Credit Cards

As someone who doesn't carry a wallet, I'm always thankful when I find a retailer that accepts credit card payments through my phone.

Such businesses are difficult to find, so my iPhone is inside a small case that opens to hold only three cards: my driver's license, a debit card and a credit card. No, it's not a man purse. It's the size of my phone, but about twice as thick. For me, it beats carrying around both a phone and a wallet.

But even with just one credit card on me, it's tempting to leave it at home and only carry my phone with me.

When I go to a business with a mobile card reader, I'm looking for one that uses Bluetooth technology to connect my mobile phone to its credit card reader so that the credit card stored on my phone can be seamlessly and securely used.

I'm looking for Bluetooth for two reasons: So I don't have to carry a physical credit card with me, and so I don't have to use the chip in the card and spend an inordinate amount of time at the cashier.

There's also a third reason, which I really did't think about much until I went to Europe last summer for vacation: High merchant fees for using a credit card.

The mobile card reader from SumUp seems to solve all of these problems. Here's how: ...continue reading

improve your credit scoreIf you’re having a difficult time getting approved for credit because you have a low credit score, working to improve your credit score can seem like a task that can take years to solve.

There are few quick shortcuts to improving a credit score, but there are some big moves that can raise it dramatically.

Here are some of the biggest moves you can make to improve your credit score:

Know your credit score

Start by checking your credit score at AnnualCreditReport.com for free. The three credit reporting companies must give you a free report once a year, so you can either get all three at once or spread them out by getting one every four months.

The score you receive represents your credit risk at a point and is meant to measure your future credit risk. Scores from the Fair Isaac Corporation, or FICO, are most widely used, with scores ranging from a low of 300 to a high of 850.

The higher the score you have, the more likely you are to be approved for credit and get the best loan rates for auto loans, home loan and credit cards, among other things.

Here’s a breakdown of what the scores generally mean: ...continue reading

credit scoreIf you’ve got a good or excellent credit score and pay your bills on time and keep your credit balances low, then maintaining that score can seem like a headache.

A credit score can be used in ways other than in determining what interest rate you’ll pay on a loan. It can also be used by employers, landlords and utility companies — with your permission — to determine if you should work, live or be allowed to sign up for electric service without a deposit.

Small credit score drop is fine

But not all of those look at your credit score as much as you might think. There are some times when it can be OK to let your credit score drop by a few points.

For example, if you don’t plan on applying for credit in the next six months or so because you’ve already got a car and house, then a small drop in your credit score shouldn’t hurt you. You still want to keep your credit in good standing, but there is some wiggle room.

Your credit history can be more important in non-lending situations than your credit score. ...continue reading