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Thursday, April 17th 2014

Author Sally Herigstad

Sally Herigstad

Sally Herigstad is CreditCards.com's "To Her Credit" expert columnist. While she addresses a host of questions from readers on a variety of topics, her primary focus is on helping women deal with personal finance challenges. Got a question? Ask Sally.

Herigstad is a certified public accountant, author and speaker. She also writes regularly for MSN Money, Interest.com, Bankrate.com and RedPlum.com, and has been a guest on Martha Stewart radio and other programs. You can read more about personal finance and download free budgeting worksheets at her website: www.sallyherigstad.com.

Sally Herigstad's stories at CreditCards.com

Lowering your interest rate: HELOC vs. 0% credit card -- Transferring credit card debt to a lower-interest card or home equity line of credit may help you become debt free faster -- if you're careful ... (See Balance transfer)

Author Steve Bucci: Take the slow, steady road to good credit -- "Credit Repair Kit for Dummies" author Steve Bucci says there's no magic wand to a quick credit fix nor is there a credit repair fairy ... (See Credit repair )

Take care before giving a debt collector your bank account information -- In some cases, debt settlement may be the right option, but verify first that you owe the debt, and then dole out the dough yourself ... (See Bank account)

On disability, facing interest rate creep -- She was on her card's hardship plan to keep her APR low, but then the company changed ownership and her rates keep rising. Is there any recourse? ... (See Hardship rate)

Clean up credit before finding new apartment -- When trying for a new lease, the marks on your credit left by an eviction are harder to remove than stains on an old carpet ... (See Apartment lease)

Stop paying your late mother's credit card debt -- Some advice for a daughter who has continued to pay her deceased mom's card bills for five years, and still owes $3,000: Stop. Now ... (See Death and debt)

Property liens shouldn't be a surprise -- Property liens can be an effective way to get repayment on debts owed, but they're not easy to get and often involve a court judgment ... (See Lien)

Disabled? How to discharge federal student loans -- After taking out student loans to earn a degree, medical issues kept her from pursuing her career. Now 65, she owes big, and a discharge may be her best bet. Here's how to win one ... (See Discharge)

Old debts come back to life with 1099-C -- When an old, unpaid debt gets written off, chances are that you'll receive a 1099-C cancellation of debt notice, meaning Uncle Sam wants his cut ... (See 1099-C)

After divorce, ex leaves joint debts unpaid -- You're never really free of an ex-spouse as long as you have credit card and other debt together. When one stops paying, what recourse do you have? ... (See Ex's debts)

Wife finds another woman's credit card under bed -- Her husband doesn't know whose it is, so what's a perplexed wife to do when she finds, under her bed, a credit card belonging to another woman? ... (See Lost card)

While hiding from abusive ex, she falls behind on loan payments -- A mom and her kids went into hiding to escape an abusive husband last year, but now she's worried how to make good on her lapsed car payments ... (See In hiding)

Ex's ID theft thwarts new couple's finances -- His ex-wife racked up debt in his name on a secret credit card, but agreed to pay if off in the divorce. But how does he clear the debt off his credit reports? ... (See Ex-debt)

Single mom struggling with card payments -- A single mom living paycheck to paycheck wonders how she can clear up the charge-offs and late payments listed on her credit reports ... (See Credit score)

Keeping a card balance to boost credit score is dumb advice -- Some financial "experts" claim that carrying a small balance on your credit cards is good for your credit score. It's time to kiss that myth goodbye ... (See Balance)

She took cash advances on his card, then he died. Does she owe? -- A woman worries that the cash advances she made as an authorized user on a now-deceased man's card will raise the ire of his family ... (See Liability)

How to undo unauthorized card charges -- When you provide a merchant with your card for one item but other items get added to the bill without your permission, it's time to file a dispute ... (See Dispute)

Bad idea: using credit cards to pay for a move -- Relocating to another state without a job, emergency fund or a place to live is just bad planning. Living off credit cards until your ship rolls in is even worse ... (See Living on credit)

Husband's secret debt destroying marriage -- He opened new cards without his wife's knowledge, racked up debt and now can't afford the minimum payments. Should she leave him or give him another chance? ... (See Secret debt)

Resolve medical debt before marriage -- A young couple wants to tie the knot, but his unpaid medical debt looms over them. Should they go ahead with their wedding plans or put them off until the debt is cleared? ... (See Medical debt)

Is family responsible for mom's debt? -- An 89-year-old mom is carrying $20,000 in card debt from purchasing gifts for loved ones. Will the family be liable for the debt when she dies? ... (See Mom's debt)

Debt judgment puts inheritance at risk -- When expecting an inheritance after you've had a judgment against you for unpaid debt, don't worry -- that money doesn't automatically go to creditors. But worry: They'll come looking ... (See Inheritance and debt)

Forging hubby's signature on a card application -- Forging a spouse's signature here and there may be OK, but never on a credit card or loan application, and not if it's done secretly ... (See Forgery)

Ex-wife racks up debt on joint accounts -- When a marriage is over, joint accounts should be severed. If not, an ex's financial misbehavior can come back to haunt you ... (See Divorce debt)

Dilbert creator Scott Adams: Goals are for losers -- In his new book, the cartoonist who chronicles workplace buffoonery argues to be successful, never, ever follow your passion ... (See Scott Adams)

Mom co-signed, now stuck with student loan payments -- When a parent co-signs a student loan for a child, the assumption is usually that the child will make payments after they graduate. But sometimes, things backfire ... (See Co-signing)

Who pays card bill after parent dies? -- Once a parent passes, all bills should go through his or her estate. Even if you used the card with permission prior to death, if it's not your card, it's not your bill ... (See Liability)

Will closing a new, unused card hurt my score? -- If you just got new plastic, but a more attractive offer comes in the mail, would it be OK to cancel the first card and apply for the second? ... (See New card)

Headed overseas? Get an EMV chip card -- If you're headed to Europe, it would be wise to upgrade your magnetic-stripe card to a chip card as many countries have migrated to EMV technology ... (See EMV)

Wage garnishment laws differ by state -- If you're served with a summons for unpaid debt, where you live will determine whether a creditor can recoup funds through wage garnishment ... (See Garnish)

Elderly mom racks up card debt, check-cashing loans -- A daughter needs advice on how to help her elderly mom who has $25,000 in card debt and is relying on check-cashing loans to get by ... (See Breaking debt cycle)

Can a minor be sued for using an adult's credit card? -- When a young person is given an adult's card to make purchases, but then the adult cries foul and threatens to sue, is the child liable for the charges? ... (See Minor)

Can you negotiate medical debt with collectors? -- Yes, you can negotiate over delinquent medical bills with a collection agency, but paying less than what is owed has consequences ... (See Medical debt)

Student loan repayment troubles? Don't delay -- If a student loan ends up in default, your options for repayment become limited, and get worse after wage garnishment ... (See Student loans)

Building good credit doesn't happen quickly -- Paying on time for a few months will not drastically change a credit score, especially if you've lapsed in the past. But with patience and time, your score will rise ... (See Good credit)

Don't share accounts with elderly parents -- Having a joint account with an elderly parent can have serious consequences, including being liable for debts, lawsuits and collection efforts ... (See Joint accounts)

Pay off card charges before bill arrives -- If you budgeted for an item you put on plastic, pay it off right away instead of waiting for the bill to arrive. That way, you'll reduce any interest adding to the balance ... (See Interest charges)

Daughter racks up debt on deceased dad's card -- Not knowing she was just an authorized user, a daughter continued to use her dad's card after he died. Now the issuer closed the card and wants quick repayment ... (See Authorized user)

Husband won't stop charging on joint card -- Sharing a joint credit card can be hard if one spouse uses the card too often and can't pay off the balance. Do they kill the card or get will that make things worse? ... (See Joint credit)

Found your lost purse? Good, but don't use those canceled cards -- If that lost purse or wallet turns up and you've already reported the cards missing, it's too late. Wait for the new ones, and next time, don't carry so many ... (See Lost purse)

Divorce and card debt in community property states -- She's an authorized user on her ex-husband's card, but since they live in a community property state, she's not off the hook ... (See Divorce debt)

Why not leave country and bail on student loans? -- Sure, you can leave your debts behind -- and your family and friends, too. But there are repayment options that can help ease your burden. ... (See Student loans)

Sister opens cards using Mom's identity -- One sister abuses Mom's trust by charging thousands to cards opened using Mom's Social Security number. The other sister keeps it a secret ... (See Stealing Mom's ID)

Old car debt hounds ex-wife -- What do you do do when your wages are garnished to pay for a repossessed car that was jointly owned by you and your ex? ... (See Joint debt)

Foreign exchange students can build a US credit score -- A 20-year-old Chinese student living in the U.S. wants to build an American credit score, and she can: Scores aren't just for U.S. citizens ... (See Foreign student scores)

Divorcing? Your kids don't need a money martyr -- Sally sharply arches her eyebrow at a one-sided divorce settlement that gives him the house, her the debt -- and a self-imposed college fund obligation on top of it all ... (See Divorce and debt)

Stuck with card debt with no job, assets -- She has no work or personal property and cannot afford to pay her card bill. Can she still be pursued for the debt even if she has nothing? ... (See Card debt)

Will card debt scare off student loan lenders? -- With high card debt, no job and a desire to return to school, will qualifying for a student loan be insurmountable? ... (See Student loan)

Student loan co-signer on the hook for delinquency -- A wife co-signed her husband's student loans, which he defaulted on when he lost his job. Should she pay off the balance or not? ... (See Student loan)

Pay off debt vs. settle it: Which is better for your credit score? -- With $4,000 in card debt and five months behind on the bill, she wonders if settling the bill or paying it off is better for her credit score ... (See Credit score and settlement)

Is wife liable for ex's card debt? -- When a spouse has thousands in secret card debt and then files for divorce, exactly who is responsible for repaying that debt? ... (See Ex's card debt)

Stop the debt shuffle, and figure out why you owe so much -- You have $55,000 in card debt. Now you want to borrow against a life insurance policy? Stop. Look at why you're in debt before you go any deeper ... (See Debt shuffle)

Will canceling cards hurt a great credit score? -- Her credit score is 790, but with seven credit cards open, she wonders if she can cancel some without hurting her score ... (See Canceling cards)

Deceased husband's debt haunts wife -- Three years after he passed, his wife receives a 1099-C form for his credit card debt cancellation. Does she have to report this on her income tax return? ... (See 1099-C)

Q&A: Why Robert Kiyosaki thinks our education system is a bust -- In his new book on "Why 'A' students work for 'C' students," Robert Kiyosaki talks about why our current education system is churning out poor kids ... (See Kiyosaki)

How long does old debt stay on credit reports? -- If a debt is reported as being charged off and passes the state statute of limitations, when does it drop off your credit report? ... (See Old debt)

How to clear a judgment from your records -- She repaid the collector after a judgment was placed against her, but the judgment remains after the collector folded. How does she clear the record? ... (See Judgments)

How old debts can lead to seized assets -- Just because you think a debt is beyond the statute of limitations doesn't mean you can ignore a court summons or bill collector lawsuits ... (See Old debts)

Out of cash, out of work and in debt -- An unemployed couple can't find work in their new state of residence, keep using plastic to get by, but can't keep up with their credit card bills ... (See Unemployed)

Do medical bills show up on credit reports? -- She wants to buy a house, but wonders if her medical bills are what's keeping potential lenders from offering to help her with a mortgage ... (See Medical bills)

Should you pay off card debt slowly or all at once? -- If you're carrying credit card debt, is it better for your credit score to pay it all off in one fell swoop or in smaller installments? ... (See Card debt repayment)

When authorized user status works against you -- A 27-year-old with less-than-stellar credit is only jeopardizing her credit more by adding herself to her mom's card with a really high balance ... (See Authorized user)

On disability, can't pay high card debt - is home at risk? -- Coping with a major illness and massive credit card debt, a woman wonders if the card issuers can take her house if she stops payments ... (See Illness and debt)

When does it make sense to roll card debt into a refinance? -- A couple with huge card debt and high-interest mortgage wonders if rolling the card debt into a new, low-rate refinance makes sense ... (See Refinance)

Credit report marred by multiple collectors' marks over one loan -- If a delinquent debt is finally settled, can you get the multiple collectors' notations on your credit report removed? ... (See Credit reports and bad loans)

Quick ways to create a credit history for lenders -- With down payment in hand to buy her first home, but no credit history, a young woman is frustrated by repeated rejections from lenders ... (See Credit history)

How to handle collection calls after a loved one dies -- A widow is being hounded by debt collectors over her deceased husband's unpaid card debt. What are her rights and how can she stop the calls? ... (See Card debt after death)

Beware of co-signing student loans for your kids -- A mom co-signed for her kids' student loans, and now payments are way overdue. Mom's credit score is tanking as result. What are her options? ... (See Co-signer risks)

One late pay won't ruin a credit score - and needn't kill a new romance -- If a guy on a date tells you his credit score got ruined by one late payment while he was on vacation, there's probably more to the story ... (See Late paying lover)

Q&A: Please help me - I spent too much on Christmas -- She budgeted for holiday gifts, but went way over for the kids. And then, kablooey! There went the car, and here come the bills. Now what? ... (See Holiday budget blues)

Can debt collectors call relatives? Who and when? -- She owes a debt, but has been avoiding the debt collector's calls. So the collector calls her mother and shares private information. Is this legal? ... (See Debt collection)

How to deal with card debt in unemployment -- A single mom is laid off with a son in college and has lots of credit card debt. Will turning to a credit consolidation company help or hurt her dilemma? ... (See Laid off, in debt)

Will high credit card balance hurt recent grad's credit score? -- A mom wonders if her college grad daughter's high credit card balance and regular payments will help build a good score or hurt it ... (See Credit scores, high balances)

Can multiple card payments raise your credit score? -- If you use your card a lot, making multiple payments in the months reduces your credit utilization, which can help boost your credit score ... (See Multiple payments)

How does settled debt impact your credit score? -- With four credit cards in collections, she wonders about the impact of paying less than what she owes ... (See Settled credit card debt)

When to drop a credit card with a monthly fee -- You got the card to rebuild your credit, but it has served its purpose and now its monthly fee is adding up. Do you keep it or cancel it? ... (See Credit card fees)

