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Credit cards are convenient and popular—76% of Americans have at least one—but have you ever stopped to consider how much your credit cards really cost? Your credit cards might be a more expensive way to borrow money than you realize, putting you on a path toward overwhelming debt and a declining credit score. The answer to how much credit cards truly cost depends on two main costs: fees and interest.

Part one: Fees

There are a variety of credit card fees you might end up paying. The most common fees include:

  • Annual fee – Many credit card companies automatically charge you a fee once per year. Not all cards come with an annual fee, though cards with rewards or other premium benefits usually do, ranging from $25 to several hundred dollars. Be sure to keep an eye on the amount: Card issuers are allowed to impose a new fee or raise a current one, so long as they notify you 45 days before the fee becomes effective.
  • Late payment fee – If you make a late payment, the credit card company can charge you. The first time you’re late, the fee can be up to $27, and if you’re late again within the next six billing cycles, the fee can be up to $38. (The late fee, however, can never be more than the minimum amount due.)
  • Balance transfer fee – A balance transfer is when you pay off existing debts by transferring them to another credit card account. You’ll often be charged a fee to transfer the balance(s), typically around 3% of the transferred amount.
  • Cash advance fees – If you use your credit card to withdraw cash from an ATM, you’ll generally have to pay a fee based on the amount of cash withdrawn.
  • Foreign transaction fee – If you make a purchase outside of the U.S., many credit card companies will charge you a foreign transaction fee. The fee is commonly 3%, and it’s applied every time you use your card overseas. The fee also typically applies to purchases made from non-U.S. retailers—so even if you were physically in the U.S., if your card was charged by a retailer outside the country, you may have to pay a fee.
  • Over-the-limit fee – Credit card issuers can allow you to opt in to a service which lets you borrow beyond your credit limit. If you agree to the service, there are charges involved, usually up to $25 the first time you exceed the limit and up to $35 if you exceed the limit again within six months; however, the fee can’t be larger than the amount by which you exceeded your limit.
  • Add-on fees – Credit card companies may also sell you products like “credit protection” or “identity monitoring”, which are additional services that come with monthly or annual fees.
  • Expedited payment fees – Normally, credit card companies can’t charge you for making a payment; however, if you make an expedited payment using a method that requires help from a customer service representative, you might be charged a fee.
  • Convenience check fees – Some credit card companies give you the option to write checks based on your card’s account limit. You many incur a transaction fee equal to several percent of the amount of each check.
Part two: Interest rates

Most credit card accounts have multiple interest rates which are applied in different scenarios. Here are the most common:

  • Purchase rate – Generally, credit card companies offer a grace period for purchases. If you make purchases and pay off the balance in full each month by the due date, you won’t be charged any interest. If you carry a balance on your credit card account—meaning you don’t pay the amount owed in full each billing cycle—you’ll be charged interest on that amount.
  • Cash advance rate – If you use your credit card to withdraw cash from an ATM, you’ll be charged interest on the amount withdrawn, usually at a higher rate than your purchase rate. There is generally no grace period, meaning the interest starts accruing right away on cash advance balances.
  • Penalty rate – If you violate the terms and conditions of the card—for example, by paying late, exceeding your credit limit, or submitting a payment that is returned due to insufficient funds—the issuer can apply a penalty rate to certain balances. This is typically the very highest rate charged for the account and is often around 30%.
  • Introductory or promotional rate – Some card companies offer a lower rate for certain transactions, like balance transfers or purchases, for an introductory period of time. These special rates often last between six and 12 months.

Ultimately, how much your credit card really costs depends on how you use it. If you pay off your purchases in full each month and avoid any fees, it can be free to use a credit card—but if you incur multiple fees and are paying interest, credit cards can get expensive in a hurry. Be sure to carefully read your card agreement to learn about the applicable fees and rates, and make a smart plan for managing your credit card expenses.

Personal loans can often be a less costly, less complicated alternative to credit cards, especially when you’re paying down a big expense over time. Personal loans come with a fixed interest rate and fixed repayment term—and the range of fees is generally more limited—so you’ll know exactly how much the loan will cost you and when your debt will be fully paid off.

The post How Much Does Your Credit Card Really Cost? appeared first on Prosper Blog.

