Expert Q&A

Description: Confused about credit? The team of experts answers' readers questions.

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 Expert Q&A

Help! I maxed out 5 cards to 'help' online boyfriend -- Retired woman falls for scam, racks up $35,000 she can't pay back ... (See Scam)

Yes, worry about a 30-point discrepancy in your credit scores -- Some variation is expected, but big differences merit investigation ... (See Scores)

How to access elderly parent's credit reports -- If you suspect card fraud, the best way to find out is through a credit report ... (See Fraud)

How your card may reimburse canceled trip costs -- Some cards offer trip cancellation protection, but you have to meet all the criteria ... (See Trip)

How to avoid paying convenience fees on utility bills -- Utility companies may charge a convenience fee if you pay by credit card. ... (See Convenience fees)

Don't fall into the deferred-interest trap -- Pay late by a day and you face a huge penalty ... (See Deferred)

Micropayments help debt management, credit scores -- Typically, lenders will allow multiple payments, but if not, find out why ... (See Payments)

Small balance shows you use credit, helping your score -- Scoring formula quirk rewards you for having tiny balance ... (See Balance)

Ask for a lower APR; you just might get one -- If your credit's in good standing, the odds of being granted a lower APR are in your favor ... (See APR)

Travel reward cards: How to avoid pitfalls -- Canceling a rewards card after using the bonus can save money on the annual fee but also affect your credit ... (See Rewards)

Credit card surcharges can be costly for business -- For the moment, California law allows these charges ... (See Surcharges)

How to cancel a debt settlement contract -- You can escape, but you'll still have to deal with the debt ... (See Cancel)

Social Security benefits protected from garnishment -- As long as your benefits are direct deposited to your bank, creditors can't take them ... (See Debt)

Don't close your credit card accounts to win a mortgage -- "Too much credit" is old, bad advice some mortgage lenders cling to ... (See Mortgage)

If mom opens cards in your name, it's family fraud -- Start with a conversation, then get a police report ... (See Fraud)

Understanding how airline rewards programs work -- Airlines have changed the structure of their reward programs, but still have great offers if you know how to earn miles. ... (See Miles)

How to avoid unwanted purchases on company credit card -- To prohibit employees from purchasing certain items, employers can use MCC codes for help ... (See Company cards)

Rolling card debt into a mortgage? Consider alternatives -- You risk your house when you convert debt from unsecured to secured ... (See Mortgage)

Use home sale proceeds for new home first, debt later -- Buy a new home first, create emergency fund and use what's left over for student loan debt ... (See Sale)

Being added as authorized user can boost credit age, score -- Young to credit? Your parents' well-aged card could help ... (See Age)

Once balance is paid off, your credit limit is restored -- New to credit? Here's how charging and repaying affects your credit limit. ... (See Limit)

How to get double cash back at Costco -- How to get double cash back at Costco with executive membership and the Costco Citi Anywhere Visa. ... (See Costco)

Can you run a card on file for payment without approval? -- A repeat customer gives business a card number that doesn't work, but has a card on file that does. ... (See Card)

Card account keeps getting hacked. Close it? -- Canceling a card can impact credit score, but it may be necessary ... (See Hacked)

85-year-old mom has $25,000 in card debt -- Her adult children's behavior is keeping their mom on the debt hook ... (See Mom)

Credit bureau policies vary when freezing a child's credit -- It is often difficult to place a credit freeze on a child when no ID theft has been committed ... (See Freeze)

When a 'friend' racks up $11,000 on your card -- Your options? Take her to civil court, pay the debt or stop paying and risk being sued yourself ... (See Options)

You splurged for the Chase Sapphire Reserve card. Now what? -- Use the card's points and perks before that $450 annual fee kicks in again. ... (See Reserve)

How your business can avoid charge-backs, account problems -- Chargebacks can cause problems for business owners when it comes to their accounts. There are ways to improve customer service and cut down on charge-backs ... (See Charge-backs)

Dispute card accounts opened fraudulently by ex-spouse -- You have to take the proper steps to get the issuers to acknowledge the accounts aren't yours ... (See Fraud)

Business charged you via card number on file? Dispute it -- Just because they sold you something once, they can't run your card number on file again without your permission ... (See Dispute)

How to fix credit after dad opens card in son's name -- Son rejects dad's card offer, but finds out dad opened one anyway ... (See Credit)

Making the most of flexible travel rewards programs -- Several programs allow transfers to airlines and hotels, and there may be more possibilities than you realize ... (See Rewards)

An old card, left open after divorce, can mean new debt -- Debt collectors don't care what your divorce decree says ... (See Old card)

To escape from crummy cards, you need a plan -- Get basic good credit behavior down pat; worry about the nuances later ... (See Crummy)

Premarital debt weighs on new marriage -- Bringing delinquent debt into a new union can strain joint finances ... (See Debt)

If credit score disappears, here's how to get it back -- Inactivity can cause your credit score to vanish ... (See Disappear)

Will incorrect income on car application jeopardize loan? -- The bigger problem lies in taking on a car payment you can't afford ... (See Loan)

Save money on gas, at Costco and elsewhere -- Using the new Citi Costco card can make sense at the pump, but there are other ways to save on gas ... (See Save)

Inform customer before your business runs card number on file -- If your business is left with an balance and has a card on file for an unresponsive customer, it is probably OK to run the card - but document your efforts to reach them ... (See On file)

Make sure loan consolidation improves your credit -- Consolidating your credit card debt into a single loan can help your credit or hurt it. It depends on your actions ... (See Debt)

Living together doesn't create common-law marriage or debt liability -- Keeping accounts separate can protect funds in case partner is sued for repayment ... (See Debt)

Removing yourself as an authorized user -- Ending the 'piggyback' ride from a person with great credit can impact score ... (See Impact)

Creating a credit history for kids under 10 is too early -- Wait until kids hit their teens to add them as authorized users to your card ... (See Kids)

Which cards maximize rewards at grocery stores? -- Having the right rewards card can beat coupon clipping ... (See Grocery)

Shady business partner opens up credit in your name -- Straighten out the credit mess, then get a new partner ... (See Business)

Who must pay card debt of deceased husband? -- The state where you live determines who has to pay. ... (See Widow)

Be wary of whose card you piggyback on -- If the credit bureau deems the account illegitimate, you'll be out of luck ... (See Piggyback)

How becoming a widow affects credit -- Becoming suddenly single won't hurt credit if you have your own ... (See Widow)

Deceased father's accounts dragging down son's scores -- Knowing exactly how dad's accounts got on son's credit is first step ... (See Scores)

To manage money during travel, carry a mix of cards, cash -- A balanced approach gives you the most payment options ... (See Travel)

Businesses must beware unauthorized card use -- Fraud liability, loss of ability to accept cards may follow if you don't follow merchant rules ... (See Unauthorized)

Card issuers can reduce your credit limit -- Banks monitor credit reports, and make adjustments if it sees signs of risk ... (See Limit)

Deceased mom's debts take priority over inheritance -- After debts are paid, then what's left over can be disbursed among any heirs ... (See Heirs)

How preapproved offers affect credit -- You don't have a lot to worry about, but there are exceptions ... (See Preapprove)

Is secured card best for rebuilding credit post-bankruptcy? -- If your score is high enough, you may qualify for a regular, unsecured card ... (See Credit)

Not all travel qualifies for rewards bonus points -- Check your card's terms to see how it defines "travel" ... (See Travel points)

Keep medical debt from being reported to credit bureaus -- Prevent the credit score damage before it happens ... (See Lucky break)

Pay medical bill before debt goes into collections -- Complex medical billing makes it common for debts to slip past due ... (See Medical debt)

Teen falsifies birth date, gets card, charges $500 -- Her mom will pay off debt, but asks if her teen will come under fire from the issuer ... (See Teens)

How delinquent child support affects credit scores -- States vary in how they report it, so impact varies, too ... (See Scores)

Card options expand when bankruptcy falls off credit report -- At last, 10 years have passed since bankruptcy. Which card should you try for? We'll help you come up with a plan ... (See Post-bankruptcy)

Purging seldom-used reward cards -- If you have cards you rarely use, consider canceling them for peace of mind ... (See Gas rewards)

Don't try to fix and flip houses with 0-percent cards -- Risky investments require cash reserves, not plastic ... (See Flipping)

Stop soon-to-be ex from sticking you with joint debt -- Take steps now to protect your finances before you get in front of a judge ... (See Divorce)

How being denied credit affects your score -- Only the hard inquiry affects the credit score of an applicant when their credit report is pulled ... (See Denied credit)

Safeguard accounts from card-stealing family member -- Keep cards safe and don't store details online to prevent fraudulent charges from happening ... (See Fraud)

Maximize points by shifting spending to a rewards card -- Some types of purchases are hard to put on a card ... (See Shift spend)

Mailing goods to a customer? Require a signature -- For small businesses that send products by mail, a signed record will show it was delivered and avoid chargeback disputes ... (See Signature)

When medical bills lead to deep debt, tough choices follow -- Cut your costs, get credit counseling and accept that bankruptcy may be in your future ... (See Medical debt)

Best way to allocate lump sum across multiple card debts -- You can pay high-interest debt first or knock off an entire balance for motivation ... (See Debt)

Hard inquiry warning not required -- The impact of that inquiry can range from slightly harmful to positive ... (See Inquiry)

Understanding how a card's billing cycle works -- Depending on when issuers report to the bureaus will impact credit scores ... (See Billing)

How to redeem your card's cash back reward -- Increasingly, it's your choice of check, prepaid card or statement credit ... (See Cash)

Struggling homeowner reliant on credit looks at raiding 401(k) -- With credit maxed out, car shot, raiding the 401(k) is tempting, but don't do it ... (See Help)

Warn the ex's girlfriend about his IRS tax debt -- If you and your ex owe the IRS, the new girlfriend deserves to know ... (See Taxes)

5 credit scoring head-scratchers -- Most of the times, scoring rules make sense. Then there are these ... (See Rules)

How unwanted card, hard inquiry impact credit scores -- The inquiry will ding your score, but the new credit line may help ... (See Card)

Take steps to pay down debts on shaky business now -- You've racked up personal debt to start a business and its revenues are shy of what you expected? Shift into pay-down mode, even if it means taking a second job ... (See Business debt)

One day late, one dollar short means late fee -- Paying a bit little, a bit late, will trigger a fee ... (See Late fee)

How to graduate from debit-only to being a credit card holder -- Don't let fear hold you back from opening a credit card. Used properly, they're a useful tool. ... (See Debit)

Authorized user doesn't like the piggyback ride -- Don't jump off too soon; a close look at the entire credit profile may show it's a net positive ... (See Piggyback)

Unpaid fees from canceled card can end up in collection -- When a card is canceled, triple-check that no balance remains ... (See Fees)

When spouse dies, who gets the cash-back rewards? -- As an authorized user on your spouse's credit card account, you are usually not entitled to cash-back rewards accrued on the account. But issuers may make an exception ... (See Rewards)

Business partner's personal debts on card may be grounds for suit -- An authorized user isn't normally liable for card debts. But you may still have legal recourse against a small-business partner who won't pay personal charges they rang up on your card ... (See Business partner)

What happens after a debt is charged off -- When the original lender gives up, collection efforts continue, with important consequences ... (See Debt)

Volunteering for jail isn't the answer to debt -- When debt gets deep, don't despair there's help ... (See Jail)

Score damage increases if unpaid debt goes to collections -- Your score likely took one blow when a bill went seriously delinquent. You'll take another if it's sold to a collection agency ... (See Into collections)

New card application may renew debt collection -- If you have debt in collections, creditors may come calling once they see you are seeking more credit ... (See Debt)

Card issuers impose limits on rewards card churning -- Limits make it tougher to churn through credit cards to milk them for sign-up bonuses while ducking the fees ... (See Churning)

Poor personal credit hurts business card application -- Even with good business credit, your chances of approval for a business credit card are poor until you rebuild your personal credit score ... (See Business)

Dealing with aggressive debt collector tactics -- A real debt collector must start by sending a validation of debt notice ... (See Debt)

Aging father's big card debt puts his home at risk -- With equity in his home, he risks creditors slapping a lien on it for repayment, or worse, a forced sale. ... (See Home)

Lowering credit limit on new card can hurt scores -- The higher the credit line, the better, as long as balances stay low ... (See Scores)

Brexit getaway? Award seats to London are widely available -- The turmoil after the British vote to leave the European Union has made it cheaper for Americans traveling there, though with airline prices still high, it pays to investigate award flights ... (See Fly)

Will I be held liable for my failing business’s credit card debt? -- Even if your small-business credit card accounts aren't appearing on your personal credit report now, they may if you default ... (See Business debt)

Minimum payments won't cut debt on 16 cards -- If all you can afford is the minimum payments on your debt, you need a game-changer ... (See MInimums)

Personal funds generally safe once debt is uncollectible -- Once the statute of limitations has passed, garnishment fears should be allayed ... (See Debt)

If you settle debt, expect a credit score drop -- Debt settlement can help get you out of overwhelming debt, but there will be a catch ... (See Settle)

Canceling new card won’t offset hard inquiry score impact -- Once you apply, the damage is done. But responsible use over time is the cure ... (See Impact)

Card offers on planes – are they worth it? -- Credit card applications handed out on planes sometimes come with better rewards sign-up bonuses and other perks, but not always ... (See Rewards)

How to ask members to cover nonprofit's card processing fees -- How you word such a request has less to do with credit card laws than with regulations governing nonprofit fundraising ... (See Fees)

Risk of lien, garnishment during debt settlement -- If debt negotiations get nasty, you could be sued, so watch out for notices from the court ... (See Garnish)

Settling parent's financial affairs after death -- Locating insurance, paying bills a challenge when a parent dies suddenly ... (See Death)

How a Canadian can restart credit in the U.S. -- A great score in Canada means little; you need to obtain a U.S. loan from a U.S. lender that reports to U.S. credit bureaus ... (See Canadian)

Paying down existing balances trumps need for secured card -- Getting rid of current debt will boost score more than getting a new card ... (See Score)

Foreign ATMs accept US debit cards, but carry backup -- U.S. debit cards are widely accepted at overseas ATMs, but carry credit cards, too, to be safe ... (See ATMs)

Financing your business without relying on personal credit -- You can fund a startup without a personal guarantee, but it won’t help you build business credit ... (See Business credit)

Which 0-percent card should be paid off first? -- Priority should be given to the card with the closest expiring APR offer ... (See 0-percent)

Card issuers need court judgments to seize debt payments -- Behind on card payments? Issuers can't withdraw debt payments straight from your -- or your spouse's -- bank accounts without legal action ... (See Debt)

Who sees credit report 100-word statements -- Not many lenders bother with them; you may want to remove old ones ... (See 100 words)

Set rules when adding child to your card for foreign travel -- As an authorized user, you can keep track of his charges and know he's covered in case of an emergency ... (See Travel)

Splitting reward points from a small business -- Credit card rewards usually belong to whoever signed up for the account. But small-business partners should discuss whether to split them up or use them for business expenses. ... (See Business rewards)

Plan carefully before opening multiple small-business credit cards -- Multiple business cards may help your credit score and increase your rewards-earning potential, but first consider how you will manage them ... (See Business cards)

How card debt liability changes after final parent dies -- Unless the account is co-owned, card debt is paid by the estate, and is among the last debts in line ... (See Death)

Just 10 credit score points shy of a mortgage -- These strategies will help you get the final points needed to qualify for that home loan ... (See 10 points)

Minor's co-signed bank account at risk of parents' garnishment -- Even if a minor earns the money, it's a parental asset , and one that would tempt a debt collector ... (See Garnish)

Hunting for the best cash-back rewards card -- The "best" card for you depends on your preferences and spending habits. But when it comes to cash-back rewards, don't settle for less than a 2 percent payoff ... (See Cash back)

Title loan causing overdrafts? You may have recourse -- Title loans can put you into a vicious circle of debt through automatic withdrawals from your bank account. But if the lender doesn't follow certain rules, you may be able to file a formal complaint ... (See Loan)

Removing your name from a joint account after divorce -- You're still responsible if ex doesn't pay. If you're on good terms, and ex has good credit, a balance transfer would work ... (See Divorce)

Options for escaping penalty rate APRs -- Six months of on-time payments can force a rate review ... (See Penalty rate)

Why an old debt may vanish from credit report -- If a legitimate debt disappeared from your credit report, don't celebrate yet. It might not be gone long. ... (See Credit report)

What types of income qualify on card applications? -- Gross or net? Household income or wages? Breaking down income qualifications when applying for a card ... (See Income)

Options abound for redeeming reward points -- Bank-related reward programs offer a lot of redemption choices. But consider how many points each kind of reward requires ... (See Rewards)

For tip-earning employees, credit card surcharges may beat alternative -- Credit card surcharges are complicated and may irritate customers. While that could hurt the tips of the merchant's employees, it may be better for them than one alternative ... (See Fees)

Selling your home to pay off debt, fund college -- Shedding debt is good, but college costs add up fast and another home won't be cheap ... (See Home)

Authorized user kept charging on deceased dad's card -- Five years after her father died, daughter wonders who is liable for the balance ... (See Liability)

Good payment habits will raise score after balance transfers -- Multiple balance transfers led to multiple hard inquiries and a score drop, but you should be able to turn it around ... (See Transfer)

Dispute duplicate student loans entries on credit reports -- When a loan is bought and sold multiple times, it can create credit report havoc ... (See Duplicates)

Is it time to ditch my airline card for bank rewards or a Costco card? -- How to evaluate the benefits, costs and your preferences to find the right rewards card ... (See Rewards)

Authorized user not responsible for deceased company president’s debt -- As the authorized user on a small-business credit card, you are not liable for debts on those cards, even if the primary cardholder dies. But if you own the business, there are special considerations ... (See Debt)

Credit card issuer can't garnish your Social Security check -- Contact the company and ask about a hardship program ... (See Garnish)

'Injured spouse allocation' tax form can shield spouse from debt -- Couple's return is seized for repayment of wife's student loan ... (See Loan)

Some states offer exceptions to credit reporting rules -- Negative items can come off your report sooner in New York, California ... (See Exceptions)

Low utilization boosts balance transfer deal approval odds -- Zero percent balance transfer deals are often reserved for those with high credit scores ... (See 0% deals)

What to do when strange charges appear on your bill -- If there is a charge on your bill that you did not authorize, you should contact your issuer immediately ... (See Fraud)

Startup didn't launch, so credit rebuilding needed -- Living on credit cards during startup has risks, but with time you can recover a good credit score ... (See Startup)

Don't close accounts after paying card debt -- Using a cash-out refi to pay off card debt? Great. Closing the card accounts after? Not great at all ... (See Close)

Is widow obligated to repay husband's debt consolidation program? -- If she co-signed the contract, then she will be required to repay ... (See Debt)

Walmart MoneyCard prepaid card does not build credit -- If you're looking to build up your credit, prepaid cards are the wrong path to take ... (See Prepaid)

British Airways Avios program both confusing and useful -- Avios can be hard to understand but offer a strong value on some flights ... (See Avios)

If you co-signed, relative's business card debt is now yours -- A family member's refusal to pay a debt that you guaranteed puts you on the hook ... (See Debt)

How to tell if a debt is too old to collect -- Time determines whether a debt can legally be collected, and you have to know the starting and ending dates ... (See Too old)

Quick fixes for temporary repayment problem -- When life throws a curveball and you can't pay your bills one month, here's what you can do ... (See Bills)

How to build credit when you're not a US resident -- Getting a U.S. address and Individual Taxpayer Identification Number are the first steps ... (See Credit)

No permission needed for card updater services -- Merchants don't need your permission to use these services, but if you don't want to renew, you can always cancel your subscription ... (See Update)

Big balance transfers may run into limits -- Zero-percent loans are great, but you might not be able to transfer all your debt to one ... (See Balance)

Getting a refund tougher if you buy with debit card -- Late or nondelivery refunds not fully guaranteed with debit purchases ... (See Dispute)

Card account isn't closed if annual fee still charged -- Despite not using the card for years, if you are still getting charged a fee, your card company considers the account open ... (See Closed )

Used right, subprime cards can help rebuild credit -- Subprime or secured cards can pave the way to a better credit score ... (See Subprime)

Frequent flier miles may live on after death -- Airlines often allow transfers of frequent flier miles to beneficiaries when a member dies, even if written policies are vague ... (See Transfer miles)

Handling employees' personal purchases on company cards -- It may be legal to charge an administrative fee to employees who put personal expenses on their company card, but there are simpler solutions to consider ... (See Purchases)

After divorce, ex dies with card debt; am I responsible? -- It's unlikely, but check divorce decree, credit reports ... (See Debt)

Don't tap IRA to pay back taxes -- Cashing out IRA may cause you to end up with yet another tax bill ... (See IRS)

Positive info not always reported to all 3 credit bureaus -- Big swings in credit scores can result, and that can hurt if you're borrowing ... (See Scores)

How a secured card's security deposit works -- Your deposit acts as your credit line and is refunded once the card is closed and the balance paid off, minus any fees ... (See Secured card)

How to switch your rewards card -- Whether you need to close your old card when you apply for one with better rewards depends on the card's fees and perks ... (See Rewards card)

Handling employee abuse of business credit card -- It is not a crime for authorized users to put personal expenses on a company-issued credit card. But there may be simple ways to recoup the costs and prevent future abuse ... (See Abuse)

Pay off all card debt? Or leave a small balance? -- If you want to keep the card, use it; inactivity can cause it to be closed ... (See Pay off)

Will debt settlement hurt authorized user's credit? -- A quick call to issuer to remove authorized user will protect guest cardholder ... (See Settlement)

Even with no SSN, unpaid debt can ruin your credit -- Your name, address and amount owed will be reported ... (See SSN)

While in credit recovery, apply for new card with care -- To maximize your score and get the best new card possible, pay off balance on old card first ... (See Score)

Details emerge on new Citi Costco card switch -- Warehouse giant will accept any Visa starting June 20, 2016 ... (See Costco)

Tips for breaking your merchant services contract -- It helps to know what's in your credit card processing contract before you try to break it ... (See Services)

Settlement options on an old card debt -- A "paid in full" notation on your credit report will be helpful ... (See Settle)

What to do about card debt when on a fixed income -- Paying off card debt doesn't solve problem of not having enough to live on ... (See Debt)

Pay off revolving card debt first over installment loan -- A revolving debt balance, in lenders eyes, increases the chance that the borrower will default ... (See Debts)

With high credit score, adding new travel card not a problem -- With responsible use, adding another card to your arsenal has advantages ... (See Reward)

Getting the most out of multiple rewards cards -- Which to use? Know your spending habits, and look at costs, benefits ... (See Rewards)

Can a state mandate businesses accept cards? -- No law requires a merchant to take credit or debit cards in payment, but businesses that spurn them risk losing customers ... (See Acceptance)

If buying a home soon, handle old debt with care -- Have a strategy: How you deal with creditors can clean up your credit -- or send up red flags to mortgage lenders ... (See Home buy)

Co-signed card leaves mom's credit in ruins -- When her daughter couldn't pay the bill, collectors turn to her mom ... (See Co-sign)

Lenders may remember old charge-off forever -- Nothing requires a lender to grant more credit if you still owe a debt, despite it falling off your credit report ... (See Charge-off)

Secured card, patience needed to boost score -- Improving a credit score requires many cycles of consistently paying debt ... (See Score)

Ditch or keep rewards card when annual fee comes due? -- With the sign-up bonus spent and a big fee due, it’s OK to cancel or downgrade a card ... (See Fee)

To qualify for business loan, lower your personal credit use -- A careful balance transfer may help lower credit utilization ... (See Credit use)

Don't rush to pay very old debt in collections -- After many years, it may be uncollectible due to its age ... (See Old debt)

Car lien shouldn't come as a surprise -- People just can't randomly attach liens to your property without notice ... (See Car lien)

Wrong address in credit report worrisome, but won't hurt score -- Bureaus use formula to decide which address is current ... (See Address)

Wait for bankruptcy discharge before applying for credit -- Only in a few circumstances will new credit be allowed during bankruptcy proceedings ... (See Discharge)

Help! I need points fast for a summer trip! -- Earning points in a hurry is possible but requires some planning and spending ... (See Miles)

Improperly closed business can cause tax collection headaches -- Tax collectors may come after a small business that is sold but not officially closed. But there are ways to fight back ... (See Tax collectors)

What to do when kids charge $2,500 to your card for iTunes -- When kids use a card to rack up charges without your knowledge, you should dispute the bill ... (See iTunes)

High installment loan utilization hurts your credit score -- Owing a lot on installment loans isn't as damaging as maxing out a card, but it still suppresses your credit score ... (See Installment)

Getting, building credit requires an income -- Issuers want to see that you have the ability to repay what you borrow ... (See New to credit)

Options dwindle for paying mortgage, car loan on credit -- It's possible, but requires 'manufactured spending' techniques that are both risky and complex ... (See Points)

Paying deceased's bill doesn't imply liability for authorized user -- Authorized users are not responsible for debt incurred on a credit card account, even if they make payments after the primary cardholder dies ... (See Liability)

How an unpaid debt affects selling your property -- An unpaid debt isn't a property lien, and shouldn't hamper home sale ... (See Liens)

Promotional inquiries' impact on your credit score -- They crop up on your credit report when a lender has a 'prescreened' offer for you, but don't directly impact your score ... (See Inquiries)

Charging after bankruptcy filing can backfire -- Racking up card chages during a time of repayment can lead to trouble ... (See Chapter 13)

Consider award availability before selecting travel card -- If you know where you want to travel with miles, see which airlines offer the most award seats before applying for a travel card ... (See Miles)

Yes, merchants can get new card info on recurring charges -- Updater services allow merchants to know when your credit card information changes, and to alter their records accordingly. If you don't want to continue the subscription, you'll need to cancel it directly ... (See Updater)

If health problems strike, ask for hardship rate reduction on debt -- Avoid a settlement if you can; its credit score impact lingers ... (See Health)

Authorized user not covered by service member's APR protections -- The SCRA won't help lower card APR for an active-duty authorized user ... (See Military)

Credit utilization rules for managing your credit score -- General credit utilization rules: Closing a card will never help your score, while keeping a $0 balance will never hurt it ... (See Utilization)

Best card to build credit post-bankruptcy -- A secured card is often your best bet after bankruptcy discharge ... (See Secured card)

Should you pay for merchandise with reward points? -- Card companies are offering more options than ever for redeeming points, but pay attention to the value ... (See Redeem)

Debt consolidation may not cure cash flow problems for business -- A debt consolidation loan may lower overall small-business credit card payments, but you also need to fix cash flow problems ... (See Debt)

Don't fall for collector's threats on really old debt -- If the debt is past the statute of limitations, it's too old to collect ... (See Debt)

Allocating card payments on a limited budget -- Use free tools to plan your debt attack, don't close the account after you succeed ... (See Allocating payments)

Do you list gross or net income on card applications? -- Issuers want to see your gross income, among other items ... (See Income)

Downgrading a rewards card? You may be eligible for sign-up bonus -- If one card becomes too expensive, consider applying for less costly versions -- and you might even score a sign-up bonus. But be aware of credit implications ... (See Rewards)

How your business can get customers to pay upfront -- You'll need to overcome resistance to advance payment by offering greater value ... (See Upfront payment)

Before you charge, have a plan to pay off your debt -- Yes, you can buy now, pay later. But know the consequences ... (See Repayment)

Spousal identity theft is fraud, so fight it -- To avoid liability for the debt, you'll need to report the fraud ... (See Spousal ID theft)

'Nuisance' debt in collections under $100 may not hurt score -- You'll face late fees, but newer scoring models ignore small debts ... (See Missed payment)

Steps to build credit as a permanent resident -- A secured card is an ideal credit-building tool for those new to the U.S. ... (See Permanent resident)

Best reward card for cable, cellphone spending? -- Credit cards offer reward bonuses for many spending categories, including unsexy expenses such as utilities ... (See Points)

Deciding whether to settle a credit card debt -- Do you have a lump sum, and are you ready for a credit score hit? ... (See Settle)

Lost job? Budget, don't stop card payments -- Prepare a bare-bones budget and cut all nonessential spending before you stop paying on cards ... (See Job loss)

Primary account holders are responsible for card debt -- If you're told you're not the primary account holder, you can pay bills, but not make changes ... (See Primary)

Don't apply for multiple balance transfer cards -- Multiple hard credit inquiries will ding your credit score ... (See Hard inquiries)

How JetBlue's card switch to Barclaycard will work -- American Express cards will stop working in March 2016, but TrueBlue points remain ... (See JetBlue)

Long after business is sold, old card debt arises -- A small business owner who handed over a credit card account when he sold his business is being hassled by collectors for debt he didn't ring up ... (See Old debt)

Don't close maxed-out card after you pay off debt -- When the card was maxed out, it was hurting your score; now it's helping ... (See Maxed-out)

For tax purposes, card statements aren't detailed receipts -- Don't rely on your card statement if you want a precise record of spending; keep that original paper receipt ... (See Receipts)

Playing hardball in a debt dispute has credit consequences -- If you feel wronged by a creditor, you can fight, but if you withhold payment your credit score will plummet ... (See Debt hardball)

Use caution when adding a friend as an authorized user -- No matter what your repayment arrangement is, you are ultimately responsible for any debt ... (See Authorized user)

Examine partners to earn more United miles -- If you’re interested in reward flights on United, consider cards connected to airline and bank-program partners ... (See Rewards travel)

Using an EIN to apply for a card, build business credit -- A small business can start building credit with a home improvement store credit card, but be sure you're doing it for the right reasons ... (See EIN )

Get through unemployment without borrowing -- There are more options for squeezing money out of your budget while job hunting. Don't be tempted to take out a loan ... (See Unemployment and debt)

Card owner's dementia, death make it hard to prove theft -- The neighbor of a man with dementia went to town with his card. After his death, it's hard to distinguish theft from generosity ... (See Dementia, death and card theft)

Automated credit score advice may not fit -- Free online score-improving tips can conflict, depending on which credit-scoring formula is used ... (more)

Stop debt collector's harassing phone calls -- There are laws to protect people from debt collection harassment and abuse ... (See Debt collection)

Why do people pay high annual fees on credit cards? -- Paying hundreds of dollars a year for a credit card might seem ridiculous, but some people find value even in those top-tier cards ... (See Annual fee)

Put big annual vacation on a new 0-percent card -- If you have good credit, and the discipline to pay it off before the promotional period ends, go for it ... (See Paying for big vacation)

Mom has Alzheimer's and $20,000 in card debt -- If Social Security is all she has to live on, she may be judgment-proof ... (See Alzheimer's)

Don't be hasty in closing unused account with $0 balance -- Unused, available credit contributes to your score, so it might be helping your credit score without you knowing it ... (See $0 balance card)

New to credit? Build score with car loan, secured card -- Adding different types of credit accounts helps build your credit score ... (See Credit score)

Don't secretly add an authorized user to boost your rewards -- Some rewards cards dangle the prospect of extra points for adding a friend or relative to your account, but make sure you tell the other person first ... (See Secret authorized user)

Small-business options for dealing with supplier debt -- Whether a vendor can come after you for delinquent debt depends on what type of business structure you have and the contract you signed ... (See Business debt)

0-percent intro card buys time to pay debt -- Have a plan to use that interest-free intro period wisely ... (See 0-percent card)

Restoring credit after authorized user status goes bad -- When the primary account holder stops paying the bill, all users associated with the account suffer ... (more)

Check credit score before applying for balance transfer -- Inquiries and new accounts both ding your credit score, so choose carefully ... (See Balance transfer credit check)

How closed accounts affect credit history, scores -- Closing excess cards will have an impact, but maybe not as bad as you think ... (See Closed accounts)

Check flight availability before transferring rewards points -- If you don't check flight availability before transferring, you might be stuck with airline miles that are hard to use ... (See Frequent flier)

Get that debt deal agreement in writing -- The owner of a failed business made a debt repayment deal with his credit card issuer over the phone, but now collectors are demanding much more. He still has options, but not as many as if he'd gotten the deal in writing ... (See Business debt)

To get a fresh financial start, break bad, old money habits -- If you're sick and tired of falling behind on bills, start by thoroughly tracking your spending and trimming where you can ... (See Fresh start)

Credit score differences: How they occur, why they matter -- The credit files' data may differ, it can contain errors and the formulas used on it vary ... (See Credit score differences)

Canceling an unactivated card can hurt credit scores -- The lender already checked your credit and the loss of a new credit line could ding score ... (See Canceling card)

Targeted reward offers: What to do when they go bad -- Incentives to spend on a card can give big rewards, but make sure you take the right steps in case you don't receive what you're owed ... (See Targeted offers)

3 steps for establishing business credit -- Business credit can be challenging to build, so it helps to come up with a battle plan from the outset ... (See Business credit)

Settling debts for half of what's owed isn't easy -- Banks aren't in the business of paying 100% and only getting 50% back ... (more)

Involuntary authorized user wants to be removed -- A near-stranger adds a woman as an authorized user. Maybe it's ID theft, certainly it's creepy, and it can to be stopped ... (See Authorized user)

Baby-sitting money counts as income on card application -- If the work is steady and can be counted on in the future, it can be listed as your income ... (See Income)

Costco cardholders need a new strategy -- Warehouse giant switches from AmEx to Citi; key dates, what you need to know ... (See New Costco cards)

Disability income may be safe from business-debt collectors -- Credit card debt racked up for a now-defunct business may still be collectible, though the owner's disability payments are probably off limits ... (See Disability)

Merchant refund can create credit balance -- Yes, you can spend down that cushion, but wait until it's in hand ... (See Refund creates balance)

Options when 'written off' debt reappears on credit report -- Just because a debt is not listed on your credit report, doesn't mean you're not still responsible for it. Here are options to take care of the debt ... (See Written off debt)

How charge cards are different in credit scoring formula -- Credit limits, utilization aren't a factor, but wise use of the card is ... (See Charge cards and credit scores)

Police report needed to fix credit after mom steals child's ID -- Filing it will allow credit bureaus to repair damage from parental identity theft ... (See ID theft)

Check American Airlines' reward partners, transfer options -- If you're trying to build American Airlines miles, or fly where that airline goes, you have more options than you may think ... (See Airline points transfer parnters)

Credit card surcharge laws in limbo in California -- Law prohibiting surcharges is unenforceable for now, but that's under appeal. Other options might be better for nonprofit medical clinic ... (See Surcharges)

After bankruptcy and depression, reach for financial help -- With debts and worries piled high, it's time to stop trying to handle all the problems and seek financial guidance ... (See Financial help)

Rebuilding credit? Go easy on new accounts -- When working to rebuild your credit, open and maintain only two or three new cards. Any more could hurt more than helpp ... (See Credit rebuilding)

Go from good to excellent credit with first (and only) card -- Employing good credit habits early paves the way for a great credit score ... (See First card)

Global Entry perk may make big-annual-fee rewards card worthwhile -- Some premium cards have annual fees of $450 or more, but features such as lounge access and Global Entry might make them palatable ... (See Global Entry)

Second job could help save entrepreneur's debt-ridden startup -- It's not uncommon for small-business owners to rely on other income sources during the company's first few years ... (See Job)

Keeping card accounts open after a balance transfer -- Consolidation can help manage debt, but goal is to pay it off ... (See Debt consolidation)

Can I get away with maxing out my credit, filing for bankruptcy? -- Deliberatly maxing out cards with no intent to pay, then filing for bankruptcy could give a "fresh start." But it's a big risk, and morally dubious ... (See Max out)

How partial debt payments affect your credit, your legal rights -- Old debts fall off your credit reports in 7.5 years no matter what you do, but a partial payment may lengthen your vulnerability to a collections lawsuit ... (See Partial payments)

Rehabilitating student loan won't raise score immediately -- It takes seven years to erase the credit score damage of a default, but don't let that deter you; the benefits begin right away ... (See Rehabilitate)

Weighing rewards cards in aftermath of airline changes -- With airlines overhauling their frequent flier programs, we run some numbers to help you evaluate which card makes more sense for you ... (See Rewards)

Card updater services keep customers' auto-payments flowing -- Services offered by card networks for merchants could help prevent customer attrition ... (See Autopay)

Immigrant seeks to build good credit faster -- With basics mastered, it's time to make mid-course corrections ... (See Building credit)

Parental conservators can block access to finances, credit -- Parents took over legal responsibility for son in credit card debt, filing bankruptcy on his behalf, and preventing him from getting credit on his own ... (See Conservators)

IRS won't care if you buy gift cards with reward points -- Even if you get a "cash back" reward card that you spend like cash, it's not considered income, so shop away! ... (See Rewards not taxable)

When buying gasoline for business, watch discounts, surcharges -- Depending on your state, gas stations may try to offset merchant processing costs by putting a surcharge on credit card sales, or offering a cash discount ... (See Gas)

Know your risk before giving credit card to a relative -- A sister's request to give her a credit card for three months requires close examination, since you'll be on the hook ... (See Card for a relative)

Options for getting a handle on a $37,000 debt -- With a good income but lots of debt, a 72-year old single woman needs to plug the money leak first ... (See Debt options)

Options limited when paying bills for relative in coma -- Trying to do the right thing - pay a comatose relative's card bill - is nearly impossible without legal authority ... (See Pay relative's bills)

Charging bills can help your score if you pay early, often -- Avoid interest charges and debt by paying in full, and keep your credit utilization low by paying more than once a month ... (See Charging bills)

How to react when your reward program changes -- Travel points and miles tend to lose value over time. Here's how you can guard against that trend ... (See Devaluation)

Business cards usually require a personal guarantee -- The small-business credit card that doesn't require good personal credit is an often-sought but seldom spotted myth ... (See Business card)

When you get a windfall, pay debts in full to restore credit -- Use that windfall to pay debts off; a partial settlement will be taxable and bog down your score ... (See Debt and windfall)

Don't agree to debt repayment you can't afford -- Stick to your budget and your guns when dealing with pushy debt collectors ... (See Debt collection)

How hard and soft inquiries affect your credit score -- Credit inquiries can be either soft or hard, and your credit score can suffer damage if you drop too many hard inquiries into it ... (See Credit inquiries)

Closing only card means no score, no mortgage -- With no credit activity, no credit score can be generated, which eliminates the possibility of you being approved for a mortgage ... (See No score, no mortgage)

How long to wait to apply for another rewards card -- Don’t apply too aggressively -- for the sake of your credit and budget ... (See Rewards)

EMV rules for vending machine owners -- Vending machine owners face a small liability risk if their card-accepting machines are not EMV compatible ... (See EMV and vending machines)

Take care closing card accounts before mortgage application -- If you're not careful with your charging habits, closing card accounts can hurt your chances of getting a mortgage ... (See Closing cards before mortgage)

Mortgage after bankruptcy, divorce: You need time -- Low mortgage rates will not be available immediately after filing for bankruptcy. But patience and credit-building will help in getting a loan at a decent rate ... (See Mortgage after bankruptcy )

Raise credit score 30 points in 6 months? Tough, but doable -- Attention to bill-paying, credit utilization -- plus enough cash to whittle down debt -- can get it done ... (See 30 points )

Great credit score means you should reap rewards -- The longer you've used credit successfully, the less harm you'll do by getting some new cards, and big sign-up bonuses make it worthwhile ... (See Reap credit rewards)

Fraud risk minimal from contactless EMV cards -- A determined thief could intercept radio waves from a dual-interface credit card, but in practice it's not worth the bother ... (See Contactless EMV fraud)

Credit utilization important for businesses, too -- Paying your balance in full every month is ideal but if you can't manage that, keep your balance as low as possible ... (See Business credit)

With low-limit cards, watch credit utilization closely -- Building your credit with a $300 limit card means if you buy a big-ticket item, don't wait, send in an extra payment ... (See Low limit card utilization)

Mom's Medicaid leaves no money left for debt repayment -- Plus, recently transferred assets may be voided by Medicaid ... (See Medicaid)

How long negative information stays on a credit report -- Late fees will not affect a credit score, while a late payment history will -- at least, until it drops off a credit report in seven years ... (See Negative credit information)