Charge-backs: How to win disputes over services you didn't receive -- There are steps to follow when disputing a charge on your credit card, including keeping a paper trail of receipts and promises made by merchants ... (See Credit card charge-backs)

Using and signing spouse's credit card is fraud -- An ex-wife is saddled with the credit card debt that caused her divorce, but now her ex wants to sue her for fraud for using his credit cards ... (See Credit card fraud)

Spouse isn't immune to bankruptcy's impact -- When one spouse files for bankruptcy, the other spouse could still be on the financial hook ... (See Bankruptcy)

Can an executor use deceased's credit card to pay for expenses? -- A sibling asks whether it is appropriate for the executor of her sister's estate to use her dead sister's credit card to pay the interment costs ... (See Credit card use after death)

When automatic credit card bill payments can hurt your credit -- Yes, it's nice not to have worry about late payments when you set up automatic bill pay, but sometimes things can go really wrong if you don't pay attention ... (See Automatic bill payments)

Cleaning up your credit score before a house purchase -- Forget the myth that no debt translates to a bad credit score. The fact is the less debt you have, the more a potential mortgage lender will like you ... (See FICO score)

Do you have to tell credit card companies a parent in debt has died? -- A daughter doesn't plan to tell her dad's creditors of his death when he passes, and plans on cleaning out his bank accounts without going through probate ... (See Credit card debt and death)

What to do when a friendly loan goes unpaid -- Lending money to family and friends is risky, especially if you charge that loan to your credit card. What do you do when the bills go unpaid? ... (See Loans to friends)

Debt collectors have to prove the debt is yours -- Not sure that debt is yours? When pursued by collectors, you have the right to ask them to prove that the debt they want paid is truly yours ... (See Debt validation)

Removing yourself from a spouse's credit cards -- Authorized user or joint account holder? Depending on your status, there are different rules for getting your name off a credit card ... (See Joint credit)

Steps to take to clear credit reports of fraudulent card account -- Getting an issuer and the credit bureaus to clear your record of a fraudulent account takes time and patience -- as well as a little know-how ... (See Credit bureau dispute)

How much income tax do you pay on canceled credit card debt? -- If you settled to pay less than you owe on credit card debt, the IRS will consider the forgiven amount as income, which may impact your taxes ... (See 1099-C)

Bankruptcy's effect on marriage -- A single woman in Florida, whose house is underwater, is considering bankruptcy. She worries how that will affect her chances at marriage ... (See Bankruptcy and marriage)

Why a spouse may be turned down for joint credit card: Sally Herigstad -- A couple wants to have a joint credit card, but the bank refuses to add the husband to the wife's card. Our expert tells her why ... (See Joint credit)

Is inheritance threatened by bankruptcy filing? -- Courts don't like people filing for bankruptcy shortly before they get an inheritance, so there are rules about when those funds are truly yours ... (See Inheritance at risk)

Is it wise to use IRA funds to pay off mortgage? - Sally Herigstad Q&A -- Paying off a mortgage when you retire, even if you have to use retirement funds to do so, sounds very appealing. But is it wise? ... (See Paying off mortgage)

Offsetting the impact of a canceled credit card: Sally Herigstad -- When a card issuer surprises you by canceling your card, what steps do you have to take to make sure your credit score won't suffer? ... (See Canceled credit card)

Sally Herigstad: How to fix surprise credit report errors -- You're ready to buy a home, pull your credit reports and find mysterious negative items on them, hurting your chances for the best interest rates. What do you do? ... (See Fix credit report errors)

Sally Herigstad: Protect against credit card debt liability when serving as power of attorney -- Her brother stole her elderly mom's credit cards, so she now has power of attorney and canceled the cards. But will doing so damage her credit in any way? ... (See Elderly credit card debt)

Sally Herigstad: Protecting funds from garnishment when disabled -- Being sued for uncollectable credit card debt when you are disabled seems cruel, but you still need to take the steps to defend yourself ... (See Disabled, in debt)

Protect credit scores when canceling a credit card -- You'll ding your credit score by canceling a card, especially your oldest, but you can minimize it by boosting the limits on other cards ... (See Cancel a credit card)

Sally Herigstad: Should one spouse take full debt responsibility? -- A married couple with joint card debt wants to transfer the balance to a lower rate card. Should the better credit score spouse take on the burden alone? ... (See Joint card debt)

Sally Herigstad: Can you use dad's credit card when he's ill? -- An adult child is taking care of her dying father and wonders about the legality of using his plastic to pay for bills and medical expenses ... (See Using dad's credit card)

6 reasons to avoid payday loans -- With all the bad press payday loans get, you'd think people would steer clear of them. But the lure of fast cash keeps them coming ... (See Payday loans)

Sally Herigstad: Dealing with a spouse's secret credit card debt -- When one spouse repeatedly lies about credit card debt and keeps it a secret, what's the other spouse to do? ... (See Secret credit card debt)

Q&A with Charles Duhigg: diagnosing, restructing bad money habits -- "The Power of Habit" author Charles Duhigg discovered surprising keys to permanently changing his life by diagnosing and reconstructing his habits ... (See Charles Duhigg)

Sally Herigstad: How to help elderly mom get out of credit card debt -- When fixed income seniors are faced with insurmountable credit card debt, what can family members do to help? ... (See The elderly and credit card debt)

Sally Herigstad: Defaulted car lease can lead to wage garnishment? -- If you stop paying your car lease, expect to be sued for the balance, and if you don't pay up, wage garnishment might be next ... (See Wage garnishment)

Sally Herigstad: Old, unpaid debts can resurface at any time -- You can change your name and move to another state, but old, unpaid debts have a sneaky way of finding you and ruining your credit ... (See Old credit card debt)

Q&A: 'Millionaire Mind' author T. Harv Eker talks money, debt and breaking bad habit -- "Secrets of the Millionaire Mind" author shares how your personal money blueprint can either make or break your financial goals ... (See T. Harv Eker)

Sally Herigstad: Rebuilding credit doesn't mean going back into debt -- A couple trying to recover from financial disaster want to know the best way to go about building up their lackluster credit scores ... (See Rebuilding credit scores)

How to prevent ID theft after death -- Identity thieves respect no one -- not even the recently deceased. In fact, a person's identity may be more susceptible to theft in the months following death than when they were living ... (See ID theft after death)

Sally Herigstad: It's never too late to learn how to manage your money -- Whether you're 18 or 50, taking the initiative to find out how to manage your money -- and your debt -- can prove to be fiscally satisfying ... (See Personal finance know-how)

Sally Herigstad: How fast can I make a credit score comeback? -- Rebuilding good credit after running up bad debt requires time and patience, but every on-time payment helps the score-healing process ... (See Rebuilding credit)

Sally Herigstad: Laid off, but still liable for ex-employer's card debt -- An employee opened an AmEx business card in her name for her company, got laid off, and is now being held liable for the debt ... (See Small business debt)

Sally Herigstad: Ex racks up $40,000 on joint credit cards -- After finally becoming debt-free, an ex-wife is dismayed to find her ex has racked up card debt on two old credit cards in her name ... (See Divorce and credit card debt)