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What would it be like to live debt-free? Can you imagine the positive feelings of freedom and financial well-being? Unfortunately, only 25% of Americans are living in this reality right now. If you want to start down the path toward a debt-free life, try borrowing a page from people who have already found success. Check out these 10 habits of debt-free people that you can adopt. These tried-and-true behaviors can help you move several steps closer to being on top of your finances.

Debt-free people…

Maintain a solid budget.

It’s hard to overstate the importance of a budget. Financial experts widely identify budgeting as the cornerstone of a healthy financial life—and debt-free people take that advice to heart. At its core, a budget identifies dollars coming in (income) and dollars going out (expenses). Debt-free people know a budget is a crucial tool for living within their means and serves as a safeguard against spending money they don’t have. A budget also helps them identify areas where they tend to overspend and find expenses that would be easy to trim. Debt-free people also recognize that budgeting doesn’t have to be painful. Many take advantage of online options—like budget calculators and Google Sheets—to streamline the process and take the stress out of number-crunching. Others stick with pen and paper; they know a budget doesn’t have to be fancy as long as it’s thorough and accurate.

Track their progress. 

While it’s great to create a budget, debt-free people understand it’s equally important to continually track their progress. This means staying on top of your income and carefully recording all expenses. Debt-free people who stay on top of their budget and track their progress know where every penny is coming from and exactly where it’s going.

Set goals. 

Debt-free people recognize the value in setting short-term and long-term financial goals. Whether it’s saving up for a new car, taking a dream vacation, retiring, or buying the kids new back-to-school clothes, they zero in on a specific target and steadily move toward it. They constantly remind themselves of these goals, even employing little tricks like putting a Post-It note on the refrigerator door. When their goals are top-of-mind, debt-free people know it’s easier to stay disciplined and avoid overspending—then eventually enjoy the rewards.

Commit to saving. 

Debt-free people love putting money in their savings accounts and do it consistently. They build savings into their budget and are dedicated to following through each month, often using automated transfers to make it even easier.In addition to saving up for long-term goals, debt-free people also know it’s important to have a dedicated emergency fund. They’re careful about maintaining their emergency fund—usually with enough money to cover three to six months’ worth of expenses—so they don’t have to rely on high-interest rate credit cards to pay for a trip to the hospital or unexpected car repair.

Do tons of research. 

Debt-free people realize that knowledge empowers them with more control over their finances. They research important finance concepts, ask questions ,and dig into the details of any financial transaction to make sure they understand any fees or obligations. They look closely at all their bills and aren’t afraid to follow up about charges they don’t understand. Debt-free people also take advantage of online educational resources, such as the “Consumer Tools” provided by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Make thoughtful purchases. 

Debt-free people know when to say “no”. They work hard to stick to their budgets and avoid impulse purchases by taking small but meaningful actions—like erasing stored credit card information from shopping websites, staying out of malls and enforcing a “cooling off” period before buying a big-ticket item, like a new appliance or TV.Thoughtful spending also applies to eating out: Debt-free people are choosy about when and where they’ll dine out because they know cooking at home can save hundreds of dollars. And when they’re planning for a large expense, like a wedding or fertility treatments, debt-free people sharpen their pencils and work hard to identify the most efficient way to spend their hard-earned money.

Use cash. 

Sure, credit cards can be convenient—and yes, if you pay off the balance in full each month, you won’t be charged interest. But credit cards can be expensive , and debt-free people know this. They choose to rely on cash and debit cards; they only spend the money they have now, instead of making a purchase and having to pay it off later.

Talk about their financial situation. 

Debt-free people are great communicators. When it comes to their finances, they recognize the importance of having honest discussions with their family, including spouses, partners and children. Debt-free folks openly and frequently talk about income, expenses and future plans.

Maximize their income. 

Debt-free people are all about multiple sources of income. You can often find them working a side hustle—like selling unused items on Ebay or driving for Uber—or picking up shifts that offer overtime pay. They know that bringing in more money equals more progress toward their financial goals.

Exercise lots of patience. 

Whether it’s staying focused on long-term goals or working to eliminate existing debt, people who are now debt-free are masters of patience. They embrace financial well-being as an ongoing journey and have learned to enjoy the process.

