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Credit cards, interest rates, loans, even where you liveâthese all depend on your credit score. If you have a good credit score, youâre more likely to get better financial offers. But if you have a low or nonexistent score, the chances of getting prime financial offers are pretty slim.
If you have low or nonexistent credit, improving your credit can seem almost impossible. Because you donât qualify for the best financial offers, you canât get the opportunities you need to bump up your credit. Plus, youâll probably find yourself paying a lot more interest than youâd like.
This might feel like a no-win situation. But thereâs good newsâthere are alternatives to building credit besides credit cards. Those with poor or nonexistent credit can have the opportunity to build up their scores. Learn about good credit scores and how you can work to get your rating in that range.
What Is a Good Credit Score?
If youâre completely unfamiliar with credit, itâs time to learn where your credit score stands. Hereâs the breakdownâcredit scores range between 300 and 850. According to Experian, an average credit score for Americans is around 675.
Credit scores are ranked as bad, poor, fair, good or excellent. Experianâs numbers are based on a model called VantageScore. The VantageScore model is broken down to the following:
- Excellent: 750-850
- Good: 700-749
- Fair: 650-699
- Poor: 600-649
- Bad: 300-599
FICO scores are based on a slightly different model with a range of 300 to 850. The average FICO score in 2018 was 704. For FICO ratings, a good or excellent score is above 740. Hereâs the breakdown of FICO Score ratings:
- Exceptional: 800-850
- Very good: 740-799
- Good: 670-739
- Fair: 580-669
- Very Poor: 300-579
How to Build Low or Nonexistent Credit
It is possible to get a credit card for bad credit. But youâll find that theyâll either have no rewards, higher interest rates or both. These are worth looking into, but you might want to consider other methods before you commit to a credit card. Here are some great options for building your credit scoreâthat arenât getting a credit card.
1. Get a CreditStrong Account
In a frustrating turn of events, building or rebuilding credit often requires that you have some credit to begin with. Thatâs where credit builder loans, such as the ones provided by CreditStrong, come in handy. Credit builder loans allow you to take out a loan without a hard credit pull. The money is placed in a locked savings account to secure the loan.
Once you make the required payments, the savings account is unlocked and you gain access to the funds. In the meantime, you get up to 24 months of positive payment reports to the credit bureaus, helping to build your score.
Each loan payment you make will be reported to all three credit bureaus each month, which will help build your credit history. Because 35% of your credit score is based on payment history, making on-time payments towards a CreditStrong account can improve your score.
2. Try Experian Boost
You already know that payment history makes up 35% of your credit score. Experian knows that, too. Thatâs why they launched Experian Boost earlier this year. This program allows you to include both your cell phone and utility payments in the calculation of your credit score.
Worried that youâll miss a payment or two? Missed payments will typically harm your credit score, but Experian only counts the payments youâve made on time. That means that any bill you donât pay on time wonât harm your score. While you should try to pay your bills on time, this is a life-saver if you accidentally slip up on a payment or two.
3. Improve Your Credit with Rent Track
When you have a low credit score, any payment you continually make on time helps. RentTrack is a great rent reporting tool that will track your rent payments, therefore helping you build your score. RentTrack is often used by property management companies, letting their tenants pay rent online.
How does this help your credit score? When you pay your rent, RentTrack offers to report your payments to all three major credit bureaus. If you choose to do, every payment you make will show up on your credit report. Make your payments on time, and youâll watch your credit score increase over time.
The post 3 Ways to Build Credit if You Can’t Get a Credit Card appeared first on Credit.com.
It is common occurrence on American highways for near-accidents to occur. It is also a common occurrence on American highways for people in near-accidents, to look at the license plate of the near-accident-causer and think to themselves, âOh, well of course theyâre from Massachusetts.â Or some other state. It seems like almost every state has a reputation for having terrible drivers. Thanks to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration we can confirm some of those myths and dispel others.
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According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration around 32,000 people were killed in vehicle-related incidents in 2014. Of course some incidents are genuinely accidents, while some are clearly the fault of one driver, like in the event of drunk driving. But deaths and DUIs are not the only metrics to measure bad driving, people who receive speeding tickets or do not have automobile insurance can also be considered negligent drivers.
To find the states with the worst drivers SmartAsset looked at number of drivers, DUI arrests, people killed, google trends in speeding tickets and percentage of people who have auto insurance. To find out how we put all these numbers together to create our index please read the full methodology below.
No Massachusetts. Boston drivers usually have a reputation as bad drivers but the numbers we analyzed donât bear that out. Massachusetts ranks 48 on our list. While we have no data on non-fatal accidents, the fact that they lead the nation in insured rate is a positive sign.
Be careful when driving in the southeast. Maybe itâs the heat causing road rage, but four out of the top ten states in our study are located in the southeast.
Florida is often plagued with a reputation for bad drivers. The numbers seem to show that this might, in fact, be true. Floridians google âspeeding ticketsâ and âtraffic ticketsâ more than any other state. They also have the second lowest number of insured drivers in the nation.
