Joshua Heckathorn's blog

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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 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.

Ask Creditnet: Best 0% Interest Card with No Balance Transfer Fee?

Dear Creditnet: I recently incurred $5,000 in surprise dental expenses and had to charge it on a credit card I've used since 1982. I've never had another credit card in my life, but now I'm interested in exploring my options so I can transfer this balance to a new 0% interest card and pay it off. I would like the card to have no annual fee, no balance transfer fee, a long no-interest balance transfer promotion and great customer service from a reputable outfit. I'm not really interested in airline rewards or cash back, and I do have excellent credit. Is there any credit card out there you recommend? -Sarah S.

Amex TrueEarnings Card Review: Must-have for Costco Members

I used to give my wife a hard time for loving Costco so much. She would always come home from shopping trips with huge boxes of food we couldn't fit into our cupboards, enough toilet paper to last for a year, and a bunch of other random items she probably didn't walk in expecting buy. It was really annoying at the time. Then, I joined her on a shopping trip a few years back and my eyes were finally opened to the true glory of Costco. I still complain about going on weekends when I have to fight for a parking spot half a mile away from the entrance and body check old ladies in order to get to the best food samples, but come on. Where else can you buy a new flat screen television, patio furniture, a 20-pack of figs, and a rack of ribs all in one place at great prices...while getting your prescriptions filled? It's a beautiful thing. I'm a Costco lover myself now, and it doesn't end with the shopping experience either. I love the TrueEarnings card from Costco and Amex too. If you're already a Costco member, you need this card. It really is a must-have rewards credit card for all Costco members with good enough credit to get approved. Here's 5 reasons why you should consider it:

Ask Creditnet: Can I Consolidate Private Student Loans?

Dear Creditnet: I have a bunch of private student loans totaling about $25,000 in debt, and I've been diligently making payments on time for the past five years. I unfortunately lost my job six months ago and I'm worried about keeping up with all of my payments in the coming months. Is there some way I can consolidate all of these loans right away so I only have to worry about making one payment to one company? Would this allow me to lower my payments and save some money while also buying additional time to land a new job? - Jackie S. from TX

Can Medical Debt Hurt My Credit Scores?

YES! Unpaid medical debts can most definitely hurt your credit scores. Paying your medical bills on time and in full, however, will do nothing to improve them. Doesn't sound fair to the consumer now, does it? Well, it isn't, and lawmakers have even looked at legislation in the past which was written with the intention to wipe consumers' credit reports clean of "paid" medical debts that were delinquent at one point in time. The bill unfortunately never passed the House, so the issue remains unresolved.

Ask Creditnet: How Long Should I Use a Secured Credit Card?

Dear Creditnet: I got a secured credit card from Capital One over a year ago so I could finally begin rebuilding my bad credit. Since then, my FICO scores have risen from the low 500s to around 675, but I still don't have any other credit cards or loans in my name. My question is how much longer should I continue to use this secured credit card? Is it time to finally try to get a better card? -Ryan P. from MI

Credit Myth: Employment History Impacts FICO Scores

Every so often an old credit myth I haven't heard in awhile will pop up again during a conversation with some friends. This past weekend it happened during a chat with a colleague about unemployment and its effect, or lack thereof, on FICO scores. Contrary to what many people think, you can be unemployed for a long period of time and still maintain excellent credit scores. The truth is the FICO credit-scoring model doesn't consider your employment history in any way, shape, or form. Like the level of your income, it's a complete non-factor.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Card Review: 25,000 Point Bonus

If you're interested in the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Card, but missed out on the big 50,000 point sign-up bonus that quickly came and went last year, Southwest hasn't left you completely hanging.  There's still a 25,000 point bonus to be had after making your first purchase on the card. This is actually the same deal Southwest and Chase were offering new cardholders back in August of 2011, so it's nothing we haven't seen before.  And as I said when I've previously reviewed this card offer, it certainly isn't a bad deal for a $69 annual fee, but it's not superb either. In addition, based on what we've seen in the past, I think it's fairly safe to say that we'll continue to see sign-up bonuses for the Rapid Rewards Card bounce back and forth between 25,000 and 50,000 points in the coming year. We may even see it bounce back up to 50,000 before the end of 2012, but that's just a guess on my part.

Ask Creditnet: Are Credit Builder Loans a Scam?

Dear Creditnet: My credit scores are in bad shape and I've been researching ways to start rebuilding my credit so I can eventually get an auto loan at a decent interest rate. It turns out that the credit union I use offers a "credit builder loan" that is supposed to help my credit scores. How does a credit builder loan work, and will it actually improve my FICO scores? It kind of seems like a scam to me because the interest rate is pretty high, but I've used this credit union for a long time and have always been happy with their products and customer service. - Justin T. from MA

Fed Says Fewer Americans Carry Credit Card Balances

The Fed's most recent Survey of Consumer Finances was released earlier this week, and in spite of all the negative reports concerning shrinking incomes and net worth, it actually contained some tidbits of positive news regarding credit card debt. They're hard to find among all the other depressing information, but hey, I'll take what little good news we get these days!