How Healthy Is Your Credit?

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There’s only one way to discover the “health?of your credit. You need to examine your credit
report. Your credit report is your “consumer identity?that potential lenders will use to judge your credit worthiness.

There’s only one way to discover the “health?of your credit. You need to examine your credit report. Your credit report is your “consumer identity?that potential lenders will use to judge your credit worthiness.

Use these tips to give your credit profile the “tune-up?it needs:

Tip #1- Check for Errors
Your credit report or profile is more than just a collection of who your creditors are and how much you owe them or have paid them.

The first thing you need to do is carefully check that your credit report is accurate. Nearly 70% of credit reports contain errors.

These errors may be as simple as an incorrect middle initial or address. Or it could be as serious as a creditor reporting that you were late with a payment when in fact you were not late at all.

This error might not seem like a big deal to you. However,to a future lender like a mortgage company it makes a big difference !

Carefully examine your credit report and if you find an error contact your creditor and the credit bureaus. Catchand correct these errors now before it hurts your chances of securing credit in the future.

Tip #2 – Correcting Errors
The two most common errors contained in credit reports are:

1) wrong account information
2) incorrect recording of late payments.

If you find an account reported that does not belong you, you need to contact the credit grantor or issuer immediately. Remember, finding accounts that you have not personally opened is a sign of possible identity theft.

Hopefully you’ll discover that this error is nothing more than an oversight and not an identity theft problem. Most often this occurs when they report an account belonging to a family member or someone with a similar name on your credit report.

If your problem is an error in reporting a late payment you will need proof to back up your case before this error can be corrected or removed. The most common error occurs when a payment is reported as “late?when it was actually a current or “on time?payment.

In either case, the problem can and should be corrected. You will need to correct the error in writing. Keep a journal or log of all calls and correspondence.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires the credit bureaus and the agency reporting the information to the credit bureau to correct inaccurate information in your credit report. Therefore, it is important that you contact both the credit bureau and the creditor whose information is in dispute.

A sample letter is included here to help you in correcting your credit profile. Make sure that you clearly identify the information that you dispute, include copies of receipts or documents that support your position. Then request that the information be corrected or deleted from your file.

Send your letter by certified mail and request a return receipt from the recipient. Keep all correspondence that you mail out. Give the agencies involved 30 days to begin their investigation. You can call them but be aware that phoning them does not protect your consumer rights! You must notify them in writing to protect your rights.

They must notify you of the results of their investigation. Although the process will take time, it’s important to do it. This is your credit profile, your “consumer identity?that is at stake. Don’t expect an error to correct itself.

At your request, the credit bureaus must send notices of corrections to your credit profile to anyone who has requested your report in the last six months. If you applied for a job and were turned down because of inaccurate information in your credit report, you can have the corrected report mailed to anyone who received a copy in the past two years.

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Sample Dispute Letter
Date

Your Name
Your Address
Your City, State, Zip Code

Complaint Department
Name of Credit Reporting Agency
Address
City, State, Zip Code

Dear Sir or Madam:

I am writing to dispute the following information in my file. The items I dispute are also encircled on the attached copy of the report I received. (Identify item(s) disputed by name of source, such as creditors or tax court, and identify type of item, such as credit account, judgment, etc.)

This item is (inaccurate or incomplete) because (describe what is inaccurate or incomplete and why). I am requesting that the item be deleted (or request another specific change) to correct the information.

Enclosed are copies of (use this sentence if applicable and describe any enclosed documentation, such as payment records, court documents) supporting my position. Please reinvestigate this (these) matter(s) and (delete or correct) the disputed item(s) as soon as possible.

Sincerely,
Your name

Enclosures: (List what you are enclosing)

Originally Posted at http://www.ftc.gov/

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Tip #3 – Budget Planning
You can also use your credit report to help you plan and implement a personal budget. Your credit report will show you where you are spending your hard earned dollars. While the credit card balances may not be completely current, you’ll still see which of your cards has the highest balance outstanding.

If you have more than one major credit card you should compare the annual percentage rate (APR) you are paying on each account. If you are working on a budget to “pay
down?your credit cards, start by paying down the one with the highest APR or interest.