Card issuer unlikely to hold a grudge for very old debt -- Once bad payment history falls off a credit report, card issuers are more likely to approve credit ... (See Issuer grudge)

Balancing need to save against urge to earn rewards -- Consider your spending habits and self-discipline to create a plan that you can stick to ... (See Rewards)

Autopay clients leave you open to more fraud, not EMV liability -- When customers use automatic payments, it's considered a card-not-present transaction. Those sales are not covered by the EMV liability shift rules instituted in October ... (See Autopay and EMV)

How paying more than the minimum helps build credit -- Paying more than the minimum is good not only for your credit, but for your entire financial well-being ... (See Minimum payment)

Maxed-out card blocks entry to 800 credit score 'club' -- One card with a high utiliization is enough to prevent a good credit score from becoming nearly perfect ... (See 800 club)

Emancipated 17-year-old rejected for credit -- She can live independently, but banks won't issue her a card ... (See Rejected)

Frequent flier miles sometimes contain hidden tax -- If you accumulate miles that have been purchased, be prepared to see slight charges to cover a 7.5 percent excise tax the IRS imposes when companies buy miles from the airlines ... (See Frequent flier mile excise tax)

Mystery bill may signal error, memory failure or fraud -- If an unknown credit card bill shows up in your mailbox, it's time to take a closer look at what is on your credit report ... (See Mystery credit card bill)

Joint card account means sharing gambling charges -- Getting a fraud alert for the gambling you charged on a joint credit card is a sign to come clean ... (See Gambling)

Getting a credit card after bankruptcy can help credit score -- A post-bankruptcy credit card is one step toward restoring your credit score, but there are others, too ... (See Credit after bankruptcy)

Closing a new card won't undo credit score hit -- Even if you haven't used the card, you've suffered ding to your score already. Why not keep it, since it may be of use? ... (See Credit score)

How to transfer your miles and points into other reward programs -- Sorting through different reward currencies can become complicated but give you additional options to redeem ... (See Transfer)

Using business's tax ID is no shortcut to building credit -- When it comes to credit, most business is personal ... (See Business credit)

Card rate too high? Negotiate a better one or transfer balance -- If you've been paying on time for a long time, you shouldn't be stuck with a 29 percent APR. Ask for a lower one; if they say no, transfer the balance ... (See Rate's too high)

Forgotten card leads to post-divorce strife -- Shared cards during a marriage can create havoc after it's dissolved ... (See Shared cards)

How late payments get reported to credit bureaus -- First comes the late fee; if you still don't pay your score takes a hit ... (See Late payments)

Once student loans are paid, a second card may be in order -- One option to keep scores climbing is to open another card ... (See Credit score)

Can I earn grocery rewards points at Wal-Mart? -- Merchant category code classifications matter when using rewards cards ... (See Merchant Category Codes)

Does a business card's guarantor own its rewards points? -- Agreeing to guarantee a cardholder's debt doesn't automatically grant you the card's benefits ... (See Business rewards)

Repeat balance transfers cut debt, but control spending, too -- To really eliminate debt, you have to do more than transfer debt from one 0 percent credit card to another ... (See Repeat balance transfers)

Even paid-off cards usually canceled in bankruptcy -- If a card has no balance, you'll still end up losing it ... (See Credit cards during bankruptcy)

Card tips for rebuilding credit after bankruptcy -- After bankruptcy, how many cards will it take to rebuild credit scores? ... (See Credit scores)

With chip card switch upon us, who do I call about fraud? -- Retailers will start to shoulder some responsibility for fraudulent charges, but consumers will see few differences starting Oct. 1 ... (See EMV fraud)

Accepting international payments with Square -- For small business owners who use Square to accept credit cards, selling to overseas customers is allowed. But there are a few things you should know to make it easier on your customers and yourself ... (See International Square)

Getting a second balance transfer card harder than the first -- You got a balance transfer card, but for only part of your debt. Your odds of getting a second card are good, but will nip again at your credit score ... (See 2nd balance transfer)

ID thief may pay bills on stolen card, but needs to be turned in -- Police and card issuer need to know about the crime ... (See ID theft)

After 10 years abroad, credit record must be restarted -- Even the most pristine credit record will be erased by a decade of inactivity. Starting over will require patience and work. Here's how. ... (See Rebuilding credit)

Little-known card perk: insurance against baggage delays -- Cardholders often don't even know that some cards provide insurance that will reimburse them for expenses incurred due to delayed baggage ... (See Baggage delay insurance)

Closing a business card while preserving your credit score -- Closing a business credit card may hurt your personal credit score as much as closing a personal card. ... (See Business card)

Cards have no built-in policies that pay off after death -- You can buy add-on insurance to pay the debt after you die, but it's usually not worth the price ... (See Debt after death)

Wife has lower score, but gets better prescreened card offers -- Her husband's credit score is over 800, so why are issuers ignoring him? ... (See Scores)

Spouse committed fraud, ran up debt, but we're still together -- With $10,000 debt in collections, an 850 credit score is not on the horizon ... (more)

Authorized users don't have to share credit reports -- Getting added to another's card doesn't mean they are privy to your private information ... (See Authorized user)

My husband won't let me get an EMV chip card for our European trip! -- Many card issuers have switched to EMV chips, but some still have only magnetic stripes. Does it matter? ... (See EMV card )

Mystery withdrawals could be your lender, not a thief -- If money is disappearing from your business account, it could be fraud, but it may also be a lender you've given permission to take a portion of your receivables each month ... (See Receivables)

A 29.99% card APR is too high, even with bad credit -- Spurn that really bad offer, try these other credit-building methods first ... (See APR too high)

Halt card spending until after mortgage closes -- Going on a card-spending binge before you close can jeopardize your home loan ... (See Credit cards and mortgages)

Minimizing score damage after a charge-off -- Having credit card accounts closed and charged off will cause a huge credit score drop, and it could get worse if you don't take steps ... (See Rebuild score after charge-off)

Debt can be voided if signer was a minor -- Unpaid medical bills can generally be disputed if incurred before the age of 18 ... (See Minors)

Balance free companion ticket with seat availability, annual fee -- The perk, which comes with the Platinum Delta SkyMiles card by American Express, sounds great but you'll probably need flexible travel plans to use it ... (See Companion ticket)

Basics of minimum payments -- If your minimum payment is $50 but you owe $25, just pay the $25 ... (more)

Don't ignore summons for unpaid card debt -- You may have nothing to fork over, but not responding can cause further damage ... (See Summons)

5 questions every authorized user should ask -- "Piggybacking" -- being added as an authorized user -- is usually a credit-boosting gift, but needs to be looked over carefully first ... (See Authorized user)

Credit score impact of store card financing deals -- Financing a big-ticket item short-term shouldn't have long-term credit score impact ... (See Store card)

Automatic cash back rewards checks tough to find -- A survey of 10 top cash back cards reveals only one apparently allows you to sign up for automatic rewards checks ... (See Cash back)

EMV terminal recommendations for small business -- With the EMV liability shift looming, merchants are looking to upgrade their credit card readers. These recommendations and tips can help you choose the right one ... (See EMV terminals)

Smart balance transfer: Do the math, change your spending habits -- Don't throw away the savings a balance transfer offers by continuing to overspend on cards ... (See Smart balance transfer)

How to stop identify theft of a deceased family member -- Cases of family members stealing an identity are more common than people might think. ... (See ID theft)

Credit card advice for a 'debit card kind of guy' -- Debt and bad money habits are the enemies. Those old store cards? They're your pals ... (See Debit guy)

Steps to remove yourself from mom's card -- It's best to apply for a new card before removing yourself as an authorized user on another ... (See Authorized user)

Unaffiliated travel reward cards give you choices, bonuses -- Some cards come with generous sign-up bonuses that can be used for a wide range of travel charges, but they’re not for everybody ... (See Travel)

Collectors have numerous ways to get money from entrepreneur -- Some small-business owners don't get regular paychecks, which makes it harder for debt collectors to garnish their wages. But they can still find other ways to collect ... (See Business debt)

Explain medical debt with 100-word statement -- You should add a 100-word statement to your credit report explaining your late payment due to medical debt -- but don't forget to remove it later ... (more)

Ex still charging on old joint card account -- She thought all the cards had been closed. Years later, she finds out she was wrong ... (See Joint account)

How average credit account age affects your FICO score -- The average age of the various types of credit plays a significant part in determining your credit score ... (See Age of credit accounts)

When credit card interest is applied -- Newbies often don't know that most cards can be used without paying interest ... (See Credit building)

Personalized help for maximizing your rewards -- If you're not comfortable deciding which cards to purge and which to use, technology and professionals might help ... (See Rewards app)

Accepting credit cards won't affect nonprofit's tax status -- Getting a credit card reader to accept donations won't impact the personal finances of the person who opened the organization's business account ... (See Nonprofit)

Yes, raid kid's college fund to pay $30,000 card debt -- College funds are good and important, but if they jeopardize a family's financial health, hard decisions have to be made ... (See Raid college fund)

5 credit score oddities -- Quirks in the credit scoring formula make unexpected things help or hurt ... (See Credit score oddities)

Help your score rebound after card issuer closes account -- Ways to recover your score after losing an open credit line ... (See Closed card)

I'm facing default: Are my airline miles at risk? -- Rewards might be the least of your worries if you're in financial trouble, but they can have lots of value ... (See Frequent flier)

Get authorization for customer's card before delivering goods -- If you don't take time to get a customer's credit card purchase authorized before you deliver their purchase, you may have little recourse ... (See Authorization)

Clearing authorized card user account information -- The simplest way to remove negative information generated from an authorized user account is to be removed from the account ... (See Authorized user)

How banks limit the size of your balance transfer -- You may see a balance transfer to a 0-percent card as a way out of debt, but to the bank, it's new credit and you have to qualify for it ... (See Balance transfer)

How to build a credit score with your first card -- Should you use the card a little or a lot to ramp up your credit score? ... (See First card)

Help! My estranged wife stole 2 million reward points! -- Ex-wife fools card company into transferring points to her account. How can he get the points back? ... (See Theft)

Co-owner's personal bankruptcy clouds your business credit -- Think twice before applying for personal credit for your business if your partner can't manage money well ... (See Co-owner bankruptcy)

Where to turn for help with overwhelming debt -- When bankruptcy and debt settlement sound like bad ideas, where else can you ask for help? ... (See Credit counseling)

Out of 11 cards, which 7 do I cancel? -- Having a zero balance on all the cards makes credit score impact minimal ... (See Canceling a card)

How credit reports handle balance transfers -- If your payment record was good, try to keep both the new and old accounts open -- it'll help your credit score ... (See Balance transfer)

Mom steals ID, racks up debt, ruins daughter's credit -- Reluctant to turn her mom in, a daughter now faces thousands in debt that she can't repay ... (See Theft)

Changing your reward card when airlines shift strategies -- It makes sense to monitor the companies connected to your credit card rather than get stuck with rewards you won't use ... (See Rewards)

Business at risk in personal bankruptcy -- In both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you may have to give up your business, even if it's failing ... (See Bankruptcy)

Be cautious with new credit when considering bankruptcy -- Getting a new credit card when you're about to file bankruptcy is rarely a wise idea ... (See Considering bankrputcy)

Secured card may be best when on a fixed income -- With your deposit as your credit line, you can't spend more than what you can repay ... (See Secured card)

Tips to boost credit score enough to qualify for a mortgage -- Low and mismanaged credit can be bumped up by taking these three credit card actions ... (See Improve score)

How a balance transfer card can boost FICO score -- Opening a new line of credit can boost your rating by reducing your overall debt-to-credit-limit ratio ... (See Balance transfer)

Cashing in reward points after death -- If you've got to oversee distribution of reward points to heirs of a deceased cardholder, it's best to redeem them for something with a concrete value ... (See Rewards)

Business debt caused by partner's con? You're still on the hook -- A business owner must pay credit card debt he owes, even though it was caused by an ex- business partner's shenanigans ... (See Business debt)

Can too many cards lead to loan rejection? -- According to FICO, there is no such thing as a penalty for too much unused credit ... (See Rejection)

Collectors can't win judgment without proof of debt -- A collector cannot win in court without proof that a debt is yours ... (See Proof)

Myth: Too much available credit hurts home loan -- If you have many cards with little or no balances, closing them won't boost your credit score ... (See Myth)

Don't let new card's annual fee take you by surprise -- When applying for a new card, take the time to review its fee structure before you sign up ... (See Fees)

Rewards earned via business spending are tax-free, for now -- The IRS has been consistent in its interpretations, but increasing complexity could prompt changes ... (See Tax free rewards)

If disputing a charge with PayPal, approach merchant first -- if you want to continue to maintain a good relationship with a merchant, it's always better to try to seek a refund from him directly than to go straight to a card issuer or a third-party processor such as PayPal ... (See Refunds)

Setting payment priorities for cards, co-signed student loans -- The interest rates on the various loans will have a lot to say about which you should tackle first ... (See Prioritizing payments)

Build credit before house hunting -- The desire to own a home may be strong, but with no credit, it's just a dream ... (See Home buying)

Credit scores recover quickly from short-term debt -- If a brief, big debt surge is necessary, do it. Eating up your credit limit will hurt your credit score, but you can recover quickly with no lingering damage ... (See Short-term debt)

Report ID theft, even if the card was never used -- If a card card account was fraudulently opened but not used, it's still a crime, just as someone who broke into your house but didn't manage to steal anything is still a crook ... (See Theft)

5 questions for picking a rewards card -- and 1 that shouldn't matter -- To benefit from rewards cards, pay your balance monthly and the APR won't matter. After that, consider these factors ... (See Rewards)

Business and personal expenses better on separate cards -- You can legally use a small-business credit card for all of your spending, but there are advantages to keeping them separate ... (See Separate business card)

Canceling card doesn't wipe out charges for recurring services -- Once you allow recurring charges, they're tough to turn off, but canceling a card will just risk damaging your credit score and won't erase your obligation to pay ... (See Recurring charges)

Statute of limitations doesn't wipe credit slate clean -- Once a debt has passed the statute of limitations, that doesn't mean it gets wiped off your credit report ... (See Old debts)

Banks' internal 'behavior scores' can decide cardholder terms -- If you apply for a new card or higher limit from your existing card issuer, they'll judge you with a proprietary 'behavior score' that looks at how you've used their card before ... (See Behavior score)

When does interest begin accruing on charges? -- For those new to credit, it helps to know how interest can add to your balance ... (See When interest charges begin)

What else can I buy to boost my reward points? -- There are ways to increase your rewards earnings by engaging in what's called "manufactured spending." But the time-consuming pursuit is not for everyone ... (See Manufactured spending for rewards)

Lowering merchant fees on large sales -- If your business sells big-ticket items, merchant fees on credit card transactions can add up. That doesn't necessarily mean you should limit your card acceptance, though ... (See Merchant fees)

Don't fall for Internet loan scam out of desperation -- After bankruptcy, your choices for personal loans will be limited, but don't make a bad one ... (See Online loan scam)

Getting US loan after living abroad not easy -- Without a current credit history and score, and after living abroad for years, getting bank approval for a U.S. loan is tricky ... (See Loan)

3 quick, easy, inexpensive credit score rebuilding tools -- Paying off all your debt at once will help, but it won't rebuild a slumping credit score by itself. To speed the process, add some new, positive loan payment history. Here's how ... (See Credit rebuilding)

Score impact of maxing out 3rd line of credit -- Maxing out credit cards is never a good idea, but as long as you pay them off quickly, your score will rebound ... (See Maxing out cards)

Paying a utility bill on a rewards card to earn points -- If you pay off your credit card balance in full every month, it makes sense to put as many expenses as you can on your card -- if you can avoid fees ... (See Utility rewards)

Cash back rewards scarce for business owner with bad credit -- Bad personal credit? Rewards may be out of reach until you raise your score, even if your business itself has good credit ... (See Cash back for business)

Notify card issuer immediately if accountholder dies -- Pick up the phone and let the credit card company know; it prevents new charges and identity theft ... (See Deceased)

Don't ignore divorce decree debt mandate -- If the court says you're liable for a debt, even if the bank says you're not, pay up or expect to face a contempt charge ... (See Divorce)

The facts behind debt reduction methods -- How your credit score is affected by a debt reduction plan depends on what type of action you are taking. It helps to know the facts before choosing a method ... (See Debt reduction)

Credit score impact of multiple balance transfers -- Moving debt from one balance transfer card to another can damage your credit ... (See Transfer)

Finding a credit card with concierge service -- You don't often hear about concierge services and other benefits, but they are common among reward cards ... (See Concierge)

Almost all business cards require personal guarantee -- If no one in your organization wants to guarantee a business card, you'll probably need to look at other options such as reimbursing expenses on personal cards and establishing trade credit with suppliers ... (See Business cards)

Your 3 options when consolidating card debt -- A balance transfer, bank loan and debt management plan can all work to consolidate big credit card debts, but only one will be right for you ... (See Consolidate)

Chasing rewards points backfires when debt piles up -- If a family member who's an authorized user racks up debt on a rewards card, there may be other, less-traditional options for getting it paid back ... (See Chasing rewards)

Credit score still damaged after report error fixed -- A "rapid rescore" won't fix a credit issue, but digging deeper into the credit score issue will help ... (See Credit score fix)

Don't be duped into signing up for a store credit card -- Protect your credit by refraining from spontaneous store sign-ups ... (See Retail card)

What's the best reward card for a single big purchase? -- Want to maximize rewards returns on an upcoming big purchase? Several cards offer 2 percent cash back, but sign-up bonuses on travel cards are even more lucrative ... (See Rewards)

Remorseful fraudster must find way to repay business partner -- A small business owner who defrauded his partner seeks solutions from the creditor, but most must find a way to pay the debt -- or face legal repercussions ... (See Business fraud)

Your daughter ran up the debt, she should pay it -- As a student with no income, your daughter shouldn't have been issued a card. But she did, and she used it, so she should deal with it ... (See Pay debt)

Mom with dementia sued for card debt -- By the time a credit card issuer files a lawsuit for unpaid debt, it's already late in the debt-collection process, but you still have options ... (See Dementia)

How credit mix is calculated in FICO scores -- Having a variety of credit - a good "credit mix" - is the last and often overlooked component to the FICO score formula, but is still vital to a good score ... (See Credit mix)

Paying off multiple 0-percent cards, all with balances -- One good thing: The math is easy since you don't have interest to worry about ... (See 0-percent)

I changed my mind: Can I cancel new card, avoid annual fee? -- Know all card fees before you apply or else you may be stuck with a card you don't want ... (See Annual fee)

Fraud risk minimal on canceled RFID chip card -- RFID chips in credit cards continue to transmit information after you've canceled the card. The information isn't of much use to a criminal but it still doesn't hurt to destroy the chip ... (See RFID cards)

Add your business as authorized user on personal card? Not likely -- Adding your business's Employer Identification Number to your personal card would be a quick way to build business credit -- if it were possible. Unfortunately, there are usually no such shortcuts ... (See Business credit)

Fixing damaged credit? First, create a budget -- In fixing damaged credit, regular payments are a must, and you have to get a budget before you can know what you can afford to pay ... (See Budget)

Dissolving joint debt post-divorce dicey -- Dragging out joint debt obligations after divorce opens door for all sorts of problems ... (See Post-divorce debt)

To boost score, let credit utilization guide your debt payoff -- For the best credit score boost, neither the debt snowball nor the 'highest rate' method is best. Instead, let credit utilization guide your payment allocation ... (See Debt payoff plan)

Computer financing options for credit newbie -- A 20-year-old weighs a loan versus a credit card for new computer purchase ... (See Options)

How to salvage points earned on a failing business's corporate card -- A corporate bankruptcy doesn't mean rewards points will be seized. There are ways to salvage the points for personal use before the corporate card account is closed ... (See Bankruptcy)

Reporting stolen cards on someone else's behalf -- If a friend or relative has lost track of credit cards, you can help, but only in a limited way ... (See Help)

Finally got a zero balance? Good! Now change credit strategy -- After paying off retail cards and shedding all debt, don't slam the door on credit. Keep accounts open and maybe use one occasionally to keep your score up ... (See Paid off)

Why credit limits aren't revealed until after you get the card -- Banks don't disclose what your credit limit will be until after you get the card, which means consumers are deprived of a piece of information critical to making an intelligent choice ... (See Credit limit secrecy)

New US resident must rebuild credit -- Unfortunately, a positive credit file built up in another country doesn't follow you here. Here's how to start over ... (See Credit building)

Finding a single reward card for the whole family -- If you're looking to consolidate all household charges on one statement, consider adding family as authorized users ... (See Authorized users)

To get a business loan, you may need to buff personal credit -- Getting business credit before establishing good personal credit is like trying to learn to run before you can crawl. Take the first step by establishing good credit practices ... (See Building business credit)

Card offer in someone else's name probably not ID theft -- Keep up your guard, but sometimes junk mail is just junk mail ... (See Junk mail)

Defaulted business cards result in tax liability -- Canceled business card debt can resurface as income owed to the IRS ... (See 1099-C)

Getting a mortgage? Pay debts, go easy on charging -- The time between getting preapproved for a mortgage and the closing date on your home is crucial for your credit, so don't blow it by overborrowing ... (See Mortgages and card use)

How to tell if a 'friend' stole your identity -- Sharing too much information with sketchy "friends" can put you at risk ... (See ID theft by "friend")

On a foreign trip, should I use credit cards at ATMs? -- The cards you use in the U.S. will probably work fine for international travels, but here are your options ... (See Foreign ATMs)

Your rights when disputing fraudulent charges on a business card -- If a fleet card that wasn't being used by a small bushiness is suddenly maxed out, the owner's right to dispute and void the charges is similar to the rights for consumer cards ... (See Fraud charges)

After one spouse dies, card debt likely impacts the other -- If one spouse dies owing substantial credit card debt, the living spouse can feel the effect, even if it was a solo account not in a community property state ... (See Spousal debt after death)

Don't succumb to lure of debt settlement firm -- Don't pay someone to reduce your debts when you can do it yourself for free ... (See Debt settlement)

How mortgage settlements affect your score (and for how long) -- It's been years since the recession thrust millions of homeowners into default. If you've paid your other bills, maybe you can qualify for another mortgage ... (See Deed on report)

Cover sudden pet bills with emergency card -- Having a $0 balance card on hand to cover an unexpected vet bill can be a smart move ... (See Pet insurance vs. emergency card)

Most issuers like to know your travel plans -- Most credit card companies want to know your travel plans to prevent fraud alerts. But you should also choose the right card and make sure you have different payment options ... (See Travel plan notification)

Credit for startups almost always requires your Social Security number -- You may be asked for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) but you will almost certainly have to supply a Social Security number too ... (See Business credit)

Retail card account opens at your first purchase -- After you use the card, get the discount and take home the merchandise, it's too late to change your mind -- the card has been activated ... (See Retail card activation)

Even for old debt, settling beats other options -- Even if the statute of limitations is almost up for an old debt, you're better off settling than ignoring the debt or declaring bankruptcy ... (See Settling old debt)

Debt shifting helps your score, but paying it off is better -- Using balance transfers to shift a pile of debt so it's evenly distributed across cards can help a credit score, but paying off the debt helps much more ... (See Debt shifting)

Saving for laptop trumps financing 'deals' -- With a little motivation and patience, you can save hundreds by saving for that new laptop purchase instead of opting for a financing deal ... (See Saving versus borrowing)

Transferring reward points to airlines often yields great value -- For credit card rewards programs that allow you to either buy flights through their portals or transfer points to airlines, the latter is often the faster way to earn free flights ... (See Flights)

For sudden debt at age 75, the strategy's different -- At age 75, with an unexpected $45,000 in post-divorce credit card debt, the strategies become different: Seek counseling, but consider cutting payments to the minimum ... (See Divorce debt)

401(k) accounts protected from collection -- After out-of-work husband runs up $30,000 on his wife's card, his wife wants to know if her 401(k) can be tapped for repayment ... (See Debt collection)

Why hard inquiries hurt your credit score -- Hard inquiries can be triggered after you have asked for more credit or by trying to rent an apartment. Once a inquiry hits, your score is knocked down a couple of points, and here is why ... (See Hard inquiry )

Pay off loan with balance transfer card? -- Using a 0 percent balance transfer card to pay off a high-interest personal loan can be smart if done right ... (See Loan pay off)

Finding the best card for travel upgrades -- For business card seekers looking for hotel and airline upgrades, it pays to figure out where you spend the most, then investigate the networks of points programs ... (See Upgrades)

Denied: 4 credit cards for 4 businesses -- If you've got multiple businesses and keep getting turned down for business credit cards, consider other financing sources while you build credit for the companies ... (See Business cards)

If you must pay less than the minimum, call and explain -- If it's short-term problem, take the initiative and call. If it's a long-term problem, get credit counseling ... (See Less than minimum)

Help! Ex left me with $45,000 in card debt -- A 75-year-old is stuck repaying $45,000 her ex racked up on three cards. ... (See Divorce debt)

Your low-limit secured card strategy: Pay the bill early, often -- When you have a low limit card and want to build your credit score, time your payments so your credit utilization is lowest on the statement date, since that's when your issuer reports to the credit bureaus ... (See Pay early, often)

How debt management plans affect your credit -- If severely in debt and behind on payments, your credit score is already hurting. Entering into a debt management plan can only help by showing timely payments ... (See DMP)

Valuing frequent flier miles on your tax return -- The IRS treats reward miles like coupons or rebates, not like income or expenses. That means you won't be taxed on miles earned, but you also can't treat an award trip as an expense ... (See Miles and taxes)

Card acceptance fees too high? Shop for a new merchant processor -- Franchisees paying high credit card acceptance fees may lower them by shopping for a new merchant processor or promoting customers to pay by other means ... (See Merchant fees)

Cut prescreened offers to reduce theft temptation -- When your mailbox is flooded with card offers, it may be best to opt-out to reduce any risk of a thief trying to apply for credit in your name ... (See Opt-out)

Paying a time-barred debt before mortgage application -- If an old unpaid debt is causing you to doubt whether to apply for a mortgage, see if it's gone beyond the collectible stage ... (See Time-barred debt)

Canceled cards boost debt utilization ratio -- When you cut several cards from your wallet, you can reduce a big credit score hit by increasing the credit limits on your remaining cards ... (See Credit limits)

Card shields protect against low risk of RFID theft -- Card shields or sleeves may keep thieves from remotely gathering data from the RFID chip in your credit card. But the odds of such theft are approaching zero, so focus on other concerns ... (See Card shields)

Merchants can usually add credit card fees -- Merchants in most states are allowed to tack on a surcharge or convenience fee when you use a credit card. But some states still ban surcharges and it's not always good business practice ... (See Surcharges, convenience fees)

Authorized user must close deceased's account and move on -- After her husband dies, a widow who is an authorized user on his account must notify the card company of the death and open her own account ... (See Authorized user)

Teen's secret charges discovered by parents -- His parents report more than $2,000 in unapproved card charges, but discover the culprit is their son. Is it too late to call off the investigation? ... (See Teen card fraud)

Brother's got a near-perfect credit score? Go piggybacking -- Being added as an authorized user to an account with almost perfect credit will help boost your credit score and history. But is it as easy as it sounds? ... (See Piggybacking)

When no credit history leads to card rejection -- You need credit history to get a credit card, but issuers won't give you one unless you have credit. What's a college graduate student to do ... (See Credit history)

Authorized users can sometimes gain late cardholder's rewards -- If a primary cardholder passes away, an authorized user on the account is not usually entitled to the account's rewards points. But program providers are often more generous than their rules convey ... (See Inherit rewards)

Disputing an auto repair chargeback is possible but time-consuming -- A warranty, labor costs and 500 miles of distance all complicate a chargeback that a car repair shop says is not legit. But there are ways to dispute the complex complaint ... (See Chargeback)

Near retirement age is the worst time to raid 401(k) -- When in your 50s, with retirement in sight, don't use your 401(k) as a piggy bank for a child's college and to pay off card debt. You need a financial plan more than a quick cash fix ... (See Near retirement)

Husband opened cards, ran up debt in your name? It's fraud -- After her husband racked up thousands on cards he opened in her name, step one in cleaning up the mess is reporting his fraud ... (See Husband fraud)

Length of credit history matters more when you're young -- When new to credit, it takes time to boost the length of your credit history. With each new account opening, you cut your average age of accounts, so open new cards sparingly ... (See Young credit)

Don't let fear compel you to cancel your first card -- You may have been raised to believe that cards can lead to a life of debt, but if you handle them responsibly, they are great tools to build a positive credit rating ... (See First card)

Apple Pay fees could upset the rewards cart -- Fees on banks to include their credit cards in Apple Pay could lead to rewards cutbacks someday, but so far there's no evidence it will happen ... (See Apple Pay)

New business shouldn't inherit partner's old debt -- Your new business partner's old debt shouldn't be inherited unless expressly assumed, but have a lawyer check it and be aware it may limit your new venture's access to credit ... (See Partner's debt)

If your credit's all grown up, ditch that $300 'starter card' -- If that $300 "starter card" you got as a credit whippersnapper hasn't evolved with you, get rid of it and enjoy the benefits that come with a higher-limit grown-up card ... (See Starter card)

1099-C snarls mortgage qualifying -- An incomplete tax form and an old charged-off debt may cause mortgage underwriters to turn down your home loan application ... (See Mortgage qualifying )

How payments are allocated on a card with different rates -- Will a payment that is over the minimum amount go straight to the latest charge? Where payments are allocated to on your card ... (See Payment allocation)

Bankruptcy should be removed automatically from credit reports -- The notation that you have filed a Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 bankruptcy should be deleted automatically from your credit reports after seven or 10 years -- but you better check ... (See Bankruptcy)

When to close an annual-fee card -- Closing a credit card can lower your credit score a bit, but if your annual fee is due and a more rewarding card beckons, it's probably worth it ... (See Annual fee)

Merchant guesses card expiration date to renew subscription -- No laws specifically prohibit subscription-based businesses from guessing a customer's card expiration date to auto-renew their payments, but the practice is iffy ... (See Card expiration)

Applying repeatedly for credit after being turned down makes it worse -- If your response to being turned down for credit has been to apply over and over again, stop. You're making it worse. Before you do anything else, find out why ... (See Stop applying)

Debt relief scam mars victim's credit rating -- Debt relief scams often tell victims to stop paying debt accounts, leaving their credit rating in shambles due to defaults and delinquencies ... (See Debt relief scam)

How credit score formula handles multiple credit inquiries -- FICO uses a 30-day buffer and a process called "deduplication" on multiple inquiries for a mortgage or car loan, in effect counting them as one. But that doesn't apply to credit card shopping ... (See Multiple inquiries)

Credit check not needed for public school loans -- Federal school loans, such as those given after applying for the FASFA, don't take credit into account. So going back to school already in debt could add up quickly ... (See Student loans)

For foreign travel, go for the chip, don't hold out for a PIN -- Having a credit card with an EMV chip will make it easier to get around in Europe, but don't insist on one that requires a PIN rather than a signature ... (See Chip-and-PIN)

Refinancing your mortgage to pay down a pricey business loan -- Paying down a high-interest business loan by refinancing your home may save you some money. But there are risks -- especially for a business that's shrinking ... (See Mortgage refi for business debt )

Payoff order for multiple cards: Which one first? -- With multiple cards to pay off, you can tackle the one with the highest rate or lowest balance. Choose the method you'll stick with ... (See Payoff plan)

Sharing a card with a parent can be risky -- Being an authorized user on your elderly mom's card can either help or hurt your credit rating, depending on how well she manages credit ... (See Parent's card)

Boosting credit after a discharged bankruptcy -- A Chapter 7 bankruptcy will stay on your credit years after discharge, but if you make payments on time and use credit wisely, your score will start to increase ... (See Discharged)

Recovery from bad credit: 1st steps -- Restoring your credit after letting all debts go into default takes resolve and a bit of negotiation savvy. These steps will help you get back on track ... (See Credit recovery)

Carrying a balance? No rewards card for you! -- Interest costs far outweigh any rewards offered by credit cards, so prioritize paying off your balances before thinking about earning rewards ... (See No rewards)

No 2-in-1 card for tax-exempt organizations -- Nonprofits are exempt from sales tax, and retailers have programs to accommodate them, but no all-in-one card avoids sales taxes at point of sale ... (See Tax-exempt)

Looking for credit after Chapter 7 bankruptcy -- Go slow, because issuers don't want to give credit right away to someone who filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Secured cards are one credit-rebuilding alternative ... (See Credit after bankruptcy)

It's not fraud if you lend your card out -- The odds of prosecuting someone for card fraud for using your card when you gave your permission are pretty fruitless ... (See Card fraud)

An insider's view: How FICO scores burst from secrecy -- columnist and former FICO official Barry Paperno recounts how credit scores went public, and why they're as confusing as ever ... (See FICO history)

Financing a new laptop? Do the math first -- A 0-percent finance deal to buy a new computer is almost too good to pass up for one consumer. But being new to credit, this might not be the best way to go ... (See Financing)

With Costco and AmEx splitting, don't rush to switch cards -- Costco will be ending its exclusive relationship with American Express. But there's no need to drop the Costco AmEx card right away. Wait to see what new cash-back deals shake out ... (See Costco-American Express split)

Dangers of putting business expenses on a personal card -- Paying your new small business's expenses with your personal card may be convenient, but it has limited benefits and adds new risks ... (See Personal credit)

How a balance transfer can help with a large debt -- With $16,500 of debt on a single card, the best options are to find the best possible balance transfer deal, or get involved in a debt management program ... (See Balance transfer)

Collectors still calling after a 1099-C 'Cancellation of Debt' tax form -- Just because you received a 1099-C and may have paid taxes on an unpaid debt, that doesn't mean you're free from collection attempts ... (See 1099-C)

Help your credit score rebound after a fall -- If you're whittling debt and paying bills on time after a credit score tumble, your credit scores should improve fairly quickly. If they aren't, something else is wrong ... (See Score rebound)

Quickly opening, closing accounts makes scores dip a bit -- After following bad credit advice, a reader worries that by closing two cards she just opened, she did some irreparable damage to her credit score ... (See Credit score)

Earning rewards on foreign purchases -- Charging in another currency still yields reward points, but make sure you have a card that has an EMV chip, but doesn't have foreign transaction fees ... (See Foreign currency purchases)

Beware shady merchant processing contracts -- A lawsuit by an out-of-state company that supplies credit card machines deserves the plaintiff's attention -- but scams exist in the industry so read your contract carefully and talk with a lawyer if in doubt ... (See Merchant contracts)

Raid retirement fund to pay off debt? Bad idea -- Raiding the retirement fund is so tempting when you're unemployed and racking up debt, but it's almost never the smart move ... (See Raid retirement)

Pay down debt before adding teen to card -- A mom who wants to add a 17-year-old to one of her card accounts should reconsider: Her daughter really doesn't need one, and Mom needs to get her own balances under control ... (See Adding teen to card)

Best way to apply tax refund to multiple card balances -- With a mortgage on the horizon and several maxed-out cards, what would be the best way to apply a tax refund to maximize credit score? ... (See Refund)

18 and ready for first card: Begin here -- Having successfully handled a small car loan, an 18-year-old with a part-time job seeks advice on whether she can qualify for her first credit card ... (See First card)

Not all 'digital wallets' give you bonus reward points -- If you're using a mobile wallet to make purchases using your American Express card, you may not get get those bonus rewards points the card promises ... (See Mobile)

Big debt from business failure? Try talking to creditors -- A couple who closed their 20-year-old business struggle with $50,000 of remaining debt. It's a stressful situation but there are ways of tackling it ... (See Business debt)

How to get back overage on card accounts -- You charged an item, paid the card bill, but then returned your purchase, leaving a credit on your card. Do you just spend it or can you get that cash back? ... (See Card overpayment)

How to build credit with a student loan -- Student loans are usually overlooked as credit tools. But for young people with few other accounts, paying on one can provide a powerful credit score boost ... (See Student credit)

Help! I opened cards fraudulently, ran up big card debt -- At just 17, a young man fraudulently opens multiple card accounts without his parents' consent and says he's severely in debt. What are his options? ... (See Card debt)

Adding a separate rewards card for business travel -- If you pay for work-related travel on a personal credit card, it may make sense to get a separate card just for those expenses. But first, think about how you'll use the points ... (See Travel)

Receipt requirements: Law differs from card network rules -- You don't legally have to print your business's full address on customer receipts, but MasterCard and other card networks have more stringent requirements ... (See Receipts)

ID theft means surprise loan denial -- The bank turned down his loan application due to his mortgage and five credit cards. Since he doesn't have any cards and rents a room, it's ID theft ... (See Denied loan)

Sharing medical cards not allowed -- Medical card expenses are generally reserved for the cardholder, family members and even pets, but not your latest girlfriend or boyfriend or BFF ... (See Medical cards)

How rapid rescore works when applying for a mortgage -- If you have errors on your credit report that could block a mortgage application, choosing a rapid rescore option could help, if your lender offers it ... (See Rapid rescore)

How a card's introductory APR works -- Exactly how does an introductory period APR work and what are the consequences of not paying off the entire balance before that period expires? ... (See Intro APR)

How to use US Airways miles as merger unfolds -- If you want to redeem US Airways miles, you'll still need to use the US Airways award chart until the airline finishes combining its frequent flier program with that of merger partner American Airlines ... (See Redeem)

What merchants should do if customer presents unsigned card -- Merchants handed a card with no signature or "See ID" should make the customer sign -- or risk having to eat fraud-related losses ... (See Signature)

Must husband pay wife's unpaid card debt? -- If a spouse with no income secretly runs up a big credit card debt, state laws dictate whether there's a shared legal obligation to pay ... (See Spousal debt)

Unpaid joint car loan sullies ex's credit -- She was in charge of payments, but neglected to tell her fiance when they were late. Now that they've broken up, she wants to know if she can fix his credit ... (See Car loan)

What day is my card balance reported to the credit bureaus? -- Banks and credit bureaus manage millions of accounts and have different policies for recording data, so finding when yours is recorded isn't possible ... (See Card data)

Apply for your first credit card, then remove yourself from Dad's -- Preserve your authorized user credit history when applying for your own card. Once approved, you can then safely remove yourself from the shared account ... (See Apply)

Strategies to maximize cash-back rewards -- Most cashback cards pay about 1 percent in rewards; a couple of cards pay a flat 2 percent. But you may want to consider using a flat-rate card and a card with higher rewards rates on rotating categories ... (See Cash back)

Payments made out to your LLC are harder to garnish -- As a small-business owner, if you have an LLC it's best to have clients make checks out to the LLC rather than to you personally. Besides helping separate your personal and business finances, it may help protect you from wage garnishment for past debts ... (See Garnishment and LLCs)

Choosing a debt management program -- If you think you need credit counseling or a debt management program, look for services offered by a nonprofit, accredited organization ... (See Debt management program)

Is husband liable for wife's $50,000 card debt? -- A wife is carrying $50,000 in debt over several cards and wants to know if her husband be will responsible for repayment if she dies before it's paid off ... (See Card debt)

When building credit, focus first on on-time payments -- Don't overmanage your credit utilization while in a formal debt management plan. Just keep paying on time, every time and your score will rise over time ... (See On-time payment)

Managing 10 cards or more? 4 rules -- Successfully managing 10 or more credit card accounts requires a certain amount of supervision, particularly to prevent fraud. But if you can handle them well, go for it ... (See Multiple cards)

Airline frequent flier miles should survive if you file for bankruptcy -- Banks can cancel reward cards if you’re insolvent, but you shouldn't lose frequent flier points you've earned through the cards if they've already been posted to your airline account ... (See Points in bankruptcy)

Jail or no? Penalties for using partner's credit card -- Stealing a business partner's credit card can lead to prosecution and jail time. But charges rung up by an authorized user are not considered theft ... (See Partner)

Don't default on co-signed loan to teach son a debt lesson -- Letting a car loan go into default to show a kid what happens is a lot like driving the car into a wall to show him what happens if you don't use the brakes ... (See Co-signers)

