37 BEST LEGIT WEBSITES TO GET FREE STUFF (Today!)

We did all the work for you and found you some of the best legitimate freebies websites where you can get things for free, things that you actually use in your everyday life.

My favorite sites to get freebies

Let’s start with my top favorite sites.

1. BzzAgent

This is more of a product testing opportunity where they send you all kinds of products to test at home.

BzzAgent is an “international network of consumers who voluntarily participate in word-of-mouth (WOM) campaigns for a variety of products and services.

Put simply, it’s product testing platform where you get free products in exchange for providing your feedback.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Sign up for free.
  2. Receive products to test at home.
  3. Complete a questionnaire about the product and what you liked and disliked about it.
  4. Keep the product.

It’s a fun way to get free stuff!

2. Freeflys

Freeflys is a great site that you can use to find all kinds of freebies and samples.

Some of their latest freebies includes:

  • Pearlosophy O2 Oxygen Super Cleanser Sample
  • La Bella Styling Gel Product
  • Bath & Body Works freebie

3. WomenFreebies

As the name suggests, this is a site focused on finding free stuff for the ladies.

You can find anything from baby and pet stuff to feminine products, hair and makeup, perfume samples, books and more.

Some of the recent ones included samples of:

  • Rag & Bone Fragrance
  • Dior Poison Girl Fragrance
  • Chamos Honey Face Mask Sheets
  • Replens Moisturizer For Women
  • Pantene Pro-V Daily Moisture Renewal Foam Conditioner
  • Cuvee Beauty Shampoo and Conditioner

They also have an entire section dedicated to freebie contests from various brands. You can enter these contests to win products.

4. Toluna

This is not actually a freebie site.

It’s a survey site, one of the best survey sites, to be exact.

The reason I wanted to list it here is their Test Product program.

When you join the site (which is free by the way,) not only you earn free gift cards and prizes for taking surveys, you also have the opportunity to get free products through their Test Products program.

Basically, they send you a product, you use it and after a few days/weeks, they’ll send you an online questionnaire that you can use to answer questions about the product and share your experience of using it.

The best part?

You get to keep the product for free!

And you know how most sample sites only give out small sample-sized items?

With Toluna you get free larger sized freebies from brands like Maybelline, Rimmel, L’Oreal, and Nivea.

Some of the recent products included:

  • Full-sized Gemey Mascara Volume Express
  • Revlon Lip Gloss
  • Nivea Mascara
  • Maybelline Lipstick

Beauty products aren’t the only kind of stuff you get. You may also get electronics, household products, toys and more.

If you want to get real full sized products for free, you want to join Toluna.

5. PINCHme

This one is a favorite of mine and my girlfriend.

We signed up (I think) about a year ago and we have gotten a few boxes of samples for free so far.

Here is the thing…

Most of the items we have gotten so far, aren’t your usual pesky sample sized stuff, they are legit full size freebies.

The boxes contain a variety of items – health and beauty, food, snack, drink mixes, magazine subscriptions and more.

So why would they giveaway these stuff for absolutely free?

Two reasons:

  1. Get the word out and attract new customers.
  2. Get feedback from real consumers so they can improve their products.

Companies spend millions of dollars on ads every year trying to attract customers. But we can all agree that word of mouth and personal experience is the best way to create new customers.

So, these companies have worked out a deal with PinchMe where they give ’em samples of their products to be given away to PinchMe members for free, in hopes of getting the word out about those products.

Even if a small portion of those members become buying customers, these companies win.

The only thing you are asked to do (besides enjoying the free stuff) is answer a few short questions after you use the products.

As consumer, you get free stuff and new products that you may actually like, products that you didn’t know existed.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Sign up for free and fill out your member profile so they know what kind of things you want.
  2. Once your member profile is complete, you’ll start to see available samples.
  3. Pick what you like from available samples
  4. They’ll ship ’em to you for free.
  5. A few weeks later, they’ll send you a survey you can take to share your feedback.

From that point on, once a month at noon EST, PINCHme will release new free samples that you can request.

Each month, they’ll let you know exactly what day the next batch will be ready so you can login and claim it before it’s too late.

This is truly one of the best ways to get awesome free stuff.

If you haven’t already, be sure to sign up.

It’s all free!

You never pay a dime for anything.

Not convinced yet?

Read our full review of PinchMe for details. We update the post with every new box we get.

6. Freaky Freddie’s

This is a little-known site that is just awesome.

It features a huge selection of freebies and samples from categories such as Games, Gags, Bathroom freebies, Phone Stuff, Religion, Software, Teacher Stuff, Travel Supplies, and whatever else you can think of.

Free samples include:

  • Olay Deep Hydrating Eye Gel
  • Garnier Sheet Mask
  • L’Oreal Hydra Genius Liquid Care Moisturizer
  • Bag of diapers from Naty Eco Nappies
  • Roasters Pod Coffee

It also has a huge selection of kid’s freebies that is updated frequently with new items like toys, books, T-shirts, coloring books and activities like roller skating.

