooth comb to ensure the accuracy of the information. If you find errors be sure to let the credit bureau in question know so the issue can be eradicated as soon as possible.
Zero Interest Balance Transfer Cards
Although it might seem counterintuitive to apply for another credit card to lessen your debt, a zero interest balance transfer card could really help. These cards typically include an introductory 0% balance transfer Annual Percentage Rate (APR) for six months or more. This ultimately allows you to move debt from one account to another without incurring more interest. However, once the introductory offer concludes, any leftover balances will revert to your base APR.
These offers arenât totally free, though. Most cards also charge a balance transfer fee thatâs usually between 3% and 5% of the transfer. Even with this initial payment, you will almost always still save money over leaving your debt where it stands currently.
If you want to consolidate credit card debt, here are three different balance transfer credit cards you could apply for, with varying introductory interest rates and transfer fees:
Balance Transfer Credit Cards Card Intro Balance Transfer APR Balance Transfer Fee Chase Slate 0% APR for first 15 months; then 16.49% to 25.24% Variable APR, depending on your creditworthiness No fee for first 60 days; then $5 or 5% of each transfer, whichever is greater Citi Double Cash Card 0% introductory APR for 18 months from date of first transfer when transfers are completed within 4 months from date of account opening; then 15.49% to 25.49% Variable APR, depending on your creditworthiness $5 or 3% of each transfer, whichever is greater BankAmericardÂ® credit card 0% APR for first 15 billing cycles; then 14.49% to 24.49% Variable APR, depending on your creditworthiness No fee for first 60 days; then $10 or 3% of each transfer, whichever is greater Take Out a Personal Loan
The thought of taking out another loan probably doesnât sound too appetizing to consolidate credit card debt. But a personal debt consolidation loan is one of the speediest ways to rid yourself of credit card debt. More specifically, you can use it to pay off most or all of your debt in one lump sum. That way, your payments are all merged into a single account with your lender.
The APR and length of the offered loan and the minimum credit score needed for approval are the main factors that should go into your final decision on a lender. By concentrating on these three components of the loan, you can map out what your monthly payments will be. As a result, you can more easily implement them into your financial life.
Applying for a personal consolidation loan can have a detrimental effect on your credit. Unfortunately, most institutions will run a hard credit check on you prior to approval. However, many online lenders donât do this, which might ease your mind depending on the severity of your debt situation.
These loans are available through a wide variety of financial institutions, including banks, online lenders and credit unions. Here are a few examples of some of the most common debt consolidation lenders:
Common Debt Consolidation Lenders Banks Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank, Fifth Third Bank Online Lenders Lending Club, Prosper, Best Egg Credit Unions Navy Federal Credit Union, Unify Financial Credit Union, Affinity Federal Credit Union Auto or Home Equity Loan
If you own assets like a home or car, you can take out a lump-sum loan based on the equity you hold in them to consolidate credit card debt. This is a great way to reuse money you paid toward an existing loan to take care of your debt. When paying back your auto or home equity loan, youâll usually pay in fixed amounts at a relatively low interest rate. Even if this rate isnât great, itâs likely much better than any offer youâd receive from a card issuer.
Equity loans are technically a second mortgage or loan, meaning your house or car will become the loanâs collateral. That means you could lose your house or car if you cannot keep up with your equity loan payments.
Create a Budget
To build a budget, you first need to figure out your approximate monthly net income. Donât forget to take into account taxes when youâre doing this.
You can then start subtracting your variable and fixed expenses that are expected for the upcoming month. This is where you will likely be able to identify where youâre overspending, whether itâs on food, entertainment or travel. Once youâve completed this, you can begin cutting back where you need to. Then, use your surplus cash to pay off your debt one month at a time.
It shouldnât matter if youâre dealing with substantial credit card debt or not. A monthly spending budget should always be a part of how you manage your finances. While this is likely the slowest way to eliminate debt, itâs also the most financially sound. At its core, it attempts to fix the problem without taking funding from an outside source. This should leave very little financial strife in the aftermath of paying off your debt.
Professional Debt Counseling
Perhaps since youâve found yourself in serious debt, you feel like you want professional help getting out of it. Well the National Foundation for Credit CounselingÂ® (NFCCÂ®) is available for just that reason. The NFCCÂ® has member offices all around the U.S. that are certified in helping you consolidate credit card debt.
These counselors wonât only address your current financial issues and debt. Theyâll also work to create a plan that will help you avoid this situation again in the future.
Agencies that are accredited by the NFCCÂ® will have it clearly displayed on their website or at their offices. If youâre not sure where to look, the foundation created an agency locator thatâll help you find a counselor nearby.
