Wednesday, October 15, 2008

New Feature at Question and Answer (Q&A)

I thought that I would try something different. As I have said before, I can see how my readers find I don't collect any personal information, but I can see search terms that people use to find me. Oftentimes, though, the search question is never answered -- though the person still finds my blog. What I'm going to do from time to time (from here) is address some of those questions.

Here are the game rules: I will edit search queries for syntax purposes. Otherwise, I will leave it alone. I'll also phrase queries in the form of a question whenever possible. Questions will always come from the previous seven days.

Let's give this a whirl.

Q: Nordstrom Visa annual fee?

A: Nordstrom credit cards do not have an annual fee. Nordstrom's highest-profile card, the Visa Signature card, is fee free. I have written about this card before. See my write up (link here).

Q: Does converting a credit card require a hard pull?

A: Generally speaking, no. However, some credit unions do require a hard pull (hard inquiry) when doing a conversion. You'll have to check with your credit union to see what its policy is.

Q: Which stores are risky to American Express?

A: I don't think there are any stores that are per se risky to American Express. Instead, particular customers, who don't have good risk profiles, shop at particular stores. The problem is that you, as a cardmember, are unable to figure out where these risky customers are shopping. Until Amex publishes a list (which it never will) that tells you where the most risky cardmembers are shopping, I would not worry about it. I've written about shopping choices before (link here). Give it a read.

Q: Citibank Flex line online account access?

A: I'm pretty sure that someone was trying to figure out if the Citi Flex line of credit had online access. Unfortunately, no. Citi never quite got around to providing 20th century technology to that loan product. Moreover, Citi Flex has now been discontinued (though prior customers continue to have their accounts maintained), so I imagine online access will never be available to customers.

Q: Equifax code fico score?

A: Here, I believe that the reader was looking for myfico's most recent code, which would save them 20% on scores. The most current and reliable code is CPPSAVINGS. If you enter that code at checkout, you can get a 20% discount off your FICO scores. Here is a link to one of my affiliate myfico ads (link here). (Full disclosure: I get a small commission when my readers use that link.)

Q: Citibank flex line phone number?

A: Believe it or not, I get that question almost every day (through Google searches). Up until a few days ago, that phone number did not exist on my blog. In fact, it was difficult to find that number any place on the Internet (go figure). Anyhow, the phone number for Citi Flex is 866-720-2495.

Q: Banks that have gone under.

A: I recently posted a blog entry with a list of banks that have gone under since 2000. Here is the link: Banks That Have Gone Bust Since October 2000.

Q: How does a 760 credit score rank?

A: A FICO score of 760 places you at the lowest level of FICO High Achiever. FICO High Achievers have scores that range from 760-850. A score of 760 ranks well. However, I am beginning to think that 760 is the old 720. Used to be that you were golden at 720. At this point, I don't believe that's true any longer. It seems that 760 is the new benchmark. Meanwhile, here is a story about FICO High Achievers (link here), which could be useful for your FICO education.

Q: Should I sell American Express?

A: I just had to answer this one. Ha! I can't tell you if you should sell the stock, but I know a guy named GEORGE who would tell you to get rid of all things American Express. Once upon a time, GEORGE had American Express credit limits of almost $200,000. But one day American Express came along and reduced his limits to almost nothing. Rather than keep the accounts open, he closed them -- out of principle. GEORGE no longer likes American Express.

Should you sell your stock, though? That's your call.

Q: What credit reporting system does Penfed use?

A: Pentagon Federal Credit Union (Penfed) pulls Equifax when you sign up for membership. It then uses that credit report for about 30-60 days. If you apply for a credit card, for example, Penfed will use that credit report for nearly two months. That's why a lot of people apply for a credit card right after signing up for a membership with Penfed. Here is the write up I did of the Pentagon cash rewards card (link here).

Q: Is too little credit bad?

A: I am of the opinion that having too little credit is not good. Bad is a strong word. With too little credit, you could find yourself in a pinch of you have an emergency that pops up. What's more, not having enough credit often becomes a problem for your credit scores. That's because utilization ratios are difficult to keep in check. The lower your credit limit, the easier it is to max out your limit. Given that utilization is worth 30% of your FICO score, I always argue that it's smarter to have the highest limit possible on your cards. That way when you buy something expensive during the month, you won't be penalized by FICO as much. If you don't understand utilization, and how it works, read this story: Utilization: What it is and why it Matters (link here).