7. Just Free Stuff

I love this site.

It is one of the best organized freebies sites.

It is also one of the oldest ones, being around since 1997.

You can find free stuff from electronics to food, baby products, games, books and much more.

8. Influenster

If you’re a social media addict, you’ll love this one.

It’s basically a program like PINCHme.

It’s focused mostly on products for women. So if you’re looking for free makeup and other health and beauty products, you’ll want to join this one.

Once a month, you’ll receive a box full of freebies that you can use and keep for free. In exchange you review those products.

Now, much like PINCHme, the stuff you get here are usually full-sized freebies and not just tiny sample sizes that you can barley use one time.

The boxes also contain coupons and exclusive promo codes.

One of the best things about Influenster is their “VoxBox” feature. A VoxBox usually contains themed products relevant to a season, holiday or other special times.

And yes, it is 100% free.

You don’t even pay for shipping!

9. Smiley360

Smiley360 is another one like PINCHme.

They send out boxes of free full-sized products and samples.

In exchange for getting the freebies, you’ll have to complete “missions.” Basically sharing on social media, answering a few questions, etc.

Be sure to fill out your profile completely.

They’ll send you surveys based on your profile that may qualify you for a mission. To receive the full box, accept the mission.

10. Totally Free Stuff

When it comes to freebie sites, there is no shortage of useless sites and outright scams. Usually, though, they come and go quickly, only to be replaced by a dozen more.

So, one of the things that legitimate sites have in common is their age.

And if age is any indication of a site’s trustworthiness, TotallyFreeStuff is as trusty as you can get – they have been around since 1998.

They share really useful stuff and not just crappy stickers and magnets.

Here is a sample:

  • Fleece Blanket
  • Digital Movies from Movies Anywhere
  • Pillsbury Samples & Coupons
  • Box of Quaker Multigrain Flakes Cereal at Publix

Other websites

The sites mentioned above are my personal favorites.

But as I mentioned there are also many other great sites out there.

Here are more of ’em:

11. SampleSource

If you don’t want to deal with writing reviews and just want to get free stuff without surveys and reviews, this is for you.

SampleSource is a free sampling site.

Here’s how it works:

Every three months or so, they send you a box of free samples.

To get these boxes, all you have to do is sign up for free so you can get notification for the next available box.

Each box usually contains 5-15 items.

They range from makeup and beauty care to household cleaning, food and even snacks.

12. 2000Freebies

This is an awesome site with a huge list of free stuff that gets updated almost daily.

They also have a lot of food related freebies – recipes, cookbooks, recipe software, free recipes by mail, etc.

13. GoFreebies

As the name suggests, this is a site for freebies.

You can join their free newsletter to receive all kinds of free stuff from baby products to free beauty samples, recipes, food, snacks, and much more.

Some of the recent ones I was able to find on this site included:

  • Two free cans of Nutro wet dog food from PetSmart
  • Hello fluoride toothpaste
  • Brazi Bites

14. Hey It’s Free

Hey It’s Free is another long-running site that has been around since 2005.

What I really like and appreciate about their site is its ease of navigation.

And unlike many other free stuff websites, it’s not cluttered with tons of ads at every corner.

It’s easy to navigate, and easier to find what you’re looking for. Use the search box at the top to quickly and easily find what you need.

Some of the available (at the time of this writing) included:

  • Brazi Bites Cheese Bread
  • Chipotle Guacamole & Chips
  • Quart of Dannon Yogurt

They also share coupons and deals.

15. I Crave Freebies

This site has a huge selection in many different categories, including DVD/CD, Home & Garden, Clothing, Beauty, and Kids.

One of the disadvantages of dealing with free stuff is that you have to be fast and get yours before the company giving them away runs out or the promotion ends.

Thankfully, here you don’t have to worry about that.

You can be one of the first ones to know of new stuff by subscribing to their free newsletter that notifies you immediately of any new freebies or samples available.

16. Get It Free

Here, the freebies are not restricted to just sample products, but also great deals, coupons, and entry into sweepstakes that may get your hands on an even wider variety of free things.

Here is example of the kind of things you can expect to get:

  • Perfect Diet Pills!
  • Correction Pen
  • Accurate Koozie
  • 50 FREE 4×6 Prints at Sam’s Club
  • Pool Test Kit

The site is organized like Pinterest, so expect to see these fabulous freebies and deals in vivid pictorial illustrations, which makes it easy to find what you are after.

17. Freebies Depot

The best part of this site is their “Freebates” section.

Here, they list free after rebate products.

Here’s how FreeBates work:

  • You buy the product at regular price.
  • Mail in the form provided.
  • Get your money back within a few days/weeks.

Basically, you are getting the product for free.

The owner of the site actually shared a great strategy for getting more than just free stuff:

After Rebate Items are one of my favorite ways to build FREE Frequent Flyer Miles or credit rewards and miles. You can often donate these items to charity or even sell them on eBay.

