Road Tripping the Smart Way

Not everyone loves to travel, but if you’ve always dreamed of just getting in your car, truck or RV and just taking off to tour the countryside, you might want to think about your vehicle insurance. There was a well-known insurance company whose commercials used to say, “Don’t leave home without it.” In these litigious days, everyone knows that basic liability insurance is essential before you even pull out of your own driveway, and that collision coverage is a good idea if you want your wheels fixed as well as the other fellow’s. What you might not have considered is that accidents are not the only hazards you might encounter on your excellent adventure.

Common Problems

Steinbeck wrote, “It’s not the mean people who cause the problems, it’s the dumb ones.” We could paraphrase that to say that it is not the big road hazards that are the problem, it’s the little ones. Your day can easily be ruined by some of the silliest things. One that heads the list is passing the last filling station for X number of miles and then looking at your gas gage. OOPS! Another is not checking your tires before you leave home. A flat tire is a serious delay if you don’t have a good spare, a jack, and the ability to change the tire. And the most humiliating problem of all is locking your keys inside the car. The best solution for all of these problems is to have a roadside assistance insurance policy. While not perfect, it can take up the slack for those times when you’ve been on the road a little too long or something has happened to get you flustered.

Bigger Problems

Even the best makes and models of vehicles can develop mechanical problems. Long road trips seem to have a way of exacerbating those mechanical faults so that they show up just that much quicker so it’s always a good idea get cover for your breakdown. Your vacation fund might have seemed generous when you left home, but one stop at an auto repair shop for something like a new transmission or motor can put a major dent in it. The solution to this problem is to have a vehicle that is sufficiently new, and sufficiently low-mileage to qualify for breakdown insurance. Breakdown insurance is similar to an extended warranty in that it will take care of major mechanical failures. However, it can be a lot better than a warranty. With breakdown insurance, you are not limited to a dealership or certain brand of auto repair. It is likely to fix a lot more different kinds of parts than are covered by a warranty. And it sometimes overlaps with your roadside assistance by offering some coverage for things like towing.

Plan Before You Go

Before you pack your bags, it is a good idea to visit your insurance agent. Discuss with him or her the general direction of your travels and listen to recommendations for the kinds of insurance you might need for that area. Most insurance policies issued in the United States will be enough for domestic travel, but there are some variances in requirements from state to state. Your agent might even be able to make some suggestions for safe routes and similar ideas.

Most of all, however, your agent will be able to assist you with having the insurance coverage that you really need so that your adventure will be a pleasant one. While it might be fun to watch people in a movie or on television having trouble with their vehicles, the reality is rarely so pleasant. Be sure to have your regular insurance policy up to date, and you might consider adding roadside assistance and breakdown insurance to your travel coverage.

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Get Low APR Personal Loans to Consolidate Debt: Debt Consolidation Plans can Include a Low Rate Personal Loan

When it comes to erasing debt, one of the fastest ways to get rid of the credit cards and other charge accounts is to secure a low APR personal loan. By paying a smaller amount of interest on the debts owed, one can save years worth of monthly payments.

However, low APR loans can be tough to acquire if the person seeking them has below average credit. Here are some suggestions on how someone can secure or improve their chances to secure a low interest personal loan.

Use Spare Savings Accounts to Pay Down Debt

One of the things that adversely effects a credit score is a high percentage of debt to available credit. If there is extra money in a savings account that is not needed should an emergency arise, then pay that money to the credit card with the highest APR. If the payment makes a dent into the overall debt, then it may be reflected in the credit score the following month.

Obtain a Free Credit Report and Fix Errors

Each person is entitled to one free credit report from each of the 3 major credit reporting agencies once a year. Take advantage of this and clean up an errors or omission which may be negatively effecting a credit score. Common mistakes include accounts with multiple signatories that should only be in one person’s name (such as after a divorce or an old student credit card) as well as accounts which have negative blemishes that have run their statute of limitations.

Apply for a Low APR Personal Loan from a Credit Union

Traditionally, credit unions offer lower interest rates than their credit card counterparts. Seek out a credit union which offers loan services for the field in which the borrower is employed and apply for a loan. They will mostly likely pull the potential borrower’s credit as well as ask for recent tax returns and employment information.

Obtain a Secured Loan

A secured loan is a loan in which the borrower stakes collateral in return for the money they need. Many credit unions offer partial secured loans where the borrower stakes 20 to 30 percent of the money in cash to obtain the lower APR. The cash the borrower stakes is a security deposit against defaulted payments by the borrower.

Peer to Peer Lending Sites

Another popular option for people with decent credit is to obtain a person to person loan. This type of loan is exactly as it sounds where the borrower obtains the money needed from other people. Peer to Peer lending sites have gained in popularity because they can offer a lower interest rate than many credit card accounts. Also there is usually a fixed timeline associated with these loans, meaning the borrower must pay it back over 3 years or so.