Another southern state and another state in which one ought to be extra careful when driving through. Mississippi had the 5th highest deaths resulting from vehicular incidents. One area where Mississippi can improve is in DUIs. Mississippi had the 12th highest rate of DUI arrests per driver in the country. Like Florida relatively few people are insured. They rank 3rd worst in that category with only 77% insured.
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Continuing on the theme of states with low insured driver rates, Oklahoma has the least. Only 74% of drivers in Oklahoma are insured. It does not get much better for the state in the other categories we looked at. They have one of the 15 worst scores in DUIs per thousand drivers (7.74), number of people killed per thousand drivers in vehicular incidents (.21) and rate of googling parking and traffic tickets (52.13).
4. New Jersey
The Garden State has the infamy of being the state with the second most deaths per driver at 0.62. New Jersey drivers are more likely to be insured than some of the other states on our list. New Jersey drivers are insured at a rate of almost 90%, coming in 22nd on our list.
New Jerseys neighbor and rival for worst drivers in the northeast, Delaware is unfortunately the only state with more deaths per driver than New Jersey. One curious statistic is that while Delaware has the lowest DUI rate per driver, 40% of deaths occurred when the driver was above the legal limit for drinking, which is the 4th highest rate in the country.
Another southern state and a similar story to the others with pretty bad scores all around. One bright spot â Alabama has the 4th best score with only 1.42 DUI arrests per thousand drivers. Like Delaware, though, that statistic does not tell the whole story, 33% of deaths in Alabama resulted from a driver being over the legal alcohol limit.
Vermont leads the nation in DUIs per driver with 50 per thousand drivers. However, they also have the lowest percentage of deaths resulting from drunk driving, at 20%.
Tennessee is one of the least insured states in the country, with 20% of people not having car insurance. Tennessee also has the 18th highest number of deaths per thousand drivers. One positive is that they are in the better half of the country for DUI per thousand drivers at 5.7.
Tragically for Texas it has the highest percentage of deaths coming from drunk drivers at 40% and yet it is in the better half of states for DUI arrests. Recent news that Uber and Lyft will both be leaving Austin may have an impact. According to MyStatesman, Austin only has permits for 756 legal taxis and is hoping to increase that to 1,161. But for a tech hot-spot with a population of 850,000 even this may not be enough.
Nevada is the 3rd worst state for traffic and speeding tickets (when comparing googling trends) as well as being the 17th worst state for DUIs. The good news is that 88% of Nevada drivers are insured.
Data and Methodology
In order to find out which state had the worst drivers SmartAsset collected data across 4 metrics.
Percentage insured. Data is taken from the Insurance Research Council.
DUI per thousand drivers. Number of drivers is taken from the Federal Highway Administration. Number of DUIs is taken from the State Justice Department.
Deaths per thousand drivers. Data is taken from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, which is part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Google trends on driving tickets. This data is the average of the scores each state got in google trends for the 8 phrases: speeding ticket, âspeeding ticket,â speeding tickets, âspeeding tickets,â traffic ticket, âtraffic ticket,â traffic tickets and âtraffic tickets.â
We then indexed each factor for every state giving equal weighting and then finding the average score per state to create the final index.
Questions about our study? Contact us at email@example.com.
Photo credit: Â©iStock.com/Ben Harding
The post States With the Worst Drivers â 2016 Edition appeared first on SmartAsset Blog.
If your credit needs rehabilitation due to late payments, accounts in collections or other negative items, it might be time to rebuild. Rebuilding your credit requires an understanding of your current situation, identifying past mistakes and implementing the right strategies going forward.
Wise use of a credit card is one way to start. Surprising, right? But if you use that plastic correctly, it really can help you. Good credit card strategies include keeping a low balance, making payments on time and paying your balance in full each month. To do that, it’s best to start small and only charge things that wonât kill your credit building project before it takes off. (You can check on your progress with a free credit report snapshot on Credit.com.)
Here are a few things you can charge on your credit cardÂ to help you boost that score.
The cost of gas can add up, but if you already have room for gas in your monthly budget, you can charge your gas expenses and pay them off in full using the funds in your bank account. Some credit cards offer special cash back rates on gas purchases so you can earn a little money back in your wallet (although getting a new unsecured credit card might not be the best move for you at this stage as the inquiry will cause your score to take even more of a hit).
Groceries are another staple you likely already have built into your budget. Instead of handing over cash or a check when you pick up the necessities for the week, charge your groceries to your credit card and pay those purchases off in full each month. There are several credit cards on the market that offer special cash-back rates on groceries, as well.
Monthly streaming services usually cost less than $20 a month. You could conceivably set up your credit card to pay for a streaming service, pay it off in full each month and never use it for anything else.
If you have a large balance on a high-interest credit card, it could be damaging your credit score and affecting your ability to make your payment. If you have a lower interest credit card, you can transfer the balance and reduce the interest. If you can qualify, a card with a long 0% intro APR period can help you pay your balance off interest-free.