Bonus tip:

People who are currently debt-free know there may be a situation in the future where taking on debt might make sense—for example, using a mortgage to buy a home or a personal loan to cover a large purchase or necessary expense. They’re strategic about when and how they approach debt and aim for loans with low, fixed rates and clear, predictable terms.

The post 10 Habits of Debt-Free People You Can Start Now appeared first on Prosper Blog.

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Many Americans struggle with debt—from credit cards to student loans, medical bills and more. In fact, Bankrate recently found that 21% of Americans owe more on their credit cards than they have set aside for an emergency. If you’re struggling to get on top of your finances and are looking for a way to simplify your payments, debt consolidation might be a good solution.

What is debt consolidation?

Debt consolidation allows you to combine multiple debts into one loan. It’s important to note that consolidation involves taking out a new loan, usually at a lower interest rate, in order to pay off your existing debts. Most unsecured debts—loans that aren’t backed by an asset, like a house or car—can be consolidated. Unsecured debts include credit cards, student loans, medical bills and personal loans.

What are the potential pros and cons of debt consolidation?

Potential benefits: Many people are drawn to the simplicity of debt consolidation: You’ll only have to worry about one payment each month, instead of several. Plus, the terms of the new loan may mean you pay less in total interest, have lower monthly payments, and/or have more time to pay back the borrowed money.

If you’ve been falling behind on your payments, consolidating your debt and making on-time payments on the new loan can help you avoid late fees and may even help you to gradually improve your credit score.

Potential drawbacks: It’s important to understand the terms of your new loan and be fully aware of any fees or prepayment fees (a fee charged if you pay off your loan early). If you choose a longer term for the new loan, your monthly payments may go down, but you could end up paying more in interest over the life of the loan. Be sure to review the full details of any new loan offered to you.

The debt consolidation process

Here’s how the debt consolidation process works, in 3 easy steps:

Know where you stand.  Understand the details of your existing debt, including the amount owed, terms (time left to repay the loan) and interest rates.

Consider your options. There are multiple ways to consolidate debt. One of the most popular options is to take out a personal loan for debt consolidation. These are personal installment loans that are available from traditional lenders (like banks and credit unions) and from online lending platforms. They typically have a fixed rate and deliver you a lump sum. With online lending platforms (also known as marketplace lending platforms), your money can be deposited in your bank account in just a few days. Personal loans generally come with a fixed interest rate and fixed term, typically between one and five years. At Prosper, you can apply for a loan up to $35,000 with a 3 or 5 year fixed term. There are no prepayment penalties and checking your rate will not affect your credit score.Credit card balance transfers are another popular debt consolidation option. Many credit card companies offer the option to transfer balances from one or more existing credit cards over to a new card, allowing you to make one consolidated payment at a promotional interest rate–often 0% for anywhere between six months to two years. It’s important to understand the terms –  some companies charge a balance transfer fee, and change the interest rate once the promotional period ends.

Begin making payments on the new consolidated debt. If you choose to consolidate your debts using a loan or credit card balance transfer, you will have a new debt (likely at a lower rate) to pay off. It’s important to stay on top of this single debt and stick to your payment schedule to avoid losing control of your debts in the future.

The post A Simple Debt Consolidation Guide appeared first on Prosper Blog.

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The dog days of summer are just around the corner. It can be easy to lose sight of your finances as you’re making plans to grill and relax on the beach, but sunshine is not an excuse for you neglecting to improve your overall financial health.

So, to help you stay on top of your finances this summer, we’re sharing the hottest tips for financial health.

Check your credit score

There are a number of factors that can affect your credit score, including your credit account history, debt-to-credit ratio, and late payments. It’s important to get in the habit of checking your credit score regularly because it helps you know where you stand with debt and should inform important financial decisions. We recommend checking your score at least once a month since it can change throughout the year.

Accessing your credit score is easy.  You can get your free annual report from the major credit agencies (TransUnion, Equifax and Experian)  and many credit card companies will also allow you to check in on your credit score via their online site and/or mobile app. There are also a number of great personal finance apps worth checking out, including some like Credit Karma that will allow you to check your score for free.

Get your budget in order

There’s no reliable plan to stay financially healthy that doesn’t include careful budgeting. Everyone can set a budget – even if you hate math! A simple excel doc or budget calculator, for example, can make budgeting a breeze and will help you to benchmark your progress over the course of several months or years.