18. Mr. Free Stuff

This is a beautiful site that not only finds you free stuff, but also finds you birthday freebies and even grocery coupons to save you even more money.

I love their “Free Things to Do” section where they share activities you can enjoy for free in popular cities across the U.S.

By the way, if you are interested, be sure to check out our own post on free things to do. It lists 3079 things you can do for free in 53 cities.

19. Freebies4Mom

As the name suggests, this site focuses on finding and sharing stuff that moms like – think baby stuff (like free diapers,) cleaning supplies, health and beauty products, magazines, etc.

One thing that separates this site from the others is its code section.

This is a dedicated part of the site where they find and share codes for some of the most popular reward programs.

This includes:

  • Swagbucks codes
  • Kellogg’s Family Rewards: 25 Bonus Points
  • Pampers Points

These codes will get you free points on those reward programs.

By the way, if you need a reason to join a site like Swagbucks, read my honest review of Swagbucks and find out how you can easily earn an extra $758.25 with Swagbucks.

20. Free Stuff Finder

Free Stuff Finder is not just for freebies. It also shares coupons, deals, as well as tips and guides for couponing and saving money.

Some of the freebies I noticed when writing this post included:

  • Bag of Blue Buffalo Dry Dog Food at PetSmart
  • La Bella Hair Gel at Target
  • Trolli Gummy Candy at CVS

And yes, they provide you with the coupons and promo codes that you can take to the store to get those items without paying a cent.

21. Free Stuff Times

This site is a must-use for freebies seekers.

Here’s why…

Not only you can get free samples of food, beauty products, toys, household care and others, you can also find tons of contests and sweepstakes that you can enter to win stuff.

But that’s not even the best part!

The best part is that they share awesome coupons and money saving deals for local businesses. So you can extend your savings to local shopping as well.

One of the things I really like about this site is their active comments section where users talk about the experience of using various freebies and coupons and whether it worked for them or not. That can be a huge time saver since you can get a feel for whether or not something is worth pursuing.

22. FreeBirthdayTreats

This site makes itself stand out by focusing on great discounts and free perks for customers approaching their birthdays.

You can find a mind-boggling array of birthday freebies at FreeBirthdayTreats!

They range from movie tickets to sumptuous meals, heavily discounted to completely free items.

And the best thing is that you don’t have to celebrate with all these freebies on the actual day itself, as some of the offers stay good throughout your birthday week.

23. Sample a Day

I love this site.

It’s an awesome site that as the name suggests, shares real free samples daily.

Here are a few examples of available samples (at the time of writing this post):

  • Free Colgate Toothpaste sample
  • Free one-month Rocksbox subscription
  • Free Arla Cream Cheese sample
  • Free Mercury Magazine subscription
  • Free Maybelline Dr. Rescue Nail Care product

They also have coupons and promo codes, as well as exclusive deals on popular items.

24. Free Samples.org

The aptly named FreeSamples.org is basically a website where you can get samples and freebies from a wide variety of companies and manufacturers.

You can find freebies in many different categories – food, drinks, dog food, cleaning supplies, health and beauty freebies, and everything in between.

The site gets updated frequently, so if you don’t see something you want, check back often.

25. Free Sample Monkey

If all the options presented above still look kind of limited in terms of freebies offered, here is the ultimate Free Sample Monkey!

This site functions more like an aggregate site. It routinely scans the internet for free samples and organizes them in a logical manner, in a centralized location.

You can use the search function to find what you need.

Or you can go through the list based on the sites you want to see stuff from.

They also have a dedicated section for Canadian samples and freebies.

26. I Love Free Things

This site also covers a variety of products.

And if you’re looking for free stuff for kids and babies, this is a great site to visit.

Here are some of the stuff I found when writing this post:

  • Free Naty Eco Diapers
  • Free Enfagrow Toddler Next Step Sample
  • Free Miloo Home Alcohol Breast Milk Test Strip

They also have things for adults. From stickers and books to food, clothing and more.

27. SweetFreeStuff

This is a new site that doesn’t really look the part as far as the design of the site goes.

But what they lack in design, they more than makeup for in what actually matters, finding you free stuff!

This site gets updated often and they only share real popular freebies.

These include free books, pet supplies, baby stuff, food, magazine subscriptions, stickers and more.

28. My Free Product Samples

Looking for free samples by mail?

This is the site for you then.

This is one of the best sites to get freebies with no strings attached.

You can find free ringtones, books, medicine, perfume, shampoo and everything in between.

29. Shop4Freebies

You can find anything from free cookbooks and recipes to home care products, health and beauty supplies, and everything in between on this site.

Their “Today’s Free List” section is updated every 24 hours.

30. Complimentary Crap

This is a great site especially for those of us looking to get free stuff by mail.

The site is updated regularly.

It also has a dedicated section for the ladies called “Woman Freebies.”

31. Yo Free Samples

This one is also an oldie but goody that has been around since 2008.

You can opt in for their newsletter so you can get a list of the latest stuff in your inbox, daily.

32. Freestuff.com

This is more of an “offers” site.