Once that credit account is paid off, move toward paying off the account with the second highest APR. Using this method you will be able to concentrate your efforts toward paying down your outstanding credit obligations.

You should also check with your credit card company to see what’s the best annual percentage rate (APR) they can offer you. If you are a good customer, you can often qualify for a lower rate than what you are currently being offered.

Caution: Ask if the new rate you are getting is a “promotional?rate or a “contract?rate. A promotional rate will expire at the end of the promotional term, for example 6 months. A contract rate does not have an “expiration?as long as you continue to meet the terms outlined by your creditor for that rate.

Tip #4 – Making a major purchase
If you are considering a major purchase such as a car or a home, checking your credit report gives you the chance to see what a potential lender sees and uses to judge your credit worthiness.

You want to make sure that your credit report is accurate before you apply for that sports car or new home. Errors or problems can be corrected before your lender can use
those against you and deny your credit request. You’ll also have a better idea of what type or rate of credit you should expect from a potential lender.

Tip #5 – Check your credit report regularly
Check your credit report regularly. Guard your “consumer identity?as you would anything else you treasure. Use your credit wisely, along with these tips, and you will enjoy the benefits that your good credit and your good name deserve now – and for years to come.

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High Interest Credit Cards: Quick Tips

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Those of you who want to apply for major high interest credit cards to re establish or just to establish new credit should consider the price that they will ultimately pay, including interest, yearly fees, etc…

high interest credit cards

Most of the high interest credit cards are usually pretty easy to get and really the high interest rate only matters if you are going to roll over your balances from month to month. People that have been involved in bankruptcies, judgments or have a bad credit score, for some other reason are the most common applicants for these high interest credit cards. It might be possible to lower your interest charges with credit card balance transfers. If you are looking to consolidate all your debts or you just want to pay off your high interest credit cards, apply for a card that offers a low rate on balance transfers.

Those of you who want to apply for a major high interest credit card to re establish or just to establish new credit should consider the price that they will ultimately pay, including interest, yearly fees, etc… Those who have good credit may qualify for credit cards that offer a 0 percent interest rate on balance transfers for a full year, but be aware, if you make a payment late, you might end up paying higher interest than before you transferred your balance. A recent FDIC study revealed that the overwhelming rise in bankruptcy rates (up 400 percent in the last 25 years) is directly related to banking de-regulation and the use of high-interest credit cards.

Many credit cards can have interest rates, 15, 19 and even 24 percent or higher.?At these very high interest rates you are paying a lot of money in interest. If you are in a bind and missing payments, many credit card companies might agree to reduce your debt on a credit card dramatically if the borrower is able to pay off the balance rather than continue to miss payments, so it might be worth contacting a debt expert to negotiate on your behalf. If you have a good credit score, one way of paying all of your high interest credit card balances, is to take out a debt consolidation loan, which will mean that you can pay off all of your credit cards with one lower interest loan, possibly saving you quite a bit of money.

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5 Simple Ways To Lower Your Monthly Bills ?And Save Lots Of Money!

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Here you’re going to learn several ways to save money every month by lowering your monthly bills.

There are lots of ways to save money, no matter how much of it you have – or don’t have!

Having struggled for many years paying my own bills, I learned many ways to save money. From simple things like food, gas, and clothing, to bigger expenses, like insurance and your mortgage.

All you need to know is where to look to find the savings.

Several Ways To Save Money

save money, get out of debt, monthly bills

Here you’re going to learn several ways to save money every month by lowering your monthly bills.

There are lots of ways to save money, no matter how much of it you have – or don’t have!

Having struggled for many years paying my own bills, I learned many ways to save money. From simple things like food, gas, and clothing, to bigger expenses, like insurance and your mortgage.

All you need to know is where to look to find the savings.

Several Ways To Save Money

The first thing you need to do is eliminate ALL of your unnecessary expenses:

?eating out on the weekends
?buying lunch at work every day
?magazine and newspaper subscriptions (especially those you can get online and at the local library)
?cable TV (you’d be amazed at how many other ways you’ll find to spend your time once you get rid of cable TV)
?groceries (you can save lots of money with coupons and specials.)

It’s OK to reward yourself once in a while, but if you are really looking to get out of debt faster, you owe it to yourself to save every single penny you can!

