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You shopped around to find the credit card with the best annual percentage rate (APR) for your qualifications. Maybe you've got a lower rate than the average – around 17%. The last thing you want to do is incur a penalty APR that ruins your hard work.

If you've missed a credit card payment for at least sixty days, your account may be subject to a higher interest rate known as a penalty APR. The penalty APR represents your increased risk in the card issuer's view – if you've missed one payment, you're more likely to miss other payments.

You can be assessed a penalty APR for reasons other than missed payments, depending on your card issuer's policy. Examples include returned payments, making charges past your credit limit, or defaulting/missing payments on a different account with the same card issuer.

Penalty APRs can be up to 29.99%, but may be lower depending on your card's terms and your creditworthiness. Review the terms and conditions section of you...

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To some of us, Halloween is an enjoyable time to dress up our children and/or ourselves, carve scary pumpkins, decorate our home with spooky effects, gorge on treats, and spend the next morning jogging off a candy binge. To others, it is a time to figure out how much candy they need to have on hand to avoid cleaning toilet paper out of their trees the next morning.

Regardless of what you do the morning after Halloween, with these simple steps you can wake up with a thicker wallet than usual, and not just from hiding Hershey's Kisses in it.

  1. Buy Bulk Candy – You can save tremendous money by buying individually wrapped bulk candy instead of the overpriced brand name assortments at your grocery store or pharmacy. Do make sure that you buy individually wrapped candies; parents will (and should) shy away from letting their children try loose candies because of tampering concerns.

  2. Make Your Own Costumes – It take...

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Bills are due, and you're out of money. You're considering a payday loan to plug the gap in your cash flow. You think you can use the payday loan responsibly and use it to build up your credit score. Think again.

Payday loans, along with almost all no-credit-check loans, do not report payment information to the credit reporting agencies. The only time payday loans show up in credit activity is when the loan goes into collections. A payday loan can't help your credit score, but it can harm it once an unpaid debt is reported.

Before you seek a payday loan, understand what a payday loan is and how they stack up against alternatives. Payday loans target the poor credit market. Since there's higher risk to lenders when the borrower's credit is poor or unknown, lenders charge higher interest rates.

Payday loans are short-term, small loans – generally for $500 or less and due within two weeks (the typical pay cycle). Because of the relatively small size of the...

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After years of spotless credit, let's say you've harmed your excellent credit score by missing a payment. Perhaps you've had an unexpected accident or medical expense that disrupted your payment schedule, or maybe you simply had a brain cramp and forgot to submit your payment on time.

You've made good on the missed payment, along with any late fees – but now you have a black mark on your credit history that will drop your credit score and be a factor in your credit score calculations for up to seven years.

However, you may have an alternative. You can attempt to have the late payment removed from your credit report by sending a goodwill letter to the creditor that reported the missed payment.

A goodwill letter is different from a letter disputing a charge or a payment status. In ...

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Are smart appliances and systems making you feel like you are being outwitted by your home? They shouldn't. In many cases, it is just a matter of investing the time to read through the manual and understand the capabilities of the system.

For standard appliances like refrigerators, ovens, or TVs, if you do not educate yourself on how the system works, you simply miss some of the capabilities of your device. However, with control systems like home alarms or programmable thermostats, the stakes are higher.

In the case of thermostats, you could be wasting significant money on your energy bills that you could change into savings with a few minutes of attention. According to U.S. Energy Information Administration, home space and water heating is by far the greatest in-home use of U.S. energy within households, with air-conditioning coming in second. Thermostats control both of those usages.

A programmable thermostat allows you to program different temperatur...

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No matter how hard you try, you can't improve your credit score. Who's to blame? Identity thieves? President Trump? Space aliens? It's time to find out.

Start by reviewing your credit report, which is a compilation of your credit history. Creditors report activity on all of your loans and credit accounts, such as history of payments and outstanding balances, to the three major credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion). Each reporting agency adds this information to their version of your report.

Your credit report includes your personal information, certain negative financial information that's a public record (such as a civil judgment against you), delinquent or unpaid accounts that have gone to collections, the record of past accounts, the status of current installment loans and revolving (credit card) accounts, and requests for your credit history.

Your cred...

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