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Mortgage Refinancing and Equity Options: Use your home as your personal loan resource. Apply for a low interest 2nd mortgage loan. A home equity loan can be used to pay for home remodeling to improve your home's value, or as a debt consolidation loan to payoff bills and get rid of high interest fees or to buy a boat or RV or to go on vacation.

Before you apply for 2nd mortgage refinancing, use our mortgage refinancing calculator to calculate the new long term monthly payments. In addition to providing money that can be used as an unsecured debt consolidation loan to payoff bills, a mortgage refinance loan can be used for any reason.

Learn about a joint mortgage loan, the benefits of a reverse mortgage and the options for a nonhomeowner debt consolidation loan. Get all the facts and carefully review the terms and conditions before you submit your mortgage refinancing application. Browse for more mortgage refinance resources.

 

Reverse mortgage - Information about the benefits of a reverse mortgage.

Home equity loan - Refinance your first mortgage and take cash out at closing.

Home remodeling loan - Use your home's equity to finance a remodeling project and increase home value.

Mortgage refinance loan - For a home equity line of credit, you may want to think about a traditional second mortgage loan.

Mortgage refinancing - Read the benefits of mortgage refinancing.

Mortgage refinancing calculator - Calculate your new mortgage payments.

2nd mortgage loan - Equity cash loan, debt consolidation, remodeling and other uses.

2nd mortgage refinancing - Apply for a lower interest rate and/or lower payments.

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Apply online for a home remodeling loan. Get a free equity loan quote from multiple lenders and see if you qualify for the lowest home improvement loan rate.

   

 

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A government home remodeling loan is limited to a maximum loan amount of $12,000 per family unit. But with the Credit Federal network, you can get a home improvement loan for up to $100,000 or more.

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) makes it easier for consumers to obtain affordable home improvement loans by insuring loans made by private lenders to improve properties that meet certain requirements. "Lending institutions make loans from their own funds to eligible borrowers to finance these improvements."

The Title I program insures loans to finance light or moderate home remodeling, as well as the construction of nonresidential buildings on the property. This program may be used to insure such loans for up to 20 years on either single- or multifamily properties. The maximum loan amount is $25,000 for improving a single-family home or for improving or building a nonresidential structure.

For remodeling or improving a multifamily structure, the maximum loan amount is $12,000 per family unit, not to exceed a total of $60,000 for the structure. These are fixed-rate loans, for which lenders charge interest at market rates. The interest rates are not subsidized by HUD, although some communities participate in local housing rehabilitation programs that provide reduced-rate property improvement loans through Title I lenders.

FHA insures private lenders against the risk of default for up to 90 percent of any single home remodeling loan. The annual premium for this insurance is $1 per $100 of the amount advanced; although this fee may be charged to the borrower separately, it is sometimes covered by a higher interest charge.

   

With a home remodeling loan you can get cash to fund your house's improvement plans.

There are two primary types of home improvement loans; 1) those that use the equity in your home and 2) those that require a down payment.

Home loans using home equity as collateral are the most common and offer the biggest loan amounts, but lenders are looking for homeowners to retain a 15% equity stake after the loan. This means you'd need a fairly large amount of equity in your home to qualify.

Your other option is to pay a down payment rather than use the equity in your home as collateral, but if you don’t want to tie up equity in the home, you’re looking at a much smaller loan with a higher interest rate.

When looking for equity financing, your current mortgage lender may not be the best choice. To get the best deal, comparison shop with several lenders including your mortgage company.

Typically to qualify for a home improvement loan you'll need a good credit score and enough monthly income to comfortably pay for all of your debts, including the additional loan payment.

If you choose to use your home's equity as collateral, the lender may require an appraisal of your home. The lender will use the appraisal amount and your mortgage terms to determine how much equity you have in your home and what the home is worth to the lender.

   

Regardless of bad credit or no credit, our multiple lenders want to offer you a home remodeling loan at the lowest interest rate possible. Applications accepted from all credit types.

 

Learn more about home mortgages, and read our articles related to a home remodeling loan.



Digital Gift Cards for Christmas Presents

The popularity of store gift cards is rising each year, as many people consider these as the most likely way to give a gift the person would actually use. As with most all purchases; however, some gift cards are better than others.

Comparing gift cards can be time consuming, particularly since stores will ramp up their card promotions during the holiday season. Some retailer ecards or digital gift cards can be used both online or in store, so be sure to which offers more flexibility.

Some retail stores; such as JCPenney's, offer e-gift cards which can be emailed within minutes to you or the recipient. They also offer shipping on a specific date and the buyer can customize the egift card with a message, a photo or even a video at no extra cost.

