blog category


Don’t make this credit mistake!
credit cards Arlington, Fort Worth, Dallas, Texas
This is going to be a really short post, but one of the most important you could read concerning maintaining, or building a good credit score. What is the worst mistake people routinely make related to their credit and credit reports? You may be surprised, for it is not obvious, and on the surface actually seems like a good thing to do. In fact, most people make this mistake when actively trying to rebuild their credit scores, and reduce their debt, making it very frustrating, to say the least. Click to Tweet

What is this mistake? drum roll…..Closing credit card accounts. Go ahead, admit it. You have thought about it at least once, and understandably so. For a lot of us, it’s those darn credit cards that got us in trouble in the first place, (so we like to say). Therefore, why not just close them and cut them up? That’s what some of the financial and money management gurus on the net will say. Depending on your financial situation and goals, for most of us there is a very important reason you don’t want to close out your credit card accounts, especially if your goal is to repair and build your credit score. If you have other goals, like getting out from under an ill-controlled mountain of debt, and curtailing credit card spending, then you will want to talk with a credit and debt counselor first to put in place a comprehensive money management plan, including a budget. For this particular credit blog post with emphasis on credit score repair and building, closing out your credit cards could be a mistake. I am going to direct you to a well written CBS article by Adam Levin of credit.com that does a great job explaining why you don’t want to make this most common credit mistake.

Go here for the CBS News article

Check out this previous article for more information on How FICO Scores Are Determined

It is our sincerest desire that you found this article helpful for your journey to restoring your credit and reducing your debt.

By Blair Warner and the Upgrade My Credit team.

credit report imageThere are a lot of myths surrounding credit scores and how they are calculated, or, put another way, what information is and is not considered in your credit score. Credit scores are based upon information on the credit report. This is the only information used to calculate scores, and predict credit behavior. Since there is often confusion of what is and what is not used in credit score calculations, below should help out a lot.


Which data is and is not included in a credit report?

Personal Information such as name, address, date of birth, Social Security Number and employment data (where you work(ed) only) are included.

Account information. Account information includes loan amount, credit limit, balance, payment dates, payment rating and history, to name a few.

Collections by 3rd party collection agencies.

Public records like judgements, tax liens, bankruptcy, etc. are reported.

Inquiries, when and where, but not for how much, and why you applied for credit. Inquiries initiated by you are called “hard” inquiries, which are results from applying for new credit such as credit cards, vehicle loans, mortgage, etc. Go here for more on inquiries and the myth surrounding their impact on your credit score.

Information NOT included in credit reports:

No salary or income history whatsoever is included

Medical history is not included, although medical collections via a 3rd party collection agency may be.

No arrest or criminal records are reported.

Property tax records are not included.

Insurance premiums or insurance claims are not reported.

Personal information like gender, marital status, race, religion, nationality, political affiliation and personal lifestyle is not a part of your credit reports.

Payday loans (unless in collection), debit cards and prepaid debit cards are excluded

Inquiries initiated by you online, called “soft inquiries” are not reported and have no effect on your credit score.

Financial Institution accounts like checking accounts, savings accounts, CD’s, or investment accounts. NSF checks will appear if sent to collections.

While some of the above information like income and assets may be considered by lenders such as mortgage banks, and auto finance companies, etc., in their decision process, you need only be concerned about the information that is reported on your credit reports as far as your credit score in concerned. Information not reported on your credit reports does NOT impact your credit score.

By Blair Warner (see About US page for more info.)

After Credit Repair: How to Avoid Credit Card Debt Again

March 1, 2013 | Posted by Blair Warner | 2 Comments

So, you are out of debt? How do you avoid going into credit card debt again?

by Blair Warner

Debt Free
You have finally done it! Congratulations! Your hard work paid off! You pulled yourself out of credit card debt and restored your credit rating through credit repair, and now, no doubt, want to avoid making the same mistakes that drove you into debt in the first place. In one sense, it is easy, but, as we all know, it is just as easy to get back into credit card debt again unless some habits are changed, and systems in place to avoid it.

Consider the following simple strategies for credit and financial management.

