Where to Get the Best Personal Loan Rates Online

Where to Get the Best Personal Loan Rates Online

Updated March 6, 2017

If you want a personal loan to pay off credit card or other debt, the absolute fastest and most effective way to lower the interest you pay is to apply for a balance transfer, with a 0% rate. You can read our guide to balance transfers to learn about their pros and cons.

But a balance transfer isn’t for everyone, especially if your credit score isn’t perfect or if you need to borrow cash.

A personal loan with a set payoff period a few years from now is often the next best thing with these advantages:

  • One monthly payment
  • A set rate
  • You don’t need absolutely perfect credit
  • You can check your rate without touching your score

There are more attractive deals than ever thanks to some new online lenders and you can see sample rates below for excellent credit and good credit.

Tip: Apply for several loans to check rates. You can apply to each personal loan company separately, or use the tool created by MagnifyMoney to do it all at once.

Some personal loan providers let you check the rate you’ll get without impacting your score, unlike credit cards.

They’ll do a ‘soft pull’ with your Social Security Number so your best plan is to give your information to several of them and see who gives you the best rate. You can use our new personal loan tool to compare interest rates from multiple companies at once, or start by inputting your information below:

Get A Pre-Approved Personal Loan

$

Won’t impact your credit score

Once you get rates, put them in our Balance Transfer vs Personal Loan calculator to see how they compare on interest paid and time to paying off your debt.

Why is this a good way to save?

Banks don’t care much for personal loans because the lower rates earn them less profit than credit cards.

Fortunately, some new companies believe you should be able to get a competitive rate without dealing with credit card intro offers, even if your credit isn’t perfect.

They’re doing it by lending online only without the overhead of branches.

They pass the savings on to you through better rates, and you can check up on them below.

Personal loans for Excellent Credit

The following providers are for you if you want the absolute lowest possible rates that reward a record of no late payments and good income, even though you have some high rate debt you want to clean up.

Unless you get a rate of 5% or less, you’re probably better off with balance transfer deals, but the convenience of a fixed payment and walking away from credit cards makes personal loans appealing.

SoFi

SofiSoFi offers some of the lowest interest rates available if you’re looking to refinance your credit card debt or borrow cash. You’ll need to have a good record of paying your bills on time, but they’re willing to offer rates that are very competitive without an origination fee.

Sofi’s believes if you’ve graduated college or went to grad school you’ll be a more responsible borrower, so they may be more likely to give you a better rate, even if your credit history is limited.

For example if you have $10,000 in credit card debt, good income, and great credit, their best rate could save you as much as 0% balance transfer deals once you factor in the fees for each.

What we like best about SoFi is that they offer no origination fee and no prepayment penalty. If you think you may be able to pay off your loan earlier (or want the flexibility to do that), SoFi is the only lender we reviewed that charges no fee at all. Given their very low rates, we think
anyone with good credit should start with SoFi first, and then compare their offer to the rest of the providers.

Rates: 5.70% -14.24%, fixed*, with AutoPay. You can also select a variable interest rate. With AutoPay, the variable rates are from 4.79% – 10.89%*. Rates are based upon 1-month LIBOR.

Upfront fee: 0% – No origination fees, no prepayment fees and no balance transfer fees

Amount: $5,000 – $100,000

Period: 3, 5 or 7 years

Available states: All states except Tennessee and Nevada.

Apply Now

BestEgg

bestegg11BestEgg is an online personal loan company that offers low interest rates and quick funding. BestEgg is one of the fastest growing personal loan companies in the country, largely because it has been able to provide one of the best combinations of interest rate and loan amount in the market.

You can check to see your interest rate without hurting your score, and they do approve people with scores as low as the mid-600s. If you have an excellent credit score, BestEgg will be very competitive on terms.

Upfront fee: 0.99% – 5.99%

Amount: up to $35,000

Period: up to 5 years

Apply Now

Lightstream

lightstream2Lightstream is a great choice for people with excellent credit. It is actually part of a bank you might have heard of, SunTrust Bank. They were recently set up to offer some of the best personal loan rates available, and they are delivering. The interest rate you are charged depends upon the purpose of the loan. Interest rates can be as low as 1.99% for a new car purchase (and Lightstream does not put their name on your title. They just put the cash in your bank account, and you can shop around and pay cash for the car). Home improvement loans start at 3.99%, making them cheaper and easier than a home equity loan.

They’ll also approve and deposit your money fast, often the same day, and give extra consideration if you have money in your 401K or equity in your home.

LightStream has created an exclusive offer, just for MagnifyMoney readers. (This offer went live in January 2016). Credit card consolidation loans for MagnifyMoney readers are now as low as 4.19%. The highest rate is 14.49%. Just beware: LightStream does a hard credit pull.

Upfront fee: None

Amount: $5,000 – $100,000

Period: 2 – 7 years

Available states: All

Apply Now

Personal Loans for Good Credit

These providers may be able to help you out if you’re not approved for the very best rates or a 0% balance transfer offer. Check those deals first, there’s no real harm to do that, but if they fall through, give these a try.

LendingClub*

LendingClub logoYou might not have heard of LendingClub yet, but they are a big player in online loans. And they offer a wide range of rates and terms based on your credit profile and needs. Generally you’ll need a score of about 600 or higher to get approved.

Rates: 5.99 – 35.89% APR

Upfront fee: 1 – 6%

Amount: up to $40,000

Period: up to 5 years

Available states: All except Iowa and West Virginia

Apply Now

BestEgg

BestEgg (reviewed earlier in this post) will approve people with credit scores as low as the mid-600s. If you have good credit and are looking for a loan, you should consider BestEgg.

Apply Now

Upstart*

Upstart logo Upstart offers loans that look a lot like the ones from the bigger online lenders like LendingClub or Prosper.

They’ll let you borrow up to $35,000 for 3 years. But the key is they will take into account the schools you attended, your area of study, the grades you earned in school, and your work history to see if you can get a better rate.

So while the range of rates Upstart offers is similar to the bigger guys, if you did well in school, you might find the rate you actually get is lower than what the others will offer you, so it’s worth trying.

