Boo! Credit Scores Can Be Scary, Fear Not with These 5 Secrets


Credit Scores can seem scary when you think about how that three-digit number can affect so many financial decisions in your life. Frightening enough, that score can then scare away lenders when you’re applying for a loan or a mortgage. The ones not frightened away give you a horrifying interest rate!

Before you go and hide under your covers, here are 5 ways to calm your fears and improve your credit score.

1. Pay Off Your Balances, Especially Large Ones, Quickly

This pointer might sound obvious, but the sooner you can eliminate your balances, the healthier your credit score will be. If you make a hefty purchase with a credit card, try to pay it off right away, even if you must sell a favorite possession to obtain the funds. When you do so, you might find that your score goes up substantially. Plus, you’ll lower the interest rate you’re paying. At the very least, try to pay down your highest balances to the greatest extent that you can.

If you’ve routinely paid your credit card bills late, don’t fall into despair and assume that punctual payments won’t do you any good now. Instead, start paying those bills on time. Despite your history, your credit score will eventually reflect your newfound effort. What’s more, you’ll get into a good habit.

Remember as well that you can use an online service that will automatically pay your credit card debts each month. Such a tool will ensure that you won’t ever forget one of your bills.

2. Consider a Debt Consolidation Loan

You could speak to a financial expert about taking out a debt consolidation loan. This solution isn’t ideal for everyone, but perhaps you’d benefit from one.

First, you might find it easier to pay off your credit cards by combining the amounts of money you owe to various credit card companies into one sum. It might feel less painful to make a more substantial payment each month rather than a series of smaller payments. Plus, you won’t accidentally overlook a payment that you owe. Even more appealing, your overall interest rate will be lower. And taking out such a loan might soon result in a higher credit score.

3. Bring Your Credit Utilization Ratio Down

Your credit utilization ratio is the portion of your total credit limit that you spend every month. This ratio should be less than 30 percent. Of course, that number might sound low, especially if your limit is less than $1,000.

Keep calculating your credit utilization ratio each month. If you find that it exceeds 30 percent, try to pay more with cash or a debit card. You could also try to make fewer purchases, rely on coupons and discounts more often or start shopping around for less expensive products and services.

Another way to improve your credit utilization ratio is to ask for a higher line of credit. That way, you might not need to reduce your spending rate. If you have any credit cards that will grant such an increase without investigating your credit, consider making this request. Just be certain that none of those companies plan to do a hard credit check; having such an inquiry performed lowers your score a little.

4. Don’t Be Afraid to Use Your Credit Cards

Even though it’s important to keep your credit utilization ratio down, you should still be making regular purchases with all of your credit cards. Spending with your plastic and then making your payments in full is a highly effective way to raise your credit score. By contrast, when you completely avoid taking your credit cards out of your wallet or purse, you’re not doing anything positive for your credit report. And closing one or more of your credit cards could actually hurt your score.

On top of that, using your credit cards might allow you to collect exciting rewards. Possibilities include securing special deals on airfare and hotel stays as well as getting cash back when you buy certain items. Why pass up those goodies?

5. Seek Help from an Outstanding Credit Repair Service

Finally, a dependable credit repair service can help you boost your score and maintain that higher number over the long haul. It can keep careful track of your credit report and identify any mistakes or irregularities that might be unfairly damaging your credit.

The experts who work at such a company could also sit down with the credit card companies and other parties you owe money to. And they might be able to hammer out new agreements that are more lenient and favorable to you.

So there you have it: five financial tricks that can lead to real credit treats. These actions could provide you with the monetary rewards ― including better loan terms and insurance rates ― and the peace of mind that come with a healthy credit report.


Credit Score Hit – Is the 10% Offer Worth it?

Credit Score Retail Credit Cards

We’ve all been there. You are out the checkout counter of a fancy department store when the cashier asks “Would you like to open a store credit card and receive 10 percent off your order?” On the surface, it sounds like a great deal. Who doesn’t like to save money? Plus, many retailers will offer additional benefits to cardholders, like 10 percent off every time you shop, or even special sales that are only for credit card holders.