ECards offer another benefit over hard plastic gift cards... they can be accessed through mobile apps and email applications, whereas a regular gift card may easily be lost.

Certainly there's also a benefit for the retailers. In addition to making sales value equal to the card, some shoppers will actually end up spending beyond the value of the card thus earning more revenue for the store. That's why the aggressive gift card promotions begin quite early as the holidays approach. Some stores offer extra ways to obtain gift cards versus simply buying them outright. CVS; for example, has a program which their customers can earn a $10 gift card for places like Macy's or Darden restaurants if they spend $30 or more during a time period on specially marked items in the CVS circular. Kmart's offering members $15 off the next purchase when they buy $250 or more of Visa gift cards.

Gift Card Shopping Tips:

  • Check for any upfront fees for general purpose gift cards, including charge shipping fees.

  • Make sure protective stickers are intact and verify that nothing was scratched off to reveal a PIN number.

  • When giving a gift card, try to include a gift receipt to verify the card's purchase so the recipient can prove the card's validity should any problems arise.

Facts:

  • Per the Federal Trade Commission, money on a gift card cannot expire for at least five years from the date the card was bought, or from the last date extra money was added onto the card. If the expiration date listed on the card is earlier than these dates, the money can be transferred to a replacement card at no cost.

  • Be wary about buying gift cards from online auction sites. The FTC recommends avoiding buying gift cards totally on auction sites because the cards may be counterfeit or may have been obtained fraudulently.

  • If a restaurant or coffee house closes a store near the recipient, it may be hard to find another spot where the gift card can be used.

 

 



Holiday Gifts for Poor Families - Organizations that offer free Christmas Presents for Needy Children:

ToysForTots.org - Apply on their website. This organization provides information, education, and an opportunity to donate to Toys for Tots to the American public. To obtain toys for your children or for other children go to the toysfortots.org website. There are a few steps to sign up for toys on the website:

  • Selecty the City or County nearest your location.

  • Contact by phone, FAX, email (Recommend you use email. Click the hypertext email address. An email form will appear)

  • Fill out the form by providing your name, phone number and address.

  • Provide the ages and gender of your children and request that Christmas toys be provided for them.

  • A coordinator will contact you. Your local toysfortots may be able to assist children up to age 12. In some local communities the age limit may be extended to 14-16 years of age.

  

SoldiersAngels.org - Applications are accepted from military families from November 5 – December 1. Soldiers’ Angels helps military families in need, with presents for children and a grocery gift card or prepaid Visa gift card so they can purchase their holiday dinner and trimmings. Submitting an application does not guarantee participation in the program because each application is reviewed on a case by case basis and prioritized based on the level of need. The program is not meant to provide for your family's entire holiday support, but to serve as a token of appreciation from the community.


OperationHomefront.net - Is ready for its HOLIDAY TOY DRIVE program to distribute toys and gift cards to junior enlisted military families. Last year, millions of toys were donated at Dollar Tree stores nationwide. Items and other holiday gifts were distributed to junior service members to show our Nation’s appreciation and supplement the family holiday. To contact someone about emergency financial assistance, please call the Emergency Assistance Line at: 1-877-264-3968 (toll free); 210-549-4600 (local); and 1-855-552-0838 (fax).

SalvationArmyusa.org/usn/christmas-assistance - Donations and financial assistance provide Christmas dinners, clothing, and toys for families in need, including families of prisoners. Volunteers distribute gifts to shut-ins in hospitals and nursing homes, and shelters are open for sit-down dinners. Many families receive aid over a period of months after the Christmas season, as well as people struggling with difficult family, emotional, or employment problems. All of our holiday assistance programs are administered locally. If you require assistance, you will need to contact your local Corps Community Center by using the location search on our website (SalvationArmyusa.org/usn/christmas-assistance). Most locations begin registration as early as October, so it's recommended you contact your local Salvation Army as soon as possible to inquire about registration dates.

Check your local churches for toy drives: Some churches and religious organizations may have a toy drive for Christmas. Visit or call your church or other churches for information about getting toys for Christmas.

Check your local schools, Soup Kitchens, or other local organizations about toys for needy children.

RedCross.org - No information about free Christmas presents for needy children.

Goodwill.org - No information about free Christmas presents for needy children.



