Consumer Credit

Housing & HomeownershipCredit CardsMedical DebtStudent Loans

Housing & Homeownership

Does renting or leasing a home affect my credit score?
Rent payments were not previously reported to credit bureaus, but that is slowly changing. Check with your property management company to see if they can report your rent payments to demonstrate good credit. Learn more about building credit history through rental payments here: http://www.experian.com/rentbureau/rental-payment.html

I want to buy a home one day! How will my credit affect my ability to qualify for a mortgage?
Credit is an important factor for most mortgage lenders. Your credit score can determine whether or not you are approved for a loan. It will also affect the interest rate and types of loans that are available to you. Building a healthy credit score before shopping for a home loan could save you lots of money in interest over the course of a mortgage!

Is it a bad idea to shop around for the best interest rate on a mortgage or loan?
It is true that, if you make too many loan applications, you could negatively impact your credit score. However, it is reasonable in large-item purchasing to shop for the best rate. Most credit scores recognize this and count multiple applications for one item in a short period of time (usually within a month) as only one inquiry. In such cases, shopping around will have little or no impact on your credit score. This applies to shopping for a mortgage, an auto or even a major appliance.

Credit Cards

What do I need to know about choosing a credit card?
First, make sure you are ready to manage a credit card responsibly: You are committed to not charging more each month than you can hope to pay when the bill arrives. Then shop carefully. You will get many attractive looking offers. Give first consideration to credit cards offered by your bank or credit union or other reputable companies with whom you’ve done business. Consider the long-term interest rate offered; don’t be swayed simply by a low introductory rate that is part of a promotion. Find out whether you will have to pay any annual fees (even if you don’t use the card), what limitations for use go with the card, and what reward programs, if any, could be meaningful and helpful to you. For example, if you love to travel, you may select a credit card that has an airlines rewards program associated with it.

Does having too many credit cards affect a credit score?
Having too many credit cards with either high balances or large amounts of credit available can negatively impact credit scores, depending on your overall credit history. For a healthy credit profile, avoid applying for and opening too many credit card accounts, and keep your outstanding balance below 30% of your available credit limit. Most consumers need no more than two major credit cards

Medical Debt

DoctorsI found several medical collections on my credit report! Help! What can I do?
First, you are not alone. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) about half of the collection accounts that appear on consumer credit reports are medical.[1] Many people who have never had any credit issues find themselves struggling to address medical bills.

Medical billing is complicated, often involving insurance companies and creditors in addition to the patient. This can cause errors and confusion over who owes what. It’s important to save documentation of medical care and procedures in an organized fashion so you can review the original documents if you find such a collection on your report. You want to know for sure what you owed and what was someone else’s responsibility, as well as exactly what you have paid. Definitely dispute accounts that you believe to be erroneous and follow up to make sure the dispute is resolved in the required amount of time. For the bills you do owe, immediately formulate a plan to pay the debt in a lump sum or through a payment plan.

How will medical debt affect my credit score?
Fortunately, due to the large numbers of people who have medical collections, credit scoring models are now starting to weigh medical collections, especially those that have been paid in full, less heavily than other debt. Now, this doesn’t mean that you can ignore these accounts: Make sure to pull your credit report regularly, especially if you have had several recent medical bills. In addition, credit bureaus are now required to wait 180 days before listing any delinquent medical debt on a credit report. This change was made to allow enough time to sort out who owes what.

How do I make sure that medical bills don’t go into collections?
Pay small, manageable bills as soon as they arrive and follow up with your insurance company to make sure they have paid their anticipated share. For larger bills, talk to the medical provider about payment options, financial aid, and other ways to ensure that your account stays current. Do not ignore medical bills, especially those that seem overwhelming.

Student Loans

How do student loans affect my credit?
Just like any other credit account, student loans will be factored into your credit profile and score. As long as you are making your required payments on time, your student loans should not affect your credit score in a negative way. If you have high amounts of debt and your payments become unmanageable, talk to your lender immediately about different options available to you, such as: consolidation, income-based repayment plans, temporary deferment and others. Deferring your student loans or negotiating a new repayment plan will not hurt your credit score, but defaulting on your payments will.

What is the difference between federal and private student loans?
Federal student loans are funded by the government, while private student loans are funded by banks, credit unions and other lenders. Both federal and private student loans will affect your credit report similarly, depending on your repayment history. Federal student loans may offer more options for repayment and even forgiveness options, as well as more flexible terms that private student loans might not offer. For more information about student loans visit this website: https://studentaid.ed.gov/.

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