Let me explain…

They list “offers” that help you get something for free.

For example, they may have a survey that taking it will enter you into a drawing for a $100 Visa gift card. So it’s not guaranteed that you’ll win, it’s just a chance to win.

33. Freebies.com

This site operates a little differently than traditional freebie sites.

By joining the site, not only you can get free samples, you also can earn points for doing various activities like referring friends, answering trivia questions, taking polls and more.

Every month, the top 50 users with most points earn a reward. The top 10 get a free $25 gift card.

34. Hunt4Freebies

Be sure to check out their “Hot Free Stuff” section for the best latest stuff.

A few times avilible at the time of this writing included:

  • Full Size Creme of Nature Coconut Milk Styling Products!
  • FREE Enfagrow Toddler Next Step Sample
  • DermYoung Skincare Sample

You can also find a lot of coupons that manufacturers will mail to you so you can use in store.

35. Freebie Radar

This is another rather unknown site that I actually think is one of the best ones.

You can find tons of great samples from your favorite brands.

For example:

  • Splenda Naturals Sweetener
  • Hello Toothpaste
  • Cantu Beauty Men’s Collection

What I really like about this site is that unlike many other similar sites that fill the site with mostly junk stuff, they offer mostly useful freebies.

36. Snag Free Samples

This one separates samples into 5 categories:

  1. Beauty
  2. Food
  3. Health
  4. Home
  5. Supplements

That makes it very easy to find what you are looking for.

37. TheFreeSite

This is another great site that has been around for a long time.

One of the best features of the site is their daily round up of the best freebies available on the Web.

They also have a directory of other freebie sites.

Close to free

While researching for this post, I noticed some of the biggest retailers have something similar to some of the free sample box sites.

They don’t offer it for free though, but it’s close.

I though I’d share it for those of you interested.

Amazon Prime Samples

People always look for free stuff on Amazon.

And there are tons of ways to get them, especially through Amazon review sites.

Well, Amazon has just come out with a new program fro Prime members, called Prime Samples.

Here’s how it works:

  • You buy a sample of a product.
  • For each sample you buy, you receive a credit equal to the price you paid for the sample.
  • You can then use your credits to pay for future purchase of that (full-size) product.

The samples cost between $2 and $4. But at the end of the day, you get the sample for free.

This is actually a great way to try stuff before paying full price for full-size products.

You wanna buy something for the first time, but you don’t know it that well and whether or not you’ll like it. So you don’t want to pay for a full size of it without that information.

Until now, you had no choice – either buy it or ignore it.

With Prime Samples, this problem is solved.

Walmart Sample Boxes

Yes, your favorite department store also offers free stuff.

Walmart.com has a program known as the Walmart Sample Box Page.

It works a little differently than the usual freebie sites.

Here’s how it works:

First, you have to sign up for the program (it’s free!)

You’ll immediately receive your first box.

Then, every three months you get a new box packed with samples and freebies.

The box is free, you only pay for shipping which is a $5 flat fee.

Each box contains a variety of items.

The beauty of the program is that they have different categories.

So if you like to get beauty products, you sign up for the Beauty Box. If you like to get baby stuff, you sign up for Baby Box.

This is basically a subscription model that sites like PinchMe use, but the difference is that you pay for the shipping. Read our PinchMe review to see how it all works.

Target Sample Boxes

Just like Walmart, Target also offers samples and freebies.

It is known as the Target Sample Box and it works quite similarly to Walmart Sample Box.

You get a box full of stuff for $7-$15.

Not free, but very close to it, especially when you consider these boxes usually contain around $25-$30 worth of products.

Walgreens Beauty Box

So Walgreens has something that is a bit different.

They have a program known as the “Beauty Enthusiast” club.

It is part of their store loyalty program, Balance Rewards.

Basically you earn points for every dollar you spend at the store and online.

On top of that, you receive tips from beauty experts, exclusive deals and coupons.

And for us freebie seekers, they all send out free samples from time to time.

If you shop at Walgreens a lot, it’d be a good idea to sign up. It’s free to sign up.

Great resources for finding more freebies

There are also other sites you can use to source stuff for free.

Some of these sites are general coupons and savings sites that also share freebies from time to time.

Others, like Craigslist, allow you to get stuff in your local area.

Either way, they are great resources.

Here are some other sites/places that you can try:

1. Mommy and Me News

This is a rather new site that as the name suggests is geared towards moms.

It’s basically a resource center for all kinds of free stuff and deals for anything a family would have use for.

They give away free stuff and coupons from many different brands including Zulily, Toms, OrbitBaby, and ErgoBaby.

2. For the Mammas

This is another great site that is updated a few times a day. So you can always be the first to find the latest freebies and deals.

3. Craigslist

Craigslist is the king of free stuff that you can get locally.

All it takes is a look at the “Free” section daily.

You’ll be surprised at what you can get for absolutely free – TV, fridge, sports equipment, baby cribs, rugs…

4. All You

You’ve probably heard of AllYou Magazine.

