Cheat Sheet Q&A:

Topic:  Credit score delineations:


Today’s question: 

I've noticed that if the topic of credit scores comes up people seem to say they either have really good credit or bad (occasionally you'll hear perfect and you know those people are exaggerating).  It got me to thinking though.  What is the 2014 definition of good & bad credit & how many people really have "perfect" credit?


Bottom Line:  There are really seven different types or delineations of credit scores.  Here’s a bit of a breakdown:


  • Sub 620 (poor/bad)
  • 620-639
  • 640-659
  • 660-679 (below average to average)
  • 680-699 (average to slightly above average)

You can notice the 20 point trend throughout those scores between 620-699.  The first big jump into a “good” credit score takes place with 700.  Here are the last two groupings:


  • 700-759 (good credit)
  • 760-850 (excellent credit)

The average difference in lending cost for a low credit score in the 620-639 range vs. excellent (assuming you can obtain financing with the low range credit score) is currently 40%.


So how many people actually have “perfect” credit.  While it’s common to hear people who say they’ve never missed a payment proclaim that they have perfect credit…  The odds are they don’t.  Currently…:


  • Only 0.3% of the US population has a perfect credit score

So yes the odds are if you run into many who talk about perfect credit they are likely exaggerating. 

If you have a topic or question you’d like to address email me:


Audio Report:




Where to never use your debit card:


Bottom Line:  I’ve covered this topic a few times in recent years and have offered the following guidance…  Don’t use your debit card at any establishment where you have to hand it off to somebody else.  That would preclude use at locations like:


  • Restaurants
  • Fast food drive thrus
  • Some physical retailers

The reason is that there are three common ways your cards can be compromised:


  • Human skimming of card numbers
  • Online
  • Skimming devices on card machines

At least with my recommendation you reduce your odds of being compromised by 50% (if you’re shopping in a store).  That being said Kim Kommando (whose show airs Saturday evenings on 1290 WJNO) is going a bit further.  Here are the four places she’s says to never use your debit cards:


  • Gas Stations
  • Restaurants
  • Stores
  • Online

You might be left wondering where you could actually be safe using a debit card?  Maybe that’s the point.  Credit and debit card theft is so prevalent (my wife Ashley has already been a victim twice this year), you are generally much better off using credit cards as you would a debit card (paying it off each month) because if you are a victim you can challenge the charges and cut of the problem at the pass.  If fraud happens on a debit card the money is removed from your account immediately and the process to prove and obtain your money can take a long period of time and you’re without your money in the meantime. 


It’s also worth noting that PBSO recently identified a huge skimming fraud ring that had skimming devices on many gas station card devices at the pump. 


Audio Report:

The price of grocery convenience at drug stores:


Bottom Line:  The top two reasons for shopping where we shop are price and convenience.  The convenience factor can be costly though.  Consumer Reports recently compared the cost of like groceries and found:


  • That Sams & Costco have the best overall prices on groceries, while Wal-Mart has the best pricing of non-membership stores

But what about secondary sellers of groceries? Drug stores are the largest secondary sellers of groceries and can be convenient.  So what’s the cost of that convenience?


CR found:


  • The average premium you’ll pay for like groceries at a drug store vs. the average grocery store is 17%

That easily makes the drug store the worst value in overall grocery shopping. 


Audio Report:



Smart Phone round up:


The rumors about the latest smart phones have been flying recently.  We now have more than rumors; we have relative certainty about new products from Apple and Amazon (yes an Amazon smart phone).  First Apple: 


Apple is likely to release two different models with different screen sizes late this summer.  They are:


  • A 4.7 inch model &
  • A 5.5 inch larger model with a high res screen

The only other significant piece of info confirmed is:


  • The phones will be up to 20% thinner than the current 5’s (which are already rather thin)

So it seems as though the “C” concept will give way to a high end and higher end and phablet like model.


Perhaps the more interesting news comes from  Amazon has been rumored to be on the verge of a smart phone for years but it will now be a reality.  According to the Wall-Street Journal, Amazon will release a smart phone in September (with a likely August preorder)that features the following:


  • A high res 3D screen without the need for glasses

It’s not a surprise for Amazon to come out with a phone given their relative success with the Fire tablets but what is interesting to me is that the appear ready to innovate in consumer technology.  To date their consumer tech products have been secondary technologies (Fire E-Readers & tablets, their audio and TV streaming services).  If Amazon does come to market with a 3D smart phone without the need for glasses they would enter a new phase in consumer tech products…  True innovator (beyond online retail).


Audio Report:



The internet officially has become the biggest advertising medium & there is one category of digital advertising that presents opportunity:


Bottom Line:  It was only a matter of time before the

internet and digital related advertising would become the top medium.  As it turned out the time was last year.  For the first time ever the internet grossed more ad revenue than any other medium:


  • TV broadcast revenue in 2013:  $40.1 billion
  • Internet & digital revenue in 2013:  $42.8 billion

The top areas of spending were:


  • Paid search at 43%
  • Display & banner ads at 19%
  • Mobile at 17%

While mobile did see the third most advertising action, it’s easily an opportunity for most businesses.  


More than half of all internet traffic is now via a mobile device in the US yet only 17% of the money being spent is on mobile.  That means that your digital ad dollars could be well spent with a great mobile strategy and you’ll have less competition at the same time.


Audio Report: