- Always at least pay the minimum payments. If you’re deciding between paying off a balance and paying minimums on other cards, you should always pay off your minimums first. A good way to make sure you don’t fall behind on minimums is to set up automatic payments through your bank. Late payments affect 35% of your credit score.
- Keep your balance 30% below your credit limit. Borrowers who keep their balance below 30% aren’t seen as a risk or a threat by creditors, and their credit score will increase. Keeping a small balance and paying minimum payments for a while will create a credit history and also increase your credit score.
- Choose a method for paying down balances. If you’ve got balances across multiple cards, it makes the most sense to tackle the card with the highest-interest rate first. But if that balance is especially big, it might be more motivating to eliminate balances from smallest to largest.
- Pay off your balances but don’t get rid of your credit card. Once you’ve eliminated your balance, don’t get rid of your card. The “length of credit history” component of your credit score makes up 15% of your overall score, so it makes sense to keep your cards open, use them, and pay the balance once you’ve brought your balance down to zero.
Marriage can both adversely and beneficially affect your student loan repayment strategy. Therefore, it is critical for newlyweds to be transparent about student loan debt in order to both avoid problems and take advantage of potential benefits brought on by merging incomes.
- Potential problems: Income Based Repayment Plans
If one spouse has federal student loans and is enrolled in an income-driven repayment plan and the other isn’t, getting married can increase monthly payments or cause the affected borrower to no longer qualify.
For borrowers in Pay As You Earn (PAYE) or Income-Based Repayment (IBR), married couples can file taxes separately. Although couples that file separately pay a higher tax bill, both incomes won’t be considered in determining the repayment plan for income-based student loan repayment plans.
However, borrowers in the Revised Pay As You Earn Plan (REPAYE) don’t have that option and a spouse’s income is counted regardless of how the taxes are filed.
- Potential benefits: Refinancing loans together or co-signing for each other
Some lenders allow couples to refinance their loans together which may unlock additional savings potential. These “couples loans” combine the two incomes and take the higher credit score allowing a refinance at a lower interest rate.
Additionally, because spouses can co-sign on each other’s loans, the spouse with the higher credit score may be able to secure refinancing at a lower interest rate. Although this can save money by securing lower interest payments, the co-signing spouse becomes legally liable for the loan even after divorce.
Wells Fargo Merchant Services is a joint venture between Wells Fargo Bank and payment processor First Data Corp. It processes credit and debit card transactions for businesses. A class action, filed on Friday in Brooklyn federal court, said Wells Fargo Merchant Services promised merchants that it would give them transparent pricing but then charged them unauthorized fees which were disguised with deceptive language in monthly statements.
For example, merchants were charged a $35 monthly minimum charge, after they signed three-year contracts which could be terminated only by paying a $500 penalty. Wells Fargo buried some terms in a 63-page, fine-print guide that could never be completely read or understood by a busy merchant, the lawsuit said. In addition, statements sent to merchants described some fees as “interchange charges,” indicating that they were imposed by a credit card “network”, when, in reality, Wells Fargo Merchant Services kept part of those fees as profit, the lawsuit said.
Wells Fargo Bank, the third-largest U.S. bank, had agreed to pay a $185 million fine to the U.S. government last year, to settle claims about the creation of unauthorized accounts. On Friday, it said it would pay the government $108 million to settle allegations that it charged military veterans hidden fees to refinance mortgages. And the bank also recently said it would refund about $80 million to an estimated 570,000 customers who were wrongly charged for auto insurance from 2012 to 2017, including roughly 20,000 whose vehicles were repossessed.
Big banks have said that they are failing to maintain the pace of their fintech rivals in China as mobile payment methods gain dominance. Alipay, a financial application created by Ant Financial, which is a financial company operated by Alibaba, has become the most used platform for payments in China with more than 900 million accounts and 350 registered and active users. With a market cap value of around $60 billion in January, Alipay looks to have taken over the Chinese fintech industry and is continuing to attract traditional banking customers with its alternative banking services.
Tencent, which is also the operator and developer behind WeChat, a messaging app in China that has around 800 million daily users, has subsidiaries within the Internet and mobile phone value-added services. It was recently reported that the company was developing its own blockchain platform. The online payments sector is showing no signs of slowing down as more people turn to alternative methods to conventional banking.
By now, most Americans have heard about Wells Fargo’s fake account scandal that led to as many as 3.5 million unauthorized bank accounts and damaged people’s credit scores across the country. Last week, we learned that Wells Fargo has also been running an auto insurance scam. And now, Congress is bending over backwards to help this type of bank and other bad actors get away with their crimes.
Wells Fargo has continuously tried to use forced arbitration to block class actions that challenge its behavior. These clauses, buried in the fine-print of Wells Fargo’s contracts, ban individuals and small businesses from banding together in a class and suing in court. Specifically, arbitration clauses can block people from bringing or joining group lawsuits, also known as “class action lawsuits.” Instead, victims of fraud are forced into an individual and secretive arbitration process. Oftentimes, the arbitrator is chosen by the financial institution.
Since 2009, only 215 consumers nationwide have filed claims in arbitration against Wells Fargo Most of them ended up paying out money to Wells Fargo. The Economic Policy Institute found that the average consumer pays the bank or lender $7,725 in arbitration. Fortunately, a new rule from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau bars financial institutions from banning class-action lawsuits and restores customers’ right to have their day in court when banks or predatory lenders violate the law.
Unfortunately, powerful corporate interest groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are lobbying lawmakers to repeal the new rule, thereby giving a free pass to institutions such as Wells Fargo. Last week, the rule was repealed in the House. Senators plan to use a fast-track process with little debate to repeal it.