Make a budget

The best way to avoid going back into credit card debt is by making yourself a budget. You will want to be realistic about your budget. Think about what your spending was before that got you into debt and figure out how you are going to avoid overspending on the same things. The secret to budgeting success is to keep on track with your budget. You may want to enter in your expenses every day, weekly or pre-determined, regular times so that you do not get behind without realizing it. If you spend too much in one area, try to make up for it from another one.

Think about whether you really need all of your credit cards, and possibly get rid of some.

Some people will just spend what they have available. If you do not need all of it, which most people don’t, then you might want to start cutting down on them. This is a tricky one, though. You don’t want to get rid of all of them, yet you have to be a bit strategic on which ones to close and which ones not to, so that the hard work of building a new credit score is not wasted. If done right, it might also help your credit rating. Here are some suggestions:

You might want to start with all of the miscellaneous store credit cards that you have. Not only might this make it less likely for you to go shopping when you really don’t need anything, but store cards often charge more interest, and don’t report to the Transunion, Experian and Equifax as often as credit cards like Visa, Mastercard, Amex, etc. — not adding as much benefit to your credit scores.

You do NOT need a gas card. It is better to use a general credit card and then pay it off each month. Things like gas and groceries really shouldn’t be bought on credit anyway, but if you want to use your credit card as a type of debit card (it is not, though. It is indeed credit), then paying it off each month is important.

During your previous credit repair journey you should have been advised which cards to close and which ones to leave open. If you have not done that yet, consider closing the younger ones first, and/or the ones with higher interest rates. Again, this must be done somewhat strategically. Ask your credit specialist for advice.

Pay with cash most of the time.

Some people who are survivors of credit card debt want to deal with credit cards as little as possible. They may just take out how much cash they want to spend at any given time and just bring that with them when they go to the store. They will not have the option of overspending.

Do not go shopping. (easier said than done, right?)

Some people just cannot help themselves when they are at the store. Do you get a “Must have it, gotta have it, can’t live without it” mentality when you go shopping? If this is you and caused you problems in the past, then you might want to just avoid the stores altogether. That also goes for the online shopping websites if that is your weakness.

When you get the urge to spend, think about how hard you worked to get out of debt and repair your credit. Be proud of yourself when you see your bank account growing and as you see yourself getting in charge of your finances. This simple tips above will help you stay out of credit card debt for good.

Learn more about this author, Blair Warner.
Click here to send this author comments or questions.

10 New Year Resolutions For Better Credit

January 5, 2013 | Posted by Blair Warner | 2 Comments

2013 it here! Now what?

Well, it’s that time again—time to start rolling out the New Year’s resolutions. Some of us will vow to eat less, exercise more, live in the moment, be more grateful. You may even decide to bury the hatchet with the family member who makes you so crazy.

This time of year is a great time to start making—and keeping—financial and credit managment resolutions, too. But sadly, like other type goals, we often make them year after year with sincere intent only to see them quickly fall by the wayside, as we revert to bad habits that we have vowed to break.

But what about the most financially successful people and their resolutions? Have you noticed how the most accomplished people just seem to identify important things and consistently get them done? Study successful people long enough and you start to pick up on the resolutions they seem to consistently make.

Here are ten for better credit:

#1 Spend some time making a general plan Successful people plan, period. There is no getting around it. You have probably heard of the old axiom “aim for nothing and you will hit your target 100% of the time”. That holds true for resolutions and making plans to do something different this year that will improve your credit and debt standing. If you don’t know what you want or where you are going, you will not make much progress. Get out paper and pen, a calendar, and be like Nike, just do it, and you will see how it flows. To prime the pump, start with asking yourself some questions, beginning with general, and getting more specific using the 5 W’s, who, what, where, when, why, and lastly, how. Emphasize what and when questions. Go here for more on setting goals.

#2 Determine all possible major expenditures over the next year When scoping out your year to plan and budget think what possible major expenditures may be coming up. Will you need to replace an air conditioner this spring, or a major applicance? Are any kids starting – or graduating from – college, or getting married? Is your car on its last leg? The possibilities are endless and specific to your situation and family. Try to determine the exact month the expenditure will occur. If this is your year to improve your credit, though, don’t purchase anything not necessary. Since these may require the use of credit, also consider how it will effect your credit score and debt load. Call us anytime for a free consultation.

