With a little help from Business Insider, be aware of how credit lenders can judge credit customers.
I was thrilled to pay off one of two credit cards last Fall, and as of last week, I hadn't touched the thing.
Then I got a letter from my bank, announcing a pretty incredible limited-time bonus — 5 percent back on travel-related purchases made by March 30.
The bonus just so happened to be for the card I hadn't used in months. And it was no coincidence either.
We all know that red flags like late payments, too many lines of open credit, and a mountain of student loan debt can knock dozens of points off credit scores.
But what about the little-known ways banks and lenders are judging us –– even those of us who are "low-risk" clients?
With help from Adrian Nazari, CEO of Credit Sesame, here are five ways every credit customer is judged, whether they like it or not.
Behavior Score. When lenders size up potential borrowers, they aren't just looking at how much they spend, but where they spend as well. If you've gotten a letter in the mail congratulating you on a freshly inflated credit limit (or a new cashback bonus like I did), chances are your lender has noticed you've been diligently paying off your card and selectively shopping where you can afford to.
"For example, if you normally shop at high-end stores and regularly pay off your card, and then suddenly start shopping at discount stores and carrying a balance, the lender could use this behavior data as an indicator that you have become higher risk and could take steps to minimize its exposure," says Nazari. "Alternatively, if your behavior data indicates you are a good risk but you aren't generating a profit, an issuer might determine how to incentivize spending."
- How to improve it: Since Behavior Scores are based on triggers like long-term credit card activity, late payments, limit breaches, and fees, if you can figure out how to improve these, you'll be able to beef up your score.
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Ever experienced that moment after you press send and reread your email only to realize you've let some typos sneak in? Avoid that icky feeling from here on out by being hyper aware of some of the most common missteps. Whether you're applying for a job (don't forget to triple check that cover letter!) or sending emails to the boss, you don't want to look unprofessional by making mistakes that can easily be avoided. Here are some words you're bound to use in the working world and how to master them.
Misspellings to keep in mind
- Amateur: The vowels at the end can get tricky, but pretend you are texting an Australian friend and say, "a mate u r."
- Definitely: Just think of the word "definite" and add an -ly to the end. Never put an "A" in definitely.
- Referred: Some people spell it refferred or refered, but remember it as a combination of two words: refer + red.
- Separate: Not spelled "seperate," separate will be easy to write out if you think of a grade-school trick — there is always "a rat" in the word.
- Occurrence: Ditch the singles and double up on the first two consonants for this one. Pretty soon it will become a regular occurrence.
- Affect vs effect: This one is tricky because just one letter can throw you off. Typically, "affect" is a verb and "effect" is a noun. If you can substitute a verb for affect, then you'll know that you're using it right (I was affected by the merger; I was surprised by the merger).
- Loose vs. lose: Saying these words out loud will help you distinguish the two. "Loose" means not tight (The letter on my keyboard is loose). "Lose" is the opposite of win (We will lose this client if we don't pay him more attention).
- You're vs. your: Although you probably learned this one in grade school, it's easy to type one word when you really mean the other. "You're" is shorthand for "you are." The word "your" indicates possession (You're not going to believe how much they loved your presentation).
- Who vs. whom: Even a grammar wiz can get these two confused from time to time. But if you can switch the sentence around so that you use the word "him" as opposed to "he," then "whom" is the way to go. For example, instead of saying, "Sam is the guy whom we interviewed for the position," you could say "We interviewed him for the position." But in reversing the sentence "Sam is the guy who got the job," you would say, "He is the guy who got the job."
- Its vs. it's: "It's" is a contraction for "it is" or "it has," whereas "its" signals possession. Actually saying "it is" aloud will remind you of the difference.
- Every day vs. everyday: They key here is to know that "everyday" is an adjective, and "every day" is a phrase. If you can replace "every" with "each," then what you mean to use is the two-word phrase.
- Than vs. then: These two words are easy to confuse because they sound almost identical. But remember that "than" is used to compare something (I think this partnership is a better bet than the other), while "then" is used for time (First we called her, then we followed up with an email).
Do you have any tricks for remedying common mistakes?
- How to network if you're an introvert — The Billfold
- What we can learn from celebrity career failures — The Jane Dough
- Delayed-spending tricks that help pay off debt — Wise Bread
- Foods you should eat before tackling your finances — LearnVest
- Have you seen Walmart's new Flower cosmetics line? — All You
- How to spot fake online product reviews — Real Simple
- Tips to save when buying a car — Credit Sesame
- Terrible Super Bowl ads we'll never forget — HuffPost Women
Pick Any Filing Status — as Long as It's Married: "You are no longer eligible to file as a single, even if you didn't get married until 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 31. For tax purposes, the IRS determines your filing status as the last day of the year. A newly married couple has two filing status options, married filing jointly or married filing separately; however, a joint return often results in a lower federal tax. Some couples choose to keep their financial lives separate from their romantic ones, which means they would need to file a separate return from their spouse. Most couples filing separately have a higher tax liability than filing a joint return but may have an easier time attaining some tax benefits. For example, if you have one spouse with relatively high medical bills and lower income, it may be best to file separately. Medical expenses can be included in itemized deductions, but are only deductible to the extent they exceed 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income (in tax year 2013 this increases to 10 percent of adjusted gross income for those under age 65). If one spouse has very high medical expenses and a low adjusted gross income, filing separately means that spouse could deduct more of these expenses. In contrast, if you filed jointly, your incomes would be combined, making it harder to deduct these expenses. Note: In some states, known as community property states, spouses generally split all income and deductions 50/50. In these states, it may not be as beneficial to file separately. Your tax professional can help you determine whether filing separately can be beneficial."
While we all wait for this season's Fashion Week to kick off, we wanted to revisit the Spring 2013 trends that premiered last September. With the weather warming up, these are the looks we'll be wearing after all. The best part is many of the trends were completely office-appropriate. Even the ones you thought would never pass — leather, sheer panels — get the job A-OK. Read on to find out how, and incorporate the looks into your work wardrobe with similar items you can shop right this second.
The general rule of thumb is that it's acceptable to bring home amenities you've already used. We're very into reusing things, because not only is it good for the environment, it's good for your pockets, too. Here are a couple of really cool things to do with your hotel loot.
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- Casa's transporting us to warmer climates with scorching items
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- Beer bath: Add two cups of beer to your bath to enjoy some healing effects. Hops have medicinal properties that are good for your skin. The beer bath is an efficient skin-softener, and it's even said to help with psoriasis and other skin ailments.
- Stain remover: If you've made a mess on your clothing or rug, then dab it with a beer-soaked cloth. Let it sink in for a few hours, and then toss it in the washer.
- Marinade: The slightly acidic properties of beer will tenderize meat without affecting too much of the flavor. Marinate the meat in beer for as little as a few hours or as long as a day.
- Pest trapper: It's not just humans who enjoy guzzling beer; household pests do as well. Trap slugs and snails by placing dishes or jars of beer around your garden at night. You can even get rid of fruit flies by placing a jar of beer in your home, covering the top with paper, and poking a small hole in the paper cover. The flies will be lured into the jar but will be unable to make it out.
- Gold jewelry cleaner: Soak your gold jewelry in beer, and then take it out and polish it lightly with a dry cloth.
- Wood furniture brightener: Brighten up your dull wood furniture by rubbing it down with a cloth dampened with flat beer.
- Beer batter: Leftover beer is great for cooking. There are so many recipes that call for beer batter, and they include beer battered onion rings, beer battered fish and chips, and the list goes on.