Borrow From Your Retirement
Taking money early from your employer-sponsored retirement account obviously isnât ideal. Thatâs means borrowing from your retirement is a last-ditch alternative. But if your credit card debt has become such a handicap that itâs affecting all other facets of your life, it is a viable option to consolidate credit card debt.
Because you are technically loaning money to yourself, this will not show up on your credit report. Major tax and penalty charges await anyone who has trouble making payments on these loans though. To make matters worse, if you quit your job or are fired, youâre typically only given 60 days to finish paying it off to avoid incurring a penalty.
Tips To Consolidate Credit Card Debt
If you take the time to come up with a budget, donât let it go to waste. While you might find it tough to stick to, especially if youâre trying to cut back, it is the best way to manage your money correctly. Even if a budget becomes habit, stay vigilant with where your money is being spent.
Although a financial advisor will cost money, he or she might be able to help you keep your finances in check while ultimately helping you plan for the future as well. However, if this isnât an option for you financially, stay on track with your NFCCÂ® debt counselorâs plan.
There are so many ways to gain access to your credit score that thereâs virtually no excuse for not knowing it. It doesnât matter if you do it through one of the top three credit bureaus, FICOÂ® or one of your card issuers. Just remember to pay attention to those ever-important three digits as often as possible.
Editorial Note: This content is not provided by the credit card issuer. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the authorâs alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer.
Do you keep a close eye on your personal finances? Or maybe youâve never given them much thought. Either way, itâs time to start paying more attention to your credit score. Your credit score can control a lotâwhat loans you qualify for, the credit cards that are available to you, etc. To keep on top of it all, itâs important to check your credit score. But how often can you check your credit score, exactly?
You know what they say: knowledge is power. Find out how often you can check your credit score below so you can arm yourself with knowledge about your personal finances.
The Difference Between Your Credit Score and Credit Report
Before looking into how often you can check your credit score, it’s important to understand the difference between a credit score and a credit report. They can be easy to confuse, so you might think theyâre the sameâbut theyâre not.
Your credit report is a detailed document about your credit history. It shows active and past accounts, whether you paid on time and how much credit you’ve used compared to open balances. Other information might include names of your past employers if you’ve ever included them on a credit application, as well as negative records such as collections accounts and bankruptcies.
Your credit score is a three-digit number, typically between 300 and 850, that’s calculated based on all the information in your credit report. There are many credit scoring models, including popular models such as FICO and VantageScore.
While credit scoring models all work toward the same goalâproviding an overall picture of how likely you are to pay your debtsâthey do so with slight variations in the formulas. That means your credit scores might vary between these models.
You also have more than one credit report. Not every lender or business reports to all three of the major credit bureaus, for example. So the information in your credit file can also vary slightly. That also means that you have different credit scores, too.
How Often Can You Check Your Credit Score for Free?
Here’s where the difference between credit score and credit report comes in. You can get your free creditÂ report from each of theÂ three major bureaus via AnnualCreditReport.com.
Usually, the reports are available once every year. Which means you could get a look at your credit information every four months by spreading out your requests for each of the bureaus. However, due to personal financial stress related to COVID-19 and to help consumers best manage credit and finances during this time,Â AnnualCreditReport.com and the three credit bureaus are making reports available weekly through April 2021.
Unfortunately, a free credit report doesn’t mean a free credit score. When you order your report you get the detailed information in your file. You don’t get the score the bureau might show lenders when you apply for credit. To get regular access to your credit scores, you typically have to pay for it.
Reasons to Check Your Credit Report and Score
So why do you need to keep tabs on your credit score and credit report? Here are a few reasons:
Keeping a regular eye on your credit report helps you identify inaccurate negative items that might be dragging down your score. The faster you catch and challenge the accuracy of these items, the more likely you’re able to prove they’re not correct. The credit bureaus have to remove them if they can’t be proven correct.
Checking your credit report regularly helps you see whether suspicious activity is occurring, which can indicate that you’re a victim of identity theft or fraud. Again, knowing and acting early can save you a lot of hassle in the long run.
Knowing your credit score and how it moves up and down over time can also help you understand whether there might be issues with your report. If you see the score moving in a negative direction and aren’t sure why, you can investigate further.
You might want to check your credit before you apply for a loan, especially one with greater qualification requirements such as a mortgage. That way, you can fix any possible issues before a lender evaluates you for approval.
You may also want to ensure there aren’t any surprises on your report before you apply to rent an apartment, get auto insurance quotes or send your resume in for a job opportunity, as some of these opportunities can depend in part on your credit history.
If you’re working to improve your credit history and score, you may want to see that your efforts are having a positive impact.
How Can You Get Your Credit Score?
You might have access to your credit score via your credit card provider. If this is a benefit you get as a card holder, you can typically see the score by logging into your credit card account online or via a mobile app. The downside is that this is only one possible version of your score.
