How To Freeze Your Credit? Free Credit Report Help

November 15, 2018 by  
Filed under Credit card, Resources

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When it comes to your personal finances, you can never be too careful. That is why, in a rare instance, you might want to consider freezing your credit. A credit freeze is not something you want to do on a regular basis. In fact, it is something you don’t want to do unless it is your only option. However, sometimes it really is your only option, so if you find yourself in a problematic situation, you will need to know how to freeze your credit. Knowing how to freeze your credit might be what saves you from serious financial headaches later on down the line. 

About Freezing Credit 

freeze
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A credit freeze does what it says: It freezes your credit where it stands today. It makes it impossible to open up another line of credit. Credit cards or loans or anything else of that matter can’t be taken out in your name or with your Social Security number. Now, this doesn’t mean a credit freeze saves you from making payments. It’s not, by any means, a get-out-of-jail-free card that allows you to stop paying your debts. However, if you’re looking at how to freeze your credit, you probably already have run into a situation that has pushed you to learn exactly what a credit freeze can accomplish.

When you freeze your credit, it puts the act of opening these additional lines of credit under lock and key. The length of your credit freeze might depend on where you live. Some states limit the length of a credit freeze to seven years but most who opt for one don’t need to freeze credit for nearly this long. In other instances, the credit freeze can last for as long as you want it to last. You must let the different credit bureaus know you would like to remove the credit freeze when you’re ready to start the “thaw.” As long as you do this, you should be able to open your access to new credit lines back up at that point.

When to Freeze Your Credit

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protect or freeze

You might well ask this question: If a credit freeze doesn’t save you from making payments for any set period of time, why would anyone want to use a credit freeze? There are a few instances where this is something you must consider.

When it comes to your personal finances, you can never be too careful. That is why, in a rare instance, you might want to consider freezing your credit. A credit freeze is not something you want to do on a regular basis. In fact, it is something you don’t want to do unless it is your only option. However, sometimes it really is your only option, so if you find yourself in a problematic situation, you will need to know how to freeze your credit. Knowing how to freeze your credit might be what saves you from serious financial headaches later on down the line. 

STOLEN INFORMATION

stolen information

First, if you believe that your personal information has been stolen, you may need to request a credit freeze. For example, if someone has stolen your identity or you believe someone has done this, putting this credit freeze into effect will prevent anyone from opening a new credit card or another type of account under your name. Obtaining credit cards under someone else’s name is fairly easy when the identify thief knows all of your critical personal information.

DIVORCE

divorce

Another reason you might want to initiate a credit freeze is a concern involving a person who knows you well. if you’re going through a divorce or difficult breakup and you believe someone might try to open up additional lines of credit in your name, this step might be necessary. There are many unfortunate cases of one disgruntled partner taking advantage of the other financially, so it is better to be safe than sorry and far poorer in this situation.

You don’t want to wait and watch your credit score only to find a new line of credit pop up that you know nothing about. It is better to request the freeze and lock anyone else out from using your personal information instead of waiting for someone to raise your alarms. Thankfully, you have full control over a credit freeze you initiate for yourself, so you can lift it whenever you want. Whatever you decide to do though, just know you do have this option should you need to use it. And while you might wonder exactly how to freeze your credit, it isn’t all that difficult to do.

THE PROS AND CONS OF FREEZING YOUR CREDIT

pro and con

The biggest “pro” result of knowing how to freeze your credit is that you can use this knowledge is to protect your credit score and stop fraudulent loans from being sought under your name. Quite simply, this is one of the strongest forms of financial protection you can utilize when it comes to protecting your sensitive information.

As for the negatives, the biggest issue is that freezing your credit is inconvenient. You must contact all three of the national credit bureaus. This may require opening separate accounts with TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian, and you must track all the different PIN and password information this will require. Additionally, you’ll still need to guard your Social Security number and other key data fiercely because identity theft can occur in all kinds of ways, including some new ones you probably haven’t heard of yet.

One of the other issues with a credit freeze is that the action makes it difficult to apply for certain things like a new apartment. When you apply for a new apartment, the property owner or manager will typically perform a credit check. The same is true if you’re applying for a new job. When you have a credit freeze, it doesn’t just prevent individuals from opening up new lines of credit, but it also blocks out those who query from even viewing or receiving your credit score.