To find other ways to reduce your expenses, take a close look at your checkbook and credit card statements. You should also call your credit card companies to see if they will lower your interest rates, even if it is only for a short time.

You’ll be amazed at how many ways you can save money, especially once you start looking carefully at how you spend your money every month.

Shop Around For The Lowest Prices

For those expenses you can’t eliminate, it’s time to start shopping around for the best prices.

Once I realized you can shop around for just about ANYTHING you spend money on every month, I learned how to save myself SEVERAL HUNDRED DOLLARS each and every month!

In fact, by shopping around I ended up saving myself more than $750 a year on car insurance alone!

The same is true of many of your monthly expenses – like long distance telephone service, internet service, all types of insurance, mortgages, and in some places even your utility bills.

It DOESN’T take any special skills. All it takes is a few clicks and you can save yourself a bunch of money in no time at all!

So, if you’d like to save yourself lots of money every month – and who doesn’t – start shopping around and looking for ways to lower your monthly bills right away!

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You’re Being Forced To Make Higher Payments

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Consumers already burdened by higher energy costs are being saddled with another drain on their finances : higher minimum credit card payments.

The higher minimum credit card payments are the result of January 2003 guidelines issued by the Federal Reserve, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Office of Thrift Supervision. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, or OCC, regulates national banks and is concerned t…

credit cards,debt,bankruptcy

Consumers already burdened by higher energy costs are being saddled with another drain on their finances : higher minimum credit card payments.

The higher minimum credit card payments are the result of January 2003 guidelines issued by the Federal Reserve, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Office of Thrift Supervision. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, or OCC, regulates national banks and is concerned that many cardholders have credit card debts that will take decades to pay back. To prevent this problem, these regulatory agencies proposed that, by the end of 2005, credit card issuers establish reasonable periods for paying back balances, such as a seven- to ten-year payback or amortization period

Card issuers were supposed to adopt the raised minimum payments by the end of 2003. The federal regulatory agencies acted after years of seeing credit card issuers lower minimum payments because of “competitive pressures and a desire to preserve outstanding balances.” Credit card lending consistently yields greater profits for large bank issuers than other services, Federal Reserve data show. But these profits could decrease if consumers pay off debt faster or default on payments, leading to debt write-offs.

The agencies expressed alarm that some banks were setting minimum credit card payments at levels that did not even cover interest. These were seen as predatory lending practices targeting low-income and financially naive consumers. The result was predictable: consumer debt load surged. Consumers were being encouraged to accumulate debts they could not service, resulting in high levels of default and bankruptcy.

Before the new government guidelines were issued, many banks required only 2% of outstanding balance to be paid off each month. For example, take the case of a credit card with $10,000 of debt and an 18% interest rate. Almost 58 years would pass before this debt was completely paid off, assuming the cardholder stuck to the minimum payment each month, according to Bankrate.com’s credit card calculator. Total interest paid during that time would be almost three times the original debt, or $28,931. Now, the same cardholder paying 4% of outstanding balance each month would pay back the debt in a more reasonable 15 years and would pay only $5,916 in interest.

In recent years, banks have also raised the charges for cash advances, late payments or spending over the credit limit, helping push more consumers further into debt. These latest changes target credit card holders who don’t pay their bills in full at the end of each month. A 2005 survey by the American Bankers Association (ABA) showed that 43% of consumers carry a balance on their cards.

Nearly three years after regulators said minimum monthly payments should let cardholders pay off debt in a “reasonable period of time,” most banks finally acted. The majority of the top 10 credit card issuers raised their minimum payments in 2005, in most cases, during the last quarter.

Regulators encouraged banks to adjust their minimum payments by the end of 2005. The banks’ delayed response to the January 2003 guidelines caused consumers to be hit with higher credit card bills during the 2005 Christmas season. The increase was combined with a new bankruptcy law which has made it more difficult to erase debt with a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. More consumers are now allowed to declare only Chapter 13, which forces them to repay their debts on a fixed schedule.

Banks say the delay was caused by the time it took to update systems in accordance with the regulators’ instructions. “These are not simple changes,” stated Alan Elias, a spokesman for Washington Mutual. Still, most banks were in compliance at the end of 2005.