You can see another version of your score by signing up for Credit.com’s Credit Report Card. You’ll get a score that updates every 14 days as well as information about the five major factors that go into determining credit scores and how you’re faring with each.
If you want to get more bang for your buck, it might be time to look atÂ ExtraCredit. Youâll get access to five useful services, includingÂ TrackIt, which will give you a look intoÂ 28Â of your FICO Scores.Â
How Many Points Does Your Credit Score Go Down for an Inquiry?
Requesting yourÂ own score or credit report doesn’t impact your score at all. That’s because this is considered a soft inquiry. OnlyÂ hard inquiries impact your credit score. Hard inquiries occur when a lender pulls your credit to evaluate you for a loan or other credit.
So, whether you’re requesting your credit report via AnnualCreditReport.com or investing in a service such as ExtraCredit, get as much information about your credit as you can. It won’t hurt your score to do so.
Sign up for ExtraCredit today!
The post How Often Can You Check Your Credit Score, and How Do You Get It? appeared first on Credit.com.
The number of auto loans grewÂ to an all-time high, with leasing surpassed 30% of all new consumer vehicle sales. But the interest ratesÂ consumers are gettingÂ on these loans has stayedÂ low, especially for used cars.Â In fact, Experian reported that average loan rates saw some increases, but still remain historically low.
Loan rates for a new car in Q2 of 2018 were 5.76%, up from 5.20% a year prior. Franchise used rates are 8.28% (down from 7.88% in Q2 2017), whileÂ independently used rates are 11.87% (down only 0.17% from Q2 2018).
The Experian Automotive scoring deems prime consumers as those with scores of 661 to 850, nonprime users with scores of 601 to 660, andÂ subprime usersÂ as those with scores of 300 to 600. Consumers on all risk tiers are increasingly choosing to lease over purchasing cars, according to the report.
The number of prime consumers choosing used vehicles increased from 55.61% in Q2 2016 to 55.79% in Q2 2018. The number ofÂ nonprime and subprime consumers also saw increases, from 21.75% to 22.05% and decreases of 25.71% to 25.05%, respectively.
Experian reported that the increased number of prime consumers choosing used vehicles resulted in âscore increases, greater percentages of used financing in the prime risk tier and lower average used rates.â
Getting a Car Loan
If youâre thinking about buying a used car and taking out an auto loan to do it,Â itâs a good idea to review your credit first. Having aÂ good credit scoreÂ can help you qualify for better terms and conditions on your financing. (To find out where your credit stands, you canÂ see two of your credit scores for free, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.)
And when youâre figuring out how much you can afford, remember to consider not only how much your monthlyÂ car paymentÂ will be but also how much the loan will cost you in the end, by considering the interest rate and length of the loan term. (The longer the loan term, the more interest you will pay.)
If you arenât happy with what you see, donât worry â you may be able toÂ improve your credit scoresÂ by paying down any big credit card balances,Â disputing errorsÂ and limiting credit inquiries until your score has had time to rebound.
Gather All Documentation
When attempting to get a used car loan, you will want to gather all the necessary documentation including the following:
Your Driverâs License
Proof of all of your income- this can be a paycheck stub or even a tax return
A utility or phone bill to prove your residency
Your social security number so they can run your credit check
These days, you can often apply for the used car loan right online or even by phone which makes it the process that much easier and accessible.
Start With Your Own Banking Institution
It is always a good idea to start with your own bank or credit union for financing because you have already established history and relationship with them. Typically, you will be able to find the absolute best rates and more favorable terms if you go through your own bank.
They will also be able to advise you on all the options that are available to you as you begin the journey toward car ownership.
Shop for the Best Rates
You never want to settle on the first rate you are given; donât be afraid to shop around to see if you can find something better than the typical auto loan rates. You will find the best auto loan rates if you have good credit. Additionally, if you apply for multiple loans within a 14 day period, it will only count as one hard inquiry so that you can find the best rate possible.
What is the Average Used Car Loan Rate?
Typically, you will find that the car loan rate on a used car is going to be a bit higher than the rates you would find with a newer car. For example, good credit car loans can see an interest rate as low as 3.9% for a newer model and a little more than 5% for its older version.
Average Auto Loan Rates by Credit Score
The following are the average rates you may find for a used car loan that carries a 60-month repayment term based on a range of different FICO Scores.
With a credit score between 500 and 589, you may be looking at interest rates on the loan as high as 16%. A bad credit score also makes it a lot harder to get approved for the car loan initially as well.
A credit score in between 590 and 619 will typically see the 15% mark, and the percentages get lower from here with the lowest coming in at 4.39% with a credit score between a 720 and 850.
