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.

Q&A: Be strategic when closing credit accounts

Dear Liz: I recently moved to a new state and would like to open a credit card at my new credit union. I’m concerned that closing my old credit union account and card will hurt my credit scores, which are over 800. The old card, which I no longer use, has a high credit limit. My income is also lower, so I’m not sure how that will affect the credit limit I get.

Answer: Closing credit accounts can ding your credit scores, but that doesn’t mean you should never close an unwanted account. You just need to do so strategically.

First, understand that the more credit accounts you have, the less impact opening or closing an account typically has on your scores. If you have a dozen credit cards, for example, closing one will likely have less impact than if you only have two.

Still, you’d be wise to open the new account before closing the old one. That’s because closing an account lowers the amount of available credit you have, and that has a large impact on your scores.

If the new issuer doesn’t give you a credit limit close to that of the old card, you’re still probably fine closing the old account if you have a bunch of other cards. If you don’t, though, you may want to hold on to the old account to protect your scores.

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.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Stressed to Pick the Best? Try ‘Good Enough’ money decisions instead. Also in the news: How to get your credit disaster-ready, 7 budgeting tips for every type of budgeter, and 9 money moves every new grad should make.

Stressed to Pick the Best? Try ‘Good Enough’ Money Decisions Instead
When good is good enough.

How to Get Your Credit Disaster-Ready
Be ready for emergencies.

7 Budgeting Tips for Every Type of Budgeter
Finding the right approach.

9 Money Moves Every New Grad Should Make
Welcome to the beginning of your financial life.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: How to get your credit disaster-ready. Also in the news: Watch your credit card rewards pile up with these 5 tips, comparing your 401(k) to the average, and what to know about buy now, pay later online loans.

How to Get Your Credit Disaster-Ready
Be financially secure when disaster strikes.

Watch Your Credit Card Rewards Pile Up With These 5 Tips
Stacking strategies.

How Does Your 401(k) Compare to Average?
How your company’s plan stacks up to the competition.

What to Know About Buy Now, Pay Later Online Loans
Pay attention to the fine print.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: The lowdown on new tools to jump-start your credit. Also in the news: The new credit card that pays cash-back rewards for on-time payments, tuition discounts grow at private colleges and universities, and what to do in your 20s and 30s to be set in your 60s and 70s.

The Lowdown on New Tools to Jump-Start Your Credit
Learn how they work and if you should use them.

No credit history? This new credit card pays cash-back rewards for on-time bill payments
Introducing Petal.

Tuition discounting grows at private colleges and universities
Tuition costs are dropping.

What to do in your 20s and 30s to be set in your 60s and 70s
It’s never too early to prepare.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Credit basics you need to know. Also in the news: How a new homeowner bought a house in Vegas, 11 cheap date ideas, and what to do if your tax preparer can’t file your taxes by April 15th.

More Than Your Score: Credit Basics You Need to Know
You’re more than just a number.

How I Bought a Home in Las Vegas
One new homeowner’s story.

11 Cheap Date Ideas
Spend less without feeling like a cheapskate.

What to Do If Your Tax Preparer Can’t File Your Taxes by April 15
A look at extensions.





Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 10 lessons from the Bull Market’s 10-year anniversary. Also in the news: Money mistakes even smart people make, 3 things that change when you’re a homeowner, and why you should check your credit report even if your credit is frozen.

10 Lessons From the Bull Market’s 10-Year Anniversary
Learning from the past decade of rising stock prices.

Money Mistakes Even Smart People Make
Avoiding unwise choices.

3 Things That Change When You’re a Homeowner
A whole new set of responsibilities.

Check Your Credit Report Even If Your Credit Is Frozen
Freezes don’t ice existing accounts.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: This winter, your credit should freeze, too. Also in the news: 5 keys to picture-perfect TV buying, when to hire someone to do your taxes, and 5 things consumers should watch out for now that the Fed hasn’t raised rates.

This Winter, Your Credit Should Freeze, Too
Protecting your personal info.

5 Keys to Picture-Perfect TV Buying
Just in time for the Big Game.

When to Hire Someone to Do Your Taxes
When Turbo Tax isn’t enough.

5 things consumers should watch for now that the Fed has NOT raised rates
Bad news for savers.

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: This winter, your credit should freeze, too. Also in the news: Nerd100 – Celebrating the best-of-the-best personal finance products, the best student loan refinance companies, and finding hospital price lists.

This Winter, Your Credit Should Freeze, Too
Surviving the credit breaches.

Nerd100: Celebrating the Best-of-the-Best Personal Finance Products
See who made the list.

Best Student Loan Refinance Companies
The results are in.

Hospitals must list prices online — now all you have to do is find them
They don’t make it easy.