It’s time to pay those holiday credit card purchases: Here’s how to manage

This is the kind of hangover that can really cause some damage.

It’s a little over a month since Christmas Day, and New Jersey residents are facing the bill for all the holiday gifts and entertainment they may have purchased with the simple swipe of a credit card.
Known in the industry as the holiday debt hangover, credit experts say it’s important for consumers to address these charges quickly in order to avoid a hit to one’s credit score and overall financial security.

With the average rate on credit cards sitting in the 17 to 19 percent range, missed payments or even minimum payments come with financial consequences that can bury a consumer over time.

“There needs to be a sense of urgency here,” said Paul Oster, CEO and founder of credit repair firm Better Qualified in Eatontown. “I suggest three months; come up with a way to eliminate as much debt as you possibly can within three months.”

The game plan to cut credit card debt within 90 or so days means some sacrifices may have to be made, such as avoiding the daily coffee trip on the way to work, or cooking dinner instead of ordering take-out over the weekends.

“People are amazed at the amount of money they can save by just paying attention to the amount of money they spend,” Oster said.

One could also make a dent by applying their year-end bonus to the debt amount, or the money expected in a tax refund over the next few months.

According to Oster, it’s important to make at least the minimum payments on all bills. Beyond that, it’s best in most cases to identify the card with the highest interest rate and apply all extra money to that bill, he said.

“Carrying a debt service, especially a revolving debt, is the worst thing that you can do,” Oster said.

Need Help?

If you still need help with controlling your debt and/or improving your credit, fill out the form below and get a free credit consultation from a credit expert at Better Qualified.


Madison Square Garden Company Alerts Customers of Data Breach

Madison Square Garden Company says there has been a data breach affecting customers who may have used cards at merchandise and food and beverage locations at its properties in the last year.

Those include Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, Beacon Theatre and The Chicago Theatre, from the time period between Nov. 9, 2015 and Oct. 24, 2016.

Data contained in the magnetic stripe of the cards — including credit card numbers, cardholder names, expiration dates and internal verification codes — may have been accessed without authorization, the company says.

Not all cards used during the time frame were affected, and the breach doesn’t involve cards used at the MSG websites, box offices or Ticketmaster.

Trick or Treat: Free Credit Scores

Reasons Your Free Credit Scores and FICO Scores Are Different

Are Free Credit Scores Accurate

One of the main concerns that come with websites like Credit Karma or, is that the free credit scores being provided are not your actual FICO (Fair Isaac Credit Organization) scores. This may lead you to seek for the new car you wanted or deter you from taking a look at getting a new home.

What you should do is go to, the official website of Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. There you can get one free credit report from each entity per year. Be prepared because you may find that the number you see is a complete surprise. Your credit scores may be better than you expected, or may be worse than the free credit scores provided. Nonetheless, you may be confused on why the scores you see do not match the free credit scores you have obtained.

Here are some of the three main factors of why your free credit scores and FICO scores are not the same:

The Free Credit Scores Your Being Provided Are Educational or “FAKO” Scores

Educational or “FAKO” scores are popular phrases associated with free credit score sites or any site that provides you with a score that is not a FICO score. Educational or “FAKO” scores are not an actual credit scores used by lenders. When a lender pulls your credit report, they are going to be looking at your FICO score and not an educational or “FAKO” score.

FICO Scores Are Not All The Same

Different lenders can also have different FICO scores. This occurs simply because each lender is using a FICO model to account the risk factors that will matter most to their company. So the score provided by a loan originator from FICO, will differ from an auto dealership FICO score.

Your Scores Will Be Calculated at Different Times

Your credit scores are not sitting in a government computer database waiting for someone to request them. All credit scores and credit reports are compiled when they are requested. That means if a lender pulls your credit score on the 1st of the month and another lender pulls your credit on the 15th, the scores may differ. The scores can be different because of the information that was or was not available in the time frame the credit report was requested.

How Do You Get An Accurate FICO Credit Score and Credit Report?

Call Better Qualified today 888-533-8138, one of our Credit Analyst can help you get a FICO credit report.  We offer a free in-depth analysis of your credit to help you understand where your scores are currently and ways you can improve your credit scores. You can also visit, the official website of Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Annual Credit Report will provide you with one free FICO credit report per year.

Need Help?