A longer loan term will usually mean you will have a lower monthly payment, but you will also accrue more in interest with a longer loan term.
When determining the average used car loan rate and the amount of interest you may have to pay on a loan, you will want to check all three of your credit reports, examine your credit score and credit history and determine what steps you can take to improve your credit, so you can qualify for a lower interest rate.
Again, if you bank with a credit union, always start there first because the lender will already be able to see if you are high risk or not. Car buyers should always take their time, do their research, and tackle the work of fixing their credit prior to obtaining a loan for a car. It is always best to shop smarter and save money in the long run.
Shelter Insurance is a mutual insurance company that was founded in 1946 and operates out of Columbia, Missouri. This highly-rated, award-winning insurance company offers a wealth of insurance products across the states of Colorado, Iowa, Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Nevada, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Louisiana.
In this Shelter Insurance review, we’ll look at insurance policies, coverage options, customer satisfaction, liability cover, and more, before seeing how Shelter compares to other leading insurance companies.
Shelter Car Insurance Coverage Options
Shelter is a leading auto insurance company in Missouri and other serviced states. It isn’t always the cheapest (more on that below) but it does provide a wealth of coverage options, including:
Liability coverage is the most basic, bare-bones insurance type and one that is required in most states. Liability insurance covers bodily insurance (per person and per accident) and property damage. It essentially covers you for the damage you do to another driver and their property during a car accident.
An optional form of auto insurance that covers you for damage done to your own vehicle, regardless of who was at fault. If you have collision coverage on your auto policy, you will get a payout when you hit a guardrail, wall, tree or building.
However, it’s one of the most expensive add-ons and a lot of the damage you do to your own vehicle may not be severe enough to warrant paying the deductible.
With comprehensive coverage, you will be covered for many of the things that collision insurance doesn’t cover. For instance, it provides protection against vandalism and damage from extreme weather events. It also covers you in the event of an animal collision, which is surprisingly not covered by collision insurance.
Personal Injury Protection
With PIP insurance, you will be covered for some of the personal losses you incur due to an injury sustained in a car accident. For instance, if you’re hit by another driver and suffer severe injuries that cause you to miss work, PIP will pay for the money you lose. It will also cover the money needed to cover traveling for doctor and hospital appointments, as well as childcare costs.
By adding medical payments cover onto your policy you will be protected against hefty medical bills resulting from a car accident. This option is required in just a few states but the coverage limits are often set very low.
Underinsured and Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Uninsured motorists are a growing problem on America’s roads. If you’re hit by one of these drivers and don’t have collision insurance, you could be left severely out of pocket. But not if you have underinsured/uninsured motorist insurance.
This coverage option will protect you against bodily injury and property damage resulting from an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver.
Shelter car insurance policies offer optional roadside assistance cover, which gives you up to $100 per claim and covers you for expenses accrued when you are stranded by the roadside.
Roadside assistance is an emergency service designed to help you get back on the road or to tow your car to a nearby garage. It includes everything from lost key replacement to fuel delivery and tire changes.
Rental Car Reimbursement
If your car is stolen or damaged so badly that it needs to spend several days or weeks in a repair shop, rental car reimbursement can help you to stay on the road. It will cover you for the money you spend on rental cars, which means you won’t miss a single important car journey.
Your coverage will be limited to a specific time period and you will not be covered for rentals that extend beyond this period.
A form of life insurance that covers you for accidental deaths, such as car accidents. If you die in an accident, for example, your spouse or family members will receive a payout. There are many more restrictions than you get with term life insurance policies, but the premiums are also much lower.
Disability Income Coverage
PIP can cover you if you suffer serious bodily injuries and miss work as a result, but what happens if you’re forced to miss up to a year of work? That’s where Disability Income Coverage comes in. With Shelter, you will be paid a sum of money every week for up to a year.
If you bought your car on finance and wreck it soon after, the insurance payout may not be enough to cover the losses due to the interest payments and the rapid deprecation that new cars experience. With GAP insurance, you will be covered for that extra amount. As a result, this type of car insurance is often required by auto loan companies.
New Car Replacement
If you have a car that is less than a year old and has fewer than 15,000 miles on the clock, you can apply for the new car replacement program, which gives you a like-for-like replacement. This is an essential addition for anyone driving an expensive new vehicle as the losses could be catastrophic without it.
Other Shelter Insurance Options
Shelter offers multiple additional insurance options, many of which can be bought along with your car insurance, allowing you to save money with a multi-policy discount.
As with Shelter car insurance, we recommend comparing rates to other insurance companies, making sure you’re getting the best coverage for the lowest rates. There are a huge number of insurance companies in the United States offering the same coverage options found at Shelter, and many of them are cheaper:
A homeowners policy from Shelter will protect your property and everything in it. You can get cover for the dwelling, personal property, medical payments, personal liability, living expenses, and more.
