Category Archives: credit score

Five Tips to Increase Your Credit Score Quickly

tips to improve your credit score
In order to qualify for certain mortgage and loan products, a minimum credit score is essential. Even if your score is sufficient to qualify, you might find the rates being offered will be lower than if you had a higher score.

Having worked with thousands of personal credit histories over the years, we have developed some strategies that sometimes give you that much needed quick score boostsort of like jumper cables for credit!

tips to improve your credit scoreHere are a few scenarios this might help with:

  • You are being pre-approved for a mortgage, but your bank or broker remark your score is too low and you don’t qualify.
  • You want to qualify for a mortgage AND a home equity line of credit (HELOC), but your lender says you need a higher score to get both.
  • You are working with a mortgage broker who is arranging a mortgage with a B-lender for you. She tells you that your interest rate will be lower if your Equifax Fico score is over 680.

And it’s not just about homeownership…

  • You are preparing your pitch to prospective landlords. These days, that often includes your credit report. Your chances will be better if your score is in the 700s or even 800s.
  • You want to apply for a personal line of credit or a high-end personal credit card, but your score is too low.

1. Use The Optimal Utilization Strategy

When maximizing your personal credit score, you should look at your utilization of available credit for each individual credit facility. By this I mean what percentage of your available credit is the balance being reported?

Percentage utilization can have a significant impact on your personal credit score. Equifax Canada states utilization has a 30% weighting on your personal credit score.

Optimal Utilization Strategy for credit scoreOne scenario: maybe a furniture store or a home improvement store offered you “don’t pay for one year.” The balance you are carrying on this card might be relatively small, but if it’s at or over the actual card limit, this is dragging down your personal credit score. Consider paying it off now!

Another scenario: suppose you have three credit cards, each with a limit of $10,000.

And let’s say one card has a balance owing of $9,900 and the other two have zero balances. This might happen because you are trying to earn rewards on one particular card, or maybe you said yes to a balance transfer promotional offer.

Chances are your credit score is lower than if the usage was spread across the three cards equallyi.e., each with a balance owing of $3,300, or 33% of the limit.

Overall, your usage remains unchanged, but now you no longer have an individual card reporting at 99% utilization.

If you can afford to cover or reduce the balance owing on the one with a balance of $9,900, you should see a nice little score boost.

2. Use the Statement Date Strategy

It may be that the best thing for you to do is simply reduce balances owing on your credit facilities. If time is of the essence, you should plan this carefully and do it in the correct order.

Gather up your most recent available statements for all relevant credit facilities. And note the day of the month when the statement was printed. Most of the time it’s the balance on that statement date that is being reported to the credit bureau.

And give or take a day, it is safe to assume that same day of the following month is when the next statement will be issued.

So, plan your payments accordingly. And allow several business days for online payments to process in time. If you are paying a credit card issued by your own bank, you should see transfer payments being processed either instantly or overnight.

3. Pay It Down and Keep It Down

pay down your debtThis is especially important when your limits are not very large. Suppose you are a model citizen who uses her credit card frequently, and pays the balance in full every month after receiving the monthly statement, and before the due date.

That is the “correct way” to manage your credittaking advantage of the grace period you are given by all card issuers.

But these days, there is little benefit to trying to use up the entire grace period because current account interest rates are so low they are pretty much negligible. It’s far better to pay your balance in full before your statements come out. You are even more of a model citizen, and now the balance being reported to the credit bureau will always be extremely small, if anything.

4. Exercise All Dormant Credit Cards and Lines of Credit

Some people have credit facilities they never use. People tend to favour one particular credit card (maybe we like their rewards program) and we might neglect our other cards. And most of the time we don’t even need our personal line of credit.

If you are trying to maximize your credit score, it is good to use all available credit fairly regularly, even if it’s just for a nanosecond.

It will rarely be correct to close these older credit facilities since they are contributing ‘score juice.’ Equifax Canada states your history can have a 15% weighting on your personal credit score.

These credit facilities can become stale and may not be not pulling their weight on your personal credit history. Update the DLA (date of last activity) with a modest transaction and then pay it online immediately. If it’s a personal line of credit, just transfer $10 to yourself and the next day transfer back $10.50.

If you notice you have credit cards that have not seen daylight for months or years, take them to the supermarket or gas station, use them just once, and pay online right away. After the next statement these cards will report the date of last activity as the current month and year, and that may give you some much-needed points.

5. Scour & Clean All Reporting Errors

There might be some incorrect information in your personal credit history that’s needlessly dragging down your score.