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How to Apply for Poor Credit Secured Loans: Get Approval for Bad Credit Equity Loans

The demand for poor credit secured loans has increased as fewer individuals now qualify for unsecured loans. According to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling in April 2015, 15% of U.S. citizens (the equivalent of 34 million people) have made a late payment. A further 8% (18 million people) have failed to make a payment at all. Failing to keep up with repayments can lead to a credit decline.

Poor Credit Secured Loans

The provision of collateral increases the likelihood of the borrower receiving approval. There is a much higher default rate associated with lending money to those with an unreliable record of repayment, but putting up collateral reduces the risk faced by a lender. It is important to understand that failing to keep up with repayments on home loans for people with bad credit can ultimately lead to home foreclosure.

Sufficient Home Equity

A poor credit secured loan will only be available to those who have sufficient equity in their property. Equity is defined as the amount the property is worth after subtracting the mortgage and all loans secured on it. This margin helps to protect the lenders interest in the event of default and a forced sale. Whilst 125% loans/mortgages used to be available, banks have been forced to change their lending strategy.

Debt-to-Income Ratio

Adverse credit secured loans aren’t as reliant on the borrower’s credit score. However, lenders will still scrutinise finances to ensure that repayment is affordable. Having a high percentage of debt increases the probability of a borrower defaulting on the agreement. Whilst the lender has the collateral, it doesn’t want to foreclose on a property as it is time consuming and brings bad publicity.

Stable Employment History

Home loans for people with bad credit are far more likely to be approved when the applicant has a steady employment history. Individuals in temporary employment, still in their probationary period or self-employed (with less than 3 years accounts) are likely to find getting approval far more difficult. A loans and mortgage broker may be able to provide some valuable assistance.

Too Many Applications for Poor Credit Secured Loans

Every application for credit will show on a personal credit report. Whilst making a few applications is acceptable, applying for lots of different home loans for bad credit can set off alarm bells for lenders. This is because it signifies desperation, money problems and a higher likelihood of the borrower not being able to keep up with repayments. It is important to apply for the right type of loans from the outset.

Poor credit secured loans will normally only be available to those who are able to satisfy the above criteria. Think carefully before signing up for any bad credit equity loan because failing to keep up with monthly repayments could result in home foreclosure.

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Best Reward Credit Cards: Cash Rebate Programs and Incentives

The best reward credit cards allow consumers to enjoy a cash rebate on every-day purchases. Some credit card rewards schemes offer an across the board payment, but others provide a higher rebate for buying goods and services from a specific merchant. For example, the BP gas rewards card offers a rebate of 5 percent on all gasoline purchases from a BP station. Credit card reward cards provide an effective way to save money on planned purchases.

How to Qualify for the Best Reward Credit Cards

Rising default rates have resulted in the majority of lenders adjusting their eligibility criteria for credit card rewards programs. Liz Pulliam-Weston of MSN Money stated that: “Issuers have tightened their underwriting standards. That means you need to have FICO credit scores of at least 660 to qualify for most run-of-the-mill rewards cards. You have to have excellent scores — 750 or above — to get the best ones.” Applicants should also avoid making multiple applications as each search shows on a credit report for a period of 12-months.

Common Rebate Credit Card Mistakes

  • Unpaid debt. A number of consumers make the mistake of buying goods and services specifically to accrue rewards. This should be avoided as it is only prudent to use a credit card with cash back scheme to make planned – not impulse – purchases.
  • Minimum payment. Always settle the full balance at month end as interest payments will always exceed the benefits provided by cash back rewards schemes. The report revealed that the average APR on new card offers was 14.1 percent.
  • Offer expiration. Issuers are constantly changing their deals and they will expire if left unused. Ms Pulliam Weston points out that: “Because the deals are ever-changing, you should redeem your points or miles as quickly as you can.” Always check the terms and conditions of the best credit cards for rewards prior to signing-up in case they are time sensitive.
  • Deals constantly change. Offers can and will change so use comparison sites to make sure that the best rewards credit card has been selected. It is advisable to perform a check every 12 months as making too many applications can lead to a lower credit score.

Pros and Cons of the Best Credit Card for Rewards

The best rewards credit cards provide a way of making some extra cash on every-day purchases. The better credit card rewards schemes tend to offer higher rewards for making specific purchases from merchants, but it is important to assess personal spending habits before signing-up. Rebate credit card programs are not suitable for consumers who regularly carry an unpaid balance over to the next month as interest payments will outweigh any benefit that is accrued. An interest-free balance transfer provides a far better alternative.