Well, they have a section on their site where they share all kinds of samples and freebies.

They also write detailed guides on how to get free stuff from many top brands and stores.

For example, recently they had a post on getting birthday freebies where they shared 55 things you can get for free on your birthday from stores like Ace Hardware, CVS, Old Navy, Sephora and even Victoria’s Secret.

5. The Freecycle Network

This is a nonprofit organization with over nine million members worldwide.

Here, you can get and give stuff for free.

Need something but can’t afford to buy it?

Have something you don’t need/use anymore?

Trade the unused item for what you need.

Simple as that!

Not only you get something for free, you also give someone a free item.

Exchanges happen within groups that are moderated by local volunteers.

You can find a group near you with a simple search.

6. The Krazy Coupon Lady

This is an extreme couponing website that shares some of the best coupons and deals, as well as the latest freebies and samples offered by some of the biggest brands and manufacturers.

Their Freebies section is full of links to sites where you can get samples for free.

So why do companies give away things for free?

What do these brands gain by giving away their products?

Marketing!

You see, by giving you the product for free, they are giving you a chance to try it before you buy it.

If you like the product, chances are you are going to be buying it for the rest of your life.

By giving away some freebies, these brands have the opportunity to gain life long, loyal customers.

This strategy is usually much cheaper than traditional advertising, and works much better since a potential future customers gets to see, feel and use the actual product.

Takeaway

There are lots of websites that give free samples of products, but not all are equal.

Some of them will bombard you with junk emails, yet when it comes to giving you freebies, they fall short.

Getting emails from these sites is expected.

After all, they don’t just spend their time and money finding you freebies out of the goodness of their hearts. In exchange for giving you those deals, they may send you advertising emails from time to time. That is to be expected.

So if you want to keep your personal inbox clutter free, you may want to create a separate email address just for these freebie sites. It’ll help you stay organized and not miss out on potential free stuff by losing a notification email in your personal inbox’s junk folder.

That said, these are all legit and safe sites that you can use to get real free stuff, not just free junk emails!

HOW TO RAISE YOUR CREDIT SCORE

“There are a lot of tips and tricks on how to improve your credit score – and we’ll get to those in a moment – but nothing you see, hear or read about the subject will impact your credit score faster or more effectively than paying bills on time and using your credit cards judiciously”

“If you are trying to give people advice for improving their score, pointing them toward those two components – things that are relatively easy to change – is a very good start,” said Tatiana Homonoff, an assistant professor of Economics and Public Policy at New York University, who did a two-year study on credit scores and published a paper on it in April of 2018.

Homonoff, who is affiliated with the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at NYU, added: “There are some parts of the credit score algorithm that are very hard to effect, but paying bills on time and being aware of credit utilization are things people can do with some ease, even if they’re in a tough financial position.”

Consumers are becoming more aware of how improving their credit score improves their financial outlook and Homonoff’s study has evidence of it. She found consumer behavior improved dramatically when people were aware of their credit score.

“Many people thought they had a great score, but then found out they overestimated it,” she said. “They realized they had to start changing credit behaviors, so they stopped making late payments, they paid off cards with a balance and their scores improved.”

It is worth knowing that it takes more time to repair a bad credit score than it does to build a good one. Mistakes penalize your credit score and end up costing hundreds or thousands of dollars in higher interest rates when borrowing. A poor credit score also can be a roadblock to renting an apartment, setting up utilities, and maybe even getting a job!

12 Tips for Improving Your Credit Score

If you are like many consumers and don’t know your credit score, there are several free places you can find it. The Discover Card is one of several credit card sources that offer free credit scores. Discover provides your FICO score, the one used by 90% of businesses that do lending. Most other credit cards like Capital One and Chase give you a Vantage Score, which is similar, but not identical. Same goes for online sites like Credit Karma, Credit Sesame and Quizzle.

The Vantage Score comes from the same place that FICO gets its information – the three major credit reporting bureaus, Experian, TransUnion and Equifax – but it weighs elements differently and there could be a slight difference in the two scores.

Once you get your score, as Homonoff suggested, you might be surprised if it’s not as high as you expected. These are ways to improve the score.