Q: How to get a high FICO score.

A: Getting a high FICO score takes time. It's not something that happens overnight. I recently wrote a story about FICO that does a good job of explaining the components of FICO. Reading the story will probably go a long way in helping you achieve your goal of a high FICO score (link here).

Q: American Express no longer allowing credit line reallocation.

A: That's true. As of October 6, 2008, American Express no longer allows for credit-line allocations.

Q: Do credit card [companies] verify your income on application?

A: Generally speaking, no. But as a general rule, it's wise to use your correct income. It would be a real bitch if you put a false income figure on the application and it came back to haunt you (in a bankruptcy proceeding, for example). Given the credit climate we're in, I would not be surprised to see more banks start asking for verification, though. Use your correct income and you won't have to worry.

That said, credit unions are well known for asking for income verification (link here). When I got my Pentagon card, I was asked to provide income verification. It's pretty common practice in the credit union world to be asked for income verification.

Q: American Express selector.

A: I imagine that this particular person was looking for American Express's preapproval card selector. If so, it can be found here: Amex preapproval tool (link here).

Q: Will a credit card company allow me to skip a payment?

A: Occasionally card companies grant "payment holidays." However, these are typically given to the customer without any input from the customer at all. Customers aren't normally allowed to request them. If a customer calls up asking for a payment holiday, I imagine that would raise a red flag with the card company. I'd refrain from doing that unless you have no other choice.

Q: How do promotional APRs [and] payment allocation [work]?

A: Most promo APRs are low -- often 0%. I don't know of a single card company that doesn't allocate payments to the lowest APR balances first. This means that if you have purchase balances on a card, accruing interest at 13.99%, and you have promo balances accruing interest at 0%, your payments will go toward the promo balances first. Read my story on balance transfers and how they work(link here).

Q: Credit line increase, hard inquiry, Bank of America.

A: Bank of America allows customers to request credit limit increases from its Web site. Unless otherwise notified, the credit limit request will result in a soft inquiry -- which will not hurt your credit score. Bank of America says that it will notify you if it needs to do a hard inquiry. Therefore, credit-limit-increase requests with Bank of America are soft -- unless Bank of America

Q: What you can do when you're turned down for credit?

A: You can do a couple of things. First, you can ask the card company for reconsideration. Many card companies are amenable to reconsideration. Often you'll have to write a letter to the company telling them why their initial decision was wrong. You'll need to convince them that you are a good risk and that you warrant a second look. If you make a good enough argument, card companies will reconsider your application and grant you a card. I imagine the odds of a successful reconsideration are not high, though. So, good luck.

You should also be sure to get your free credit report if you are turned down for credit. I wrote a story about that process (link here).

Q: Chase ID Protection -- [does] it use Fico or Fako?

A: Chase ID Protection, a credit-monitoring service, uses fake scores. I call them fake because lenders do not use these scores to make lending decisions. Most lenders use Fair Isaac's FICO score instead. Here is a primer on FAKO v. FICO (link here).

Q: How long does [an] American Express financial review take?

A: An American Express financial review can take as little as a day and as long as you can imagine. By and large, though, people who receive a financial review notice from Amex should expect the process to take from 2 to 7 days. A true financial review will require that you grant American Express the right to get your tax records from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). You'll be asked to fill out a 4506-T form and you'll be asked to release the information to American Express.


Hkbushido said...

I likes the Q&A, to the point. said...

Yep. I bet a lot of people will like this feature. I figure I may as well do something with all the queries I get. This is what I have chosen to do.

We'll see what people think.

Hkbushido said...

Now if we can get that weekly pop-quiz going, OH YAHHH :0 said...

That's right, Hk. That pop quiz! Nah. I don't think I'll be doing any quizzes.

By the way, I saw your comment on the BT story. I will get to that question when I get back.

I am off to class.

Far Left Texas said...

Pretty cool - I don't think I've ever seen a story/topic/post based on the search terms people used to get here.