You’ll need a 640 or better FICO and your monthly payments can’t be more than 55% of your monthly income.

Rates: 4.82% -29.99%

Upfront fee: 1% – 6%

Amount: $5,000 – $50,000

Period: 3 years

Available states: All

Apply Now

PenFed

Previously, PenFed offers a fixed rate of 9.9% interest rate for 5 years. Veterans get extra special attention so it’s worth checking this online only offer. You have to be a member of the PenFed credit union, but that’s easy and anyone can do that online as part of the process.

Rates: 9.99%

Upfront fee: None

Term: 5 years

Available states: All

Apply Now

Personal Loans for Minimal Credit

Avant*

Avant interest rates range from 9.95% – 36.00% and there is no prepayment penalty. You can check to see your interest rate without hurting your credit score. Just one warning: if you are willing to borrow money at 36.00%, then you really need to step back and think about building a longer term financial plan. You can download our free Debt Guide, which will help you put together a plan so that you never have to pay interest rates this high again.

They’ll let you borrow up to $35,000 for up to 5 years. The minimum FICO varies, but we have seen people with scores as low as 580 get approved.

The good thing about Avant is that these loans are amortizing. That means it is a real installment loan, and you will be reducing your principal balance with every payment.

Rates: 9.95%-36.00%

Upfront fee: 0.95% – 3.75%

Amount: up to $35,000

Period: up to 5 years

Available states: All except Colorado, Iowa and West Virginia.

Apply Now

Springleaf

 

Springleaf offers personal loans through its branch network to people with less than perfect credit. You can start your application online. If you qualify, you will have to visit a branch to complete the application. Once in the branch, if you have all of the required documents, you can receive you loan proceeds immediately via check.

You can borrow from $1,500 to $25,000. The interest rates are not low, and can go up to 36%. They will also charge an up-front origination fee that is not refundable. You should definitely shop around at other lenders first, given the high cost of the loan and the need to visit a branch.

Rates: 25.10%-36.00%

Upfront fee: varies

Amount: up to $25,000

Period: up to 5 years

Apply Now

As these new companies evolve, expect even more attractive options to emerge, so when you think about lowering your rates, don’t just look to the banks you know.

Give an online lender a chance. You may be rewarded with lower rates, good service, and faster freedom from debt.

promo-personalloan-wide

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The post Where to Get the Best Personal Loan Rates Online appeared first on MagnifyMoney.

SoFi Review: Personal & Student Loans with Low Rates and No Fee

SoFi Review: Personal & Student Loans

Updated March 4, 2017

SoFi is an online loan company that offers student loan refinancing options, mortgages and personal loans. SoFi offers some of the lowest interest rates and the best consumer experience in the market. We have researched thousands of products from hundreds of companies, and SoFi is one of our favorites. However, they have strict credit criteria and target people with good jobs, good income, a proven ability to manage a budget and good credit history. If SoFi* approves you, you will probably have a difficult time finding a lower interest rate anywhere else.

In this post, we will review both Student Loans and Personal Loans. (They have just launched mortgages, and we will be updating this post later with a review of that product). For each, we will discuss:

  • The details of the product: how much can you borrow, and at what price
  • Approval criteria: how does SoFi underwrite, and who are they likely to accept

In addition, at the end we will give you more details of SoFi, including who funded them, how big they are and their reputation.

Student Loan Refinance (Skip Ahead for Personal Loans)

SoFi has just reduced the minimum loan amount. You can now refinance as little as $5,000 of student loan debt. There is no cap on how much you can refinance. Based upon your cash flow, SoFi will try to provide an option to refinance all of your student loan debt.

There is no origination fee and no prepayment penalty. It offers some of the lowest rates out there. Fixed APRs range from 3.375% – 6.74%, and variable APRs range from 2.365% – 6.29%. These rates are available so long as you enroll in auto-pay.* Given that interest rates are at an all-time low, you should think carefully before signing up for a variable interest rate. If you can pay off your loan in a short period of time, you could save a lot of money. If it will take you longer, you may not want to take the interest rate risk.

You can refinance on a 5, 7, 10, 15, or 20 year term.

For example, if you borrow $30,000 on a 10 year term at an APR of 4.615%, your monthly payment will be $312.58. Under those terms, you’re paying back a total of $37,509.60 (120 payments). If you borrow the same amount, but have a 6.8% APR, your monthly payment is $345.24, paying back a total of $41,428.80. In this case, SoFi’s low rates have the potential to save you nearly $4,000.

SoFi will refinance both private and federal student loans. However, if you refinance a federal loan you will give up all federal protections and programs, including income-based repayment programs. SoFi is unique among private lenders because it offer unemployment insurance, free of charge. If you lose your job for no fault of your own (you can’t quit), SoFi will suspend your monthly payments until you find a new job. You can do this for up to 12 months. The interest that accrues during this period would be added to the loan.

SoFi also offers an entrepreneur program to help graduates who dream of owning a business.

Under this program, loans can be deferred for six months so borrowers can focus on growing their businesses. SoFi provides access to networking events, mentors, and investors.

Refinancing with SoFi isn’t an option for everyone. First, refinancing is currently unavailable to those residing in Nevada, and variable rate options aren’t available to those in Ohio or Tennessee.

Second, SoFi has a list of available schools and programs it services. If your school or program isn’t on that list, you won’t be eligible to refinance.

Third, SoFi typically requires applicants to have excellent credit. It occasionally accepts co-signers – you must call to review your situation with a representative. However, there’s no co-signer release if you move forward with one on your loan.

To be eligible to refinance your student loans with SoFi, you need to meet the following requirements:

  • You must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident 18 years or older
  • You need to have a 4-year undergraduate or graduate degree from a Title IV accredited institution
  • You have to be employed or have an offer of employment starting in 90 days from the time you apply
  • You need to be in good standing on your current student loans
  • You should have a good, stable employment history
  • A strong monthly cash flow is a must
  • An excellent FICO score will improve your chances of being approved

The application process is straightforward and SoFi’s pre-approval should take you less than 15 minutes to complete. You likely won’t need most of the documents listed below until you’re ready to move forward with a loan, but they’re good to have on hand while you’re shopping around.