Sally Herigstad: Can bankruptcy tap surprise inheritance? -- Having filed for Chapter 13, a woman discovers a surprise inheritance and worries whether she has to turn over the funds to her trustee ... (See Inheritance and bankruptcy)

Sally Herigstad: Joint cards don't dissolve with divorce -- Getting divorced? If you jointly share credit cards, be prepared to cancel those cards and dissipate the debt before things are finalized d ... (See Divorce, credit cards)

Sally Herigstad: Do you marry someone who has big debt? -- He may be Prince Charming, but marrying someone who is carrying a lot of debt can put a serious crimp in your ability to plan for the future ... (See Marriage and debt)

Sally Herigstad: Will bankruptcy stop wage garnishment? -- Before you even think of filing bankruptcy, make sure you've explored all the wage garnishment exclusions that you may qualify for ... (See Wage garnishment)

Sally Herigstad: Divorce, debt and community property states -- Dividing up assets and debt in divorce is complicated enough, but even more so when you've lived in states with different property laws ... (See Community property laws)

Sally Herigstad: What benefits are exempt from garnishment? -- An unemployed Oregonian worries that her unemployment and Social Security will be garnished for unpaid credit card bills ... (See Wage garnishment)

Sally Herigstad: Dissolving debt dissipates marital discord -- When too much debt keeps your family down, taking steps to pay it off can open up new doors of opportunity ... (See Debt and family)

Sally Herigstad: Is an heir liable for her parent's credit card debt after death? -- A daughter inherited $70,000 from her father's estate, but it turns out he owes $400,000 in credit card debt. Will she have to forfeit her cash? ... (See Death and card debt)

Sally Herigstad: Can debt judgments follow you overseas? -- If you leave the country -- and your debts -- behind, what are the chances that collectors and the law will find you to make you pay up? ... (See Leaving debt in U.S.)

Sally Herigstad: Protect elderly parent's credit card from others -- Unfortunately, some adult children feel no guilt about using their elderly parents' credit cards and racking up debt in their names ... (See Elderly financial abuse)

QA with 'Frugalista' Natalie McNeal -- Single, 32, in serious debt and in a precarious job, blogger Natalie McNeal transformed her high-spending ways into a "frugalista" lifestyle ... (See Natalie McNeal)

Sally Herigstad: Bad contractor's collection threats -- When a contractor threatens to sue for unpaid bills on lousy and unfinished work, what are your options? ... (See Contractor complaints)

Sally Herigstad: Some spend lavishly right up to bankruptcy court -- A reader is miffed that his brother continues to spend on lavish vacations and purchases, even though he has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy ... (See Spending prior to bankruptcy)

Sally Herigstad: Who pays fiance's credit card debt if he dies? -- If your intended carries a lot of credit card debt, make sure that your name is not on any of the accounts until after you marry ... (See Credit card debt and death)

Sally Herigstad: When good gift cards go bad -- Retailers, like people, go bankrupt, leaving creditors holding the bag. So when it comes to gift cards, limiting your exposure may be best ... (See Gift cards and bankruptcy)

Sally Herigstad: Help! Ex-spouse won't pay on co-signed car loan -- Even if your divorce decree says he has to pay, the bank doesn't care and has every right to go after the co-signer for payment ... (See Divorce and co-signed loans)

Sally Herigstad: How likely is it you'll be sued for unpaid debt? -- The likelihood of being sued for not paying outstanding credit card debt depends on a variety of factors, but take action before that happens ... (See Odds of being sued for debt)

Sally Herigstad: Keep creditors at bay during bankruptcy filing -- Her lawyer went on vacation before her filing was finished, and now she's being sued by a creditor. What are this reader's options? ... (See Bankruptcy filing)

Sally Herigstad: Will bankruptcy impact an authorized user? -- Without a job and in debt, a wife considers bankruptcy, but asks if her husband is liable for debt on a credit card on which is an authorized user ... (See Authorized user, bankruptcy)

Sally Herigstad: How to deal with a debt limit meltdown -- For those dependent upon government assistance, the threat of suspended payments as a result of the current U.S. budget stalemate causes panic ... (See Debt meltdown)

Sally Herigstad: Protecting your credit when your spouse is bipolar -- When marrying someone who can go on a manic spending spree, the two of you need to agree on financial transparency and a game plan ... (See Manic spending sprees)

Sally Herigstad: Duped by son, mom stuck with $20,000 debt -- What is a 76-year-old woman to do when she co-signs on credit cards and a car loan for her adult son and then he files for bankruptcy? ... (See Co-signing dangers)

Sally Herigstad: Stopping an adult daughter abusing mom's credit -- What steps do you take when your sibling won't stop racking up charges on your elderly mom's credit card without approval? ... (See Elderly abuse)

Sally Herigstad: It's a bad idea to pay one credit card and stop paying the others -- A reader wonders what would happen if she tried to pay off one credit card bill first and not pay on the others. Our expert says she'll only make matters much worse ... (See Stop paying cards)

Sally Herigstad: Collectors can refuse partial payments -- Our expert dispels the myth that submitting a partial payment on an old debt will prevent a collection agency from taking you to court ... (See Debt collection myth)

Sally Herigstad: Computer stolen? What to do now to prevent ID theft -- If you act quickly once your computer is stolen, protecting your identity can be like putting out a small fire, instead of having to call the fire trucks ... (See Identity theft)

Sally Herigstad: How many times can creditors buy old debts? -- Negative credit information should fall off your credit report after seven years, but sometimes collectors disregard the rules ... (See Get rid of old debt)

Sally Herigstad: Inheritance rules after you've filed for bankruptcy -- A reader wants clarification of the 180-day rule about inheriting money after you've filed for bankruptcy ... (See Bankruptcy and inheritance)

Sally Herigstad: How canceled debt can come back as a tax bill -- After her debt was written off in 1998, a reader is socked with a tax bill for $1,392 for the debt cancellation. She wonders if this is legal and if she really has to pay it ... (See 1099-C tax for canceled debt)

Sally Herigstad: Years of caregiving can lead to bankruptcy -- A reader gave up everything to care for her ailing mom and now faces mounting debt, no money and no job. Is bankruptcy the answer? ... (See Bankruptcy and debt)

Sally Herigstad: Seek help for unexpected medical bills -- After being mugged, an uninsured reader is socked with a huge ambulance bill she can't afford to pay. Ignoring the bill will only make things worse ... (See Medical bill help)

Sally Herigstad: Government benefits protected from garnishment -- A disabled woman is being harassed by collectors for an unpaid $300 credit card bill. A new law protecting government assistance funds is on her side ... (See Protected from garnishment)

Sally Herigstad: The care and feeding of livestock and card debt -- An unemployed reader with $30,000 in card debt wonders how she's supposed to feed her horses, llamas and large dogs ... (See Big pets and big debt)

Sally Herigstad: 5 steps to take when debt collectors threaten to put a lien on your home, property -- The FTC prohibits collectors from threatening to put a lien on your property for unpaid debt -- unless they really intend to follow through ... (See Property liens)

Sally Herigstad: Why co-signing on a card for an ex is a mistake -- An elderly divorcee co-signed on a credit card to help her ex-husband. Then he died, leaving her to deal with the collection calls and debt ... (See Credit card co-signing)