Now, this doesn’t mean you’ll be completely out of luck when it comes to applying for a job or an apartment. You will need to give who you’re applying with a password-protected PIN to use when performing the credit check. Additionally, it’s necessary to let the different credit bureaus know that a credit check will be performed. This way, the service providers know what to look for and what questions to respond to. If you do not let all three service providers know, the renter or company trying to perform the credit check may not get be able to get what they need to approve you.

As you can see, it is inconvenient to have a credit freeze in place. That is why, while it is important to know how to freeze your credit, you shouldn’t use the measure unless you know you need it (or have a very strong feeling you do).

How to Freeze Your Credit

If you have decided that you probably do need to freeze your credit, then it’s time to talk through how to freeze your credit. Even if you’re not sure if you need to use this measure right now, it is still good to know how to freeze your credit. This way, you will always have a handle on an action that can safeguard your financial well-being and prevent problems related to fraud and identity theft.

You will need to contact all three of the major, reporting credit bureaus in order to freeze your credit effectively.


EQUIFAX

equifax

You can either call Equifax or visit their website and perform the credit freeze directly through the site. The website will provide you with a step-by-step instructional guide on how to do this. If you want to talk with someone at Equifax and get their opinion as you’re going through it, you can contact a representative by calling 800-685-1111.

It may be easier to do all this online if you don’t feel that you need to talk with anyone. This way, you can print all information you might want to keep or take screenshots and save them in groups on your computer for later reference.

TRANSUNION

transunion

You will also need to contact TransUnion and let them know what you want to do. Remember that when you choose to remove your credit freeze, you must contact all three companies again. You can do all of this by either calling each company or going online.

If you choose to use the TransUnion website for your credit freeze, you will begin by creating an online profile. Again, it may be easier to complete everything online because your system may make it easier to remember how to log back on and how to monitor your credit information going forward. If you decide you want to contact the company by phone, the posted number is 888-909-8872.

EXPERIAN

experian

As with the other major bureaus, you must let Experian know that you want to perform a credit freeze. As with Equifax and TransUnion, you can do this either online or through a phone call. If you don’t want to go directly through the website but instead would rather call Experian directly, you can do so at 888-397-3742.

Conclusion

It is important to know how to freeze your credit. Ideally, you will never have to use this information to lock down your credit and prevent someone from opening new accounts under your name. If you do find yourself in such a situation, though, you can protect yourself and protect your financial information by knowing how to freeze your credit… and by implementing that powerful financial action decisively.

Freezing your credit is a step that can prevent you from falling deep into debt or having your credit score tarnished because of someone else’s misdeeds. Fraud and identity theft are not the easiest things to prove in the aftermath, so it’s always better to be safe than sorry. That requires knowing how to freeze your credit.

Citibank Credit Card Review – Free Credit Report Help

November 8, 2018 by  
Filed under Credit card, Resources

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Choosing the best credit card for you is part art, part science. Everyone’s financial goals and needs are different, which is why it’s impossible to point to one credit card that is better than others in all categories. However, when you understand the different options available—and ask the right questions, such as “what does a Citibank credit card offer that an American Express card does not?”—you can find the credit card that is the best fit for your spending habits and credit situation.

Choosing the best credit card for you is part art, part science. Everyone’s financial goals and needs are different, which is why it’s impossible to point to one credit card that is better than others in all categories. However, when you understand the different options available—and ask the right questions, such as “what does a Citibank credit card offer that an American Express card does not?”—you can find the credit card that is the best fit for your spending habits and credit situation.

TYPES OF CARDS

types of cards

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Before you dive into the specifics of each credit card, identify what features will meet your specific needs. Luckily, credit cards are grouped into three main categories that match up with most peoples’ requirements:

  1. Cards that help improve limited or damaged credit
  2. Cards that save you money on interest
  3. Cards that earn rewards

When evaluating different credit cards, it’s important to pick one that has features and benefits that sync up with your spending habits and help you reach your financial goals. For example, if you are a mom with three teenage boys who eat you out of house and home, a Costco Citibank credit card will give you points at a retailer you are already spending money with. By identifying where you spend, you will rack up points faster and increase the likelihood you will use the rewards you earn.

