Friday, August 24, 2012

The Costs of Bad Credit – Part One

I have always thought having and using credit was expensive. The whole idea of paying money to use money irks me. In our society, borrowing money is a necessary evil in order to build a good financial history. So, after high school or college, we enter the financial world and start using credit. Some of us used credit to enhance our lifestyles with purchases of stereos and TV’s; others purchased cars or even homes. Of course, we were all aware there is a cost to using credit. We pay a fee known as interest to borrow or, in a sense, rent the money we don’t have.

But for some of us, there were some hard lessons learned about the costs of using credit. When a payment is late, there is an additional late fee added on to your costs. A typical credit card late fee can be as high as $35. The late fee on a mortgage can average 5% of your monthly payment. A $3,000 monthly mortgage payment would have a late fee of $150! Late loan payment fees apply to RV loans, motorcycle loans, ATV loans, and other types of consumer loans.

Credit card companies will not only charge you a late fee, they will also charge the cardholder penalty interest. Your credit card’s interest rate may be a nominal 14.5%. But a late fee will cause that rate to more than double to 29.99%! Now any money you borrow through your card will cost you twice as much in interest as it did prior to your late payment. What’s the difference? One thousand dollars held for one year at 14.5% interest will cost a borrower $145. The same amount of money held for one year at the penalty interest rate of 29.99% results in a cost of $299! Is it like that forever? No. If you make six months of on time card payments after being charged with a late payment, you can get your credit card’s interest rate back to the original rate.  

Another one of the costs of credit are the fees paid by someone who allows a debt to go into collection. A debt or bill becomes a collection when the debt is reaching its first date of delinquency; usually the 90th day of nonpayment. At that point, the firm holding the debt can try to collect it themselves through their lending department or internal collection department or they may sell the debt to a collection agency. That collection agency buys it at a discount of 10%, 20%, or more from the original holder. The agency will also place their own “collection” fees on the debt. This may increase the debt by another 10% or so. When you consider late payment fees and collection fees, it makes paying on time look so attractive!

Late fees, penalty interest rates, and collection fees are only part of the cost of bad credit. Making credit mistakes also means there is a hit on your FICO score, reducing it. When one’s credit score gets low, the cost to do business via credit increases.

Part 2 of "The Costs of Bad Credit” will feature the expense of high cost credit products intended for families with compromised credit scores who cannot access regular affordable credit products. Check this blog next week for the scary conclusion to, “The Costs of Bad Credit.”

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And don't forget our Meriwest Facebook page.  We love to get new fans and have them check in when they visit our branches. It is also a great way to keep up with new products and services and what your credit union is doing in the community.

Our next "Credit Myths and Repair Workshop" will take place at our Milpitas Financial Center on Aug. 29th at 6PM. Credit Myths goes over the Top Ten Myths of credit and how to access your credit report for FREE.  I hope you can join us!

Have a great week!

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