Sally Herigstad: Don't settle on a debt for more than you can pay -- When a debt goes into collections, don't agree to a payment plan that you can't realistically pay each month. Explore your budget and your options first ... (See Debt collection)

Sally Herigstad: Charged interest after your card is paid off? -- Don't be surprised if you are billed for "residual interest" on your next billing statement -- even after you finally paid the card off ... (See Residual interest)

Sally Herigstad: Paying the IRS back for its mistakes -- When the IRS sends you a check by mistake, don't think you can cash it and spend the money without the IRS catching up to you later ... (See IRS mistakes)

Sally Herigstad: Protecting your credit during a divorce -- When faced with divorce, it's important to seek the advice of an attorney before agreeing to leave your home or trying to pay off joint debt ... (See Divorce and debt)

Disabled and in debt: Three choices -- A woman living on disability with credit card debt wants to stop paying the $5,800 she owes. Our expert outlines her choices. ... (See Disabled and in debt)

Sally Herigstad: Using a deceased spouse's plastic is illegal -- Once a spouse dies, card accounts in his name only need to be closed immediately. Using that plastic in his name is considered fraud ... (See Credit cards and death)

Sally Herigstad: Bankruptcy can steal inheritance, even if it hasn't yet been received -- A reader wants to file for bankruptcy, but worries the judge will tap her deceased father's lawsuit settlements bequeathed to her to pay off her debts ... (See Bankruptcy and inheritance)

Sally Herigstad: Jobless adult children rack up debt on mom's cards -- Three grown sisters have defaulted on $40,000 they racked up on their mother's plastic and wonder what they can do to fix the situation ... (See Charging on mom's plastic)

6 exceptions to paying tax on forgiven debt -- Before you write a check to the IRS for forgiven debt, see if you qualify for one of these six exceptions to paying tax on that debt you didn't have to pay ... (See Forgiven debt exceptions)

When you marry Mr. Debt, be prepared to pay -- Exchanging vows with a debt-laden spouse doesn't make his debts yours, but it puts your relationship on high alert from the get go ... (See Marrying into debt)

Sally Herigstad: Retiring mom stuck with daughter's college debt -- A 60-year-old mom wants to retire this spring, but wonders if she can afford to as she co-signed on her daughter's unpaid student loan debt ... (See Co-signed student debt)

Sally Herigstad: Put off marriage until after bankruptcy -- A reader wants to get married and then file for bankruptcy. Our expert warns her of starting off a marriage on such uneven financial footing ... (See Marriage and bankruptcy)

Sally Herigstad: Laid off: Which bills HAVE to be paid? -- You saved for a rainy day and it's raining. After being laid off, a reader watches her emergency funds dwindle and wonders which bills she can stop paying ... (See Laid off, in debt)

Sally Herigstad: Basic rules for business card usage -- A reader who started her own company questions advice recommending that she use her business credit card for both personal and business charges ... (See Business credit card)

Sally Herigstad: Foreclosure's impact on married couples -- When a mortgage is in one spouse's name, if you choose to foreclosure, the impact to the other spouse's credit can depend on whether you live in a community property state ... (See Credit and foreclosure)

Sally Herigstad: Best ways to spend a $25,000 windfall -- A reader inherited $25,000 and has myriad debts to pay, but can't figure out how to divvy up the money among all her creditors ... (See Windfalls and debts)

Sally Herigstad: Will bankruptcy filing hurt ex-spouse? -- A divorced woman is ready to file for bankruptcy in a community property state, but is worried that her ex-husband may be pursued for her unpaid debts ... (See Bankruptcy and divorce)

Sally Herigstad: Avoid sharing credit with elderly parents -- A reader, whose elderly mom can't get credit in her own name, wonders if it's OK to add mom as an authorized user on her credit card ... (See Authorized user)

Sally Herigstad: Pay off balances or close accounts to boost credit score? -- A reader wants to know if closing card accounts or paying down her balances will improve her credit score ... (See Credit score)

Sally Herigstad: You can run from debt, but you can't hide -- A woman who left an abusive relationship also left her debts behind. Our expert asks her to face the music as she can't hide forever ... (See Leaving debt behind)

Sally Herigstad: Retired, deep in debt. Is bankruptcy the answer? -- After years of borrowing, a retired couple is drowning in credit card debt. Is bankruptcy the only way out? ... (See Retired, in debt)

Sally Herigstad: You found someone's lost debit card. Should you pick it up? -- What do you do when you find a lost debit card on the sidewalk? Some experts say you're in for a host of trouble if you pick it up ... (See Lost debit card)

Sally Herigstad: Is a wife liable for her husband's student loans? -- A concerned wife is worried about her liability for her husband's student loan debt in the event that he passes away ... (See Student loan debt and death)

Sally Herigstad: 3 ways to pay off your mortgage early -- With $65,000 and 12 years left to go, a reader wants to know how to go about paying off her mortgage in five years or less ... (See Mortgage payoff plan)

Sally Herigstad: When nonpayment lands you in court -- A woman is being sued by her credit card company for nonpayment, and she wonders if it makes any difference if she shows up for a court date or not ... (See When card issuers sue)

Sally Herigstad: Disabled and in debt: What to do? -- A reader who is temporarily disabled and unable to work wonders how in the world she can pay on her large debts. Our expert offers some advice ... (See Disabled and in debt)

Paying off joint debt brought into a marriage -- When both partners bring substantial credit card debt into a marriage, it will take a joint effort in order to pay the debt off ... (See Joint card debt)

Over your head in debt? 5 extreme budgeting ideas -- For many people struggling with unemployment or other financial calamity; however, just cutting back on expenses is not enough. Here are 5 extreme ways to save money. ... (See Extreme budgeting)

Sally Herigstad: There's no easy way to make debt disappear -- A couple facing wage garnishment wants to know where to turn to get rid of debt. Our expert warns against believing those debt elimination scams. ... (See Debt elimination)

Sally Herigstad: Options available for buying a home with bad credit -- Just because you're credit's not great doesn't mean that you won't be able to buy a home. It's just a little harder and a little more costly ... (See Bad credit and buying a home)

A newlywed's nightmare: hidden debt -- A new wife gets an unpleasant surprise from her new husband when he reveals that he has $20,000 in debt that he'd been keeping secret ... (See Hidden debt)

Sally Herigstad: Don't allow debt collectors bully you -- Debt collectors can be intimidating, but don't let them coerce you to making payments that leave you flat broke ... (See Debt collection bullies)

Plastic neophyte questions logic of getting credit -- An employed college grad wonders whether she should or shouldn't get that first credit card. ... (See First credit card)

How a new credit card affects your credit score -- A reader "accidentally" applied for a new Costco American Express card and believes that it might hurt her credit score ... (See Credit score)

How to transform a good credit score to great -- Each day this week, our columnists will answer one of our readers' most frequently asked questions. Today, we focus on how to boost your credit score. ... (See Great credit scores)

Sally Herigstad: Best to clean up debt in your home country -- When moving to Canada, it's in your best interest to make sure all your debts are paid back home. Here's why ... (See Moving to Canada)

Sally Herigstad: 4 common myths about debt and marriage -- A reader has suspicions her husband is having an expensive cash-only affair, using plastic to cover household expenses. Is she liable for that debt? ... (See Credit cards and marriage)