What Is a Citibank Credit Card?

citibank credit card

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Once you’ve decided on the best type of credit card for you, Citibank offers many credit card options. Whether you are looking for a low introductory rate on balance transfers, airline miles or rewards for shopping at certain retailers, or cash back, Citibank has a wide variety of credit cards to meet your requirements.

Features Universal to Every Citibank Credit Card

features universal to every citibank credit card

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While certain features are specific to the program you enroll in, there are benefits and perks available to every Citibank credit card customer.

CITI PRIVATE PASS

private pass

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Every Citibank credit card customer can use Citi Private Pass, an entertainment program that gives you special access to event tickets. From presale tickets to the hottest music concerts and in-demand sports games to complimentary movie screenings and dining experiences, the Citi Private Pass program is just one perk you’ll enjoy as a Citibank credit card customer. To learn more about the Citi Private Pass program, visit citiprivatepass.com.

PROTECTION

protections

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One of the primary benefits of having a credit card is the protection it provides, and Citibank’s credit card customers receive top-notch protection on travel, purchases, and identity theft.

Travel Protection

By building EMV Chip Technology into all their credit cards, Citibank customers can use their card across the globe at chip-enabled terminals without the fear that their information is being compromised.

Purchase Protection

Citibank credit card customers are completely protected against unauthorized charges on their account. Whether the charge is online or in-person, you will have $0 liability on charges you did not authorize.

Citi Identity Theft Solutions

Identity theft can happen to anyone. However, if it happens to you—and you are a Citibank credit card customer—you can use Citi’s Identify Theft Solutions to resolve the matter—and get your life back on track. Besides identifying compromised accounts and filing police reports, Citi Identify Theft Solutions will take steps to get your name and credit back on track.

24/7 Customer Service

Whether you have a question about your Citibank credit card during normal business hours—or at 3 AM on a Saturday night—all you have to do is call the number on the back of your card for support. Citibank Customer Service is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and can help with virtually every aspect of your credit card (including technical help).

Automatic Account Alerts

To keep you informed about your Citibank credit card account, set up email or text message alerts to be reminded of your balance levels, upcoming payments, or if you go over your credit limit.

Choose Your Payment Due Date

Citibank credit card customers can pick the payment date that best fits their schedule, whether it is the beginning, middle, or end of the month. Plus, enjoy the flexibility of paying your full balance or the minimum due each month.

Pricing for Citibank Credit Cards

pricing for citibank credit cards

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Each Citibank credit card will have unique pricing structures, interest rates, and terms and conditions. As with any major financial decision, it’s important that you read and understand all the disclosure forms come with your Citibank credit card. Understanding the interest rates, charges, and fees will help you pick the best Citibank credit card to meet your needs.

Citibank Credit Card Comparison

citibank credit card comparison

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To help you make the best decision about a credit card that fits your needs, we picked four different Citibank credit cards to see how each compare.

  1. CITI THANKYOU PREFERRED CARD FOR COLLEGE STUDENTS

  2. CITI SIMPLICITY CARD

  3. CITI REWARDS CREDIT CARD

  4. CITI DOUBLE CASH CARD

Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students

citi thankyou preferred card for college students

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If you are a college student who wants to earn rewards while building credit, the Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students is a good option. Students will enjoy two ThankYou points for every dollar spent on dining and entertainment and one ThankYou point for every dollar spent on other purchases.

However, it’s important to remember that to get the most out of this Citibank credit card you need to redeem your ThankYou points as bill payments or gift cards; the other options that are available—like cash and merchandise—won’t be as lucrative for you.

PRICE             $

This Citibank credit card has an annual fee of $0 and a sizable sign-up bonus of 2,500 ThankYou points if you spend $500 within the first three months after you open the account.

APPLICATION PROCESS       ****

If you are interested in signing up for the Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students, you can fill out an application online or apply by phone.

CUSTOMER SERVICE            ***

To contact customer service for the Citibank ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students, dial the phone number on the back of your card. If you want to speak to a customer service associate immediately, say “representative” when you call, and you’ll bypass the automated system.