  • Existing student loan information (SoFi will need your account information for the loans you wish to finance)
  • Employment information – salary, offer of employment, length of employment
  • Most recent pay stubs as proof of income and employment (if you’re currently employed)
  • Diploma or transcript in the event SoFi needs to verify your graduation

It’s good to note SoFi accepts screenshots from your PC and pictures taken from a phone, so if you don’t have access to a scanner, there’s no need to worry.

If you’re ready to get started, you can apply for a refinance and check your rate by clicking the button below.

Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 5.05.24 PM

Details on SoFi’s Personal Loan

At SoFi, you can borrow between $5,000 and $100,000.

There is no origination fee, no prepayment penalty and no balance transfer fee. They are truly unique in this regard.

You can borrow the money for 3, 5 or 7 years.

In addition, SoFi offers unemployment protection. Unlike traditional personal loan companies, they are not looking to make money from unemployment insurance. Instead, they are offering it as a feature and a brand promise. And the insurance is generous. If you lose your job through no fault of your own, you will be given a payment holiday. Interest will continue to accrue on the loan (and be added to the balance), but no payment will be due and your loan will continue to be reported as current to the credit bureau. You can have 3 consecutive months of payments made at a time, and you can have up to 12 months of payments made during the life of the loan. That offers great flexibility. In addition, they offer job placement services to help you find a job.

Fixed interest rates range from 5.70% to 14.24% – but you have to sign up for auto-pay in order to get these rates. In addition, SoFi offers variable interest rates from 4.79% – 10.88% with auto-pay. The rates are based upon 1-month LIBOR and are capped at 14.95%.*

You can use the loans for almost any purpose: pay off credit card debt, home improvement, or anything else because the money can be deposited as cash in your checking account.

Apply Now

What Does It Take to Get Approved?

In order to be approved for a loan, you must at least meet the following requirements:

  • You are a US citizen or permanent resident
  • You are at least the age of majority in your state (typically 18)
  • You are currently employed
  • You have graduated from a selection of Title IV accredited universities or graduate programs (only for the student loan product. For personal loans, there is no university requirement).

Personal loans are not available to residents of the following states: Mississippi, Nevada and Tennessee.

If you fail to meet the above criteria, you will be rejected. However, just because you meet these criteria does not mean that you will be approved. SoFi will:

  • Perform an analysis of your ability to repay. They do a “cash flow analysis” looking at your income and expenditure, making sure you can pay
  • Perform an analysis of your history with credit. Missed payments and defaults will most likely get your rejected. You need to have a strong history of repayment. Although they are not a FICO-driven lender (because they look at education, employment and cash flow), the following people will likely have a difficulty getting approved:
    • People who do not have excellent credit. In particular, if you have missed payments or have rapidly built up debt, you could find it difficult to qualify.
    • If you have a “thin credit file”, you will still have a good chance of getting approved. A thin file means that you do not have much information in your credit report. Although that could be a problem with traditional credit scores, SoFi might still be willing to work with you.
    • People with collection items, judgments or other negative legal action

SoFi offers some of the lowest interest rates out there, and they are picky about who they approve. If you have a good degree, a good job and a history of making payments on time, you will likely be able to benefit from SoFi.

And here is the best news: you can check to see if you will be approved, and the interest rate you would receive, without hurting your credit score. SoFi uses what is called a “soft pull” to determine your interest rate and your loan amount.

Given how low the interest rates are at SoFi, if you have a college degree you should take the 3-4 minutes to see if you can be approved. The only cost is your time.

Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 6.49.15 PM

Remember that you’re in no way obligated to take a loan once you apply.

Unless you accept the loan and go through with the hard credit inquiry, SoFi doesn’t hold you to taking the loans presented to you.

All About SoFi

You can trust SoFi. They are a very well funded start-up, having raised $164 million from some of the biggest and most influential venture capital firms in the Silicon Valley.

They have also built a very strong relationship with investors, and have funded more than $2 billion in loans to date.

SoFi has been created with a mission to revolutionize the way we borrow in this country. In particular:

  • They want to make it easy for people to shop for a loan, believing that you should be able to get your interest rate without hurting your score
  • They want to create an easy, seamless experience with a great user experience
  • They want to cut out the costs of the big banks, giving lower interest rates to borrowers and higher interest rates to lenders
  • They want to create a different type of borrowing experience, by providing unemployment insurance as a free benefit.

Their mission, and their personal loan product, align to the vision of MagnifyMoney. When we created MagnifyMoney, we hoped to find lenders like SoFi, and are pleased to award them an A+ Transparency Score.

Apply Now

We only have one criticism: their underwriting criteria is very tight right now. Hopefully, over time, they will be able to expand the criteria and be able to provide the great experience to people who may have experienced some financial difficulties in the past.

 

*Disclaimer

Terms and Conditions Apply. SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Finance Lender Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)

Student Loan Refinance

* Fixed rates from 3.375% APR to 6.740% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 2.365% APR to 6.290% APR (with AutoPay). Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan. See APR examples and terms. Lowest variable rate of 2.365% APR assumes current 1 month LIBOR rate of 0.79% plus 1.825% margin minus 0.25% ACH discount. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, and the term of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. *To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit inquiry. Unlike hard credit inquiries, soft credit inquiries (or soft credit pulls) do not impact your credit score. Soft credit inquiries allow SoFi to show you what rates and terms SoFi can offer you up front. After seeing your rates, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit inquiry. Hard credit inquiries (or hard credit pulls) are required for SoFi to be able to issue you a loan. In addition to requiring your explicit permission, these credit pulls may impact your credit score.

Personal Loans

* Fixed rates from 5.70% APR to 14.24% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 4.79% APR to 10.89% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of September 1, 2016 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. See Personal Loan eligibility details. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, to qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your credit worthiness, years of professional experience, income and other factors. Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at 14.95%. Lowest variable rate of 4.79% APR assumes current 1-month LIBOR rate of 0.79% plus 4.25% margin minus 0.25% autopay discount. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.

The post SoFi Review: Personal & Student Loans with Low Rates and No Fee appeared first on MagnifyMoney.