Shelter also offers additional coverage options pertaining to electronics, sewer damage, earthquake damage, loss of farming equipment, and more.
If you rent your home, you won’t need property insurance, but you still need to protect your personal property and that’s where renter’s insurance comes. If your flat/house is burgled and you lose expensive items, including heirlooms, jewelry, artwork, and electronics, you will be covered.
With a minimum liability of $1 million, umbrella insurance will step in and provide cover above and beyond what you are offered elsewhere. If you have a lot of personal assets and are worried about being sued above what your liability insurance can pay, this is the policy for you.
A business insurance policy from Shelter will protect your business against property loss, equipment damage, liability claims, and more. This is essential for all businesses and at Shelter you can choose a range of customization options to make sure the policy is perfectly suited to your needs.
Your home insurance policy doesn’t cover you for flood damage and this is true whether you’re with Shelter or not. However, you can add flood insurance to your Shelter insurance policy, with the rates dependent on where you live and how common floods are in your area.
In addition to accidental death cover, Shelter also has term life and whole life insurance policies. These provide payouts to your loved ones in the event of your death.
Your age, activity, medical history, and health will dictate the size of your insurance premiums and your death benefit.
Shelter Car Insurance Cost
We ran some car insurance quotes and found that Shelter was consistently more expensive than providers like GEICO, Allstate, State Farm, and Progressive. In fact, when comparing quotes for young drivers, Shelter car insurance premiums were more than double those offered by GEICO and were also substantially higher than other major carriers.
In many states, including Kentucky and Louisiana, Shelter ranked as one of the most expensive providers. The rates were a little more promising in Missouri, but you’ll probably still get better offers elsewhere.
Regardless of what you think about Shelter Insurance and whether or not you have had good experiences with them in the past, we recommend getting quotes from other providers first.
Of course, it isn’t all about price, but it takes some incredibly impressive customer support and benefits for a $3,000 policy to take precedent over one that costs $1,500 or less, and we’re not convinced Shelter has that level of support or those benefits.
Bottom Line: Shelter Insurance Review
Shelter is a dedicated, capable, and financially strong insurance provider that offers extensive coverage for both drivers and homeowners. It has good reviews from policyholders, has high ratings from AM Best, JD Power and the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and there are very few complaints when compared to other providers.
Shelter serves a number of states and if you reside in one of these, it’s worth getting a quote. Just don’t forget to check other providers and don’t assume Shelter will offer the best rates. In our experience, it’s more likely to be one of the most expensive providers in your state, but you won’t know until you check.
Visit www.ShelterInsurance.com to learn more and to discuss an auto policy and/or home insurance policy with one of their representatives.
Shelter Insurance Review: Car, Home, and More is a post from Pocket Your Dollars.
If you have a car that youâve been driving for a while and youâre ready to trade it in, you might be wondering how to get the best deal. When youâre trading in a car, itâs a good idea to forearm yourself by doing research into your carâs value. Read on for the rest of our tips on how to trade in a car.
Check out our personal loan calculator.
Know What Your Vehicle Is Worth
So you want to trade in a car? Youâll have an easier time of it if you know what the car is worth before you head to the dealership. That way, you can negotiate from a position of strength. The classic resource for evaluating a carâs worth is the Kelley Blue Book but there are plenty of other options online, too. You can also search other vehicles of the same make and model that are for sale or have sold recently and assume that your car is worth roughly the same amount.
When youâre in the research phase, remember to take the condition of the car into account. If your car has dings, scratches or stains, you can safely assume that it will sell for less than the same year, make and model of car in better condition. And itâs always a good idea to clean the interior and exterior of your vehicle before taking it to a dealership to trade in.
Related Article: How Much Should I Spend on a Car?
Once youâve done your research you should have an idea of how much your vehicle is worth. Thatâs the number you can fall back on in negotiations with the appraiser at the dealership. When youâre at the dealership, donât be afraid to mention â or show proof of â the research you did. As when youâre buying a car, youâll probably engage in some back-and-forth negotiation with the folks at the dealership.
The dealership will probably offer you less than what you saw in the Kelley Blue Book or the numbers you got from the National Automobile Dealers Association or Autotrader. You can counter with a higher offer, but remember that, unlike when youâre buying a car, the dealership has more leverage over you. They know you want to unload your car, get your cash and get out of there. The appraiser also takes factors into account that you might not be aware of and canât control. For example, if the dealership already has a lot of mid-size sedans, it might not want to buy yours or might not offer as much for it.
You can get appraisals from different dealerships or companies, or offer your car at an auction or an online auction like eBay. You donât have to go with the first offer you get for the car. If you have the time, feel free to shop around for a better offer. You can also look for dealerships that are offering special promotions, such as a discount on a new car when you trade in an old car.