Sally Herigstad: Do you marry someone who's deep in debt? -- A woman wonders if she'll ruin her credit by marrying a man who has $150,000 in debt. Our expert says no, but be careful to keep romance and finances separate. ... (See Debt and marriage)

Sally Herigstad: Don't pay a collector's dubious old debt without proof -- If a collector calls wanting payment on a very old debt that you don't remember, odds are that you are being scammed ... (See Dubious debt)

Don't retire card debt with 401(k) savings -- While it may be tempting to cash out retirement accounts to pay down card debt, you'll most likely regret that decision later ... (See Retirement and debt)

How to control elderly dad's financial blunders -- A reader wonders how to get her 84-year-old father to rein in his frivolous spending out of fear that he'll eventually get scammed ... (See Elderly finances)

Losing your job doesn't mean you have to file for bankruptcy -- A reader just lost her job and has $60,000 in credit card and student loan debt. She's considering going bankrupt, but our expert says that's not going to solve her problems ... (See Lost job and bankruptcy)

Tips to handle online debit card theft -- Your physical card doesn't have to disappear to be stolen. Online card thieves just need your card's number for signature-based transactions ... (See Online debit card theft)

Your car loan: Finance or pay it off? -- A reader wants to know if it's better for her credit standing to pay off her car loan or to continue financing for the life of the loan. ... (See Car loans and your credit)

Premeditated card default for ailing father? -- A reader with a poor, ailing father wants to know if she'll be liable for racking up debt on his credit cards -- knowing full well he has no assets to pay ... (See Credit card default)

Get angry at your overdue debt, not your lender -- You've fallen behind on your payments and you're angry at the carmaker who's asking for the payment you agreed to make? Get real ... (See Get angry at debt)

Not signing your credit cards has its hazards -- Contrary to popular myths, not signing your credit card or writing "See ID" in the signature place does not prevent identity theft. ... (See Credit card signature)

The problem with paperless credit card bills: It's easy to forget to pay -- Sure, going paperless is good for the Earth, but not so good for your credit score if you forget to pay your bills. So have backups, or automate ... (See Paperless bill pay tips)

Paying off debt on a fixed income isn't easy -- When your debt is high and your income is fixed, the ability to pay off credit card debt can be challenging. Our expert offers some advice ... (See Fixed income debt options)

An elderly couple's options for dealing with debt -- Health issues and a limited income prevent an elderly couple from paying a big outstanding debt. Our expert offers some options ... (See Debt payment options)

Bankruptcy doesn't absolve spousal support payments -- A reader wants to know if her ex-husband files for bankruptcy, will her spousal support disappear? ... (See Spousal support)

Bankruptcy protects against wage garnishment -- A reader who filed bankruptcy is contacted by an old creditor who threatens wage garnishment. Does she have to pay the debt or not? ... (See Wage garnishment)

There's no easy fix when you're maxed out on credit -- If you're young and already maxed out on credit, it's time to buckle down, pay it off and clear the path for a less stressful future ... (See Maxed out credit cards)

Too many credit cards increases liabilities -- If you have more cards than you can keep track of, then it's time to close some accounts ... (See Too many credit cards)

4 ways to shorten lengthy credit card payoff -- Once the interest rate on a card with a large revolving balance is jacked up, you have to explore options other than paying the minimum ... (See Card payoff)

How a widow should handle collection calls on late husband's 'debt' -- More than four years after her husband died, a widow begins receiving collection calls on debt that may be the result of identity theft ... (See Collection calls)

What types of income are protected from wage garnishment? -- Typically, retirement and disability income are exempt from being tapped for the repayment of unpaid debt. ... (See Protected.)

Paying bills by money order gets expensive -- Fear of being turned down by a bank for a checking account can be unfounded. There are ways to find out if you're eligible to have an account. ... (See Bills)

Credit card charges made by children are invalid -- When minors use your credit card without your knowledge, the law protects them -- and you -- from having to pay for their mistakes. ... (See Minors)

Best use for inheritance: pay debt or create savings? -- A reader inherited some money and is on a mission to be debt free, but wonders whether it wouldn't be smarter to put that cash toward retirement instead. ... (See Free)

Protecting the elderly from credit card collections -- Credit cards and their associated terms and conditions can get very confusing for the elderly who also suffer from dementia. Here's what you can do to help. ... (See Dementia)

Tips for rebuilding your credit after divorce -- A disabled domestic violence survivor and divorcee not only needs to rebuild her life, but also her credit. ... (See Rebuild)

Forget chocolates, lend your credit rating for Valentine's Day -- Chocolates? Diamonds? How about doing your sweetie a favor by giving her a better credit rating for Valentine's Day. ... (See Score)

Negotiating down card debt and your credit score -- You can ask a card company not to report your debt settlement to the credit bureaus, but there's no guarantee that it will comply. ... (See Score)

6 common money mistakes women make -- After more than two years writing for CreditCards.com, "To Her Credit" columnist Sally Herigstad recaps the most frequent financial errors women make ... (See Mistakes)

Take steps to prevent bipolar card splurges -- One of the symptoms of bipolar disorder can be overspending. To prevent rampant shopping, there are obstacles you can set up to derail your urge to splurge. ... (See Bipolar)

Resist racking up debt to get back at cheating spouse -- You think hitting where it hurts -- his wallet -- will satisfy your hurt? Don't go there as you may end up paying dearly for your revenge. ... (See Revenge)

Daughter's card abuse hurts mom as authorized user -- A mom wants to be removed as an authorized user from her daughter's delinquent credit card account. Luckily, it's not that hard. ... (See Help)

Don't hide debt problems from collectors, friends or family -- Secrecy about financial troubles only makes them worse. Being more open and building a support system can help you get through the tough times. ... (See Honest)

Hold collectors at bay by keeping accounts current -- When faced with multiple bills, it's better to pay a little on all of them rather than paying down one bill first and making the others wait. ... (See Debt)

Adult son racks up $20,000 on mom's cards -- When an adult child abuses a parent's trust and charges more than $20,000 on joint cards, it's time to get tough and start selling his stuff. ... (See $20,000)

8 tricks to not rack up card debt during the holidays -- Here are some tactics you can use to enjoy the holiday season without racking up a lot of credit card debt. ... (See Debt)

Can debt collectors garnish Social Security? -- Social Security benefits are usually protected from debt collectors, but you need to take certain steps so those funds are never frozen. ... (See Garnish)

How to escape the credit card fee cycle -- Once you miss a payment or pay less than the minimum, you're setting yourself up for a never-ending spiral into the credit card fee abyss. ... (See Fees)

How bad credit affects a new marriage -- If your credit is bad and your new spouse's is good, you need to take certain steps not to taint the good credit spouse. ... (See Bad credit)

Help! My husband's debt is ruining our credit -- Before marriage, her credit was great. Now, her husband's debts are making their lives unmanageable. Is there hope? ... (See Married)

There's a cost to paying less than you owe -- Before you jump at the chance to pay less than what you owe, think about what settling your debt will end up costing you. ... (See Costly)

When the no-interest, same-as-cash deal clock runs out -- If you aren't diligent about paying off a balance during the a no-interest period, you face the high-interest gauntlet. Here's what you can do. ... (See Interest-free period)