The Ultimate Guide to Getting a Better Job This Year

You've decided it's time to get a better job — now here's how you do it.

This is the year you’re going to make more money — or take on a leadership role at work, apply for your dream job or even try a completely new career path. Whatever it is, you know you want something in your professional life to change.

Understandably, you might be overwhelmed by the prospect of making your work dreams a reality. These job-hunting tips from the pros should make it more manageable.

If You’re Just Starting to Look for a New Job (or Thinking About It)

Evaluate What’s Truly Important to You
Yes, the amount on your paycheck is important. After all, you need to pay your bills. But what else do you want from your next gig — a shorter commute? A place you can advance? Flexible schedule? Whatever it is, make the added elements of your next job part of your search to help increase the odds you’ll be happier wherever you land.

Look at Companies, Not Just Jobs
Instead of only focusing on job listings that are already posted, expand your search to find companies you think you’d enjoy working at. They may not have anything right away, but taking the step toward talking with a hiring manager about what you think you’d bring to the table may provide opportunities you wouldn’t have had otherwise.

“Make a list of the items that you like and wish were part of your current culture and compare it to future opportunities,” said Tony Gulley, managing partner of Executive Casting, a recruiting firm based in Raleigh, North Carolina. “Culture is the foundation of satisfaction and a cornerstone for employee retention, so you should not overlook this.”

Find a Mentor & Heed Their Advice
If there is someone in your field (or in your place of work) whose career, motivation, abilities or other traits you wish to emulate, tell them so and ask if they would be willing to help you become better at what you do. Don’t be shy about asking for this help. It’s not a one-way street, and the mentor as much as the mentee benefits from the relationship. Mentoring can help a seasoned professional become more cognizant of things they may do as a rote response to business situations. This will position you to advance in your current workplace or seek a better job elsewhere.

Pick Up New Skills
Eyeing a job in sales but deathly afraid of speaking in public? Perhaps it’s time to brush up on your skills. A little training or an after-work class can help you beef up your resume where you need it most.

Revamp Your Resume …
Are you still using that resume you crafted in college? Sure, you’ve updated it along the way, but maybe it’s time to consider either starting from scratch or getting rid of some of the details on there that are taking up prime real estate. Ask yourself if those early jobs are really reflective of your skillset or where you want to go in your career. If not, clear them off and make room for other more important details.

Remember, a lot of companies and recruiting firms use software to scan resumes, so prepare yours for a digital review. Dawn D. Boyer, a Virginia-based resume writer and career consultant, stressed the importance of composing digital resumes in word-processing documents with simple, easy-to-read formats that include keywords related to the type of work you’re looking for.

… And Make Sure You Proofread It
There are enough challenges to getting a new job, so don’t stand in your own way by sending application materials with errors.

“It’s shocking how many resumes cross my desk with incorrect grammar, improper punctuation, and multiple misspellings,” said Susan McNeill, a recruiter for Back to Basics Learning Dynamics, an education company in Delaware. “A sloppily written resume is an immediate red flag.”

Network, Network, Network
Sometimes the best way to find the next step is by talking to someone who’s been there. Reach out to your alumni network, tap friends or send cold emails to start conversations.

“Cold call companies and express your interest in hearing about any future openings in your line of work” said Jana Tulloch, a human resources professional at software education company DevelopIntelligence in Boulder, Colorado. “Often there are vacancies on the horizon that just haven’t been posted, and you could be the early bird who gets the worm.”

If You’re Actively Looking

Get Uncomfortable
Growth doesn’t happen by sitting still. You don’t improve your skills or opportunities by not stretching a bit, so volunteer to take on duties and projects that you might not feel completely qualified for. The same holds true when applying for jobs, especially if you’re a woman. Men are far more likely than women to apply for positions for which they might not meet every criteria.

Find a Recruiting Agency
There are plenty of services out there that help companies fill positions with qualified candidates, and the companies using these services tend to be larger employers with better benefits and salaries (they also pay the recruiters, not you, so don’t think you have to pony up any cash). You can reach out to these companies directly to make sure they know you exist, but it’s also wise to make sure you’re easy to find on the internet. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is updated and your resume is linked to it. Also, making your profile searchable on job sites like Monster.com and TheLadders.com can be helpful.

Check Your Credit
Some employers will pull a version of your credit report as part of their hiring process, and you’ll want to keep errors or unknown missteps from hurting your prospects. You can get your credit reports for free each year at AnnualCreditReport.com and view your free credit report snapshot, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com. Got bad credit? Here’s what to do if an employer wants to check out your credit report.

Prepare to Be Googled
According to a 2016 CareerBuilder survey, 59% of hiring managers use search engines to research candidates while 60% are also looking up applicants on social media — and, yes, what they find could cause you to lose out on a position. What could cost you, specifically? Survey says provocative or inappropriate photographs and videos, discriminatory comments, badmouthing of former employers or fellow employees, and poor communication skills. What can help? Background information that supports your job qualifications, a professional image, a wide range of interests and (you guessed it) good communication skills.

Find Out What You’re Worth
Use sites like Glassdoor to find out what other people at your level in your field make. That information can help you in the job search and negotiation process.

If You’re Going On Interviews

Review Your References
You want references that can speak to your work ethic and accomplishments firsthand, not necessarily the person in your orbit with the flashiest job title. If you’re thinking of adding someone new, be sure to clear it with them first. If you’re satisfied with your current advocates, double-check that their contact information is current. They can’t stump for you if the prospective employer can’t actually get in touch with them. Plus, the hiring manager might count a wrong number against you.

Don’t Forget Interview Prep
“Don’t show up empty-handed,” Boyer, the career consultant, said. “Your carry-in list should be a paper copy of your resume, a paper copy of your list of recommendations if they ask for them, and a typed list of questions to ask the future employer.” She also recommended bringing pre-written thank-you notes so you can drop it in the mail immediately upon leaving the building.

Ask For Feedback When You Get Rejected
Use the job-application process as a learning tool. If you don’t get an interview — or if you do and they choose another candidate — ask the recruiter or hiring manager why they didn’t select you and what you could do to improve your chances for getting a position like the one you applied for.