Related Article: All About Car Loan Amortization
Have a Plan for Your Earnings
Itâs a good idea to have a plan for what youâll do once youâve traded the car in and youâve gotten the money from the dealership. Do you need to buy a new (or used) car or can you do without? Will you use the money you make to pay down student loan debt or credit card debt? Will you bulk up your emergency fund or save for retirement? If you donât make a plan for what to do with the money you earn by trading in your car, you risk spending it on an impulse purchase or on little treats over time. Thatâs fine if you can afford it, but if you have debt or savings goals to meet, itâs a good idea to commit to putting your car trade-in dollars toward those goals.
Due to financial consequences of COVID-19 â and the broader impact on our economy â now is an excellent time to consider refinancing most loans you have. This can include mortgage debt you have that may be converted to a new loan with a lower interest rate, as well as auto loans, personal loans, and more.
Refinancing student loans can also make sense if youâre willing to transition student loans you currently have into a new loan with a private lender. Make sure to take time to compare rates toÂ see how you could save money on interest, potentially pay down student loans faster, or even both if you took the steps to refinance.
Get Started and Compare Rates Now
Still, itâs important to keep a close eye on policies and changes from the federal government that have already taken place, as well as changes that might come to fruition in the next weeks or months. Currently, all federal student loans are locked in at a 0% APR and payments are suspended during that time. This change started on March 13, 2020 and lasts for 60 days, so borrowers with federal loans can skip payments and avoid interest charges until the middle of May 2020.
Itâs hard to say what will happen after that, but itâs smart to start figuring out your next steps and determining if student loan refinancing makes sense for your situation. Note that, in addition to lower interest rates than you can get with federal student loans, many private student lenders offer signup bonuses as well. With the help of a lower rate and an initial bonus, you could end up far âaheadâ by refinancing in a financial sense.
Still, there are definitely some negatives to consider when it comes to refinancing your student loans, and weâll go over those disadvantages below.
Should You Refinance Now?
Do you have student loan debt at a higher APR than you want to pay?
If no: You shouldnât refinance.
If yes: Go to next question.
Do you have good credit or a cosigner?Â
If no: You shouldnât refinance.
If yes:Â Go to next question.
Do you have federal student loans?
If no: You can consider refinancing
If yes: Go to next question
Are you willing to give up federal protections like deferment, forbearance, and income-driven repayment plans?
If no: You shouldnât refinance
If yes: Consider refinancing your loans.
Reasons to Refinance
There are many reasons student borrowers ultimately refinance their student loans, although they can vary from person to person. Here are the main situations where it can make sense to refinance along with the benefits you can expect to receive:
Secure a lower monthly payment on your student loans. You may want to consider refinancing your student loans if your ultimate goal is reducing your monthly payment so it fits in better with your budget and your goals. A lower interest rate could help you lower your payment each month, but so could extending your repayment timeline.
Save money on interest over the long haul. If you plan to refinance your loans into a similar repayment timeline with a lower APR, you will definitely save money on interest over the life of your loan.
Change up your repayment timeline. Most private lenders let you refinance your student loans into a new loan product that lasts 5 to 20 years. If you want to expedite your loan repayment or extend your repayment timeline, private lenders offer that option.
Pay down debt faster. Also, keep in mind that reducing your interest rate or repayment timeline can help you get out of student loan debt considerably faster. If youâre someone who wants to get out of debt as soon as you can, this is one of the best reasons to refinance with a private lender.
Why You Might Not Want to Refinance Right Now
While the reasons to refinance above are good ones, there are plenty of reasons you may want to pause on your refinancing plans. Here are the most common:
You want to wait and see if the federal government will offer 0% APR or forbearance beyond May 2020 due to COVID-19. The federal government has only extended forbearance through the middle of May right now, but they might lengthen the timeline of this benefit if you wait it out. Since this perk only applies to federal student loans, you would likely want to keep those loans at 0% APR for as long as the federal government allows.
You may want to take advantage of income-driven repayment plans. Income-driven repayment plans like Pay As You Earn (PAYE) and Income-Based Repayment let you pay a percentage of your discretionary income each month then have your loans forgiven after 20 to 25 years. These plans only apply to federal student loans, so you shouldnât refinance with a private lender if you are hoping to sign up.
Youâre worried you wonât be able to keep up with your student loan payments due to your job or economic conditions. Federal student loans come with deferment and forbearance that can buy you time if youâre struggling to make the payments on your student loans. With that in mind, you may not want to give up these protections if youâre unsure about your future and how your finances might be.