A few examples include:

  • You have two or more personal profiles with the credit bureau and your information is scattered and diffused. Combining it all into one credit report could well increase your score and strengthen your look. (This often happens to people whose name is hard to spell, or who have legally changed their name).
  • Late payments being reported when it’s not you. Maybe you have a relative with the exact same name.
  • That router you returned to the cable company is showing as a collection; but in fact you returned it to the local store.
  • You completed a consumer proposal and all the debts included in the proposal should be reporting zero balances and should not carry an “R9” rating. This generally means an account has been placed for collection or is considered un-collectible.
  • There may be incorrect late paymentsEquifax Canada states payment history has a 35% weighting on your personal credit score.

Mortgage brokers can fast track an investigation with Equifax Canada for you. What might take you two months, we can get done in a few days. Keep that in mind if time is of the essence.

improving your financial healthThe Takeaway

This overview is a fairly simplistic way of looking at your personal credit report and highlights initiatives specifically intended to give your credit score a quick boost. These tips are not necessarily the same as when you are managing for optimal credit health or interest-expense minimization.

Ideally, you are working with someone who understands all the nuances and who can help you determine what your priorities should be.

Source:CanadianMortgageTrends – 
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The House passed Ayanna Pressley’s credit score reform bill. Here’s what it would do

BOSTON, MA - 01/20/2020 Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley speaks during a panel conversation at the annual MLK Memorial Breakfast Committee, the nations longest-running event honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The event hosted an audience of over 1,350 guests including business, civic, community and religious leaders.  Erin Clark / Globe Staff
Rep. Ayanna Pressley speaks during a panel conversation at the annual MLK Memorial Breakfast last week in Boston. –Erin Clark / The Boston Globe

Rep. Ayanna Pressley says she is “thrilled” that the House of Representatives passed her bill to reform the credit report system, though the legislation’s future in the Senate is unclear.

The House approved the Comprehensive Credit Reporting Enhancement, Disclosure, Innovation, and Transparency (CREDIT) Act on a mostly party-line vote Wednesday afternoon.

Pressley — who has championed often-arcane financial reform bills during her first term in Congress — says the legislation would address a “fundamentally flawed” system that can impede upward economic mobility in a country where “our credit reports are our reputations.”

“When credit reports determine where you can live, work and how much you will have to pay for everything from a car to a college degree, consumers deserve a system that ensures equity, transparency and accountability,” the Massachusetts congresswoman said in a statement. “American families are finding themselves trapped in cycles of debt, simply for trying to afford basic needs like healthcare and education.”

Pressley also made her first House floor appearance after revealing she had lost her hair due to alopecia to speak in support of the bill Wednesday.

She also later tweeted about the landmark day.

The Comprehensive CREDIT Act includes measures to make it easier for the estimated 20 percent of consumers who have a “potentially material error” on their credit report to seek corrections; limit the use of credit scores for employment purposes; expand the opportunity for student loan borrowers to improve their credit scores; restore credit to victims of predatory agencies; ban the reporting of debt incurred from “medically necessary procedures” and delay the reporting of other medical debt; shorten the time that most adverse credit information stays on a report from seven years to four years, and from 10 years to seven years in the case of a bankruptcy; and bolster the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s oversight of the industry.

According to CFPB data, the watchdog agency has received more than 326,000 complaints against credit reporting agencies since 2012, which accounts for nearly 22 percent of the total complaints filed during that time period.

According to Pressley’s office, the Comprehensive CREDIT Act comprises tenets of several other bills introduced by fellow members of the House Financial Services Committee. However, the Boston Democrat authored the student loan-focused section of the bill, which would:

  • Establish a credit rehabilitation process overseen by the CFPB for borrowers facing economic hardship to repair their credit profile.
  • Prohibit credit reporting agencies from including any information on a credit report relating to a delinquent or defaulted student loan after the borrower makes nine on-time monthly payments.
  • Provide a grace period for borrowers seeking rehabilitation but experiencing significant financial hardship or other extenuating circumstances such as certain military deployments or residing in an area impacted by a major disaster.
  • Require private lenders offering repayment plans to borrowers seeking rehabilitation to offer affordable monthly payments and additional assistance.

Student debt has become an increasing burden for students in Massachusetts. A study in 2018 found that the average debt load for Bay State graduates increased by 77 percent between 2004 and 2016, faster than in any other state in the country except Delaware. According to Pressley’s office, more than 855,000 borrowers owed a total of $33.3 billion in student debt last year in Massachusetts — and nearly 100,000 are behind on their loans.