Keep an Open Mind
While it’s helpful to have a checklist in mind, having too many requirements may hold you back. Keep an open mind so you give each opportunity the consideration it deserves.

Image: Geber86 

The post The Ultimate Guide to Getting a Better Job This Year appeared first on Credit.com.

Payoff Personal Loan Review

personal loan

Updated December 13, 2015

Payoff* is a company that offers personal loans. Their goal is to help consumers get out of debt, and they don’t even like to be described as a loan company. If their algorithm is able to detect that you are going to use this loan to go further into debt, rather than payoff your existing debt at a lower interest rate, they may decline you. The goal of their business is in their name: they want you to payoff your high interest rate credit cards so that you can accelerate your debt repayment.

They currently offer a personal loan product, and in this review we will describe:

  • The terms of the loan (price, maximum loan amount, interest rate)
  • The qualification criteria
  • The application process

Terms of the Loan

Interest Rate: Between 8% and 25% APR

Loan Amount: $5,000 – $35,000

Term: Up to 60 months

Origination Fee: Between 2% – 5% of the loan amount, deducted from your proceeds when you book the loan

There are no prepayment or penalty fees with the loan.

The Qualification Criteria

Payoff is extremely transparent about their requirements for a loan. If you don’t meet the minimum criteria outlined below, you should not bother applying. If you do meet these minimum requirements, you should then apply online to see what interest rate and loan amount you would be offered. The great thing about Payoff is that you will not hurt your credit score by applying online. They use a “soft pull” – not only for the initial application, but all the way through to funding. They do not believe that shopping for a faster way to get out of debt should harm your credit score.

Here are the requirements:

Minimum FICO Score: 660 or higher (these scores can vary month to month. If you have a score in the mid-600s, you should give an application a try)

Debt-to-income ratio: 50% or lower. Payoff uses an “unsecured debt-to-income” ratio. Take the monthly payment of personal loans, credit cards and other debt, and divide that by your monthly income. If that ratio is 50% or less, you can get approved. For example, if you make $1,000 a month and pay $500 towards your credit cards and personal loans, you will have a 50% deb-to-income ratio (= 300 / 1000).

Age of credit history: You need to have at least 3 years of credit. In other words, you oldest open credit card should have been opened at least 3 years. They are not looking to work with people who are brand new to credit, and already in a lot of debt.

Other credit requirements: You need to have at least 2 “open and satisfactory” accounts. That means you have at least 2 accounts that are open, and where you have been paying on time. In addition, you can not have opened more than 1 personal / installment loan in the last 12 months. Remember: they want to target people who have debt but want to get out, and a lot of recent borrowing could indicate that you are headed further into debt.

Delinquencies: You should be current on all of your debt. In addition, you should not have been 90 days or more delinquent on any debt in the last 12 months.

And you can not have any tax liens.

In summary: Payoff is looking for people who have found themselves in debt. If you make your payments on time and are responsible, but just feel like the balance on your debt is never going down (because all of your money goes to interest), Payoff could be for you. If you have bad credit, very little credit, or continue to take on more debt every month, Payoff is not the right option.

The Application Process

The application process is very simple. You start by visiting Payoff and applying online. You can do that here*.

You will be asked a few questions, and Payoff will look to see if you are qualified for the loan. They will give you an indication of the loan amount and interest rate. You can do all of that without hurting your credit score.

Payoff may want to verify some of your information. They will walk you through the process.

Once all of the verification is complete, they will transfer the funds to your bank account.

It is a very easy, digital process. But they also have a call center that can answer your questions along the way.

In Conclusion

We spoke to the management team at Payoff. They really are trying to be different. Their goal is to help people get out of debt, and they only want to work with people who share that goal.

If you have a score in the mid-600s, have never missed a payment and are serious about getting out of debt (so that you stop putting all of your money towards interest), Payoff could be the best option for you. And given that you can see your interest rate with a soft pull, you really don’t have anything to lose by checking.

You can apply at Payoff here:

Apply Now

You can see other personal loan options here.

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OP/ED: CFPB Should Strengthen Its Payday Loan Rules

CFPB-payday-loan-rules

A few years ago, Corri Varner of Savage, Minnesota needed a new pair of glasses so she could drive to her church. She was short on funds and went to a payday lender to borrow money to cover the cost. She was loaned the money, but it came with a steep fee and high interest rate. When her loan came due, she needed to take out a new loan to cover the previous loan, plus the fee and interest. Her new loan came with its own set of high fees and interest rate. Before she knew it, Corri was stuck in a “debt trap” – being forced to borrow each month to pay off the last month’s loan.

She isn’t alone. Each year millions of Americans get stuck in similar debt traps because of predatory payday lenders.

The good news is that earlier this year, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) took a first step to crack down on lenders that make high interest, short-term loans. It has drafted new rules to make sure payday lenders don’t saddle consumers with excessive fees and outrageous interest rates. But the CFPB still has the opportunity to change its rules before they take effect, and I’m urging them to stand up for consumers by eliminating loopholes in their proposed rules and making sure the rules are as strong as possible.

According to the CFPB, 70% of borrowers of payday loans are forced to take out another loan when their first loan expires. And one in five borrowers are forced to repeat this cycle ten times or more. These debt traps can rob consumers through outrageously high charges – often with interest rates of more than 300% a year. And lenders sometimes cause consumers even more financial trouble by making repeated attempts to debit a customer’s bank account, even if there’s no money in it. That can put consumers on the hook for hundreds of dollars in overdraft fees.

The CFPB’s new rules would require a payday lender to verify that a customer actually has the ability to repay a loan before it’s issued. That means payday lenders have to check a consumer’s income, debt, and other data before making a loan, to ensure the customer has the resources to repay it. A family needs to put food on the table, pay rent, or make a car payment. And the rules will also prevent payday lenders from repeatedly debiting a customer’s account if the account doesn’t have any money in it. That means payday lenders won’t be able to run up overdraft fees as some have in the past.