BALANCE TRANSFER             **

If you are looking to transfer a balance from a non-Citibank credit card to the Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students, you can expect a variable rate APR on transfers completed within two months from account opening. For balance transfers done after the two-month introductory period, the fee is $5 or 4% of the total amount of each transfer (whichever is greater).

INTRODUCTORY PERIOD       **

The Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students has 0% APR for seven months on purchases from account opening. After the introductory period, the APR will return to the variable rate.

PROS

  • Rewards for dining and entertaining purchases
  • No annual fee
  • 0% APR for the first seven months
  • Points don’t expire

CONS

  • High penalty APR if you miss a payment
  • High balance transfer fee
  • Potentially high APR after the introductory period

Citi Simplicity Card

citi simplicity card

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If one of your financial goals is to get rid of debt, the Citi Simplicity Card is one of the best options available. When you are approved for this Citibank credit card, you can take advantage of low introductory APR on credit card balance transfers and purchases. Plus, there are no late fees, no penalty rates, and no annual fees.

PRICE             $

The Citi Simplicity Card has no annual fee.

APPLICATION PROCESS       ****

If you are interested in signing up for the Citi Simplicity Card, you can fill out an application online or apply by phone.

CUSTOMER SERVICE            ***

To speak to a customer service representative, call the number on the back of your Citi Simplicity Card and say “representative” when the system picks up. You will be routed to a real person who can answer all your questions.

BALANCE TRANSFER             *****

If you are planning to transfer a balance from a non-Citibank credit card to the Citi Simplicity Card, you will receive 0% APR for 21 months from first transfer. You must complete all transfers within the first four (4) months, after which the variable APR applies. Also, there is a balance transfer fee of $5 or 5% of the amount of each credit card balance transfer (whichever is greater).

INTRODUCTORY PERIOD       ***

The Citi Simplicity Card has 0% APR on purchases for 12 months from the date you opened the account. After the introductory period, the variable APR will kick in.

PROS

  • No late fee
  • No annual fee
  • Low intro APR

CONS

  • No rewards

Citi Rewards Credit Cards

citi rewards credit cards

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One of the primary reasons credit cards are popular is because of the rewards you can earn. Citibank credit card rewards range from travel and airline miles to retail and technology.

If you are interested in applying for a Citibank credit card that rewards you for travel, you have two options: Citi AAdvantage cards or Expedia+ cards. For those interested in earning rewards at retailers, Citibank offers Costco and AT&T credit cards.

Each Citibank rewards credit card has unique features, benefits, and terms and conditions specific to the card. To view a side-by-side comparison, there is a helpful credit card comparison tool on Citibank’s website.

PRICE             $$

Depending on which Citibank credit card you select, annual fees will range from $0 to $450.

APPLICATION PROCESS       ****

If you are interested in signing up a Citibank credit card, you will need to fill out an application online for the rewards card you choose.

CUSTOMER SERVICE            ***

To speak to a customer service representative, call the number on the back of your Citi rewards credit card and say “representative” to be automatically routed to a real person who can answer all your questions.

BALANCE TRANSFER             ***

Depending on which Citibank credit card you select, balance transfer fees can range from 0% to the variable APR (based on your creditworthiness).

INTRODUCTORY PERIOD       ***

Citibank credit cards have introductory periods going to 18 months.

PROS

  • Card rewards
  • Introductory periods

CONS

  • Potentially high APR

Citi Double Cash Card

citi rewards credit cards

The Citi Double Cash Card is a good option for those interested in earning cash back on purchases. With this Citibank credit card, you will earn 1% unlimited cash back on every purchase you make—plus you will receive an additional 1% cash back as you pay your credit card bill (as long as you pay the minimum amount due).

Unlike many other cash back credit cards, the Citi Double Cash Card has no cap on how much you can earn back and no category restrictions. And, you can also choose how to redeem your cash back rewards: statement credits, gift cards, or checks.

Besides the benefits universal to all Citibank credit cards, Citi’s Double Cash Card has additional perks. For example, if you forget to make a payment, Citi will give you a pass on your first late fee. You will also be eligible for Citi’s Lost Wallet Service, so if you ever lose your card Citi will replace it within 24 hours and also provide you with emergency cash (subject to your available cash advance limit).