If you still need help with controlling your debt and/or improving your credit, fill out the form below and get a free credit consultation from a credit expert at Better Qualified.


How to avoid falling into debt

Doug Constable is one of the best pre-insolvency advisors specializing in helping business with cash flow difficulties. He is a professional bankruptcy and insolvency expert and the author of “What to do When You Can’t Pay Your Debts”.

4 Steps to help avoid falling into debt

Avoid Falling into debt

Fast internet services and instant gratification has made it harder for people to avoid falling into debt today. All you need to do is make a few clicks on your mouse, and you can buy anything you want and have it delivered to your doorstop.

However this ease of buying things may leave you spending more than you can afford. Moreover, the unstable economy wherein businesses lay off employees or reduce their paycheck by half, and the rising cost of living has led to many people falling into massive amounts of debt. This is why you need to be very careful about your spending habits to avoid falling into debt. You also need to follow the following information to avoid falling into debt.

1. Creating a budget is the best thing you can do to avoid debt. With a budget, you know how much money you need, how many bills you need to pay, and how much you can afford to spend. After paying off your monthly expenses, you can place the rest of the money in a savings account for a rainy day. Avoid spending money on unnecessary things.

2. Make only cash payments. You tend to spend less paying in cash than by using your debit or credit card. Fix and spend only that money every day. With physical money in hand, you know how quickly money comes and goes, and this encourages you to spend less.

3. Making investments help you avoid falling into debt, especially in an economic turmoil. By starting an investment plan, you have a more secure financial future, also there are good options like doing day trading, using resources online for this you can see more here about this subject. While investing in precious metals is a wise decision, it’s better to invest in different items to protect your assets. Precious metals like gold and silver retain its value even when the value of paper currency drops as their value depends on supply and demand, where its demand is usually higher than its supply.

4. Another great way to avoid falling into debt is by opening a savings account for a rainy day. Open a savings account through your bank or online store; just make sure its interest rate gives you more bang for your buck.

It is very important that you know how to avoid debt, especially in tough economic times. If you learn how to create and stick to a budget, keep an eye on where you spend your money, make wise investments, make only cash payments and open a savings account, you will be able to avoid debt and have a secure financial future.

Need Help?

If you still need help with controlling your debt and/or improving your credit, fill out the form below and get a free credit consultation from a credit expert at Better Qualified.

7 reasons for a drop in your credit score

Find out what may have caused a drop in your credit score

Drop in your credit score

Are you surprised that your credit score has dropped since you last checked it? If yes, don’t worry because the credit score calculation is rather complex. It is not easy pinpointing the exact reason for a drop in your credit score. However, here are the common reasons for a drop in your credit score:

1. A 30 day late credit card or loan payment

Remember that your payment history has an important impact on your credit score. Payments made more than 30 days late are reported to the credit bureau. Once it shows up in your credit report, it is reflected in your credit score.

2. Unpaid account sent to collections

It’s important you not only pay your credit cards and loans to protect your credit score, but you also have to make non-credit payments in case they are sent to a collection agency and included in your credit report.

3. Expensive credit card purchases

The amount of available credit is also an important factor in your credit score. If you make a large purchase using your credit card in one month, your credit score drops even if you pay the full balance by the end of the month. This is because your balance is reported to the credit bureau before your payment.

4. Lowered credit limits

Your credit score is affected the same way by a lowered credit limit by charging an expensive item. If you have a balance on your credit card, and you use up you credit, it only leads to your credit score going down.

5. New credit application

10% of your credit score is affected by new credit report inquiries. Each time you apply for new credit, your credit score is at risk. However, as inquiries affect your credit score only for a year, if you had made only one inquiry, your credit score rebounds in 12 months.

6. Closing or cancelling a credit card

Your credit score will get greatly affected if you or your credit card issuer closes a credit card, especially if it has a balance.

7. Bankruptcy falling off your credit report

If bankruptcy falls off your credit report after a decade, you are most likely to move to a new credit scorecard. You find a drop in your credit score if your credit performance is compared with other people who have not filed for bankruptcy.

Need Help?

If you still need help with controlling your debt and/or improving your credit, fill out the form below and get a free credit consultation from a credit expert at Better Qualified.