When getting your budget in order, make sure to consider the major expenses that are specific to the upcoming season. For this upcoming summer season, you may want to account for things like high A/C costs or other seasonal expenses like landscaping that may hit your budget harder this time of year.

Consolidate your debt

Credit card debt can be a challenge to overcome due to high interest payments. If your trying to get on top of your finances this summer you may want to consider debt consolidation options to reduce the number of monthly payments and potentially lower your interest rate.

One increasingly popular option for debt consolidation is a personal loan. For borrowers with good credit, an unsecured personal loan can be a great solution because they offer both a fixed rate and a fixed term. And, with online lending, the process is easy and the money can be transferred into your account in just a few days.

Start an emergency fund

It’s important to be ready for unexpected expenses — especially if you are a homeowner or have dependents who are counting on you. So how should you do it, and how much should you set aside?

Experts recommend setting aside change from cash purchases, or using a mobile savings app to automatically transfer small amounts to savings — or even just make up your mind to set aside a certain amount each month for savings.

Remember to keep the money somewhere accessible like a savings account, but don’t be tempted to use if for things that are not true emergencies. Ideally, you’ll only dip into this fund for things like unplanned medical bills or an unexpected job loss.

The smell of fresh-cut grass and BBQ will be here before you know it. Make sure you’re ready for a happy summer by getting ready with plenty of sunscreen and a little financial wisdom. Stay cool and safe this summer, and have fun!

The post Hot Personal Finance Tips to Get You Through the Summer appeared first on Prosper Blog.

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Today we are sharing performance data from the Prosper portfolio for March 2018.

While the credit tightening theme we highlighted in February continues in the riskier grades, a slight downward shift in the AA portion of the book resulted in 53.5% of assets being rated AA-B in March vs. 56.1% in February 2018. In 2017 Q4 AA-B comprised 49.5% of originations.

Highlights from the March report include:

  • The shift in AA volume helped contribute to original WA Borrower Rate on the portfolio increasing 46 bps from the February level. Additionally, WA FICO decreased slightly in March to 716 vs.719 in the prior month.
  • On March 21, the same day that the Fed raised rates, Prosper announced a pricing increase which is not fully reflected in the March monthly numbers. Prosper is closely monitoring market interest rates and will continue to take steps to maintain a balanced and sustainable marketplace that is equally appealing to both borrowers and investors.
Portfolio insights and key charts can be found here

As always, the Prosper Performance Updates are designed to help our investor community better understand performance trends and to provide important insights into the trends we are seeing and the information needed to invest through the Prosper platform.

As always, the Prosper Performance Updates are designed to help our investor community better understand performance trends and to provide important insights into the trends we are seeing and the information needed to invest through the Prosper platform.

If you wish to add your name to the monthly performance update list, please email institutions@prosper.com.

The post Prosper Performance Update: March 2018 appeared first on Prosper Blog.

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There is a popular stereotype that millennials are too busy drinking expensive lattes and eating organic avocado toast to make progress toward financial goals. However, actual spending data shows that spending habits of millennials do not really differ much between the generations from other generations.

Beyond spending, there are several recent surveys that suggest millennials are actually pretty savvy when it comes to getting on top of their finances – they tend to save, they’re thoughtful about taking on debt, and they show a higher degree of engagement with their finances compared to other generations.

Saving

A recent NerdWallet study looked at saving habits and found that there is a wide margin between how different generations are saving for their retirement — one of the most important aspects of savings. They found that millennials seem to have stronger savings habits than previous generations, with millennial parents representing the best savers, contributing about 10% of their annual income to their retirement savings. This is compared to Gen X parents who are contributing about 8%, and employed Baby Boomer parents who contribute just 5% of their annual income to retirement.

It’s not just the millennial parents who are thinking seriously about their financial future. Another survey found 70% of millennials are saving for retirement, and Bank of America recently found that 16% of all millennials in the US have $100,000 or more in their savings (double the amount of young people who had a similar balance in 2015). Results also showed that 35% of millennials consider “not saving enough” to be a “top financial stressor”. Ugh!