“Even if we wipe out all student debt tomorrow, the devastating impact on consumers’ credit would remain for years to come,” Pressley said in her speech. “For that very reason, we must give folks a real chance at recovery and repair.”

The bill passed the Democrat-controlled House by a 221-to-189 margin. With the exception of two moderate Democrats who joined Republicans to vote against the legislation, the vote was divided by party lines.

For the legislation to proceed any further, Democrats will likely have to wait until at least another election. Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican-controlled Senate’s majority leader, has repeatedly ignored the hundreds of bills passed by House Democrats.

Massachusetts state lawmakers have also recently proposed new protections for student borrowers in the wake of relaxed federal oversight under President Donald Trump.

Source: Boston.com – Boston News – , January 30, 2020
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Those who think they are financially literate may be a bigger risk

Many Canadians are taking risks with their financial security and some of those that say they know better are building up higher levels of debt.

A new survey shows that 67% of respondents said that they are financially literate but when tested two thirds are not repaying credit cards in full each month (30% believe making the minimum payment stops interest charges); 72% are not saving on a regular basis; and 43% are not tracking their monthly expenses or spending habits.

The survey from loan search and comparison platform Loans Canada also reveals that 46% of respondents are ‘loan stacking’ or taking on multiple loans from several lenders for emergency funds or just to cover everyday expenses.

When arranging a loan 60% do not call the lender and 38% don’t compare lenders.

Almost half of the credit-constrained Canadians carry high-interest debt in the form of payday loans (45%) and credit cards (55%).

“The purpose of this survey was to learn more about credit-challenged Canadians and the role their financial literacy plays in the financial decisions they make.” said Loans Canada CTO Cris Ravazzano.

Source: Real Estate Professional – by Steve Randall 24 Jan 2020

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Why 4 websites give you 4 different credit scores — and none is the number most lenders actually see

These three consumers looked up their credit score on four different websites and each got four different results. (Jonathan Stainton/CBC)

The most popular credit score that lenders use in Canada can’t be accessed directly by consumers

Whether through ads or our own experiences dealing with banks and other lenders, Canadians are frequently reminded of the power of a single number, a credit score, in determining their financial options.

That slightly mysterious number can determine whether you’re able to secure a loan and how much extra it will cost to pay it back.

It can be the difference between having a credit card with a manageable interest rate or one that keeps you drowning in debt.

Not surprisingly, many Canadians want to know their score, and there are several web-based services that offer to provide it.

But a Marketplace investigation has found that the same consumer is likely to get significantly different credit scores from different websites — and chances are none of those scores actually matches the one lenders consult when deciding your financial fate.

‘That’s so strange’

We had three Canadians check their credit scores using four different services: Credit Karma and Borrowell, which are both free; and Equifax and TransUnion, which charge about $20 a month for credit monitoring, a plan that includes access to your credit score.

One of the participants was Raman Agarwal, a 58-year-old small business owner from Ottawa, who says he pays his bills on time and has little debt.

Canadian company Borrowell’s site said he had a “below average” credit score of 637. On Credit Karma, his score of 762 was labelled “very good.”

As for the paid sites, Equifax provided a “good” score of 684, while TransUnion said his 686 score was “poor.”

Agarwal was surprised by the inconsistent results.

“That’s so strange, because the scoring should be based on the same principles,” he said. “I don’t know why there’s a confusion like that.”

The other two participants also each received four different scores from the four different services. The largest gap between two scores for the same participant was 125 points.

The results when three consumers checked their credit score using four different websites. (David Abrahams/ CBC)

 

The free websites, Borrowell and Credit Karma, purchase the scores they provide to consumers from Equifax and TransUnion, respectively, yet all four companies share a different score with a different proprietary name.

Credit scores are calculated based on many factors, including payment history; credit utilization, which is how much of a loan you owe versus how much you have available to you; money owing; how long you’ve been borrowing; and the types of credit you have. But these factors can be weighted differently depending on the credit bureau or lender, resulting in different scores.

So, which credit score is giving Agarwal the clearest picture of his credit standing?

Marketplace learned that none of the scores the four websites provide is necessarily the same as the one lenders are most likely to use when determining Agarwal’s creditworthiness.

We spoke with multiple lenders in the financial, automotive and mortgage sectors, who all said they would not accept any of the scores our participants received from the four websites.