5 Tips for preventing a bad credit score

5 Tips for preventing a bad credit score

5 Tips for preventing a bad credit score

No one plans a bad credit score, it’s just that life sometimes throws a curveball to you where  your credit history ends up badly damaged. Usually, it’s repeated mistakes that lead to low credit  scores. And protecting your credit score does not seem to be a big deal till you find it’s time to  borrow some money.  So here are some tips which should help protect your credit score and prevent a bad credit score.

1. Keep ‘Good’ credit accounts open

You generally think it’s better to close credit accounts which you don’t use often. However  before you do this, it’s better to first take a look at the account. If you have an account with a  history of payments made in full and on time, it’s better to keep such accounts open as it  provides a history that proves you can pay your debts responsibly. In fact, it will help your credit  score for as long as you keep it without operating it.

2. Close all small loans, credit cards and credit lines

Cleaning up your credit report by paying off and closing small balances on open credit products  helps prevent a bad credit score. Pay emphasis to the accounts with a history of late payments  and other problems as these accounts can damage your credit score as they show your  irresponsibility at making payments. Moreover, it’s difficult keeping track of so many small  accounts when life gets busy, and can lead to more missed payments.

3. Apply for credit after your credit score improves

New borrowers with credit for a short time of less than 2 years will have a low credit score as  you don’t have sufficient history to prove you are a responsible borrower. If you think opening  additional credit products even if you don’t need them will help improve your credit score, you  are wrong. Only apply for credit required and do not look for additional credit till your score  improves as open credit balances affects your credit score. If you are in need of secured cards please visit our Building Personal Credit page

4. Be punctual with full payments

Falling behind on monthly payments to lenders, landlords and utility providers can tarnish your  credit score as they regularly report to the credit bureau. Their word affects your score, and if  you are late with payments, your score will start dropping.

5. Close revolving balances

The proximity of your revolving balances like credit cards and credit lines to your credit limit  can prevent your score from slipping. Do whatever possible to keep your credit balances below  your limits preferably using just 30-35% of your available credit. Payment delays leads to  interest charges and missed payment fees which not only has a negative effect on your credit  score, you may have to pay an additional fee to your creditor.


So just take responsibility of your finances and improve your wealth management with the help of these 5 tips to avoid getting a bad credit score. It’s good not only for your current financial standing, but also for getting a future mortgage or car  loan.

Need Help?

If you still need help with controlling your debt and/or improving your credit, fill out the form below and get a free credit consultation from a credit expert at Better Qualified.

Multiple Credit Card Applications Can Affect Your Credit

Multiple Credit Card Applications

It is true that you need to get credit to build a good credit score and this can be done by getting a credit card and using it responsibly. However, making various credit card applications in a short  span of time can also damage your credit score. The reason multiple credit card applications affect your credit score is because 10% of your FICO credit score is determined by new credit inquiries you make. Each time you make an application,  your credit is checked by the creditor to decide if your credit card should be approved. This  leaves an injury to your credit report which is included in your credit score.

Various Applications Hint Desperation

Multiple Credit Card Applications Hint Desperation

Consequently, the more credit card applications you make, the more your credit score drops. So as 10% of your credit score is affected by a new credit application, your credit score can fall as  much as 70 points if your credit score is 700. Then again, it also depends on the other information in your credit report. If your credit score  isn’t affected by the various inquiries, there is a chance of creditors denying your application  only because you had recently made various applications. This is because multiple applications are considered to be a sign of desperation for credit, where  desperation is always a turn off. While most people can regain these points within six months of applying for a loan or credit card application, the points may really count for those who had a poor credit score to begin with.

Makes You Look Like A Financial Risk

Opening numerous credit cards in a short time span is a negative indicator of a person’s financial  responsibility. This leads to a negative impact to your FICO score as it indicates you are a  financial risk. As your FICO score predicts how dependable you are with borrowed money, showing any  behavior which is correlated to mismanaging of credit is reflected with a drop in your credit  score. However, if you have already made the mistake of applying for many credit cards at once,  responsibly managing these multiple accounts leads to a quick re-bounce of your FICO score. This is done by paying bills on time and keeping balances below 30% of available credit. Unfortunately, data collected over the past few decades prove that this is not the case most of the  time, and those consumers who open various accounts in a short span of time end up running up  balances and missing payments.

Need Help?