#3 Create a budget As a type of sub-plan under your general plan is a budget, which focuses on your finances. There are two kinds of budgets, one that considers all your current expenses and income over a specific period of time, usually monthly, and one that includes a deliberate, aggressive plan of debt reduction, often called debt snowball-ing. The debt snowball is more than just paying the minimum payment. More on debt reduction below. If you have never made (and tried to keep) a personal/family budget, It’s time. 2013 is the year! A whole blog could be written on how to create a budget, so for now here is a link to an example. The trick is to be realistic and as accurate as possible, and stick to it. Sometimes having an accountability partner helps.

#4 Make a “vow” to make all payments on time. This one should be self-explanatory. It is the cornerstone of good credit. There is no getting around that since 35% of FICO credit score is calculated from your payment history, you have to make yourself the promise to make your payments on time from here on out, and keep it. You will be amazed how much your score will go up if you do nothing else different in 2013 over 2012 except make your payments on time on your current debt each month. Try using your bank’s auto-pay system online. Call your banker to find out how if you are not already set up with online banking.

#5 Create a debt reduction plan As mentioned, this is also called the debt snowball. It is a specific plan of reducing or getting out of debt that requires paying more than the minimum payment each month and the availability of extra cash to do so. The concept is that you start out small, and on specific accounts, that as paid off frees up money you were paying on those accounts to then apply toward remaining, and probably, higher balanced accounts. It may or may not be done in a year, depending on your debt load and it is most importantly applied to unsecured, credit card type debt. A future post will be written explaining it in more detail. Warning: Don’t just jump into to randomly paying off debt. In order to improve your credit standing and increase your score as desired, it needs to be done strategically.

#6 Cut back on expenses One of the best ways to free up some money for debt reduction and financial goal setting is to cut expenses. Even when you think you can’t get blood out of turnip look at your expenses and spending habits and see if you can find something to cut out or down on. Only you know what can be cut out or not, but remember, since 2013 is going to be your year to improve your credit and reduce or get out of debt, be ruthless with yourself. It may take some sacrifice. See Cut Utility Costs – Improve Your Credit for some tips as a place to start.

#7 Check your credit reports and scores As we have mentioned in our article Ten Commandments of a Good Credit Score, it is crucial to know what is on your credit reports and monitor it regularly. If you are looking for a place to pull them, try www.privacyguard.com. it only costs $1 the first 30 days, then if you want to monitor them monthly it is reasonably prices at $14.95/month. We suggest monitoring your credit during times of credit repair and rebuilding, but it is not necessary.

#8 Deal with any derogatory or erroneous items on your credit reports Once you have pulled your credit reports, go over them with a fine toothed comb, checking for any errors, accounts that don’t belong to you, and making a note of all derogatory items. You also need to make sure you have plenty of good credit. Analyzing your credit reports can be confusing, call us, or go here for a free credit report evaluation by a credit professional at Upgrade My Credit.

#9 Refinance your home to 15-year mortgage with a lower interest rate (if applicable) This may not apply to everyone, but sometimes refinancing your home to a lower interest rate will save you significantly each month, freeing up more money for debt reduction and credit building, especially if you can reduce it to a 15-year mortgage. Here is a free mortgage calculator to compare. If you think this may apply to you, or are just want to inquire more about it, we have many mortgage lender partners we can introduce to you. Give us a call. 817-886-0302

#10 Finally, get a free credit consultation from Upgrade My Credit. We love to help people reach their financial goals that require good credit, and we have an even softer spot for folks who have poor credit and just don’t know where to start to repair and re-build it.

This was a bit longer than most of our articles, but hopefully well worth the read. You will probably want to return here through out the year to refresh your determination and keep on track.


By Blair Warner – Sr. Credit Consultant, Upgrade My Credit

What do mortgage rates look like for 2013?

December 26, 2012 | Posted by Blair Warner | No Comments

Special Report: Mortgage rate outlook

We like to offer you the best information and resources for your home-buying plans. Here is a good article on mortgage rate forecasts for next year from a mortgage partner Total Mortgage Services.