Finally, Citi Double Cash Card customers also enjoy Citi’s Concierge—saving you time by receiving exclusive access to a team of experts who are ready to assist you with travel, shopping, dining, and entertainment needs.  

PRICE             $

The Citi Double Cash Card has no annual fee.

APPLICATION PROCESS       ****

To apply for the Citi Double Cash Card, you will need to fill out an application online.

CUSTOMER SERVICE            ***

If you need to speak to a customer service representative, call the number on the back of your Citi Double Cash Card and say “representative” to be automatically routed to a someone who can answer all your questions.

BALANCE TRANSFER             ***

If you are planning to transfer a balance from a non-Citibank credit card to the Citi Double Cash Card, you will receive 0% APR for 18 months from first transfer. You must complete all transfers within the first four months after you open the account to receive the introductory rate; after the intro period expires, it will apply the variable rate. Also, there is a balance transfer fee of $5 or 3% of the amount of each credit card balance transfer (whichever is greater).

If you transfer a balance to the Citi Double Cash Card, interest will be charged on your purchases unless you pay your entire balance (including balance transfers) by your monthly due date.

INTRODUCTORY PERIOD       ****

The introductory period for the Citi Double Cash Card applies only to balance transfers: a 0% APR on balance transfers for 18 months from the first transfer.

PROS

  • No annual fee
  • Cashback
  • 0% intro APR for balance transfers

CONS

  • No intro period for purchases
  • Variable APR can potentially be high

Conclusion

Conclusion

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Picking the best credit card for you is an important decision, and you will want to choose one backed by a reputable financial institution, like Citibank. Citibank credit cards offer cardholders many ways to be smarter about their money. Whether you are trying to establish credit, pay down existing debt, or earn rewards, Citibank credit cards are solid options with competitive features—which is why we have given them a four-star rating.

Remember, the credit card you ultimately choose should help you reach your financial goals in an affordable, efficient, and timely manner. With all the different options available to you, never settle for less.

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A Helpful Guide On How To Refinance A Car

November 1, 2018 by  
Filed under Resources

Car in a highway

There are many reasons why people want to know how to refinance a car. Maybe you are between jobs and need to lower your monthly payment. Maybe you want to remove your ex from your car loan. Maybe your credit has improved and you want a lower interest rate. Whatever your reason, refinancing your auto loan can be a good decision for you.

We all know car loans are sometimes a necessary evil, but you do not want to continue throwing away your money on interest payments. Learn today what refinancing a car means, when you should consider it, how to refinance a car and more in this comprehensive guide.


What Does Refinancing a Car Mean?

thinking

Refinancing a car means taking out a new loan to pay off your existing car loan using your car as collateral. This is better than taking a personal loan to pay off your car loan because secured loans come with significantly lower interest rates than unsecured loans. This loan is secured because the lender holds your car title until the debt is paid, so they have an asset to sell and recover a portion of their financing by repossessing and selling the vehicle at auction. You are also less likely to become delinquent because your vehicle is on the line.


Promotional Credit Card

Depending on the balance left on your loan, you can pay off your auto loan using a promotional credit card. These cards often come with rewards such as cash back or travel points and you usually have a minimal or non-existent interest rate for the first 18 months or so. Even if your original lender charges you a convenience or processing fee when you use your credit card, having 18 months to pay down the principal and pay nothing on interest can do wonders for your mental and financial well being.


Cash-Back Refinancing

If you have a high-interest loan or emergency purchase, you can tap into the equity of your car much like you can your home with a home equity loan or home equity line of credit. Cash-back refinancing allows you to get cash back up to $5,000. This will increase the length of your loan, but as it is a secured loan, interest rates will be much lower than charging a purchase to a credit card or taking out a personal, unsecured loan.


When Should You Refinance?

CASH-BACK REFINANCING

Today we will discuss how to refinance a car at the right time for you and your situation. However, there are a few things to consider no matter which direction you choose to go. Watch out for prepayment penalties. You should carefully weigh the total cost of all prepayment penalties and administrative fees with the benefit of saving money on interest. Sometimes, you may have to increase the length of your loan to avoid defaulting and having your car repossessed. If you go this route, you should have a solid plan in place to get back on track quickly as this will cost you more money in the long run.