Health care cards carry same credit risks -- Sure, you can charge that MRI, but be warned: health care credit cards are the same -- or worse -- than regular credit cards. ... (See Health)

Will cash gifts, inheritance go to creditors after bankruptcy? -- If you recently filed for bankruptcy and are now looking at an inheritance, it's best to make other arrangements for that cash or it could end up going to your creditors. ... (See Cash)

Debt collectors must prove the debt is yours -- A reader is being harassed for debt that she doesn't think is hers. Take these steps to take to prevent debt collection abuse. ... (See Proof)

Beware of 'fake' grandkids calling for cash -- Be warned! A popular scam is proliferating where a "grandchild" calls a grandparent asking for emergency cash or credit card info. ... (See Scam)

Protect yourself from estranged husband poaching your good credit -- If an estranged spouse uses your identity and 'poaches' your good credit, he may have committed fraud. Protect yourself first then decide whether to put the screws to him ... (See Really estranged)

Does credit card debt follow you if you move overseas? -- Moving overseas doesn't mean you strand credit card debt acquired in the States -- especially if you ever plan on returning home ... (See Abroad)

What you stand to lose if you don't pay your credit card bill -- A reader wonders just what would happen to her if she just stopped paying her credit card bill. Legal action, garnishment and property liens, our expert warns. ... (See Pay up)

Best to apply cash to credit card debt or down payment? -- A reader wants to know whether it is wiser to use a lump sum of cash to pay off credit card debt or dump into savings for a future house down payment. ... (See Cash)

Credit card issuers don't make hardship programs easy -- It's a Catch-22. Though you've kept up payments until now, you can't pay anymore. But your issuer won't work with you until you start missing payments. What to do? ... (See Hardship)

10 ways to pay down credit card debt -- A young family with $35,000 in credit card debt wonders whether filing for bankruptcy is the solution. It isn't, says our expert. ... (See Debt)

70 years old with $20,000 in credit card debt -- A senior citizen wants to know how she can manage to pay down $20,000 in credit card debt when she's unemployed and on a fixed income ... (See Broke)

What are your rights when opting out of a rate increase? -- You can't opt out of a rate increase after the stated deadline, but you may be able to freeze the account at the old rate. ... (See Opt out)

Can one spouse's bankruptcy destroy the other's credit? -- If your spouse files for bankruptcy, your credit score may or may not be impacted, depending on where you live and what you owe. ... (See Bankruptcy)

Create a separate credit identity after divorce -- If you are still an authorized user on an ex's credit cards, your credit score is dependent on their payment behavior. Your best bet is to get your own credit. ... (See Divorce)

Protect your credit score during divorce -- When facing divorce, avoid at all costs racking up mounds of credit card debt as you want to be able to start off your new life without undue financial stress. ... (See Divorce)

Starting a credit life after a spouse's death -- A widow wants to know what she needs to do to keep her mortgage and lines of credit after her husband's death. ... (See Death, debt and credit)

Avoid bankruptcy during messy divorce -- The last thing you need to do as you start your new, independent, financial life is to put yourself through the trauma of going bankrupt. ... (See Divorce)

When your ex doesn't pay on joint accounts -- If you rely on your ex to pay down on joint accounts after a divorce, expect to be disappointed. ... (See Joint disaster)

Does it matter who is the primary account holder? -- In times past, creditors may have only reported credit history for the primary account holder -- usually the man. Times have changed. ... (See Primary)

Take responsibility for card overspending -- We know times are hard, but when you rack up credit card debt, it's no one else's financial burden but your own. ... (See Your debt)

Protecting your credit score when paying down debt -- It's a Catch-22: you opt to pay down your credit card debt, but then your credit limit gets cut. What's a cardholder to do? ... (See Cut)

When elderly parents abuse credit cards -- A reader's 80-year-old mother has charged $120,000 on various TV shopping channels. What's a daughter to do? ... (See Mom)

A practical guide of what to expect when filing for bankruptcy -- American bankruptcy laws were created for catastrophic events, where debt resolution can give you a fresh start and let you become a productive, contributing citizen again. ... (See Bankrupt)

Purchase protection on balance transfers -- If you transfer the balance of a credit card purchase to another card, does the original purchase protection still apply? ... (See Transfer)

What's the best way to pay the IRS? -- When faced with a tax bill, it's important to weigh all payment options carefully or you'll end up paying a lot more than you owe. ... (See IRS)

Stop the temptation of credit card convenience checks -- If you never plan to use the blank 'convenience' checks from your credit card company, consider asking your credit card company to stop sending them. ... (See Checks)

Why do credit cards have expiration dates? -- When your credit card renews, it's important to re-evaluate and renew any automatic payments. ... (See Expire)

Who's liable for charges on dead dad's credit card? -- An authorized user wonders who's liable for charges on her deceased father's credit card ... (See Liable)

Teaching adult children financial responsibility -- Co-signing, when done successfully, is like a set of financial training wheels. It should be used only as a temporary measure until the young person is a little less wobbly. ... (See Kids)

Joint accounts: Till debt do you part -- Having a joint credit card with your spouse doesn't cause your credit histories to mix. But missing a payment will affect both credit scores ... (See Credit)

Don't be caught off guard by limited purchase protection -- Many assume when we make credit card purchases, the credit card companies will side with us in a dispute. That's not necessarily so. ... (See Fine print)

10 grandchildren + $100,000 in card debt = bankruptcy? -- Even though bankruptcy may seem like the answer to clean the debt slate, if you don't change your situation, it won't help at all. ... (See $100,000)

What happens to prepaid cards when a business is sold? -- Most business owners follow both logic and good business sense and honor prepaid cards. Sometimes, however, you run into someone who doesn't. ... (See Prepaid)

Good credit cardholders lumped in with bad -- Banks are pulling back more than ever before to limit the amount of risk they have, so even perfect payment clients are compromised ... (See AmEx)

Mad at your credit card issuer? You still have to pay -- Mad at your credit card issuer? While you may resent having to pay that bill, choosing not to pay it will hurt you even more. ... (See Mad)

Exercise caution when selling jewelry to pay down debt -- Selling off jewelry to pay down credit card debt can be a good idea -- as long as you don't get ripped off ... (See Jewels)

Steps to take to pay off old debt -- Your credit report may not reveal all past debts, but contacting creditors may restart the clock on the statute of limitations. ... (See Old debt)

How to avoid debt collectors' fees -- Debt collectors often try to tack on a separate fee to your debt, which is governed by law and has to be reasonable. ... (See Collectors)

When medical problems hit, bankruptcy can make sense -- Bankruptcy laws were created for catastrophic situations, not for carelessness. However, filing should be done only when other options have been considered. ... (See Last resort)

Canceled debts will lead to IRS tax -- When collectors discharge old debts, they will report that to the IRS as income to you, leaving you with what could be a hefty tax bill. ... (See Discharged debts)

How to keep debt collectors at bay -- No matter what your circumstances, you have the legal right to ask collectors to stop harassment ... (See Collectors)

Financial steps to take when you're sinking in debt -- When you're behind on your mortgage and credit card bills, figuring out how to stay afloat may seem impossible, but there are drastic measure you can take to keep from sinking. ... (See Sinking)

