Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Be first in line for college aid by filing the FAFSA now. Also in the news: What to expect when requesting a credit line increase, four ways to supplement your college financial aid, and preparing your finances for the holidays.

Be First in Line for College Aid by Filing the FAFSA Now
Get it done today.

Requesting a Credit Limit Increase? Here’s What to Expect
You could see a “hard pull” on your credit report.

4 ways to supplement your college financial aid
Covering the costs beyond tuition.

It’s Time to Prepare Your Finances for the Holidays
Stores are already decorating for Christmas.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Decode your credit card’s fine print like a pro. Also in the news: How to turn your upside-down car loan right-side up, a handy trick to help you save more for your next vacation, and what to do if your credit score drops.

Decode Your Credit Card’s Fine Print Like a Pro
Understanding the small type.

Is Your Car Loan Upside-Down? How to Steer Back to Safety
Don’t get pulled off the road.

Try this handy trick to help you save more for your next vacation
It’s all in the name.

What to Do if Your Credit Score Drops
Make sure there isn’t a security issue.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Why your credit score isn’t the only gage of financial health. Also in the news: Car buying tips from an undercover salesman, 8 things that won’t hurt your credit, and how to control what could take a big bite out of your retirement nest egg.

Your Credit Score Isn’t the Only Gauge of Financial Health
The numbers you need to pay attention to.

5 Car-Buying Tips From My Days as an Undercover Salesman
How to navigate the car buying process.

8 Things That Won’t Hurt (Whew!) Your Credit
Starting with checking your credit score.

Here’s what could take a big bite out of your retirement nest egg — and how you can control it
Pacing yourself for the long haul.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Make renting work for your financial goals. Also in the news: Why this investment account is becoming more popular, what millennials get wrong about Social Security, and the common money regimen that can backfire and leave you worse off.

Make Renting Work for Your Financial Goals
Rent reporting can boost your credit score.

Why This Investment Account Is Becoming More Popular
Revisiting the brokerage account.

What Millennials Get Wrong About Social Security
Costly myths.

The common money regimen that can actually backfire and leave you worse off
When dieting doesn’t work.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: One travel hacker’s favorite sweet spot redemptions. Also in the news: How your credit moves could send the wrong signal about you, how student loan fees work and what they cost, and MoviePass exposes credit card data of thousands of users.

One Travel Hacker’s Favorite Sweet Spot Redemptions
Stretching your miles further.

Do Your Credit Moves Send the Wrong Signal About You?
How to make sure you’re on the same page.

How Student Loan Fees Work and What They Cost
Don’t be caught by surprise.

MoviePass exposes credit card data of thousands of users
Check your accounts ASAP.

Q&A:Closing credit accounts

Dear Liz: I paid off and closed two large home equity lines of credit in April, but these HELOCs still appear on my credit report. The lender says they reported the transactions to the credit reporting agencies “immediately” and that the delay in having them removed is the credit bureaus’ fault. Are they right? What is required?

Answer: Closing a credit account won’t remove it from your credit reports. Furthermore, positive or neutral information can be reported indefinitely. The only time limit applies to negative information, which typically must be removed after 7 years.

If the lines of credit are showing as open accounts on your credit reports, then you certainly can file disputes with the credit bureaus and ask that the account status be updated. But since closing credit accounts usually can’t help your credit scores and may hurt them, you probably don’t need to be in a rush to make sure this information is reported accurately.

Q&A: How asking for a credit limit increase can help your credit score

Dear Liz: Does requesting a credit limit increase on a credit card affect your credit score in any way?

Answer: Such a request can result in a hard inquiry on your credit reports, which can slightly ding your scores. If you get the increase, though, that usually has a positive effect on your scores.

Credit scoring formulas, including those developed by FICO and VantageScore, are sensitive to how much of your available credit you’re using. That’s especially true on revolving accounts, such as credit cards. The less of your available credit you use, the better: 30% or less is good, 20% or less is better, 10% or less is best.

It’s important to keep your balances low relative to your limits even if you pay those balances in full every month (as you should). The balances that are reported to the credit bureaus, and used in calculating your scores, are typically your statement balances. If those amounts are high relative to your credit limits, your scores probably will suffer, even if you pay that balance off immediately.

People keep their credit utilization low in a number of ways. They can spread their purchases across a number of cards, make more than one payment every month (typically one right before the statement closing date, and another before the due date) or ask for credit limit increases. Any of those actions can help increase the gap between the credit they’re using and their available credit, which can help their scores.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Keeping Solo Agers happier and safer. Also in the news: A simple recipe for managing your credit score, how to choose between using your savings or getting a loan when hit with an unexpected expense, and how a few minutes on the phone could save you hundreds on auto insurance.

Keeping ‘Solo Agers’ Happier and Safer
Preparing for the Golden Years alone.

A Simple ‘Recipe’ for Managing Your Credit Score
3 ingredients.

Savings or loan: which should you turn to when hit with an unexpected expense
Making the wise decision.

Those car-insurance commercials aren’t kidding: A few minutes on the phone really can save drivers hundreds of dollars
You could save a significant amount of money.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: What you might get from the Equifax data breach settlement. Also in the news: 5 logical credit moves that can lead to trouble, 8 money mistakes newlyweds make, and how to decide if you should get a cash-back credit card.

What You Might Get From the Equifax Data Breach Settlement
150 million consumers were affected.

5 ‘Logical’ Credit Moves That Can Lead to Trouble
Common sense doesn’t always apply.

8 Money Mistakes Newlyweds Make
Don’t start off married life on the wrong foot.

Should You Get a Cash-Back Credit Card?
How to decide which card is best for you.

Q&A: Adding a child as a credit card user

Dear Liz: I’ve read that adding a child as an authorized user on your credit card could help build his or her credit history. But I was specifically told that this was not the case, as the child’s Social Security number was not primary.

Answer: Whoever told you may not have understood how authorized user activity typically is reported, or may have been talking about a specific issuer’s policy.

Adding someone as an authorized user to a credit card typically results in the history for that card being added to the authorized user’s credit report. That in turn can help the authorized user build credit history and improve his or her credit scores.

Some smaller issuers, such as credit unions or regional banks, may not report authorized user activity to the three credit bureaus, but all of the major credit card companies do. Some of these big issuers, however, don’t report the information if the authorized user is younger than a certain age or if the information is negative. The age cutoff varies by issuer. For American Express and Wells Fargo, for example, it’s 18; for Barclays, it’s 16 and for Discover, it’s 15. Other major issuers don’t have an age cutoff. American Express and U.S. Bank also won’t report to the authorized user’s credit file if the account is delinquent.

The credit bureaus, in turn, have their own policies. TransUnion includes whatever the issuers report. Equifax adds the information to the credit report if the authorized user is at least 16. Experian adds the information supplied by the issuers, regardless of age, but will remove it if the original account becomes “derogatory” — which typically means payments are skipped or the account is charged off.

If you want to help a child build credit by adding the child as an authorized user, you’ll want to make sure you’re adding him or her to a card that will actually do some good. A quick call to the issuer can help you find out its policy on reporting authorized user activity.