Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Credit score drop? How to diagnose why and what to do next. Also in the news: Put off debt payments to start saving now, going contactless as a way to pay safer, and many unemployed people aren’t aware of all the relief they may qualify for during the pandemic.

Credit Score Drop? How to Diagnose Why, and What to Do Next
If you got a payment modification and saw a score drop, it’s tempting to think they’re related. They may not be.

Put Off Debt Payments to Start Saving Now
In uncertain times, it makes sense to prioritize building a cash reserve over paying down debt balances.

Looking for Safer Ways to Pay? Go Contactless
Contactless payments like mobile wallets, P2P apps and tap-to-pay cards are easy to use and help lessen risk of contagion.

Many unemployed people aren’t aware of all the relief they may qualify for during the pandemic
Take a look at what’s available.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Should you leave your kids an equal inheritance? Also in the news: The Points Nerd on who we can trust about travel safety, a student loan expert takes her own advice, and how to apply for a credit card when you don’t have a credit score.

Should You Leave Your Kids an Equal Inheritance?
Consider family dynamics.

Ask a Points Nerd: Whom Can We Trust About Travel Safety?
Err on the side of caution.

A student loan expert takes her own advice
Making the system work.

How to Apply for a Credit Card When You Don’t Have a Credit Score
Build up your credit worthiness.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Can I buy or sell a house during the Coronavirus pandemic? Also in the news: How to manage your credit score during a crisis, Coronavirus cancellation and change policies for credit card travel portals, and how to get all your credit card payments deferred in one call.

Can I Buy or Sell a House During the Coronavirus Pandemic?
New regulations you’ll contend with.

How to Manage Your Credit Score During a Crisis
Looking at alternatives.

Coronavirus Cancellation and Change Policies for Credit Card Travel Portals
Everything you need to know.

Get All Your Credit Card Payments Deferred With One Call
A credit counselor can help you.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How to get cash from your life insurance policy. Also in the news: How to manage your credit score during a crisis, how to tell if your financial advisor is really helping you, and how much a credit card cash advance will really cost you.

How to Get Cash From Your Life Insurance Policy
Four ways to tap into your policy.

How to Manage Your Credit Score During a Crisis
Strategic choices.

Crisis Test: Is Your Financial Advisor Really Helping You?
Are your best interests being put first?

Here’s What a Credit Card Cash Advance Will Really Cost You
Check that APR.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How COVID-19 payment accommodations may affect your credit. Also in the news: Mortgage “relief” and “refinance” searches spike during outbreak, why retailers host sales during the outbreak, and how to get Coronavirus relief payments for kids if you don’t files taxes.

How COVID-19 Payment Accommodations May Affect Your Credit
How the CARES Act affects credit reporting.

Mortgage ‘Relief’ and ‘Refinance’ Searches Spike During Outbreak
The Coronavirus has people examining their mortgages.

Another Email? Why Retailers Host Sales During Coronavirus Outbreak
Retailers are struggling.

How to Get Coronavirus Relief Payments for Kids If You Don’t File Taxes
Keep checking the IRS website.

Q&A: This innocent oversight can torpedo your credit scores

Dear Liz: My wife just had a credit card closed due to late payments, and we need some advice. It was a mileage card that she stopped using, but in November she made a charge for $120. She forgot about the charge, and in December they added the annual $60 fee. We weren’t monitoring the card, as it wasn’t being used, so we missed paying the two charges for three months. They closed the account and refused to reopen it even after we paid the balance.

This was an account my wife had for 17 years, always making payments on time, with a $26,000 credit line. Is there a way to get the company to reopen the account? Would you suggest writing a goodwill letter asking the bank to remove the account from our credit record? This was a stupid oversight on our part, and now I fear it’s going to kill our credit score!

Answer: Let’s take the good news, bad news approach.

The good news is that there is no such thing as a joint credit score. If this account was in your wife’s name alone, then only her credit scores have been affected. If you were an authorized user on the card, then the late payments may be affecting your scores as well, but you have some recourse. You can call the issuer and ask to be removed as an authorized user from the closed account, or you can dispute the account with the credit bureaus and (hopefully) get it removed that way.

Now, the bad news. If your wife’s credit scores used to be high, they aren’t anymore. That first skipped payment probably knocked 100 points or more from her scores. The next two skipped payments just exacerbated the damage. The account’s closure didn’t help matters, but most of the damage happened when she missed the first payment.

She can try writing a letter asking the issuer for mercy, but she shouldn’t get her hopes up. The issuer no longer wants her business and has little incentive to accommodate her.

Fortunately, credit score damage isn’t permanent, but it may be a few years before her scores are back to where they were.

This is a good reminder to consider putting all credit accounts on automatic payment, so at least the minimum payments are made each month. It’s also smart to monitor at least one of your credit scores and get alerts if there’s a sudden drop. Many banks and credit cards offer free scores, as do financial websites.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Credit cards that earn 2% cash back or more on purchases. Also in the news: Most Americans go mobile with payment apps, why you shouldn’t let your credit score define you, and the best tax preparation software of 2020.

Credit Cards That Earn 2% Cash Back or More on Purchases
Reward simplicity.

Most Americans Go Mobile With Payment Apps — Here’s How They Roll
Nearly 80% of Americans are using these apps.

Keeping (Credit) Score: Don’t Let a 3-Digit Number Define You
You are more than your credit score.

The best tax preparation software of 2020
NerdWallet ranks the options.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Identity theft protection you may not know you already have. Also in the news: How auto insurers use you non-driving habits to raise prices, how younger consumers can get a credit boost from their elders, and how to close a credit card the right way.

Identity Theft Protection You May Not Know You Already Have
Some surprising sources.

How Auto Insurers Use Your Nondriving Habits to Raise Prices
What you need to know about price optimization.

Younger Consumers, Get a Credit Boost From Your Elders
Authorized user status could give you a boost.

How to Close a Credit Card The Right Way
Protecting your credit score.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How to navigate your most dangerous decade. Also in the news: 5 questions to ask before you share a credit card, how to use your tax refund to polish your credit, and how to save on your cell phone bill without a family plan.

How to Navigate Your Most Dangerous Decade
Your fifties can be daunting.

5 Questions to Ask Before You Share a Credit Card
Preventing future disagreements.

How to Use Your Tax Refund to Polish Your Credit
Giving your credit a little boost.

How to Save on Your Cell Phone Bill Without a Family Plan
Discounts aren’t just for families.