Here are 12 things you can do now to improve your credit score:
  1. Review Your Credit Report – You are entitled to one free credit report a year from each of the three reporting agencies and requesting one has no impact on your credit score. Review the report closely. Dispute any errors that you find. This is the closest you can get to a quick credit fix. Notifying the credit reporting agency of wrong or outdated information will improve your score as soon as the false information is removed.
  2. Set Up Payment Reminders – Write down payment deadlines for each bill in a planner or calendar and set up reminders online. Consistently paying your bills on time can raise your score within a few months.
  3. Pay More Than Once in a Billing Cycle – If you can afford it, pay down your bills every two weeks rather than once a month. This lowers your credit utilization and definitely improves your score.
  4. Contact Your Creditors – Do this immediately to set up a payment plan if you miss payment deadlines and can’t afford your monthly bills. Quickly addressing your problem can ease the negative effects of late payments and high outstanding balances.
  5. Apply for New Credit Sparingly – Although it increases your total credit limit, it hurts your score if you apply for or open several new accounts in a short time period.
  6. Don’t Close Unused Credit Card Accounts – The age of your credit history matters, and a longer history is better. If you must close credit accounts, close newer ones.
  7. Be Careful Paying Off Old Debts – If a debt is “charged off” by the creditor, it means they do not expect further payments. If you make a payment on a charged off account, it reactivates the debt and lowers your credit score. This often happens when collection agencies are involved.
  8. Pay Down “Maxed Out” Cards First – If you use multiple credit cards and the amount owed on one or more is close to the credit limit, pay that one off first to bring down your credit utilization rate.
  9. Diversify Your Accounts – Your credit mix — mortgage, auto loans, student loans and credit cards — counts for 10% of your credit score. Adding another element to the current mix helps your score, as long as you make on-time payments.
  10. Quick Loan Shopping – If you have bad credit and can’t find any other way to improve your score, you could consider taking a “quick loan.” These are typically loans for small amounts — $250 to $1,000 — that get repayment history reported to credit agencies, and can become a positive on your credit report. This is a last resort.
  11. See If You Qualify for a 0% Interest Card – Several companies offer cards with 0% interest on balances, but there are caveats to this. There can be a fee for transferring the balance and the zero-percent offer is only good for an introductory period, typically 12-18 months. It usually takes a very good credit score to qualify for one of these.
  12. Consider a Debt Consolidation Plan – There could be a temporary drop in your credit score if you enroll in a debt consolidation program, but as long as you make on-time payments, your score quickly improves and you are eliminating the debt that got you in trouble to start with.

How Long Does It Take to Rebuild Credit?

Typically, it takes at least 3-6 months of good credit behavior to see a noticeable change in your credit score. It is difficult to make a change any faster, unless the negative information on your credit report was a minor blip, like being late with bill payments one month.

While it is impossible to put a specific time frame on credit repair, it is safe to say the less negative information you have on your report – late payments, maxed out credit cards, constant credit applications, bankruptcy, etc. – the easier it is to repair your credit score.

You are not going to lose nearly as many points if you are late with one payment as you will if you are delinquent for several months to the point where your account has been turned over to a collection agency. The severity of the second situation is far greater than the first and your score will reflect that.

Here are some time frames for negative information that detracts from your credit score.
  • A delinquent account remains on your credit report for seven years.
  • Car repossession stays on your report for seven years.
  • Chapter 7 bankruptcy is on your report for 10 years. Chapter 13 remains for seven years.
  • Credit application inquiries remain on your report for two years.
  • Public record items such as property liens are on your report seven years.

It is very important to remember that the damage to your credit score diminishes over time. So, for example, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Year Six has negligible impact when compared to its effect in Year One.

What to Look for on a Credit Report

One way to improve your credit score that won’t cost you a thing is to examine your free credit report and search for errors. Each of the three major credit reporting bureaus, Experian, TransUnion and Equifax is required by law to give you a free report once a year.

A government study found that 26% of consumers have at least one potentially material error that makes them look like a bigger risk than they really are. Some are simple (but costly) mistakes like a misspelled name, address, or accounts belonging to someone else with the same name.

Some less obvious errors that can really be costly include accounts that incorrectly are reported late or delinquent; debts listed twice; closed accounts that are reported as still open; accounts with an incorrect balance or credit limit.

Your reward for conscientiously examining your credit report? About 20% of consumers who identified mistakes saw their credit score increase.

So, What Is a Credit Score?

A credit score is a numeric summary of your credit history, a commonly used method for lenders to predict the likelihood that you will repay any loans they make to you.

The FICO credit score (so named for the Fair Isaac Corporation) is used by 90% of the businesses in the U.S. to determine how much credit to offer a consumer and what interest rate to charge them for that credit.

FICO uses five major components in the equation that produces your credit score. Those five include:
  • Payment history (35% of score): Do you pay on time? Do you pay the full balance, the minimum or somewhere in between?
  • Amounts owed (30%): How much of the credit you’re allowed, do you use? If you exceed the limit, you are seen as a high risk and penalized. If you use less than 30% of your credit, you’re consider a safe borrower and get a positive rating.
  • Length of credit history (15%): The longer you have an account, the better the scorekeepers like it.
  • Credit mix (10%): FICO likes to see a mix between credit cards, mortgages and auto loans … as long as you can afford them! Don’t take out another loan in hopes it will improve your score. This category doesn’t’ count enough in the overall equation.
  • New credit (10%): It’s OK to occasionally open a new account, but if you are applying for several accounts in a short period of time, you are a risk and your score will reflect that.

As you go through life, your credit score will fluctuate. How much it fluctuates depends on how reliable you are at repaying debt on time, especially credit cards and installment loans. When you use credit more often, whether it’s by taking on more credit cards, getting a mortgage, taking out a student loan or auto loan, your credit score changes to reflect how you deal with the responsibility of more debt.

