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Ask the Credit Expert: What’s the Ideal Credit Score?

2014 August 29
by Guest

credit expert“Kay” is Kayleigh GaddorCommunity Manager at Credit Karma.

Dear Kay:

Should I leave a credit card open if I’m never going to use it again?


Unless that card has an annual fee, the answer will usually be “yes.” Closing a credit card reduces the overall amount of credit available to you, which affects your credit card utilization rate, a significant factor of your credit score. Having more credit available to you is generally a good indicator of overall creditworthiness, which lenders like to see.  Just keep in mind that you may need to occasionally use the card throughout year to keep the account active (and of course, make sure you pay your bills to keep it current).

How can I find the best credit card for me?


Many of us are inundated with credit card offers mailed directly to our homes. They frequently arrive nicely packaged, touting enticing sign-up bonuses. While this is convenient, applying for each card that sends you an offer isn’t typically the best credit-building strategy. Instead, it’s good practice to review your spending patterns and think about what you want out of a credit card. Do you want to earn cash back on your purchases, or rewards in the form of flights and hotel stays?  If you always fly the same airline or stay in the same hotels, a partner-branded card may be ideal for you. If you only plan to charge necessities like gas and groceries, there are cards that optimize those rewards, too.  And obviously, it’s also important to review the various terms and fine print.  Try comparison shopping to compare offers and rates.  At Credit Karma, we offer tools for comparing credit cards from our marketing partners, as well as a robust section of reviews written by actual cardholders.

Should I consider a balance transfer to help me pay down debt (and eliminate interest on old debts)?


If you are digging your way out from underneath a mountain of credit card debt with a high APR, a balance transfer may be right for you. It’s true that a balance transfer can potentially save you big bucks in interest payments.  However, there are a few things to consider before transferring a balance. Have you asked your current lender for an interest rate reduction? They might say no, but it never hurts to ask. Are you likely to qualify for a balance transfer card? A good credit score is usually required. What kinds of fees are associated with the process?  In general, the more you transfer, the higher the fees. Some cards charge a percentage-based fee on the dollar amount transferred, while others charge interest every month.  Steep fees could negate some of the potential savings. You’ll want to read the fine print to see how long the introductory rate lasts, and what your APR will be afterwards.  It’s critical to be responsible with your balance transfer, and use the opportunity to reduce or eliminate your debt at a lower interest rate.

What is the ideal credit score?


The ideal credit score is one that saves you money in the long-run. Many people fixate on obtaining that “perfect” 850. Truthfully, there’s no reason to – except for bragging rights. While there’s no “ideal” credit score, in general, the best interest rates and financing terms are typically available to consumers with a score of 720 and above in most scoring models.  Once you pass that threshold, there are few additional incentives for a higher score. However, remember that the threshold for the best interest rates varies across products and lenders, and can change depending on other economic factors. It’s not set in stone. Continue good credit habits, and you’ll be on your way to gaining the money-saving benefits of a good credit score.

Content is for entertainment and information purposes only. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors themselves, and not necessarily Credit Karma or its affiliates. This post was brought to you by the fine folks at Credit Karma.

Ooma Safety Phone Review

2014 August 27
by Charlie


Over the last two and a half years many of you had heard my enthusiasm about the Ooma Telo home phone system, which has been saving my family money hand over fist. Thus far, the Ooma Telo has saved us over $750 over my previous phone service.

However, I’m not here to repeat my glowing reviews about the Ooma home phone service. No…I am proud to announce a new service that Ooma is offering! It is called the Ooma Safety Phone, and it is just as easy to setup as the basic Ooma Telo phone system. This little device can be used for elderly friends or relatives if you are concerned that they might fall or young kids that are left home alone and might need to contact a parent quickly.  read more…

Does Cub Foods Really Have Lower Prices?

2014 August 25
by Laurie

The following post has been brought to you by Cub Foods

laurieWhen we lived in the city, Cub Foods was our “go to” grocery store. The local store there was clean and inviting, the staff was great and the produce was always excellent in quality. After we moved to the country nearly two years ago, however, we had a “budget epiphany” and have since done the majority of our shopping at another store with notably lower prices.