If you still need help with controlling your debt and/or improving your credit, fill out the form below and get a free credit consultation from a credit expert at Better Qualified.

Unnecessary Transfer of Wealth

My grandmother always told me, “It’s never about how much money you make, it’s about how much money you can save.” This coming from a woman who made the best of living on my grandfather’s meager wages. All I know is that she owned her own home, never wanted for anything, was never in debt and actually passed a decent estate onto her family when she passed. I can think of nothing more devastating than giving up our hard earned money unnecessarily, but it happens right under our noses every day.

If you want to save money, it’s worth considering practicing these habits where you can save about $100 every month. The important thing about this $100 bucks, is it can help eliminate debt and create additional income. All it takes are a few changes and it makes a great difference on how much money you waste every year.

  1. Improve your credit

 One of the easiest ways to start saving money is to improve your credit. We live in a credit driven world. Your credit scores can either cost or save you money. Lower credit scores can lead to higher interest rates, higher insurance premiums, and increased security deposits. Poor credit can actually cost you more than $100 a month. Some estimates in certain areas have the number as high as $300 a month.

  1. Coffee/Bagel

 If you stop on the way to work for a coffee and bagel or any combination of food and drink, you’re wasting a great deal of money. Most of us wind up with a half a cup of cold coffee and throw out half of what we were eating. Snacks are also a silent killer of wealth. Convenience stores and vending machines are just bad for your wallet.

  1. Unnecessary fees

This can be anything like late payment fees which also adds to your interest rates, to speeding tickets, parking fines, late fees and other convenience charges. All this account to lots of money through the year. Try to legally avoid these fees; most of them can be avoided just by paying on time or taking care of things yourself.

  1. Spoiled food

Make sure you cook as much as you require or else you will throw lots of food every month. Do not let food spoil or go to waste. You can either plan leftover nights or take leftovers to work or cook to feed less people. If you tend to spoil lots of food, change the way you shop and plan.

  1. Neglecting your property

Performing routine maintenance on your home, car, bike, and all of your property will prevent major expenses down the road. Clean and change filters, weatherize, and follow directions for maintenance on all of your belongings.

  1. Idle services

Check the subscription services you receive each month and decide if you will really use them or if you can live without them. Pay extra attention to recurring charges that you’ve put onto your credit card. These are “painless” but can really add up in the end. An example is a gym membership you don’t use or the cable bill, if you are hardly home to watch television. You can save money by cutting cable and using an alternative for your television and either start using your gym membership or look at alternatives like exercising at home or jogging around the neighborhood.

All of the little things add up to a lot in the end. Every dollar that you waste, you can’t pay down debt, invest, or save. There is a great book by Larry Winget: Your Broke Because You Want To Be. (see below) Read it for some additional tips on getting ahead.

Youre Broke Because You Want To Be

Need Help?

If you still need help with controlling your debt and/or improving your credit, fill out the form below and get a free credit consultation from a credit expert at Better Qualified.

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Credit Tips From Paul Oster “The Nation’s Credit Repair Man”

Credit tips

Credit Tips To Help You Avoid Dangerous Mistakes

Credit cards help you easily and conveniently buy things you want (not necessarily need) and even help bail you out of a jam. Unfortunately all this comes at a price; moreover, uncontrolled spending and credit card use leads to various financial mistakes which come with long-term effects. While you may know the dangers of running up credit card balances, there are a few other dangerous mistakes you may make and some tips for avoiding them. These credit tips are even more important than ever coming into the holiday season.



While banks use different formulas for calculating the minimum amount due every month, most start with one or two percent of the outstanding balance. This is then added to fees for late payments, monthly interest charges and exceeding credit limit. Whichever way it’s calculated, just paying the minimum leads to lots of interest payments with time. Try to pay off as much of your balance, if not all every month.


FICO states that payment history is the largest component, consisting about 35% of the score. This is sensible as lenders want to know how promptly their borrowers were at making payments in the past as no one likes getting paid late.
Not only do late payments lead to a low credit score (1x30day = 20-100pts), it also results in late payment fees from the bank. This not only costs you more but also boosts your monthly minimum amount.


Next to payment history, FICO checks the ‘amount owed’ which constitutes 30% of a credit score. This is calculated using the borrower’s credit utilization ratio or the amount of available credit used. So if you have card with a $6000 credit limit and you use $3,000, you have a 50% utilization ratio.