Partial payment agreements can hurt your credit score -- Reaching a partial payment agreement with a lender at a lower interest rate does wonders for your budget, but can crush your credit score ... (See Credit score)

How credit charging limits work -- It may be obvious to more experienced cardholders, but for newbies, knowing how credit limits work gives you the power to avoid expensive mistakes ... (See Credit limits)

Transferring miles, points between airlines not allowed -- You can't transfer the miles from one airline's credit card reward program to another, so comparison shop and make your initial choice carefully ... (See Transferring miles)

Why your employer may deny you a company card -- A small business has to weigh several factors before giving a new employee a company card for travel expenses. Understanding them can help employees and small business owners both start off on better footing ... (See Company cards)

Living on disability, with $8,000 in card debt -- With no assets and only disability income, repayment options are nonexistent and bankruptcy too expensive for a cardholder with $8,000 in card debt. ... (See Disabled)

Paying by cash won't build credit score -- If you've never made a late payment in your life, you'd think you'd have a good credit score. Not so if those payments have all been in cash. But fear not: You can get a score without going into debt. ... (See Cash only )

Should a student have more than one card? -- While there is no reason a young adult can't manage multiple cards, juggling so many may present more challenges than a student may expect ... (See Too many cards)

Travel cards' best signup point offers require excellent credit -- Most rewards cards are targeted at people with excellent credit -- with FICO scores of 750 and above. But if your credit is in the "good" range, you still have options ... (See Sign-up bonus score)

'Joint and several liability' clause shares business debt risk -- Small businesses have a hard time finding credit cards that don't require a personal guarantee. There are some that will allow you to share the liability with your company, but that has limits ... (See Liability)

There's no quick credit score fix -- Credit scoring formulas are as complicated as our often-tangled personal lives. There are no quick fixes, so keep your focus on the big things, such as on-time payments ... (See No quick fix)

Closed accounts affect your credit score, but maybe not how you think -- No matter who closes an account, the account holder or creditor, it will have an impact on a credit score. How much depends on the overall credit utilization ... (See Closed accounts)

Steps to take when a family friend steals your card -- When someone you know fraudulently uses your card and racks up big debt, you have to file a police report in order to clear up your credit ... (See 'Friendly' fraud)

Beating the year-end deadline for elite flier status -- Need only a few thousand miles to hit an elite level in your frequent flier program? The situation can be especially complex for US Airways customers, as the airline merges with American Airlines. But there are a few options ... (See Elite status)

What merchants should do when they suspect card fraud -- No merchant wants to offend honest customers by turning the shopping experience into what feels like a prosecution. At the same time, you can't afford to turn a blind eye to fraud ... (See Merchants and card fraud)

Over-limit card scam fools cardholder -- A cardholder gave her bank info over the phone to her card issuer to prevent an over-limit charge. But it probably wasn't her bank who called, but a thief ... (See Scam)

How many cards is too many? -- While there's no right number, you can go too far in either direction and end up hurting your credit score ... (See Too many cards)

Jobless grad with student loans, $29,000 card debt ponders bankruptcy -- A recent graduate not only has student loan payments, but card debt of almost $30,000 -- and no job. Is bankruptcy her only answer? ... (See Bankruptcy)

5 simple ways to keep frequent flier miles from expiring -- There are a number of ways to keep your frequent flier account active, even without a credit card. They might take a little time and money, but investing to preserve a cache of valuable frequent flier miles can make sense ... (See Miles)

Minimize costs of card acceptance without surcharges -- Interchange fees can add up for small businesses that accept credit cards. But adding a surcharge for card-paying customers is not the answer – especially in states where surcharges are banned. There are other ways to mitigate card acceptance costs ... (See Merchant fees)

Want a mortgage? Ditch cash-only, build a credit history -- Unless you have the cash to buy a house, you'll need a mortgage. And you can't get a home loan without some kind of credit history ... (See Cash-only)

Authorized users can't access credit card account information -- Authorized users cannot access the individual account information, which can be frustrating if you think you're a joint account holder ... (See Account information)

You can't boost secured card limit with extra cash -- A college student with a secured card wants to increase his credit limit and asks whether giving the issuer more cash will do the trick ... (See Credit limit)

Choose your rewards strategy: One card? Or multiple? -- Using one rewards card consolidates points, but having several lets you be sure every dollar spent earns you something back ... (See Multiple rewards cards)

Business or personal credit: Which can be built faster? -- Generally speaking, you can build personal credit faster than business credit. But for small-business owners, it's important to pursue both ... (See Building credit)

Avoid late payments by setting up auto bill pay -- Life happens, and when it does, it's easy to forget a credit card payment. To protect your credit score and avoid fees, stop late payments before they occur ... (See Late pay)

Opening 3 cards at once dings credit score -- Unlike rapid-fire applications for mortgages or car loans, which are bundled into a single credit score hit, each card application counts against you ... (See Credit score)

Tips to rebuild credit after living abroad -- After living overseas for five years, bringing a dormant U.S. credit file back to life takes a few smart moves combined with a little patience ... (See Rebuilding US credit)

Reward cards for a company's small fleet -- There are different kinds of cards that a company's drivers can use at the gas pump, and they offer different levels of data and control regarding purchases ... (See Gas rewards)

Understanding 'consent' to charge a card -- A merchant needs consumer consent before charging their debit or credit card for a purchase. But there are some gray areas where misunderstanding of the law can cause disputes ... (See Consent)

Inheritance spent, bankruptcy looming -- She inherited $36,000, but instead of paying her credit card debt, she spent it. During bankruptcy, does she have to reveal where the money went? ... (See Bankruptcy disclosure)

Landlords limited in ability to pull tenants' credit reports -- Though a tenant has left rent unpaid and thousands in damages, that's not enough to give a landlord the right to pull a credit report ... (See Tenants' credit reports)

Mom offers daughter balance transfer deal -- A 28-year-old's mom offers to pay off $2,400 in card debt, but then wants to cut daughter loose as an authorized user on her card ... (See Authorized user)

Strategies for unlocking airline award seats -- Airline frequent flier programs make it easier to earn miles than to redeem them for tickets. Having the right credit card might just open up a few more seats that can be purchased using points ... (See Award travel)

Hidden debt shouldn't hurt spouse's business credit -- A woman's personal debts should not endanger her husband's business credit. But the fact that she has hidden the debt from him signals other kinds of problems ... (See Debts)

Parent's nursing home costs take priority over card debt -- Before moving into a nursing home, her dad paid his card debt out of Social Security income. Now that income goes to the nursing home ... (See Prioritizing debt)

5 credit don'ts for homebuyers applying for mortgages -- When you're about to apply for a mortgage, tread lightly on making changes to your credit. Steps you think should be helpful could derail your loan ... (See Mortgage credit don'ts)

Ex didn't pay up, so your student loan defaulted? Go after him -- The court said he had to pay half of his ex-wife's student loan, but he shirked, and she isn't making enough, so now the loan's in default ... (See Default)

A business may spurn debit cards, but why? -- Small businesses running subscription-type services may find debit and prepaid cards a hassle. But think carefully before refusing to accept them ... (See Refuse debit)

Adding yourself to spouse's card is fraud -- Taking the liberty of adding yourself to your spouse's card as an authorized user is considered fraud, and you could be charged with identity theft ... (See Fraud)

5 steps to dispute debt caused by ID theft, stop abusive collection -- Take these steps to uncover all the damage left by an ID thief, contest the fraudulent debts and end a debt collector's scare tactics ... (See Disputing fraud)

Shared card leads to collection mess after a bankruptcy -- When Dad declared bankruptcy, the debt collectors shifted their attention to his daughter to collect a $3,600 balance on the credit card they shared ... (See Shared card)

Cash-advance PIN on an EMV card doesn't make it 'chip-and-PIN' -- Today's cards may have two types of PINs: one to complete a purchase at an EMV chip-and-PIN terminal, the other that allows you to get cash advances at ATMs ... (See PINs)

How startups can quickly begin accepting credit cards -- An entrepreneur wants to temporarily share a card processing machine with an established business while he gets his company up and running. Bad idea. But there are other ways to quickly begin accepting credit cards from customers ... (See Quick acceptance)

Have a balance transfer financial strategy -- Yes, comparison shop for low rates and fees, but more importantly, know how a transfer will fit into your financial big picture ... (See Balance transfer strategy)

Steps to rebuild credit after bankruptcy -- After declaring bankruptcy obtaining secured credit sources and becoming an authorized user can help bring life back to your line of credit ... (See Bankruptcy)

Employed grad with no debt gets rejected for new card -- With no debt, a job and regular payments on a low-limit card, a recent grad wonders what she has to do in order to get approved for a new card ... (See New credit)

When canceling a rewards card, purge clutter, but not points -- By all means, cancel a rewards card that is no longer right for you, but don't be hasty. Try to hang onto the points, and see if the issuer will offer to sweeten your deal ... (See Canceling rewards)

Can I open one rewards card for multiple businesses? -- There's nothing stopping you from using a single card for multiple companies you own, but it's generally not good business practice. There may be better ways to rack up rewards ... (See Rewards)

Options limited if authorized user refuses to pay charges -- Call it authorized-user blackmail: A daughter adds her dad to her card, he runs up the balance, but threatens to stop payments if she closes the card ... (See Authorized)

How early payment can result in late fees -- Leaving town? Paying your card bill early can backfire if you miss making the minimum payment by the due date, leaving you with late fees and penalty rates ... (See Early payment, late fee)

Negotiation is key for defaulted student loan -- When a private student loan is in default, bringing the loan current may require a lump-sum payment as well as written proof of what you can afford to pay ... (See Default)

Retailers push system to rival Apple Pay and other mobile wallets -- Two drugstore chains switched off support for Apple Pay, as a group of big retailers gets behind a rival system for checkout smartphone payments ... (See Mobile payments)

Rules for baggage perks might have exceptions -- Airline reward cards allow free checked bags for the cardholder only under certain circumstances, but ticket agents sometimes offer flexibility ... (See Checked bags)

Should you get a credit card for your new startup? -- Getting a business credit card can be helpful for a new business, but not in lieu of getting enough startup financing ... (See Startup card)

Balance transfer impact on your credit score -- Moving a high-interest card balance to a lower-interest card you already have shouldn't hurt your score, but there are other issues to consider ... (See Balance transfer)

Charge-offs irreversible, even if co-signer not notified of debt -- When a widower is denied credit six months after his wife's death, he finds a charge-off on a co-signed account dropped his credit score almost 200 points ... (See Co-sign)

Co-signing backfire ruins chance to lease an apartment -- A kindhearted gesture backfires for a man who co-signed his sister-in-law's lease: She broke her lease, left a debt, ruined his credit and his ability to rent a new home ... (See Co-sign)

Best way to track all those reward points? -- How do you make sure you really earned triple points on gas purchases on Card A and the miles you were supposed to when using Card B's online shopping portal? There are no easy answers ... (See Rewards tracking)

Credit rehabilitation programs don't do anything you can't do -- The money you give to a credit rehabilitation company could be better spent paying down debt because what those companies do you can do yourself ... (See Credit rehab)

Retail cards, the Rodney Dangerfields of credit, deserve respect -- Store cards get a bad rap. But closing even an unused retail card can hurt credit utilization and lower your credit score ... (See Retail cards)

Credit reports key to detecting fraud -- If you suspect someone is trying to open a card account in your name, fraud alerts and credit report monitoring can stop thieves before they start stealing ... (See Fraud)

Even with high credit score, some card applicants rejected -- How can someone with an 800+ FICO score be denied a new credit card? It may have to do with rewards card churning but the first thing to do is ask the issuer that is denying your application ... (See Application denied)

Your rights if a merchant charges you but delays shipping -- You ordered your item and your card was charged, but the merchant takes forever to ship. Do you have any rights to demand faster shipping? ... (See Delayed shipping)

Q&A: Rep. Alan Grayson wants changes to 'unfair' frequent flier programs -- The Florida Congressman says airline practices are deceptive and his complaints have sparked an investigation by the Department of Transportation ... (See Devalued rewards)

The good and the bad of credit account 'piggybacking' -- Authorized users can greatly benefit from being tagged in an account with a good credit score. But they can also be hurt if the account is not so great ... (See Piggybacking)

How to fix credit report damage from authorized user status -- A mom added her daughter as an authorized user to her card seven years ago, but then filed for bankruptcy. Her dad asks if it's too late to get the card off his kid's credit report ... (See Credit report)

Using rewards to buy a new car -- Some credit cards earn you rewards that can be used as an auto down payment, but consider alternatives such as cash-back cards, too ... (See Down payment rewards)

Replacing a credit card after husband's death -- A widow and small-business owner wonders how to replace a credit card with a $36,000 credit limit that had to be closed after her husband died ... (See Card shopping)

Closing joint bank accounts after a breakup -- On joint credit card accounts, problems arise when you carry a balance. Legally, that debt belongs to both of you, even after a breakup ... (See Close joint accounts)

Joint truck lease leaves widow in a lurch -- Leasing a new truck with your spouse doesn't seem like it would be a big deal, unless all of a sudden one spouse is left making the payments alone ... (See Lease)

Prescreened card offers don't impact your credit score -- Prequalified or prescreened credit card offers just mean you meet a card issuer's broad criteria. But if you try to take the offer, the real credit check occurs ... (See Prescreened)

Credit reports hold longer memory than issuers -- You let a card go unpaid for years, then finally paid the account off. The odds of the card issuer remembering your behavior aren't as big as the credit bureaus ... (See Unpaid)

Getting started with rewards cards -- Rewards credit cards can be a good way to earn free travel or other goodies, but for the beginner, the process may seem overwhelming. We break it down to make it easier to get started ... (See Rewards)

How to cut your business' foreign wire transfer fee costs -- When selling overseas, you can't make foreign wire transfer costs vanish, but you can negotiate their size, bundle your bills or bake them into your prices ... (See Wire transfers)

Q&A: Kara McGuire cuts through financial clutter in 'Teen Money Manual' -- McGuire's new book, "The Teen Money Manual," covers earning, saving, spending and protecting money in teen-approved prose ... (See Teen Money Manual)

Charged items have a low risk for repossession -- If someone charges your gift on credit, but then doesn't pay the bill, the odds of it being repossessed are slight. But the risk does exist ... (See Repossess)

Forget the 30 percent credit utilization 'rule' – it's a myth -- When it comes to credit utilization and your credit score, a very low credit-to-borrowing ratio is best, and it's a myth that your score falls off a cliff once you hit 30 percent ... (See 30% myth)

When new to credit, top rewards cards may be out of reach -- A student about to graduate wants a top-tier travel rewards card to be her first card, but her short credit history may not let her qualify -- yet. Here are the steps to take ... (See Qualifying for rewards)

Putting credit card concierge services to the test -- We tested these free services that come with some rewards cards and found them prompt and courteous. But you forfeit some control when you use them ... (See Concierge)

Am I liable for my business' corporate card debt? -- A small-business owner's responsibility for the company's credit card debt depends partly on the kind of card. Corporate cards and small-business cards treat liability differently ... (See Corporate cards)

Odds slim when suing authorized user for unpaid debt -- You can go after a used-to-be friend in court for not paying you back for charges on your card. You could also ask nicely or write it off ... (See Suing an authorized user)

How leaving a tiny card balance each month affects credit score -- Keeping the balance-to-credit ratio low, paying in full and on time is a better way to get the most from your secured card ... (See $2 balance)

Angrily closing an unused card can hurt credit score -- After applying for a new balance transfer card, only to discover the credit limit too small, he closed the account in anger and now wonders if he acted too fast ... (See Closed card)

Using points when holiday award seats are full -- There are a number of creative ways to use credit card points or perks to travel cheaply during busy periods ... (See Holiday travel)

Don't travel? Opt for other business rewards -- If you don't travel much for business or pleasure, there's no point in getting a small-business credit card that specializes in travel rewards. Instead, look for a cash-back card or one that earns rewards you can use ... (See Business rewards)

Be careful with inheritance, spending before bankruptcy filing -- If you're about to file for bankruptcy, what do you do when you know you're about to inherit some money? Can you spend it? ... (See Inheritance)

Charge a lot? Pay early and often to avoid score damage -- Even if you pay your balance off in full and on time each month, if you are charging close to your credit limit, don't expect a high credit score ... (See Pay often)

Best ways to manage a secured card -- Before you apply for a secured card, it's best to know what fees will be charged and whether that card will be the best fit for your credit profile ... (See Secured cards)

Premium cards can move you faster through airport security lines -- Premium travel credit cards can help get fliers to their gates faster but the service is not available in every airport ... (See Faster at airports )

Will an ITIN help me get a business card without a personal guarantee? -- Avoiding use of a Social Security number when applying for a small-business credit card is difficult. A few people may be able to use an individual taxpayer identification number, but most Americans can't get one ... (See ITIN)

How balance transfer cards help or hurt credit scores -- Moving high-interest card debt to a 0 percent balance transfer card can help your credit scores, but only if you play by the rules ... (See Balance transfers and credit scores)

Closing 50 cards without damaging credit score -- With an 800+ FICO score at stake, the account-closing strategy should be to take it slow and shut down the newest and smallest accounts ... (See Too many cards)

Preparing your cards for overseas travel -- Planning a trip abroad? Make sure your card (and a backup card) has EMV chip technology, no foreign transaction fees and notify your issuer of your plans ... (See Cards abroad)

Should I 'boost' my frequent flier miles on an upcoming trip? -- Airlines offer travelers the chance to buy miles at a discounted rate, but using cards or shopping portals can be a better value ... (See Miles)

Wrong account info doesn't absolve debt responsibility -- If your card account lists an incorrect Social Security number as yours, that doesn't give you a free pass on paying any debt you've racked up ... (See Wrong info)

How closing cards and student loans affects FICO scores -- Keeping cards active and paying loans on time is best way to maintain a strong credit score ... (See Credit scores)

Tips for detecting card theft -- Yes, there are crooks out there waiting to steal your card info, but if you're vigilant you can stop them before they do too much damage ... (See Theft)

Using prepaid cards to boost rewards -- Some options are drying up, but there are still ways to earn points by buying gift cards and reloadable products ... (See Manufactured spend)

Can I pass on charge-back fees to my customers? -- When a customer disputes a charge directly with the card issuer, the merchant gets hit with a charge-back fee. Technically, you may be able to pass that on to the customer but it's probably not good business practice ... (See Charge-backs)

Seniors vulnerable to credit card fraud -- As people get older, even when they are intellectually still very sharp, it seems to become more difficult for them to determine who to trust and when ... (See Fraud)

Paying card bill on time more important than credit utilization -- Maxing out your card will have a negative effect on your credit score, however, the potentially positive payment history might just be worth it ... (See Maxed out)

Credit card life after bankruptcy -- After bankruptcy, issuers will be wary of lending to you. Applying for a secured card is a way to boost your FICO score and show lenders you can be trusted again ... (See Bankruptcy)

Are sign-up rewards bonuses seasonal? -- If you're looking to get a points bonanza by signing up for a rewards credit card, timing can be critical. But figuring out when the next big bonus will be available is tricky ... (See Rewards)

How can I change our business's merchant category code? -- The wrong MCC for a hotel can short circuit charging privileges for corporate credit card holders and cost the hotel business. To fix the problem, you need to understand how the codes work ... (See MCC)

Maxed out cards? Don't open another one -- She's maxed out five credit cards and can't pay what she owes on them, but asks if it's OK if she can use the new credit card she got ... (See Maxed out)

Don't expect big score boost when unpaid debt falls off credit report -- Is an old debt, charged off seven years ago, finally falling off your credit report? Sorry, but there's not likely to be a big rise in your score. It could even fall ... (See Old debts)

Understanding credit limits and how they work -- Understanding how charging and repayments work with your first card can save you from financial headaches in the future ... (See Credit limits)

Returning a gift? The buyer loses the rewards points -- To prevent users from gaming the system, credit card issuers usually dock your rewards points when you return an item, even if it was a gift ... (See Rewards returned)

Should I pay my business's bills by credit card? -- Using plastic to pay contractors and other recurring business bills can be a good way to rack up rewards points and improve cash flow. But beware it does not become a crutch ... (See Business bills)

Pros and cons of charging automatic payments to a credit card -- Charging automatic payments on a credit card can be beneficial for busy consumers, but it also has its faults. Here are the pros and cons to think about ... (See Automatic payments)

New to US? A primer on how to create, build a credit history -- If you're new to the U.S., our credit reporting system can be daunting. Here's a primer on how to create and build a credit profile ... (See New credit)

Time-barred debt can still do damage even after 13 years -- Credit checks for mortgages go deep and collection efforts may restart, so even on a debt 13 years old, potential damage can linger ... (See Time-barred debt)

Did Macy's ruin my credit when it closed, reopened my card account? -- A shopper is concerned that her credit score is ruined when Macy's closed her old card after issuing her a new one. Don't worry, Sally says ... (See Closed credit card)

Third-party booking sites trip up hotel rewards -- If your company requires you to book travel through a website such as Expedia or Orbitz, you probably won't be able to earn hotel rewards -- but it never hurts to try ... (See Hotel rewards)

Am I liable for business debt my partner hid? -- Your partner rang up debts before you even joined the firm, and now a collector is calling you. Don't trust the collector -- or your partner. Keep calm and call a lawyer ... (See Debt )

Fines owed to city exempt from bankruptcy -- In most cases, back taxes, student loans, child support and fines owed to a governmental body are exempt from being discharged in bankruptcy ... (See Fines)

New myth: Closing a credit card account always hurts your score -- It's a new myth that closing a credit card account always hurts your score. The information about the card (good or bad) sticks with you for (seven to 10) years ... (See Myth)

When is a bankruptcy officially discharged? -- The day you no longer are responsible for debt repayment after you file for bankruptcy depends on whether you filed under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 ... (See Discharge)

Will changing my award ticket to Israel cost me? -- Whether it's missile attacks or bad weather, when problems arise that hamper travel, airlines often waive fees to change award tickets ... (See Cancellation fees)

Shielding business accounts from levy by personal creditors -- If you think a creditor may levy your business account to collect past-due personal debts, there are things you can do. Moving personal assets to a new business account isn't one of them ... (See Levy)

Personal loan consolidation won't help win a mortgage -- In trying to qualify for a mortgage, it probably won't help to consolidate several small personal loans into a big one with a higher rate ... (See Consolidate)

After illness, cards maxed out, turned down for loans -- When illness results in rising card balances and the banks won't give you a loan to pay them off, what paths can you take to get help? ... (See Maxed out cards)

6-year-old mystery debt suddenly appears on credit report? Erase it! -- Just before the statute of limitations expires, a negative item pops up on your credit report and the creditor can't supply an account number ... (See Surprise debt)

Preapproved vs. pre-screened card offers: a big difference -- At first glance, a preapproval letter from a credit issuer can seem like an official invitation to a hot new nightclub. Yet when you arrive, you may be rudely turned away. ... (See Preapproved)

How couples can pool miles, transfer points for award travel -- Some couples get the same rewards card to double up on points, but find combining them can be tricky. Check out our review of the fees and restrictions for some of the most popular programs ... (See Points)

Will a maxed out business card hurt my personal credit? -- Most small-business credit cards are backed by a personal guarantee, so maxing them out may affect your personal credit record. But the bigger question is why you need to do so in the first place ... (See Credit limit)

Tax lien won't impact shared credit card -- When adding someone with a tax lien to your card as an authorized user, that won't open any doors to the Internal Revenue Service ... (See Uncle Sam)

Rebuilding fiancee's credit one small monthly charge at a time -- In his debut column, former FICO executive Barry Paperno endorses a one-small-monthly-payment plan for an engaged couple ... (See One payment at a time)

Yay! 3 cards paid off. Now what? -- Paying off card debt brings immeasurable relief, but once the balance is zero, do you keep the cards open or close them immediately? ... (See Paid off)

Eat out often? Stuff yourself with rewards for dining -- If you dine out often, you may as well be earning extra credit card rewards on all those restaurant tabs. To choose the right card, consider the type of reward you want, the cost of the card and other reward-boosting options ... (See Dining rewards)

How Sam's Club card changes affect business users -- As Sam's Club is transitioning to a new card with new cash-back rewards, it's time for businesses to look at whether to stick with them ... (See Business cash back)

Ways to pay off high-interest debt -- Saddled with expensive debt? Instead of looking for new creditors, figure out why you're in debt in the first place and what you can do to lower it ... (See High-interest debt)

Bad debt but good income? Your credit can be fixed -- For a price, lenders are willing to forget your old credit sins, as long as you have enough income to prevent any new ones ... (See Income trumps debt)

Giving miles or points through a gift registry -- Donating rewards points for that special day sound appealing, but gift registries are a poor deal compared with alternatives ... (See Gifting miles)

For co-signers, IRS won't count forgiven debt as income -- If you co-sign on a loan and the borrower defaults, you're on the hook for the debt, but if you reach a settlement, you shouldn't have to pay taxes on the forgiven amount ... (See Taxes and co-signing)

Debt collector can't back out on deal, if it's in writing -- If a debt collector ignores an agreement for monthly payments and ramps up the threats, you just have to produce the written agreement. You did get it in writing, didn't you? ... (See In writing)

Is a smart-chip card needed when I travel to Europe? -- European countries added EMV chips to credit cards years ago. U.S. issuers are just now catching up with the anti-fraud technology. But is an EMV card a must for European travel? ... (See Chip card)

Keeping customers on contracts amid credit card churn -- For a gym owner, data breaches at other merchants are costly. As customers are reissued credit cards with new account numbers, some are dropping their auto-pay agreements ... (See Retaining customers)

Should I close card accounts to get a mortgage? -- While mortgage lenders want to minimize their risk, they usually just want credit card accounts paid off, not closed down ... (See Card accounts and mortgages)

How minimum payments are applied to small balances -- Don't slip up and forget a credit card payment when the balance is almost paid off. A late fee could be larger than your minimum payment ... (See Minimum)

How unpaid medical debts affect credit scores -- Ignore unpaid medical bills at your own peril: You may have healed, but your credit score may stay sick for a long time ... (See Medical debt)

Tools, tips for choosing a frequent flier destination -- Award tickets can be hard to come by, but some airlines run specials and have other features to help you book your free trip ... (See Choosing destinations)

How can I protect my point-of-sale system against security breaches? -- Lax POS security can cost your small business steep fines from credit card issuers if your system is breached. Safe password practices are one of your best defenses ... (See POS security)

Authorized users and charge cards -- Authorized users can't mess up a credit utilization ratio for charge cards, because there's no ratio to upset. However, late pays still damage credit ... (See Charge cards)

0-percent balance transfer after debt in collections? Good luck -- Balance transfer offers aren't lifelines offered to people with bad credit, they're a deal for those who maintain good credit ... (See Balance transfer )

Child charged merchandise on mother's account? Return it -- A child who charged merchandise without permission needs to learn a lesson; have her stand by as Mom calls the card company -- and the cops ... (See Unauthorized)

Do United's frequent-flier changes devalue its travel card? -- United is following other airlines in changing the way you earn miles for paid flights. But it won't necessarily affect credit card points chasers ... (See MileagePlus)

Beware of advance-fee credit card scams -- If you see an ad promising that a third party can get you a credit card if you pay a fee to them in advance, pass it right by. Fraudsters use such scams to target people desperate for credit ... (See Advance-fee scams)

Walk away from co-signed loan? No such thing -- Her mother defaults; her kids need student loans. What's a serial co-signer to do? Step No. 1: Put down the pen ... (See Co-sign no more)

Tick-tock debt: Law gives 30 days to respond to collector -- When a debt collector makes first contact, federal law gives you the right to seek verification of the debt and to dispute it -- if you act quickly ... (See 30 day debt clock)

On-time payments cure the stinkiest credit -- With not much credit or income, a reader's best ally is time and a lengthy series of on-time payments, says Erica ... (See On-time payments)

How to keep points from a company credit card -- If you've racked up a lot of AmEx points on your company credit card, but are changing jobs, it's worth signing up for a personal card so you can keep your rewards points ... (See AmEx rewards)

Fight payment processing fees in medical payments -- Insurance companies and government agencies are increasingly using plastic and virtual credit cards to pay doctors. But practices can request other payment methods that carry lower fees ... (See Medical payments)

Talk to lender before letting debt go to a collector -- If you're late on debt payments, don't just let it go to collections. Your original lender has more loan workout options to offer ... (See Let debt go?)

One mistake results in big credit score drop -- A single mistake on a card bill caused a huge drop in a customer's score and highlights a credit rule: The bigger the score, the harder the fall ... (See One mistake's credit score cost )

Paying, not purchasing, improves credit scores -- If you already carry a balance, don't worry about making new purchases -- just pay down your debt on time and your credit score will rise ... (See Purchases and credit scores)

When you can, can't transfer rewards points -- Shifting points between programs often comes with restrictions. But outright transfers are not the only way to get more options from your points ... (See Transfer points)

Should I try crowdfunding or a loan for my startup? -- Crowdfunding and bank loans are both challenging to land for new businesses. A third option may make more sense ... (See Startup funding)

Mom piggybacked on realty agent's troubled account. What now? -- A real estate agent convinced an elderly woman to sign on to the agent's credit card account to build credit history. But now the agent is bankrupt and collections agents are calling. How can the woman's daughter help? ... (See Piggybacking)

Thanks, Sis, but I'm ready for my own card now -- A man who got his sister's help to raise his score is ready to graduate to credit on his own -- taking his remaining debt with him via balance transfer ... (See Balance transfer)

Billed before credit card is activated? ID theft danger! -- If you receive a credit card statement before you received and activated the card, you need to act quickly. You may be a victim of fraud ... (See ID theft)

Avoid companions' checked-bag fees with wise card use -- Many people have found a way around checked-bag fees but you have to know where to look to get the most bag for your buck ... (See Free bags)

Can businesses charge large test payments? -- Gas stations and restaurants add temporary "holds" on credit card bills until they know the final balance, but other merchants should avoid this tactic ... (See Test charges)

Mom opened checking, credit accounts in my name, left a mess -- Fraud, even by a family member, is a crime that should be reported in order for you to start the process of salvaging your credit ... (See Family fraud)

Move beyond the starter card with a personal loan -- A perfect payment record on a starter credit card won't earn great rewards. Try a personal loan at the same bank that offers the rewards card you want ... (See Starter card)

Lower credit limit surprise nearly spoils a sale -- The checkout counter is a bad place to find out your card's credit limit has been dropped to $100. Good payment habits should prevent such surprises ... (See Credit limit)

Sign up, max out, cancel, repeat: Rewarding, but dangerous to credit? -- Some frequent flier mileage chasers cancel cards as soon as they've hit their initial spending targets to earn rewards. But the strategy carries risk ... (See Sign-up strategy)

Is employee responsible for boss's default? -- If a small business owner defaults on debt on a company credit card she issued to a former employee, is the worker responsible for the debt? ... (See Boss's debt)

Debt settlement vs. credit counseling: similar aims, different means -- Both debt settlement companies and credit counselors run ads offering help in getting out of debt. But their tactics are very different ... (See Debt reduction)

Law caps service members' rates on old debt, not new -- Put down the credit card, soldier. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act lowers interest rates only on balances incurred before going on active duty ... (See Military)

Get that debt settlement offer in writing -- An offer to settle old debt for a 10th of what's owed may soun good, but get it in writing, and make sure you understand the consequences ... (See Old debt)

Don't just transfer a balance, pay it down -- It's worthwhile to transfer a balance if the only other card is a dud -- but do the math and have a plan to whittle that balance down ... (See Balance transfer)

How to nab scarce award flights -- Airlines and card companies love to tout the ease of racking up miles, but when it comes to spending them, it's often not so easy. Advance planning and flexibility help ... (See Spending miles)

Who goes to jail for fraudulent credit card use? -- Businesses that accept stolen credit card information may be on the hook for a refund. But the thief is the one who broke the law -- and cardholders need to take steps to prevent further damage ... (See ID theft)

Fighting garnishment of low wages for medical debt -- A Washington state resident being pursued by collectors for an overdue medical bill can stop attempts to garnish her wages because her earnings are below a legal threshold ... (See Garnish)

Authorized user backfire hurts son's credit score -- Adding their son as authorized user backfired after they both lost their jobs. Now his plan to buy a house is in jeopardy ... (See Authorized user backfire)

How quickly is my card payment posted? -- It can take a few days for your card issuer to post your payment -- and for someone with a low-limit card, that can matter a lot ... (See Payment posting)

Supercharging rewards from online travel agencies -- Online travel agencies such as Orbitz and Expedia offer rewards cards. Whether they're right for you depends on your spending and travel patterns ... (See Travel rewards)

Compare rewards cards for business gas spending -- If your business buys gasoline, why not be rewarded? Business credit cards and specialized fleet cards both offer programs to reward and track fuel purchases ... (See Gas rewards)

They divorced, he died, she's stuck with his $40,000 student loan -- Even though they were divorced before his death, she co-signed on his $40,000 student loan, which means she's asked to repay. What are her options? ... (See Student loans and death)

There ain't no cure for the bad co-signer credit score blues -- When you co-sign, you agree to take on responsibility for the loan -- and the credit damage that results if it's allowed to go into default ... (See Co-signer credit score blues)

During Chapter 13 bankruptcy, secured cards tough to get -- Banks may reject your credit card application, even for a secured card, while you're under the strict money diet imposed by a Chapter 13 bankruptcy ... (See Secured card)

Rewards card switch: from fee to no-fee -- If your rewards card's fee is too high, it's time to look for alternatives. Switching may put a temporary dent in your credit score but it's usually more important to get a card that fits your needs ... (See Going no-fee)

Small-business bank loans become a bit easier to get -- Bankers are becoming a bit more accommodating to small businesses, new research shows, but they're still hard, so know all your choices ... (See Bank loans)

Prepaying principal, paying ahead not the same -- Your auto lender would probably prefer you just pay ahead, since that won't cost them anything. But if you want to lower your costs, prepay the principal ... (See Prepaying)

Divorced woman still cleaning up ex's financial mess -- Five years after their breakup, a woman is trying to see if there's a way to undo the financial damage her ex dumped on her and she unwisely kept ... (See Ex's mess)

Big bill, small credit limit: Know your options -- In one hand is a big bill. In the other, an offer for a credit card with a 0 percent interest rate, but a too-small credit limit. They're not the only choices, Jane says ... (See Credit limit)

Should I pay in full, even after a debt settlement? -- If it's been years since the settlement, and the credit damage is mostly behind you, it's best just to let go. Focus on what's ahead, not what's behind you ... (See Settled)

Banks' travel rewards search engines fare well in find-a-flight test -- Whether you're using credit card rewards points or cash, you may find the best flight deals by going through card issuers' travel search engines ... (See Travel search )

Meeting with your banker to talk small business loans -- Your banker should be a key member of your advisory team. To make your business more loan-ready, you will need your banker's input on what the bank wants to see when it evaluates a loan application ... (See Loan meeting)

Taking over parents' finances: first steps -- Don't wait until it's too late, get information now and make necessary changes while they still have the capacity and legal authority to do so ... (See Parents' finances)

Foreign boyfriend's check-cashing request sounds like fraud -- The Internet has created an industry of romantic swindlers whose sole purpose is to rob you by making you think with your misplaced heart ... (See Swindler)

Debt settlement vs. bankruptcy: Which damages credit score worse? -- Debt settlement means the creditor gets at least something back, so it damages credit scores less than bankruptcy, which wipes out debt ... (See Credit damage)

How to perform a credit transfusion on your spouse -- It's a tricky and dangerous procedure, but it's possible: The spouse with good credit can absorb the bad-credit person's debt by balance transfer ... (See Credit transfusion)

Learn the reward points double-transfer trick -- You may know your rewards program has transfer partners that let you shift points. But your partner partners have partners, too, so you can double-transfer to get the program you really want -- though at a lower rate ... (See Double transfer)

Accepting credit card orders by phone: a new-business owner's guide -- For a new restaurant owner concerned about accepting credit cards for call-in orders, a merchant processing account may not be the best thing -- at least not in the beginning ... (See Phone payments)

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)

Got a medical card, but can't afford the procedure -- A dentist suggested financing a procedure with a medical card and then charged upfront; now the patient wants to cancel ... (See Cancel medical debt)

Ah, to be young and have a near-perfect credit score -- A 23-year-old has a 772 FICO score and a $45,000 credit limit spread over four credit cards. Will another card move him closer to financial perfection? ... (See Young credit)

Paying your tax bill with prepaid cards -- Popular Vanilla Reloads are becoming harder to find, but credit card rewards seekers still have options to avoid hefty tax-payment card fees ... (See Tax points)

How can I build business credit? -- Building a credit record for your small business that's separate from your personal credit is a gradual process. You can take steps to get started while the business grows ... (See Separate business credit)

Pros and cons of becoming a first-time landlord -- If you're eyeing a property as a potential rental, do the math to see if it will make a profit, but also decide whether you want to do what a landlord does ... (See Landlord)

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)

You don't have to wait for a zero-balance statement to avoid interest -- Caution is good, but you don't have to wait for a zero-balance statement to use a credit card again. Paying on time avoids interest charges ... (See Zero balance)

Best card to send with kids to Europe -- His two 20-year-olds head to study abroad this fall, armed only with their debit cards. Dad wants to know if he get supply them with a credit card, too ... (See EMV)

Finding the best rewards card for frequent Saudi Arabia travel -- For a businessman who will be traveling to Saudi Arabia a lot for work, the advice is similar to that for other travelers: decide on an airline and hotel chain that fit your needs, then find a credit card tied to them. And don't forget about fees ... (See Saudi Arabia travel)

Is it OK for merchants to accept credit cards from minors? -- If a parent has formally authorized a minor to use a credit card, accepting it isn't a problem. But getting some reassurances in writing is best practice ... (See Cards and minors)

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)

Shifting debt from credit cards through a mortgage refi -- Paying off credit cards via a home refinance could change your credit utilization and help your credit score, if you don't go charging again ... (See Refis and credit scores)

Can I use my credit card after bankruptcy? -- There is no specific amount of time you have to wait before you can start charging again after bankruptcy. In fact, it can even help rebuild your credit ... (See Bankruptcy)

Should I ditch my checking account to earn credit card rewards? -- It can be tempting when a credit card issuer offers extra reward points for opening a checking account, but watch out for hidden costs and credit score dings before you make the jump ... (See Checking)

How soon should retailers switch to EMV? -- The heat is on for merchants to adopt terminals that will read smart-chip cards. But with many small firms facing rising costs from all sides, it may pay to wait to upgrade ... (See EMV)

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)

Pay the whole debt or pay part: Which helps credit score more? -- Much of the credit score damage was already done back when you defaulted, but paying it off can make you look better to other lenders ... (See Partial payment)

Student loan payments choking new grad -- With student loan payments taking up 57 percent of her income, a new grad ponders defaulting as she can't see how she can keep up ... (See Default)

Finding the best rewards card for airline and hotel upgrades -- There have been some important changes in recent years in how airlines handle upgrades. That, of course, changes the calculation for what kind of card you should have in your wallet if upgrades are important to you ... (See VIP seats)

Can non-immigrants get business credit without an SSN? -- Most loans and credit cards are going to ask you for a Social Security number at some point in the application process, but if you are adamant about not giving it out there are a few options ... (See SSN-free)

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)

Paying all you can vs. leaving a cushion in savings -- If there's enough money to make a big dent in your card debt but not enough to pay it off, you have choices to make, and the right one depends on your goals ... (See Paying vs. savings)

Don't default on a stipulated judgment -- When you agree to pay a creditor a reduced, but fixed amount each month to satisfy an old debt and then default, you risk having to pay the full balance ... (See Stipulated judgment)

Switching to a new card from the same bank -- An issuer may conduct a hard pull on your credit record if you apply for a new card, even if you already have a card with that bank. But it's probably worth it if the card is a better fit ... (See Credit)

Can personal credit suffer due to old business debt? -- Your loan contract will determine whether an old business debt can be held against you, in court and on your personal credit ... (See Business debt, personal credit)

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)

Help! Mom trashed my credit -- It's tough to find that a card you never signed up for is dragging down your credit and chances for employment, but if you were just an authorized user, you'll get off easy ... (See Credit)

Son uses dad's card after he dies -- Believing the card he shared with his dad was a joint account, the son kept using the card after Dad's death. But he was just an authorized user, so who's to pay the bill? ... (See Debt)

Delta changes award program; should you change your card? -- Delta's announcement that it will change the way flying customers earn miles doesn't affect how you earn on co-branded credit cards. Still, it may be worth reconsidering your rewards card strategy ... (See SkyMiles)

Getting a business card without a Social Security number -- For foreign nationals setting up shop in the U.S., it's not easy to get a business credit card. Most applications require a Social Security number, but there are a few exceptions ... (See SSN-free)

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)

If authorized user goes bankrupt, account holder's credit not at risk -- Granting authorized user status to a partner who later goes bankrupt won't risk your credit, but watch out for any joint accounts ... (See Partner's credit)

Making sure bad debts are gone from your credit report -- Still paying a collector for an old debt? It should eventually fall off your credit report. But take care or it could linger longer ... (See Old debts and credit reports)

Must cards keep paying out at their original reward level? -- Cardholder agreements give issuers free rein to change reward programs. But if you think there's been an error, there are a few things you can do ... (See Shrinking rewards)

Cut personal credit ties to a failing business -- You're president, but not the owner, of a failing business, but the company cards are in your name? Close those cards -- pronto ... (See Credit risk at business failure)

How to keep but not go broke with expensive friends -- Unless you want them to visit you in the poorhouse, understand why you want to match your high-spending pals dollar for dollar, then find less-expensive alternatives ... (See Expensive friends)

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)

Steps to building your credit before 1st auto loan -- A newcomer to credit, even someone who's handled credit well so far, won't have a great score. Additional work is need to get a good first auto loan ... (See 1st auto loan)

Include all debts in a management plan -- When going into a formal debt management plan from a credit counseling agency, you can't keep several credit card accounts open. That defeats the purpose of getting out of debt ... (See DMP)

Reaping miles and points with everyday spending -- Lucrative sign-up bonuses are tempting but chasing them can be exhausting and fraught with credit risks. There are other ways to boost your credit card rewards ... (See Earn more)

Can my business add a surcharge for card-paying customers? -- Swipe fees can weigh on a business's bottom line. But examine your business contracts and state law before passing them on to customers who pay with debit or credit cards ... (See Surcharges)

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)

How rapid rescoring works to improve a credit score -- A rapid rescore can be requested by a mortgage lender to quickly undo damage from an erroneous credit report, but it won't erase your old mistakes ... (See Rapid rescore)

Credit card approval tips for new immigrants -- New to the U.S.? Until you understand the American credit rating system, expect to be continually rejected for new credit cards ... (See New to U.S.)

