Credit Scoring Is a Racist, Classist System that Has Us All Trapped

Imagine a ranking system that assigns everyone a number. You don’t opt into this program; you’re automatically enrolled. And there’s no way to opt out. You’re involved whether you like it or not.

You also don’t have any say over the judges, those determining and adjusting your score as you go through life. These judges actually make money off of scoring you.

The worst part is that your opportunities in life—renting an apartment, getting a loan, qualifying for insurance, landing a job—are dependent on your ranking.

Imagine no more, dear readers! For I just described the United States’ system of credit scoring. Supposedly, credit scores are a neutral, unbiased metric for determining a borrower’s risk in the lending market. In reality, they function as a racist, classist trap from which there’s little escape.

Them’s some heavy claims! Don’t worry though: I brought receipts. And lots of them end in .gov so you know they’re legit!

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The best way to pay off credit card debt

How To Pay off Credit Card Debt: From the Snowball to the Avalanche Method

The Harvard Business Review has published a story on “the best strategy for paying off credit card debt.” The research, originally published in the Journal of Consumer Research by Keri L. Kettle et. al. benefits the millions of Americans who are literally $1.13 trillion in collective credit card debt according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Those trapped in the cycle of debt could truly benefit from a solution, so it’s worthwhile research.

The researchers (hereafter Kettle & Co.) tested a couple different methods for credit card debt reduction:

  1. Dispersing payments equally across multiple credit cards each month.
  2. Concentrating as high a payment as possible on one account at a time.

Their results were definitive and monumental! Truly a groundbreaking study! At last we know the one true way and light of how to pay off credit card debt!

I jest, of course. Because—say it with me now!—personal finance is personal. If there were one singular, perfect solution to credit card debt, everyone would use it and it wouldn’t be the question that launched a thousand personal finance influencers.

Today I want to break down a few of the different methods that work for paying down credit card debt. I’ll cover Kettle & Co.’s findings, some conventional wisdom from those who have survived debt, and one of the most hated, obnoxious, and ethically questionable men in personal finance media.

For verily, I say unto thee: Even a broken clock is right twice each day.

-The Book of the Bitches, Chapter III, verses 5-6
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How to Build Good Credit Without Going Into Debt

How to Build Good Credit Without Going Into Debt

Adult human beings need credit—good credit—to do lots of important adult things such as renting apartments and buying cars. We’ve been over this! But conventional wisdom says that the best way—nay, the only way—to build good credit is by accumulating debt.

That assumption about building credit through getting in debt feels backwards to me. For after all, the entire purpose of a credit score is to show that you’re worthy of loans. So you have to owe money so that you can then… owe money? And having debt, whether it be in the form of a balance on a credit card or just Ye Olde Student Loane, can lead you down a fucking terrifying cycle of overspending and interest that can eventually damage your credit, rather than helping it.

So let’s toss out the conventional wisdom. There’s got to be a better way! And there is. For it’s entirely possible to steadily build good credit without going into a day of debt.

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How to Instantly Increase Your Credit Score… for FREE

While we were in the mystical city of Cincinnati recently, we did a live Drunk AMA on YouTube! It was great. We slow-flossed to a church hymn and dispelled the rumor that Ducky is, in fact, a vampire.

One of the questions we received was about Experian Boost. It’s just one of many services that offer to raise your credit score… for a fee. Even in our chaotic drunken state, we were lucid enough to unequivocally recommend that most of you shouldn’t bother with these paid services. There’s an easier, faster, and free way to raise your credit score!

Since not everyone wants to suffer through a 97-minute YouTube video of our collective vocal fry, I am now here to share the wisdom of how to instantly raise your credit score for free. Cast aside those paid services that promise you a better credit score! This is all you need to know.

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Here’s What to Do With Those Credit Card Pre-approval Offers You Get in the Mail

You check the mailbox. In between the ubiquitous Bed, Bath & Beyond coupon, snail mail from your Aunt Clarita, and a bill you’d rather ignore, you see it: you’ve been pre-approved for a brand new credit card!

Holy shitballs, what luck! Of all the random folks with mailing addresses, you have been deemed special enough to receive a credit card pre-approval offer! Bring out your finest meats and cheeses, for surely this means you are that most superior of beings: a person worthy of credit! Dance about the maypole and imbibe your most decadent libations!

You should call your bestie, your family, your therapist! Things are looking up now that a credit card company has bestowed upon you a pre-approval offer. Cancel your evening plans, for you need to respond to this with… an application? For… a credit card? For which you’re already… “approved”???

Something’s off. If you receive a credit card pre-approval offer in the mail, shouldn’t that mean you don’t need to apply for it? Especially since you didn’t even ask them to consider pre-approving you.

Today we’re going to teach you what those credit card pre-approval offers are really all about. And we’ll show you exactly what to do with them. It’s easy, it’s fast, and anyone can do it! Read on to learn The Deep Magicke.

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{ MASTERPOST } Everything You Need to Know about Credit and Credit Cards

You didn’t want to watch a scary movie. But your friends at the 10th-grade sleepover insisted. “It’ll be fun!” they said. “Don’t be chicken!” they said.