Your credit score is low and you donât have a cosigner. Finally, you should probably stick with federal student loans if your credit score is poor and you donât have a cosigner. Federal student loans come with fairly low rates and most donât require a credit check, so theyâre a great deal if your credit is imperfect.
Important Things to Note
Before you move forward with student loan refinancing, there are some details you should know and understand. Here are our top tips and some important factors to keep in mind.
Compare Rates and Loan Terms
Because student loan refinancing is such a competitive industry, shopping around for loans based on their rates and terms can help you find out which lenders are offering the most lucrative refinancing options for someone with your credit profile and income.
We suggest using Credible to shop for student loan refinancing since this loan platform lets you compare offers from multiple lenders in one place. You can even get prequalified for student loan refinancing and âcheck your rateâ without a hard inquiry on your credit score.
Check for Signup Bonuses
Some student loan refinancing companies let you score a bonus of $100 to $750 just for clicking through a specific link to start the process. This money is free money if youâre able to take advantage, and you can still qualify for low rates and fair loan terms that can help you get ahead.
We definitely suggest checking with lenders that offer bonuses provided you can also score the most competitive rates and terms.
Consider Your Personal Eligibility
Also keep your personal eligibility in mind, including factors beyond your credit score. Most applicants who are turned down for student loan refinancing are turned away based on their debt-to-income ratio and not their credit score. Generally speaking, this means they owe too much money on all their debts when you compare their liabilities to their income.
Credible also notes that adding a creditworthy cosigner can improve your chances of prequalifying for a loan. They also state that âmany lenders offer cosigner release once borrowers have made a minimum number of on-time payments and can demonstrate they are ready to assume full responsibility for repayment of the loan on their own.â
Itâs Not âAll or Nothingâ
Also, remember that you donât have to refinance all of your student loans. You can just refinance the loans at the highest interest rates, or any particular loans you believe could benefit from a different repayment term.
4 Steps to Refinance Your Student Loans
Once youâre ready to pull the trigger, there are four simple steps involved in refinancing your student loans.
Step 1: Gather all your loan information.
Before you start the refinancing process, it helps to have all your loan information, including your student loan pay stubs, in one place. This can help you determine the total amount you want to refinance as well as the interest rates and payments you currently have on your loans.
Step 2: Compare lenders and the rates they offer.
From there, take the time to compare lenders in terms of the rates they can offer. You can use this tool to get the process started.
Step 3: Choose the best loan offer you can qualify for.
Once youâve filled out basic information, you can choose among multiple loan offers. Make sure to check for signup bonus offers as well as interest rates, loan repayment terms, and interest rates you can qualify for.
Step 4: Complete your loan application.
Once you decide on a lender that offers the best rates and terms, you can move forward with your full student loan refinancing application. Your student loan company will ask for more personal information and details on your existing student loans, which they will combine into your new loan with a new repayment term and monthly payment.
The Bottom Line
Whether it makes sense to refinance your student loans is a huge question that only you can answer after careful thought and consideration. Make sure you weigh all the pros and cons, including what you may be giving up if youâre refinancing federal loans with a private lender.
Refinancing your student loans can make sense if you have a plan to pay them off, but this strategy works best if you create a debt repayment plan you can stick with for the long-term.
The post Should You Refinance Your Student Loans? appeared first on Good Financial CentsÂ®.
The major difference between Fingerhut and credit cards that cater to low credit scores is that Fingerhut credit is exclusively available for use with its own companyâs products and authorized partners. Youâll also find that the companyâs products are pricier than they would be through most other retailers, while also bearing the weight of higher interest rates. While it might seem like a good idea if you donât have good credit, itâs best to familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of the company beforehand so that you know what youâre signing up for.Â
How Fingerhut credit works
When you apply for a Fingerhut credit account, you can get approved by one of two accounts:
WebBank/Fingerhut Advantage Credit Account.
Fingerhut FreshStart Installment Loan issued by WebBank.
As it happens, by submitting your application, you are applying for both credit accounts. Applicants will be considered for the Fingerhut FreshStart Installment Loan issued by WebBank as a direct result of being denied for the WebBank/Fingerhut Advantage Credit Account. In other words, you wonât have a way of knowing which one you will be approved for prior to applying. Both credit accounts are issued by WebBank and are set up so that customers can purchase merchandise by paying for them on an installment plan with a 29.99% Annual Percentage Rate (APR). These are the only things that the different Fingerhut credit accounts have in common.
The WebBank/Fingerhut Advantage Credit Account
The WebBank/Fingerhut Advantage Credit Account works very much like an unsecured credit card, except that itâs an account that you can only use it to shop on Fingerhut or through its authorized partners.Â
This credit account features:
Â No annual fee.
A 29.99% interest rate.
A $38 fee on late or returned payments.