The problem is that opening retail credit cards can affect your credit score (yes, even if you pay them off each month), and all the credit repair in the world won’t help if you are constantly adding to the problem. Here is what you need to know:

Regret is Real

According to Today, roughly half of all people who open retail store credit cards regret doing so. “You need to understand all the terms and the potential collateral damage that you might cause yourself,” says credit expert John Ulzheimer. “If you’re going to carry a balance on that new card for even a couple of months, you’ll give back any sort of discount you received at the register – and then some – in the form of interest.”

High Interest is the Norm

The discounts stores offer to people who open credit cards are there for a reason – the stores make money. It is not unusual for a retail store credit card to charge interest rates over 25 percent, even for people with good credit. Stores like TJ Maxx, Staples, Toys R Us, and JC Penney each charge their retail credit card customers annual percentage rates (APR) of 26.99 percent or more. Even Amazon charges its customers 25.99 percent APR.

It All Adds Up

Some retail store credit cards do charge less interest, but the average is still a whopping 23.4 percent APR. “Let’s say, for instance, that you rack up $1,000 in debt on a typical store credit card. You’d pay off the debt after six years, paying $833 in fees, if you paid only the minimum each month,” explains Time’s Money. “On a card with an APR of 15%, by contrast, you’d pay off the debt 18 months sooner and save $463.”

It Hurts your Credit Score

Even if you are committed to paying off your retail store card each month, there are still consequences. For one, expect your credit score to take a hit. According to Forbes, “If you already have a limited credit history, or if you’re straddling the line around 700 FICO, this could potentially move you from ‘good’ to ‘average’ credit and negatively affect your interest rates and credit allowances on future loans (like auto loans, mortgages, and even low interest credit card deals).” The thing is that your retail store credit card is treated like any other credit card when it comes to your credit score. You’ll get dinged for making the credit inquiry, hit for trying to open too many cards in a short period of time, and pinged if your credit utilization rate goes up (that’s the proportion of your credit card balances to your credit card limits).

Options are Limited

Also, just because you can qualify for a store credit card, it doesn’t mean you will actually get a credit card. You will still need good credit to qualify for a store credit card that is co-branded with American Express, Mastercard, or Visa. Without it, or if the retail store you are shopping doesn’t offer a co-branded credit card option, you will be stuck with a credit card that impacts your credit score but has a low credit limit and can only be used at that retailer.

At the end of the day, the 10 percent offer simply is not worth the hit to your credit score, let alone the extra interest you’ll pay and the limitations on how you can use it. If you have questions about retail store credit cards, other things that affect your credit score, or want to know how to repair your credit, contact us. Ovation Credit Services can review your credit report and design a personalized plan for repairing your credit that takes into account your unique credit situation as well as your financial goals.

If your credit score has taken a hit from too many retail store credit cards, we can help with that, too. Ovation Credit Services offers personalized credit repair advice to help get you back on track and get your credit score back to where it should be. Contact us for more information.


Caldwell, Miriam, “Should I Use a Store Credit Card?”, February 24, 2016. Accessed:

Chen, Tim, “Are Store Credit Cards Worth It?” Forbes, November 3, 2010. Accessed:

Hamm, Trent, “Why Store Credit Cards Are A Bad Deal,” The Simple Dollar, September 10, 2014. Accessed:

Johnston Taylor, Susan, “5 Things to Know Before Signing Up for a Store Credit Card,” U.S. News: Money, November 21, 2013. Accessed:

Lowry, Erin, “The Only Reason to Open a Store Credit Card,” Magnify Money, May 5, 2014. Accessed:

Tepper, Taylor, “11 Store Credit Cards Not Worth Signing Up For,” Time: Money, October 15, 2015. Accessed:

Weisbaum, Herb, “Store loyalty cards: Are they a good deal for you?” Today, March 10, 2015. Accessed:

5 Healthy Financial Habits to Teach Your Kids


When you teach your children about money, you teach them all sorts of valuable life lessons. You educate them about patience, thriftiness, long-term planning, generosity and more.