Redeeming 'impossible to use' British Airways miles -- What to do with that stack of BA miles if you live in the U.S.? European award flights are loaded with surcharges but you still have lots of options ... (See Avios miles )

Financing equipment when partners' credit profiles differ -- Sharing business debt can be tricky, especially if one partner's credit profile is stronger than the other's. But there are ways to do it where both partners are still protected ... (See Financing)

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)

What helps credit score more: Pay debt all at once? Or in bits? -- Paying all at once may be harder on your budget, but it's the fastest way to get a crucial credit scoring ratio back out of whack ... (See Pay down entire debt)

How many is too many credit cards? -- If you've got great credit, 0 percent promotional deals are there for the taking. But does having too many paid-off cards a good or bad thing? ... (See Too many cards?)

High-end reward cards offer luxury hotel perks -- Luxury hotel perks are not a reason to choose a credit card. But if you frequent top-end hotels, you may be able to squeeze some value from them ... (See Luxe perks)

Choosing a credit card processor for a medical practice -- If your doctor's office or medical practice is in the market for a merchant account provider, you may be able to get a deal through a professional organization. But there are other considerations besides price in choosing the right one ... (See Medical)

Tips for turning your part-time hobby into a full-time job -- Is it possible to turn your hobby into a full time job? Yes, but it's not easy and there's no guarantee of success ... (See From hobby to job)

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)

Don't confuse introductory rate, deferred-interest deals -- Interest accumulates like a ticking bomb on deferred-interest deals, exploding into huge charges if you don't pay the balance in time ... (See Intro vs. deferred)

Stop obsessing over a perfect credit score -- When your FICO credit score is just 70 points shy of a perfect score, is it really worth the effort to push it all the way to the top? ... (See Credit score obsession)

How to score a rental car using a rewards credit card -- Scoring a free rental card with credit card rewards is not as straightforward as earning a free flight. But with a little know-how, you can do it ... (See Rental car)

Can I borrow to pay my business tax bill? -- It's usually better to borrow money to pay your tax bill than to rack up penalties and interest with the IRS. You have a few options, including credit cards ... (See Tax bill)

To fight high energy bills, find the likely suspects -- An energy bill higher than the norm An energy bill that stays stubbornly high is cause for investigation -- starting with the big utilities that consume the most power ... (See Energy bills)

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)

How long can a judgment impact your credit score? -- Once you have a judgment against, you, it's bad: Some state laws allow them to be in force for decades. But it may fall from your credit report sooner ... (See Judgments)

Restoring credit score after defaulting on student loan -- Deferring student loan payments doesn't last forever. When they come due, it's time to pay up or suffer the credit consequences ... (See Student loan default)

How to destroy metal credit cards without killing your shredder -- The metal content in the Chase Sapphire Preferred card makes it hard to destroy with scissors or a shredder. So how can you safely dispose of it when it's time? ... (See Heavy metal)

Do I need credit cards to build my business credit? -- Responsible use of credit cards is an easy way to build a credit record for your small business. But there are other ways, if you're determined to stay card-free ... (See Business credit)

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)

Erroneous loan default report won't affect other credit accounts -- When a large error claiming you defaulted suddenly appears on your credit, you have to fight to remove it, but it won't impact other loans ... (See Not my debt)

Closing excess cards without hurting credit score -- With a wallet full of retail cards, just how do you go about closing the extraneous ones without incurring too much credit score damage? ... (See Closing cards)

Avoiding your reward card's annual fee -- You’ve banked the sign-up miles from your new card. Here’s how to escape yearly fees and keep your credit score up ... (See Annual fee)

Freezing business card accounts after the company fails -- A company president wonders how to stop his former business partner from charging more on credit cards the partner opened for the business ... (See Partner debt)

Saving money versus paying off debt -- Does it make sense to put money in a savings account while you still are repaying debts ... (See Savings)

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)

Next steps if your settlement offer to a debt collector is rejected -- Once negotiations over a debt stall and collection efforts reach the legal threat stage, it is better to have your own attorney ... (See Debt collection)

Psst! A hot tip on debt elimination companies: They're bogus -- So the guy at the airport lounge was saying how a debt elimination firm cost just $49 to cut all debt. It's real, right? Erica splashes cold water in a reader's face ... (See Debt elimination )

How to get to that long-haul international flight for free -- A trip to the Middle East is expensive, whether you're paying with reward points or dollars. But combining a couple of credit card sign-up bonuses can nearly get you there for free ... (See Bonuses)

Should I offer e-receipts to customers? -- Electronic receipts are becoming more common in brick-and-mortar stores. Besides saving paper, they're a fairly simple marketing tool ... (See E-receipts)

Options you haven't thought of for raising quick cash -- Cash crunch? Yes, you should look for more income. But turn over every stone, including utility refunds, pawnshops, eBay and adjusting your withholding ... (See Quick cash)

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)

Options for overcoming thin credit -- If you've had little or no credit history and have no income, secured cards and becoming an authorized user are your best options ... (See Overcoming thin credit)

Tips for getting that first credit card -- The path to getting your first credit card may be bumpy at first, but if managed properly, the road to easy credit becomes a smooth ride ... (See First credit card)

Which credit cards earn the most reward points at Wal-Mart? -- If you're a regular Wal-Mart shopper, maximizing your rewards earning potential can be tricky. The store slips through the cracks of many bonus-earning categories, but there are a few options ... (See Wal-Mart rewards)

Help! Our supplier is trying to change our payment terms -- If a supplier is tightening credit, find out why and check your contract carefully. You may be able to fight the change or at least ask for the original terms as a courtesy ... (See Supplier credit)

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)

Having trouble making your credit card payments? -- Do your best to continue making minimum payments on your cards. For any cards that you are not able to pay, communicate regularly with the card issuer to let them know the status of your situation ... (See Late payments)

Will prepaying card bill help credit score? -- Paying your credit card bill as early as possible is a good habit, but it won't help your score any more than paying it on time ... (See Prepaying a credit card bill)

Using credit cards to unlock elite airport lounges -- Credit cards that offer access to airport lounges tend to have high fees. But they're often the least expensive way in, and may be worthwhile if you're a frequent traveler ... (See Lounges)

With small-business loans elusive, credit cards may be an option -- It's still not easy for many small businesses to get bank loans -- one of the cheapest sources of financing. Here's what to do if you're turned down ... (See Small-business loans)

Parent with dementia and a $40,000 debt: Who's liable? -- The cost of an assisted living facility has left no room for even the minimum payments on mom's credit cards. What's an adult daughter to do? ... (See Dementia and debt)

Should you remove money from your retirement savings? -- Generally, it is considered a bad idea to take money out of a retirement account to pay off debt, particularly if you must pay early withdrawal fees ... (See Retirement withdrawal)

Yes, get a second credit card, if you used the first wisely -- But beware: If you're not paying off the balance every month on your primary card, applying for a second card won't help and could get you into trouble ... (See Second card)

Award charts are key when considering hotel cards -- Just because it's easy to rack up points on a hotel card doesn't mean you'll become a resort regular for free. If the points are worthless, you may be better off with a different card ... (See Hotel rewards)

Is my credit score good enough for a business card? -- Many business cards require excellent credit -- but what qualifies as "excellent" depends on the scoring system ... (See Business credit )

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)

Despite settlement, demands to repay old debt resurface -- A collector's new demands you pay an old debt should go away if you got written verification of the settlement agreement. If not, take these steps ... (See Written verification)

How soon after bankruptcy can you get new credit cards? -- With a Chapter 7 bankruptcy almost behind you, how soon is too soon to start applying for new credit? And will you be approved? ... (See Post-bankruptcy)

Use a different card, but keep priority boarding privilege -- You have to request cardholder status when your boarding pass is issued in order to qualify for priority boarding privileges ... (See Boarding)

What are some good business rewards card deals for end of year? -- December can be a good time to rack up rewards points if you’re making year-end purchases to maximize your business tax deductions. The best deal for you depends on how you plan to use the card and your preferred rewards ... (See Business rewards)

Checklist for new graduates looking to rent 1st apartment -- New graduates faced with a tough job market have to crunch the numbers before deciding whether they can afford to leave the nest and get an apartment of their own ... (See 1st apartment)

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)

Death announcements serve notice to creditors -- A published death announcement serves notice to creditors that the clock has started ticking for them to file claims against the estate ... (See Death notices)

What kind of plastic can you get with fair credit? -- With FICO scores in the low 600s and numerous hard inquiries on his credit reports, will card issuers accept or reject his card application? ... (See Fair credit)

Defaulting on card may cost you your AmEx points -- If you have more than just a missed payment or two, American Express gives itself the right to cancel your account “for any reason.” If it cancels your account, you forfeit all of your points ... (See AmEx points)

Can you ditch your merchant account for a better deal? -- If you have signed a legal contract with a card processing company, you are most likely on the hook to follow the terms of the agreement, even if another company offers you a better deal ... (See Merchant accounts)

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)

What's the big deal about secured cards? -- When your credit is trashed or you have a thin credit file, building up a solid credit score can be within reach by just signing up and using a secured card ... (See Secured cards)

Credit card perks can save you cash this Christmas -- From special rewards rates to price protection programs, a number of credit card perks can smooth your holiday shopping ... (See Holiday perks)

How to get cash for your business without credit -- If you need to buy a few hundred dollars' worth of supplies for your business but credit cards aren't an option, you might want to examine your expenses, get a job, or both ... (See Business cash)

Death, wills, remarriages can all change inheritances -- State law governs what happens when a person dies without a will. Typically they assume that any assets of the deceased should go to a surviving spouse before going to a child ... (See Lost inheritance)

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)

What percentage of available credit should you stay under? -- How much of your available credit should you use to keep a high credit score? There's no one-size-fits-all answer, but the less credit you use, the better ... (See Ratio)

Using your card for fast cash is costly -- Sometimes a cash advance from your credit card can be a lifesaver, but high fees, interest charges make them costly for routine cash flow fixes ... (See Cash advance)

Earning rewards for telecom purchases -- AT&T offers two rewards cards that earn savings on your phone or Internet bill. But other rewards cards may offer a better deal ... (See Telecom rewards)

Entrepreneurial and under 21? You'll need to build a credit record -- Starting a business at age 20 often requires credit. The CARD Act makes building a credit record more difficult for young people, but it can be done ... (See Credit)

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)

Tips for building credit before renting a home -- Landlords commonly check the credit history of potential renters; knowing and polishing yours can hand you the keys to a new home ... (See Credit check)

Great degree, great job, but no credit -- Recent college grads shouldn't expect to be granted easy access to credit once they land a job. Building a great credit score takes time, patience ... (See New credit)

Cheap ways to renew soon-to-expire BA Avios points -- If you're not flying with British Airways anytime soon, you can still avoid losing your miles with the help of one of your rewards credit cards ... (See Renew points)

Can a doctor's office charge a credit card surcharge? -- Like other merchants, doctors' offices are allowed to charge a fee for accepting credit cards, but at the risk of aliening patients ... (See Credit card surcharge)

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)

Can card issuer send bills just 11 days before due date? -- The Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 says consumers should get 21 days from the time the bill was sent until it's due ... (See Due dates)

When's a good time to drop dad's card? -- His dad helped him get off to a good credit start by sharing a card with him during college. Now, at 23, it's time to drop dad's card and get his own ... (See First card)

A glitch with e-statements, and poof! Your APR is 30% -- If you never signed up for electronic statements and ended up missing payments because of the switch, you may have grounds to reverse the credit damage ... (See E-statement woes)

Don't be a victim of home burglaries -- Home robbers prize homes easy to rob and hard to get caught robbing. These steps will prevent them from seeing your house as being on either list ... (See Preventing home burglaries)

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)

Cards maxed out for 10 years? Perhaps you need a plan -- If you've lived for a decade with maxed-out credit cards, consider a debt management plan, but pick your counselor carefully and know the credit impact ... (See Debt plan)

Make sure your first card is a good fit -- Shopping for your first credit card is much like finding that perfect pair of jeans -- it has to fit your income as well as be age and credit appropriate ... (See First card)

Is a widow liable for using dead husband's card? -- After the death of a spouse, continuing to use his or her plastic can be considered fraudulent. And if you can't make the payments, the issuer can come after you ... (See Debt on dead spouse's card)

Ways to save on dry cleaning -- Is dry cleaning your work clothes eating away at your pay check? Save that money by dry cleaning at home ... (See dry cleaning)

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)

Adding a spouse as authorized card user to boost score -- Couples looking to buy a house can buff their team credit score by having the person with better credit add the partner with worse credit as an authorized card user ... (See Score)

Getting rid of old medical debt -- When old medical debt is keeping you from moving ahead with your life, it's time to take action. Either pay it off or work out a debt settlement with collectors ... (See Medical debt)

Do chip-and-PIN cards work in the US? -- A chip card issued in the U.S. will work here because point-of-sale terminals will read the mag stripe and ignore the embedded microchip. The same is true of cards issued overseas -- unless the issuer ignores the mag stripe, which is happening more often ... (See EMV in USA)

Using a cash-out refinancing of your home to pay off a business loan -- Before you rush into refinancing your small-business loan with a cash-out refi, make sure you understand the risks. You may get a better interest rate, but could ultimately pay more ... (See Refinancing)

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)

Seeking low-interest cards in quest for a better credit score -- If you're trying to recover from bad credit, will canceling old cards and opening new cards improve your credit score? ... (See Credit score)

Turned down for secured card. Now what? -- After being turned down for a secured card, which is designed for people with bad credit, are there any other options to rebuild your credit? ... (See Rejected)

How do I redeem miles on alliance partner airlines? -- In most cases, you can book your flight in the same way you would a flight on the airline that holds your award miles. There may be some exceptions, though ... (See Miles)

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)

Yes, debt collectors have the right to collect, and sue -- Some people mistakenly believe that when a debt is charged off, the obligation to pay disappears. Not so. Debt collectors have the legal right to pursue, and sue, you ... (See Debt)

Can too many credit cards mess up your credit score? -- When a review of your credit report says you have too many card accounts open, will your otherwise stellar credit take a nosedive if you cancel some? ... (See Too many cards)

Can you claim frequent flier miles after death of a parent? -- Airline policies on the transfer of miles after a death are often restrictive, but it's always worth calling and asking. You've got the best chance if the deceased left the miles to you in a will ... (See Miles)

Church should limit users of its credit card -- A small church struggles to get receipts from five users of its credit card account. But changing the account name isn't enough. It needs to consider more restrictions ... (See Church)

Recycling, rebuilding old furniture as a DIY money-maker -- It's the ultimate in frugality -- taking old furniture and recreating it into something new. It can even make you a few bucks ... (See Fixing up furniture)

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)

Bankruptcy's credit damage worse than debt settlement's -- Both hurt badly, as they should, since they're serious debt defaults. But bankruptcy causes the greater credit score damage ... (See Bankruptcy vs. settlement)

Fiancee leaves ex with big pre-wedding debts -- He gave her his credit card to buy a $3,600 dress and financed a $9,000 ring. Then she left the country, taking it all with her. What's a jilted lover to do? ... (See Wedding debt)

Do I need a chip card in Africa? -- It's a good idea to bring a chip card if you're traveling to Africa, especially if you plan to travel between regions. Adoption rate of EMV technology throughout Africa was 77 percent by the end of 2012 and continues to expand ... (See Chip card)

Is the primary cardholder for nonprofit personally liable? -- If you're named on the agreement as the primary cardholder, you are personally liable for any debt your organization incurs. A written contract with the nonprofit might lower your risk but won't eliminate it ... (See Nonprofit)

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)

Credit mix and maxing out: Undoing damage from a heavily used card -- If you have one credit card that's close to maxed out every month, having a mix of other types of credit will help soften any credit score damage ... (See Credit mix)

Do card issuers remember my very old mistakes? -- If you defaulted on credit card debt years ago, so long ago that the debt is off your credit report, what are your chances of getting a new card with the same issuer? ... (See Old debt)

Which credit cards are best for expedited airport security screening? -- If you travel internationally a lot, you might consider one of the premium credit cards that offer to refund your application fee for Global Entry, the U.S. Customs program allowing expedited entry into the U.S. ... (See Global Entry)

When does a merchant account make financial sense? -- If you accept payments by credit card only occasionally, Square or PayPal are viable options, but above a certain sales volume, merchant accounts make sense ... (See Card payments)

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)

Sorry, repaying loan from mom won't help your credit score -- It's good you're paying back the personal loan from your mother. You're a fine son. But that doesn't count to credit bureaus ... (See Credit score)

Industry insider tips: How to make music AND money -- The rise of digital streaming and gadget-centered entertainment has created new opportunities for musicians seeking to build a career out of their craft ... (See Music)

Grammy-winning producer John Snyder on the business of music -- Although musicians tend to struggle financially, they have many of the same traits as entrepreneurs, says Grammy-winning producer John Snyder. ... (See John Snyder)

Musician/blogger Doug Ross on music and money management -- For professional musician and blogger Doug Ross, the key to having a successful music career is not artistic integrity -- it's about making a living doing something you love. ... (See Doug Ross)

Entertainment lawyer Neeta Ragoowansi on surviving in music -- Entertainment lawyer Neeta Ragoowansi says many artists overlook burgeoning opportunities to promote their music. ... (See Neeta Ragoowansi)

Mom illegally adds daughter to joint card -- A recently married daughter finds out her mom used her name to open a joint account without her permission or knowledge ... (See ID theft)

4 free, underused card perks -- Free upgrades, refunds, companion tickets and museum admissions are just some of the card perks you may be missing out on ... (See Credit card perks)

Protecting your business from credit card fraud -- If your business makes a sale to a fraudster, you could lose the cost of the goods in addition to a charge-back fee. Know-how and technology make the best defense ... (See Charge-backs)

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)

Is it OK to close a card before I buy a condo? -- Closing a high-fee card can be a smart thing to do, but not when lenders are considering you for a home loan. Any credit score hit may cost you ... (See Credit score)

Pre-screened offers don't guarantee card approval -- All those enticing zero percent card offers that come in the mail don't mean that you'll be approved for them, and can even hurt your credit score ... (See Offers)

Is an award flight taken for business tax-deductible? -- A flight taken for business purposes is covered under Section 162 of the IRS Code. But nowhere does it say that if you use frequent flier miles to pay for the flight you can deduct the expense -- which means you can't ... (See IRS)

Can I impose a max on credit card customers? -- If your business sells high-ticket items, credit card swipe fees can add up. The law won't keeping you from imposing limits on card spend but consider other options before you take that route ... (See Limits)

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)

Will making minimum payments damage my credit score? -- Consistently making minimum monthly payments on a high balance is a dangerous habit that can damage your credit score if your financial situation worsens ... (See Minimum)

Rebuilding your credit as an authorized user -- Becoming an authorized user on a spouse's credit card can help you rebuild your credit but you need to understand your responsibilities and be committed to using the card wisely ... (See Rebuilding)

Can my business require a minimum purchase for credit card customers? -- Merchants can impose on their credit card customers a minimum purchase requirement of up to $10 -- but that doesn't mean you should. And debit cards are a different story ... (See Payment minimums)

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)

My 88-year-old mother lives on cash advances -- A mother who has been supplementing Social Security by taking credit card cash advances needs a financial intervention -- and a budget ... (See $40,000 debt)

Is a card account open if it isn't activated? -- If you apply for a card, get it in the mail and then choose not to activate it, does the account still get listed on your credit report? ... (See Unactivated card)

What’s the best rewards card for parents with kids in school? -- If you have kids away at college you'll need a rewards card that can help pay for travel -- and everyday expenses. Several fit that bill, but you may have to pay an annual fee ... (See Parents)

Can my small business afford to stop accepting AmEx? -- A small business owner wants to stop accepting American Express, reasoning that other credit cards and debit cards are cheaper. But he needs to weigh the costs against the fact that AmEx cardholders are loyal and high-spending ... (See AmEx)

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)

I'm buried in debt. Can I just stop making payments? -- If you're swamped with credit card debt, it may be tempting to stop making payments and hope the problem goes away. Sorry. It won't ... (See Stop paying)

How 'authorized user' status can help build US credit -- New to the U.S.? There are several ways to start building a good credit history, most notably by becoming an authorized user on another's credit card ... (See Authorized user)

Can I churn my Hilton credit cards for more sign-up bonuses? -- American Express and Citi credit cards that earn Hilton HHonors points are churnable -- meaning you can cancel them and later reapply to get a new sign-up bonus. But you need to know a few things first ... (See Churning)

Can you build business credit without a Social Security number? -- To apply for business credit, you will likely need to use your Social Security Number or an Employer Identification Number -- which you apply for using your SSN. ... (See SSN)

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)

Can a car dealer garnish my wages after selling me a lemon? -- Every car owner's nightmare is to get stuck with a trouble-prone vehicle. Can a dealer garnish your wages if you can't afford to pay off the loan on a useless auto? ... (See Garnish)

Credit score impact of settling past-due accounts -- When you have numerous credit accounts that are seriously past due, is the best solution to settle the accounts or try to pay them in full? ... (See Settle or pay in full?)

What's the better hotel credit card -- Hyatt or Marriott? -- Choosing the best hotel card is a matter of weighing each card's perks against your travel needs, as evaluating the pros and cons of each is an apples-to-oranges comparison ... (See Hotel cards)

How a Bangladeshi entrepreneur can pay for international purchases -- A small business owner from Bangladesh is looking for a way to buy supplies and services from other countries. Bangladesh's central bank restricts international credit card transactions, but there are a few options ... (See Prepaids)

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)

Stroke, spending spree leaves family with debt emergency -- After his wife suffered a stroke, she racked up card debt. He may be able to argue diminished capacity to have it dismissed, but should be prepared to pay up ... (See Health debt)

When being an authorized user is useless -- Her brother added her to his card to boost her credit, but the issuer doesn't report card activity for authorized users. What are her options? ... (See Authorized user)

The best card for a long stay in Vietnam? -- A rewards card that doesn't charge foreign transaction fees and is widely accepted is the best bet for a three-month trip to Vietnam. Prepaid travel cards are an option, too ... (See Vietnam)

If your company fails, your credit card rate can rise -- Your business is shuttered and you're left with credit card debt. Now the issuer is hiking your interest rate. Is it really allowed to do that? Most likely, yes. Here's what you can do ... (See Business card rate hike)

Should I tap into my 401(k) to buy my retirement haven? -- As you near retirement, it can be tempting to use 401(k) distributions to fund big purchases. There are, however, lots of rules to follow and tax implications that you must be aware of before making a decision. ... (See Tapping 401(k) )

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)

Have I fallen prey to identity theft? -- It's relatively easy to find out if you've fallen victim to identity theft, given the availability of credit reports and online billing statements. Clearing up an identity theft issue, however, is more difficult and may require contacting local authorities or placing a freeze on your credit report. ... (See Fraud)

Will a debt management plan hurt your credit score? -- When you enter a debt management plan, one of the requirements is to close open card accounts. How will that action affect your credit score? ... (See DMP)

How does the Southwest Rapid Rewards card stack up? -- Domestic airline Southwest is often overlooked by rewards-chasers because you generally get more bang for your mile with international flights. But if you're primarily interested in U.S. flights, the Rapid Rewards card is worth a look ... (See Southwest Rapid Rewards)

Does it make sense to refinance business credit card debt? -- Small businesses with good credit may benefit from transferring business card debt to a lower-interest loan or 0-percent interest card ... (See Refinance)

Don't blow your inheritance -- A large inheritance can create the temptation to spend and lend on a large scale. How do you balance your wants and needs (and those of others close to you) while keeping your newly obtained wealth intact? ... (See Inheritance)

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)

The path to a lower interest rate -- Most banks and credit unions tie their credit cards' interest rates to the prime rate, but knowing the prime rate alone won't lead to lowering yours ... (See Your rate)

What to look for in an emergency credit card -- Unless you have huge sums of cash, have an emergency card handy -- one that won't cause extra problems if you actually use it ... (See Emergency card)

Booking via travel website may affect reward miles, perks -- If you use a co-branded card to buy tickets through a third-party aggregator such as Travelocity or Orbitz, you may give up bonus miles offered for booking direct. But with a little work, you should be able to claim most of the perks ... (See Online agents)

Repayment, settlement, bankruptcy: Facing debt from failed business -- A business owner has unpaid credit card debt worth thousands. Should she settle, file for bankruptcy or something else? ... (See Business debt)

Managing your fashion-forward teen's clothing allowance -- Keeping up with the latest fashion trends is a high priority for many teens. A clothing allowance is a great way for a parent to teach fiscal responsibility and keep the family's fashion budget under control. ... (See Teen's clothing allowance)

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)

Even with very old debt, don't ignore collection efforts -- The statute of limitations doesn't bar collectors from trying to get you to pay old debts, but you have rights and can stiff-arm them easily ... (See Old debt)

Help! My husband's ruining my credit -- They opened a joint credit card together and then her husband went "crazy" charging things they couldn't afford. To make matters worse, he stopped paying the bill ... (See Joint credit)

How do I get rid of my dormant AmEx Green card without hurting my score? -- If you drop an inactive credit card to save on annual fees, should you ask for a credit limit increase on other cards to mitigate damage to your credit score? ... (See Rewards shuffle)

Will accepting credit cards help my business's cash flow? -- A survey shows that 83 percent of businesses that accept credit cards ring up more sales -- with most reporting higher revenues and faster payments. ... (See Cash flow)

What to know before jumping into a rent-to-own lease -- It's both a lease to rent a home and a deal to buy it, rolled into a single document, so it has more moving parts and quirks than either document individually. In other words, study up and get expert help ... (See Rent-to-own)

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 and community property )

Oops! I bought something with my 0-percent balance transfer card -- If you transferred a balance to a 0-percent card and then bought something with it, you'll need to do some fancy minimum payment math to avoid interest charges ... (See Oops)

Is daughter liable for shared card debt with mom? -- Mom tried to boost her daughter's credit by putting her on several credit cards, but then Mom passed away. Who has to pay the balances? ... (See Shared credit)

Where to look for credit, funding for minority-owned business -- For a young, African-American entrepreneur looking to start a small business, credit can be tight -- especially if you're still paying off student loans. Here's where to look for advice, and money ... (See Minority business)

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)

Servicemembers Act helps, but soldier, straighten up your debt -- The Servicemembers Act limits rates for loans to active-duty military personnel, but controlling debt should be a soldier's first financial duty ... (See Servicemembers Act)

How canceled cards impact credit scores -- When a card is canceled, the only way it can hurt your credit score is by reducing your credit utilization ratio -- or if you behaved badly with it ... (See Canceled card)

Groceries bought at Wal-Mart, Costco don't earn extra rewards -- Generally, processors do not count big-box stores (Target and Wal-Mart) or warehouse clubs (Costco) as grocery stores. If you do the bulk of your stocking up with those retailers, you'd be better off with a rewards card co-branded with one of them ... (See Rewards)

Should you take on credit card debt to pay for a new employee? -- A new boutique owner is considering hiring a part-time salesperson so she can devote more time to marketing efforts. But to do so, she'd need to charge expenses such as inventory on a credit card. Is it worth it? ... (See Hiring)

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)

Settling a debt? Verify it, and get everything in writing -- If you want to settle a debt with a collector for less than owed, do it safely and permanently by following these steps ... (See Settling debt the right way)

6-step credit-building plan for a struggling single mom -- A low-income, young single mom with school and another baby coming wants to handle credit wisely, but she'd better have a plan to avoid debt ... (See New credit)

Have job, will travel, need points: Best bets for hotel rewards cards -- Marriott Rewards consistently wins travelers' awards for best hotel rewards in the Americas, but there are other cards to also consider if you'll be traveling a lot for business ... (See Hotel rewards)

Resist tapping retirement funds for small-business financing -- Starting a business in your 50s brings special considerations. Step away from the retirement savings and don't forget about health care costs ... (See Startup financing )

Stretching a food budget to the extreme -- Stretching out a food budget of only $100 to feed a family of three for a month will require you to admit you need help, and then throw every trick in the cookbook at the problem ... (See Extreme food budget stretching)

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)

Want to help a relative in debt? Do it carefully -- Sure, you can help a relative overwhelmed by debt. Help her negotiate, consolidate -- but be careful about taking that debt on yourself ... (See Relative in debt)

First credit card tips and advice -- An 18-year-old wants to know just how a credit card works and how it should be used before she applies for one ... (See First credit card)

What are the best debit cards for ATM withdrawals overseas? -- ATM fees overseas may come from the bank issuing the card, from the ATM itself, or from card networks like Visa and MasterCard. A few debit cards rise to the top when it comes to keeping these fees in check ... (See ATM fees)

Defaulting on some of your cards risks losing them all -- If your business is failing and you default on several credit cards, the issuers of your other cards will know about it and may cut you off -- but you have ways to escape the jam ... (See Damage reduction)

Dealing with $8,000 card debt hidden from husband -- Whether you reveal the hidden debt to your husband is up to you, but you need to change habits to stop it from growing and get a plan to pay it off ... (See Hidden 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)

Old debt, new collector: Negotiate? Ignore? Or pay up? -- When an old debt resurfaces as you're trying to make a credit comeback, getting it listed as paid in full does the most benefit to your credit, but the most harm to your cash flow ... (See Old debt, new collector)

Options for card approval without a credit history -- At 21, he was turned down for a secured card. His grandfather offers to co-sign on a card with him, but will that be his best choice? ... (See Young credit)

When bankruptcy freezes an airline credit card, what happens to the miles? -- If a rewards card is frozen during bankruptcy, you may still have access to most of the points you've earned. It depends on whether the card is co-branded with a travel partner ... (See Salvaging miles)

Finding a free bankruptcy lawyer for business, consumer debt -- If you're considering bankruptcy but can't afford a lawyer, there are a few options available for you. Some bankruptcy attorneys do pro bono work, or you may be able to file the papers on your own ... (See Filing for free)

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)

If you have the choice, pay off that big debt -- When a generous uncle offers to pay off a $30,000 credit card debt, say thanks and do it -- then figure out how to pay him back and stay out of debt ... (See Pay off debt)

Wife of inmate worries about his card debt -- Her husband is in prison for five years, and he left behind $7,000 in card debt that she can't pay. Will she be pursued for the debt by collectors? ... (See Debt and prison)

Credit card churning: not a game to play while house-hunting -- "Churning" -- taking on new credit cards to get sign-up bonuses and then canceling the cards -- will ding your credit score. The hit is usually minor but it's not a smart idea if you're thinking of buying a house soon ... (See Card churning caution)

Are there any special lending resources for women entrepreneurs? -- The number of small businesses owned by women is growing rapidly. But women don't seek or get bank financing at the rate men do. The SBA offers special help for female entrepreneurs who need loans ... (See Businesswomen)

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)

How card companies report credit utilization to bureaus -- Card issuers vary in how they report card use, which can affect your credit score. Usually, it's no big deal, but it becomes one when you want new credit` ... (See Credit use)

Can old debt threaten a great credit score? -- His credit score is in the mid-700s already, but a debt collector is calling about an old debt. Will ignoring the calls threaten his creditworthiness? ... (See Credit score)

New card options let travelers avoid foreign transaction fees -- Most U.S. credit card issuers tack a fee of up to 3 percent onto purchases made overseas. Those fees can really add up but there are some new ways to avoid them ... (See Fee-free cards)

Should I give more employees company cards? -- In a small business, handing out credit cards to everyone can create headaches. You'll typically share responsibility for the account with the business. But there are times when giving out more cards can make everyone's lives easier ... (See Employee cards)

A diet of fresh fruits and vegetables needn't eat up your budget -- Working more fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet is healthy, but it need not be expensive, if you shop seasonally and buy carefully ... (See Frugal veggies)

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)

Keeping your credit score high in retirement -- As retirement approaches, it's time to review your collection of credit cards to make sure they're still working for you, and to keep debt low ... (See Credit score in retirement)

Credit-building tips for new US citizen -- He opened a U.S. card with a passport and business account. Now that he's moved here and has an SSN, he wants to know how to build a good credit score ... (See Credit tips)

How to earn more travel rewards without getting a new card -- The fastest way to rack up credit card rewards is through sign-up bonuses. If you don't want a new card, there are still ways to boost your earning potential ... (See Maximize rewards)

Should we charge our customers to use credit cards? -- Credit card surcharges are now legal, along with minimum purchase requirements for customers who want to use credit cards. But for some convenience store owners, is the money worth the business they'll lose from irritated customers? ... (See Surcharges)

Doing the math to calculate your retirement savings goal -- While everyone's desired retirement goal is different, you can, with just a bit of math, come up with a rough idea of your savings goal. Here's how ... (See Retirement savings goal)

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)

Two balance transfers means payment dilemma -- The federal CARD Act of 2009 created rules about how payments should be allocated when there are multiple rates, but not for multiple balances ... (See Payment allocation)

Does canceling an unactivated card hurt credit scores? -- She applied for a low-limit, high annual fee card and never activated it. Now she wants to cancel it. How will that impact her credit score? ... (See Credit score)

If my oldest card's rewards aren't paying off, should I cancel? -- It's usually not worth shelling out for an annual fee if a card's rewards don't at least pay for it. But if that card happens to be your oldest one, will canceling the card hurt your credit score? ... (See Oldest card)

When does it pay for consultants to accept credit cards? -- If you have a consulting business, customers may want to pay with credit cards. Providing that convenience isn't free, but it could be worthwhile ... (See Consultants accepting cards)

10 tips for having a frugal wedding -- Start by deciding on one or two items most important to you both. Splurge on those, scrimp on the rest and you'll avoid a runaway bridal budget ... (See Frugal wedding)

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)

Debt lingers on credit report even after garnishment, repayment -- Through garnishment, an old debt has been repaid, but the credit damage can linger for years. The good news? It fades with time ... (See Old debt and credit reports)

Will paying off a bad loan early boost credit score? -- If you can afford to pay off a high-cost loan, do it. Don't stick with a bad loan in the false belief that it will help build your credit score ... (See Car loan)

What’s the best low-hassle cash-back card? -- If you travel a lot by car, airline reward cards won't do you much good. You'll be better off with cash-back cards that offer rewards in driver-friendly categories ... (See Cash back)

How to improve your chances of getting an SBA loan -- A banker will look at many factors when evaluating whether to grant you an SBA-guaranteed loan, from your personal credit to the profitability of your business. Here's how you can prepare to apply ... (See SBA)

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)

Help! My sneaky sis used my credit card, damaged my credit -- When family is involved in fraudulent card use, the choice is tough: Silently suffer the credit consequences or rat out a relative ... (See Fraud)

Why stealing your dead BFF's identity is wrong -- Her best friend dies, so she "offers" to help the widower out by doing his finances. Then she applies for credit in her deceased friend's name as an "experiment." Hmmm. ... (See Fraud)

Can I get more rewards by using my hotel's app? -- Hotel chains are creating smartphone apps that allow you to reserve rooms, find info and maybe even earn triple points -- all on the go ... (See Hotel apps)

Rebuilding credit to run your new business -- If your personal credit is in the basement and you want to start up a business, getting a business card will be tough -- but not impossible. Here's how ... (See Rebuild credit)

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)

Debt pay-off choices: Less now or a lot later -- You can save now by paying an old debt at a discount, but consider your credit over the long run before making up your mind ... (See Pay debt now or later?)

Withdrawing vs. borrowing from 401(k) to pay credit card debt -- When downsizing or job loss makes credit card debt unbearable, the 401(k) money looks tempting. But whether you take it or borrow against it, know the consequences ... (See 401(k))

When does bad debt fall off credit reports? -- If you have debts that went into collections and were later discharged in bankruptcy, when can you expect those marks to be erased from your credit reports? ... (See Debts)

How can I upgrade to a chip card before a trip to Europe? -- Customer service tells a traveler he won't need a smart-chip card in Europe. But many kiosks won't accept cards without them. There are a couple of avenues left to pursue to get an upgrade without having to apply for a whole new card ... (See Chip-and-PIN cards)

Will my husband's business card debt hurt my credit after divorce? -- You could be responsible for payments due on your spouse's small business credit card, even after you divorce. The answer lies in your state's divorce laws, the credit card issuer's policies and whether you signed the card agreement ... (See His business, your debt?)

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)

Getting your family to eat generic grocery store brands -- When your family already likes the taste of a name brand, switching to a generic store brand isn't easy. But with some sleuthing, you can improve your odds ... (See Store brands)

Late fees inflate balance of forgotten card -- She opened a card, charged $100 and then Hurricane Sandy hit and she forgot all about it. Now it's in a collector's hands and the balance is $300 ... (See Card default)

Are miles earned on my employer's credit mine, and are they taxable? -- A frequent flier wonders if miles earned on her organization's card are hers. And if so, how does the IRS treat them? ... (See Who owns company miles?)