Borrowing

Whether it’s student loans, a mortgage, a car payment, a personal loan or credit cards, people of all ages are borrowing money. The biggest difference between the generational borrowing habits are linked to the specific types of debt. For example, as of 2017, student debt affected 35% of millennials, more than any other generation, while Gen Xers have the largest self-reported debt burden.

Interestingly, while younger generations seem to be borrowing more overall, they seem comparatively more averse to credit cards. More than half of all millennials prefer paying with cash rather than credit and only a third of millennials actually own a credit card. Gen Z (born in the mid-1990s) also seem to overwhelmingly prefer debit cards to any other form of payments.

Managing Money

Millennials seem to be ahead of the curve when it comes to managing their finances – they’re creating goals and are more likely to have a written financial plan (34% vs. 21% Gen X and 18% of  Baby Boomers).

They’re also three times more likely to manage their money using mobile financial tools than other generations. This is important because they’re actively staying on top of their finances and accessing their financial institutions regularly – an average of 8.5 times a month. Gen X and Boomers are increasingly using mobile banking  as a resource but they do not consider this a critical resource and on average, they’re only interacting with their finances online or via smartphones 3.1 times a month.

Regardless of what generation you find yourself in, you may want to re-think the millennial stereotypes and start following their lead when it comes to getting on top of your finances.

The post Do Millennials Have the Best Personal Finance Habits? appeared first on Prosper Blog.

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If you’re considering personal loans, you may want to understand how companies determine loan offers that are customized just for you.

The short answer is your credit history. Three credit agencies (TransUnion, Equifax and Experian) track a large amount of data tied to your credit history, and the credit story this data tells factors into your credit score. This credit score plays a critical role in whether or not you’re approved for credit and has a significant impact on the loan offers that you receive.

Lenders and creditors that you do business with may report to one or all of the credit agencies. No creditor is required to report to all three credit agencies, and this is why the formula each agency uses can be different, and credit scores can differ slightly between credit agencies.

What could affect your credit score?

The actual credit score algorithm is a closely guarded secret, however some factors are understood to have impacts on the score.

Credit account history

Your credit score takes into account your complete credit history. One component in determining your credit-worthiness is the length in months of your open credit accounts, and your payment history on those accounts. Someone who has never had a credit card is not accumulating a long-standing history of either good payments or bad payments on their accounts.

Debt-to-credit ratio

If your debt-to-credit ratio is high, that could affect your credit score. Your debt-to-credit ratio is the amount of debt you have against your current credit ceiling across your credit accounts. So, if you have $44,000 in available credit across all of your credit accounts, and you have $22,000 in debt, your debt-to-credit ratio is 50%.

Mortgage, rent, car loans

Your credit score can be affected by the amount of installment loans you have, and your ability to make payments on time for those loans. By paying these loans off consistently, you can build a good credit history. Missed payments can stay on your credit report for up to 2 years.

Late payments

Your credit score can be negatively affected by late or missed payments, or accounts where you have a serious derogatory (delinquent) payment. So, that bill you refused to pay for lost cable equipment (but that you did not dispute), can affect your ability to obtain credit in the future.

Bankruptcies

If you have filed for bankruptcy, the bankruptcy will appear on your credit report for 7-10 years, depending on the type of bankruptcy you filed under (i.e chapter 7 or chapter 13).

Too many credit requests (AKA too many hard inquiries or hard pulls)

Hard inquiries are credit inquiries where a potential lender is reviewing your credit because you’ve applied for credit with them. These include credit checks when you’ve applied for a mortgage, credit card or a personal loan for debt consolidation. Each of these types of credit checks count as a single credit inquiry.

A soft pull is a credit inquiry that does not affect your credit score. For example, checking your rate through Prosper results in a soft inquiry that will not affect your credit score.  A hard inquiry will only occur once you accept an offer and formally request a loan through Prosper. Similarly, if you have received a pre-approved offer through the mail, a soft pull has likely been made that should not impact your credit score.

Checking your credit score/credit report

Your credit score is an important part of your financial health.

Luckily, checking and monitoring your credit score is easy. Many of the major credit card companies allow you to check your credit score on a regular basis, so you can see if it’s rising or falling from month to month.

If you’d like to get your credit report from credit agencies for free, you can do this once each year by going to annualcreditreport.com. The credit reports are basic, and include a list of your accounts and payment history, and any actions or decisions on your report, such as delinquencies or bankruptcies, but likely will not contain your score.