Use money to buy Christmas gifts, or charge to a credit card? If you plan on using cold hard cash for buying Christmas presents so you won't have debt and interest to pay, re-consider using a rewards credit card. It only makes sense, considering you have the cash to pay the charges in full. Why does it make sense? Because paying with cash does not give you any perks. Think of it this way: A rewards credit card which pays you 5% cash back, will end up giving you $175 of free money just for charging $3,500 of Christmas purchases to the card. And since you had the cash to pay in full, you won't have to worry about the free money being eaten up by interest. Just repay the balance within the grace period. Paying with cash doesn't offer cash back (unless the store offers a discount for cash purchases). Also, cash does not offer any additional perks such as an extended warranty on certain purchases, plus getting reversals for undelivered purchases, and protection by limiting liability to only $50.00. Another benefit to using a credit card, is that you can leave your hard-earned cash in your bank savings account (earning interest), instead of carrying the wad around town with you and risk being robbed or having your purse/wallet stolen. Of course, a credit card statement provides a back-up receipt should the retailer receipt become lost. Finally, consider the on-going benefits: If you spend $3,500 on Christmas gifts, how much money do you spend throughout the year? With a cash back credit card, you can continue earning money - not merely during the holidays.

Charity credit cards for Christmas gift giving - By charging purchases to a card which donates to charity, you give twice with each gift. You also get to enjoy that holiday warmth of sharing when you charge on a card which aids a nonprofit organization. Examples of charity cards are: Bank of America's American Heart Association, and Chase's World Wildlife Fund cards. Additionally, there are some charity cards which allow you to choose the organization to send the donation to. For example, Target's REDcard Take Charge of Education program can help your child's school, or it will split the money between up to five Israel-related charities through the HAS Advantage Visa Platinum card. Typically the participating issuer awards from 0.3 percent to 1 percent of each transaction to a charity. Although that may seem quite a small donation, it adds up with those from other users. If you want to give more, get a card which offers an initial donation of $10 to $50 when each card is activated like the Chase, OneCause, and CardPartner. If you don't like using credit cards, you can still join the giving-spirit by using a debit card. Some banks offer programs that link check and debit cards to charity. To give more, choose a rewards credit card that offers a higher cash-back bonus. The American Express Blue Cash and Discover More cards, and instead of cashing the rewards, donate the cash back check to charity. Not only will the charity receive a larger donation than they would through most cause cards, but the tax deduction belongs to you instead of the credit card company.

Christmas Credit Card Application Advice: Don't apply for just any credit card for Christmas shopping. There's much more to charging presents than simply deferring payment or establishing a monthly installment for eventual payoff. In addition to meeting qualification requirements, you also want to apply for a credit card which will bestow a total loan amount that is acceptable without being much more than you actually need. That's because having too large of a credit limit can encourage debt, and a card with a low limit may not offer a big enough credit line for making all your gift purchases. Any why not get the most out of the rewards as well? If; for example, you don't fly often and you'll mostly use the card for buying Christmas gifts, avoid sky miles credit cards and instead get one which offers cash back for the kinds of purchases you will make. Again, don't bother to submit a credit card application for a card which rewards cash back for purchases at stores you don't frequent. If you're unsure of the interest rate and credit limit you qualify for, consider a credit card finder service which can assist you.




Pinching Pennies to Save Money for Christmas:

Many Americans will spend at least $1,000 or more on gifts for their family and friends.
if you have a ball park figure that you know about how much you will spend, you could plan for saving that amount of money 
for Christmas gifts. However, there are the planners who are always ready for Christmas and those who do not save for it.

1. If you want to save and budget for Christmas:
If you know you will, for example, spend $1,000, you should save $100 each month beginning at least in January or February.
Choose a way to save - like taking out a savings account or save using a credit union account. Then you will be prepared
to withdraw the money for your shopping.

2. If You did not save money all year for Christmas:
This is when the realization sets in that you will have to figure a way to pinch pennies at the last moment in 
order to buy gifts. It will be harder, but there are ways you can save while you spend money. It takes
some creative thinking, planning at the last moment, and hard work.

Saving money and living on a budget is hard for many people to do, while others become great at 
counting pennies from paycheck to paycheck and making their money stretch. It is necessary to plan and count
all your money to get the most out of every dollar. 

CHECK OUT OUR FINANCIAL CALCULATORS to further refine your budgeting. Calculate your 
expenses, and see just what you can save for Christmas.

Below are a few tips that could help you during your holiday preparation:

* Make charges on your CASH BACK credit card and use the cash you earned to help pay down the bill when it comes
in after Christmas.

* Use store coupons and take advantage of retail sales. Avoid paying regular price for gifts. 

* Take your lunch, drinks, and snacks to work. Stay away from vending machines and fast food. Eliminating one fast food 
meal can save you as much as $7.00 to $10.00. Multiply that by five work days and see the savings. Start eating at home.

* Take coffee from home. That alone could save you from $3.00 to $5.00 per morning.
Figure how much you can save doing this the entire month of November and December.