Credit and finance options for young entrepreneurs -- If you're a student or new grad trying to get credit for a startup, your options may be limited. Alternatives exist, however, if you're creative, ambitious -- and lucky ... (See Funding)

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)

3 keys to successful yard sales: prepare, advertise, organize -- If If you just want to clean clutter, do the minimum. But to make above-average dough, you need to create a better-than-average yard sale ... (See Yard sale tips)

Student with no job denied credit -- With student loans as her only income source, it's no surprise that a medical student is turned down for a higher-limit Amazon card ... (See No job, no plastic)

AirTran, Hilton HHonors cards change; how it affects you -- An airline merger and reshuffle of Hilton's loyalty program bring changes for frequent travelers. If you have credit cards that earn rewards for those programs, here's what to expect ... (See AirTran, Hilton changes)

Will I inherit my partner's debt when I go into business with him? -- If you're joining up with a business owner who already has some credit card debt, be careful. Depending on the type of account he's got, you could lose out if he fails to pay up ... (See Business debt)

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)

Frugal freezer tips for proper meat storage -- Buying meat in bulk and freezing it can save you hundreds of dollars in food costs, but beware the dreaded freezer burn. Here's how to avoid ite ... (See Freezing meat)

Starting an 18-year-old on the road to credit -- His parents sank into debt after marriage, but learned from their mistakes. How do they stop their 18-year-old son from repeating history? ... (See Young credit)

Canceling card, reapplying won't earn multiple sign-up bonuses -- Canceled your credit card and reapplied, hoping for a second sign-up bonus? You may be out of luck. It's not so easy to churn cards for rewards anymore ... (See Bonus churning)

Keeping business credit off of your personal record -- Small business credit cards require the owner to personally guarantee them. Does that mean they show up on your personal credit record? Not necessarily ... (See Business credit)

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 to check whether your parents left you an inheritance -- Emotions, time and distance can cloud memories, so if you think you may be missing out on an inheritance, go for the records ... (See Inheritance)

Will credit score suffer with new card cancellation? -- Just how much will your credit score be impacted if you open a new credit card, pay it off right away, and then cancel it? ... (See Cancel a card)

Without my American Airlines credit card, how do I keep my miles from expiring? -- Most airlines require you to use (or lose) your miles now and then. But you don't have to take a flight to keep them from expiring ... (See Keeping miles active)

How wise is it to get a second small business credit card? -- If you're thinking of transferring the balance on your small business card to one with a lower interest rate, there may be better options than getting a second card ... (See A second business card?)

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)

Debt vs. savings: Who gets paid first? -- When facing student loans and other debts, saving for emergencies may seem counterproductive. But without a cushion, you're more likely to face financial peril ... (See Debt vs. savings)

Is there any easy way to track points and miles? -- Third-party websites and apps are the way to go if you're looking to manage multiple rewards programs more easily. AwardWallet is one of the best tools around -- but it has a major limitation ... (See Wrangling points)

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)

Asking for a lower interest rate, higher limit on your credit card -- Following a brief lapse, a reader has restored her good payment habits and wants a higher credit limit and lower interest rate. Will her wishes be granted? ... (See Issuer requests)

Best business credit cards in the $100 fee tier -- If you want more business card rewards than a free card, but balk at a massive annual fee, consider these mid-tier choices. Their sign-up bonuses and ongoing rewards help defray the costs ... (See Milking rewards)

What merchant information is required on receipts? -- Small business owners don't have to print their contact details on receipts, but it's good practice from a tax and marketing standpoint ... (See Receipts)

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)

Tips for mothers trying to find part-time work -- A mother's schedule makes it harder to find a part-time job, but not impossible, if you just stop thinking like a job-seeker. Instead, think like a needs-filler ... (See Mom seeks work)

Disabled son charges card to the max, then gets sued -- He can't work and lives off of $712 a month and maxed out a credit card. Now he's being sued. His mom worries the court will garnish his disability payments ... (See Sued for debt)

How will the airline merger affect my US Airways miles? -- It's too early to know exactly how the merger will play out. But there are a number of changes you can anticipate and steps you can take to maximize your mileage ... (See Mileage lift)

How to pick the best rewards credit card for your business -- Finding the right business card means finding one that rewards you for what you spend on. But don't forget to count up the card's fees, too ... (See Business rewards)

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)

Making hard budget choices when work hours are cut back -- A 10 percent reduction in hours means a sudden drop in pay and new budgeting choices. They won't be easy, but here's where to start looking ... (See Hour cutback budget)

Soon-to-be college grad seeks adult plastic -- Graduating from college means new beginnings and responsibilities, including putting that student credit card aside and applying for grown-up plastic ... (See Student cards)

Best reward cards to win top priority for early boarding -- Most airline rewards cards list 'priority boarding' as a perk, but that may not mean what you think. You'll get aboard before the hordes, but after premium seat holders and elite cardholders ... (See Priority boarding)

Getting business tax information from a closed credit card account -- Banks can close your credit card account for any number of reasons. But you are entitled to get the information you need to file tax returns for your small business ... (See Closed account tax data)

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)

Tips for setting up a teen's clothing allowance -- With their own allowances, teens make their own choices -- and some will be doozies -- but you'll reduce friction and sneak in a financial lesson or two ... (See Teen allowance)

Credit score impact of settling a debt or paying it in full -- A debt collector can wipe its hands of you if you accept the settlement offer on a delinquent debt, but how does that impact your credit score? ... (See Settling debt)

Should you fund your startup business with a credit card? -- We’ve all read articles about entrepreneurs who borrowed their startup money on credit cards -- and built wildly profitable companies. But credit card financing is very risky business ... (See Risky business)

After a debt judgment, inheritance may be at risk -- She's being sued for past due credit card debt. Can her creditors go after any inherited property or cash down the road? ... (See Debt judgment)

Pluses, minuses of renting out a spare bedroom to a tenant -- Turning an empty room into extra cash seems easy, but think through whether you're willing to put up with loss of privacy and other inconveniences ... (See Renting out a spare room)

Authorized user's credit score in jeopardy on shared card -- When he was 14, his dad added him to a card account to boost his credit score. Now Dad is mismanaging the card and hurting his son's credit score ... (See Authorized user blues)

Travel rewards vs. cash back pits aspirations against practicality -- Cash-back rewards can be used to pay down debts, buy plane tickets, or any number of other things. But there is an aspirational value to travel rewards ... (See Choosing rewards)

Is it worthwhile for gas stations to accept credit cards? -- A small-business owner wonders if it's worth accepting plastic at his new gas station. The answer depends in large part on the local market ... (See Accepting gas cards)

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)

13 inexpensive Valentine's Day ideas -- Popular culture invites you to judge your mate's devotion based on how much they spend. Consider these 13 ideas and avoid an unfrugal accident ... (See Valentine ideas)

Steps to rebuild a thin credit file -- After getting into credit card trouble almost 10 years ago, he gave up using plastic. Now he wants to try again with a new card, but how can he qualify? ... (See Thin credit )

How to boost rewards for Valentine's Day gifts -- If you play your credit cards right, you can score points from your honey and for yourself by using a rewards card running a Valentine's Day promotion ... (See Sweetheart deals)

Which credit cards should your small business accept? -- Generally speaking, the more payment options you offer, the easier it will be to make sales. But you have to consider costs. ... (See Acceptance strategies)

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)

How to keep the costs low on a kitchen remodeling -- This common home improvement job can be costly, so choose materials carefully and consider doing some of the job yourself ... (See Low-cost kitchen)

Mom defaults on card shared with daughter -- A mom tried to do the right thing by adding her daughter to her credit card account, but then she stopped paying. How will that affect her daughter's credit rating? ... (See Authorized user)

Churning cards for multiple sign-up bonuses -- Canceling cards and signing up for them again to maximize bonus points is a practice known as "churning." Some banks make that easier than others ... (See Rewards churning)

Signing up for a credit card with business partner can be risky -- Hitching your credit to your business partner's can damage your personal score in several different ways ... (See Credit cards in partnerships)

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)

Mmmm, cheap: Finding frugal food, recipes -- When you come home tired with hungry mouths to feed, it's easy to take the prepared meal route. A bit of research and planning will yield less costly and more healthy results ... (See Cheap food)

Emancipated minor wants to start building credit -- Just how does a recently emancipated soon-to-be 17-year-old go about building his credit without parental consent? ... (See Emancipated minors and credit)

Delta's revenue-based elite status system adds AmEx incentive -- Delta's rewards system adds spending requirements for elite status in 2014. But Delta AmEx holders may have a workaround ... (See Skymiles changes)

How to find the best credit card for your business -- Your own bank may offer some good business card options, but if you ask, you might be able to get one with a higher credit limit, lower fees and rates and a reward program ... (See Best business card)

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)

Couch worn out? Less expensive alternatives to buying a new sofa -- Is your old couch about to give up the ghost? From deep cleaning to slipcovers to reupholstering, you have options other than to buy another ... (See Replacing old sofa)

Does closing a newly activated credit card hurt your credit score? -- She accidentally activated a card, but already has two in her wallet. Will canceling a card she never used hurt her credit score? ... (See Credit scores)

How to get elite status at hotels quicker -- This is an excellent time to get into a hotel loyalty program with a rewards credit card: Their seasonal promotions can help you achieve 'elite' status faster ... (See Elite status)

Business card benefits outweigh limitations for most businesses -- Credit cards aimed at small businesses don't come with many of the protections found in consumer cards. But companies still tend to find them better for business expenses than consumer cards. ... (See Business vs. personal cards)

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)

8 emotional spending triggers - do you know yours? -- Budget plans usually start with a month or so of data gathering, but that's the easy part. Evaluating why you spend what you do is the trick ... (See Spending triggers)

He's new to credit, behind on bills, worried about job hunt -- He started off on the right foot by getting credit and paying bills on time, and then he moved, lost his job and fell behind on payments ... (See Missed payments)

American Airlines cardholders lose elite boarding perk, gain opportunity to pay for others -- Citi AAdvantage cardholders will no longer get to board American Airlines flights with elite passengers, but they're still at the front of the Economy queue ... (See AAdvantage rewards)

How to dispute fraudulent charges on a business gas card -- A reader wants to know what rights he has in disputing fraudulent charges made to his company's WEX gas cards ... (See Disputing business card charges)

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)

What lump sum offer will debt collectors settle for? -- With $80,000 of student loan debt in default, he wonders if there are any industry standards for settling for less than he owes with the collection agency ... (See Debt settlement)

Maxing out credit card often less harmful with business card than consumer card -- Spending the monthly limit on your business credit card is one way to rack up rewards. It can also hurt your credit score -- though business credit use is reported less often than consumer credit use. ... (See Business credit)

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)

How to mend your bad credit rating -- If you have horrible credit, it doesn't mean it's ruined forever. Knowing how you got there and how to make things right can help ... (See Digging out of bad credit)

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)

Sticking with a frugal lifestyle -- Everyone wants to save money, but to make frugality a lasting lifestyle, you'll need specific goals and a support group around you ... (See Frugal lifestyle)

When a cardholder dies, is the authorized user liable for any balance? -- When a primary account holder for a credit card dies, an authorized user on the card wonders if he is now responsible for the card's balance ... (See Authorized users)

Best card for small business gas rewards -- For small businesses that guzzle gas, it pays to look for the right credit card. The best rewards come from programs that aren't tied to one gas station. ... (See Best gas rewards)

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 find an affordable, safe handyman -- Cast a wide net to get a reliable, reasonable person for your home repairs, and this is one area where cheapest isn't always best ... (See Finding a handyman)

Credit card lessons for college students -- What started out as an emergency card in college can morph into big, long-term debt if you're not careful. Plan carefully before moving on to another card ... (See College credit)

Upgrading your account for higher rewards can pay off -- Upgrading from the Chase Southwest Visa Plus card to the Southwest Visa Premier gets you a better reward deal. But if the bank treats it like a new account, your credit score could take a hit ... (See Upgrading for rewards)

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)

Advatages, drawbacks to owning a duplex, renting out the other half -- Renting out half a building while living in the rest can be a path to greater wealth, or to grayer hair, depending on the property and your landlording temperament ... (See Duplex ownership)

How to rebuild credit after defaulting on several cards -- She defaulted on several credit cards years ago, and was even sued for payment on one of them. Now she wants a new credit card. Will she qualify? ... (See Card default)

Airline exclusions - aka No, you can't earn rewards on a free rewards flight -- Airlines' exclusions policies limit where you can use frequent flier miles, and that prevents you from earning extra miles while using your free ones ... (See Exclusions)

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)

Cutting a bare-bones budget even further -- If you need to punch another hole in your belt, look again at expenses. If it doesn't feed you, heal you, house you or boost income, cut it ... (See Painful budget cuts)

Co-signed loans and your credit history -- A mom co-signed her son's student and car loans. Now that he's employed, she wonders if she can get those loans off her credit reports ... (See Co-signed loans)

Which credit card will get me home for the holidays next year? -- Choose the right rewards card now to earn a free cross-country trip in a year. ... (See Travel for free)

Credit cards and Asperger syndrome -- A 29-year-old with Asperger syndrome and under her mother's guardianship wants more freedoms, including a credit card of her own ... (See Asperger syndrome)

Once you reaffirm an old debt you can be sued -- Debt that has passed the statute of limitations should prevent debt collectors from suing you -- unless you mistakenly reaffirmed that the debt is yours ... (See Re-aging debt)

NZ the EZ way: Flying to New Zealand using points, miles -- Earning enough points for a US-New Zealand flight takes patience, but some airline deals now can make it easier ... (See New Zealand deals)

With a big card debt, can you negotiate before you're late? -- You can try to settle for less than full payment if your credit card bills are current, but it may not work, and don't stop payments to force the issue ... (See Early debt negotiation)

Q&A with D&B: How businesses can start on the road to credit -- So how do you join those lucky folks in finding bank financing? Today, it takes a very proactive approach to building a strong credit score for your business ... (See Business credit scores)

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)

Uninsured? How to deal with an unfrugal emergency room bill -- You'll have to wrestle with the hospital bureaucracy, but these steps can help the uninsured prevent a big emergency room bill from leading to permanent financial damage ... (See Medical debt)

Which is best for holiday shopping: Layaway or credit cards? -- She wants to get a leg up on her holiday shopping, but wonders if layaway or using her credit card is a better choice ... (See Layaway or credit?)

When buying airline miles is worth the investment -- Buying airline miles usually doesn't pay off, but with some of the soon-to-expire deals, now could be a good time to top off your balance ... (See Buying miles)

Boyfriend added you as an authorized user on his card? No, you don't have to pay the bill -- A boyfriend who adds you as an authorized user isn't doing you any favors, especially if he starts to default, since that will hurt your credit ... (See Authorized user)

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)

How to handle finances in a second marriage -- If your first marriage involved a lot of money fights, take the right steps to prevent those same issues from happening the second time around ... (See Second marriage finances)

Is student loan co-signer at risk if bankruptcy looms? -- With shared responsibility for a student loan, a mom worries that when her daughter files for bankruptcy, the mom's credit will be at risk ... (See Student loan co-signer)

Exchanging rewards points for miles is rarely a good deal -- Trading points for miles may get you a free trip faster. However, there are usually significant trade-offs -- unless you can find the right promotion for your points ... (See Swapping points for miles)

Getting an ex to pay joint card debt after divorce -- Relying on an ex-spouse to pay off a joint account post-divorce can be worrisome, but there are some options to keep your credit score safe in the meantime. ... (See Joint 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)

Lunch isn't free, but these tips can hold down its cost -- Invest in the right containers and plan ahead to avoid the dreaded 'sandwich burnout,' advises New Frugal You columnist Gary Foreman ... (See Cheap lunch ideas)

Why opening and closing news card doesn't build credit -- A college student wonders if opening a new card and using it a couple times and then closing the account will help his credit score ... (See Open and shut credit)

Best ways to 'top off' your frequent flier miles, earn enough points to fly free -- Want to head home for the holidays but short a few points for a free flight? Here's how to top off your frequent flier account with enough air miles to go ... (See Top off )

How to graduate from an authorized user to having your own credit card -- The 'natural method' of building credit works fine for most: Get a little loan, keep up payments, then advance to bigger loans as needs grow ... (See Authorized user)

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)

The demographics don't lie: Social Security is slowly going broke -- There are plenty of solutions available, but America's demographics and the law don't lie: Social Security, without changes, will go broke ... (See Social Security)

Does co-signing a mortgage put house at risk for unpaid credit card debt? -- A disabled mom co-signed for her son's home loan, but now she's being sued for credit card debt. Is her son's house in jeopardy? ... (See Co-signer risks)

Basic frequent flier perks shrinking as airlines push top-tier programs -- Airlines are now more interested in luring us to second-level elite status (50,000 EQMs), so they're taking some goodies away from base-level elite members ... (See Frequent flier perks)

Thinking of paying old debt? First, look at your whole financial picture -- From the narrow perspective of your credit report, yes, paying off old debt is always better. But then you won't have that money to buy food or shelter ... (See Debt payoff dilemma)

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)

Thinking about getting a dog for Christmas? Consider all the costs -- Expect to pay $1,580 to pay for a dog's first-year costs, so be sure you can afford one before you get emotionally attached ... (See Pet care costs)

Can't get credit after bankruptcy? 3 reasons -- After you emerge from bankruptcy, getting credit can be tricky if you still have certain debts, aren't earning enough or apply with the wrong bank ... (See Credit after bankruptcy)

Cheap ways to keep frequent flier miles active -- Spending a $1.29 per song at the iTunes store is one cheap way to keep your miles active. There are plenty of others ... (See Keeping miles active)

Authorized card users don't have to pay up -- If you're an authorized user on your ex's credit card, you're not legally liable to the card issuer, but he could file a lawsuit for repayment ... (See Authorized users)

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)

Young adult financial lessons -- When teaching a young adult to make smart financial choices -- start with the basics and move in to the scare tactic. ... (See Young credit)

Dependable borrowers with only one credit score -- If your bank or credit union doesn't report your payment activity to all three credit bureaus, you may find easy borrowing to be an uphill climb ... (See Credit reports and scores)

Generic miles card vs. airline-specific rewards: Know when to use each -- Either a generic rewards card or an airline specific card could be best, depending on your schedule, the flight and its cost ... (See Airline rewards)

Considering bankrutpcy? Steps to take to protect your home -- Whether you keep your home in bankruptcy depends on which type you file, and in which state, so seek legal advice ... (See Protecting home during 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)

Tips for selling old furniture: Well built pieces from designers sell well -- To make a buck off that old furniture, you have to figure out what you've got. Then haggle! ... (See Tips for selling used furniture)

Want a rewards credit card? Clean up your credit score first -- A young man wants a rewards credit card for his new job, but his credit history is sketchy, which may also impact his new career ... (See Rewards cards)

Find the best credit cards to get flights to Peru -- When searching for the best reward card bonuses to rack up free miles to faraway lands, you need to do a little research before you apply ... (See Airline rewards programs)

If a credit card holder dies in debt, the authorized user is not liable to pay -- Authorized users on a credit card are not liable for the debt left by a deceased cardholder, but get the information off your credit report ASAP ... (See Deceased cardholder)

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)

When to pay off credit card debt with a personal loan -- A personal loan may let you lower your rate and retire your credit card debt faster, but it will require a good credit history ... (See Personal loans vs. credit card debt)

What qualifies as a 'good' FICO credit score? -- Even if you screwed up big time just once, you can still have a good credit score. And if you fix the mistake, it can be even better ... (See Good credit score)

Travel insurance on credit cards -- The flight you purchased with your airline card gets delayed: will the company cover the costs created by travel hiccups? ... (See Credit card trip insurance)

Minimum credit card payments are split when you have a deferred interest program -- The CARD Act calls for payments above the minimum to go toward the balance with the highest rate, but there's an exception for deferred interest plans ... (See CARD Act)

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)

Attention boomers: 8 don'ts (surrounded by 2 do's) for retirement planning in your 50s -- Boomers eyeing retirement confront a changed, post-recession landscape and need to deal with some new realities -- and avoid some common mistakes ... (See New retirement do's and don'ts )

How to build good credit with your first credit card -- Whether you are a U.S. national or not, you need to follow the same steps to building good credit by responsible use of your first credit card ... (See First credit card)

Ooh, leftover business air miles. Can I use them? -- A CFO with a company credit card finds that his predecessor left a bunch of unused accrued rewards. Can the new guy eat the leftovers? ... (See Leftover rewards miles)

Rebuilding a credit score after job loss takes time, patience -- If a job loss has led to debt, you can't fix the past, but you can rebuild your credit score by adding positive, new entries in your credit record ... (See Rebuilding credit)

Steps to take to stop debt collection robocalls -- There are steps you can take to stop those annoying debt collection agency robocalls from calling you nonstop for days on end ... (See Debt collection robocalls)

Another 401(k) risk: Employer bankruptcy -- It's rare, but the transfer of 401(k) money from liquidating companies doesn't always go smoothly, leaving ex-employees with new fees, tax woes ... (See 401(k)s at bankrupt companies)

When does a debt management plan make sense? -- A single mom has racked up big card debt and also plans on going back to school. Would a debt management plan reduce her financial struggles? ... (See Debt management plans)

Best ways to find good deals on frequent flier flights -- What's your best bet for arranging reward travel? Skip the travel agent and go searching yourself ... (See Frequent flier)

Canadian immigrant finds credit record doesn't cross U.S. border -- Auto traffic may flow smoothly over the U.S.-Canada border, but a new immigrant from the north to America finds credit ratings don't cross the border ... (See Cross-border credit)

Liz Weston, author of 'No Dumb Questions About Money' Q&A -- Personal finance expert and author Liz Weston talks about everything from kids with credit cards to "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" ... (See Liz Westion Q&A)

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)

New U.S. immigrant credit rules of the road -- The U.S. credit system's rules are not easy to grasp for those new to the country, and understanding can be clouded by some common credit reporting myths ... (See New credit)

Chip cards necessary for charging overseas? -- With magnetic-stripe credit cards being phased out in Europe, how necessary is it for Americans to get the new chip-and-PIN variety while traveling? ... (See Chip cards overseas?)

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)

If you're a spender, the 'pay yourself first' method can force you to save -- If the savings habit doesn't come easy for you, try creating a savings "bill" for yourself -- and make it the one you pay first ... (See Pay yourself first)

Church treasurer seeks credit card for purchases -- Nonprofits can benefit from well-managed credit cards, but what type of plastic would serve those type of organizations best? ... (See Church credit card)

Pamela Yellen: Getting financially fit -- Many consumers don't prepare enough for a financial crisis, and when it happens, they can be left destitute. Author Pamela Yellen teaches you how to prevent that from happening ... (See Financially fit)

Bequeathing frequent flier miles in your will - Cathleen McCarthy -- When your time is up, you can't take your frequent flier miles with you, but you may be able to bequeath them to friends and relations ... (See Bequeath your miles)

After a windfall of money, should you negotiate debt to pay off balances in full? -- Card issuers aren't likely to settle on an account that isn't incredibly delinquent -- and if they do, it could hurt your credit ... (See Settling credit card debt)

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)

How to set prices on your craft and hobby creations -- How do you decide how much to charge for your crafts? First, decide if you want to treat that hobby as a business, or if you just want to have some fun ... (See Set hobby/craft prices)

Sued for debt, harassed by debt collectors -- A single and unemployed mom was sued for debt she owed two years ago. Now she's being harassed by collectors and wonders how to get them to stop ... (See Debt collection)

Redeem reward miles for in-flight meals and entertainment? McCarthy -- Some travelers would rather fly more comfortably than more often. Can they use accumulated miles for in-flight expenses such as food, movies and drinks? ... (See Miles as in-flight cash)

Surprise joint credit card debt affects credit report, mortgage hunt -- A husband's joint account with another woman has begun causing problems -- and for the purposes of this discussion, we just mean credit problems ... (See 'Other woman' card)

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)

When a debt is 'written off' what does that mean? -- When a debt is 'written off,' that's just an accounting term that means one -- and only one -- creditor has given up on it. You can be sure another will follow ... (See Written-off debt)

What is the credit score impact of canceling an unused credit card? -- A reader regrets that he opened a retail card and now wants to cancel it before he activates it. How much will that cancellation hurt his credit score? ... (See Cancel a credit card)

Getting the card with the most travel perks for employees - McCarthy -- Reward your employees with a small business credit card that rewards them with quality travel perks ... (See Card perks for employees)

Steps to contest, end wage garnishment - Tanisha Warner -- Even after you have a civil judgment against you and wages are being garnished, you have options to try and limit or end the taking of your wages ... (See Ending wage garnishment)

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)

Tips for holding down costs of pet food, vet care -- Fluffy and Fido are part of the family, so they need to part of the family budget, too. Here are ways to trim costs without sacrificing your pet's quality of life ... (See Frugal pet care)

Credit card management 101 for new college students -- A high school student getting ready for college wants to know exactly how to manage her first credit card without getting into debt ... (See First credit card)

Million Dollar Listing's Josh Altman's reality check -- Reality TV Realtor Josh Altman shares his financial secrets for first-time homebuyers in a ever-changing real estate market ... (See Josh Altman)

Credit card rewards that don't require points or miles -- The talk of credit card rewards is all miles and points, but what other perks exist to entice you to one card over another? ... (See Credit card perks)

Son's credit hurt when mom defaulted on account -- Requesting a credit card for your child to use -- even if they're a minor -- could make them an authorized user whose credit is affected ... (See Authorized user)

Skip tracer Ron Brown talks about debt collecting -- Meet Ron Brown, whose unique approach to locating debt evaders combines psychology, neurolinguistics and plain old jungle instinct ... (See Ron Brown)

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)

How debt management plans impact credit scores -- If your spending and debt are out of control, a visit to your local credit counselor can help -- but will entering into a debt management plan destroy your credit? ... (See Debt management plans)

Canadian, US credit scoring systems similar - as are ways consumers can improve scores -- While the details differ, credit scoring systems in the neighboring countries are similar -- and so are the ways to boost a score ... (See US, Canadian credit scoring systems)

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)

How to build a home-based business frugally -- Take these steps to start up a successful home-based business. The first one? Establish the business in a product or service you already know well ... (See Frugal start-up)

Procrastination hinders money problems, says author Frank Partnoy -- In a world that says go-go-go, author and lifelong procrastinator Frank Partnoy says that those who wait-wait-wait will fare better in most aspects of life ... (See Pro-procrastination)

Best way to establish credit? Why, get a credit card, of course -- What's the best way to swim your way to good credit? You can dog-paddle with a secured card or attempt the butterfly with a strong swimmer as your co-signer ... (See Building a credit history)

Occasional traveler? Hoard your credit card rewards for international flight -- If you take just a handful of flights a year, it could take years to get enough frequent flier miles to redeem for a domestic flight, so consider holding out for international travel ... (See International flight reward)

Servicemembers Act 6 percent interest rate not always easy to claim -- The law meant to protect military personnel can reduce interest rates and even refund payments, but there are limits and hoops to jump through ... (See Servicemembers Act)

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)

How budgets fail (and how to make yours succeed) -- Attempts at budgeting flop because they're poorly designed, unrealistic or was a poor match for the person using it. But you can make yours work ... (See Budgeting)

Never trust roommates to pay your bills: Erica Sandberg -- If a bill's in your name and your credit is on the line, trusting someone else to pay it on time in your absence is a mistake that can haunt you for seven years ... (See Roomie credit damage)

Why don't miles show up on my credit card statement? Cathleen McCarthy -- Purchases made with an airline credit card can get you reward miles, often at one mile per dollar spent, but why can't you see an up-to-date tally on your credit card bill? ... (See Where are my air miles?)

Different rules apply to last two months of deferred interest payment plans -- An exception written into the Credit CARD Act directs more of a consumer's payments be applied to a deferred plan's balance during its final months ... (See Deferred plan payments)

Gym cost too much? Inexpensive exercise alternatives abound -- Your workout needn't start with lifting the contents of your wallet for membership or fancy equipment. Run, skip or cartwheel over to these low-cost exercise alternatives ... (See Frugal exercise alternatives)

With six cards already in your wallet, would another one hurt? -- A 25-year-old with six credit cards in her wallet already wants to know if adding yet another card to the mix will help or hurt her credit score ... (See How many credit cards?)

Use Worldpoints to buy Walmart gift cards? Cathleen McCarthy -- One reader wants to use her card's points on Walmart gift cards, but depending on the point total, cash back may be the way to go. ... (See Worldpoints redemption)

Elderly Mom needn't worry about ailing Dad's debts -- With few jointly shared assets and little income, he's judgment proof; creditors should be politely but firmly told to go away ... (See Elderly credit card debt)

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)

If layoff looms, don't touch your 401(k) plan money: Gary Foreman -- With your head on the chopping block at work, that retirement nest egg may tempt you now, but so much can go wrong and you're sure to regret it later ... (See Nest egg)

Get a late start on building credit? Steps to boost score, qualify for a mortgage -- At 39 with just one credit card, a reader wants to boost her credit score to qualify for a mortgage in the near future. What are her options? ... (See Late start on credit )

Airlines charging family-unfriendly fee for aisle, window seats - Cathleen McCarthy -- If you want to fly next to your young children, get ready to be zapped by airlines with fees for window and aisle seats ... (See Airline seat fees)

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)

Renters' tips for reducing summer cooling bills: Gary Foreman -- Just because you don't own your home doesn't mean you have to swelter in your shelter. These tips will help you chill without big bills ... (See Renter's tips cool summer)

Erica Sandberg: Does rehabilitating a student loan require a fee? -- If your federal student loan is in collections and you want to start paying again, beware of collectors who want to charge you an upfront fee ... (See Rehabbing student loans)

Can transferring miles between two cards get you more miles? Cathleen McCarthy -- Some credit card companies allow you to transfer accrued airline miles from one of their cards to another for bonus miles. Does yours? ... (See Transferring flier miles)

Tanisha Warner: Getting rid of an ex with bad credit who you authorized to use your card -- The relationship is over, but not the credit consequences of letting him be an authorized user on your account. That makes financial breakups harder, but you have choices ... (See Ex's credit card debt)

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)

Erica Sandberg: Student loan default squeezes broke mom -- His mom co-signed on his student loan, which went into default and she's now destitute. Our expert sternly outlines what he has to do to fix things ... (See Student loan default)

Cathleen McCarthy: The battle of generic versus frequent flier miles -- A primer on how both generic credit cards and airline-specific cards offer and redeem travel miles -- and which is best for you. ... (See Generic vs. frequent flier miles)

Tanisha Warner: Should a judgment-proof debtor pay card debt anyway? -- An elderly couple with few assets but a Social Security and a military pension probably are untouchable by credit card collectors and the courts ... (See Judgment-proof debtors)

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)

Gary Foreman: Cooperation key to a frugal family reunion -- Divide the tasks into manageable piles and put the Web to work so everyone buys in, watches the plan evolve and contributes ... (See Frugal family reunion)

Erica Sandberg: Steps to getting that first credit card -- Without a solid credit history of making payments on time, qualifying for a low-interest credit card will be hard. First, you have to take baby steps ... (See First credit card )

Cathleen McCarthy: Wide body traveler seeks credit card for first-class seat -- A horizontally blessed traveler wonders which frequent flier credit card would give him the best deal on upgrading to the larger, first-class seats ... (See Frequent flier miles)

Tanisha Warner: Is it OK to transfer debt to a card that already has a balance? -- Consolidating debt to one card might make sense if the rate is low, but watch for fees and putting too much debt on a single card ... (See Transfer debt to one card?)

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)

We're paying off the mortgage - should we get a bigger house? -- With a last mortgage payment made, he wants to get a bigger house, she wants to consider other possibilities ... (See Paid off mortgage. Now what?)

Erica Sandberg: Getting debt free means stashing credit cards -- Sure, there are all kinds of credit products out there, but if you're trying to whittle down debt, the best option is to live a plastic-free life for a while ... (See Stash the plastic)

Cathleen McCarthy: Trading in unused credit card rewards -- Scout around before you cancel a rewards credit card that doesn't suit you now. Your deal may get sweeter and third-party websites offer another option ... (See Unused credit card rewards)

Tanisha Warner: Old, old debt brings new collection effort: Legal? -- Federal, state laws limit collectors in chasing you over a car loan debt more than a decade old ... (See Old debt, new collection)

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)

Erica Sandberg: Don't co-sign a loan while in bankruptcy -- If you filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the last thing you should consider is co-signing a car loan for anyone, including your partner ... (See Co-signing loans after bankruptcy)

Tanish Warner: Steps to boost credit score when a mortgage is the goal -- Getting a mortgage? Check your credit reports, pay down balances, consider closing cards and sit down with a lender for a review ... (See Mortgage and credit)

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)

Erica Sandberg: Why getting debt help may hurt new credit access -- The reasons that led you into a debt management plan may be the same reasons why credit card issuers keep turning your down for new credit ... (See Credit card rejection)

Keep things simple with a cash back credit card -- Want an uncomplicated, easy-to-use rewards card? Instead of killing yourself keeping track of rotating rewards programs, try a simple cash-back card ... (See Cash-back credit cards)

Tanisha Warner: Fight back against husband who opens credit cards in wife's name -- He signed her name to credit card applications and had the bills sent to a secret address; now he needs to surrender control of the accounts -- or else! ... (See Secret credit cards)

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)

Gary Foreman: How to price garage sale items -- Pricing garage sale items isn't an exact science. But if you consult pricing guidelines, know your market and group like items together, you'll do well ... (See Pricing garage sale items)

Erica Sandberg: 2 ways to start building a credit history -- You want your first credit card, but no bank will give you one without an established credit history. How do you go about proving you're a good credit risk? ... (See First credit card)

Cathleen McCarthy: How to get points for small town hotel stays -- If your job takes you to small-town America, you can still find a rewards credit card that gives you big points for frequent motel stays ... (See Earning small-town hotel rewards)

Tanisha Warner: Young debtor, learn the basics before it's too late -- At age 25, a reader with a $5,000 debt in collections is young enough to overcome the problem and establish a lifetime of good money habits ... (See Set good money habits)

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)

Gary Foreman: Paying down debt vs. saving - how to decide -- To get the most out of any extra money, compare how much you could pull in by saving it against how much interest you're paying out on your loans ... (See Pay debt or save?)

Erica J. Sandberg: When it's OK to get a second credit card -- You've been faithful to paying on time with your first credit card, but the limit is low. How do you know when it's a good time to get a second credit card? ... (See Getting a second credit card)

Cathleen McCarthy: Is trading credit card reward points for product a good deal? -- Keeping up with rotating rewards points programs takes time and energy, so is buying stuff with your points instead a better option? ... (See Cashing in rewards points)

Tanisha Warner: Keeping credit score high when you carry big card balances -- Even if your credit score is high, issuers may still reject you for a new card if your card balances are near their limit ... (See Credit card rejection)

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)

Erica Sandberg: Know where you stand before you apply for new credit -- To know what kind of credit card you can qualify for, you first need to know your credit score and pull your credit reports ... (See Applying for credit)

Cathleen McCarthy: Are business card flier miles taxable? -- When cashing in on miles acquired through business card use for personal travel, is there any risk of having to pay taxes on those miles? ... (See Frequent flier miles)

Tanisha Warner: Your post-bankruptcy credit rebuilding plan -- From now on, on-time payments are a must, you'll likely need a secured card and make sure any lenders report to all the credit bureaus ... (See Credit after bankruptcy)

Sally Herigstad: How to get a mortgage with no credit history -- A 27-year-old with no credit history is going to have to jump through extra hoops to qualify for her first mortgage ... (See First mortgage, no credit)

Gary Foreman: If your job's uncertain, avoid new debt -- Working in an uncertain industry can mean frequent job losses, so if you get a new job, reassess your prospects, start saving and avoid new debt ... (See Debt and unemployment)

Erica Sandberg: Credit score tips for new U.S. residents -- New to the country? Be aware that there are multiple credit scores, and good credit practices can quickly build a great credit score ... (See Credit score tips)

Credit score impact of pumping and dumping rewards cards -- Applying for big bonus rewards cards, racking up points and then canceling the card requires a credit score and a lot of discipline ... (See Rewards credit cards)

Tanisha Warner: Collectors calling for a 12-year-old debt? Know and assert your rights -- A collector calling on a 12-year-old debt needs to prove you really owe it, and be told it's too old to be legally collectible. Just don't ignore it ... (See 12-year-old debt)

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)

Gary Foreman: 3 simple steps to having a frugally cool summer -- You can do a lot yourself, cheaply, to reduce the hot air coming in and stop the cool air from going out ... (See Reduce air-conditioning bills)

Erica Sandberg: Rules for using your first credit card -- Your first credit card can be an opportunity to build good credit or create a financial disaster. Follow these guidelines and avoid getting in over your head ... (See First credit card)

Cathleen McCarthy: Is airport lounge access a true credit card perk? -- A newbie business traveler questions the value of airport lounge access if she decides to apply for a new frequent flier credit card ... (See Airport lounges)

Tanisha Warner: When piggybacking, the good credit person adds bad credit person as authorized user -- Having the bad credit person add the good credit person as an authorized user won't help -- and could hurt ... (See Credit card piggybacking)

Sally Herigstad: 'Residual interest' makes credit card bills tough to pay off -- You thought you paid off your card's entire balance, but then you're hit with not one, but two, bills saying you still owe. Why? ... (See Credit card residual interest)

Gary Foreman: How to decide when you can tackle a do-it-yourself project, when to call in a pro -- You've got to know when to hold that wrench, know when to fold up that ladder and call in a pro. A little advance planning will help you from getting in too deep on home repair projects ... (See DIY vs. professional repair)

Erica Sandberg: Issuer increases your interest rate, do you cancel credit card? -- When a card issuer notifies you of a interest rate change, you have several options, including canceling the card. But is that the best choice? ... (See Canceling a credit card)

Cathleen McCarthy: Transfer miles or buy outright to gift flights? -- Want to present a special someone with the gift of free airfare? What a sweet idea -- but watch out for those fees! Find out the best ways to cash in your extra miles before you act ... (See The gift of flight)

Tanisha Warner: After recovering from bad credit, ditch the bad credit credit card -- Yes, you may take a small, temporary credit card hit, but getting rid of a card with a $14.50 monthly fee is probably worth it ... (See Cancel that bad credit credit card)

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)

Gary Foreman: Traditional vacation vs. mortgage payment -- He wants a traditional, long break from the job. She wants a mortgage that isn't past due. Something's got to give ... (See Vacation or mortgage payment?)