Remove or Add a Co-Signer

If you have recently experienced a break-up, you may wish to remove your ex from your car loan. Refinancing is perfect for this as it generates a brand new loan with a new contract. You may also refinance a car to add a co-signer with a better credit score than you, allowing you to reduce your interest rate and the total cost of the loan.


Lower Your Monthly Payments

Learn how to refinance a car to lower your monthly payments the right way. There are three ways to achieve this goal. You can reduce your interest rate, extend the length of your loan or both. If you only extend your auto loan term, your monthly payment will decrease but the overall interest you pay will increase. This will not save you money and is a poor decision. Lowering the interest rate lowers your monthly payments without extending the life of your loan, so you will save money monthly and overall. You may even be able to decrease the life of your loan.


Reduce the Length of Your Loan

If your credit score has not improved since obtaining your auto loan, but you want to save money over the life of your loan, refinance and reduce the length of your loan, reducing the total interest paid.


Increase the Length of Your Loan

If you have to choose between becoming delinquent on your car loan or extending the life of your loan, you may want to look into how to refinance a car to improve your cash flow. If you lack the credit to reduce your interest payment and need to decrease your monthly payments, you may have no choice but to increase the length of your loan.


How to Refinance a Car

blue piggy

It is easy to learn how to refinance a car. First, check your credit report. In the United States, you are entitled to one free credit report per year. Review it carefully for any fraud or other inaccuracies and take care of any debts you can to improve your credit score. The more you can improve your credit score, the lower your APR will be.


Get the Payoff Amount

Ask your current lender for a 14-day payoff amount. Due to the accrual of interest, a loan for the loan value on your previous statement may be inadequate to satisfy your debt. Get in writing the amount that will satisfy the debt up to a certain date in the future to give you time to pay your debt off in full. During this step, write down the APR, monthly payment and number of months you have left to pay on your loan.


Check Your Vehicle's Value

Use resources such as Edmunds or Kelley Blue Book to confirm you are not upside down on your loan. If you are, you may be ineligible to refinance. If it is worth more than the payoff value and you have a solid credit history, you should have no worries. If you made a 20% down payment and have a short loan, you should have positive equity in the car.


Shop Around

Remember those numbers you wrote down when you got your payoff amount? Pull those out. Shop around for lenders. Try to complete all your lender shopping within a couple weeks, or at most a month and a half. This way, all hard pulls on your credit will only count as one. Having too many hard inquiries can negatively affect your credit.

Some lenders may offer low interest rates, but your car may not meet their refinancing requirements. For example, in all states other than Minnesota and South Carolina, you should have $5,000 or more remaining on your car loan and the car itself should be less than 10 years old and have fewer than 125,000 miles on it.


Pull Out Your Calculator

This is the fun part. We all want to get out of debt to improve our cash flow so we can do what we enjoy in life. Break out Numbers, Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel and start creating spreadsheets to show how much money you spend each month on your car loan, how long it will take you to pay it off and how much you will spend in total to pay your debt off depending on your monthly payments.

If you lower your interest rate and monthly payment, but keep the length of your loan the same, it can be really motivating to see how many months you can shave off by keeping your existing monthly payments the same and having more of the money go to principal.


Sign Your New Car Loan

The most difficult part of learning how to refinance a car is knowing when the new terms benefit you. Once you are approved by multiple potential new lenders and you have done your cost and savings analysis, make sure you understand each term of the loan and how it will affect you in the future. Do you have the opportunity to defer a payment if you hit a rough patch?

Can you defer payments for up to 60 days in a row? What are the late payment fees? Are there any prepayment penalties? If so, what are they? If you need help understanding any terms of the loan, consult an attorney to help you understand before you sign anything.


Conclusion


The hardest part of learning how to refinance a car is knowing when it is right for you. Whichever way you go, start by making sure there are no inaccuracies on your credit report. Make sure you have positive equity in your car. Get a payoff quote with all relevant information on your terms and use spreadsheet software to calculate your current and new payoff date, total cost of the loan and visual graphs and charts to help you see how your decisions affect your future financial security.

Once approved, make sure you understand all new loan terms and sign knowing you did your due diligence and are positively affecting your personal finances.