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5 Tips for Repaying Student Loans

Student loans are a necessary evil in today’s economy. It is almost impossible to get a decent job without a college education, and even with a degree, the odds are stacked against you. As a result, many college graduates find themselves in temporary positions or still in the midst of their job search by the time their student loans are due for repayment. Luckily, new federal and private initiatives have been implemented that can help you repay your student debt without falling into financial ruin, and these tips will help you learn how to take advantage of all your options.

Educate yourself about student loan repayment

Don’t let the bills pile up. Find out what kind of loans you have, and figure out what your grace period is. A grace period is the time that you can wait from when you leave school to when you must make your first payment. Different loans have different grace periods, but the most common time frame is six months. Oftentimes, it makes financial sense to consolidate your student loans into one so it is more manageable. Check with your leader to make sure your grace period has not changed once you consolidate. Most student loans also have forbearance options. These are periods of time that you may go without paying if you have life events that prevent you from doing so; a job loss, the birth of a child, or caring for a sick loved one. The most important thing is to communicate with your lender if you are unable to repay at some point. Most of the time, they will be more than willing to work with you to resolve the issue. The worst thing that you can do is let the bills pile up.

Learn about your options for repayment. Federal student loans have recently created a program known as “Income-Based Repayment” which caps your monthly payment at a manageable percentage of your annual income. The payments go up periodically over the lifetime of the loan, and most programs last 25 years. The downside of this program is that although your monthly payments will be relatively low, you will wind up paying much more in interest over the lifetime of the loan.

Lower that principal. The best way to take advantage of an Income-Based Repayment program is to lower the principal as often as you can. You get to take advantage of the benefits of low monthly student loan payments and get your loan balance knocked out at the same time. The way to do this is to pay your monthly bill as normal, but also pay any extra income that you receive directly to your student loan’s principal balance. Notify your lender in writing that the amount above your regular payment is to be applied directly to the principal, and not to be applied to future loan payments. After you have paid the extra amount, check to make sure that it was applied to the principal as you requested. This is a great way to avoid paying double the amount you originally borrowed by the time the loan is paid off.

Figure out how to trim down your student debt

Check out loan forgiveness. There are many different entities that offer student loan forgiveness programs. No matter what field you are in, it is worth your while to check for any options you may have available to you once you have entered repayment. A new federal initiative called “Public Service Loan Forgiveness” wipes away any student debt that remains after you have made 10 years’ worth of qualifying payments while working in government, nonprofit, or other jobs in public service fields. Those in the Armed Forces also have many options and should check with the appropriate military officials for advice. Private institutions are also following suit, so check with your employer to see if any programs are available where you work as well.

Find an income stream. So far, you have learned how to make your monthly student loan payments smaller as well as ways to pay down you principal quickly. The next step is to find a reliable income stream to depend on for your payments each month. Look for freelance work aside from your regular job, such as writing for reputable online pay-for-writing sites. You could also get paid for doing something you are good at, such as doing taxes for friends or caring for children once a week in your home. You just need to make enough extra income every month to cover your student loan bill so that you can spend your paycheck on other necessities, bills, and building your savings.

There are ways to manage your student loans. The debt is not what you see on your statement if you learn about the various options for repayment. If you follow a few simple tips, getting the jump on your student loan debt is a very realistic goal.

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How to Update Balances on Your Credit Report

When you wish to purchase something through a loan your credit report may affect your ability to do so. You may have trouble trying to obtain a mortgage, bank loan, credit card or even home necessities such as an Internet provider, home telephone or cell phone contract.

There are three national credit-reporting agencies that hold credit information about you. These have information of your spending habits and also your ability and willingness to repay as well as how much you still have outstanding. They are Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. People who you will go to obtain credit may use one or more of such agencies to gain information about you and this will determine as to whether they are willing to allow you credit according to the results. Other reasons for the balance being different than expected could be down to credit card fraud. If this is suspected you immediately need to contact your creditor as well as the credit reporting agencies to let them know. As we are all human it can sometimes be that an inputting error has occurred. Ensure you keep receipts and statements of all transactions so that this matter can be dealt with as soon as possible.

Your credit report is updated depending on your creditors; it is usually updated each month, on different days depending on the agency, yet it can happen as infrequently as every 90 days or quarterly, this is the reason why you can have paid off creditor yet it does not show on your credit report balance immediately. As the three credit agencies do not communicate you will find that the scores can differ between them. The information on your credit report will differ depending on how late you are to send a payment, some will choose not to at all. Depending on the creditors policy, it can be 30 days or more late before they decide to report it.

If you read your balance and it does not add up you need to get proof of payments that seem outstanding on the report and send them by letter to the credit report agency/agencies then wait for 90 days for the balance to be updated. If you know you have outstanding balances but wish to improve the balance on your credit report you can pay off what you owe then as with balances that have not yet been updated you can send proof of the payments and remaining balance, if any on the account by letter, this will then be updated within 90 days also.

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