Erica Sandberg: How to build good credit with your first card -- Sure, your first credit card probably came with a low credit limit, but use it wisely and progress slowly to build a strong credit history ... (See First credit card)

Cathleen McCarthy: Do you lose rewards on returned purchases? -- You racked up a boatload of points on that new TV, but now you're having second thoughts? Be prepared for bad news ... (See Points and returned purchases)

Tanisha Warner: Fees, interest charges still possible on closed credit card account -- When an account's closed, you shouldn't have to pay any more fees on it, right? Not so fast ... (See Closed credit card accounts)

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)

Gary Foreman: We the frugal are frustrated with you spendthrift braggarts -- You did a staycation and eat bag lunches. Your co-worker came home bragging about the foreign jaunt she can't afford, and now whines about the bills ... (See Spender whines, saver fumes)

Erica Sandberg: How to move student loans out of default -- Hollywood is missing out on a blockbuster horror movie: Student loans gone bad. Getting defaulted student loans back on track can drive you mad ... (See Student loans)

Cathleen McCarthy: Want a rewards card with an annual fee? Run the numbers first -- If you're wondering whether it's a good move to pay the annual fee with that new rewards credit card, a little bit of math can help clear things up ... (See Annual fee)

Tanisha Warner: What you can do when authorized users go wild with your credit card -- When an authorized user runs up debt or doesn't make payments, the card's primary holder can take a credit hit. But all is not lost ... (See Authorized users)

Sally Herigstad: Reduced payment plans not offered by all credit card issuers -- Need help getting your credit card payments reduced for a while? Be prepared to get different answers from your card issuers ... (See Reduced credit card payment plans)

Gary Foreman: Tips for teachers with children facing a no-income summer -- For those on tight budgets worried about a summer without pay, the choices are tough, but obvious: Cut expenses, boost income ... (See Money tips for teachers)

Erica Sandberg: Will banks lend again after your bankruptcy? -- A series of unfortunate events can suddenly lead to bankruptcy, but is the hit to your credit one that marks you for life? ... (See Getting a loan after bankruptcy)

Cathleen McCarthy: Who owns frequent flier miles from a corporate credit card? -- The company pays, and an employee flies, but who gets the miles for that flight? It turns out that neither party will end up empty-handed ... (See Corporate cards and frequent flier miles)

Tanisha Warner: Big purchases can have a real impact on your credit score -- If you make a big purchase that eats up most of your credit limit, your credit can take a hit -- even if you pay it off fairly rapidly ... (See Big purchases and credit scores)

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)

Gary Foreman: How to stop home burglaries, cheaply -- A few common-sense -- and inexpensive -- precautions can make your home unpalatable to thieves and your property harder to pawn ... (See Home burglary prevention)

Erica Sandberg: What to do when a family member uses your credit card without your permission -- When family members help themselves to your credit cards without your knowledge, you have every right to report that as a theft to the police ... (See Family credit card theft)

Cathleen McCarthy: Which rewards card is the best for travel upgrades? -- Looking to pay for travel upgrades with rewards points? We'll lay out some of your best options ... (See Rewards upgrades)

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)

Erica Sandberg: Can you sue an authorized user for nonpayment? -- Protect yourself from authorized users on your credit card charging up a storm on your card and then leaving you with a huge unpaid balance ... (See Authorized users)

Tanisha Warner: How to remove an authorized user from a credit card account -- If you've made a mistake with your credit card and screwed up your own credit, authorized users on that card shouldn't have to take a credit hit, too -- assuming you take action ... (See Authorized users)

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)

Gary Foreman: To fix budget problems, try the 'divide and conquer' technique -- If you're overspending but don't know why, break your budget down into thinner slices until you identify the problem area ... (See Budget problems)

Erica Sandberg: 6 tips for finding the right debt management plan for you -- Before you enter into a debt management plan, be sure to pick a credit counselor whose style and competence are a good match for you ... (See Debt management plan tips)

Cathleen McCarthy: How to steer clear of frequent flier blackout dates -- Blackout dates drive many frequent fliers mad, and they can vary between airlines. These tips will help you navigate around these restrictions and fly away ... (See Rewards blackout dates)

Tanisha Warner: Can a never-activated card still hurt your credit? -- If you get buyer's remorse after applying for a new credit card, don't panic. Canceling the card before you activate may impact your credit, but not much and not for long ... (See Cancel a card)

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)

Gary Foreman: Buying a first band instrument? Think used to avoid the blues -- A child's first band instrument can change a life -- or drain a wallet if you pay top dollar for what turns out to be an adolescent's momentary whim ... (See Shopping for a first band instrument)

Erica Sandberg: Do debt management plans hurt your credit score? -- With $35,000 in debt, a couple decided to get help by entering into a debt management plan. But they worry how a DMP will impact their credit scores and future purchasing power ... (See Debt management plans)

Cathleen McCarthy: How to maximize the value of your rewards card -- Can't decide on which rewards card to get? The most important thing to do, our expert says, is make sure the card is a good match for your spending habits ... (See Maximizing card rewards)

Tanisha Warner: Are your mother's bank funds safe from your creditors? -- A debt-ridden woman worries her creditors may come after funds in an account she holds jointly with her mom. The good news is that mom's retirement funds are probably safe ... (See Joint accounts and garnishment)

Sally Herigstad: Don't restart the clock on expired debts -- If a collector attempts to contact you on a debt that has passed the statute of limitations, don't ignore him, but also don't reaffirm the debt ... (See Time-barred debt)

Gary Foreman: Follow the rules carefully to claim your rebate -- Consumer forgetfulness plus difficult forms mean half of all rebates go unclaImed, but if you're diligent, you can be on the 'good' half. ... (See Get your rebate)

Erica Sandberg: First credit card? Follow these best practices -- Managing your first credit card the right way can set the stage for building up great credit. Used wrongly and you may spend years fixing your mistakes ... (See First credit card)

Cathleen McCarthy: What to consider before canceling your airline miles card -- Before you cancel your airlines miles credit card in a frustrated huff, stop, take a deep breath, and consider the impact on your credit ... (See Canceling rewards cards)

Tanisha Warner: Debt management plans vs. Chapter 13 bankruptcy -- Deep in debt and hit with a reduction in pay, a reader asks what her best option would be -- filing bankruptcy or paying her debt through a credit counselor ... (See Deep in 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)

Q&A with author Meg Keene, author of 'A Practical Wedding' -- The prospect of a huge wedding bill sent author and blogger Meg Keene searching for a way to put on a fabulous wedding without busting the budget. Just in time for Valentine's Day, hit Keene up for some straight talk about love and money ... (See Meg Keene)

Gary Foreman: With home addition, budget, plan and know what you can do yourself -- Adding a room or converting a garage can be done frugally by homeowners, but only after an honest assessment of their do-it-yourself skills ... (See Home addition tips)

Erica Sandberg: You can pay someone else's debt and not be liable for it -- A daughter elects to help her dad with his collection payments, but he wonders if she will then be held responsible for the debt ... (See Paying someone else's debt)

Cathleen McCarthy: Want elite miles from your card? Be sure to shop around -- Most credit cards won't help you get elite status with an airline, but there are some that do. Our expert helps a reader in search of the card that's best for him ... (See Credit card elite miles)

Tanisha Warner: Failing to pay the minimum can get you sued -- It's a common question: Can credit card companies sue you if you pay, but don't pay enough. Unfortunately, if you have to ask, you probably won't like the answer ... (See Minimum payment failure)

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)

Erica Sandberg: Dad racks up charges on son's credit card -- A father fraudulently opened a credit card in his son's name and charged $5,000. Now he can't pay more than the minimum. What are his son's options? ... (See Credit card fraud)

Cathleen McCarthy: If you close a card, you often lose your points immediately -- Closing a credit card? In most cases, you should you use up all your points or miles before you close the card. Otherwise, your hard-earned rewards will vanish before you can enjoy them ... (See Canceling rewards cards)

Tanisha Warner: Wife's bad credit doesn't have to ruin her husband's credit -- fter paying off delinquent card and school debt, a wife wants her credit score to rise -- but not at the risk of ruining her husband's good credit ... (See Patience + payments = better credit)

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)

Gary Foreman: Can a new mom afford to stay at home? -- A new mom who really wants to stay at home may be closer than she thinks to getting by on one income, if she includes the commuting and child care savings that come with not working ... (See Stay at home mom)

Erica Sandberg: What happens when you're sued for a credit card debt -- If a court summons over an unpaid debt arrives, the worst thing you can do is ignore it because if you don't show up, they'll win by default ... (See Sued over credit card debt)

Cathleen McCarthy: What to consider before applying for a cash back credit card -- One percent cash back for buying this, 5 percent back if you buy that -- how do you figure out which of the many cash back cards out there is the one that's right for you? ... (See Cash back credit card)

Tanisha Warner: Discharging student loan in bankruptcy requires major hardship -- Want to declare bankruptcy and wash your hands of that troublesome student loan? Our expert says that it's not that easy ... (See Bankruptcy and student loans)

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)

Gary Foreman: Tips for landing a good, reliable used car with bad credit -- With bad credit and a car that's falling apart, a single mom with $3,000 saved up wants to know where to turn for a reliable used car ... (See Bad credit and car buying)

Erica Sandberg: How settled card accounts impact your credit report -- Settling a delinquent account for less than you owe may be good for your wallet, but it's not so good for your credit reports and score ... (See Settled accounts, credit reports)

Cathleen McCarthy: Airlines offer better elite frequent flier deals -- Airlines may have made it easier for people get miles without ever setting foot in an airport. However, those who earned the miles the old-fashioned way get special perks ... (See Elite frequent flier status)

Tanisha Warner: Be wary of closing credit cards when applying for mortgage -- Considering closing some credit cards? Our expert says you better think twice about it if you're planning to get a mortgage loan soon ... (See Mortgages and closing credit cards)

Sally Herigstad: Dealing with unethical debt collectors -- If a collector threatens to throw you in jail over an unpaid debt, it's time to read him your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ... (See Fair Debt Collections Practices Act)

Gary Foreman: 8 questions to ask to make sure of wise buying decisions -- Ask these eight questions before you pull out your wallet and you'll be sure that you're buying the right thing at the right time at the right price ... (See 8 questions before buying)

Erica Sandberg: Mom's on hook for daughter's card debt -- A daughter uses bankruptcy to delete debt only to discover her mom is responsible for $24,000 on a credit card she co-signed more than 20 years ago ... (See Co-signers and card debt)

Cathleen McCarthy: Rewards card holders' biggest mistake? Not using their miles -- Sure, rewards programs can be complex and confusing. However, the biggest mistake rewards cardholders make is one that's amazingly simple ... (See Rewards mistakes)

Tanisha Warner: Joint account holder? You're likely stuck with that credit card debt -- Deceived by her husband, a reader wants her name off a jointly-held credit card with $10,000 of debt on it. Our expert says she shouldn't get her hopes up ... (See Joint cardholders and debt)

Don't play around with card phone scams -- When a telephone caller promises a lower credit card rate, but needs your card number for confirmation, hung up fast ... (See Phone scam)

Gary Foreman: Worried about burglary? Here's how to choose the right insurance -- About one in 140 Americans suffers a home burglary. Here's how to take inventory and choose the right insurance to limit the damage ... (See Insurance)

Erica Sandberg: Who do you pay when a debt goes into collection? -- When an unpaid debt is charged off and sold to a collector, who do try to negotiate a settlement with: the original creditor or the collector? ... (See Debt collection)

Tanisha Warner:Take these steps when a minor's identity is stolen -- If your identity was stolen when you were a minor, clearing your name won't be easy, but it can be done. Here's how ... (See Minor ID theft)

How to handle money when married, but living apart -- When a couple decides to live in different states, what is the best way for them to handle previously conjoined financial matters? ... (See Money and separation)

Erica Sandberg: One easy step to build a U.S. credit history -- A good salary and U.S. residency doesn't mean you'll be issued a credit card the first time you try. You have to start slow and be patient ... (See Building U.S. credit)

Cathleen McCarthy: How to maximize your 'mileage run' to elite flier status -- Panicking because you're just short of getting elite status on your favorite airline? There are ways to get there without breaking the bank ... (See Mileage run)

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)

Gary Foreman: You're marrying your fiance's debts, too -- If your future spouse has present debt, discuss it openly, keep your accounts separate and consider a long engagement to see if your intended can straighten up financially ... (See Fiance's debt)

Erica Sandberg: Don't jeopardize great credit with new credit -- When your credit score is already high, but not high enough, there are ways to boost it without applying for a new credit card ... (See Get a higher credit score)

Tanisha Warner: Not paying your credit card bill after a rate hike won't help -- New columnist Tanisha Warner answers a question from a reader who just had her credit card rate hiked. She's thinking about not paying the bill. Tanisha says: No ... (See Rate hike)

Cathleen McCarthy: Credit card rewards options abound for sports junkies -- From the NFL to the PGA, credit card companies offer rewards card to suit most every sports fan. Our expert lays out some of the best options ... (See Sports rewards)

Sally Herigstad: When does a debt get too old to collect? -- Hoping that your debt will get too old to be collectible is a risky proposition, not to mention a bit unethical ... (See Statutes of limitations on card debt)

Gary Foreman: How to teach your children basic financial concepts -- If you teach your kids to 'sleep on' major money decisions and learn the power of compound interest, they'll have gained important lessons that will serve them a lifetime ... (See Teaching money lessons to your kids)

Erica Sandberg: Trying to escape a high APR via a balance transfer -- Trying to transfer a spouse's high-interest debt to your balance transfer card? Not all issuers will allow that to happen ... (See Balance transfer card)

Kim McGrigg: Old accounts in good standing won't hurt your credit score -- Don't worry about removing old card accounts from your credit report, as long as the cards were in good standing when they were closed ... (See Credit report)

Cathleen McCarthy: 5 easy ways to get more credit card rewards points or miles -- Issuers offer countless ways for miles-hungry customers to get their fix. Here are some of the easiest methods for getting all the miles or points you desire ... (See Get more miles)

Sally Herigstad: Steps to recover from financial infidelity -- Giving one spouse full financial control can open the door to fraud -- and you won't know about it until the damage is done ... (See Financial fraud)

Gary Foreman: Bad credit mortgage alternatives -- You must start with the basics -- paying your bills on time -- but there are other alternatives for people with bad credit trying to buy a house ... (See Bad credit and mortgages)

Erica Sandberg: Choosing the right credit card for a new business -- Our expert outlines common money mistakes new business owners make when starting a new business on credit ... (See First business credit card)

Q&A: Skip Humphrey takes role as federal financial watchdog for elderly -- The eldest son of the former vice president sees credit card debt among the elderly as one of the issues he'll tackle in his new job with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ... (See Skip Humphrey Q&A)

Kim McGrigg: Dad's bankruptcy may force daughter to pay joint card debt -- A worried mom wants to know if her daughter will be stuck paying the debt on a credit card she held jointly with her dad. Unfortunately, our expert says, that's likely the case ... (See Joint account)

Cathleen McCarthy: Changing airline cards shouldn't cost you your miles -- Transferring the balance from one airline's credit card to another airline's card won't impact the miles that you've already earned ... (See Changing airline cards)

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)

Gary Foreman: Broke? Bad credit? Recent bankruptcy? Say humbug to lousy holiday loans -- If you're recovering from hard times, don't succumb to the lousy loan choices you have available. Find frugal ways to enjoy the season ... (See Bad credit and holidays)

How young is too young for credit? Do you add an infant to your card account? -- In an effort to build a strong credit file for their child, a parent wants to know if adding his newborn as an authorized user to his card is a good first step ... (See Too young for credit)

Kim McGrigg: Be wary of getting more credit when student loan comes due -- With a $14,000 student loan coming due soon, a reader wonders if getting a new department store credit card was a bad move. Our expert's answer: It depends. ... (See Credit cards and student loans)

Cathleen McCarthy: Are rewards card sign-up bonuses just for new customers? -- A Chase cardholder wants to upgrade his old card for a new Chase card with a great sign-up bonus. Our expert says he might lose his old card's points in the process ... (See Rewards card sign-up bonus)

Sally Herigstad: Can wages be garnished before court date? -- If you've been served for past-due debt, don't wait until the official court hearing to respond or you may find your wages garnished before you're prepared ... (See Wage garnishment)

Erica Sandberg: Can I go back to college if student loans are in default? -- Unpaid student loans can haunt you for the rest of your life, but shouldn't keep you from pursuing your dreams of finishing college ... (See Unpaid student loans)

Kim McGrigg: Canceling a credit card is OK -- if done wisely -- When your credit improves, it can be tempting to dump your old, bad-credit credit cards in favor of newer cards. But, our expert says, drop too many cards and your credit could pay the price again ... (See Cancel a card)

Cathleen McCarthy: Be mindful of your card's hassle-to-rewards ratio -- Is your rewards card more hassle than it's worth? Our expert lays out how you can figure that out for yourself ... (See Are rewards cards worth it?)

Sally Herigstad: Who pays secret debt in divorce? -- When a spouse living in a community property state has secret debt that comes to light during a divorce, just who has to pay for it? ... (See Secret debt in divorce)

Gary Foreman: How to set children's allowances -- Setting an allowance, and deciding whether to tie it to chores, is an art form, but one that teaches money lessons for life ... (See Setting allowances)

Erica Sandberg: In marriage, maintain your own credit -- Combining finances can be great, but it's important to maintain at least one credit card in your own name to protect your personal credit rating ... (See Marriage and credit scores)

Q&A with 'Smart Thinking' author Art Markman -- Art Markman, author of the upcoming 'Smart Thinking' and a psychology professor at the University of Texas, explains what psychology can teach us about making better personal financial decisions ... (See Art Markman)

Jeremy M. Simon: What everyone should know about credit reports and scores -- For my final column, I've written a letter to readers that summarizes what you really need to know about credit scores and reports. ... (See Credit reports)

Kim McGrigg: Want to cancel your card? Bank must comply -- Whether you've just applied for a preapproved credit card or you've had the card for 20 years, you can cancel the card whenever you want ... (See Cancel a card)

Cathleen McCarthy: Authorized users can't access rewards without special permission -- If you're an authorized user on someone's credit card, the only way you can access the rewards points for the purchases you've made is if the primary account holder gives you special access ... (See Authorized users and rewards)

Sally Herigstad: Tying up card debt when death's near -- A reader with cancer has only a few months to live and worries that the balance on her unpaid card debt will fall to her husband ... (See Credit card debt and death)

Gary Foreman: Easy, inexpensive home heating tips -- Some of the fixes won't win you awards from design magazines, but these inexpensive solutions will keep you warm without busting your budget ... (See Inexpensive home heating tips)

Erica Sandberg: Make sure your payments make a dent in your debt -- Debt payments that don't seem to diminish your total debt can get frustrating. You have three options: pay more, seek help or bail ... (See Debt repayment tips)

Why closing a credit card can damage your credit -- After the bank hiked the annual fee on his credit card, a reader reacted by closing the account, which lowered his credit score. Our expert explains why that happened ... (See Closing a credit card)

Kim McGrigg: Bad credit and living on disability: Is a new home out of reach? -- A new home may not be out of reach just because you have bad credit and live on disability payments, our expert says. But don't expect it to come easily either ... (See Bad credit and mortgages)

Cathleen McCarthy: What to consider before getting a hotel credit card -- If you travel a lot and you've got all the airline miles you need, getting a hotel credit card could be wise, our expert says. Here's what you need to know before you pick one ... (See Hotel credit cards)

Sally Herigstad: When bankruptcy makes sense -- With a sick spouse, $20,000 in credit card debt and a small salary, a woman wonders just how she is going to make ends meet.You probably can't, says Sally ... (See When bankruptcy makes sense)

Gary Foreman: Beyond couponing - How big families can cut their food budgets -- A mother of a family of five who's already couponing wants to know how to trim her food budget further. Gary Foreman gives her an array of tips ... (See Big family food budgeting)

Erica Sandberg: How low can an authorized user go? -- What's wrong with this picture when a reader asks if an authorized user on a credit card wants to open other accounts in the primary card holder's name? ... (See Authorized users)

Jeremy M. Simon: In honor of 100th column, Jeremy M. Simon's 3 favorite credit scoring questions -- For my 100th column addressing reader questions on credit scores and reports, I've taken a look back at some of emails that most surprised, challenged or amused me. ... (See Credit Score Report)

Kim McGrigg: Can you apply for credit after Chapter 13 bankruptcy? -- Even if you just want to use it for emergencies, a new credit card can be hard to get following Chapter 13 bankruptcy. However, you may have options ... (See Chapter 13 and new credit)

Cathleen McCarthy Q&A: Short a few air miles? Negotiating won't work, but there are options -- Our expert says don't expect to talk your way into paying 25,000 miles for a 35,000-mile seat. However, if you're flexible and willing to do some homework, you should be able to find a deal ... (See Negotiating frequent flier miles)

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)

Gary Foreman: How (and why) to calculate your net worth -- It's not a display of coin-stacking greed, it's a necessary, periodic step to make certain you're on track with your personal finance goals ... (See Calculating your net worth)

Erica Sandberg: Have residency, but no credit? -- You may have to jump through a few hurdles, but getting credit when you are a permanent U.S. resident shouldn't be too hard ... (See Establishing credit)

Jeremy M. Simon: Mending a credit score hurt by a student loan default -- A reader who defaulted on a co-signed student loan wonders whether a debt settlement is the best path to rebuilding her high credit score ... (See Student loan default)

Kim McGrigg: What to do when collectors pursue your time-barred debt -- Your debt may be really old, but that may not stop debt collectors from trying to get you to pay. Our expert lays out what to do if this happens to you ... (See Time-barred debt)

Consider your credit when pursuing card sign-up bonuses -- Rewards card sign-up bonuses are a great way to build up more and more miles. However, if you overdo it, it can hurt your credit. Our expert tells how ... (See Sign-up bonuses)

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)

Gary Foreman: Common tricks and traps in credit card fine print -- The appealing big headline in the credit card promo is often hedged and limited by the fine print -- so you had better understand it ... (See Beware credit card fine print)

Erica Sandberg: 7 questions to ask before you do a balance transfer -- A zero-percent balance transfer card may sound like the perfect solution to your high-interest debt problem, but that's not always the case ... (See Balance transfer credit card)

Jeremy M. Simon: In U.K., unheeded court order can clobber your credit -- A U.K. reader learns that a county court judgment that wasn't repaid within one month can tarnish his credit for years ... (See UK credit)

Kim McGrigg: How to cope with massive family credit card fraud -- When family members commit fraud against you, it can be devastating. Our expert lays out what your options are ... (See Family credit card fraud)

Cathleen McCarthy: Sharing or selling airline miles can be risky, pricey -- Giving your miles away may be noble, and selling your miles may sound wise, but it's important to know that neither move is free of risk and cost. Our expert lays out the details ... (See Selling, sharing frequent flier miles)

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)

Gary Foreman: Why every student needs a bit of economics -- You may not become an economist, but everyone needs to have basic knowledge of how they spend today impacts their saving for tomorrow ... (See Economics and spending)

Erica Sandberg: Is 'unfreezing' a card a good thing? -- After a bank "freezes" your card due to nonpayment and a maxed-out status, will thawing it out help or hurt your credit score? ... (See Card suspension)

Jeremy M. Simon: Divorce doesn't dissolve credit card contracts -- A reader who shared a credit card with her ex-husband finds out the existing card contract means divorce isn't enough to get her name taken off that account ... (See Credit cards and divorce)

Kim McGrigg: Yes, your card payment can be rejected if it's too small -- It may be shocking, but a credit card issuer can refuse to accept your payment if the amount is smaller than the minimum that you owe ... (See Minimum payments)

Cathleen McCarthy: Frequent flier? Opt for airline card over cash back -- Our expert says that if you fly regularly, you're better off with a miles card than with cash back -- especially if you're loyal to one airline ... (See Miles or cash back?)

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.)

Erica Sandberg: The pitfalls of shared card accounts -- Our expert clarifies the differences between authorized users, co-signers and joint account holders, along with who shares payment responsibilities ... (See Shared card accounts)

Jeremy M. Simon: Authorized user's bad credit won't hurt primary cardholder -- A reader with bad credit worries that becoming an authorized user on her friend's credit card with lower her friend's credit score. ... (See Authorized users)

Removing yourself from shared card account may be tough -- Want to get your name off one of your credit cards? How easy or hard it is will depend on whether you're a joint account holder or merely an authorized user ... (See Removing yourself from a card)

Cathleen McCarthy: Bankruptcy and frequent flier air miles - are they an asset, or protected? -- With 300,000 miles and $60,000 in debt, a reader fears his air miles might be seized if he files for bankruptcy. Our expert says his concerns are justified ... (See Bankruptcy and frequent flier miles)

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)

Erica Sandberg:Can you build credit by paying off card after every use? -- If you use your plastic for everyday purchases, but pay off the balance the next day, will your credit score rise? ... (See Paying debt quickly)

Jeremy M. Simon: Canceling credit cards may sound wise, but is it? -- A mortgage lender's recommendation that a reader close his unused credit cards may have helped him obtain a mortgage, but it could hurt his credit score -- and his chances with future lenders. ... (See Canceling credit cards)

Kim McGrigg: How late can a payment be before it dings your credit? -- If you're just a few days late with your credit card payment, will it show up on your credit report? Maybe. It depends on your card issuer's policy, says our expert ... (See Late payments)

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)

Gary Foreman: Moves to make if you expect another economic storm -- Just as you plan ahead for hurricanes, you can weather rough financial times more easily with good preparation ... (See Plan for tough times)

Erica Sandberg: Steps to starting over after losing everything -- Re-entering the workforce after a long-term illness in which you lost everything can seem daunting, but starting somewhere can make all the difference ... (See Starting over)

Jeremy M. Simon: Don't let bad credit keep you from landing a job -- Although some employers consider job applicants' credit histories when making hiring decisions, bad credit doesn't have to keep you from finding work ... (See Credit scores and jobs)

Kim McGrigg:Mortgage trumps title when it comes to foreclosures, credit -- Your name may no longer be on the title of your foreclosed house. But, our expert says, if it's still on the mortgage loan, there's still going to be a black mark on your credit ... (See Foreclosures and credit)

Cathleen McCarthy: Too sick to use ticket bought with frequent flier miles? You have options -- If an illness is likely to keep you from using your award ticket, don't panic. Our expert lays out what you can do to ensure you don't lose those miles ... (See Canceling award tickets)

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)

Gary Foreman: Losing a job can be a big downside of 401(k) loans -- Unemployment triggers a swift demand for repayment, and you better have the money or be ready to face financial consequences ... (See 401(k) loans and lost jobs)

Erica Sandberg: 3 steps for early money management -- Setting up financial goals when you're young can set the stage for success if you stick to a budget and set aside money regularly for the things you want ... (See Money management for youths)

Jeremy M. Simon: A late payment doesn't always mean a lower credit score -- If you're just a little late with a payment, your credit score may not take a hit. Just don't make a habit of it ... (See Late payments)

Kim McGrigg: How to prioritize debt payments when your income falls -- It's all too common these days: A down-on-his-luck cardholder struggling to make ends meet confronts more bills than he can pay, and needs help prioritizing them ... (See How to prioritize debt)

Cathleen McCarthy: How do generic miles stack up against airline rewards? -- Our expert breaks down the differences between airline-specific miles and generic miles rewards, from how they're earned to how they're redeemed and beyond ... (See Generic miles vs. airline miles)

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)

Gary Foreman: If my company goes bankrupt, is my 401(k) retirement fund in danger? -- A company going bankrupt does not directly endanger your 401(k) -- unless you've let too much of your investment pile up in that company's stock ... (See Bankrupt 401(k))

Erica Sandberg: In a debt management plan? No new credit for you -- If you have negotiated with lenders through a credit counseling service to pay down your debt, the last thing you want to do is take on new loans ... (See Debt management plans)

Jeremy M. Simon: In credit scoring, a good payment history trumps all -- Don't worry about removing an old delinquent account from your credit report, our expert says. It's more important to have a strong payment history than a long one ... (See Payment history and FICO scores)

Cathleen McCarthy: Cashing in miles? Make sure it's worth it -- Be sure you're getting the most bang for your frequent flier miles when you redeem them. Our expert shows you how to do the math ... (See Cashing in flier miles)

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)

Gary Foreman: Where are you financially vulnerable? -- The economic storm clouds still haven't parted, so wise consumers know their potential money weak spots, and have a plan if something breaks down ... (See Financially vulnerable)

Erica Sandberg: Boost savings with temporary budget cuts -- How do you save thousands over a short period, especially when you have a tendency to overspend? First, see where you stand ... (See Boost savings)

Jeremy M. Simon: No longer want to be an authorized user? Just ask -- It's simple to be removed as an authorized user on a credit card. Just don't expect it to come off your credit report easily ... (See Authorized user)

Kim McGrigg: Your credit card agreement trumps your divorce decree -- Even if your divorce decree says your ex takes responsibility for all your joint debts, it may not matter. That's because your credit card agreement takes precedent over your decree ... (See Debt and divorce)

Want to be elite? Know that all miles aren't created equal -- Miles earned by spending on an airline credit card can get you free flights and more, but they likely won't get you elite status with the airline ... (See Elite qualifying miles)

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)

What is a charge-off? How does it affect your credit? -- The phrase charge-off comes from the world of financial accounting, but if one happens to you, expect the damage to your credit to be substantial ... (See Charge-offs)

Erica Sandberg: Set up charging rules on co-signed card -- A financially reformed mom co-signed on a card for her college-bound son, but worries that he may return her to financial ruin ... (See Co-signed credit card)

Kim McGrigg: How to eliminate card debt without hurting your credit -- It's a common question: When you've paid a card off, should you close it? Our expert tells a confused reader what the choice would be for her credit ... (See Debt and credit scores)

How high is too high for a rewards card's annual fee? -- When determining whether a rewards card's annual fee is too high, the most important thing is to know thyself -- or rather, thine travel habits ... (See Compare rewards cards' annual fees)

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)

Gary Foreman: Bride and groom from different financial worlds? Talk, budget -- If he's from financial Mars and she's from financial Venus, premarital discussions about money expectations will help prevent problems later ... (See Premarital money talk)

Erica Sandberg: Weigh all costs when doing a balance transfer -- When thinking about transferring your balance to a lower rate card, you need to do the math and have a plan before you card-hop ... (See How to evaluate a balance transfer)

Jeremy M. Simon: Beware of interest charged on closed accounts in debt collection -- Collection agencies are allowed to charge you interest on debts in closed credit card accounts -- unless your card contract or state law says otherwise ... (See Interest on debt)

Cathleen McCarthy: Late credit card payments may cost you rewards points -- If you're late paying your credit card bill, you may end up losing some rewards points. But the good news is that they likely won't be gone forever ... (See Lost rewards points)

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)

Gary Foreman: How to calculate the energy cost of appliances -- By knowing the right formula and "watt" each appliance consumes in electricity, a landlord and tenant splitting an electric bill can divide it fairly ... (See Appliance energy costs)

Erica Sandberg: Retirement funds off limits for debt repayment -- At 29, a reader proposes dissolving some or all of his 401(k) to pay off $37,000 in debt. Our expert says there are other, much safer, options available ... (See 401(k) debt solution?)

Jeremy M. Simon: Unfamiliar names on credit report could signal ID theft -- The presence of unfamiliar names on your credit report could have a simple explanation, such as your use of a nickname or some type of error -- or it could be the result of identity theft ... (See Check your credit report)

Cathleen McCarthy: Beware of opening, closing cards quickly to get rewards points -- Signing up for a bunch of new credit cards and getting all the sign-up bonus points may sound like a fast, easy way to a free flight. Your credit may pay a price, though ... (See Rewards points)

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)

Gary Foreman: You've got to know your 'monthly nut' -- Your 'monthly nut' is the minimum amount you need to make to keep ahead of your bills and avoid always coming up short ... (See Your monthly nut)

Erica Sandberg: Getting a credit card at age18 presents challenges -- It's not impossible, but qualifying for an unsecured credit card at the age of 18 presents unique challenges ... (See Qualifying for credit at age 18)

Jeremy M. Simon: Can you remove a bankruptcy from your credit report? -- If you do a strategic bankruptcy filing -- but the move is never completed -- you may be able to have any mention of it removed from your credit report, but it won't be easy ... (See Bankruptcy)

Cathleen McCarthy: Cash back or miles? Ask yourself these 6 questions first -- Cash back or miles? Cash is more straightforward and the better deal for most people. But if you travel frequently, miles can give you more bang for your spend ... (See Cash back or miles?)

Gary Foreman: Rich bride, poor groom and mom can't pay country club reception tab -- Mom should be honest with herself and her wealthy in-laws about her financial limits, and their kids should discuss money expectations before the ceremony ... (See Rich bride, poor groom)

Erica Sandberg: New resident's quest for U.S. plastic -- Having lived in the U.S. for two years now, a reader wants to know how to go about picking -- and getting approved for -- a new credit card ... (See New U.S. credit)

Jeremy M. Simon: Credit report history seem too short? Contact your issuer -- Credit history can be a tricky thing, especially if you're not the primary person on a credit card account. But if you're ever unclear, don't hesitate to call the issuer, our expert says ... (See Authorized users' credit history)

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)

Gary Foreman: How to figure out how much rent you can afford -- Renting? The rule of thumb is spend no more than 33 percent of your after-tax income on housing; these money-saving tips will help you get there and into a home you can afford ... (See Renting: How much?)

Erica Sandberg: Getting your foot in the credit door -- Young, educated and debt-free, a reader keeps getting turned down for a credit card and wants to know how to get her credit started ... (See How to get your first credit card)

Jeremy M. Simon: Why closing your oldest credit card may be a bad idea -- Considering closing an old card and getting a newer, cheaper one? You may be doing yourself -- and your credit score -- a disservice ... (See Closing a credit card)

Kim McGrigg: How much can a debt collector take from your paycheck? -- If you have a written deal with a debt collector to withdraw a set monthly amount from your bank account, the collector can't take a penny more. If he does, spring into action ... (See Debt collected from your pay)

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)

Frugality's about value, not about being cheap -- For both practical and personal reasons, on some items, it's OK to go ahead and splurge ... (See Spend it, frugally)

Erica Sandberg: The path to good credit after college -- Follow these four lessons on how to build a great credit profile after you graduate from college ... (See Path to good credit)

Jeremy M. Simon: Will unpaid restitution slam ex-con's credit? -- A reader is concerned that his nephew -- who was recently released from prison -- can't make restitution payments, which could end up damaging the nephew's credit history ... (See Prison and credit)

Kim McGrigg: Paying more than the minimum must decrease your credit card balance -- A reader is frustrated that the portion of her credit card debt with a high interest rate doesn't seem to be falling, even though she pays more than the minimum ... (See Credit card debt)

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)

Gary Foreman: Credit card rate too high? How to negotiate a lower one, how to leave if you don't get it -- Credit card rate too high? Here's how to ask for a lower one -- and how to leave if you don't get it ... (See Negotiate your credit card rate)

Erica Sandberg :How do banks determine a credit card's credit limit? -- When banks issue you a credit card, how do they figure out how much credit to give you? Part of it is secret, the other part not so much ... (See Credit limits)

Jeremy M. Simon: Frequent car rentals with debit card shouldn't clobber credit -- Renting a car with a debit card may result in a credit check that lowers your credit score. But industry experts say borrowing cars from the same rental agency more than once a month shouldn't increase the damage ... (See Renting a car with debit card)

Kim McGrigg: Declared bankruptcy? You can still be an authorized user -- A reader wonders if he can still be listed as an authorized user on his wife's credit card account if he declares bankruptcy ... (See Credit after bankruptcy)

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)

Building a better envelope budgeting system -- With a few refinements and simplifications, this old cash-based system still works, says our expert ... (See Envelope budgeting)

Erica Sandberg: Will student's credit suffer if mom doesn't pay school loans? -- A mom wants to know if if her son's credit will be in jeopardy if she cannot make the payments on a Parent PLUS college loan ... (See Student loans)

Jeremy M. Simon: Want accurate, negative info off your credit report? Good luck -- A reader wonders if she could request that she could have some negative information removed from her credit report. Not likely, if the data is accurate. ... (See Credit report)

QA with Matt Paxton, host of TV's 'Hoarders' -- The 'Secret Lives of Hoarders' author and TV host goes about helping with brutal honesty and a connoisseur's appreciation for the smell of decomposition ... (See Matt Paxton, "Hoarders" host)

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)

Gary Foreman: Alternate strategies to saving for emergency funds -- If you have trouble leaving emergency funds untouched, you may be able to prepay some items, or just make your savings tough to tap ... (See Emergency fund strategies)

Erica Sandberg: Beware of debt relief phone call promises -- A woman wonders if those debt relief phone callers can help cut her $20,000 in credit card debt in half ... (See Debt settlement)

Where to get alternative, specialty free credit reports -- Specialty credit bureaus collect consumer data on such things as rental history, insurance claims and checking accounts, and they're required to provide consumers a free report annually ... (See Specialty credit reports)

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)

Erica Sandberg: Payment options for high-interest credit card debt -- Asking a credit card company to lower the interest rate on your debt can produce a variety of answers -- most of which you will not like ... (See High-interest card debt)

Jeremy M. Simon: No Social Security number, no credit reporting? -- A woman made her son an authorized user on a card, but didn't provide his Social Security number and wonders if the card will still appear on his credit report ... (See Credit scores)

Kim McGrigg: How to revive your credit score after foreclosure -- A reader who recently suffered a foreclosure wonders how she can raise her FICO score and how long she'll have to wait to get her next mortgage ... (See Credit after foreclosure)

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)

Gary Foreman: Tips for finding fun while staying frugal -- You may have 'frugal fatigue,' but lamenting the good old days when you could spend freely will only make your mood worse ... (See Frugal tips)

Erica Sandberg: Steps to make good on a defaulted student loan -- A reader wants to make good on a defaulted student loan and wonders how to go about "rehabilitating" it ... (See Student loans)

Jeremy M. Simon: Canceling a card with a balance doesn't have to hurt -- A reader asks how much credit score damage she can expect after closing a credit card that still has an outstanding balance ... (See Cancel credit card)

Kim McGrigg: To raise credit score, pay delinquent debt? Or declare bankruptcy? -- A reader so deep in debt she's weighing bankruptcy wonders how to get good credit in a year. Years plural, says our expert. ... (See Bankruptcy)

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)

Gary Foreman: Tips for getting grown children out of the nest -- Yes, jobs are tough to find, but kids need to stand on their own financially and leave the nest. It's a parent's job to know how to help them learn to fly ... (See Financial independence)

Erica Sandberg: Daughter's credit at risk when mom defaults -- A mom defaulted on three credit cards where her minor child was an authorized user. She wonders if her daughter's credit is in jeopardy ... (See Piggybacking)

Jeremy M. Simon: Who's to blame for mom's falling FICO? -- A mother thinks her falling FICO score may be the fault of her financially troubled daughter. But a look at the mom's credit reports will confirm who's really to blame. ... (See Credit score)

Kim McGrigg: Will card debt hold up my Australian visa? -- A reader ran up credit card debt in Australia, left, and now wants to move back. Will the debt jeopardize his return? ... (See Card debt and visas)

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)

Gary Foreman: How to diagnose your financial health -- There are parallels between financial and physical health: Both need to be properly diagnosed and the right steps taken to cure the ailments ... (See Financial help)

QA with Adam Baker of Man Vs. Debt -- Blogger Adam Baker shares his journey from a traditional, credit card-driven lifestyle to one where he and his wife owe no one ... (See Adam Baker)

Erica Sandberg: Rejected: How your credit history impacts card approvals -- A student is rejected for a new credit due to a limited credit history and wonders what he can do to boost his credit scores further ... (See Credit history)

Jeremy M. Simon: How to shrink debt-to-income ratio while on Social Security -- A reader on Social Security wants to improve her debt-to-income ratio in order to qualify for a home loan. Can it be done? ... (See Debt-to-income ratio)

Kim McGrigg: Debunking a myth about wage garnishment and student loans -- A reader who defaulted on her student loan has heard that paying any amount of money on a debt can help stave off wage garnishment. Our expert debunks the myth ... (See Student loans)

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)

Gary Foreman: Inflation is coming; here's how it will hurt -- Before inflation returns in force, there are steps you can take to readjust your investments and loans to minimize its impact ... (See Adjusting for inflation)

Erica Sandberg: Digging out of the depths of divorce debt -- It's not uncommon to be saddled with debt post-divorce. But when you're too depressed to deal with it, asking for help is your first priority ... (See Divorce and debt)

Jeremy M. Simon: Lost a court case? Your credit score could take a hit -- A reader facing a lawsuit after a car accident needs to protect herself from the credit score impact from any resulting judgment against her ... (See Lawsuits and credit scores)

Kim McGrigg: How to protect yourself from email phishing attacks -- Scammers are after your personal information. Armed with these tips, you won't make it easy on them ... (See Fend off phishing)

QA with Willie Geist, Boyd McDonnell on 'Loaded,' their parody of financial advice books -- Willie Geist, Boyd McDonnell lampoon the get-rich-quick schemes through the idiotic money advice hawked by their faux financial gurus, the 'Dollar Bills' ... (See "Loaded")

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)

Living frugally? 6 ideas for enjoying life without busting a budget -- A tight budget doesn't mean giving up all the things that make life enjoyable. You just have to find inexpensive ones ... (See Frugal fun)

Erica Sandberg: Are credit protection plans worth the cost? -- In all her years working with people with credit problems, our expert has never heard someone exclaim, 'My credit protection plan was a lifesaver!' ... (See Credit protection plans)

Jeremy M. Simon: Settling delinquent debt won't remove it from your credit report -- A reader wants to get old delinquent debt off his credit report. Our expert says that unless the debt isn't really his, he's out of luck and debt will stay there for seven years ... (See Delinquent debts)

How to rent property when you have bad credit -- A frustrated reader keeps getting rejected when applying to rent property. Our expert tells him to improve his score -- and how to land a place now with his current bad credit ... (See Renting with bad credit)

