Those who have consumer credit cards from Discover will soon notice something new on their monthly credit card statements -- a free FICO credit score.
This post comes from Krystal Steinmetz at partner site Money Talks News.
A Discover credit card now gets you free access to your latest FICO credit score. It's a new service Discover Financial Services is offering to all of its cardholders.
Barclaycard US and First Bankcard began providing FICO scores to their customers in November, according to a press release from FICO. Discover also offered the perk to some customers in November, before expanding the offering to all consumer cardholders.
According to its website, Discover partnered with FICO and TransUnion, one of the three major credit bureaus, to provide the FICO score, which will be updated each month.
Discover is utilizing the FICO Score Open Access program, which is available to all financial service providers that use FICO's scoring services. The credit scores are used by lenders to determine credit risk. Federal law requires that they be made available for free only under limited circumstances. They're available for purchase online, usually for $19.95.
You can take steps to immediately begin turning a poor credit score into a stellar one.
This post comes from Marilyn Lewis at partner site Money Talks News.
When I was in my early 20s, I was not what you'd call an informed consumer. Not by a long shot. I remember thinking, when I felt far too busy to worry about paying a bill on time, "It won’t matter. It's not like they're not going to get their money."
What I didn't understand is that payment history, including late or skipped payments, makes up 35 percent of your FICO credit scores.
Retail beef prices are near record highs, and there's no indication they're coming down anytime soon.
This post comes from Catey Hill at partner site MarketWatch.
Beef: It’s what you can’t afford for dinner — for years to come.
Retail beef prices are near record highs. During 2013, the price consumers paid for ground beef climbed roughly 5 percent, according to government data beef price data released Thursday finds that consumers paid an average of nearly $3.50 per pound for 100 percent ground beef.
What's more, experts say that climbing beef prices are here to stay. The USDA's Economic Research Service projects that beef prices will rise faster than almost anything else this year. Don Close, a cattle economist with Rabo AgriFinance says he thinks prices this year could rise 7 percent 8 percent and roughly the same amount in 2015. Kevin Good, a senior analyst at cattle research firm CattleFax, says that "higher prices will continue through 2015 or 2016."
Good says that ground beef may see especially steep price hikes. He thinks that while steak retail prices could climb 5 percent to 10 percent in 2014, ground beef could climb 10 percent to 15 percent.
So what's with the sky-high beef prices?
The gambling industry targets seniors, and sometimes the consequences can be devastating for their finances.
This post comes from Marilyn Lewis at partner site Money Talks News.
What the heck was up with the 73-year-old man who allegedly pulled black underwear over his face, grabbed a shotgun and held up a Fort Pierce, Fla., bank recently?
Gambling, that's what. The man told authorities he needed money "because he's on a fixed income and had gambled his money away on horses and Texas Hold 'em," says an Associated Press report.
Homeless and still gambling
It's terrifying to think of spending your old age in poverty because you gambled away your savings and home. But that's the reality for many seniors for whom compulsive gambling compounds the difficulties of old age.
Financially, the effects are "massive" for seniors and their families, says Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling in Washington, D.C. "In one day you can gamble away your entire retirement."
Personal finance columnist Liz Weston wrote on MSN Money that "the explosion of legal gambling opportunities in recent decades poses a particular danger for seniors, who are often on a fixed income and don’t have future working years to make up for any losses."
Whyte tells of an older Maryland woman whose husband took out "multiple" mortgages on their home to finance his lottery habit. Her first inkling of the problem was the foreclosure notice before they lost their home. The couple's adult children took her in to live with them but not him, because he denied he had a problem. At 75 he became homeless.
A new study suggests the Affordable Care Act could reduce personal bankruptcies.
This post comes from Quentin Fottrell at partner site MarketWatch.
Health-care reform in Massachusetts has helped to improve credit scores, reduce debt and even cut the number of personal bankruptcies by 20%, a new study finds. Taken as a test case, some experts say this could bode well for Obamacare’s impact on the financial health of American households.
There are many similarities between the health-care reform in Massachusetts in 2006 and President Obama’s 2010 Affordable Care Act. Both aim to achieve near-universal coverage by combining a mandate for individual insurance with insurance market reforms and a broad expansion of subsidized coverage for low- and middle-income households, according to "The Effects of the Massachusetts Health Reform on Financial Distress" by economists at the Federal Reserve of Chicago and the University of Notre Dame.
"The context of our study is a major state-level reform that closely resembles the Affordable Care Act, making this analysis highly relevant for the ongoing debate surrounding the current federal program," economists Bhashkar Mazumder and Sarah Miller concluded.
There's a reason a lender asked for a co-signer -- and now you are being asked to step up and pay. Know what your options are.
This post comes from AJ Smith at partner site Credit.com.
Whether you co-signed a student loan for your child, a car lease for your father or a mortgage for a friend, you are now responsible for that debt. Unfortunately, if the borrower is not able or willing to pay back the loan, you must step up or face the consequences. Here are some steps to take if the loan defaults.
1. Ask for mercy
You need to determine whether the lender is willing to negotiate on terms. Sometimes if there is a temporary reason you or the borrower can’t pay, the lender may be willing to give you a few months to get back on track. You won’t know if you don’t ask.
Explain your circumstances. Tell the creditor that you want to pay off the loan but you aren’t able to now. This conversation might lead to a reprieve of a few months where you don’t have to pay or it could lead to smaller payments over a longer time. Be open to options and let the lender know you are trying to make it work.
Capital One can, according to the fine print in its cardholder agreement. But the bank says it doesn't visit customers.
This post comes from Bob Sullivan at partner site Credit.com.
There's a new reason to carefully read the fine print in contracts you sign: to find out who might be coming for dinner.
L.A. Times consumer reporter David Lazarus reported this week that credit card issuer Capital One's cardholder agreement includes some surprising terms. According to Lazarus, the agreement says the company may "contact you in any manner we choose," including a visit "at your home and at your place of employment."
Does your holiday spending still have you drowning in a sea of credit card debt? Here's how to quickly slash those outstanding balances.
This post comes from Allison Martin at partner site Money Talks News.
Were you in the giving spirit this past holiday season? It's hard not to be, especially when you have the magic plastic at your disposal, available to cover the tab.
But when the holiday cheer is long gone, the credit card bills will still be there lingering over your head and eating away at your wallet.
Your generosity spree was likely for a good cause, but now's the time to buckle down and lay a hammer to those balances.
Know where you stand
Although you may be tempted to turn a blind eye to those credit card balances out of fear or sheer disappointment in how high they actually are, it's time to face the music. What's done is done, and there's nothing you can do to change the past.
All you can do at this point is be mindful of your spending habits and plan for the future so history doesn't repeat itself.
Besides, what sense does it make to set a goal if you have no idea of what objective you are trying to accomplish? Take a good look at those balances.
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