Be the master of your credit card debt
News from National Post:

Jonathan Chevreau  Mar 3, 2012 – 7:00 AM ET | Last Updated: Mar 3, 2012 9:56 AM ET

Credit cards can be a wonderful convenience when properly used. They make it easy to buy over the Internet, are accepted by many parking machines when you don’t have spare change, and judicious accumulation of “points” can even let you make a small profit from their use.

The key is to be the master of your cards, rather than let them master you. Our family has three cards, which is in line with the average 3.2 cards per Canadian adult. However, we rarely pay a cent of interest because we’ve arranged with our bank to automatically pay off outstanding balances the day before they’re due.

“They can be a great thing if used effectively and efficiently,” agrees Jeffrey Schwartz, executive director of Consolidated Credit Counselling Services of Canada Inc. If you pay them off promptly, they help build a healthy credit profile that affects the financing of cars, buying insurance or even renting apartments.

But trouble can start when instead of paying off the entire balance, one makes only the minimum monthly payment. That sets th…………… continues on National Post

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Late medical bills can lower credit scores for consumers: How to check and fix …
News from Washington Post:

When a debt collector goes after you for a late medical bill, your credit can suffer — even if you quickly pay up.

Paid or unpaid, large or small amounts — all can affect a credit score, said Anthony Sprauve, a spokesman for FICO, developer of the most widely used measure of credit risk. Banks and credit card companies use FICO and other credit scores to decide if they’ll lend to you and how much you’ll have to pay to borrow money.

The effect on a credit score can vary, but for any medical collection — paid or unpaid — “a person with a FICO score of 680 will see their score drop between 45 and 65 points. Someone with a FICO score of 780 will see their score drop between 105-125 points,” Sprauve said.

Your credit score is determined by information in your credit report, which you can check for accuracy. Federal law says everyone is entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the three major credit reporting companies — TransUnion, Equifax and Experian.

The government-approved site tells how to request a free copy of your credit report.

If you find a mistake in your credit report, you can dispute the error with the credit reporting company. The Federal Trade Commission has steps for disputing errors, including a sample dispute letter, on its website.

But if the bill wasn’t a mis…………… continues on Washington Post

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