“So, we don’t know what these scores represent,” said Vince Gaetano, principal broker at MonsterMortgage.ca. “They’re not necessarily reliable from my perspective.”

All consumer credit score platforms have small fine-print messages on their sites explaining that lenders might consult a different score from the one provided.

‘Soft’ vs. ‘hard’ credit check

The score that most Canadian lenders use is called a FICO score, previously known as the Beacon score. FICO, which is a U.S. company, sells its score to both Equifax and TransUnion. FICO says 90 per cent of Canadian lenders use it, including major banks.

But Canadian consumers cannot access their FICO score on their own.

To find out his FICO score, Agarwal had to agree to what’s known as a “hard” credit check. That’s where a business runs a credit check as though a customer is applying for a loan.

Lenders are contractually obligated not to share a copy of the report FICO provides with the customer. They can only discuss the information and provide insight.

A hard check comes with risk. Unlike the “soft” check Agarwal agreed to from the four websites, a hard check could negatively impact his credit score.

As Credit Karma’s website explains, “Multiple hard inquiries in a short period could lead lenders and credit card issuers to consider you a higher-risk customer, as it suggests you may be short on cash or getting ready to rack up a lot of debt.”

Mortgage broker Vince Gaetano offered to do a hard credit check for Agarwal, as if he was applying for a loan, so he could learn his FICO score.

Agarwal took him up on the offer and was stunned to learn his FICO score was 829 — nearly 200 points higher than the lowest score he received online.

Raman Agarwal of Ottawa was shocked to learn the disparity between his FICO score and the four other credit scores he received online. (CBC )

 

“Oh my god!” Agarwal said when he heard the news. “I am really happy, but totally surprised.”

Doug Hoyes, co-founder of Hoyes, Michalos and Associates Inc., one of the largest personal insolvency firms in Canada, was also surprised by the disparity between Agarwal’s FICO score and the other scores he’d received.

“How can you be poor somewhere and fantastic somewhere else?”

Marketplace asked all four credit score companies why Agarwal’s FICO score was so different from the ones provided on their sites.

No one could provide a detailed answer. Equifax and TransUnion did say their scores are used by lenders, but they wouldn’t name any, citing proprietary reasons.

Credit Karma declined to comment. However, on its customer service website, it says the credit score it provides to consumers is a “widely used scoring model by lenders.”

‘A complicated system’

The free services, Borrowell and Credit Karma, make money by arranging loan and credit card offers for customers who visit their sites. Borrowell told Marketplace the credit score it provides is used by the company itself to offer loans directly from Borrowell. The company could not confirm whether any of its lending partners also use the score.

“So there are many different types of credit scores in Canada … and they’re calculated very differently,” said Andrew Graham, CEO of Borrowell. “It’s a complicated system, and we’re the first to say that it’s frustrating for consumers. We’re trying to help add transparency to it and help consumers navigate it.”

From Agarwal’s perspective, the credit companies are simply using the scoring system as a marketing tool.

“There should be one score,” he said. “If they are running an algorithm, there should be one score, no matter what you do, how you do it, should not change that score.”

The FICO score is also the most popular score in the U.S. Unlike in Canada, Americans can access their score easily by purchasing it on FICO’s website, or through FICO’s Open Access Program, without any risk of it impacting their credit rating.

 

FICO told Marketplace it would like to bring the Open Access Program to Canada, but it’s up to Canadian lenders.

“We are open to working with any lender and their credit bureau partner of choice to enable FICO Score access to the lender’s customers,” FICO said in an email.

Hoyes, the insolvency expert, suggests instead of focusing on your credit score, a better approach to monitoring your financial status would be to shift attention to your credit report and ensuring its accuracy.

All four websites Marketplace looked at provide credit reports to consumers.

A credit report is the file that describes your financial situation. It lists bank accounts, credit cards, inquiries from lenders who have requested your report, bankruptcies, student loans, mortgages, whether you pay your credit card bill on time, and other debt.

Although the mathematical formulas used to calculate different credit scores are unknown, credit score companies say these are some of the factors that could influence your number. (David Abrahams/CBC)

 

Hoyes said consumers are trying too hard to have the perfect credit score. The fact is, some activities that could boost a credit score, such as getting a new credit card or taking on a loan, aren’t necessarily the best financial decisions.

“My advice is to focus on what is better for your financial health, not what is best for the lender’s financial health.”

He said paying off debt and increasing savings is a better idea than focusing solely on the factors that can increase your credit score.