Click here for the article Mortgage Rates: Naughty or Nice?

If you are looking to buy a house in 2013, make sure your credit and debt house is in shape. If you need credit repair help, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Happy 2013

By Blair Warner

The 10 Commandments of a Good Credit Score

June 3, 2012 | Posted by Blair Warner | 5 Comments

A common question I get asked is, “what is the secret to a good credit score?” I always hate to answer it so matter-of-factly and quickly because I know they are hoping I can perform magic. The simple answer is, though, the only way to get one is to demonstrate financial responsibility. “Creditors don’t care about how many millions you may have in your investment account, it’s how you use your credit,” says Maxine Sweet, vice president, public education for Experian.

However, there are some tips for using your credit, and like many things in life, it’s what you don’t do that can have a positive effect on your credit score.


Steer Clear of These 10 Things:

1. Thou Shalt Not Avoid Using Credit. If you don’t use credit, you won’t have much of a credit score. To Quote Sweet again, “A credit score is an important tool companies use to protect themselves”. The lower the score, the higher the risk, and this can affect whether or not a loan is approved.

2. Thou Shalt Not Miss Payments. Paying a bill late will hurt your credit, but missing a payment will damage it even more. “If you do so, you can’t make it up,” Sweet says. In other words, making two payments in the next billing cycle will not remove the blemish from your credit history. Whether or not you pay your bills on time determines 33% of your score.

3. Thou Shalt Not Limit Loan Types. Despite what your bank account may think, a car payment and a mortgage may not be enough. Also managing an installment debt, such as a credit card, is a good indicator of credit savviness. There are five elements to the credit score model and revolving credit, which allows consumers to charge and owe different amounts each month, is one of them. “It’s 10% of the score,” says Gail Cunningham, vice president of public relations for National Foundation for Credit Counseling.

4. Thou Shalt Not Close Unused Credit Card Accounts. Actually, just use caution, says Sweet. A factor in credit score models is your utilization, which is your debt vs. how much is available. For instance, if you owe $4,800 on a card with a $5,000 limit, you’re using most of your available credit and this “utilization” will have a negative impact on your score. Counting toward 30 percent, your utilization is the second highest factor in your credit score. You should charge no more than 30% of your available credit, recommends Cunningham.

5. Thou Shalt Not Be A Credit Tease. Don’t run up charges all over town or apply for several cards at once while looking for the best rewards program. Recent inquiries means that you have accessed your credit and this can affect your score negatively. “This signals that you’re desperate for credit and don’t have enough cash available for your purchases,” says Cunningham. She adds that if you are shopping for a major purchase, such as a mortgage or car loan, the inquiries will usually roll together into one.

6. Thou Shalt Not Rob Peter To Pay Paul. Don’t charge anything unless you know how and when you are going to pay it back. One of the benefits of credit is the ability to spread out payments on a big purchase, not to delay paying with hopes that the money will come in – from somewhere. If you need to use a credit card for convenience, use a prepaid card or a secured card that enables you to make payments to your own line of credit.

7. Thou Shalt Not Get On The Call List. When a debt turns into a collection account, it’s an indication that you got yourself in hot water. Once a collection agency jumps into the arena, it becomes the owner of the debt, which will show on your credit history. Trying to make payments to the original debtor will not make the collection agency or the negative mark on your credit go away.

8. Thou Shalt Not Forget The Little Things. That library fine you didn’t pay or the health club contract you signed but didn’t honor can show up on your credit report. Any debtor has the right to report unpaid bills to the credit bureaus, and many of them exercise that right.

9. Thou Shalt Not Negotiate. On paying less than what you owe, that is. If you cannot repay a debt in full and a creditor agrees to settle for less than you owe, you haven’t won the battle. The transaction will be reported as a settled account and this will hurt your credit score. Instead of negotiating to lower the overall amount of the debt, ask to have your interest rate or monthly payment lowered so that you can continue to pay the debt off in full. (Sometimes negotiating is the best choice. Each case is different)

10. Thou Shalt Not Give Up. If you have late payments, missed payments, defaulted loans, and similar credit mess-ups in-between, don’t give up and think that your credit history is ruined. Although offenses like these generally stay on your credit history for seven years, the recovery clock doesn’t start ticking until you have one full month of paying all of your debts on time, says Sweet.