Contrary to some rumors, regulators did not require minimum payments to be raised by a fixed amount. However, they said payments should cover fees and finance charges, plus 1% of principal. Some card holders are seeing their minimum payment double, to 4% of the balance from 2%. On a $10,000 balance, payment could rise from $200 to $400.

In the long run, the change is healthy for consumers, since it forces them to pay off credit cards more quickly. Until now, some of the banks charged minimums which did not even cover the interest owed, so debt would just keep growing, resulting in more indebtedness by consumers. But initially, consumers not prepared for the higher payments can experience financial hardship, especially those with lower incomes.

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Balance Transfer – This card is not like the other

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How to use a credit card balance transfer to suits some of your needs and save some money.

Balance transfers, balance transfer, APR, teaser rate,

As another way to get your business, many card issuers offer balance transfers. This can give you some leverage as a consumer and a opportunity to save some interest. Most credit cards offer a 0% APR for 6 to 12 months with no transfer fees. This is sometimes referred to as the teaser rate.

A balance transfer can be a good way for a you to consolidate debt. You can take your outstanding balance on one or two or more cards and transfer it to a card with a lower rate. Once approved, you would have all your payables on one credit card and essentially had taken two or more interest rates and transformed them into one lower rate.

If you want to carry on a balance, look for the credit card that offers the best interest rate or the annual fee offer. However, if you intend to pay for the credit every month, then look on the one that offers the lowest interest rate. Take note of the new rate after the introductory offer is over. Is it going to higher than what your have now? Are there any other fees involved? Make sure. Also does the introductory offer apply to balance transfers and purchases?

You can choose the credit card that offers the lowest annual percentage rate (APR). APR’s could either be a “fixed” or a “variable” rate. Fixed rates do not change as the name implies but is higher. Variable rates changes depending on the economic trends. I usually avoid anything that’s variable but you should explore your own options carefully. This is to be taken into consideration if you’re deciding on carrying a balance and for how long.

Other factors involved in your decision for a balance transfer might be the rewards (reward points)or cash back a card offers. You may want to look into something you purchase often, like airline miles or gas rebates if you drive more than usual. Other cards even offer cash back for paying home utilities and mortgage, like the Citi?Home Rebate Platinum Select?MasterCard? There is much competition for your money and if you take time to explore your options, you can turn some disadvantages on your present credit card balance back your way.

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Avoiding High Interest

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Frequent flier credit cards are a unique way for consumers to reward themselves wile spending money.

Avoiding High Interest

Frequent flier credit cards are a unique way for consumers to reward themselves while spending money.

There is, however, a hefty price to pay for spending while earning-interest rates average 16.99 percent on airline mileage credit card balances.

As consumers look for alternative choices to managing debt, the inevitable hunt for a low-rate balance transfer begins. Innovative companies such as E*TRADE FINANCIAL are making it easier for consumers to transfer their balances to a low-rate card while preserving their ability to earn rewards on the card of their choice.

Instead of the standard one-time balance transfer, the E*TRADE Mileage Maximizer Account is an automated balance transfer system that allows customers to transfer their balances on higher rate credit cards to a lower rate credit card each and every month. Low-rate credit products like these allow consumers to reduce the interest paid on balances, paving the way for effective debt management.

So celebrate the rewards you get from your airline mileage credit cards-take that trip, upgrade your seat or turn the miles into a charitable gift. But be smart-don’t pay for those benefits with an exorbitant interest rate and manage the balances you are carrying down to a low interest rate.

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Finding The Right Credit Card

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Some people feel loyal to certain credit card companies, it’s only natural when you’ve had them for so long, but why not see if they can offer you a better card?

find the right credit card

I remember the lecture my mother gave me a few weeks before my first day of college. She sat me down and said, “I have something important to tell you.” Right about then is when I rolled my eyes and braced for the, “Young men are the devil’s spawn and should not be trusted,” and the, “You are going to a place where there will be great temptations,” speech. What I got was not really a lecture, but a talk about how it was time to start building my credit.

