Joshua Heckathorn's blog

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Why Your First Credit Card Shouldn't Have An Annual Fee

Next to payment history and your credit utilization ratio, "length of credit history" is the most important factor in determining your FICO credit scores.  In fact, it accounts for approximately 15% of your overall credit score, so it's definitely something you can't ignore. So what does this have to do with choosing your first credit card?  A lot!   You see, your length of credit history is primarily determined by the amount of time that's passed since your first credit card was opened, which means you want to keep your very first credit card open for as long as possible. That may sound easy in theory, but it's actually quite difficult for many credit card users.

AMEX Prepaid Increases Gift Card Bonus to $25

A few weeks ago I wrote about Amex giving away $10 complimentary gift cards to cardholders who signed up for a new Amex Prepaid Card in July and loaded it with $50. Well, we recently received word that Amex has just upped the ante in August for those who are willing to load their new prepaid card with $200 at the time of order. Here's how the new deal works:

Credit Card Rewards: Are They Taxable?

We've seen some great credit card sign-up bonuses hit the market so far this year. In fact, some have been worth more than $500 to new cardholders.  Hopefully you've been able to take advantage of at least one and are expecting either a big cash back check or a free holiday vacation using all the rewards points you've banked. If you are expecting a large cash back check from your credit card company, you may also be wondering if Uncle Sam will want his piece of it next tax season too.  After all, if there's anything the government claims it needs more of these days, it would be tax revenues!  So, does the IRS actually consider your credit card rewards to be taxable income?

Why Credit Card Protection Plans Aren't Worth Jack Squat

Many credit issuers really push the sale of credit card protection plans on their customers.  Why?  Because they're extremely beneficial to the credit card companies' bottom lines. These plans basically claim they will help guard against an unexpected illness or job loss by paying off your credit card balance for you.  However, while the marketing spiel may sound good to your ears, the reality is that they are expensive and provide little value in return for most cardholders.

How to Rebuild Credit With Secured Credit Cards

The best thing anyone with bad credit can do to improve their credit scores is focus on building positive payment history.   In fact, payment history accounts for the largest percentage of your overall FICO score, about 35 percent, so its importance can't be ignored. Build recent positive payment history on your credit reports, and the old negative marks will have less of an impact on your scores. It's that simple. Unfortunately, if you have bad credit, there's a good chance you've had payment issues of some sort in the past.  Late pays, charge offs, and collections on your credit reports are all ultimate credit score killers!   But if you're reading this post, then I'll assume you're ready to put your past mistakes behind you and make a change for the better.  And that process begins with making timely payments and building positive payment history as fast as possible.

What Does "Fair Credit" Mean?

Your credit scores aren't horrible, but they aren't spectacular either. And while there's no denying you've had some credit issues in the past, at least you've finally taken the necessary steps to get your personal finances back on track. Things are definitely heading in the right direction. So where should you begin looking when you're ready to get a new credit card that'll be a good fit for your current credit situation?  You know you want to avoid credit cards for bad credit unless there are no other options available, but your gut also tells you there's no way you'll ever get approved for some of the more appealing rewards credit cards you've found online.

Amex Prepaid Card Giving Away Free $10

I love free money, even if it is just 10 bucks. If you love free money too, and you're willing to spend a few minutes jumping through some hoops this weekend, there's still time to take advantage of this promotion from Amex and score yourself a complimentary $10 gift card. Here's what you'll need to do in 3 easy steps:

Would You Pay Extra to Use Your Credit Card?

It's always the consumer that gets hosed in the end. In case you haven't heard yet, Visa and MasterCard recently reached a hefty settlement with a number of retail groups as a result of a class-action lawsuit initiated back in 2005. Not only will Visa and MasterCard pay over $7 billion to these retail groups, but part of the agreement gives merchants the ability to charge consumers an additional fee for using credit cards to make purchases. Wonderful.

Ask Creditnet: How Rapid Rescores Work

Dear Creditnet: I'm trying to buy a house this summer and my credit scores are just a bit too low to qualify for the best possible interest rate. My mortgage broker is suggesting we do something called a "rapid rescore" in order to quickly improve my credit before we close, but I don't understand how this works. Can a rapid rescore actually improve my credit scores, and how can I be sure that it will help me get approved for the loan? - Max S. from OR

Worried About Having Your Credit Checked? Here's Why You Shouldn't Care Too Much

Even if you know relatively little about how FICO scores work, you've most likely heard that when your credit is pulled it hurts your scores. I've actually found this to be the primary reason people avoid applying for new credit. In fact, friends often ask me how I manage to apply for so many of the rewards credit cards I rate and review on Creditnet.com. Shouldn't all those credit inquiries be killing my FICO scores? Well, they haven't, and I frankly don't worry about credit inquiries that much. While there's no doubt in my mind too many inquiries can hurt FICO scores, I think most of us overestimate just how big of an impact credit inquiries have on our scores.

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