Get Educated

Everyone has a right to check their own credit report annually. For a free copy of your credit report, simply go to This is a wise thing to do as often as possible. That’s the only way you will be able to identify any errors that may be on your credit report.

Whether it’s a misspelled name or wrong information all together, you have the right to dispute what’s been reported. Monitoring your credit report will not only point out errors in your report, but it will also help you to manage it better. You’ll be able to see firsthand how certain behaviors either affect your credit positively or negatively.

While you’re on the mission of improving your credit score, there may be instances where you aren’t seeing a huge impact. Maybe you’re making payments on time and keeping balances low, but for some reason your credit score stays stagnate. When this happens, look at other factors that could be dragging it down.

Other things that could keep your credit low is the length of your credit history and the type of accounts you have.

Type of Accounts – Having a healthy variety of accounts on your credit plays a huge role in your credit score. To show that you’re responsible for managing various kinds of credit, you want to have active installment and revolving accounts. Don’t open up any new accounts, however, if you can’t handle it.

Length of Credit History – When it comes to credit history, the longer you’ve had it usually means the better your score. Since you can’t do anything about the amount of time you’ve had credit, you’ll just have to be patient as you build responsibly.

If you’ve been trying to get your credit affairs together, yet having no luck there’s probably a good explanation for it. Many times people pay their debts on time and keep their balances low, yet for some reason never see a real increase in their credit score. It’s important to note there are other factors that can impact your credit score besides on time payments. One of them is your past credit record.

Is there something in your past hugely negative such as foreclosure or bankruptcy? Your credit score can take a huge hit when something like that happens. Not to mention, negative information can stay on your credit report up to 7 years. The good news is over time the impact will lessen especially as you handle new credit responsibility. That means making payments on time and keeping credit balances low.

If you’ve been making payments on time, yet your credit score is stagnate, there may be other factors to consider. Making payments on time is the biggest factor affecting your credit score, but it isn’t the only factor that affects it. If you make a late payment, it could affect your score by at least 100 points. The other factor that affects your credit score is the amount of debt you’re carrying all together.

It’s important that you keep your revolving credit balances as low as possible. Revolving credit balances would be something like a credit card. On your credit report this equals utilization. Credits cards have limits. If you’re close to reaching your limit that means your utilization is high. This will impact your credit score big time by dragging it down. Until balances are paid down, your credit score will remain stagnant or low.

In Part 1 of What Can You Legally Dispute On Your Credit Report, we covered errors that you should dispute including wrong identity information and other account mistakes. In part 2, we share other things you can dispute:

Anything Past 7 Years: Derogatory information can only stand on your credit report for a certain amount of years. Time frames vary, but in most cases it’s 7 years from the date the account first became delinquent.

Derogatory Marks: When you pay a past-due bill it usually won’t come off your credit report automatically. You have a right to challenge it, especially if it’s damaging your credit.

Keep in mind that when you set out to dispute an item on your credit report, the fix won’t happen overnight. It takes time to improve your credit score. For a detailed look at your credit report, go to

If you’re wondering what you can dispute on your credit report, the answer is pretty much anything.

The most common disputes you can make include:

  • Wrong Identity Information: If you see anywhere on your credit report that shows a wrong name, address, or employment information, that’s grounds for dispute. This could very well mean that your information has been mixed up with someone else, or worse, identity theft.
  • Account Mistakes: If you see any discrepancies on your credit report from the actual statement that you get, you can challenge that. For example, if you’ve always paid your car note on time, but your credit report lists the account as 15 days past due, you should dispute it.

Grab your free credit report and and start looking for discrepancies that may be affecting your score.

Check out Part 2 of What Can You Legally Dispute On Your Credit Report.

Every now and then, you may run across a mistake on your credit report. If you’re suspicious of an error on your credit report, it’s important to take action. The first step is to pull your credit report. You can easily get one for free at Next, go through everything to see what’s accurate and what’s not.

Take a look at things that are in collections or anything else that’s negatively affecting your score. Once you’ve spotted any items that you disagree with, it’s time to file a dispute. To file an official dispute, you should contact all three major credit reporting agencies since they are the ones who will expose your history to potential creditors.

In part 1 and part 2 of Making The Most Of Your Retail Credit Card, We covered the importance of not using your card for financing. We also covered when the most ideal time is to sign up for a card. In part 3, we cover the added benefits stores may offer exclusively to its card holders.

Retail credit cards come with special benefits and incentives for their card holders. Stores like Target REDcard gives its shoppers the option of free shipping for orders placed online, not to mention an extra 30 days for returns. Then there are stores like L.L. Bean who offer card holders free monogramming on L.L. Bean products. Cool, isn’t it? Before signing up for a retail credit card, find out what special incentives they extend to their card holders. You’d be surprised at what you may score.

Don’t’ get carried away with sign up. Keep in mind that it reflects back on your credit report. Too many in a short amount of time can be negative on your credit report.

In part 1 of Making The Most Of Your Retail Credit Card, we discussed the benefits of signing up for store credit cards when you’re making a big purchase. In part 2, we share why you shouldn’t use your store credit card to finance purchases.

You don’t want to finance purchases on your retail card because they typically carry a high APR rate. It’s best to not carry your balance and to instead pay it off before interest accrues. Most store cards may only offer awards worth only 1% of your spending. In other cases, non-store cards may offer up to 2% cashback on all purchases. It’s better to just use your retail cards for purchases in the store and to pay the balance off as soon as possible.

In part 3 of Making The Most Of Your Retail Credit Card, we will cover benefits of store cards and how to make the most of them.

When you’re at the checkout line at your favorite store, it may be hard to resist the store credit card offer. At first they may seem wonderful with all of the savings they promise, but there are cons to having one that every shopper should look out for. The good news is if you plan accordingly you won’t fall into a retail store credit card pitfall, or debt cycle.

One way to plan accordingly is to only sign up for one when it really counts. That would be when you’re making a large purchase, as opposed to a small one. For example, when you’re doing your back to school shopping, that is a great time to sign up. However, when you’re at a store buying a dress to wear to one event, that’s not a good time to sign up.

Get it yet? Here’s another example to help drive the point home. Take your home improvement store, for instance. If you’re going to shop for many expensive tools and supplies, this is a great time to sign up as opposed to when you’re going to just pick up a can of paint. Make the savings count!

In part two, you will discover two other ways to make smart plans when signing up for retail credit cards.