A possible down payment; it may or may not be required. You wonât know prior to applying.Â
If you get denied for this line of credit, your application will automatically be reviewed for the Fingerhut FreshStart Credit Account issued by WebBank, which is both structured and conditioned differently.
Fingerhut FreshStart Installment Loan issued by WebBank
If you get approved for the Fingerhut FreshStart Installment Loan, you must follow these three steps to activate it:
Make a one-time purchase of no less than $50.
Put a minimum payment of $30 down on your purchase, and your order will be shipped to you upon receipt of your payment. You may not use a credit card to make down payments, but you can use a debit card, check, or a money order.Â
Make monthly payments on your balance within a span of six to eight months.
You can become eligible to upgrade to the Fingerhut Advantage Credit Account so long as you are able to pay off your balance during that time frame or sooner without having made any late payments. Keep in mind that paying for the entire balance in full at the time you make your down payment will result in you not qualifying for the loan as well as being ineligible for upgrade.Â
How a Fingerhut credit account helps raise your credit score
The fact that it can help you improve your credit is one of the biggest advantages of using a Fingerhut credit account.Â
When you make your payments to Fingerhut in full and on-time, the company will report that activity to the three major credit bureaus. This means that your good credit utilization wonât go unnoticed nor unrewarded. If you use Fingerhut to improve your credit score, you will eventually be able to apply for a credit card through a traditional credit card companyâone where you can make purchases anywhere, not just at Fingerhut.Â
Additional benefits of a Fingerhut credit account
Besides using it as a tool to repair your bad credit, there are a few other benefits to using a WebBank Fingerhut Advantage Credit Account such as:
No annual fee.
Fingerhut has partnerships with a handful of other retailers, which means you can use your Fingerhut credit line to make purchases through a variety of companies. Fingerhut is partnered with companies that specialize in everything from floral arrangements to insurance plans.
There are no penalties on the WebBank Fingerhut Advantage Credit Account when you pay off your balance early.
How to build credit with Fingerhut
Fingerhut credit works the same way as the loans from credit card companies work: in the form of a revolving loan.Â
A revolving loan is when you are designated a maximum credit limit by your lender, in which you are allowed to spend. Whatever you spend, you are expected to pay back in full and on-time through a series of monthly payments. This act of borrowing money and paying off bills using your Fingerhut account causes your balances to revolve and fluctuate, hence, its name.Â
Your credit activity, good or bad, gets reported to the three major credit bureaus and in turn, will have an effect on your credit report. Revolving loans play a large role in your credit score, affecting approximately 30% of your score through your credit utilization ratio. If your credit utilization ratio, the amount of available revolving credit divided by your amount owed, is too high then your credit score will plummet.Â
When using a Fingerhut account, the goal is to try to keep your amounts owed as low as you possibly can so that you can maintain a low utilization ratio, and as a result, have a higher credit score.
Alternatives to Fingerhut
If youâve done all your research and decided that Fingerhut isnât the right choice for you, there are other options that might serve you better, even if you have bad credit. There are a variety of secured credit cards that you can apply for such as:
The OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card: You will need a $200 security deposit to qualify for this secured credit card, but you can most likely get approved without a credit check or even a bank account. It can also be used to improve your credit, as this card does report to the three major credit bureaus. While this card does come with an annual $35 fee, you can use it to shop anywhere that will accept a Visa.Â
Discover it Secured:Â For all those opposed to paying an annual fee of any sort, this card might just be the one for you. With a $0 annual fee and the ability to earn rewards through purchases, thereâs not much to frown about with this secured credit card. One of the best perks, is that it allows you the chance to upgrade to an unsecured card after only eight months.Â
Deserve Pro Mastercard: This card is a desirable option for those with a short credit history. There is no annual fee and no security deposit required and, if your credit history isnât very long-winded, thatâs okay. The issuers for this card may use their own process to decide whether or not you qualify for credit, by evaluating other factors such as income and employment. This card is especially nifty because you can get cash-back rewards such as 3% back on every dollar that you spend on travel and entertainment, 2% back on every dollar spent at restaurants, and 1% cash back on every dollar spent on anything else.Â
Fingerhut is an option worth looking into for those with bad credit or a short credit history. If you want to use a Fingerhunt credit account to improve your credit score, be sure to use it wisely and make all of your payments on time, just as you would with any other credit card.
Even though it might be easy to get approved, the prices and interest rates on items sold through Fingerhut are set higher than they would be at most other retailers, so itâs important to consider this before applying.Â
There are a ton of options available, regardless of what your credit report looks like, if you are trying to improve your credit. If the prices of Fingerhutâs merchandise are enough to scare you away, you might want to consider applying for a secured credit card.Â
How to Build Credit with Fingerhut is a post from Pocket Your Dollars.