Now you find yourself huddled under blankets on the couch in your best friend’s basement rec room giggling nervously over popcorn and hoping you won’t pee yourself at the first jump scare. Your friends shush each other as the movie starts.

Creepy music ushers in the opening scene. Lighting and thunder clash on the screen. With the lights turned off and you trembling with fear, the title of tonight’s horror movie flashes across the screen: Credit IV: It Comes for Us All.

Watching horror movie Credit IV: It Comes for Us All

One of the most common questions we get here at Bitch HQ is “… creeeediiiiit??????” And that’s not surprising! The system of credit reporting, credit scores, and credit cards is hella confusing. It’s also pretty fucking classist, racist, and ageist… by design. Heckin’ scary, man!

So to fulfill our mission of [checks notes] sticking it to The Man by democratizing financial acumen, we’ve written and said a ton on this topic. Here it all is: our primer to understanding and managing your credit so you can use it to get ahead… or at least prevent it from getting you down.

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Ask the Bitches: Should I Get a Loan Even Though I Can Afford To Pay Cash?

Let’s talk about the logistics of paying for large purchases. As in: When should I get a loan? And how big should that loan be? Should you ever forego a down payment or paying with cash even when you can afford it?

Unlike the suitcase full of dirty laundry you brought home from that conference three whole weeks ago… let’s unpack this! And our favorite way to unpack a problem is with a real-live question from a real-live reader with a real-live dilemma:

Hello sage bitches. My trusty old car is on its way out, and I’m going to need to get a new one soon. I do have enough money in savings to buy it outright without a loan (though it would put a… substantial dent in those savings), but some family members keep saying it might be a better idea to see if I can get a low-interest loan instead, because it “would be good to have paid off a big loan.” I do have a credit score of ~800, so it’s possible that I could get a decent loan, and I have heard a lot of vague things about how it’s good for your credit to have payed off a big purchase before, but something in me hates the idea of having to pay a higher total sum than I have to. Any advice?

An anonymous yet glorious citizen of Bitch Nation we’ll call Chickadee

In other words: “Should I get a loan just to improve my credit score even if I can afford to pay cash?”

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Credit Card Companies HATE Her! Stay Out of Credit Card Debt With This One Weird Trick

Kitty was once at an event where a credit card company was hawking their new cash rewards credit card. The credit card rep excitedly told her about all the cash back rewards she could earn by using the card, and how the interest wasn’t even “that bad!”

But mama didn’t raise no fool. Instead of falling head over heels for low interest, Kitty asked, “But what if someone pays off the credit card debt in full and on time? Will they still get the rewards?”

“Ah,” the credit card rep sighed, “we call those people deadbeats.”

A deadbeat, Kermit.

That’s right: deadbeats. Credit card companies fucking hate people like Kitty and I. And that’s exactly how we like it!

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Ask the Bitches: What's the Difference Between Credit Checks and Credit Monitoring?

Ask the Bitches: What’s the Difference Between Credit Checks and Credit Monitoring?

The world of personal finance is full of terms designed to confuse and waylay the innocent. Yet you are a beautiful and mysterious adventurer on the exciting journey of life! You do not have time to parse the different meanings of seemingly synonymous financial terms like “credit checks” and “credit monitoring.”

Fortunately, we’re a coupla’ nerds with nothing better to do.

Recently, an anonymous follower (we’ll call them “Pudding Cup” because I assume that, like pudding, they are both sweet and smooth) asked:

Dear Piggy and Kitty, I have a question. I just got an email from the auditing office of my state saying that the unemployment filing host “Accellion” was hacked and they don’t think anything happened, but are offering a free year of credit monitoring. I have no idea what that would do or how I would use it to make sure nothing bad happened? Also doesn’t monitoring your credit (somehow?) make it worse? Would this be helpful or not really?

In short, Pudding Cup has mixed up two distinctly different concepts to do with credit: credit monitoring and credit checks. I’ll detangle the two below.

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Case Study: Held Back by Past Financial Mistakes, Fighting Bad Credit and $90K in Debt

Case Study: Held Back by Past Financial Mistakes, Fighting Bad Credit and $90K in Debt

Hi, it’s me again—your Good With Money Friend! It’s time for another case study. This time we’re talking about how to recover from past financial mistakes.

You guys really enjoyed our first case study. It tackled problems related to student loan debt, employment instability, and paying through the nose for rent in a high cost of living area. I’ve been hoping to do another one, but all of my friends’ most recent money issues have been too specific to their situations to be helpful to a broader audience.

Until now!

A friend reached out, asking for help repairing her damaged credit score. So she scheduled a 30 minute call with me to discuss her options, because I’m literally that bitch.

Obviously it turned into a ninety-minute call, mostly because I love the sound of my own voice. (Vocal fry ’til I die!) But really because the more we talked, the clearer it became that her credit score wasn’t her main enemy on the battlefield for financial stability. It was like a machine gun a mile away: an easy threat to identify, making a huge racket and scaring the shit out of everyone, but not actually that threatening in her present circumstances.

If you’ve struggled with debt, or you want to hone your Good With Money Friend skills, read on. Hopefully hearing about her situation will help some other folks!

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