I really never gave that topic much thought. I always thought that getting a credit card was for grown ups, and Lord knows I didn’t quite feel like a grown up at the time. She told me I should start thinking about applying for a credit card. She also warned me if I did so, she would NOT bail me out if I started charging up the world. That alone scared me. I had a full time job, but what if I couldn’t handle the payments? What if I went temporarily insane, and decided to charge everything I could. It was too much for me, and I told her, I didn’t want to hear any more nonsense about me getting a credit card.

She of course persisted for the next two weeks, and I finally told her that I would look into it. I then asked the million dollar question, “How do I find the one that is best for me?” She blank stared me. Then she blink. Then she shrugged her shoulders and said, “I don’t know, that’s your problem.” Cue the crickets.

So there I was, eighteen in 1992, trying to get a credit card, but not knowing where to start. Luckily on the fist day of classes, I was in the school book store and found an ad for a student credit card. Without giving it much thought, I applied and to this day I still have a card from that company. Was that the best way of going about it? Probably not. I suppose if I did the research I could have found a card with a better interest rate, or a better limit.

Now days, the internet has changed the way people research topics. I’ve found the best way to find a good product is to find a site that helps you compare similar products side by side. Are you interested in credit cards that offer airline rewards? How about credit cards that offer hotel and travel rewards? Maybe you are just looking for the credit card that would be right for your business, or one with low interest rates. There are even credit cards for poor credit.

Some people feel loyal to certain credit card companies, it’s only natural when you’ve had them for so long, but why not see if they can offer you a better card? Your time is precious and getting the best credit card for you is important to your lifestyle.

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Say “Bah, Humbug!” To Holiday Debt: Avoid the “Holiday Hangover”

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Avoid the post holiday blues by learning tips and tricks to reign in your holiday spending.

holiday season,finances,gifts,purchases,spending,money,credit cards,Christmas,Thanksgiving,budget,gift wrap,cards,expenses,debt

Ah, the holiday season! Turkey and dressing, pumpkin pie, office parties, jingle bells, and lots and lots of eggnog make the season a delight. But all fun and reindeer games aside, you have to be careful to make sure you don’t wind up as poor as Tiny Tim! Americans can spend as much as $1,000 a year on gifts for family, friends and business associates. That is a big chunk of money that can hit you pretty hard come January if you don’t plan ahead. There are some tips and tricks you can do to keep your holidays bright and debt-free this year.

Before the holidays arrive, do some careful plotting and planning for family and business expenses. A few hours spent in preparation can mean less money spent on gifts. You don’t have to be Scrooge, you just have to be smart.

1) Decide how much you are willing to spend, and stick to it. Pretend you are spending cash. How much can you afford out of pocket this month? If you cannot afford it right now, consider that you cannot afford it at all.

2) Budget non-gift and after-Christmas items too. Remember to include other things you buy over the holidays – cards, stamps, candles, a tree, decorations, and food galore. Plus, plan ahead to save some money for next year by taking advantage of after Christmas sales. It is all part of your holiday spending, so plan for it in your holiday budget.

3) Make a list of everyone you will be buying gifts for and estimate how much you want to spend on each person. Include the smaller gifts for teachers or your mailman. Include the price of cards and stamps, because Christmas cards count as gifts when it comes to your budget. Then, add it up and compare the total to your budgeted amount. Make the necessary adjustments. Your brother-in-law may only get socks this year.

4) Cut down your list. This may sound harsh, but look closely at who you are buying gifts for. When saving money is an issue, it is ok not to give gifts to everyone you know. Send only cards to distant relatives, neighbors you don’t know well and business owners who haven’t bought from you this year.

5) Be creative. Determine if some people would be happy to receive home baked cookies. Remember, the holidays aren’t about presents but about good will towards man. Good will comes in many forms and does not always need wrapping paper. If you have a skill or a hobby, use it: needlework, knitting, art or poems. Make a photo album, or offer to plant their garden. Use discount coupons for your customers.

6) Carry your shopping list with you. Take every opportunity to shop. Start early and try to get things before the rush, before highly sought, hard-to-find items go up in price, and before you can’t find what you need. This gives you a chance to comparison shop. It also takes away some of the stress and reduces your risk of overspending just for the sake of finishing your shopping.

7) If a store offers free gift-wrap, go for it! It’ll save you time and money on buying wrapping paper, tape, bows, and cards and struggling with it all yourself.