High ratios harm your credit score and affects your ability at securing loans on favorable terms. It also leads to less credit availability during emergencies. As high utilization ratio also indicates deeper financial problems, it’s time to do some serious budgeting if your ratio creeps up. On an average, Oster recommends, “keeping your utilization ratio below 30%.”


As banks move towards paperless billing and automatic bill pay services, you may forget to check your monthly statement. This is dangerous as you may overlook some wrong charges and pay for services or products you haven’t bought. There is also a chance of you becoming a victim of identity theft or other forms of credit fraud.

Moreover ignoring your monthly credit card statement may lead to your losing command over your finances. This in turn may make it difficult for you to reach your personal finance goals. So make it a point to set aside a few moments every month to review your paper and digital statements and make it a part of your monthly budget review routine.

You will have to wait for the next post to learn about a few more credit card mistakes you should avoid making.

Need Help?

If you still need help with controlling your debt and/or improving your credit, fill out the form below and get a free credit consultation from a credit expert at Better Qualified.

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The Walking Debt – A Guide to Eliminating your Debt

If you’re like me, then every Sunday night you’re glued to the TV watching AMC’s The Walking Dead, hoping your favorite character isn’t the next to be killed off. The show focuses around a group of survivors constantly stressing over how they are going to overcome a growing zombie threat known as walkers. The stress of having crippling debt can give you a similar sensation as being surrounded by a bunch undead zombies. If the stress of debt is getting too overwhelming, consider trying cannabis vape carts to relieve some of your stress.

As of October 2015, the average US household had $16,140 in debt. That’s a pretty outstanding number! This is mainly because most consumers are in a state of debt denial. They know they have debt but they are not treating debt like a priority and continue to spend their money on unneeded luxuries. The result: their debt continues to grow and grow like a zombie horde.

Two of the biggest debt factors can be linked to poor money management and medical bills. Sometimes we make mistakes and pay for things when we don’t have the money to do so (something you should stop doing once you realize it.) Other times it might not be intentional. No one plans on getting sick or taking a trip to the ER. Although you may feel like you’re surrounded, debt doesn’t have to last forever. In this article I’ll supply you with the correct planning, ammunition, and faith to take on your walking debt!

Step 1: Locate and List All of Your Debt

Debt Survival Guide

Let’s begin with creating a debt survival plan. Like I said before, the creditors you owe are your enemies. They’re the zombies that are trying to do your bank account harm. Before we go and attack them we need to asses the situation. Much like a real apocalyptic invasion, we would never want to go out blind shooting in every direction. By that method you’ll do more harm than good. Ask yourself: “How many accounts are there? What are the balances? What are the APRs? (interest.)”

If you’re having trouble figuring this out then you may want to take a look at your credit report. Credit reports will generally report all of your debt, which will give you a bird’s eye view of every account that needs to be paid off and eliminated. You can get a free credit report each year by visiting This report won’t give you your score, but it will show you all of the accounts you’re looking to pay off.

After you get the report, find out exactly how much debt you are in and don’t forget to include the interest rates. List your debt and come up with a number you need to hit. If you are having trouble reading a credit report, you can always contact a credit expert and have them go over your report with you.

Step 2: Create a Monthly Budget & Payoff Plan

Okay, so we’ve located all of the threats. Next we have to devise a plan of attack! Create a budget to find out exactly how much money we will have to put towards your debt. Calculate your budget by listing your expenses. Make sure you list EVERYTHING from your mortgage payment to your morning coffee purchase. Start with your necessary expenses and work your way down. The top of your list should include loans and bills that need to be paid (mortgages, auto loans, utilities, etc.) If you have a family, a business, or others who depend on you, you can visit to get life insurance.

Now that you have your list of expenses, study it. See all those expenses at the bottom of the list that you don’t need? (yeah I’m looking at you Netflix.) Take all of those expenses and cut them out of your life. You know how in every zombie movie or show there’s always that group of bumbling idiots that slow everyone down? Well that’s those unneeded expenses like Netflix and Starbucks. It’s time to get serious and right now is not the time for fun. All of those expenses you cut just became more ammunition to put towards defeating your debt.