Some Credit Score Basics

Credit scores range from 300 (poor) to 850 (excellent). Higher scores illustrate consistently good credit histories, including on-time payments, low credit use and long credit history. Lower scores indicate borrowers may be risky investments because of late payments or overextended use of credit.

There are no exact cutoffs for good scores or bad scores, but there are guidelines for each. Most lenders view scores above 720 as ideal and scores below 630 as problematic. The average credit score in 2018 hit a record 700.

Pay Attention to Credit Utilization

Credit utilization makes up 30% of your credit score and is often the most overlooked method of improving your score. Understanding how it works — and how to make it work for you — is one of the easiest ways to improve your score.

Credit utilization is the percentage of available credit used during a billing cycle. In mathematical terms, it is calculated this way: amount owed divided by the card’s credit limit. The optimal use is less than 30% of available credit.

For example, if you have one card with a $1,000 credit limit, and you spend $300 a month on it, your credit utilization is exactly where it should be (300 divided by 1,000 = .30 or 30%). Any spending under 30% credit utilization is considered a good thing.

The damage to your score starts when your utilization rate goes over 30%. If you spend $500 a month with the same card, your credit utilization soars to 50%. That is an indication to credit agencies that you are taking on more debt than you can afford, thus your credit score drops.

If that happens, there are two solutions: cut your spending or consider applying for a second credit card.

Cutting spending is the most sensible choice, but circumstances might not allow for that. If you change or lose a job, move to a new city, incur unforeseen medical costs and any other number of reasons, it may cause your bills to increase and credit utilization to go up with them.

If that happens, you can consider a second credit card to help improve your credit score.

A second card with a $1,000 credit limit increases your available credit to $2,000 a month. If you split the $500 you spend each month between the two cards, your credit utilization drops below 30% for each of them.

In this scenario, your problem is solved, but only if you are disciplined about tracking card use. That means keeping constant tabs on how much is spent on each card, setting up alerts to check spending totals and even paying down the bills in the middle of the month so you’re sure to stay under 30% usage.

If you do all of that, you can petition the card companies to raise your credit limit to $2,500 and make it easier to stay under 30% utilization. You might even be able to go back to using just one card.

Adding credit cards to your wallet normally is frowned upon, but if you’re having problems with credit utilization, it’s worth looking into.

If You Don’t Have Credit

If you don’t have any credit history, get started! A positive credit history helps out nearly every aspect of your financial future, whether it’s purchasing a car, renting or buying a home, or even applying for a job.

The easiest way to start is to apply for a line of credit. Credit cards for gas stations or department stores are generally easy to obtain and are good ways to build solid credit. Use them responsibly, being careful not to overcharge. The key is to pay your bill on time each month.

If you can’t get approved for a traditional credit card, sign up for a secured credit card. These cards require a deposit, often equal to the credit limit you will be extended with the card. For example, a $500 deposit will get you a secured credit card with a $500 spending limit.

These cards act the same as unsecured cards in that you receive a monthly bill and payment is expected each month. Be sure that the spending on the secured card is reported to the credit reporting bureaus.

In most cases, as long as you pay each month, your deposit will be refunded when you are finished with the card. Your deposit can’t be used to make the monthly payments.

If you have a job, another way to start a credit history is take out a loan, perhaps to buy a used car. Making regular payments will help establish your credit history in a positive manner.

Become an Authorized User

Being an authorized credit card user is the best position possible in the credit world: you get all the benefits and none of the responsibility. You spend, someone else pays, and everybody’s credit improves.

This obviously-lopsided arrangement usually happens with a spouse, parent, sibling or a close friend. It takes nothing more than a phone call to the card issuer by the cardholder giving permission to use the card, but not pay the bill.

That is the sole responsibility of the cardholder.

In the meantime, you not only acquire the purchasing power of a credit card, but also have the cardholder’s credit history added to yours.

That provides an opportunity to add three positives right away to your credit report: an increase in the number of years using credit, an increase in the average age of credit cards you use, and an increase in the credit utilization available on your cards.

The combination of those three elements alone could raise your credit score anywhere from 50–100 points.

On the other hand, if the cardholder is late with payments, maxes out the card every month or does anything else negative, it will have a negative impact on the credit scores of both the cardholder and authorized card user.

And any negative activity you create can impact the cardholder’s credit score. If you max out the card and the cardholder is late with payments or can’t make them, it is a negative on their account — and at some point, on yours too.

That can cause friction, and, in some cases, destroy relationships, so be careful about this arrangement. Both sides need to know the boundaries for using the card and not go over them. Call your bank or card company and be sure the authorized user’s activity will be reported to the credit bureaus.

Done responsibly, this should be a positive experience for both parties’ credit scores.

