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1. “How should I choose a credit card and credit card company?”

There are many different credit card options out there from affinity cards to rewards cards. When choosing a credit card, the most important thing is to know exactly how you’ll plan to use it. The perfect credit card for someone who maintains a balance is probably the wrong card for someone who pays his or her balance off every single month. Once you know how you’ll use your card, you should compare some of the features of various credit cards to see which one will suit your financial needs. Remember, when you agree to the terms of a credit card, you are entering into a legally binding document.

2. “How can I review my credit history?”

When you are getting ready to apply for a loan, the first step you should take is to request your free annual credit reports and make sure that all of the information contained on the credit reports is accurate. While requesting a credit score does cost extra money, knowing your score may be worth the price when making a major purchase because you’ll know exactly where you stand from the lenders point of view. Borrowers with a higher credit score are more likely to obtain a favorable interest rate and borrowing terms.

If your score and credit report aren’t perfect, you may consider waiting to improve your credit before proceeding with your loan applications. There are some things you can do to improve your credit, and following those steps may help you get a better interest rate.

3. "Is consumer debt always bad or can debt be used responsibly?”

Credit is often considered negative; however, most of us need to use credit at some point in our lives–to purchase a home, finance a college education, or buy a car. Not all credit is created equal, and it’s important that you use credit, especially credit cards, wisely, to ensure that you won’t find yourself in debt beyond your means. Credit cards essentially offer a high-interest loan for you to purchase just about any item you want within your credit limit, and there are some steps you can follow to make sure you don’t get into credit card debt.

4. “Why should I be concerned with mortgage or credit card loan terms?”

When obtaining a loan or a credit card, understanding the terms will help you evaluate your options so you can choose the best loan for you. Differences in credit terms, including interest rates, grace periods, and fees, can dramatically change the total amount of money you’ll owe over the life of the loan.

5. “Which credit laws will help me correct billing errors?”

The Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) and Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA) can help. The Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) covers credit card accounts, but not installment loans, and requires that credit agencies and lenders investigate and fix any billing errors that have occurred on your account. To be protected by the FCBA, you must write to the creditor directly explaining the issue. Send it to the address they’ve provided for billing disputes, and make sure you send it within 60 days of the mailing date of the billing statement with the error.

The Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA) covers electronic fund transfers, such as authorized fund transfers, debit card transactions, and ATM transactions. The process to correct any of these issues is similar to that under the FCBA. If you notice an error on your statement, you must write a letter to the bank within 60 days of the mailing date of the statement containing the error. Provide your name, address, and account number, and explain the issue in detail, including the date, vendor, and dollar amount. The financial institution is required to investigate the issue, and must send the results of their investigation to you in a letter.