You focusing on this one metric, that isn’t the same thing the lender is using anyways, is really pointless, and I think it leads to bad decisions.– Doug Hoyes, Hoyes, Michalos and Associates Inc.

He points to billionaire investor Warren Buffett, the third richest person in the world, as an example.

“Would you rather lend to Warren Buffett, who’s got … cash in the bank but has a lousy credit score because he’s never borrowed and hasn’t built up any history, or some guy who has five credit cards and he constantly … moves the balance from one to the other and keeps his utilization under 20 per cent?”

The real estate, mortgage and auto lenders Marketplace spoke with said they look at more than just your credit score before making a lending decision. They also consider things like your income, your history with their company, the size of a downpayment, and other factors not reflected in your score.

For Hoyes, those factors are much more important than a three-digit number.

“You focusing on this one metric, that isn’t the same thing the lender is using anyways, is really pointless, and I think it leads to bad decisions.”

 

The good news, according to Borrowell CEO Andrew Graham, is that if you’re doing things like paying your bills on time and not maxing out your credit cards, you will see improvement in whatever credit score you track.

“I think that’s the power here.”

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Keeping score

Keeping scoreBrokers must be willing to take on the role of educator when preparing the next generation of homebuyers to apply for a mortgage. A recent survey by Refresh Financial found that only 41% of Canadians know their credit score, and 20% are too scared to even find out their score.

Millennials (those born between the early ’80s and mid-’90s) and generation z (those born from the early ’90s to mid-2000s) are particularly anxious about their credit history and uninformed about how to build good credit. Thirty-nine per cent of millennial and gen z respondents said they were more stressed about their credit score than they were a year ago, and 25% admitted they’re not sure what makes up their credit score. In addition, a third of 18- to 34-year-olds said they believe their credit score is holding them back from making important life choices such as purchasing a home.

Click all images to enlarge.

Source: MortgageBrokerNews.ca –  08 Aug 2019

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Credit ratings 101: Four factors that determine your creditworthiness

Most Canadians know their credit rating is a number, somewhere between 300 and 900, that generally reflects your credit-worthiness and is used to secure approval from lenders. But the fact is, nobody outside of the ratings agencies knows exactly how they work.

Canada’s two credit rating agencies — Equifax and TransUnion — do not publicly reveal the exact formula used to calculate your score in order to keep people from gaming the system. However, there are some basic indicators you can use to improve your standing.

Personal finance coach David Lester joined CTV’s Your Morning on Thursday, to clear up some misconceptions and outline some simple steps you can take to increase your score.

Credit ratings, he explains, are broadly determined by five weighted factors:

  • Payment history (35 per cent)
  • Amount owed (30 per cent)
  • Length of history (15 per cent)
  • New credit (10 per cent)
  • Types of credit used (10 per cent)

Here are four things Lester said you need to know about how to improve your credit rating:

Having a zero balance on your credit card can have a negative impact

Lending money is a business, and financial institutions want to make sure they make money by charging interest.

“If you pay off your debt all the time, and you don’t pay any interest, that actually hurts your credit rating because they want to know that you are going to pay a little bit of interest,” Lester said.

He said it is important to remember that a credit score is a measure of how much lenders want your business. They are designed with banks in mind, not you. While that zero balance may help you sleep at night, avoiding as much interest as possible does not necessarily win you any favours.

Keep your first credit card

Remember that credit card you signed up for in your first year of university while wandering around campus on frosh week? It’s probably the genesis of your credit managing history, so keep it active to show lenders you have been responsibly managing debt since your college days.

“They (lenders) like that you’ve been borrowing money and paying it back for a long time,” Lester said.

Credit diversity is a good thing

So you have a car loan, outstanding student debt, a mortgage, and a few charges on your credit card. How will this impact your credit score? The answer depends on how well you are managing all those debt obligations. But, broadly speaking, diversity is good.

“They like a plethora of types of loans. If you have all of those under control, and you are doing well on all of them, then it will affect your score (positively),” Lester said.

Do your homework, because credit ratings are prone to errors

Don’t be surprised if you pull your credit report and discover an error. Lester estimates about 30 per cent contain mistakes, some of which could saddle you with a higher interest rate or see you denied credit all together.

If you find something wrong, flag it with the credit agency as soon as possible and stay on top of your records on an annual basis.

“It’s really important to do that every year. Just go through and make sure there aren’t any little mistakes on your credit rating,” Lester said. “You want to make sure that you clear those up, and it will boost your rate.”