Bill Fay

Bill “No Pay” Fay has lived a meager financial existence his entire life. He started writing/bragging about it seven years ago, helping birth Debt.org into existence as the site’s original “Frugal Man.” Prior to that, he spent more than 30 years covering college and professional sports, which are the fantasy worlds of finance. His work has been published by the Associated Press, New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Sports Illustrated and Sporting News, among others. His interest in sports has waned some, but his interest in never reaching for his wallet is as passionate as ever. Bill can be reached at bfay@debt.org.

ANOTHER INCLINED BABY SLEEPER RECALLED AFTER LINK TO 5 TOT DEATHS

Another inclined baby sleeper recalled after link to 5 tot deaths

A recall has been ordered on Kids II inclined sleepers after at least five infant-linked deaths.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission made the announcement Friday, just weeks after a recall was urged for Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play sleepers.

This recall includes all models of Kids II Rocking Sleepers created between March 2012 and April 2019, according to the commission’s website. Approximately 694,000 of the Chinese-manufactured units are either on the market or have already been purchased.

“Since the 2012 product introduction, five infant fatalities have occurred in the Kids II Rocking Sleepers,” the CPSC stated in a press release.

The primary cause for the withdrawal of the sleepers is that infants can roll from their backs onto their stomachs while unrestrained, which can cause serious respiratory problems.

“Consumers should immediately stop using the product and contact Kids II for a refund or voucher,” the agency advised.

Walmart, Toys R Us and Target were the major retailers that offered the sleepers, which were sold under the Disney Baby, DreamComfort and Bright Starts brands.

As previously reported in the Daily News on April 5, at least 32 infant deaths since 2015 were linked to the Fisher-Price sleepers. The American Academy of Pediatrics urged a recall of that product.

HOW TO RETIRE BEFORE 40 WITHOUT $ 1M

Cameron Huddleston

More than half of adults surveyed by GO Banking Rates said they don’t expect to retire until they’re 65 or older.

But there are people who have managed to leave the 9-to-5 at a much younger age — people like Billy and Akaisha Kaderli, who retired at the age of 38 in 1991. Over the last 26 years, they have traveled the world and lived life on their terms.

The Kaderlis didn’t win the lottery or inherit a windfall that allowed them to quit their jobs. In fact, they didn’t even have $1 million saved. The Kaderlis retired before 40 with about $500,000. If you want to grow your savings and retire early, keep reading to learn more about how they did it — and you can, too.

Find Your Motivation

If you think you want to stop working full-time, one of the important questions to ask yourself before deciding to retire is, “Why?” Billy and Akaisha found their motivation a couple years before they made the leap to early retirement.

After working as a chef for a restaurant that he and Akaisha owned in Santa Cruz, Calif., Billy made a career change. He landed a job with financial firm Dean Witter Reynolds and became a branch manager and vice president of investments. He worked weekdays, while Akaisha worked nights, weekends and holidays running their restaurant. As a result, the couple hardly saw each other. “It was not working,” Akaisha said. “Our relationship went through a real crunch.”

While trying to deal with the stress in their relationship, Billy was hearing stories from clients about how they had taken monthlong European vacations or other exotic trips. “It was a tease for me, but it let me know there were people out there who could do it,” he said.

That’s when the seed was planted. “Billy had this idea,” Akaisha said. “‘Why not see if we can live off the money we have invested and travel the world?’”

Calculate How Much You Need to Save

Once the Kaderlis got the idea to retire early, Billy started crunching the numbers to see how much money they needed to invest to make it happen. “If you want to know how much money you need to maintain your lifestyle today, you need to figure out how much you’re spending and multiply it by 25,” he said.

They figured they could live on $20,000 a year. Multiplied by 25, that meant they would need to have $500,000 saved. Billy figured that amount would allow them to withdraw 4 percent annually — $20,000 — while the rest remained invested, continuing to grow and provide enough income for several decades.

Cut Spending to Boost Savings

The Kaderlis were 36 years old when they set their savings goal of $500,000. That’s when they began eliminating unnecessary expensesto set aside more money in savings. “We started investing every penny we could,” Billy said.

Akaisha said that it wasn’t that difficult for them to cut their spending because neither one of them was a big consumer. Plus, they had a strong motivation not to spend. “We were being pulled forward by the dream of being able to travel for long periods of time,” she said. “We were thinking, ‘I’d rather be doing that than what I’m doing now.’”

Over two years, they managed to build up $500,000 in savings through investing and the sale of their home and restaurant, and in January 1991, at the age of 38, they quit their jobs.

Create a Money Machine

The Kaderlis have taken advantage of the power of compound interest to grow their retirement nest egg. While building their savings, they invested their money into index funds that tracked the performance of the S&P 500. “Since we retired in January 1991, the S&P 500 has averaged a 10 percent [return] per year,” Billy said.

So their initial $500,000 investment earned interest, and interest has continued to accrue at about a 10 percent annual rate on both the principal and the interest that has accumulated. “When you’re spending 2 or 3 percent, that leaves 7 or 8 percent that continues to grow,” Billy said. As a result, their net worth is actually higher now than when they retired.

“We created a money machine,” Billy said. “That’s why I was confident this was going to work out.”