Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Changed travel plans on the menu this Thanksgiving. Also in the news: Online shopping already hit holiday-lvel peaks this year, when you can apply for a credit card after bankruptcy, and how the pandemic has made the racial retirement gap worse.

Changed Travel Plans on the Menu This Thanksgiving
Three in 5 U.S. adults who had Thanksgiving travel plans say these plans have been affected by the pandemic, according to a NerdWallet survey.

Online Shopping Already Hit Holiday-Level Peaks This Year
Shopping looks a little different this year.

When Can I Apply For A Credit Card After Bankruptcy?
Your options are limited.

The pandemic has made the racial retirement gap worse. Here’s how individuals can close it.Closing the racial retirement gap for people of color, even in this pandemic, could begin with broadening access and financial education.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Don’t skip these steps when borrowing parent student loans. Also in then news: How to build a home office without breaking the bank, medical student borrowing slows, and the easiest way to lower the interest rate on your credit card.

Don’t Skip These Steps When Borrowing Parent Student Loans
Assess your financial situation and talk openly with your child before borrowing parent student loans.

How to Build a Home Office Without Breaking the Bank
Decide where you’ll invest to make a home office that’s comfortable and productive, as well as affordable.

Med Student Borrowing Slows, but Debt Still an Issue
In the class of 2019, 73% of medical students took out loans; their median debt was $200,000.

The Easiest Way to Lower Your Credit Card Interest Rate
Get ready to spend some time on the phone.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 7 Halloween headaches and how insurance can help. Also in the news: Your battle plan for buying a home with a VA loan, what college and student debt changes are likely after the election, and the best credit card for food delivery apps.

7 Halloween Headaches and How Insurance Can Help
What to do when you get tricked.

Your Battle Plan for Buying a Home With a VA Loan
Choose experienced professionals to guide you through the VA loan process, and bring some cash to the table, even if you don’t plan to make a down payment.

Trump vs. Biden: What College and Student Debt Changes Are Likely
What to expect from both candidates.

The Best Credit Cards for Food Delivery Apps
Finding tasty discounts.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 5 credit mistakes that can haunt you. Also in the news: The benefits of a renovation refinance, 7 times you might want to product-change a credit card, and why you should name a guardian for your kids right away.

5 Credit Mistakes That Can Haunt You
Some mistakes are much worse than others.

Looking to Fund a Remodel? Consider a Renovation Refinance
Paying for home improvements with a renovation refinance loan has certain advantages — including a potentially lower interest rate.

7 Times You Might Want to Product-Change a Credit Card
Swapping your card, instead of closing it and opening a new one, can help you avoid an annual fee and hard inquiry.

Why You Should Name a Guardian for Your Kids Right Away
Life is unpredictable.

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.