Although most other things about this particular store are good, I’ve never been very happy with the produce selection, and have missed the great produce I always found at Cub Foods.  However, with the money savings of a good 15-20% that I get at the big box store grocer, I just couldn’t bring myself to start shopping at the local Cub Foods here.  For a big family on a budget, cash just has to be the deciding factor in where we choose to grocery shop. Cub always has terrific weekly deals, so we’d often stop in there to scoop up their great weekly specials, but the majority of our shopping was done at the big box store with the low, low prices.  read more…

How to Get Rid of Junk Mail (for Good)

2014 August 20
by Aaron

no more junk mailA few weeks ago I came home to spot a large full plastic bag sitting on the front steps of our house. I thought it may have been a package my wife ordered or some nice baked goods from the neighbor. After getting closer, I discovered what it was:

The Yellow Pages phone book.  read more…

NEW: Grab Your Free Credit Report

2014 August 18

aaron_image1I remember one of the first times my credit report was pulled for an auto loan (yes, that one that I should have never gotten into). After it came back clean, I remember feeling a sense of pride that I was “staying on the straight and narrow”. I remember the loan officer talking about how it was costing the dealership money to pull it but it was something they needed to do to check my “credit-worthiness”. Do you recall the first time your report got pulled?

FREE credit reports?

Which leads me to tell you about another new offering that our friends at Credit Karma just came up for their users: FREE credit reports. Right now, Credit Karma offers free credit scores to those who sign-up on their website.  So, the credit report is an added bonus to users.  read more…

3 Worthwhile Benefits to Paying Off Debt

2014 August 15
by Aaron

debt sucks gasThis past week I wrote out the final check that would pay off our vehicle in full. I breathed a sigh of relief and felt as though another weight had been lifted.

I tried to savor the moment. And although the amount was sizable, it was actually fun writing that check that would buy our family even more freedom.

Now, I’ve been debt-free before. In 2008, I paid the last of my school loan and entered into a moment of debt-freedom that I hadn’t experienced since high school - some 16 years earlier. Although, I eventually caved into purchasing a home with a mortgage, the feeling of being free of debt for a season was a liberating one.  read more…

Lower Prices and More Savings at Cub Foods

2014 August 13

The following post is sponsored by Cub Foods

aaron_image1With all the grocery store price wars going on (namely between the Giant (Walmart) vs. David (your local grocer), there is a concentrated effort to help customers save more at the checkout.

Plus, we’ve all seen the rise in food prices the past few years and many of us are having to tighten our budgets more and more as a result.

To help customers save more at the grocery store, Cub Foods (who are located in Minnesota and Illinois) introduced a handy new feature called the “Load to Card” program where customers can save coupons they find at to their MyCub Rewards card. (Here’s a helpful video that will further explain how to use your Rewards card and the Load to Card feature).  read more…

3 Ways to Save on Textbooks This School Year

2014 August 8
by Matthew

textbooksShopping around for a good deal is textbook money management. But when it comes to actual textbooks, too many students (especially freshmen!!) pay for overpriced books at university bookstores. As I finished college and my wife and I both began purusing graduate degrees, saving money each semester on textbooks became extremely helpful with offsetting the cost of tuition and other fees.  read more…

Is Your House Leaking Money? (Like Ours Is)

2014 August 6
by Aaron

A few years ago I wrote about how our home experienced some water damage related to an ice dam that had built up along our roof which caused water to leak inside the walls of our house. It was our first experience with ice dams and resulted in my learning more than I ever wanted to about their formation.

ice dam claim(For those who don’t know, ice dams build-up when the roof deck is not the same temperature as the outside – so the snow melts, freezes and melts – causing a build-up of ice which eventually creeps its way up past your ice/water barrier – and when that happens all sorts of fun happens. Essentially, your home has an energy leak(s) somewhere which is causing the attic to be warmer than it should be – resulting in a warmer roof.)

We thought we had everything figured out after the clean-up and reconstruction efforts.  read more…

Which States Have the Best Credit Scores?

2014 July 31
by Aaron

A little change of pace today: here’s a fun infographic depicting the states with the best credit scores along with the average credit scores per age group. All of this information (and more) can be found at Credit Karma. If you haven’t done so already, log in to grab a free credit score today (it doesn’t take very long!).

Any surprises?  read more…