While these rules will be good for consumers overall, it’s important to close loopholes that could undermine their effectiveness. For example, in some cases, under the CFPB’s proposed rules, payday lenders would be allowed to make up to six loans to a person without having to do a full review of the borrower’s ability to repay. In addition, the proposed rules wouldn’t apply to some longer-term loans either. So, I’ve been pushing the CFPB to close these two loopholes before the payday lending rules take effect.

In Congress, I’m also taking on abusive payday lenders. First, I’m fighting for legislation to cap the interest rates that payday lenders can charge. Instead of charging interest rates higher than 300% a year, I think we should set a national cap on how much lenders can charge, just like the 15 states that have already enacted interest rate caps of 36% or lower. And second, I’ve been pushing for legislation to crack down on online lenders that try to skirt U.S. laws by setting up their computers in foreign countries.

The new payday lending rules are an opportunity to secure a big step forward for this country’s working families. Although there’s more to do, we should be glad that for the first time, our country will soon have basic, national standards for payday lenders. It’s an important step to stopping the debt trap cycle that payday lenders have been forcing upon Americans.

This story is an Op/Ed contribution to Credit.com and does not necessarily represent the views of the company or its partners.

Image: Zoran Zeremski

The post OP/ED: CFPB Should Strengthen Its Payday Loan Rules appeared first on Credit.com.

Goldman Sachs Is Offering Debt Consolidation Loans: What You Need to Know

Goldman-Sachs

There’s a new credit card debt consolidator in town — but its name is likely familiar to you.

Investment banking giant Goldman Sachs announced on Thursday that it will begin offering unsecured personal loans to people looking to pay off high-interest credit card debts. The loans will be offered through a new online platform, Marcus: By Goldman Sachs, named after Marcus Goldman, one of the firm’s founders.

Borrowers can apply for fixed-rate, no-fee personal loans of up to $30,000 for periods of two to six years, the firm said in a press release. According to Marcus’ website, applicants will be offered annual percentage rates (APRs) ranging from 5.99% to 22.99%. Late payments, partial payments, missed payments or defaults on the loan can show up on your credit report.

The platform isn’t fully open to the public just yet: Initially, applications will require a code that millions of prospective customers will receive by mail. You can request one on Marcus’ website.

“The feedback we expect to hear from the initial group of customers will help us to refine the Marcus experience,” the firm said in the release. It plans to offer the personal loans to a broader audience in coming months.

Debt Consolidation 101

Goldman — or, maybe we should say, Marcus — isn’t the only one who wants to pay off your plastic. Consolidating high-interest credit card debt with a personal loan has long served as a way for people to potentially cut down the lifetime costs of their existing debts and provide themselves with a hard date for when they can be out of the red.

But there are risks involved with this strategy: For instance, undisciplined spenders could find themselves worse off if they take out a personal loan, pay their credit card balances down and run them right up again. And when converting your revolving credit card debt to an installment loan, you’re locking yourself into a fixed monthly payment you will have to make (otherwise, your credit score could take a hit), which could be problematic if you hit financial setbacks down the line.

Plus, generally, only good credit scores qualify for a lender’s best terms and conditions, so if your credit isn’t exactly stellar — a strong possibility for folks carrying large amounts of debt — you may not be an offered an APR lower than the one you’re already paying. In any event, it’s a good idea to shop around and read the fine print of any offer you receive to be sure it’s right for you. You can learn more about the pros and cons of debt consolidation loans here.

If you decide to shop around, it can help to brush up your credit score ahead of time. (You can view two of your scores, updated every 14 days, for free on Credit.com.) If your score is currently looking shoddy, you can potentially fix it by paying down high credit card balances (we get it, that’s sometimes easier said than done), disputing errors on your credit reports and limiting new credit inquiries while your score rebounds.

Image: RyanJLane

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LendUp to Refund $1.83 Million to Customers for Allegedly Falling Short of Payday Loan Promises

Lendup-refund

If you’ve gotten a loan from LendUp, you might be entitled to a refund. Today, the San Francisco-based online lender Flurish, Inc., doing business as LendUp, was ordered to pay $3.6 million in refunds and civil penalties by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for failing to deliver the promised benefits of its products.

The CFPB said LendUp did not give consumers the opportunity to build credit and provide access to cheaper loans, as it claimed it would. The bureau has ordered the company to provide more than 50,000 consumers with approximately $1.83 million in refunds and pay a civil penalty of $1.8 million.

LendUp’s 50,000 consumers don’t need to take action to collect their $1.83 in refunds. LendUp is required to contact them individually in the coming months.

“LendUp pitched itself as a consumer-friendly, tech-savvy alternative to traditional payday loans, but it did not pay enough attention to the consumer financial laws,” said CFPB director Richard Cordray in a written statement.

According to the CFPB, despite billing itself as an opportunity to build credit, LendUp did not always report payments to credit bureaus. (That type of reporting is essential for people who want to build their credit —you can see where your credit stands by pulling your credit reports for free each year at AnnualCreditReport.com and viewing your free credit report summary, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com).

LendUp also allegedly misled consumers by advertising across the country that they’d eventually have the ability move up the lending ladder to loans with more favorable terms, such as lower rates and longer repayment periods, though the more favorable loans were not available outside of California for most of the company’s existence. It also didn’t disclose the annual percentage rate of the loans, as required by law, thereby hiding the true cost of the loan, according to the CFPB, which attests LendUp also reversed consumer pricing without knowledge and inaccurately understated finance charges.

In addition to the fines and refunds, the company must stop misrepresenting the benefits of the loans, review all of its marketing materials so it doesn’t mislead consumers and must regularly test the annual percentage rate in its disclosures to verify that it is correct. The $1.8 million in fines will go to CFPB’s Civil Penalty Fund.

Through a statement issued on its website, LendUp said the problems mostly stemmed from its earlier startup stages. “These regulatory actions address legacy issues that mostly date back to our early days as a company, when we were a seed-stage startup with limited resources and as few as five employees. In those days we didn’t have a fully built-out compliance department. We should have,” according to the LendUp statement.

LendUp went on to say it has been working to provide refunds to all affected customers, and graduated more than 20,000 customers to more favorable loans. Its current compliance team (of 10) and separate in-house legal team (of six) now routinely weigh in when each new product is introduced, said the company’s statement.