The good news is that the longer you maintain a satisfactory credit history with accounts that are paid on-time, the better your credit report looks to potential lenders.

The post Personal Loans and Your Credit Score appeared first on Prosper Blog.

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Today we are sharing performance data from the Prosper portfolio for February 2018.

In addition to the update, we recently made pricing changes on our platform in light of the 25bps Fed rate increase. This update is part of our ongoing efforts maintain a balanced marketplace that builds value for both borrowers and their investors.

Highlights from the February report include:

  • Credit tightening continues in the riskier grades, shifting the portfolio to an increased concentration of lower risk assets – 56.1% of assets were rated AA-B in February vs. 54.3% in January 2018 and 49.5% in 2017 Q4.
  • The shift in volume which resulted in original WA Borrower Rate on the portfolio declining by 24bps from the January level.
  • WA FICO increased from 715 in 2017 Q4 to 719 in February.
Portfolio insights and key charts can be found here.

As always, the Prosper Performance Updates are designed to help our investor community better understand performance trends and to provide important insights into the trends we are seeing and the information needed to invest through the Prosper platform.

If you wish to add your name to the monthly performance update list, please email institutions@prosper.com.

Actual performance may differ from estimated performance, and the information presented is not intended to be investment advice or a guarantee of the performance of any Note or loan.

The data, statements and figures in this post are based on Prosper’s analysis and calculations which, in turn, are based on various data sources compiled and analyzed by Prosper with all reasonable care to ensure they contain no omission likely to affect their import. Neither the analysis nor the underlying data sources have been verified by an independent third party.

This post includes forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements inherently involve many risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those projected in these statements. Where, in any forward-looking statement, we express an expectation or belief as to future results or events, such expectation or belief is based on the current plans and expectations of our management and is expressed in good faith and believed to have a reasonable basis, but there can be no assurance that the expectation or belief will result or be achieved or accomplished. All forward-looking statements speak only as of the date of this post and are expressly qualified in their entirety by the cautionary statements above. We undertake no obligation to update or revise forward-looking statements that may be made in this post to reflect events or circumstances that arise after the date made or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events.

All personal loans are made by WebBank, a Utah-chartered Industrial Bank, Member FDIC. All personal loans through Prosper are unsecured, fully amortized personal loans. Neither Prosper Funding LLC nor Prosper Marketplace, Inc. are registered as an investment adviser with any federal or state regulatory agency. The information contained in this presentation is for informational purposes, and should not be construed as individually tailored investment advice or as a recommendation with respect to any security or investment approach. This presentation has been prepared without regard to the circumstances and objectives of its participants and should not be relied upon as authoritative or taken in substitution for the exercise of judgment by any individual. Each individual should consider the appropriateness of any investment decision having regard to his or her own circumstances, the full range of information available and appropriate professional advice. Prosper Funding LLC and Prosper Marketplace, Inc. recommend that each individual seek independent investment and financial advice concerning any services or investments discussed in this presentation.

The post Prosper Performance Update: February 2018 appeared first on Prosper Blog.

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Earlier this week in anticipation of the Fed Rate hike, we discussed Prosper’s approach to portfolio pricing in a rising rate environment. Our goal with rate-setting is to deliver value for both sides of the Prosper platform by providing a fair price for borrowers and a reasonable return for investors.

In order to deliver on this objective, the borrower rates offered in our marketplace must react to rate changes in the economy at large.  Today, the Federal Reserve announced a 25 basis point (bps) increase in the Fed Funds rate.  In light of this development, the rates offered to borrowers through the Prosper platform are being modified.

Pricing Change Impact Simulation

The table below summarizes the simulated impact of the rate increase on the portfolio originated through the Prosper platform in March month-to-date (MTD) 2018.  Overall borrower rates on the platform are increasing by 26 bps.