(Cheap) Dining &Â Recreation
It’sÂ probably not a good idea to use your credit cards at the club or restaurants, as itâs easy for costs to spiral out of control. But if youâre on a date at the movies or taking the kids out for mini golf and milkshakes, low-cost dining and recreation purchases might be a safe bet.
Small Everyday Expenses
Sometimes you have to run into a local store for a roll of duct tape or some socks. Small everyday purchases can be fairly easy to pay off in full.
Using Your Credit Card Wisely to Build Credit
For the most part, small purchases you can afford to pay off each time the statement arrivesÂ are the best things to put on your credit card, as payment history is the biggest influencer of your credit scores. Plus, carrying a balance means you’ll be hit with interest and it will take you longer to pay down your balance.
But even relatively small purchases can threaten your credit if they pileÂ up too quickly. (Credit experts recommend keeping your credit utilization ratio â that is, your amount of debt in relation to your credit limit â at 30%, ideally 10%.) So, a good practice is to treat your credit card like cash and only purchase things you can cover with available funds.
Have any questions about improving your credit? Ask us in the comments below and one of our credit experts will do their best to help.
The post The Best Things to Charge on Your Credit Card When Youâre Rebuilding Credit appeared first on Credit.com.
Gasoline can get expensive, but most of us have to drive at some point or another. Driving around to find the cheapest gas in town is one way to cut a big chunk out of your monthly gas bill. But there are many tips and tricks that can reduce what you pay at the pump. Here are seven strategies that can help you save money on gas and reduce your environmental footprint.
See what the average budget looks like for someone in your neighborhood.
1. Service Your Vehicle Regularly
Properly maintaining your vehicle can improve its fuel economy. Youâll need to replace dirty filters as often as possible and use the right motor oil whenever you top up. Using the wrong oil could waste gas by making your engine work harder. If you arenât sure which grade of motor oil your car needs, you can check your ownerâs manual.
Itâs also important to keep your tires properly inflated. Tire pressure should always remain at the level recommended by your carâs manufacturer. And youâll need to make sure your tires are aligned. When it comes to gas mileage, a simple tune-up can go a long way.
2. Use A/C Wisely
In some cases, you can waste gas by cranking up the A/C. But it all depends on where youâre driving. If youâre driving fast because youâre on the highway, for example, having the windows open can increase drag and reduce fuel economy. So using A/C when youâre speeding down the freeway wonât prevent you from trying to save money on gas.
In most cars, the A/C turns on when you try to defrost the windshield. Using a less powerful setting is one way to avoid wasting energy.
3. Find Cheap Places to Fuel Up
Generally to find cheap gas, youâll need to stay away from wealthier neighborhoods and check out stations in the suburbs if youâre driving through a major city. Apps like GasBuddy, AAA TripTik Mobile and Waze can help you find low gas prices in your area.
If youâre trying to spend less money on gas, waiting until your gas tank is empty and filling up a little at a time throughout the week isnât a good idea. In fact, doing that could damage your car. Itâs best to wait until you have a quarter tank of gas and fill it up all the way.
Related Article: States With the Worst Drivers
4. Earn Rewards for Buying Gas
If you drive a lot, it may make sense for you to get a credit card that rewards you with cash back or points for buying gas. Depending on the kind of credit card you qualify for, you could earn gas rewards of up to 5%.
5. Travel Lightly
Carrying around a heavy load can add unnecessary drag. Thatâs why itâs a good idea to clean out your trunk and remove anything from your roof that you donât need. By removing excess weight, youâll be able to maximize your vehicleâs fuel economy.
6. Drive Slower
Cars often use more gas when drivers speed up. Exceeding your carâs optimal speed can reduce your gas mileage. In many cars, itâs best to drive at around 50 mph if you want to save fuel.
When you need to accelerate, itâs best to tap the gas pedal lightly. Speeding up too quickly or hitting the brakes too hard can reduce your miles per gallon.
Related Article: How to Trade in a Car
7. Drive More Efficiently
In addition to monitoring your speed, you can drive more efficiently by paying attention to details. For example, itâs a good idea to turn off the engine if your car has been idle for a while. Avoiding potholes and sudden stops can also make a difference when youâre trying to save money.
Using cruise control while youâre driving long distances may also help you use less gas. If you want to go the extra mile, consider buying a more fuel-efficient car. Spending a bit more on a new ride might make sense if you want better gas mileage.
Sometimes you have to get creative when you want to cut costs. By making some adjustments to the way you drive and maintain your car, you can save big bucks on gasoline.
And if you can capitalize on the best times to buy gas, you probably should. Usually, itâs best to get gas either early in the morning or late at night.
Photo credit: Â©iStock.com/CasarsaGuru, Â©iStock.com/Geribody, Â©iStock.com/Kesu01
The post 7 Small Ways to Save Big on Gas appeared first on SmartAsset Blog.