Image: iodrakon

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4 Companies That Help You Get Your Paycheck Early

Financial emergencies have a habit at cropping up at the worst possible time — when you’re stuck in-between paychecks. Perhaps you need $250 for an emergency car repair, but you just paid rent and won’t have the funds until your next payday in two weeks. Normally, you might want to turn to a credit card or a payday loan, racking up onerous fees in the process.

What if you could get a portion of your next paycheck early without paying hefty fees or interest?

That’s the premise behind the following four services. They try to help workers make ends meet without taking on debt by giving them access to the money they earn when they earn it.

Activehours

  • Available if you have direct deposit.
  • Withdraw up to $100 each day and $500 per pay period.
  • No fees or interest.

ActivehoursWhat it is: Activehours is an app-based service available on Android and iPhone smartphones. Once you download the app and create an account, you connect your bank account and verify your paycheck schedule. You must have direct deposit set up and linked to a checking account.

How it works: In order to use Activehours, you need to upload your timesheet, either manually or by connecting a time-tracking account to the app (your employer must use one of the eligible timesheet partners in order for this to work). Using this information, Activehours estimates your average take-home hourly rate after taxes and deductions.

As you work, the hours will be automatically shared with Activehours, or you may have to upload your timesheet. You can then cash out a portion of your earned pay before payday.

You can withdraw up to $100 each day. Based on your account balances and Activehours use, the pay-period maximum could increase up to $500. The payment will arrive in your checking account within a few seconds, or within one business day, depending on where you bank.

Activehours doesn’t connect to your employer’s payroll. It connects to whatever bank account you use to collect your pay. The next time your paycheck hits your bank account, Activehours will automatically withdraw what you owe. There aren’t any fees or interest charges for using the service, however Activehours does ask for support in the form of tips.

DailyPay

  • Works with popular ride-share and delivery services.
  • Get paid daily for your fares or deliveries.
  • There’s no interest. You pay a flat fee that is subtracted from the day’s earnings.

dailypayWhat it is: DailyPay caters to workers who are employed by ride-share or delivery services, such as Uber, Postmates, Instacart, Fasten, and DoorDash. It can also be used by workers at restaurants that use delivery apps, such as GrubHub, Seamless, or Caviar.

How it works: After signing up for DailyPay, you’ll need to connect a bank account where DailyPay can send you payments. Next, you’ll need to connect your DailyPay account with the system your employer uses to track your hours. DailyPay tracks the activity within the accounts and sends you a single payment with the day’s earnings, minus a fee. Restaurant workers get paid for the previous day’s delivery earnings, minus a fee, from all the connected delivery programs.

About those fees…

Fees are based on how much you ear per day. As a driver or on-demand worker, when you make less than $150 during a day you’ll pay a $0.99 fee. For workers who earn more than $150 in a day, the fee is $1.49. Restaurant workers’ fees vary based on order volume, but are often around $2.49 for each payday. In either case, you’ll need to update your account with each service and redirect the payments to go to DailyPay.

PayActiv

  • Employer must sign up and offer PayActiv as a benefit.
  • You can withdraw up to $500 in earned income before payday.
  • $5 fee for each pay period when you use the service.

PayActivLogo-200PayActiv is an employer-sponsored program that allows employees to withdraw a portion of their earned wages before payday. While you can’t sign up on your own, you can ask PayActiv to contact your employer about offering the service. There’s no setup or operating costs for employers.

Once your employer offers PayActiv, you sign up and withdraw money as soon as you earn it. You can withdraw up to $500 early during each pay period via an electronic transfer or withdrawal from a PayActiv ATM (available at some employers’ offices).

The early payment comes from PayActiv, but it isn’t a loan and you won’t need to pay interest. Instead, your employer will automatically send PayActiv an equivalent amount from your next paycheck.

There is $5 fee per pay period when you use the service, although some employers cover a portion of the fee, according to Safwan Shah, PayActive’s founder. As a member, you’ll also get free access to bill payment services and savings and budgeting tools.

FlexWage

  • Employer must sign up and offer FlexWage as a benefit.
  • You’ll receive a reloadable debit card tied to an FDIC-insured account where your employer deposits your pay. You can add earned pay to your account before payday.
  • No fees for employees.

Flex WageFlexWage is an employer-sponsored program that relies on the use of a payroll debit card and integrates with employers’ payroll systems. If your employer offers FlexWage, you can get your paycheck deposited into an FDIC-insured account with the linked Visa or MasterCard debit card. You can also add earned, but unpaid, wages to your account before payday without paying any fees.

With FlexWage, the employer determines how often you can make early withdrawals and the maximum amount you can withdraw. Unlike PayActiv, FlexWage doesn’t act as a middle-man. Your paycheck advances will come directly from your employer’s account.

Bottom Line

These four companies work slightly differently, but they share the same basic premise: giving you early access to the money you earned, without saddling you with a painful assortment of fees. If you’ve had to rely on borrowing money in the past when funds are tight, these could be a better alternative to credit cards or payday loans.

The post 4 Companies That Help You Get Your Paycheck Early appeared first on MagnifyMoney.

A New Credit Bureau Is Opening & It’s All About Payday Loans

new-credit-reporting

As federal regulators continue efforts to rein in the payday loan industry, one surprising byproduct will likely be the creation of a new kind of credit bureau.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has proposed new rules dealing with short-term, high-interest loans like title and payday loans. These mainly focus on preventing consumers from getting trapped in a cycle of repeat borrowing. But perhaps the most ambitious part of the plan is the requirement that lenders report loan payment results to… to what?

Traditionally, the nation’s large credit bureaus haven’t taken data on payday loans, title loans, and other similar short-term products. That means borrowers who pay them back on a timely basis don’t get the credit they deserve; and it makes it harder for them to “graduate” to more traditional loan products.

So the CFPB has called for creation of a new kind of credit reporting agency – and given them the decidedly un-sexy moniker, “Registered Information System.” But to borrowers trying to show they are worthy of credit, an RIS might sound just right.