I think GEORGE is actually a closet Amex fan.

Jake said...

If someone tortures a chicken to death, does that create a poultrygeist? said...

FLT, I like to be cutting-edge around here. Haha.

And GEORGE is not a closet fan. Ha! said...

Jake, yes. I should have included that question in my Q&A.

Anonymous said...

Credit card accounts are its primary purpose to revolve..And companies like Amex,Advanta should treat you as king or queen for large balance revolving,but they not.Convincing people to open revolving accounts and closing after or chasing the balance should be treated as crime and punitive damage. said...

Anon, I will let them know that you said that.

Thanks for the note.

Don Miguel said...

GEORGE is doing exactly what I'd be doing if I had been wronged by a company--telling it to everyone who might listen and lots of people who might not. Wonder how much new business GEORGE has already cost Amex. said...

DM, probably has dissuaded people from opening accounts. I have no doubt, actually. You can't open a thread at CB without seeing GEORGE talking about how he was "wronged" by Amex.

Anonymous said...

I've been told by two people on CB that Home Depot will let you choose where your payment is applied, so you can keep the 0% going while paying off purchases with higher rates. I was flabbergasted. said...

Anon, is that true? Does HD let you do that? Never heard of it. Let me check out my card agreement. Be right back. said...

OK. Just found the disclosure. I seriously doubt that HD is doing what those on CB are saying.

Here is the disclosure: "You authorize us to apply payments and credits in a way that is most favorable or convenient for us. This may include applying payments and credits to low APR balances first."

I must say that I have never seen a card company be so forthright in a disclosure. Translation from HD: we're gonna apply payments in a way that makes us the most amount of money. Cha-ching.

David said...

Just throwing out that Amex is viewing any substantial medical related payments as risky. It stinks but it's not without merit as a majority of bankruptcies are related to medical situations. If someone is using their card for high priced medical care it may mean they have inadequate or no insurance which is risky to the banks.

Anonymous said...

Genius, Pure Genius. Giving advice on the topics readers want to read, answering questions honestly, actually following up on stuff. . .

Give up on the law degree - launch a podcast, write a book and go on the lecture circuit. You will make BILLIONS. Heck I would pay $30 for the book and $40 to go to your lecture. Start taking your diction classes now "The rain in spain falls mostly on the plain" If you make it big I would follow you around the country in an old Mercedes station wagon converted to Bio-D handing out buttons that look like credit cards that say "Credit - it matters" or "High limits beget higher limits" or "What is YOUR Credit Plan" or a whole series that says "My Fico can beat up yourX" with things like "your Fico" "your high Debt to Income Ratio" "your Honor Student" "Your 80% utilization ratio"

Keep this up with a little more external linking and you will be at Google #1 in no time!

PS Feel free to use any of the above slogans - the first are always free. said...

David, I recently saw an example of that situation. Over at creditboards, a high-profile poster had a similar experience. Paid for medical services with the Amex card. Shortly thereafter the cards were being hammered by Amex.

So, yes, throw medical expenses into the mix now. said...

Anon, thanks for the enthusiastic endorsement. Where have you been all my life?? LOL.

On a more serious note, I do plan to write a book -- but after graduation. About six months of school left. In the meantime, I will be here toiling away, answering questions whenever possible, and writing about stuff people want to read about.

Thanks for reading, pal.

Hkbushido said...

"I hear over at CB that there is no such book that can teach you what you can learn here". Sometimes these come from the site owners too, obviously. But the following book covers alot of deep level info, unlike online articles that mislead people with basic info. If there is one book I would suggest to someone who is wanting to better their credit, repair etc.. would be Best Credit. You can find a link for it at amazon. I suggest you read that book since you enjoy credit in general, it can't help but can only be a fun read and maybe even give you more ideas for your own book. said...

Thanks, Hk. I have never read a credit book before. Not sure I want to start now. LOL.

And regarding CB, I imagine you could get everything you need there. However, there is a lot to be said about finding all of the information in one easy-to-find location (like a book). I imagine that's why my blog does well. There are 120 or so articles on this site. They're easy to find.

There is a lot to be said for ease and simplicity.

Post a Comment