Prosper Rating 

Current Borrower Rate   (March 2018 MTD) Proposed Borrower Rates Variance I/(D)
AA 6.46% 6.46% 0.00%
A 8.93% 9.23% 0.30%
B 11.43% 11.73% 0.30%
C 16.03% 16.33% 0.30%
D 23.38% 23.68% 0.30%
E 29.14% 29.40% 0.25%
HR 31.82% 31.82% 0.00%
Total 14.27% 14.53% 0.26%

Federal Reserve policymakers expect to increase rates three times this year; but, compared with December, more officials believe rates need to increase at least four times in 2018 if the economy performs in line with their expectations. We will continue to closely watch interest rate changes and evaluate the need to make further rate increases. We anticipate that this could be as early as the second quarter of 2018. As one of the largest online marketplaces for consumer credit, maintaining a balanced and sustainable marketplace that is equally appealing to both borrowers and investors remains our highest priority.

The post Prosper Announces Pricing Changes appeared first on Prosper Blog.

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It may still be cold in some parts of the country, but despite what any groundhogs may have to say about it, it is officially spring. Before we get into the full swing of summertime fun and relaxation, however, it’s time for a little spring cleaning. A financial spring cleaning.

Now is the perfect time to tie up all the loose ends that you know you have been meaning to get to, but never seem to find the time. And, since you’re already digging through your finances to get your taxes taken care of, why not take the chance to take a step back and evaluate whether you’re on-track to meet all your financial goals?

Get your budget in order

Did you set a new monthly budget this year? If not, now is the time get started. If you did set a budget, now is a good time to take a look to see whether you’re on-track to stay on budget in the coming months.

Starting a budget is easy. Simply create a list of your expenses and apply the 50/30/20 rule: set aside 50 percent of your budget for “needs,” 30 percent for “wants,” and the rest toward savings and debt. Then keep track of how much you’re really spending and make sure that purchases are within your allocated budget.

If you hate math, don’t worry — you can still budget effectively! A simple budget template for Google Sheets, for example, could provide a stress-free (and calculator-free) option for keeping track of your finances. There are also several personal finance apps that simplify budget and give you better visibility into your spending habits.

Remember, the most important part of managing your finances is identifying and addressing any budgeting issues early. Make spending adjustment instead of ignoring your budget. This can help avoid all sorts of costly problems, including having to rely on higher-interest credit cards, for large purchases.

This is particularly important to keep in mind now since the average credit card interest rates are at an all-time high.

Manage debt intelligently

Whether it’s a mortgage, student loans, personal loans, auto loans, credit cards, or all of the above — debt is something many of us deal with in our day-to-day lives. Making payments on-time and paying more than the minimum payment on your credit cards is only the beginning of effectively managing your credit. Smart credit management includes using the financial tools available to your maximum advantage.

For example, if you have good credit but have a high balance on a high-interest card or cards, you may benefit from consolidating via a personal loan. With a personal loan, borrowers often see lower interest rates compared to credit cards, fixed terms, and a single monthly payment — which is often a lot easier to keep track of compared to multiple credit card payments.

People unable to secure a personal loan may benefit from a balance transfer to a card with a lower interest rate, but often introductory interest rates advertised are only temporary, so it pays to pay attention.

Another situation where you might benefit from re-evaluating is if you have a mortgage or other sizable loan, like a student loan. There are sometimes attractive refinancing offers available that could lower your interest rate. Just make sure that you read the fine print and understand all the fees and details of the new loan when you decide what’s right for you.

Make sure you’re on-track for retirement

There’s no special time of the year to save for retirement — you should already be making regular contributions to a retirement plan such as a 401k or IRA year-round, particularly if your company offers contribution matching!

It’s a good idea to periodically check in to make sure you are getting the most out of your retirement savings and on-track to meet your individual retirement goals. One way to check in is to schedule a meeting with a financial advisor, who can help you figure out where you stand (and whether you need to make any adjustments).

Hiring a financial advisor isn’t just for the super-wealthy, but there are some considerations to keep in mind when deciding if that’s the right route for you. U.S. News and World Report suggests some pros and cons that could help you decide.

Either way, make sure you are prioritizing your retirement savings, and not neglecting your contributions.

Get out and smell the wildflowers

There you have it — while financial spring cleaning may sound a little daunting, it’s as important, if not more, than getting the house and yard cleaned up for the summer. Once you have both done, you’ll have extra peace of mind as you enjoy the great outdoors or just relax poolside and soak up some sun.

The post Tips for Your Financial Spring Cleaning appeared first on Prosper Blog.

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