Credit Can Be Hard to Come By

“Every time a consumer pays off a loan of any kind, their opportunity grows,” said Greg Rable, CEO of a firm named FactorTrust.  His company already collects and sells data on short-term loan borrowers, and it hopes to be one of the main Registered Information Service players when the CFPB rule is finalized. “Inclusion of alternative credit data is critical to both parties. We’ve seen people improve their credit scores – at every scoring level — by having alternative credit data available in the underwriting process. More data is better for both the consumer and the lender.”

The CFPB proposed its new short-term lending rules this spring, and what’s expected to be a cantankerous public comment period ends in October. After that, a final rule will be published perhaps a year later. The rules are likely to require that lenders examine borrowers’ “ability to repay” the loans, perhaps by forcing lenders to know more about their consumers’ debt and income status. A Registered Information Service, like a credit bureau, could be the source of such data to lenders. In turn, an RIS would also give borrowers a chance to build up a history of making good on debts. On the other hand, it might also make life harder for consumers who have failed to pay back loans in a timely way. And it creates another data stream for consumers to worry about.

A Wider Net

Efforts have been underway for years to expand the number of consumers who have credit scores and credit reports, so they can participate in the credit economy. Last year, the CFPB found that one out of 10 U.S. adults is “invisible” to the credit industry because of either non-existent or “thin” credit files.

Many would benefit from inclusion of a wider set of criteria in setting credit scores, the industry has argued. For example, in 2015, Experian released a study showing that inclusion of non-traditional credit items like utility payments would lift millions of consumers out of subprime status. It also found that including rent payment history would lift 20% of consumers out of subprime status.

Whether the RISs would help people build traditional credit remains to be seen — and could be a long-time coming, given all the parties, including the major credit scoring models and main bureaus, that would have to get on board. But their reports could make it easier for credit-challenged consumers to get a better rate on a payday loan. (To see where your traditional credit currently stands, you can view two of your credit scores for free each month on Credit.com.)

The Difficulties With Data Collection

Collecting payment data from short-term lenders is a big task. For starters, the industry moves fast.  Borrowers often have as little as two weeks to repay loans, so performance data must be compiled quickly – close to real-time, Rable said. Traditionally, credit bureaus receive monthly updates from data “furnishers” like lenders, but that would be too slow for a payday lender who might be considering a loan to a consumer who took out another one just days earlier.

Rable said he’s also worried that small lenders who don’t have systems in place will suddenly be faced with complex reporting requirements; they might have to send data to 5 or even 10 different outlets, he said.

“For a lot of these guys, this will be a brand new thing,” he said.  “For big banks, they report to one or two big credit bureaus.  …Our view is the fewer the better on the RIS side to deal with the complexity.”

Consumers will face complexity, too. Each RIS will have to develop a dispute process, for example. It’s possible consumers might have to complain about errors to each system individually – once they even discover the existence of an RIS that’s holding negative information on them. Already, disputes are a big source of headaches in the traditional credit bureaus.

While Gable favors use of more data in the short-term lending industry, he said the verdict is out on how the new CFPB rules might impact both lenders and borrowers.

“It’s yet to be determined if this is good for consumers and the industry,” he said. “Initially, it’s going to be a very big challenge for the industry.”

Image: sturti

The post A New Credit Bureau Is Opening & It’s All About Payday Loans appeared first on Credit.com.

11 States Where $1 Goes the Farthest

how_to_stretch_a_dollar

A dollar isn’t always a dollar, as a recent report makes clear. Sometimes it’s $1.15. Other times it’s less than 85 cents, and it all boils down to where you live.

That’s the finding of the Bureau of Economic Analysis, which published in July its report for 2014 prices for household consumption across the country. Your dollar will go a lot farther — 30% farther, in fact — in states like Mississippi and Arkansas than it will in places like Washington, D.C., and Hawaii.

The states where your dollar (rounded to the nearest cent) is worth the most are:

1. Mississippi ($1.15)

2. Arkansas ($1.14)

3. Alabama ($1.14)

4. South Dakota ($1.14)

5. Kentucky ($1.13)

6. West Virginia ($1.12)

7. Ohio ($1.12)

8. Missouri ($1.12)

9. Oklahoma ($1.11)

10. Tennessee ($1.11)

11. Iowa ($1.11)

In all, the cost of living in 35 states was below the national average, the report showed. The Tax Foundation used the numbers to create a map showing a comparison of the value of $100 in each state across the country:

Screen Shot 2016-08-09 at 9.43.59 AM

The areas where your dollar is worth the least are the District of Columbia (85 cents), Hawaii (86 cents), New York (86 cents), New Jersey (87 cents), and California (89 cents).

Methodology

The BEA used regional price parities (RPPs) calculated by using price quotes for a wide variety of items related to food, transportation and education, and compared that to the national average. So, if the RPP for area A is found to be 120 and for area B it is 90, then on average, prices are 20% higher and 10% lower than the U.S. average for A and B, respectively.

If the personal income for area A is $12,000 and for area B is $9,000, then RPP-adjusted incomes are $10,000 ($12,000/1.20) and $10,000 ($9,000/0.90), respectively. In other words, the purchasing power of the two incomes is equivalent when adjusted by their respective RPPs.

Stretch Your Dollars — Wherever You Live

Regardless of where you live, credit card debt can be one of the most difficult things to overcome in trying to get ahead financially. Having a high balance on your cards will hurt your credit score, and it can be extremely challenging to break the spending habits that got you into debt in the first place.

Having a poor credit score won’t make you a credit exile — for instance, there are some credit cards for people with bad credit — but it can make your finances more challenging. One of the best ways to improve your credit while tackling debt is to prioritize making payments on time and reducing spending, so you can chip away at your credit card debt rather than add to it.

Paying off your credit card debt may also help you save money. The sooner you pay it off, the less you’re going to pay in interest and can save over time. (You can read this guide for tips on getting out of debt.)

Paying down debt will also improve your credit score. You run the risk of damaging your credit if you are in too much debt and can’t keep up with payments. To see how your debts and spending habits are affecting your finances, you can view your free credit report summary, updated each month, on Credit.com.

Image: Cathy Yeulet

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