Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Why playing the market right now is an especially bad idea. Also in the news: Is student loan discharge in bankruptcy within reach, the difference between being preapproved and prequalified for a credit card, and how your credit score is determined.

Playing the Market Is a Bad Idea, Especially Now
Brokerages have reported a surge in day trading, but the vast majority would be better off in low-cost funds.

Is Student Loan Discharge in Bankruptcy Now Within Reach?
Recent court rulings and lawmakers’ support to expand relief could help borrowers meet the stringent standards.

What’s the difference between being preapproved and prequalified for a credit card?
An unsolicited approval from a credit card issuer can be a red flag—they could be trying to sell you on a card you don’t need or want

How Your Credit Score Is Determined
Unraveling the mystery.

Q&A: Downside of unused credit cards

Dear Liz: In the past, you have recommended not canceling credit cards because doing so can hurt credit scores. Over the years, my husband has signed up for at least a dozen credit cards, eight of which we never use and have not used for as long as 10 years. He signed up for another card recently because it offered attractive cash rewards. Is having so many credit cards advisable and safe? Does it make us more vulnerable to identity theft? Without hurting our credit scores, may we discontinue the older cards we have stopped using? Is there any drawback to having multiple, perhaps dozens, of credit cards, especially if some are older and never used?

Answer: The biggest downside to having a bunch of unused credit cards is having to monitor all those accounts for fraudulent transactions, and perhaps paying unnecessary annual fees. The unused accounts add to the amount of available credit you have, which is a positive factor for credit scores.

If you’re concerned about identity theft, your best move would be to freeze your credit reports at all three bureaus. Such freezes are now free, and you can easily “thaw” the freeze temporarily if you want to apply for credit.

Credit freezes make it harder for criminals to open new accounts in your name. If a criminal uses one of your existing accounts, you’re typically protected. The vast majority of credit cards offer “zero liability,” which means you won’t be held responsible for fraudulent charges. Even without zero liability, federal law limits your liability to $50.

If monitoring multiple accounts is too much hassle, though, then he should consider closing some of the cards. If he’s paying fees for cards he’s not using, another option is to ask the issuer for a “product change” to a card that doesn’t charge fees.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: No credit? 3 steps to qualify for a great credit card. Also in the news:Ugrading your space while working at home means a call to your insurance agent, how to avoid impulse buying by disabling Amazon’s 1-Click ordering, and how to budget for long-term unemployment.

No Credit? 3 Steps to Qualify for a Great Credit Card
If you’re eager for a rewarding credit card but have little or no credit, these steps can help you qualify.
Upgrading Your Space While Stuck at Home? Get It Insured

Upgrading Your Space While Stuck at Home? Get It Insured
Notify your insurer ASAP.

Avoid Impulse Buying by Disabling Amazon’s 1-Click Ordering
Prime Day is coming up soon.

How to Budget for Long-Term Unemployment
Understand the steps for building a budget after experiencing a job loss.

Q&A: Here’s why you shouldn’t put that huge hospital bill on a credit card

Dear Liz: Because of COVID, my 27-year-old son lost his job and health insurance. He was unable to afford continued health insurance and did not qualify for Medicaid. He contracted spinal meningitis and was hospitalized 12 days. The hospital reduced his bill to $28,000 from the original $80,000, but he is still unable to pay. He remains unemployed and without any savings. What would you suggest he do?

Answer: Your son should first call the hospital and ask about applying for financial assistance. Federal law requires nonprofit hospitals to offer this help to low-income patients, and many for-profit hospitals also offer programs that can reduce or even eliminate the charges.

He also should ask about a payment plan geared to what’s left of his income. He should resist any hospital pressure to put the bill on a credit card, because hospital payment plans typically don’t charge interest while credit cards do.

If he’s still left with a bill he can’t pay, he should consult a bankruptcy attorney, and do so as soon as possible. Bankruptcy experts are predicting a big uptick in filings as people and businesses struggle with fallout from the pandemic.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How to boost your chances of getting another credit card. Also in the news: 6 great recession rules that still apply, using your 529 plan to pay your student loans, and how to save money on Medicare open enrollment.

Here’s what you need to do to boost your chances of getting another credit card
Ways to access more credit.

6 great recession rules that still apply
Valuable lessons.

You Can Use Your 529 Plan to Pay Your Student Loans
Paying down your balance.

Medicare open enrollment is coming up. Three steps to save money this fall
Making smart choices.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How to avoid waiting on credit card customer service lines. Also in the news: COVID-19 refunds on campus, why older Americans might be having trouble getting credit cards, and money-saving tips everyone should know.

How to Avoid Waiting on Credit Card Customer Service Lines
Alternatives to sitting on hold.

Will You Get a Refund If COVID-19 Closes Your Campus?
You might get a refund for room and board, but don’t expect a tuition refund if campus shuts down again.

Why older Americans might be having trouble getting credit cards
How banks determine creditworthiness.

Money-Saving Tips Every College Student Should Know
Saving money whenever possible.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Choosing the right vehicle for your off-road adventures. Also in the news: Why a new fee shouldn’t stop you from refinancing your mortgage, what to do when you’ve paid off your credit card debt, and how to manage any credit card debt you may have racked up the last few months.

Choose the Right Vehicle for Your Off-Road Adventures
A versatile SUV can take you almost anywhere, but prepare for trade-offs the farther you venture off-road.

The Property Line: Don’t Let New Fee Stop You From Refinancing
Millions of homeowners could still benefit from refinancing their mortgages to get a lower interest rate.

You paid off all of your credit card debt—what to do next?
Don’t cut up those cards just yet.

How to manage any credit card debt you may have racked up the last few months
Talk to your lenders.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Is it harder for seniors to get credit cards? Also in the news: Factoring in fees on grocery, delivery, what to do if losing your job means losing your life insurance, and there’s still time to claim your missing $500 stimulus for dependents.

Is It Harder for Seniors to Get Credit Cards?
Even with more time to build history, seniors may have a hard time getting credit.

For grocery delivery, add fees to the list
Convenience comes at a cost.

What to do if losing your job means losing life insurance
Examining your options.

There’s Still Time to Claim Your Missing $500 Stimulus for Dependents
Another opportunity to get your stimulus.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Can you have too much credit? Also in the news: How to safely move during a pandemic, what personal finance apps should be doing to better serve older people, and how to avoid paying a penalty if you missed the tax filing deadline.

Can You Have Too Much Credit?
Credit scoring formulas don’t punish people for having too many credit accounts, but too much debt can hurt scores.

How to Move Safely During a Pandemic
Keeping yourself and your stuff safe.

This is what personal finance apps should be doing to better serve older people
What a survey revealed about the apps.

How to Avoid Paying a Penalty If You Missed the Tax Filing Deadline
You could qualify for a first-time penalty abatement.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How to increase your chances of credit card approval. Also in the news: How to transition from work-at-home novice to pro, why the weak dollar is good for your investments, and why champagne sales have gone flat.

How to Increase Your Chances of Credit Card Approval
Boost your odds by focusing on your credit scores.

Transition From Work-at-Home Novice to Pro
A check-in can help you get productivity, health and balance dialed in for the long run.

Why the Weak Dollar Is Good for Your Investments
The pandemic and low interest rates have weakened the dollar.

Champagne sales flattened by social distancing amid global pandemic
Not much to celebrate.