Leaving debt behind in another country -- Although credit scores don't cross borders, don't bank on being able to just move away from your money troubles. ... (See Bailing on debt)

The wisdom of bailing family members out of debt -- if that fresh start comes too easily, in a few years they can be back in line looking for another fresh start, and another. ... (See Helping out)

Just say no to store credit cards -- There are too many reasons why you shouldn't want a credit card for every store in the mall, so pass up those one-time discounts. ... (See Stores)

Elderly mother can't pay $14,400 in credit card debt -- An 83-year-old woman can't meet her minimum credit card payments on $14,400 in credit card debt. ... (See Helping mom)

When collectors come after you for ex's unpaid debt -- It's an all-too-common problem: Your ex defaults on credit card debt on a joint account, so collectors are coming after you. What are your options? ... (See Ex-spouse)

Paying less than minimum won't ward off garnishment -- Paying less than the minimum amount won't ward off garnishment. It's best to contact creditors directly to work out a payment plan. ... (See Small payments)

Behind on car lease payments: What to do? -- When facing repossession of your car for falling behind on lease payments, it's best to try to ask for more time rather than steal the car. ... (See Behind)

Take control of debt, avoid bankruptcy -- Bankruptcy is not the easy solution to debt reduction -- it's expensive, takes time and paperwork and destroys your credit rating for almost a decade. ... (See Bankruptcy)

Don't use 401(k) to pay back taxes -- Consider the tax and penalty implications when thinking about tapping 401(k) funds to pay back taxes. ... (See Hands off that fund!)

Learn the three Cs of credit: Credit score, capacity to pay, collateral -- When deciding whether to finance an item over time, consider the three Cs of credit to see if it will hurt your credit score. ... (See Credit tips)

Wage garnishment after unemployment -- A closer look at how wage garnishment works when you lose your job, get a severance package and get unemployment. ... (See Rules)

When debt collectors don't play by the rules -- When debt collectors don't reveal how much you owe, you have rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act to find out how much you owe, how much you paid and what your interest rate is. ... (See Consumer rights)

In times of financial uncertainty, follow timeless advice -- In this economy, it's important to keep a clear head and not heed the financial advice of all the doomsayers. ... (See Proceed with caution)

Why getting a small business card is smart -- When starting up a small business, it's important to keep business and personal expenses separate for tax purposes. ... (See Start up)

Ignoring outstanding debt won't make it go away -- Unpaid credit card debt won't magically erase itself from your credit report after a certain time -- it will impact your life for decades. ... (See Head in sand)

How credit card balance transfers affect your credit score -- When a consumer is faced with a high-rate card, switching to a lower-rate card is smart, if you do it right. ... (See Balance transfers and credit score)

Can credit repair companies ruin your credit score? -- With $23,000 in credit card debt, can a credit repair company erase or reduce that debt legally without hurting your credit score? ... (See Repair)

It's fraud when an ex opens credit cards in your name -- It's theft when an ex uses your Social Security number to open credit cards in your name, and should be reported to the police and credit bureaus. ... (See Fraud)

Unpaid car lease fees can ruin your credit -- When the lease is over, but over-mileage fees remain, don't leave them unpaid or your credit will take a big hit. ... (See Car lease fees)

Before you refinance, clean up your credit score -- When refinancing your home, it's best to check your credit score for errors or delinquencies so that any dings can be repaired before you apply for the loan. ... (See Refinancing)

Will cashing in retirement funds help my credit score? -- To Her Credit columnist Sally Herigstad advises a reader not to cash in all of her retirement in order to pay down credit card debt in an attempt to raise her credit score. ... (See paying off debt)

Steps to take when collectors violate your rights -- As a credit card account authorized user, you have no financial responsibility for this account, and the bank knows it. That doesn’t stop unscrupulous companies from trying to collect, however. ... (See Collections violations)

How one spouse's good credit score can boost a poor credit score -- There are ways your good credit score can boost your spouse's poor credit score, but make sure you both set up solid financial goals first and don't stray from the plan, says To Her Credit columnist Sally Herigstad. ... (See Credit score)

When is a debt too old for collection? -- Saddled with an 8-year-old credit card debt, a senior citizen living on just Social Security wants to know what her rights are. ... (See Old debt)

Is selling your house to pay down debt a good idea? -- A reader who has $75,000 in credit card debt wants to know if selling her house to pay off debt is a good idea. ... (See Credit card debt)

To detect fraud, credit card issuers monitor all your purchases -- Credit card company fraud departments monitor their cardholders purchases to detect unusual patterns or purchases. ... (See Credit card fraud)

Improve your credit score by keeping credit card balances low -- Experts now say you should be using no more about 50 percent of your available credit -- not the 67 percent you are using now. ... (See Credit score)

Retired, with $70,000 in credit card debt -- Tips on how to reduce astronomical credit card debt on a fixed income. ... (See Credit card debt)

Charging up a storm before filing bankruptcy is considered fraud -- Thinking of loading up your credit cards before you file bankruptcy is considered fraud. ... (See Credit card fraud)

Debit vs. credit: Which offers more protection? -- Debit card issuers are increasing consumer protections similar to credit cards. ... (more)

When a child obtains a credit card, who's liable for debt? -- A 15-year-old charges up $2,000 in credit card debt. Her parents wants to know who is responsible for paying off the balance. ... (more)

3 things you should never check daily: your weight, your stocks and your credit score. -- There are three things you should never check daily: your weight, your stocks and your credit score. ... (See Credit score)

How canceling a credit card will impact your credit score -- Elements to consider when canceling a long-standing credit card and how that cancellation will impact your credit score. ... (more)

When balance transfers make sense -- There's no sense in delaying balance transfers to lower interest rate credit cards if your credit is good. ... (more)

Two years behind on credit card payments -- How do you even begin to pay back credit card debt that is two years old? ... (See Credit card debt)

Self control and credit cards -- Don't shun credit because you've had trouble with overspending in the past. A strategy of taking on credit in small doses is better for you, says Sally Herigstad. ... (See Credit card management)

How to ask for a lower credit card interest rate -- Armed with a phone, a good payment history and lots patience for time on hold, To Her Credit columnist Sally Herigstad asked for and got lower interest rates on her credit cards ... (See Credit card APR)

To co-sign or not to co-sign -- A mother wants to help her daughter buy a house, but due to the daughter's bad credit, will have to co-sign the loan. 'To Her Credit' columnist Sally Herigstad weighs the benefits and the risks of co-signing on someone else's loan. ... (See Joint credit)

Establishing credit after divorce -- A stay-at-home mom who finds herself divorced with no credit of her own gets a path to her own credit history from 'To Her Credit' columnist Sally Herigstad. ... (See New credit)

While paying off debt, learn investing, says 'To Her Credit' columnist Sally Herigstad -- If put off investing, you may get bogged down in trying to pay off your debts and never be able to start your portfolio. ... (See Saving for retirement)


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Credit Card Rate Report

Updated: 04-17-2014

National Average 15.00%
Low Interest 10.37%
Balance Transfer 12.64%
Business 12.80%
Student 13.27%
Cash Back 14.84%
Reward 14.96%
Airline 15.30%
Bad Credit 22.73%
Instant Approval 28.00%

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