8) Have willpower. Stick to your estimates and you won’t go over budget. eBay is a wonderful shopping tool if you remember to start early enough to account for shipping time. Find the right item, bid your budget price and leave it. If someone outbids you, don’t get into a bidding war, just bid on something else within your price range.

9) Increase your income for the season. During the holidays there are lots of ways to make a little extra money. Many stores hire part-time workers for the holidays. Since it is a party season, babysitting is in high demand. Be imaginative. You could be the Official Gift Wrapper in your neighborhood and wrap gifts for friends and neighbors for a small fee.

10) Use your credit cards. Yes! If you stick to your budget and only spend what you are able to pay for in the next 30 days, then yes, you CAN use credit cards. The key is to use them as you would cash. Using your credit card is not a way to buy things you can’t afford, it is a way to organize your spending and possibly get some rewards and discounts along the way.

11) Make the credit card companies compete for your business. It may be the holidays, but you can dig in your heels and play hardball. Call your credit card bank and tell them you won’t be using their card for your holiday purchases unless they sweeten it up for you. You want a little sugar and spice to make using that card a better deal. You can ask for 0% interest, double your gas points or flyer miles. Anything to make using your credit card more worthwhile. Banks will usually be willing to strike a deal with you, so long as you try. It can’t hurt to ask.

12) Use specialized credit cards, but carefully. Many of the stores where you will be buying your holiday gifts offer their own credit cards. They tend to have ridiculously high interest rates. However, they may give you discounts of 10%, 15%, sometimes even 20%! So, you could actually go ahead and use a store credit card to make the purchases and get the discounts, since you are paying these off when the bill comes due the interest rates should not be a problem. If you do get into a pinch and can’t pay them off right away, then transfer your balance to your lower-rate credit card before any interest is added to the higher-rate one. You need to be on the ball with this trick, but it may save you money.

It is important to keep in mind that every new credit card you apply for will lower your credit score. So if you’re saving up for a mortgage or a large loan, you’ll want to avoid applying for additional credit.

Come the start of January, your main concern is going to be getting ready for the new year, and you won’t want post-holiday money troubles making things worse. The Ghost of Christmas Past starts visiting even before you put the tree in the trash. Be sure to have a Happy New Year by being money-wise in advance.

(c) 2005 DebtGuru.com(r). This article may be freely distributed as long as the signature file and active link are included.

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Credit Cards For People With Bad Credit- Facts

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Credit cards for bad credit are certainly not going to be the best credit deals, but credit cards for people with bad credit might the only options available.

credit cards for people with bad credit, credit cards for bad credit, bad credit credit cards

Credit cards for bad credit are certainly not going to be the best credit deals, but credit cards for people with bad credit might be your only option available. The interest on credit cards for people with bad credit are usually much higher than on a regular credit card. These types of credit cards are especially designed for people with a bad credit history and don’t qualify for a regular credit card. If you are a young person just starting to build credit, or if you’ve had circumstances that has damaged your credit history, you usually can qualify for credit cards for bad credit.

Bad Credit Deals

Bad credit, credit card deals are readily available online with easy, secure applications. Bad credit deals are often divided into secured credit cards for bad credit that need a deposit and bad credit unsecured credit cards, a bad credit card with much higher fees. These types of bad credit offers people with a poor credit score or no previous credit history a quick and easy way to re-gain a good credit history with bad credit cards. If you keep your credit balance under the limit and make your payments on time, you’ll become eligible for much better deals on your credit card rates and improve your credit score.

Interest

There are many temptations by having credit cards and while using bad credit cards to hold you over in tight situations, remember it is only temporary relief as the interest rates on credit cards for bad credit are extremely high. Shop around and look for credit cards for bad credit with an interest rate that you are absolutely sure you will be able to pay. Probably the single most important part of picking credit cards is the interest rate, especially for people who will be rolling over balances from month to month.

Tips

A person must always keep in mind that credit cards for bad credit are very easy to use so don’t go overboard or you might find yourself in a much worse situation. Check out the interest rates and fees before you start applying for credit cards for bad credit. Don’t apply for every bad credit card there is as this will effect your credit score, only choose two of the best bad credit deals you can find.

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