If you’re looking to really get serious consider selling some of your bigger toys. Things like classic cars, jet skis, boats, and motorcycles can be sold for large amounts of cash that will take a huge chunk out of your debt.

After you’ve figured out your budget, set goals for yourself and stick by them. Never decrease the amount you’re paying towards your debt. If you stick to your budget and goals this should come as no problem. You can attain even more help with the use of apps like, ReadyForZero, and DebtPayoff. These apps make it easy to set payoff goals and stick to them.

Step 3: Do Your Research


The last step in planning before we spring our attack. Let’s research your accounts and look for anything that might benefit us even further. Many consumers are left in the dark when it comes to cheaper options to paying off debt.

Credit Card Debt

If credit card debt is your main concern, then look into applying for 0% balance transfer cards. 0% balance transfer cards can be your secret weapon when attacking your accounts. Like their name, these cards carry 0% interest for a certain period of time and will transfer your balances from an account to the new card. You’ll be surprised how quickly you can pay off your debt when not paying interest.

Medical Debt

Medical bills is one of the largest causes of debt. Recently the credit bureaus had decided that medical debt would weigh less on your credit report and wouldn’t report until 6 months past due. In the past, insurance companies would take extended periods of time to pay off the debt, which would hit the consumer’s credit report and drop their score. If you do have medical debt, make sure you keep in contact with your insurance company and straighten out all of the payment arrangements. If you are unable to pay your bills on time  then let the creditor know so you can work something out.

Student Loan Debt

Currently student loan debt is at an all time high of $1.2 trillion! Putting it well beyond credit card debt which sits at $884.8 billion. If you have a large amount of student loan debt, then you may want to consider student loan consolidation or look into student loan forgiveness programs. If student loans are the majority of your debt, check out my article Game of Loans – A Guide to Defeating Student Loan Interest.

Step 4: Attacking Your Debt

You’ve located and listed the accounts, you’ve prepared a plan of attack, and you’ve researched your enemy’s weaknesses. Now let’s get out there and attack that lingering horde of debt!

When it comes to paying off the debt there are 2 methods you can go by. One is called snowballing and the other avalanching.

Snowballing happens when you go after your smallest accounts first and work your way up the chain. The feeling of accomplishment when paying off these accounts will fuel you to keep going until you take down the big one.

Avalanching happens when you attack the largest account with the most interest first and work your way down. This method will actually save you the most money in the long run because you’ll be eliminating those high-interest rates first.

Regardless of which method you choose, allocate the money you were putting towards eliminated accounts to your next payment. The more your accounts start to fall off, the quicker you’ll see your debt drop off. Always remember to pay on time so you’re not hit with any late fees. Sign-up for auto payments if you’re the kind of person that might forget your payment dates.

Step 5: Put Extra Income Towards your Debt

A few times during the year you may come into some extra income. Treat this extra income as added ammunition in your battle against debt. Your tax refunds are your debt clearing grenades, job raises are your anti-debt rounds, and freelance or side job pay is the unstoppable tank you drive to clear a path through interest.

Putting all of your extra income towards your debt can be a game changer and should see your debt deplete in record time.

Step 6: Reward Yourself (Without Spending)

You’re reaching your debt goals and every time your knock off an account you should be rewarded. Now this doesn’t mean go out and splurge on some of those unneeded expenses you’ve had in the past (that would defeat the purpose of this entire campaign.) Try to find ways to reward yourself with little or no expense. Take time from your nightly routine to watch your favorite show or movie, make your favorite meal or dessert. Perhaps buy yourself a coffee (just one!) Don’t spend over $5-10 on a small reward.

Step 7:  Congratulations You’re Debt Free!

walking debt thumbs up

You stuck to your plan, you attacked your debt, and now you’ve come out victorious and debt free. Your a debt-zombie slaying machine and Rick Grimes has got nothing on you! Now you can safely maintain your debt from here on out.

This is where you and me part ways. I had an abundance of fun coaching you through your debt battle and I hope my zombie/debt analogies weren’t too much for you. Before I go just remember: Don’t spend your money on unneeded expenses and make sure you can always pay off what you charge. Stay focused on what is important and use our Credit Blog to help you along your way. You can do it! I believe in you! Godspeed!

Need Help?

If you still need help with controlling your debt and/or improving your credit, fill out the form below and get a free credit consultation from a credit expert at Better Qualified.