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)

Gary Foreman: In your 40s? It's not to early to plan for retirement -- Now's the time to take a broad look ahead, define what you expect from retirement, estimate expenses see if you have the income to live out your dreams ... (See Retirement plan)

Erica Sandberg: Want to kick-start kid's credit? You've got options -- A parent asks how he can help his children establish credit. Our expert lays out his options ... (See Student credit)

Jeremy M. Simon: Scheming to ruin an ex's credit score isn't wise -- A woman with lousy credit wants to ruin her ex-boyfriend's good credit by adding him as an authorized user on her card account. But should she reconsider her plan? ... (See Piggybacking scheme)

Kim McGrigg: Replacing lost credit cards won't impact credit score -- A reader worries that his credit will take a hit when he replaces credit cards that he recently lost. Our expert says he need not worry ... (See Lost credit cards)

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)

Gary Foreman: With gas prices skyrocketing, will an electric car save money? -- Thinking about ditching your gas guzzler and going electric? Here's how to make a compare by calculating your overall cost per mile ... (See Buying a car)

Erica Sandberg: 5 steps to keep your bad credit from hurting your relationship -- A bride-to-be with iffy credit is worried about ruining her husband's sparkling credit. Our expert gives her a five-step plan to keep his credit in the clear. ... (See Credit and marriage)

QA with Lisa Desjardins, author of 'Zombie Economics' -- If your financial situation feels like a horror movie, you'll appreciate the narrative thread behind "Zombie Economics: A Guide to Personal Finance." CNN reporter Lisa Desjardins talks about the new book she co-authored. ... (See Zombie economics)

Jeremy M. Simon: Want a new card? Focus on the 3 keys to building good credit -- A reader wants to improve his chances of getting approved for a new credit card. But is closing older accounts and leaving balances unpaid the right approach? ... (See Good credit)

Kim McGrigg: Debt on his late mother's credit card haunts son -- He was only an authorized user on his late mother's card, but a mistake lays his mother's charged-off debt at his feet, hurting his credit score ... (See Authorized user)

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)

Gary Foreman: Should you put your money in a mattress? -- Savings rates are still horrid, housing prices are still falling, but hoarding money in a mattress still isn't wise ... (See Money in a mattress)

Erica Sandberg: The case of the mysterious credit card balance -- A reader recently got a statement for a credit card account he says he doesn't remember having. Our skeptical expert helps him to unravel the mystery ... (See Credit card mystery)

Jeremy M. Simon: Credit card bill lost in the mail? You still have to pay it -- A postal service mistake doesn't relieve you of the duty to pay your bills, but those who pay faithfully can often catch a break -- before the goof damages their credit scores ... (See Bill lost in the mail)

Kim McGrigg: Why families shouldn't share credit accounts -- An adult daughter who shared a credit card with her mother wonders if she is liable for the $10,000 balance on the account ... (See Family credit cards)

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)

Pull the plug to save some money on a little-used refrigerator -- A fridge is your most expensive appliance because it consumes a lot of power, but it's made to be turned on and off ... (See Appliance costs)

Erica Sandberg: How to prioritize different types of debt -- A reader with several different types of debt can't figure which to tackle first. Our expert offers a plan to help her prioritize what she owes. ... (See Debt priorities)

Jeremy M. Simon: Experian aims to make credit reports more readable -- A reader asks about some language he hadn't seen on his credit report before. Our expert says it's part of a tweak that one major credit bureau recently finished ... (See Experian credit report)

Kim McGrigg: Are 'free miles' really free? -- Frequent flier rewards cards usually carry annual fees, so that free flight isn't truly free, but if you handle your card right it can be pretty close ... (See Frequent flier)

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)

Gary Foreman: Want grocery store bargains? It's easy: Look high and low -- Grocery stores study their shoppers, so they know most customers grab first for the name brands at eye level. Want bargains? Look at the top and bottom shelves ... (See Grocery store bargains)

Erica Sandberg: How new U.S. residents can build a credit history -- A new U.S. resident wants to build good credit but is baffled by the credit scoring system. Our expert shows him how to get started on the road to great credit ... (See Building credit)

Jeremy M. Simon: Credit check by car rental firm won't hurt score for long -- Car rental agencies may run a credit check when you rent a vehicle with a debit card, but don't worry: It won't do much damage to your credit score ... (See Debit rental credit check)

Kim McGrigg: Good credit no longer wins automatic credit limit increases -- Today, with credit card lenders still skittish, even good payment history may not win an easy credit limit increase ... (See Credit limit increase)

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)

Buying a car? Know your budget, save up, buy what you can afford -- Car shopping is the most fun, but it should be the final step. Knowing what you can afford (and not just the monthly payment) is the first ... (See Car-buying plan)

Erica Sandberg: Unhappy with student loan terms? Consider these options -- A dad co-signed with his daughter on a student loan. He wants to pay it off soon, but he doesn't like the terms of the deal. Our expert lays out his options ... (See Student loan terms)

Jeremy M. Simon: What to expect when you're made an authorized user on a credit card -- A mother wonders whether making her teenage son an authorized user on her credit card will help pass on her good credit score to her teen ... (See Authorized users)

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)

Gary Foreman: How to cut back on credit card spending -- A reader who gives in easily to credit card temptation needs to take ever-stronger preventive steps ... (See Cut credit card spending)

Erica Sandberg: Can issuers close inactive credit card accounts without telling you? -- A reader is surprised that an old, dormant credit card account was closed and he wasn't told. Our expert says this is neither illegal, nor uncommon, and offers some advice ... (See Closed credit card account)

Jeremy M. Simon: What to do with an inaccurate address on a credit report -- A reader whose credit reports list addresses associated with her ex-husband shouldn't worry, but she should take action. Our expert lays out what she should do ... (See Credit report)

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)

Gary Foreman: In hard times, keeping credit lines high may trump paying off debt -- Ordinarily consumers should use spare cash to pay off highest-rate debt first. But for those with shaky income, that strategy might not be the best ... (See Credit lines)

Erica Sandberg: Mom ruined your credit? 7 steps to recover it -- A young man is starting his career with bad credit, thanks to his mom stealing his identity years before. Our expert outlines how he can get his credit back on track ... (See Recover from ID theft)

Jeremy M. Simon: Don't fear credit score drop when applying for new card -- Applying for a new card may trim a few points from your credit score, but it shouldn't last -- as long as you use the new card wisely ... (See Credit score drop)

Todd Ossenfort: The Credit Guy's top 5 money tips -- After writing his column for the past three years, columnist Todd Ossenfort leaves his readers with these top five financial lessons ... (See Top 5 money lessons)

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)

Erica Sandberg: Card account closed? You still may be charged some fees -- A reader carries a balance on a closed credit card account and wonders why she's still being charged a maintenance fee. Our expert tells why that's not only legal, but common. ... (See Credit card maintenance fees)

Jeremy M. Simon: Angry about the credit scoring system? Here's who to complain to -- Consumers with complaints about the U.S. credit scoring system -- and there are many -- will soon be getting a powerful new ally in the form of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Just don't expect a miracle overnight ... (See Credit scoring system)

Todd Ossenfort: Can collectors come after your inheritance? -- Public records are perused by debt collectors. If they find out you've inherited a chunk of cash, don't be surprised if they come out of the woodwork ... (See Debt collection)

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)

Erica Sandberg: How to keep unethical debt collectors at bay -- A debtor says she's being harassed by an unethical debt collection agency. Our expert lays out the steps she can take to make the harassment stop ... (See Unethical debt collectors)

Jeremy M. Simon: Requesting a teen's credit report isn't child's play -- A mom looking to get a copy of her teenage son's credit report finds that the process can be quite a challenge ... (See Obtaining a teenager's credit report)

Todd Ossenfort: Neglecting one credit card bill can ruin your credit -- A reader has four credit cards, but only wants to pay on three of them. He wonders what will happen if he follows through ... (See Not paying credit card bills)

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)

Gary Foreman: Renters: How to protect yourself if your landlord faces foreclosure -- A federal law temporarily provides some protection against instant eviction, but check to see if the mortgage is being paid ... (See Renters face foreclosure, too)

Erica Sandberg: What to do when a family member steals a minor's identity -- A woman's minor stepson is facing collections for fraudulent debt rung up by a family member. Our expert offers steps to help clear the boy's name and, potentially, take the perpetrator to court ... (See ID theft)

Jeremy M. Simon: Rent-to-own home payments unlikely to aid credit score -- A wife looking to improve her and her husband's credit scores shouldn't rely only on the rent-to-own payments for her new house ... (See Rent-to-own and credit)

Todd Ossenfort: Merchants shouldn't add processing fee, surcharge for accepting credit cards -- A business can't charge you more for a product or service if you pay with plastic, but they can offer a discount to those who pay with cash or check ... (See Credit card fees)

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)

Upside down in your mortgage? Consider your credit before walking away -- Short sales and deed-in-lieu deals may get you out from under an upside-down mortgage, but they're just as bad on credit as a foreclosure ... (See Walking away from a mortgage)

Erica Sandberg: When a co-signed credit card goes bad -- A dad has been blindsided by a massive debt on a credit card that he co-signed with his daughter and then forgot about. Our expert details where he went wrong -- and how he can make things right. ... (See Co-signed credit card)

Help! The bank keeps cutting my card's credit limit -- A cardholder who racked up a large amount of debt wants to know why the bank keeps lowering his credit limit ... (See Credit limits)

QA with bankruptcy lawyer Ted Connolly, author of 'Road Out of Debt' -- Just how bad should debt be before bankruptcy makes sense? What can you do to avoid it? We asked finance and bankruptcy attorney Theodore W. Connolly, author of "The Road Out of Debt: Bankruptcy and Other Solutions to Your Financial Problems." ... (See "Road Out Of Debt")

Todd Ossenfort: Be vigilant if you suspect ID theft -- A reader questions whether he should be concerned about a credit card offer sent to his home, but directed to a distant family relative ... (See Identity theft)

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)

Erica Sandberg: The truth about Social Security benefits and wage garnishment -- Social Security benefits, in most cases, can't be taken as part of a wage garnishment. But a reader wonders how can tell those funds apart from other types of monies ... (See Social Security)

Jeremy M. Simon: How loan applications hurt your credit score -- When applying for a loan, be prepared for a small ding to your credit score as lenders check your creditworthiness ... (See Hard inquiry)

QA with Kimberly Palmer, author of 'Generation Earn' -- For Gen Y, debt is almost inevitable, so learn to handle it wisely, argues Kimberly Palmer in her new book, "Generation Earn" ... (See Kimberly Palmer)

Todd Ossenfort: Ignoring debt lawsuit can lead to wage garnishment -- When a court summons appears about an unpaid debt, it is best not to ignore it. Creditors can get orders to garnish your wages and seize funds from your bank account ... (See Wage garnishment)

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)

Prepaying your auto loan: How to see if you can, how to do it -- If your car loan doesn't include prepayment penalties, it's good to pay down car debt quickly. Here's how ... (See How to prepay an auto loan)

Erica Sandberg: Spouse won't stop spending? Get a 'financial divorce' -- If a spouse repeatedly overspends, do what you can to rein in the bad spending habits -- but also protect your credit by separating yourself financially ... (See Financial divorce)

Jeremy M. Simon: Business card debt may hurt credit, even after the company is sold -- A former business owner wonders whether his old company's unpaid debt could show up on his personal credit report ... (See Business credit cards)

Todd Ossenfort: Stop paying or file bankruptcy: Which path is less painful? -- A low-income senior citizen read advice that instead of filing for bankruptcy protection, he should just stop paying his credit card bills ... (See Bankruptcy protection)

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)

How big a home can you afford in retirement? Size your 401k, sharpen your pencil -- If you want to figure how big a house you can afford in retirement, first size up your 401(k), then sharpen your pencil. There's math involved ... (See How big a home can you afford in retirement?)

Erica Sandberg: The pros and cons of debt management plans -- A reader says he regrets entering into a debt management plan because of its impact on his credit. Our expert says his old, free-spending ways, not the plan, caused the damage ... (See Debt management plan)

Jeremy M. Simon: Apartment security deposit dispute stains renter's credit report -- A renter learns that removing apartment damage fees from his credit report will require a solid case and good negotiating skills. ... (See Credit report damage)

Todd Ossenfort: When is a debt too old for collection? -- A reader is being pursued for a debt that is 13 years old and wonders if the debt is really his. Lucky for him, the debt is too old to collect on ... (See Old debt)

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)

Retirement in sight? Balance your risk tolerance, need for growth -- As retirement age approaches and a recession ends, it's natural to be skittish about taking risk with your nest egg, but some may be necessary ... (See Retirement nest egg)

Erica Sandberg: How to handle unethical debt collectors -- Our expert tells a reader that he has some recourse against the debt collector that is using some questionable tactics in pursuit of his defaulted student loan ... (See Debt collectors)

QA with Matt Taibbi, author of 'Griftopia' -- Gonzo Rolling Stone writer Matt Tiabbi doesn't just pick a bone with Wall Street in his latest book, "Griftopia." He dissects the entire rotting carcass ... (See Matt Taibbi)

Jeremy M. Simon: How late is too late for a credit card payment? -- A one-day late payment shouldn't appear on a borrower's credit report, but the bank may not be so forgiving of future delinquencies ... (See Late payment)

Todd Ossenfort: Credit card use rights die with the account holder -- Family members want to keep using their dead mother's credit card -- even though the issuer has closed the account. There are legal -- and moral -- issues here ... (See Credit card use after cardholder's death)

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)

Gary Foreman: Save 401(k) hardship withdrawals for true emergencies -- You gave up total control over the account when you agreed to take the tax breaks, so weigh other choices before robbing your own retirement ... (See 401(k) hardship withdrawals)

Erica Sandberg: What authorized users can and can't do with your credit card -- Our expert reminds a reader that authorized users on a credit card account can't successfully request an increase to that card's credit limit. And, she says, that's a good thing ... (See Credit card authorized user)

Jeremy M. Simon: Will an unwanted card hurt your credit? -- A reader seeking an "exclusive" Chase credit card doesn't want his score to be affected by closing an unwanted version of the card ... (See Closing card accounts)

Todd Ossenfort: The right way to build good credit over time -- If you use credit wisely and build a solid credit history when you're young, you can save yourself a lot of pain and misery down the road ... (See Building credit)

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)

Issuers may freeze, seize your bank account if you pay late on credit card -- Can you have your bank accounts frozen and money taken from them by an issuer if you don't pay your credit card bills on time? Depends on where you live ... (See Freeze, seize bank accounts)

Jeremy M. Simon: Unused, old cards can help your credit score -- A reader worries -- unnecessarily -- that an old credit card from his college days could be hurting his credit. ... (See Unused credit cards)

Todd Ossenfort: Harassed for debt that's not yours? Here's how to make it stop -- A flustered woman is sick of getting calls from collectors about debt that isn't hers. The good news, our expert says, is that she can make it stop. ... (See Debt harassment)

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)

Gary Foreman: How to budget when starting a new business -- A nervous wife asks for advice on how her family should budget to handle the inconsistent income that comes with the starting of a new business. ... (See Start-up budgeting)

Erica Sandberg: Her best money advice of 2010: Excesses of youth -- Letters from a pair of ethically challenged youths gave our 'Opening Credits' columnist her two favorite questions of 2010 ... (See Money advice questions)

Todd Ossenfort: Getting out of high-interest credit card debt -- A disabled wife's $14,000 high-interest card debt is crippling her husband's ability to continue to pay the minimum amount due ... (See High-rate card debt)

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)

Gary Foreman: How to start using credit cards again after handling them badly before -- To get a good credit score and the best loans, you have to get back in there and start using credit again, even if it burned you the first time ... (See Re-establish credit)

Erica Sandberg: 'Hard' vs. 'soft' credit pulls - The type of inquiry can affect your score -- How your credit record is pulled will affect your credit score: One type of inquiry is harmless, the other will cost you points ... (See Hard vs. soft credit pulls)

Jeremy M. Simon: Running up credit card debt, declaring bankruptcy a bad idea -- A reader's plan to max out his credit cards before declaring bankruptcy has some serious problems, our expert says. ... (See Bankruptcy fraud)

Todd Ossenfort: Get a better credit score by mixing up types of credit -- It takes more than paying off one credit card every month to obtain an above-average credit score. You need to show that you can handle different types of credit ... (See Boost credit score)

Novel views of credit card debt: Plots of books by Zevin, Walter revolve around debt -- If you have problems handling your finances, you might enjoy sharing your misery with fictitious characters who get into debt and the paths they take to try and get out ... (See Credit card novels)

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)

Even if first credit card's terms aren't the best, think before canceling -- Your first credit card sets up your future credit choices, so use it wisely and weigh the impact of canceling it ... (See First credit card)

QA with personal finance author Farnoosh Torabi -- Is true wealth really only in your head? Can you banish debt and live prosperously just by changing your beliefs? Cue national personal finance authority Farnoosh Torabi ... (See Farnoosh Torabi)

Erica Sandberg: How to shop for the best rewards credit card for you -- A flustered reader seeks advice on finding a great deal on a new rewards credit card. Our expert walks her through what to do. ... (See Best rewards credit card)

Jeremy M. Simon: No quick fixes for removing late payment from credit report -- A loan applicant wants to know how he can delete a late payment from his credit report in an effort to boost his credit score. ... (See Late payment)

Sometimes bankruptcy is the ONLY way out -- If you've been out of work for a long time and sold everything you own to get by, paying your creditors and worrying about your credit rating takes a back seat ... (See Bankruptcy)

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)

Gary Foreman: Transfer car loan to a low-rate credit card? Yes, but carefully -- On the surface, transferring a car loan to a 0 percent credit card looks like a no-brainer. The fees and fine print may say otherwise ... (See Transfer car loan to a card?)

7 ways credit card debt can be hazardous to your health -- Credit card debt won't just wreck your financial health. It can take a real toll on your body, too, says our expert, who has seen it happen many times ... (See Debt stress)

Jeremy M. Simon: Relocating overseas can cause major credit headaches -- After returning to India, a cardholder wants to maintain his credit history in the States with some new U.S. plastic ... (See U.S. credit history)

Todd Ossenfort: When does debt get too old to collect? -- Each state has a statute of limitations on credit card debt, which prevents collectors from taking you to court after a certain period of time ... (See Statute of limitations)

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)

Erica Sandberg: Unsure what to save for first? Follow these top 5 savings priorities -- A college student with a young child wants to get her financial life in order. Our expert tells her that one of the keys to success is getting her priorities straight when it comes to money ... (See Savings priorities)

Jeremy M. Simon: Is a widow responsible for late husband's debt? It depends -- A widow living in Minnesota wonders whether her credit report should reflect her deceased husband's charged-off credit card account. ... (See Debt and death)

Todd Ossenfort: Disputing, removing joint-account holder causes headaches -- Whether you're an authorized user or a joint account holder, mistakes and confusion may reign when trying to sever a credit relationship ... (See Shared credit accounts)

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)

Interchange fee changes coming, and what that means for consumers -- Cash payers had been subsidizing card users at stores, but that system's under fire; if it changes, so could rewards and prices ... (See Interchange fees and consumers)

Erica Sandberg: Deep in debt? Focus on repayment, not credit scores -- A student with a five-figure debt wonders why his credit score is so high. Our expert says he should focus instead on getting his debt paid down ... (See Credit card debt)

Jeremy M. Simon: Can you freeze an individual credit card? -- While a credit freeze will restrict the opening of new accounts in a borrower's name, it takes a different approach to temporarily prevent the use of an existing accoun ... (See Credit freeze)

When a credit card minimum payment increase becomes unaffordable -- A reader's credit card minimum payment skyrocketed to the point where some months he can't afford to pay it. What are his options? ... (See Minimum payment increase)

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)

Gary Foreman: Thinking of closing little-used credit card accounts? Not so fast -- Think twice before closing little-used credit card accounts because you're mad at the issuer. It could backfire by damaging your credit score ... (See Closing credit accounts)

Erica Sandberg: Wondering who holds your delinquent debt now? Check your credit report -- A reader wants to know which company currently holds his delinquent debt. The answer, our expert says, can be found in his credit reports ... (See Delinquent debt)

Jeremy M. Simon: 3 reasons you and your lender may disagree on your credit score -- A reader in the process of refinancing wants to know why his bank has selected a 'fishy' credit score for its lending decision. ... (See Credit scores)

Todd Ossenfort: When debt collection makes your life miserable -- A reader reduced a regular payment to her creditor by half and wants to know how much worse things are going to get ... (See Credit card debt collectors)

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)

Gary Foreman: The first step in any budget: monitoring spending -- If the money always runs out before your payday, the first thing to do is find out where it's going. Here are tips for that crucial first budgeting step ... (See Budgeting steps)

Erica Sandberg: 9 steps for restoring trust after hidden debt is revealed -- A wife is worried sick about debt she has hidden from her husband. Our expert offers her practical tips to help once her secret is revealed. ... (See Secret debt)

Jeremy M. Simon: 20-year-old debt should not come back to haunt you -- While credit histories typically benefit from repaying debts, in the case of 20 year old credit card account, it may be better to ignore a creditor's request for payment ... (See Old debt)

Todd Ossenfort: Does saving trump carrying a high card balance? -- A reader has saved $70,000, but continues to pay only the minimum on a $14,000 card debt. Our expert shows questions her logic ... (See Savings vs. debt)

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)

Gary Foreman gives a 'live for today' man his best 'save for tomorrow' motivational advice -- Our frugality columnist reminds a man who lives for today that he could get hurt or laid off and quickly face financial devastation ... (See Live for today)

Erica Sandberg: Think twice before sharing credit card accounts with kids -- Moms and dads, beware of making your adult kid an authorized user or joint account holder on your credit card. It's noble to want to help, but their mistakes can clobber your credit. ... (See Authorized user)

Jeremy M. Simon: Patient's age determines whether unpaid medical debt owed -- A reader's dad was supposed to pay her medical bills, but then he fell on hard times. Now collectors are coming after her. Our expert says the right course of action for her depends on what her age was when she accrued the debt ... (See Medical debt)

Todd Ossenfort: Divorce doesn't dissolve joint card debt -- If you don't close joint card accounts after a divorce, then you're still responsible for paying any balances -- no matter who used the card ... (See Credit card debt, divorce)

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)

Gary Foreman: Want to cut electric bills? Beware the 'phantom loads' -- Many of today's devices continue to sip power in 'standby' mode, so cutting off the worst offenders can cut your bill ... (See Cut electric costs)

Erica Sandberg: Need to pay off debt fast? Prepare to make sacrifices -- A reader is in a big hurry to shed a big debt. Our expert says it can be done quickly, but it'll won't be easy. ... (See Paying off card debt)

Jeremy M. Simon: Correcting credit report errors is crucial, but not always easy -- A reader vents about his struggles to get some errors fixed on his credit report. While fixing these mistakes can be burdensome, doing so will pay dividends in the long run ... (See Fix credit report mistakes)

Learn your credit card billing cycle to avoid late charges -- The Credit CARD Act has changed the rules for billing and how payments are applied; know them to avoid surprises -- and trouble ... (See Credit card billing cycles)

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)

Gary Foreman: Ask for a lower credit limit? Unless you can't control your spending, don't -- Unless you can't control your spending, don't ask your credit card issuer to lower your limit; you'll be lowering your credit score, too ... (See Lowering your credit limit)

Erica Sandberg: The dark side of credit piggybacking -- A mom who has fallen on hard times laments that her struggles are hurting her son's credit, since he's an authorized user on her card. Our expert tells her how to clean up the mess ... (See Piggybacking)

Jeremy M. Simon: Can quickly repaying a car loan help to rebuild credit? -- A reader asks whether quickly repaying a car loan will not only save money but also help her to rebuild credit in time for a home purchase. ... (See Car loan and credit)

Todd Ossenfort: Inherent risks exist when co-signing a car loan -- A reader wonders whether she should co-sign on a car loan for a student who needs a car to commute to college ... (See Co-signing risks)

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)

Gary Foreman: How to deal with debt after a divorce when ex won't pay -- Even if there's a court order, getting money out of a deadbeat ex isn't easy ... (See Divorce and debt)

Erica Sandberg: Paying down debt on fixed income: Tough, but possible -- A reader on disability is seeking help with paying her sizable credit card debt while on a fixed income. It won't be easy, our expert says, but a realistic budget will help ... (See Opening Credits)

Jeremy M. Simon: Canceled credit cards don't leave your credit report quickly -- A reader wants to remove some old, rarely-used credit card accounts from her credit report. Our expert tells her why that's not always a good idea. ... (See Canceling credit cards)

Todd Ossenfort: Use caution when assuming another's debts -- A reader wants to transfer her partner's card debt to a card in her name. Our expert outlines the steps to take as well as the risks she's taking on. ... (See Credit card balance transfer)

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)

A generic budget: Guidelines for spending categories -- These rules of thumb for how much you should spend for housing, entertainment, etc., help you know if your spending's a little out of whack or a lot ... (See Budgeting guidelines)

Act fast when hit by credit card fraud, even if mom and dad were to blame -- A student had her credit ruined several years ago when her parents stole her identity and ran up debts. Now the collectors are coming after her. Our expert helps steer her toward clearing her name and credit. ... (See Parental ID theft)

Jeremy M. Simon: When a parent's 'favor' can ruin your credit -- A reader is an authorized user on his dad's small business card. However, his credit is taking a hit as dad's business has fallen on hard times. Our expert says the reader should remove himself from that account ASAP. ... (See Authorized user)

Todd Ossenfort: Student loans in default: What are your options? -- A reader has amassed huge student loans, but dropped out of college and is making only $200 a week. She wonders what her options are. ... (See Student loan default)

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)

How to haggle to reduce your credit card debt and rates -- You've heard the ads promising quick and easy debt reduction, but there's nothing easy or quick about them ... (See Negotiating lower debt, rates)

Kids aren't responsible for parents' old debts, no matter what collectors say -- A reader's parents are delinquent on an old bill for her private grade-school tuition. Now that she's an adult, collectors are coming after her for payment. Our expert advises her what to do. ... (See Minors and debt)

Jeremy M. Simon: More than retail cards needed for an excellent FICO score -- Retail credit cards, if used responsibly, can earn the cardholder a good -- but not great -- credit score. To take your score higher, you'll need a mix of cards ... (See Raise your FICO score)

Todd Ossenfort: After a breakup, who's responsible for card debt? -- If you allow your significant other to become an authorized user on your card account, you're stuck with the bill, no matter what happens ... (See Authorized user)

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)

Gary Foreman: How to re-establish responsible credit card use after debt problems -- After cleaning up past debt mess, the first question to ask is whether you've learned your credit card lesson and can handle credit responsibly now ... (See Re-establishing credit)

Empower your child to pay off his credit card debt with these 4 steps -- A mother is seeking guidance for her debt-ridden son. Our expert offers some common-sense steps to pay the debt down, but it won't be easy. ... (See Card debt)

Jeremy M. Simon: F-words foul up the process of getting a FICO score -- A reader may be lost in a sea of acronyms when he confuses the Freedom of Information Act with FCRA, FACTA and FICO. ... (See FICO score)

On a fixed income with debt collectors calling -- A reader's parents are being pursued by debt collectors wonders how they can pay when they have no assets and are living on fixed incomes ... (See Debt collection)

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)

Gary Foreman: After co-signing daughter's mortgage, both the loan and retirement plans turn upside down -- When their daughter's home loan went upside down, a couple's retirement plans went topsy-turvy. But there are options ... (See Co-signed mortgage troubles)

Been 'preapproved' for a credit card? Sorry, you may not get it -- A reader who's never had a credit card in her own name wonders why she's getting rejected for preapproved credit cards. Our expert explains that preapproved doesn't always mean that you're a cinch to get the card. ... (See Preapproved)

Jeremy M. Simon: Cardholders must fight to correct credit report errors -- Consumers need to take advantage of consumer protection law by disputing credit reporting errors with both the bank and credit bureau. ... (See Credit report errors)

Todd Ossenfort: When the CARD Act backfires on you -- A reader with multiple low-rate promotional card balances has found that the new CARD Act is thwarting her attempt to pay down several balances ... (See Credit CARD Act)

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)

Fill your car's tires with nitrogen, not air? It's not worth it -- Although proponents say nitrogen reduces leakage and prevents tires from deteriorating, the claims don't stand up to scrutiny ... (See Nitrogen-filled tires)

6 steps for handling your 1st credit card wisely -- A reader just got her first student credit card and wonders what to do with it once she's "done" with it. Our expert tells her, but not before offering some tips for using her card wisely. ... (See First credit card)

Your options for reducing a high credit card APR -- If your card issuer won't lower your high rate APR, you have several options -- including moving to a new card ... (See Credit card APR)

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)

Save money with online coupon services -- Traditional paper coupon-clipping is fine, but as long as you steer clear of the too-nosy ones, online coupon sites have advantages, too ... (See Online coupons)

You're eligible for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, but should you file? -- A reader who has fallen on hard times wonders if Chapter 7 bankruptcy is right for her. Her lawyer says yes. Our expert says she's not so sure. ... (See Chapter 7 bankruptcy)

Jeremy M. Simon: Charge card balances won't impact a FICO credit score -- Although the balances on credit cards are used in the calculation of credit scores, that isn't the case for charge card accounts. ... (See Charge cards)

Todd Ossenfort: 7 ways to ensure a financially successful marriage -- Tying the knot? Know that finances are one of the top five reasons for divorce. Here's how to keep your money and marriage together ... (See Money and marriage)

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)

Credit Card FAQ: Gary Foreman: Should you co-sign a loan? -- Each day this week, our columnists will answer one of our readers' most frequently asked questions. Today, 'New Frugal You' columnist Gary Foreman ponders, should you co-sign a loan? ... (See Co-signing)

Credit Card FAQ: Erica Sandberg: What sort of credit card debt help is best for you? -- Each day this week, our columnists will answer one of our readers' most frequently asked questions. Today, we focus on getting debt help. ... (See Debt help choices)

Credit Card FAQ: Jeremy M. Simon: Will canceling a credit card hurt your credit score? -- Each day this week, our columnists will answer one of our readers' most frequently asked questions. Our series continues with a focus on credit scoring. ... (See Cancel a credit card)

Credit Card FAQ: Todd Ossenfort: How do you get debt collectors off your back? -- Each day this week, our columnists will answer one of our readers' most frequently asked questions. Our series begins with a focus on debt collectors ... (See Debt collectors)

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)

4 steps to settling privately funded student loans -- A reader has defaulted on private education loans and wonders what his options are. Our expert offers some key steps he can take to ease his burden ... (See Student loans)

Jeremy M. Simon: Different websites provide very different credit scores -- Very different credit scores from two separate websites lead a reader to question the credit scoring system. ... (See Credit scores)

Divorce and credit card debt don't mix -- While a decree can assign payment responsibility for joint credit card debt, if your ex doesn't pay as agreed, your credit is at risk ... (See Card debt and divorce)

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)

How to create a price book to help you comparison shop -- It takes a while to gather the information you need, but once you do, you'll never be fooled into buying an overpriced 'sale' item again ... (See Price book)

Bad credit can hinder job search, but doesn't always -- A reader is concerned that her poor credit -- which went south during her current bout of unemployment -- is wrecking her chances of getting her next job. ... (See Credit score)

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)

Gary Foreman: Don't use 401(k) to pay off credit card debt -- Yes, you could pay debt off and cut back to a three-day work week, but the price would be working many, many more of those weeks ... (See 401(k) and credit card debt)

Erica Sandberg: Is a balance transfer credit card right for you? -- A reader has $6,000 in debt on a high-interest credit card. She's considering getting a low-interest balance transfer card, but is right for her? Our expert gives her the scoop. ... (See Balance transfer)

What 'prescreened' card offers are, how they work -- When you get a credit card offer that says that it's "prescreened," it means that you've been targeted for a special offer based on your credit report and such. But does it mean that the deal is guaranteed? ... (See Screen)

Jeremy M. Simon: What exactly is a 'pre-screened' or 'pre-approved' credit card offer? -- The term "pre-screened" describes card offers that banks have targeted to certain consumers based on their borrowing histories and other personal information ... (See Pre-screened)

Todd Ossenfort: Can a credit mistake caused by co-signing keep me from renting a home -- A reader co-signed a loan, which was defaulted upon. Now she needs to rent a home. Are her options as bleak as she thinks? ... (See Bad credit and renting)

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)

Is Dad responsible for stepmom's credit card debt after her death? -- Responsibility for debt after the debtor's death comes down to who signed the contract and what state they're in ... (See Credit card debt after death)

3 steps to take after destroying mom or dad's credit -- A son who did major damage to his father's credit wants to make things right. Our expert gives advice on how to get his credit -- and his relationship with his dad -- back on track. ... (See Repairing credit)

Refinancing won't do lasting credit score damage -- A responsible borrower who refinances his properties is unlikely to see lasting credit score damage ... (See Refinancing)

Pros and cons of paying off old debt -- Yes, paying it off will look good to lenders, but you may not want to restart the clock on debt that has passed the statute of limitations ... (See Paying off old 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)

Buying a car? Know the 3 main costs of auto ownership -- As with the car itself, the decision on what to buy has a lot of moving parts, so weigh the cost variables carefully when comparing new, used autos ... (See Buying a car)

Take these steps to repair your credit after ID theft by parent -- A parent steals a kid's identity. It's an all-too-common story, but with patience and discipline, it can be overcome if it happens to you. ... (See Identity theft by parents)

Authorized user can't be legally responsible for tax payment -- Though it may be a noble idea, an authorized cardholder who got into debt trouble can't take on the tax burden for the friend whose credit he damaged. ... (See 1099-C)

Debt in collections: Do you settle or pay in full? -- Once your debt goes into collections, you can choose to pay the full amount or negotiate a lower amount. Which choice looks better on your credit report? ... (See Debt collection)

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)

Making a budget? Break down the 'Big 4' expenses first -- A debt-laden, recent business school graduate wants to trim some expenses to help pay his student loans. Our expert says the key is consider the four biggest areas of expense first ... (See Big 4 budget)

Co-signing your kid's credit is great, unless it endangers your credit -- A mom is considering co-signing on a credit card for her 18-year-old daughter. Our expert says that while helping your family is noble, it's important to do so with great caution ... (See Co-signing credit for a child)

Pay off your balance each month? Your credit report may not show it -- A family's conscientious but high-charging ways could be bad for their credit scores. ... (See Credit scores and balances)

Minimum payments won't dent high-interest debt -- When only making minimum payments on card balances with varying APRs, the higher-interest debt is only going to go up until you pay more than is required ... (See Credit card minimum payments)

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)

When must you start to make 401(k) withdrawals? -- A 70-year-old is about to retire and wonders if he'll soon be forced to start making withdrawals from his 401(k). Our expert has the answer. ... (See 401(k) withdrawal)

Widow likely isn't liable for late husband's debts -- A widow from California is still unclear if she's liable for her late husband's card debt. Now she's received a 1099-C Cancellation of Debt form. Our expert says she shouldn't worry. ... (See Credit card debt)

Husband's card defaults don't need to weigh on wife's credit -- Although a husband's debt defaults show up on his wife's credit report, she should be able to clear those negative items ... (See Ex-spouse's credit default)

Financial reform opens access to free credit scores -- Financial reform rules now require lenders that turn you down or give you a higher rate to provide you access to a free credit score ... (See Free credit scores)

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)

Is bankruptcy right for you? Our 7-point checklist will tell you -- A reader is fed up and is considering bankruptcy, but she doesn't know if it's wise for her. Our expert offers a 7-point checklist to help her make the right choice. ... (See Bankruptcy checklist)

Taking on more credit won't hurt a good credit score -- A responsible borrower's good credit score won't be hurt -- and might even improve -- when taking on additional credit. ... (See How adding credit affects your score)

Transferring mom's balances to your cards? Not so fast -- Yes, you want to help, but if you allow a family member to transfer a balance to your credit card account, you are legally liable for that debt ... (See Credit cards)

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)

A 'workout plan' to shed debt, build credit scores -- Just like an exercise plan helps you shed weight and build muscle, a credit plan can help you shed debt and build your scores ... (See Credit score workout plan)

3 reasons not to co-sign for college students' credit cards -- The Credit CARD Act makes it harder for students under 21 to get credit cards. Thus, a 21-year-old student wants to charge his classmates to have him co-sign on a credit card. Our expert explains why this is a really bad idea ... (See Co-signing student)

Free FICO scores exist, but aren't easy to come by -- Free credit scores do exist and are relatively easy to find, but the tricky part is getting the scores lenders actually use ... (See Free credit score)

Ignoring delinquent debt can lead to wage garnishment -- The longer your debt goes unpaid, the more likely you'll be forced to pay through a court order to garnish your wages. ... (See Wage garnishment)

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)

How to plan for, face a student loan debt disaster -- Deep in student debt and needing to borrow much more to graduate, a student looks ahead to try and plan a debt escape route ... (See A plan for student debt)

5 simple steps to a faster debt payoff -- A reader's credit card statement showed him what it would cost to pay off his debts in three years. He wants to do it sooner. Our expert tells him how ... (See Debt payoff)

Deceased cardholder's debts can hurt authorized user's credit score -- When a credit cardholder passes away leaving unpaid debt, authorized account users can be left facing the credit score impact ... (See Authorized users, death and debt)

Does an authorized user's bad credit hurt the account's owner? -- Co-mingling credit with friends or family via co-signing or authorized users is best to be avoided at all costs. ... (See Authorized users and credit scores)

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)

Go used: A new car's value will fade faster than the new-car smell -- When considering whether to buy a new or used car, remember the 40% rule: New cars' value fades that much in just three years ... (See New vs. used car)

QA with finance guru Jean Chatzky -- Money and media powerhouse Jean Chatzky shares why so many people have trouble managing credit -- and how to become a master of plastic. ... (See Jean Chatzky)

Elderly father's Social Security income likely safe from garnishment -- A reader worries that her elderly father's Social Security income will be garnished to pay back a credit line from the bank. Our expert says she probably doesn't have to worry ... (See Social Security and garnishment)

Unpaid traffic citations can lower drivers' credit scores -- If you think you can ignore an out-of-state traffic ticket, it can hurt in an unexpected way: damage to your credit score ... (See Unpaid tickets hurt credit score)

Getting financially fit at 50 isn't too late -- A reader is 50 years old, has credit card debt and no savings. She wonders if she'll end up homeless someday. Our expert gives her some good news. ... (See Starting late on retirement saving)

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)

How to keep up the enthusiasm for saving, fight 'frugal fatigue' -- Staying on a tight budget is no fun. To keep your enthusiasm for saving from waning, indulge a little in luxury -- cheaper imitation luxuries, that is ... (See Stick to a budget)

Are you stuck with bigger-than-expected bar bill? Depends -- A reader wants to know if he's on the hook for a higher-than-expected bar tab on his credit card after a night of partying with his friends ... (See Credit card bar tab)

Even barely late payments can impact your credit score -- If you're late with a payment -- but fewer than 30 days late -- does your credit score take a hit? The answer's not so simple. ... (See Late payments and credit scores)

Don't fall prey to aggressive debt collection tactics -- Debt collectors know what buttons to push, so if you've never dealt with them before, you may agree to a repayment plan that you can't afford ... (See Debt collection tactics)

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)

Odds are, you're better off retiring debt with a windfall than saving -- Sure, you could save it, but paying off high-rate loans is your best bet ... (See Use windfall on debt)

8 steps toward recovering from youthful money mistakes -- A reader wants to pay off her card debts before going back to school. Our expert lays out an eight-step plan to help her do just that ... (See Pay off debt)

Be careful not to start the clock on time-barred debt -- A reader whose debt has run past the statute of limitations in her state wonders if she should still pay what she can. ... (See Old debt)

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)

Your first budget in 3 easy steps -- Don't be scared of budgeting, it's really not very hard, says New Frugal You columnist Gary Foreman ... (See Your first budget)

Without co-signer, minor's debt likely off-limits to collectors -- A reader could no longer make payments on a card he got when he was a minor and is now dealing with collections and even a possible wage garnishment. But given his age when he signed, is the debt his responsibility? ... (See Minors and credit)

Responsible borrowing can protect credit score from limit cuts -- When the bank cuts a cardholder's line of credit -- a common occurence in recent years -- a history of responsible borrowing can protect against credit scoring damage. ... (See Credit scores)

Does credit card interest accrue after death? -- When a cardholder dies, a variety of factors come into play in determining how, when and if a balance and interest gets paid. ... (See Debt and death)

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)

Credit scoring, reporting Q and A with Experian, part 2 -- The second in a six-part series replaying a credit scoring and reporting question and answer session held with Experian. ... (See Credit reporting)

Credit scoring, reporting Q and A with Experian, part 3 -- The third in a six-part series replaying a credit scoring and reporting question and answer session held with Experian. ... (See Credit reporting)

Credit scoring, reporting Q and A with Experian, part 4 -- The fourth in a six-part series replaying a credit scoring and reporting question and answer session held with Experian. ... (See Credit reporting)

Credit scoring, reporting Q and A with Experian, part 5 -- The fifth in a six-part series replaying a credit scoring and reporting question and answer session held with Experian. ... (See Credit reporting)

Credit scoring, reporting Q and A with Experian, part 6 -- The last in a six-part series replaying a credit scoring and reporting question and answer session held with Experian. ... (See Credit reporting)

New Frugal You: You've cut out the obvious budget killers. Now go for the big stuff -- The New Frugal You, a weekly reader Q&A feature on, debuts with frugality expert Gary Foreman advising a reader to aim at the big targets ... (See Spending cuts)

Charge card vs. credit card: What's the better choice? -- A student with excellent credit wants a second credit card. Our expert lays out her options. ... (See Charge vs. credit)

Only credit card payments over the minimum go to high APR balances -- If you are only paying the minimum payment for a card with multiple APR balances, then the new law doesn't cover how the issuer applies that payment ... (See CARD Act)

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)

5 steps to tackling debt while unemployed -- An unemployed reader is deep in debt and desperate. Our expert offers five tips for getting herself back on track ... (See Paying off debt)

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)

3 reasons young homeowners may get turned down for loans -- A reader who recently bought a house also wants to buy a motorcycle, but he's frustrated that he can't get a loan. Our experts preaches patience and the virtues of budgeting wisely ... (See Loan rejection reasons )

Focus on finances -- not your credit score -- when repaying a loan -- The decision to repay a loan rapidly should be more about your finances than your credit score. ... (See Early repayment plan)

Authorized users aren't liable for card debt -- Collectors trying to collect outstanding card debt from an authorized user are barking up the wrong tree. Here's what to do. ... (See Authorized user)

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)

'Hard' inquiries have limited credit score impact -- Lenders' inquiries into a borrowers' credit history can drop their credit score -- but not by much. ... (See Credit score)

Chalk one up for the credit card bank lobbyists! -- The CARD Act requires monies paid only ABOVE the minimum payment to be applied to higher interest rate balances ... (See CARD Act)

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)

Minors likely bear moral -- not legal -- responsibility for fraudulent debts -- Legally, minors likely bear no responsibility to repay credit card debts -- even if built up fraudulently. Morally? That's an entirely different matter. ... (See Minors and credit)

Credit card interest rate relief applies to joint accounts for military couples -- If credit card accounts are held jointly by military spouses, then they qualify for interest rate relief under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act ... (See Active duty credit)

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)

Collectors can try, but can't legally collect a minor's debts -- Handle with care demands for payment on old, forgotten amounts, and don't pay what you don't owe out of fear or ignorance ... (See Old debt)

Late credit card payments don't justify rate hikes anymore -- With the passage of the Credit CARD Act, if you're a little late with a payment, you're protected against an instant interest rate hike. ... (See Rate hike)

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)

Lost your credit card? Your credit report can help -- If you lose all your information about one of your credit cards, don't panic. All the answers you need likely can easily be found in your credit report. ... (See Lost credit card)

If you miss your credit card's opt out notice, you pay the price -- If you missed your credit card issuer's notice of an interest rate hike and didn't opt out in time, you're left with three choices. ... (See Opt out)

Magnetic mysteries: 6 answers about magnets' impact on credit cards -- Can cell phones erase the data on a credit card's magnetic stripe? How about MRI machines or those magnets that keep your purse closed? We took these questions and others to a physics professor in search of the truth. ... (See Magnet)

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.)

