Checking Your Credit Regularly Helps You Improve Your Scores, Survey Says

check-your-credit-score

For some people, checking their credit is like stepping on the bathroom scale: a necessary evil, albeit one that pushes them to take charge of their health. Perhaps that’s the same thinking that drives consumers to regularly check their credit. In fact, according to a new study commissioned by Discover, a high percentage of those who regularly checked their credit over the past year said it helped them improve their behaviors. (You can view two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com.)

Here’s a look at the study.

Methodology

Discover — which began offering free FICO scores to all consumers in May — surveyed 2,000 consumers in March 2016 by the independent research firm Toluna. The survey was not based on FICO scores but self-reported estimated credit scores, and the maximum margin of sampling error was plus or minus 5 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.

A Positive Impact

Of those who checked their credit scores seven or more times in a year, 73% said doing so improved their behavior. Not only were they motivated to pay bills on time, one of the main factors credit agencies use to determine their score, they also paid down loans and aimed to maintain a low balance on their credit cards. In contrast, 44% of those who checked their credit scores once a year saw the same impact.

And 76% of those checking their scores frequently (i.e., seven or more times in 12 months) saw their scores improve dramatically or slightly over the same time frame. Meanwhile, 72% who checked their scores four to six times during the year noted credit improvements. Only 38% of those who checked their scores once in the previous year saw their credit scores rise.

Knowledge Is Power

To continue the health analogy, identifying problems is the first step to solving them. This was especially true of millennials, or adults ages 18 to 24, who mostly (57%) told Discover that the biggest motivator for checking their scores “was to improve or maintain it.” Compare that to 47% of Generation X (ages 35 to 54) and 25% of baby boomers (ages 55 to 69) who checked just as often. Perhaps the younger generation is onto something.

At publishing time, Discover products are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

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3 Money Tasks to Tackle on Your Winter Break

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There’s a good chance you may find yourself with some downtime this week, thanks to office and school closings or a backlog of vacation days. While it’s tempting to spend this time days doing nothing but watching “The Twilight Zone,” your break is a good opportunity to tick some things off your financial to-do list. Here are a few money tasks you can address to set yourself up for success in the new year.

1. Assess the Holiday Shopping Damage

It can be all too easy to get carried away with the hustle and bustle of the holiday shopping season. But, whether you picked up a few too many last-minute gifts or think you stayed on budget, it’s a good idea to review all of your credit card and debit card statements. Not only will you get a final tally of what the gift-giving season cost (and what you’ll need to pay off in 2016), you’ll have a better shot at spotting fraudulent charges.

2. Check Your Credit

High credit card balances can hurt credit scores, so check to see if yours are in good shape now that shopping season is over. It’s also in your best interest to keep on top of your credit since scores and/or reports are used by lenders, landlords, employers and many other companies. They also can signal whether your identity has been stolen. (You can pull your credit reports for free each year at AnnualCreditReport.com or view your credit scores for free on Credit.com.) Knowing where you stand could help you boost your financial well-being in 2016.

3. Set Your Budget

A budget can be a great tool for paying down debt, saving for retirement and keeping all your financial ducks in a row. If you haven’t set yours yet, this week is a great time to do so. If you already have a budget, review each line item before January. You may want to check that you accounted correctly for any credit card debt you’ll have to pay off. And you may identify places to save or expenses worth cutting (like that daily latte or weekly pedicure).

More Money-Saving Reads:

Image: Sasha_Suzi

The post 3 Money Tasks to Tackle on Your Winter Break appeared first on Credit.com.

3 Money Tasks to Tackle on Your Winter Break

money_tasks

There’s a good chance you may find yourself with some downtime this week, thanks to office and school closings or a backlog of vacation days. While it’s tempting to spend this time days doing nothing but watching “The Twilight Zone,” your break is a good opportunity to tick some things off your financial to-do list. Here are a few money tasks you can address to set yourself up for success in the new year.

1. Assess the Holiday Shopping Damage

It can be all too easy to get carried away with the hustle and bustle of the holiday shopping season. But, whether you picked up a few too many last-minute gifts or think you stayed on budget, it’s a good idea to review all of your credit card and debit card statements. Not only will you get a final tally of what the gift-giving season cost (and what you’ll need to pay off in 2016), you’ll have a better shot at spotting fraudulent charges.

2. Check Your Credit

High credit card balances can hurt credit scores, so check to see if yours are in good shape now that shopping season is over. It’s also in your best interest to keep on top of your credit since scores and/or reports are used by lenders, landlords, employers and many other companies. They also can signal whether your identity has been stolen. (You can pull your credit reports for free each year at AnnualCreditReport.com or view your credit scores for free on Credit.com.) Knowing where you stand could help you boost your financial well-being in 2016.

3. Set Your Budget

A budget can be a great tool for paying down debt, saving for retirement and keeping all your financial ducks in a row. If you haven’t set yours yet, this week is a great time to do so. If you already have a budget, review each line item before January. You may want to check that you accounted correctly for any credit card debt you’ll have to pay off. And you may identify places to save or expenses worth cutting (like that daily latte or weekly pedicure).

More Money-Saving Reads:

Image: Sasha_Suzi

The post 3 Money Tasks to Tackle on Your Winter Break appeared first on Credit.com.

5 To-Dos Before Transferring Your Credit Card Balances

balance_transfer

If you’re considering transferring big credit card balances to a card with a lower, or even 0% introductory interest rate, good for you. You already know it’s a chance to pay less in interest charges and whittle away at your debt. What you might not know are some of the following tips that can help you find the card that best fits your needs.

1. Check Your Credit Score

First and foremost, check your credit score. Some of the credit cards with the best balance transfer offers are aimed at people with credit scores of 700 or higher. (You can see where your credit stands by viewing your free credit report summary at Credit.com.) Checking your credit is important because you don’t want to apply for cards that you won’t qualify for. When your credit report indicates you’ve been applying for multiple new credit lines in a short period of time, your credit scores can take a dent.

2. Look for the Longest Free Financing Term

Once you know your credit score, you’ll want to find a card with the longest free financing term available so you’ll have as much time as possible to pay down your debt without incurring interest charges. The law requires that cards offering a 0% introductory balance transfer fee do so for at least six months. Some issuers offer the 0% rate for up to 18 months. You can find some of the best balance transfer credit cards here.

3. Check for Balance Transfer Fees

Once you’ve found a card with a good free financing term that you can qualify for, check to see what their balance transfer fee is. Most issuers charge at least a minimum of 3%. Note: Do the math. If you’ll end up paying more by transferring your balance at 3% than you would continuing the payments to your existing credit card, you should skip the offer.

4. Apply for Additional Cards if Needed

Keeping in mind the credit score information above, let’s say you’ve applied for a great card that you qualify for, but the company won’t let you transfer the full amount of your balance. Now is the time you might consider applying for a second balance transfer card for the remaining balance or see if your existing card company will offer you a better rate.

5. Look for Promotional Financing on Purchases

Some cards that feature 0% financing on balance transfers also extend those terms to new purchases. Just be careful not to use it to create more debt. Read all the terms of conditions of each offer carefully, since there may be caveats that make the deal less favorable, like retroactive interest if you don’t pay your balances off in full by the time the low-to-no financing offers expires.

Be sure to check out these tips for avoiding balance transfer credit card mistakes and also keep on top of all statement due dates. A missed payment is one of the quickest ways to damage your credit scores.

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