 

Source: Jeff LagerquistCTVNews.ca 

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Good debt, bad debt and good bad debt

There has been an awful lot of noise in the media recently about the increasingly high levels of debt the average Canadian is carrying around on his or her back. And rightfully so: According to a recent report from Statistics Canada, our total national debt load, including mortgages, sits at around $1.8 trillion. (Why does that number always make me think of Mike Myers?). That’s more than $50,000 for every Canuck. But amid all the commotion are some surprisingly difficult-to-answer questions: Is all this debt bad? Is any of it good? And how can we determine what debt is good, what debt is bad or should we just try to avoid all debt like the plague? The answers aren’t always clear-cut. Clearly, further insight is required.

Economic types traditionally describe debt as being either good or bad, depending on what it’s used for. The good stuff is generally defined as money borrowed to buy something that will appreciate in value, like a house. Conversely, bad debt is described as money borrowed to buy something that will depreciate in value, like Buddy using his credit card to borrow $2,000 for a new set of golf clubs (they’re on sale!), because everyone knows you’ll play like Tiger Woods once you have a $2,000 set of his Nike golf clubs.

Unfortunately it’s not that simple. Not all good debt is good and not all bad debt is bad. (Warning: This is going to get wordy.) Yes, I am saying that there is such a thing as bad good debt and good bad debt. An example of bad good debt is when Buddy goes out and buys an oversized house that exceeds his needs. And to make matters worse, Buddy buys the house before he is financially ready. He puts down a too small down payment on his too big house and as a result, he ends up with a too big mortgage—which he amortizes over too many years. Given enough time, the house will likely appreciate, and this technically makes Buddy’s big mortgage “good” debt. However, it’s unlikely the house’s value will increase enough to cover the cost of the interest he’ll end up paying, let alone the larger expenses the house is going to generate: heating, upkeep, taxes and so on. To boot, there is a real possibility that this “good” debt will interfere with Buddy’s ability to properly save for his future. Broadly speaking, if Buddy’s housing costs (mortgage, utilities, insurance and taxes) exceeds 32% of his gross income, and if he will be paying those costs for more than 25 years, then it’s bad good debt.

On the other side, when Buddy’s sister Buddy-Lou takes out a two-year loan to help her pay for a gently used Honda Civic, that loan is technically bad debt since the car is going to depreciate. However, borrowing this money makes more sense than borrowing for a new car and it certainly makes more sense than leasing a new vehicle. (We’ll save that discussion for another time.) Assuming she takes care of it, Buddy-Lou’s car will still have value for years after the loan is paid off. Sure, it would be nice if she had the money in her bank account to buy that Civic when her old car died, but it would also be nice if George R. R. Martin didn’t kill off all of the best characters in Game of Thrones. Life happens. The loan needs to be manageable, without putting pressure on Buddy-Lou’s ability to save for her future. If that’s the case, it’s good bad debt.

It’s important to understand there is a big difference between accepting that you likely will incur some debt as you go through life and accepting debt as a way of life. It’s also a good idea to occasionally remind ourselves that even good good debt, like a properly structured mortgage is debt nonetheless and, as such, the interest you are paying on it isn’t doing you any favours. All debt, good, bad or anything in between, costs money and we should always be on the lookout for ways to pay it off as quickly as reasonably possible.

As a nation, we have become far too comfortable with personal debt. Today’s low interest rates are certainly a contributing factor, but the “keeping up with the Joneses” syndrome plays a part too. In some circles, it has become acceptable, even fashionable, to rack up mountains of high-interest credit card debt and then borrow more money to make the payments. Do not buy into this thinking. Pun intended. Credit card interest rates are anything but low, with many cards charging up to 29.99% interest. Even a “low interest” credit card will charge you around 12%. If you’re carrying a balance on your cards and you’re struggling to pay it down, you should transfer the balance to a low interest line of credit while you work it off. That would at least be better bad debt.

There is an inherent danger in describing debt as good. Sure, some types of debt are obviously better than others but that’s not the same thing as being good. Maybe we should further refine the two traditional definitions of debt into “bad debt” and “responsible-debt-that-I-thought-about-carefully-before-I-took-on-but-I-still-need-to-eliminate-as-quickly-as-reasonably-possible debt.” Because really, the only good debt is no debt at all.

Source: Money Sense – Robert R. Brown is a personal finance speaker and the author of Wealthing Like Rabbits. Follow him on Twitter @wealthingrabbit

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