* Stop and think before you hand over money for anything, you can choose to keep your money in your pocket!

* Wrap gifts using the comic section of the newspaper, a pretty scarf, or stamp black news print with red and green 
designs to get a unique gift wrap. Taking the newspaper for a year usually costs over $200,why not put your money to work
and use it after you read it.

* Make a list of people and kids you spend money on and brain storm some gift ideas and the costs. Could you be a help in other 
ways that require your time and energy instead of buying them a gift? Some adults would love to get a handmade coupon for
dog sitting, baby sitting, shopping chores, house cleaning, or grass cutting. Many people would like to get homemade candies and 
cookies. Be creative, helpful and spend less money.

* Buy in quantity and repackage foods or drinks into several gifts. For example, a large box of 5 flavored teas, a large box
of several kinds of individual cookies, or a large pack of several types of candies could be divided into several gifts with
each person getting one box of tea, one box of cookies, and one type of candy. Just because wholesale sellers sell in
quantity does not mean one person must get 6 months of an item as a gift.

* Cut your gift list to stay out of debt. Discuss with your family and friends that you would like to eliminate a lot of shopping
and reduce spending. Just let them know you would like to buy for close family and you would rather get together with them for 
quality time at your house for a game, movie, or meal. They may like this idea as it can mean they get to keep more of 
their money in their pocket. Agree to "No gift buying" on both sides. You could just draw names as a means to lessen gift giving.

In the end if you still find yourself in debt after christmas, check out these suggestions for GETTING OUT OF DEBT.

Low interest loan to buy Christmas gifts. If you are a homeowner, you may qualify for a large amount personal loan to buy Christmas presents without needing to place charges on a credit card. A homeowner long term personal loan has an interest rate lower than your credit card interest rates, but it may still be relatively high if you have a very low credit score. Contact your bank to ask about a Christmas personal loan. A home refinance or home equity loan is your best option, because the loan is secured by your home the interest rate is lower than you would find with a credit card or an unsecured personal loan. If you have bad credit, the rate won't be the lowest possible. Tax deductions are another advantage to taking home equity loans. Mortgage interest and most interest for home equity loans or lines of credit are tax deductible, which will free up a little extra cash for paying those bills.




Mortgage Equity Cash Out Refinance?

Homeowners can tap some of their home's wealth and use it for other immediate needs or wants, but should they choose a cash-out refinance, home equity loan or home equity line of credit? Which would be best to renovate or remodel the home, pay off credit cards or to fund a child's college education? Should a reverse mortgage be used to supplement retirement income? Which uses of home equity are smarter or more legitimate than others?

An easy answer would be nice. But such decisions aren't simple. In fact, any reason might be good or bad, depending on your situation.

As Jay Voorhees, broker and owner of JVM Lending, a mortgage company in Walnut Creek, California, says, "It all comes down to responsible borrowing."

With that in mind, here's a look at six common home equity cash-out scenarios and why they might -- or might not -- make sense for you.

Home improvement is "the No. 1 use" of home equity loans and home equity lines of credit, or HELOCs, says Kelly Kockos, home equity product manager for Wells Fargo in San Francisco.

Second on the list are major purchases, which these days are more likely to be vehicles, appliances or other durables rather than lavish weddings or exotic vacations.

"People are using home equity for what they need versus what they want," Kockos says.

The upside is clear if you bought a home you don't completely love and want to remodel, whether that means an addition, cosmetic changes, kitchen and bathroom updates, finishing a basement or building a garage, suggests Justin Lopatin, vice president of mortgage lending for PERL Mortgage in Chicago.

The opportunity is especially attractive if your home has risen in value so you have a larger equity cushion.

"You can leverage that equity at a low rate to improve your home and make it more comfortable," Lopatin says. "If you can tap into equity without increasing overhead to the point that it's not affordable or comfortable for you, that's a good reason."

Home equity can be used to invest for a higher return as long as interest rates remain low, Lopatin suggests.

"It's inexpensive cash. If you can borrow at 4 percent and turn around and make an investment in the stock market and yield 8 percent, you made 4 percent on your money," he says.

Moore says home equity can be a good source of funds to start a business or further your education, but he adds that an objective adviser should be consulted to ensure that your investment is sound.

"That kind of opportunity is a great area where using home equity makes sense," he says. "If you were retraining, going back to school or getting a certificate and putting that money to work in human capital to increase your earnings, that would be a possibility."

A HELOC or home equity loan can be an attractive way to finance a child's education because the interest rate might be lower and the maximum loan amount higher than some other types of education financing, says Andy Tilp, president of Trillium Valley Financial Planning in Sherwood, Oregon.