Adapted from FreeCreditReport.com, a part of Experian. (excluding introductory paragraph)

Posted by Blair Warner

How Are FICO Scores Determined?

March 28, 2012 | Posted by Blair Warner | 2 Comments

There are five factors that contribute to determining your credit score:

    Payment History
    Amount Owed (ratio)
    Length of Credit History
    Taking on More Debt (Inquiries)
    Types of Credit in Use

1. How you pay your bills – Your credit history (35 percent of the score)
This is the most important factor; how you’ve paid your bills in the past, with the strongest emphasis on recent activity (2 years or less.) Paying all your bills on time is good. Paying them late is not, and particularly on a consistent basis. Few things hurt your score as heavily as past due payments. Having accounts that were sent to collections is even worse. Declaring bankruptcy is the worst. Think long and hard before filing for bankruptcy. It most cases, it simply isn’t worth it.

2. Your debt to your available credit ratio (30 percent)
The second most important area is your outstanding debt — how much money you owe on unsecured and secured loans, with emphasis on revolving credit. Revolving credit is credit cards, and lines of credit. Installment loans include car loans, personal loans, mortgages, etc.). The ratio of available credit to debt (account balance) is an important ratio. Try to keep the ratio of available credit to credit used, also called utilization ratio, below 30%.

Some underwriters place importance on the total amount of credit you have available. If you have 10 credit cards that each have $5,000 credit limits, that’s $50,000 of available credit. Statistically, people who have a lot of credit available tend to use it, which makes them a less attractive credit risk. However, please note, this is less important to FICO’s credit score algorithm.

3. Length of credit history (15 percent)
The third consideration is the length of your credit history. The longer you’ve had credit — particularly if it’s with the same credit issuers — the more points you’ll get.

4. Types/Mix of credit (10 percent)
The best scores will have a mix of both revolving credit, such as credit cards, and installment credit, such as mortgages and car loans. “Statistically, consumers with a richer variety of experiences are better credit risks,” Watts says. “They know how to handle money.”

5. New credit applications – Also called inquiries (10 percent)
The final category is how many credit applications you’re filling out, called intquiries. The scoring model compensates for people who are rate shopping for the best mortgage or car loan rates, but not for revolving type loans, payday loans, etc. The only time shopping really hurts your score is when you have previous recent credit stumbles, such as late payments or bills sent to collections.




It is our greatest desire that our blog posts are helpful to you. Your comments and thoughts are welcome.

By Blair Warner
Google Plus Profile

Upgrade My Credit Home Page

How To Set Goals

February 29, 2012 | Posted by Blair Warner | 1 Comment

Today’s Blog Post comes by way of Dr. Daisy Sutherland, the Founder/CEO
Dr. Mommy Online

Goals are something we as individuals all have. Some may have achieved their goals while others are still determining what their goals are or how they can achieve them. Everyone knows the importance of not only having goals for your health, business or life in general but how many are actually taking the next step of writing them down.”~ Dr. Daisy Sutherland

Goal setting and planning are a crucial part of any successful financial planning and debt management, so we thought it would be helpful to share some tips.

Here Are 5 Tips Dr. Sutherland mentions in her article:

  1. Start with a positive mental attitude (PMA)
  2. Details are Essential
  3. Be realistic
  4. Write your goals on paper
  5. Determine a time frame

Read full article here…

Avoid These Goal-Setting Mistakes

Hope you gained something from our post, even though it is not specifically related to credit issues.

Blair Warner – Founder and Sr. Credit Consultant

Check out my Google Plus Profile

Credit Reports, Credit Repair, credit counseling, Credit Restoration, Credit Cards, Credit Score, Debt Settlement, build credit, debt, foreclosure, identity theft, medical bills, free credit repair, bankruptcy, Credit Repair Fort Worth, Credit Repair Arlington, Credit Repair Dallas, Credit Repair Plano, Credit Repair North Richland Hills, Credit Repair Mansfield, Credit Repair Kennedale,