You might consider the habits below as you’re deciding what to tell your kids about money. By internalizing these behaviors, a child can grow into a financially responsible adult who never has to worry too much about his or her credit score.

1. Expecting to Earn, Not Receive, Money

Young children should first understand the basic tenet of capitalism: People get money in exchange for work. Cash doesn’t just magically appear (except maybe when Grandma and Grandpa visit).

To reinforce this idea, occasionally ask your children when they’re in elementary school to complete certain tasks. For example, you could vacuum the house together, or they could put the leaves that you rake into garbage bags. Afterward, you could give each of them a dollar to keep in a safe spot in their bedrooms.

2. Saving, Saving, Saving

Bring your children to a bank to show them how you deposit cash and checks. They might be fascinated to watch the mechanics of the process. If no one’s in line behind you, you might even hold up one of your kids so that he or she can swipe your card.

As you leave, explain how the bank is holding onto your money in much the same way that they’re storing their dollar bills in their rooms. That way, if you ever need money for something expensive like a new car, you’ll have access to it. If an emergency like a sudden sickness arises, you’ll have the funds that you’ll need to cover your medical bills and other expenses that come up.

You might even talk about how the bank gives you a little extra money now and then as a reward for saving with them — an amount that’s called interest. To really drive home the point, emphasize how saving gives you a happy feeling inside, sort of like eating an ice cream cone.

3. Only Buying What You Need or Really Want

Start working with your kids on their impulse control when they’re young, and keep reminding them of its importance until they’ve left home for good. Indeed, many adults struggle with delaying their gratification.

When you’re at a supermarket or a mall, wait for your child to point to a toy and ask for it. At that point, you can discuss how people shouldn’t buy something as soon as they see it. Instead, they should go home and think about it.

You can continue by saying that, every once in awhile, people should pick one item that they saw during the previous month or so and purchase it. That way, they won’t spend more money than they can spare, and they won’t hoard stuff that they’re never actually going to use. And by waiting, they can appreciate the things that they get even more.

You can also teach this lesson by example. For instance, you could point to an easy chair or a painting in a store and tell your kids that you’d like to buy that object but won’t. Rather, you’ll wait to make sure that you can afford it.

You might have to endure plenty of whining at first, but soon enough, delayed gratification will become a way of life for your little ones. They’ll eventually be proud of their ability to walk away from toys and other appealing items.

4. Creating Budgets

As soon as one of your children has money coming in regularly ― whether it’s from a job or an allowance ― it’s time to discuss budgets. Sit down with your son or daughter on the first day of the month. Together, make a list of all of his or her projected expenses that month, being as thorough as you can.

Deduct those expenses from your child’s total monthly income. The two of you should then negotiate how much of the remainder will go into a savings account. The rest can be used for social activities.

Until you’re confident that your child can handle budgeting, keep track of how much money he or she has on hand, and have a storage container for all receipts ― a place where you can look at them whenever you’d like.

By imparting the importance of budgets, you’ll help ensure that your son or daughter will someday have a strong credit report, even if he or she needs credit repair services once in awhile.

5. Ignoring Advertising

In your home and car, you might turn the volume way down when TV and radio commercials come on. Likewise, encourage your kids not to pay much attention to billboards and internet ads.

In our society, advertising is everywhere, and it can be loud and intense. Worse, much of it targets children in sneaky ways. Thus, tell your kids that commercials often make foods look tastier and toys more exciting than they really are. Also try to emphasize how commercials sometimes sell things that people don’t need at all. Resisting ads can save consumers of any age lots of cash.

Teaching your kids about money can be fun. You’ll bond with them as you put coins in piggy banks, use toy bills to explain savings accounts and decide which snacks to buy at the supermarket. Your children will probably remember these times together with great fondness.