Want to boost your credit? Co-signing with parent still an option -- Young people looking for a credit boost can still co-sign with their parents, even with the passage of the Credit CARD Act. In fact, if the young adult doesn't have his own source of income, it might be his only choice. ... (See Credit)

Canceling a card can hurt your credit score -- Forced to choose between paying a new fee on your credit card or closing the account? Consider the impact on your credit score. ... (See Canceling a card)

How to pay off $11,000 in card debt in three years -- A reader wants to pay off $11,000 in debt on four credit cards in less than three years. Our experts shows him several strategies to help him reach his goal. ... (See Strategy)

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)

When refinancing, closing credit card accounts can cost you -- When in the midst of a home refinancing and considering an account closure, experts say the price of credit score damage is likely to outweigh the cost of any potential annual fees. ... (See Loan)

Forgiven debt resurfaces at tax time -- The IRS is one creditor you cannot ignore. If you receive a 1099-C in the mail for forgiven debt, you have to declare it as income. ... (See IRS)

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)

3 ways to rebuild your credit after wage garnishment -- Consistent, timely student loan payments made via wage garnishment don't reflect positively on a credit report. But there are a few steps you can take to improve your standing. ... (See Rebuild)

Sharing a roof with a parent doesn't mean sharing their bankruptcy -- Adult children who share an address with a parent don't also need to share the credit score damage when that parent files for bankruptcy. ... (See Bankruptcy)

CARD Act prevents sudden rate hikes, not annual fees -- As issuers struggle to recoup lost fee revenue, many are instituting annual fees on their credit cards. The good news is that your APR is protected. ... (See Fees)

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)

You can be sued for nonpayment of credit card debt -- The road of not paying your credit card accounts is not a pretty one. Expect late fees, higher APRs and, eventually, collections. ... (See Debt)

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)

Business mistakes can appear on personal credit report -- Business mistakes shouldn't impact your personal credit -- unless you've provided your personal guarantee. ... (See Credit)

When even the minimum payment on your credit card is too much -- When making your credit card's minimum payment becomes impossible, you have options. One of those options does NOT include paying less than the minimum. ... (See Too much)

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)

7 simple ways to create an emergency savings fund -- You may feel stranded without a credit card, but the sooner you come up with an emergency cash fund, the less reliant you'll be on plastic ... (See Emergency fund)

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)

Are you liable for late spouse's card debt? -- A widow being pursued by debt collectors wants to know if she is legally responsible for her late husband's credit card debts. The answer's not so simple. ... (See Liable)

Is reaffirming credit card debt during bankruptcy wise? -- When filing for bankruptcy, a reader want to reaffirm credit card debt, with the hope of still being able to use the card. Chances are slim the card will still be usable. ... (See Reaffirm)

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

Your options when paying the minimum isn't possible -- When living from paycheck to paycheck, any disruption in income can have immediate effects on your financial situation, including not being able to pay the minimum on your cards. ... (See Help)

Looking to disappear? Deleting your credit history is far from easy -- Erasing your existing credit report is nearly impossible, although you can try to delete parts of your borrowing history. ... (See Erase)

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)

After medical bills lead to wage garnishment, consider bankruptcy -- When a wage garnishment cuts your living expenses substantially, prioritize what's left, buy time and consider bankruptcy. ... (See Wage)

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)

New arrivals to U.S. need to rebuild credit history -- Credit history from a foreign country won't follow you to the United States, although existing financial relationships can help you begin to build a U.S. credit history. ... (See Rebuild)

Debtor determined to become debt-free needs a plan -- A reader wants to start the new year with a sound financial plan to rid himself of debt and clean up his credit report. To do that will require commitment and a plan. ... (See 2010)

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)

Cardholders' mistakes can bring down authorized users' credit score -- When you're an authorized user on someone else's credit card account, you pay the price for other's credit mistakes. Luckily, you can take steps to minimize the damage. ... (See Piggybacking)

How to resolve a bogus medical bill -- There are steps to take to prevent a bogus medical bill from appearing on your credit report and to deal with it once it shows up. ... (See Bogus)

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)

Keeping New Year's resolutions: experts' tips -- Three in four Americans will make a financial-related New Year's resolution for 2010, a survey says. But will they keep it? We speak with four experts who offer tips for making -- and sticking to -- your goals for the new year. ... (See 2010)

Sorry, you can't opt out of a credit card rate increase from promotional rate -- Promotional (teaser) APRs are temporary and that was disclosed when you got the credit card, so you can't opt out of the new, higher rate. ... (See Teaser rate)

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)

The 4 best and worst things about credit cards -- A college student asks a simple question: What are the most beneficial and detrimental things about credit cards? ... (See Best and worst)

Tough choice: credit card debt vs. down payment on a car loan -- Yes, you can raise your credit score by paying down card debt, but you don't want to get upside down on a car loan in the meantime. ... (See Cash)

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)

Improving a great credit score comes down to timing -- Bad timing can hurt even high credit scores. But if you watch when you pay your bills, that may help bump up your score a bit. ... (See Timing)

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)

The mystery of multiple opt outs explained -- Your rate's jacked, so you opt out and continue to pay off your balance at the old APR. But then your rate increases again. What gives? ... (See Opt-out)

A desperate debtor's option: hardship programs -- Your debt's sky high and even meeting the minimum payment is out of reach. Here's hope: Some card issuers will allow you to enter into a hardship program to help you meet your obligations, but on more reasonable terms ... (See Hardship)

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)

When your credit's still married and you're not -- Jointly held credit card accounts can still haunt you years after you divorce. Make sure your ex is off and stays off your credit report. ... (See Divorce)

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)

Explore all options before declaring bankruptcy -- You may think bankruptcy will solve all your debt problems, but it also creates a whole new, lasting set of issues that will take a long time to recover from. ... (See Bankruptcy)

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)

In default on car loan: What to do? -- If you are in default on a car loan, but want to make amends, it might help to sit down with the lender and discuss possible payment options. ... (See Default)

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)

Minors seeking a credit card will need a helping hand from mom and dad -- A 16-year-old reader wants to know how she can get her own credit card. The answer: with a little help from mom or dad. ... (See 16)

How to pay $12,000 in credit card debt quickly -- When it comes to paying off card debt, it's important to remember that there's no quick fix. Determination and patience will do the trick. ... (See Pay off)

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)

Debt can slow down retirement goals -- Debt happens. But how you handle it depends on whether you take charge of it or you allow it to take charge of you. ... (See Budget)

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)

How credit card interest charges accrue on a daily basis -- With daily periodic interest charges adding to your credit card balances, the odds of making a dent in your debt by paying just the minimum is minimal. ... (See Interest)

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)

What to do when debt triples your income -- When your debt load is more than triple your income, it's time to seek a solution. Debt counseling, debt settlement and possible bankruptcy can set you free. ... (See Debt and disability)

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)

Mystery debt: A collector's goof becomes your recurring problem -- Prepare for a hassle if a collection mistake has your name on it -- phone calls and certified letters are in your future. ... (See Goof)

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)

The risks you incur when you co-sign -- Once you co-sign on a credit card, your rights to get out of the deal are limited, but you are still completely liable if the original account holder defaults. ... (See Risky)

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)

Cure your defaulted student loan in six steps -- If you default on a student loan, the law gives you a second chance if you make regular, 'reasonable and affordable' payments. ... (See Default)

Options are limited for bad credit customers -- If you've got a bad credit history in this tight credit market, the odds of getting a credit card with a great interest rate are slim. ... (See APR)

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)

The risks you face when co-signing a loan -- When you co-sign on a loan and the original borrower stops paying, your credit report and credit score take a hit, too. ... (See Co-signer)

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)

Patience, persistence are keys to raising your credit score -- An impatient reader may not like the answer, but the the keys to raising your credit score from the depths are consistency, persistence and -- yes -- time. ... (See Time)

Options for dealing with a minimum payment increase -- As issuers try new ways to bring in cash, cardholders may face boosted minimum payment requirements. If you can pay the new minimum, you should, and stop carrying a balance in the future. ... (See Hike)

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)

Spouse's passing doesn't absolve widower of joint card debts -- Grief over a spouse's death and the need for money to get a new place to live after her passing doesn't absolve a widower of the obligation to pay down joint debts.. ... (See Widower)

Pitfalls of pumping, dumping sign-up bonus cards -- The "pump and dump" strategy of taking advantage of huge bonus sign-up reward points or miles can really mess with your credit if you're not smart ... (See Rewards)

Creditors care about original loan documents, not court agreements -- In divorce, lenders will go after all who agreed to pay, no matter what a court decree says about who should pay. ... (See Divorce)

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)

Authorized users don't have to pay for cardholder's missteps -- If you're an authorized user on someone's credit card and the account holder makes a few wrong moves, you don't have to suffer. Our expert shows how you can protect yourself if this happens to you. ... (See Undo)

You have new rights to keep your old rate -- Under the new credit card law, you can cancel your card and pay off your balance at the existing APR if the issuer hits you with a rate increase ... (See CARD Act)

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)

Are your air miles at risk if you fall on hard times? -- A reader wonders what would happen to his miles if he closes his credit card account, settles with the card company or goes bankrupt. ... (See Miles)

Learn your options when dealing with crushing medical debt -- Communicate, and secure your housing and transportation first, says The Credit Guy. ... (See Medical)

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)

Just one day late can hurt that credit card rate -- Even if you're tardy in paying your credit card bill by a single day, it can trigger a rate increase. ... (See One day)

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)

Killing off the credit card balance that refuses to die -- Late charges, over-the-limit fees, interest rate hikes and cash advance fees can all prevent you from paying down that previously unrelenting credit card balance. ... (See Balance)

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)

To avoid debt, give your credit your respect and attention -- Don't fear credit cards, our expert tells a reader. Handle them responsibly by giving them your respect and your attention, and they can be more useful than scary. ... (See Respect)

Active military personnel protected from interest rate hikes -- The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act offers interest rate limit protections for active duty military personnel. All you have to do is ask, and prove that you've been called to serve. ... (See SCRA)

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)

Be wise when cashing in rewards points -- To reap the most out of credit card rewards programs, it's important to pay attention to which rewards give you more bang for the buck ... (See Points)

Considering bankruptcy? Use the 'divide by 60' test to see if you should -- Take your unsecured debt and divide it by 60 to see whether you're a candidate for bankruptcy, says Todd Ossenfort, The Credit Guy. ... (See 60)

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)

How being an authorized user can hurt your credit score -- If you are an authorized user on someone's credit card account and that account is not in good standing, it will drag down your credit score. ... (See Credit)

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)

6 times when it's OK to cut up your cards -- A reader asks Opening Credits a simple question -- "When do credit cards get cut up?" -- that doesn't have a quick, easy answer. ... (See To cut or not to cut?)

The greatest gift of all: free travel -- When offered someone else's frequent flier miles for travel, there are some rules of the road that you should follow. ... (See Free!)

Your options when credit card minimum payments skyrocket -- Credit card issuers can change conditions on short notice, including the minimum payment. ... (See Payment )

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)

Your rights when dealing with canceled flights -- When your flight is canceled, you might be surprised to find that the airlines aren't legally required to do much to accommodate you. ... (See Canceled)

John Grund: A look at the future of credit cards -- Credit card expert John Grund analyzes what consumers can expect to pay for credit in the near future and whether the days of easy credit are over. ... (See Future)

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 is it a good time to dump your rewards card for another? -- With so many bonus sign-up rewards cards out there, it becomes difficult to decide when it's time to dump your old card for a new one ... (See Miles)

Personal loan vs. credit card cash advance to pay for wedding -- For one-time events such as a wedding, go with the loan -- the rates are usually much cheaper. ... (See Loan)

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)

When money woes hit home, take stock and make a plan -- Our expert offers a plan for a family with two young children, a $4,800 monthly mortgage payment, $14,000 in credit card debt and suddenly has been hit with a job loss. ... (See What to do)

Allowing friends to use your credit card = mistake -- After the charges, it may be too late to hold someone else responsible for debt run up on your card with your permission. ... (See Friends don't let friends charge)

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)

Who owns the rewards on a company card? -- If you are given the option to pay for the AmEx rewards program membership, then most companies should cede ownership of those perks to you ... (See Rewards)

When family members ruin your credit -- Authorized users on your credit card have two freedoms: to rack up debt on your account and to bail when it comes to paying it off ... (See Family)

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)

Are you responsible for your late parent's debts? -- One nervous reader asks whether a credit card company can come after her to pay for her father's debts after he passes away. ... (See Debts)

Finding rewards cards with local customer support -- When searching for a rewards credit card program, some consider outsourced, foreign customer support a huge detractor. ... (See Rewards)

Hit with an APR hike? Keep the card or cancel? -- Until the new credit card laws take effect in 2010, your issuer can still change the terms for any reason. If hit with an APR increase, you have two choices: keep it or cancel it. ... (See Changes)

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)

Priortize payments wisely to knock down debts -- A reader with about $35,000 in debt to various creditors asks our expert which of her many debts she should pay off first. ... (See Priorities)

With credit card bills, don't be late, negotiate -- Reaching out before the bill is due damages your credit score the least, says The Credit Guy. ... (See Negotiate)

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)

Comparing value of cash back cards vs. rewards -- The value of credit card rewards programs are as different as their participants. Free travel may have more appeal than cash back or vice-versa. ... (See Cash)

When negotiating debt, original creditors and third-party collectors differ -- If negotiating to reduce past due credit card debt, the rules and negotiating strategies differ between original creditor, third party collector. ... (See Debt)

The ugly side of debt collection -- Debt collectors would much rather settle for less than the full amount and get it all at once than receive a small amount each month. ... (See Collection)

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)

Thinking of buying an $8,000 motorcycle on a credit card? Weigh all options before your purchase -- A reader wants to use a new credit card to buy his dream motorcycle, but our columnist suggests waiting and weighing all his options before making the purchase. ... (See Dreams)

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)

Your options for negotiating outstanding debt -- If your income has been dramatically reduced, then you may qualify for some assistance from the creditor that might not negatively affect your credit score. ... (See Score)

Multi-airlines cards versus single-airline cards -- Both multi-arlines rewards cards and single-airline cards have pluses and minuses, and which is right for you depends on what kind of frequent flier you are. ... (See Perks)

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)

Good credit history doesn't go away when card canceled -- If your only credit card gets closed, don't worry. That good credit history that you built will live on, even as the card becomes just a memory. ... (See History)

Can my Social Security benefits be garnished for credit card debt? -- Be at ease; your Social Security can't be garnished for credit card debt. But you still need to get a budget together. ... (See Garnish)

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)

Laid off, stuck with company credit card bill -- If you are an authorized user on your company card, then you aren't responsible for payment, but that might not stop collectors from harassing you for it. ... (See Company card)

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)

Do you lose your miles when canceling a card? -- When canceling a frequent flier credit card, make sure you know how your miles are cached or you just might lose them. ... (See Cancel)

Now's the time to let lenders know you're struggling -- Lenders are aware of the issues facing more and more consumers, and have put in place many measures to help -- but they can't help if they don't know you are struggling. ... (See Help)

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)

Determining value of rewards redemption -- While typically not the best value for your rewards points, redeeming for merchandise can be handy when real "money" is more important in your pocket than any amount of miles or point ... (See Merchandise vs. miles)

Follow on Twitter! --'s editorial team is on Twitter. Check out the latest tweets from Tweeter-in-Chief Daniel P. Ray (aka TakingCharge) or any of the other staffers listed below. We promise to keep you informed and have some fun along the way ... (See Twitter)

Encourage, teens, other children to learn good savings habits -- An early interest in saving money is to be commended! It gives children a head start on a lifetime of good financial habits. ... (See Savings)

Ex-wife maxes out joint cards: Who pays? -- Divorce is at best unpleasant and at worse very painful. Plus, the lingering separation of finances can add to the pain for years. ... (See Maxed out)

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)

Canceled flight? Want your miles back? Good luck! -- A poor flight experience doesn't mean you can dispute the charges on your credit card and get your miles reimbursed. ... (See Miles)

Retired, widowed, overcome by credit card debt -- Seniors with credit card debt who live just off Social Security may have to make some tough financial decisions in order to live within their income. ... (See In debt)

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)

Using frequent flier miles for tax-deductible business trip? Figure fair market value -- Using frequent flier miles for a tax-deductible business trip? Careful: There are two ways to determine their value. ... (See Miles)

Hit with a credit card interest rate increase? Do you cancel card over APR hike? -- When hit with a rate increase on your credit card, it's important to weigh several factors when deciding to keep the card or cancel it. ... (See Choices)

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)

How to handle credit card bills when pink slips loom -- For those who are struggling to make credit card payments now or will if they lose their jobs, rising interest rates could present a real problem -- but there is help. ... (See Pink slip)

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)

Tricks and tips to keep frequent flier miles from expiring -- You don't have to book a ticket to keep your frequent flier miles from expiring -- you just have to shop. ... (See Expiration)

New citizen tips for building good credit -- Part of the process in becoming an established U.S. citizen is to start building a solid credit history. ... (See Credit)

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)

Tracking rewards program changes before they happen -- Credit card rewards programs change all the time, but if you keep on top of things and are flexible, you can cash in those miles or rewards before you lose them. ... (See Rewards)

Options when facing a credit card interest rate increase -- Credit card issuers can jack up your interest rate at any time, for any reason, and increases are tougher to duck than before. ... (See Rate increase)

Tiny payments don't keep creditors away -- Contrary to urban legend, making a small payment won't keep the creditors away; you have to pay at least the minimum payment. ... (See Payment)

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)

How to find the best airline rewards bonus miles deal -- In the market for a new rewards card? Make sure you scour Google to make sure you get the best bonus miles deal out there. ... (See Free miles)

When credit card debt ruins retirement -- When credit card debt dulls the glow of your golden years, you have options: reverse mortgages, bankruptcy or credit counseling. ... (See Retirement)

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)

Debunking myths about frequent flier programs -- Even with flights being cut back, now is the time to redeem your frequent flier miles. Competition for once-rare seats has lessened and airlines have made it easier to comparison shop. ... (See Cashing in)

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)

How the IRS treats frequent flier credit card rewards -- are they taxable income? -- When cashing in frequent flier miles, it's important to know whether the IRS considers them gifts or taxable income. ... (See IRS)

Minor's credit card contract raises legal, ethical questions -- A credit card contract with 17-year-old is likely not enforceable -- with some exceptions. However, continuing to run up debt on that card raises some tricky moral and ethical questions. ... (See Ethics)

Not all issuers allow you to opt out of rate increases -- When hit with a sudden increase to your APR, most card companies allow you to opt out, keep the old rate and pay off the balance, but not all are so kind. ... (See Opt out)

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)

Lessons in paying off delinquent debt -- Settling an old debt won't necessarily improve your credit score, but it can free you of the collection process and to know that you made good on your obligation ... (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)

5 tips for protecting your credit during marriage breakup -- Marriage breakups are messy, messy things. However, taking these five steps can help you protect your credit during this trying time. ... (See 5 breakup money tips)

Income down, bills up. Time for credit counseling? -- When faced with spiraling debt, seeking advice from an accredited debt counselor will help you consider your options. ... (See Options)

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)

Don't take the bait when you receive a 'phishing' e-mail -- Legitimate companies don't ask for your private, personal information via e-mail. Don't let a logo lure you into a 'phishing' scam or in can cost you. ... (See Fraud)

When loaning money, weigh your own financial situation first -- When helping someone out financially, a good rule of thumb to consider is if the assistance would immediately or in the future cause havoc with your own personal finances. ... (See Loan)

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)

Too much fast food can be hazardous to your credit -- No, where you eat doesn't have an impact on your credit score, but that's not the full story. While paying plastic for that Big Mac won't hurt your credit score, it might just make issuers think that you're a credit risk. ... (See Fast food)

Suspect identity theft? How to check for, fix ID theft or fraud -- You can opt out of unwanted mail solicitations, but a sudden flurry could be a hint that new credit has been opened in your name. ... (See Credit reports)

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)

When hit by ID theft, take these 4 steps to make things right -- It's awful to have to start your credit life by cleaning up a mess that you didn't make. The good news, though, is that you definitely can clean it up. ... (See ID theft)

Here's how to help young adults with bad credit -- Many young adults find themselves in credit card debt with no means or knowledge on how to get themselves out. Here's some advice. ... (See Credit lessons)

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)

Take these 3 steps when bank account seized by collectors -- You can't stop or reverse the seizure of your bank account to repay outstanding debts, but you can take steps to protect your other assets and rebuild your credit. We'll lay out what you should do. ... (See Seized)

How to keep a small business credit card limit from being cut -- Those who rely on small business cards with high limits to keep their shops running need to be proactive. ... (See Keeping your credit limit)

Are three cards too many? Not if you use them wisely -- There's no one answer to how many cards are too many. Lots of variables come into play, including how you use the cards and how you make your payments. ... (See Too many cards?)

Best credit card stories of 2008 -- The year 2008 saw unprecedented change in the credit card industry, turning card debt from convenient friend into everyone's enemy. These are the top 10 stories that helped chronicle it. ... (See 2008 review)

Strategies for escaping a too-expensive auto lease -- If you signed an lease that turns out to be unaffordable, you have a few options, but most aren't pretty. ... (See Lease)

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)

Ignoring old debt can come back to haunt -- Lenders view delinquent, but paid off debt better than delinquent unpaid debt. ... (See Bad 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)

Disabled daughter needs advocate in dealing with debt -- A worried mom asks how she can help her disabled daughter who is unable to make minimum credit card payments. ... (See Disabled)

Creating a plan to pay off $60,000 in credit card debt -- A reasonable amount of time to pay off unsecured debt is five years or less, so in order to pay off $60,000, expect to pay about $1,300 a month ... (See $60,000)

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)

Give the gift of credit card know-how this holiday -- Thinking of giving your kids credit cards this holiday? The best gift you can give them is an education in credit, and is a terrific place to start. ... (See New credit)

FACTA and the rules behind getting a free credit report -- A federal law known as FACTA provides that credit reporting bureaus must provide a free copy of your credit report every 12-month period. ... (See FACTA )

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)

Negotiate debt payment plans before disaster strikes -- When financial disaster is looming in your household, be proactive. Contact your creditors and explain your situation before times get darkest, and issuers might be willing to work with you. ... (See Negotiate)

How debt settlement works, how it affects credit scores -- Debt settlement lets you escape part of your debt, but at a price to your credit score. ... (See Score)

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)

If dear old dad steals your identity, turn him in -- When a parent commits identity fraud against a child, emotions can run high. But given the choice between protecting your parent or your good name, choose the latter. ... (See Parental ID theft)

Help! My APR's been hiked to 27.99 percent -- Credit's tight and your card issuers are reacting by boosting interest rates. Your choices are either to pay off the balance or transfer to another card. ... (See Balance transfer)

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)

Higher limit or second card will impact your credit score -- If you think your credit limit's too low, you may consider either asking your current issuer for a higher limit or getting a second card. Either way, don't forget to consider the impact the move will have on your credit. ... (See Credit limits)

Building a credit history without credit cards -- Living without credit cards can lead to a "thin" credit file where lenders don't have enough evidence that you are a good credit risk. ... (See Thin file)

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)

7 tips for handling your first credit card -- When college students and credit cards mix, the results can be troubling. Here are seven helpful hints to keep yourself or your kids from falling quickly into the debt trap. ... (See Tips)

Disabled vet seeks relief from credit card debt -- A disabled veteran living on a fixed government income is overcome by credit card debt and seeks a way out. ... (See Help!)

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)

Opening Credits: Better credit can improve your job prospects -- Going for a first job? Great. Buff your credit report as well as your resume, because employers these days look at both ... (See Opening Credits)

Leaving country won't avoid wage garnishment -- Leaving the country to escape credit card debt doesn't guarantee that it will be gone if and when you come back. ... (See No escape)

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!)

When family members use 'secret' credit cards -- Just who is responsible for the debt racked up by a spouse's secret credit card cache? 'Maturing Loans' columnist Klayman says it depends on several factors. ... (See Cards)

Using retirement to pay off high debt isn't the answer -- Using retirement funds to pay down high credit card debt isn't the best solution. Creating a budget and living within your means is. ... (See Budget)

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)

Sold the house, have some cash, now what? -- Seniors who are downsizing need to pay off debt, create fixed-income investment income and have an emergency fund to cover financial surprises. ... (See Downsizing)

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)

Pay down debt or invest? Which is more important? -- With the financial markets so uncertain, is it wiser to pay down debt or keep investing for the future? ... (See 401(k) or debt?)

Credit recovery advice: Start slow, do it right this time -- When pulling out of bankruptcy, it's important to understand how you got there in the first place in order to avoid getting there again. ... (See Credit limits)

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)

Know the rules before you tap your 401(k) -- Transferring funds from a taxable retirement account into a "safer" investment vehicle can cost you if not done the right way. ... (See Be prepared to pay)

Taking on new debt in an economic downturn -- During economic instability, it is wise to reconsider the need to take on additional credit lines. ... (See Ease up on credit)

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)

How balance transfers impact your credit score -- The ratio between how much credit you have available and how much credit is used is calculated as part of the amounts-owed category when calculating your credit score. ... (See Pay it off)

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)

Hard times require new investing, credit card habits -- In these uncharted economic waters, it is important to keep the level of credit card debt down and refrain from making large, unnecessary purchases on credit. ... (See Turmoil)

The pros and cons of charging a luxury car on your credit card -- While charging a luxury car on your credit card may yield a lower interest rate, the risks are higher than a traditional fixed rate loan. ... (See Rolling credit)

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)

Make your pension generate income beyond your death -- When you die, your pension dies with you or you can purchase life insurance with a portion of your pension, leaving behind an income for your spouse and inheritance for your heirs. ... (See Income)

Laid off, but stuck with corporate card bill -- A recently laid-off employee, who turned in his corporate credit card, is receiving bills for charges on his old card and wonders who is liable for the debt. ... (See Company bill)

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)

Life insurance is for the living, not for credit card debt -- An adult child wants to use her elderly parents' life insurance proceeds to pay off her credit card debt -- before they die. ... (See Payout )

Can you really afford that car loan? -- Buying a car with a high interest rate loan can get burdensome down the road -- especially if hard times hit and you're stuck with a loan worth more than the car. ... (See Wheels)

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)

Establish retirement priorities when paying off debt -- Using retirement funds to pay off high-interest credit card debt? Not such a good idea, says 'Maturing Loans' columnist Alan Klayman. ... (See Retiring)

Patience is key to credit score repair -- It takes time and patience for your credit score to rise after you pay off neglected credit card debt, says columnist Todd Ossenfort. ... (See Raising your credit score)

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)

Inheritance strategy: Pay off credit cards, evaluate the mortgage -- When you inherit money, it's important to pay off debts, starting with those carrying the highest interest rate. ... (See Inheritance strategy)

Opting out of a credit card rate increase? Keep records! -- When opting out of a credit card interest rate increase, it is critical to keep copies of your letter and mail receipt in case the issuer decides to up the rate again. ... (See Opting out)

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)

When a spouse dies, how do you pay off their debt? -- When a spouse dies, how debt becomes your responsibility ... (See Spousal debt)

Cancel that credit card, take the credit score hit -- Yes, canceling a credit card can hurt a credit score, but it's worth it if you're struggling, says The Credit Guy. ... (See Credit score)

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)

When a medical crisis empties retirement funds -- What steps to take to restore retirement funds after a medical crisis. ... (See Starting over)

Add positive information to your credit report to balance the negative -- To help boost your credit score after paying off delinquent accounts, you need to add some positive information to your credit report that will help balance the negative. ... (See Credit scores)

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)

Buying investments with credit cards? It's unavailable, and unwise -- Laws and regulations exist that determine and limit how much you can use borrowed funds (including credit cards) to purchase investments. ... (See Investing on credit)

Do airline rewards programs trump cash rewards programs? -- With credit card rewards programs so prevalent, The Credit Guy Todd Ossenfort weighs the benefits of frequent flier programs versus cash back rewards programs. ... (See Touch choice)

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)

What to do when a family member forges credit card applications in your name -- When a family member forges your name on credit card applications, you have two choices: Pay the bill or prosecute, says Maturing Loans columnist Alan Klayman. ... (See Family forger)

Steps to take to repair your credit -- When repairing your credit score, it's best to just start making payments on bad debt rather than trying to negotiate the balance down, says Todd Ossenfort, 'The Credit Guy.' ... (See Credit score)

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)

Low interest rate and rewards credit cards can put cash back in your pocket -- With food and gas prices escalating, Americans need to budget more carefully than ever before, including resisting the short-term solution of charging up debt on credit cards. ... (See Budgeting)

When is a debt too old to go into 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)

After creating a debt management plan, stick to it -- columnist Todd Ossenfort strongly recommends that once you're in credit counseling, stick to the goals set up in a debt management plan and avoid temptation to get into more debt ... (See Debt management plan)

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)

Who's responsible for a deceased spouse's card debt? -- When a spouse dies, credit card debt may or may not be passed along to a widow. ... (See Credit card debt and death)

Canceling a credit card vs. keeping a bad one: Compare costs -- Weighing the true cost of canceling a credit card with an annual fee: How much will it hurt your credit score? ... (See Canceled credit card)

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)

Five-year-old credit card debt has debt collectors calling -- With a job loss and 5-year-old credit card debt and only Social Security income, a reader needs a lot of help -- starting with knowing her rights, says Maturing Loans columnist Alan Klayman. ... (See Old debt)

Saving for emergencies, retirement come before paying off credit card debt -- Creating an emergency fund and contributing to your retirement fund should always come before paying off credit card debt. ... (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)

Relatives must be careful when asked to co-sign on a credit card. -- Relatives must be careful when asked to co-sign on a credit card. ... (See Co-signing a loan)

Managing on-time credit card payments -- When transferring balances to 0 percent cards, it's critical to make on-time payments or you'll lose out. ... (more)

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

When your parents' debt problems need attention -- Seniors can easily become overwhelmed with credit card debt. Here's some advice how to help them. ... (See Retirement and debt)

Good credit customers: Shop around for the best interest rates -- If you have good credit, it pays to shop around for lower interest rates. ... (more)

Setting up investments to create guaranteed income in retirement -- Maturing Loans columnist Alan Klayman weighs the benefits of creating an income strategy in retirement against the standard investment strategy. ... (See Investing and retirement)

Helping your college-age child establish credit -- Students with their first credit card can be dangerous, so parents of should help their college-age children create a spending plan, says The Credit Guy. ... (See Student credit)

One-stock investments are risky ventures in retirement -- Maturing Loans columnist Alan Klayman advises against the one-stock retirement bet and says the best way to generate income is through a well-planned income strategy. ... (See Investing and retirement)

How does a credit card work? -- There are all kinds of credit cards with all kinds of different rules. Make sure you pick the right card for you. ... (See Choosing a card)

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)

In retirement, the thinking about retirement and income changes -- In retirement, the thinking about retirement and income changes ... (See Retirement)

Authorized user or joint account holder? -- There are major differences between an authorized user and joint account holder for credit card accounts. One is liable for unpaid balances and the other is not. ... (See Sharing credit)

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)

8 tips for squeezing the last dollar out of a budget -- It's tough to make ends meet on a fixed income. To do it, you have to squeeze the spending hard as you can, says 'Maturing Loans' columnist Alan Klayman. ... (See Budgeting)

Questions to ask to check out your credit counselor's credentials -- Before you hire a credit counselor, make sure you check out their credentials. ... (See Credit counseling)

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)

Entering retirement with credit card debt -- Carrying credit card debt into retirement requires a plan. ... (See Retirement and debt)

Card issuers apply payments to lower interest rate balances first -- Balance transfers, cash advances and purchases typically have different APRs. Card issuers apply payments to lower interest rate balances first. ... (more)

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)

Compare and analyze investment choices after retirement funds are maxed out -- With extra cash on hand, is it best to invest in paying down the mortgage or investing in mutual funds? Maturing Loans columnist Alan Klayman knows. ... (See Investing and retirement)

Credit inquiries and your credit score -- The Credit Guy explains how credit inquiries negatively impact your credit score and how long these inquiries remain on your credit report, as well as advises readers to not needlessly shop for credit. ... (See Credit score)

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)

Retired, with too little income and too much in property taxes -- Living just off her Social Security income, a 72-year-old woman asks columnist Alan Klayman how to go about paying her property taxes on such a small fixed income. ... (See Retirement and taxes)

Is your credit card ripe for fraud? -- When credit card account information is stolen, the thief uses your card information to request a change in the billing address and an additional card. The thief can then use your account for as long as it takes you to realize that your card has been compromised. ... (See Credit card fraud)

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)

How to maintain retirement lifestyle while managing debt -- Debt complicates the calculation on how much you'll need to retire in comfort, says 'Maturing Loans' columnist Alan Klayman. ... (See Retirement and debt)

Understanding how credit scores work -- Find out all the different elements that are considered when your credit score is compiled. ... (See Credit scores)

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)

Laid off, debt climbing -- If you have savings, there are ways to decrease reliance on credit cards by setting up a short-term income strategy, says Alan Klayman in the debut 'Maturing loans' column. ... (See Unemployment and debt)

Improving credit to refinance a truck or auto loan -- Steps to take to build a strong credit score. ... (See Rebuilding a credit score)

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)

Credit, credit scores and walking away from truck, auto lease -- Seven months after leasing a new truck, a woman realizes she's in too deep and needs to get out of her lease. ... (See Leasing a car)

Starting over and getting new credit after a bankruptcy -- A woman pays off her bankruptcy and is ready to build her credit again. ... (See Bankruptcy)

Consider all options before filing for bankruptcy, says The Credit Guy -- The reason that bankruptcy is recommended only as a last resort is because of the personal and financial toll a bankruptcy has on a person or family, The Credit Guy advises a reader. ... (See Bankruptcy)

Car's too small, loan's upside down -- A woman who needs a bigger car but who is upside down on her car loan should focus on paying down the debt before looking at bigger vehicles, says The Credit Guy. ... (more)

Rich lady, big overdue card debt -- A woman with $16,000 in delinquent credit card debt, but plenty of money to pay it off, needs to do more than just write a check if she hopes to avoid repeating her mistake, says The Credit Guy. ... (more)

Keeping up credit while in jail may not be possible -- It's noble to want to help a jailed friend keep up his credit score while serving time, but unless you want to pay his bills, some things just aren't possible, says The Credit Guy. ... (more)

Dad co-signed, I messed up his credit. Now what? -- You ruined Dad's credit score by running up a big debt on a card he co-signed for you, but no, you didn't cost him his house, The Credit Guy advises a reader. ... (more)

How to opt out of credit card rate increases -- If you've been notified that your interest rate is going to jump, you may be able to pay your credit card off at the old rate, but you lose use of the card. ... (more)

When do credit card balance transfers make sense? -- Having a firm repayment plan makes the difference, The Credit Guy tells a reader. ... (more)

Pay off credit card debt or declare bankruptcy? -- It's painful, but a reader who took $13,000 in credit card cash advances and lost it to an Internet scam needs to pay the money back, says The Credit Guy. ... (more)

Q&A: Pawn off $10,000 credit card debt on son? No way! -- The Credit Guy, who answers readers' questions for, thinks this parent can pay off the delinquent bill. ... (more)

Expert Q&A: Budget for debt, but not too tightly -- A recent college graduate saddled with debt needs a spending and paydown plan, but it's bound to fail unless it includes some fun, says The Credit Guy. ... (more)

Ask The Credit Guy: Should I do credit rehab myself? -- Credit counselor Todd Ossenfort, aka The Credit Guy, answers a reader's question about whether it's wise to embark on do-it-yourself credit repair. ... (more)