Why your credit score might get a boost this summer
And more of the week's best financial advice
Here are three of the week's top pieces of financial advice, gathered from around the web:
A credit score jubileeMillions of consumers' credit scores could get a boost this summer, said AnnaMaria Andriotis at The Wall Street Journal. In response to regulatory concerns, the three major credit-reporting agencies are changing their standards for two pieces of negative information: tax liens and civil judgments. Around July 1, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion will remove those data points from reports if they don't include a person's name, address, and either a Social Security number or date of birth. "Many liens and most judgments don't include all three or four." About 12 million people will see a slight increase to their credit score, typically of less than 20 points, but 700,000 people will get a rise of at least 40 points. "In many cases, that can mean the difference between getting approved for credit or denied it."
Foil car rental tricksWhen you turn up at the car rental desk, it pays to be on guard, said Christopher Elliott at USA Today. Faced with razor-thin profit margins, rental companies are increasingly using "questionable tactics" to extract extra cash from customers. Representatives sometimes push customers to upgrade their auto, without explaining how that might add hundreds of dollars to their bill. So read the rental agreement carefully before you sign it. Some rental companies may also try to hawk insurance you don't need — your personal auto insurance or credit card will often cover a rental car — or even refuse to rent to you if you don't buy their policy. Put a stop to this trickery by presenting a copy of your car insurance policy or evidence of credit card coverage.
Our retirement delusionsMore than 40 percent of Americans are woefully mistaken about their retirement preparations, said Walter Updegrave at Money. That's the finding of a new study by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, which compared people's assessment of their own retirement savings plans with their actual finances. They found that only 57 percent of households "had a realistic idea" of their retirement readiness. Of those who got it wrong, 19 percent believed they were on track for a secure retirement, but "were actually at risk of having to lower their standard of living after they retired." And 23 percent were "too worried" about their savings plan, even though they were actually on target. Keep yourself informed by using an online retirement calculator to "periodically gauge your progress."