But this strategy isn't risk free.

"I've seen parents struggle because they have to delay retirement, sometimes for many years, because of this huge debt. And if they lose their home, and with a bit of an ironic twist, they may be moving in with their new college grad," Tilp says.

A related question is whether to tap equity to pay off a student's loans after he or she graduates.

That might seem smart, but Alan Moore, a CFP professional for Serenity Financial Consulting in Milwaukee, says parents shouldn't sacrifice their own financial well-being.

"Kids are much better off with financially secure parents than they are being financially secure and having to take care of their parents later in life," Moore says.

One exception might be if the parent (unwisely) co-signed a student's loans and the student didn't make the payments.

Some retirees use a HELOC to meet their current income needs in years when their investment returns aren't sufficient for that purpose, Tilp says.

But again, there's a risk because eventually the retiree will have to make payments on the HELOC.

"If their investment returns don't pick up, they'll need to cut back elsewhere or borrow more against the line of credit, which can start a dangerous downward spiral," Tilp warns.

Another option is a reverse mortgage, which allows seniors to borrow against home equity without making payments. Instead, the loan is repaid when the senior dies or moves out of the home or the home is sold.

Paying off car loans, credit cards or other personal debt is another popular use of a home equity loan, HELOC or cash-out refinance.

But the ease with which new debts can be incurred suggests this tactic might not always be wise.

"It may make sense when you run the numbers," Moore says. "But that doesn't cure the problem of credit card debt. We want to make sure we're taking care of what got you into debt in the first place."

Moore points out that credit card debt is unsecured while a home loan is secured by your home, which explains why the interest rate is so much lower than a typical credit card rate.

"Freeing up unsecured debt for secured debt is typically a bad idea until it's absolutely necessary," Moore says.

A HELOC or home equity loan can be a handy alternative to keeping a large sum of money in a low-rate bank account for emergency savings.

However, one downside of this strategy is that a major life catastrophe can trigger a path to home foreclosure.

"If someone has an emergency and taps the money, but then loses their income and then is in default, they've put their home at risk," Tilp says.

What's more, Moore suggests, a HELOC as an emergency fund can also be too big a temptation to borrow.

"When (a HELOC) is very easily accessible and the interest rate looks good, it can maybe be too easy," he says. "By having it, you're more likely to use it, which is the good and the bad."



Average Closing Costs to Refinance a Mortgage


Refinancing your home mortgage could be a huge benefit, especially if you can get a lower interest rate or to use your home's equity to pay off high interest bills. But don't forget about the costs associated with this process. Depending upon your location, you may pay about 3% to 6% of the principal of your loan in closing costs.

Here are some of the mortgage refinancing fees to be aware of:

Appraisal
Just as when you had first bought your home, when you refinance you will most likely have to undergo another appraised at your expense. Lending Tree estimates appraisal costs at $225 to $450.

Fees
Three of the most common fees in a refinance are the application fee, the loan origination fee and the home inspection fee. The application fee is the money you pay to have your application processed, which the Home Buying Institute estimates to be $75 to $300. The loan-origination fee is one of those murky terms, but it basically entails the amount of work your lender puts in to evaluate your loan application and prepare it for the underwriter. This fee is about 1 percent of what you're financing. Your home may or may not need to be inspected, depending on the requirements of your lender. But if your home must be inspected, expect to pay $175 to $350, according to Lending Tree.

Credit Report
The credit report fee sometimes is rolled into the application or loan-origination fees. But either way, your lender will charge to pull your credit report to determine your worthiness for the loan. This charge is small. The Home Buying Institute estimates the cost at $15 to $30.

Title Search
Most lenders won't use the title search that was conducted during the initial sale of your home when doing a refinance. They will usually order a new one. The title search examines the property's history to confirm legal ownership and find any claims or liens against the property, such as a lien from a previous owner. According to Lending Tree, this fee can be $450 to $600 and usually includes title insurance. Title insurance covers you against losses caused by discrepancies in the title or against challenges to your ownership due to issues like fraud, forgery and probate issues.

Legal Fees
You probably didn't hire a lawyer to look over your refinance paperwork before you signed it. No problem. Your lender did and passed the cost on to you. Your lender's attorney looked over the paperwork to make sure everything conformed to current lending standards and approved the closing paperwork for the lender. This cost is usually $75 to $200.

Other Costs
If the lender wants a survey of the property, you can be charged $125 to $300 for that service. If you live near a flood zone, your lender may require a determination of whether you need flood insurance. This evaluation can cost around $20. If your lender needed a courier to get your paperwork to you, that cost can be passed on to you and run up to $30.

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