If you ever failed to pay a bill that was subsequently sent to a collection agency, it can still hurt you even if you pay it off. That's because any blemish can stay on your credit report for up to seven years.
It's one thing to blow the bank on a gourmet dinner at a Paris restaurant, quite another to pay more than you need to for it because of fees or a bad exchange rate. So it will come as good news to summer travelers abroad that the dollar buys more of the major currencies (the Euro, British Pound, and Japanese Yen) than it did at the beginning of 2013. What's more, you don't have to give back the gain in foreign transaction or conversion fees when you pay using a credit card.
After you've racked up all those frequent-flyer miles, the last thing you want to do is lose them. But that's what will happen with most frequent-flyer plans when you don't use the miles within 12 to 36 months. One miles-saving option is to get a cobranded airline credit card with American Express, MasterCard, or Visa. With summer-travel season approaching, it's certainly worth considering.
When the Consumer Reports Index reported recently that Americans are feeling significantly better about their personal finances, I could definitely agree. My husband recently found a new job after an uncomfortable stretch of underemployment.
I recently gave our house a top-to-bottom spring cleaning. My takeaway, besides sore muscles, was the realization that we have a lot of stuff we no longer use or want to clean. Among our collection are a dated Sony Trinitron TV and a tired iMac G3 computer, inherited collectibles that just aren't our style, unneeded furniture in the basement, clothing that no longer fits . . . you get the idea. We haven't yet figured out to do with all those things.
Americans are feeling significantly better about their personal finances, according to the monthly Consumer Reports Index. Consumer sentiment rose 8.8 percent to 54.5, the highest level in more than five years. The broad-based increase crossed all income and education groups; the greatest gain was among consumers in households earning less than $50,000.
This spring's floods in the Midwest, against the backdrop of Hurricane Sandy's six-month anniversary, underline why a purchasing a national flood insurance policy can be so crucial regardless of where you live.
I was surprised to learn while editing a recent beauty article for our sister publication, ShopSmart, that the label "cruelty-free" on cosmetics doesn't necessarily guarantee that the product wasn't tested on animals. The same goes for "no animal testing" (how's that for incongruous?). While the terms sound good, it turns out that neither of them is legally defined nor backed by any certifying organization.
Recently we asked debt-management experts for their best tips on handling debt. Several are certified credit counselors in agencies connected with the nonprofit National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC), a group that offers free or low-cost help. Our tips will help you pare down what you owe.
Over the last 30 years, the 401(k) plan has replaced the company pension as the primary method of financing a retirement in the U.S. In theory, 401(k) plans should have been a sufficient replacement for traditional, defined benefit pensions. In practice—and this has been especially apparent over the last decade—most retirement plans based on 401(k)s aren't up to the task.
Q: Once again, in a recent issue of Consumer Reports, cell-phone service Ratings for AT&T were at the bottom. Why is that so? I've used AT&T for 15 years and have never had a problem with dropped calls or voice quality. —C.K., Coldwater, Miss.
With three people confirmed dead and more than 170 wounded in Monday's Boston Marathon bombings, there likely will be a big need for donations to help victims. Sadly, such tragedies often bring out con artists who use bogus websites, telemarketing, e-mail, and other types of soliciting to trick people into giving. The BBB Wise Giving Alliance has already reported seeing what it terms one "poorly-conceived charity scam" related to the Boston bombings.
Even if you waited till the last minute to file your taxes, if you're entitled to a refund you can still purchase savings bonds that earn more than a savings account at your bank or credit union. Even better, those bonds automatically keep up with inflation.
Tax-related identity theft can turn your life upside down and take years to resolve. I know, because it happened to me in 2007, after someone submitted an electronic tax return—days before I filed—containing personal information about me and my family, and a bogus return address. The mess took piles of paperwork, a tax advocate, and more than two years to resolve. To this day I still have nightmares that it could happen again.
Consumers' outlook continues to take a toll on retail spending, according to the Consumer Reports Index, a monthly overall measure of Americans' personal financial health. The index's past-30 day retail measure fell to 9.6 from 9.9 the month before, continuing a decline that started in January.
Our testers put 100s of products through their paces at our National Testing and Research Center. Learn more about how we test for: