Ask Finney: Financial Advisors, Gift Cards, and FICO Scores

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Thursday, December 28, 2017

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- 7 On Your Side's Consumer expert Michael Finney answers your consumer questions.

Question 1:

Julie from Newark asked: Finding a financial advisor near me is very overwhelming and knowing who to trust with my life's savings is scary. What do you recommend?

Answer 1:

Sorry. I do not endorse professionals. But ...yes. Who you trust with taking care of your money is scary.

You should look for a certified financial planner. They have to take tests and meet standards.

But, it is your money and your responsibility. So educate yourself by reading or another money magazine.

The important thing is to find someone trustworthy. So talk to friends. And check out resources.

Question 2:

Rosa from San Jose asked: I bought three gift cards from a grocery store. Two of them had a $0 when I tried to use them.

I found out they had been used by someone else. The retailers said they aren't responsible. Do I have any recourse?

Answer 2: You did the right thing to contact the retailer first.

Depending on the retailer and what paperwork you have (i.e. a receipt), I may be able to help you.

So, I want you to call my hotline at 415-954-8151. We are open Monday through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Or file a complaint.

Question 3:

Victor at "Big Daddyz Sports" asked on Twitter: Is it better for your FICO score to have eight credit cards with a $100,000 limit or four cards with same limit and $50,000 used? Also, if I close cards that are paid off, does that affect the score?

Answer 3:

Great question. What you are talking about is called credit utilization. That is how much of your available credit is being used at any one time. Your credit score goes up or down depending on how much of your credit availability is being used.

It works for single cards and for all of your cards combined.

To get the best credit score you do not want to use more than 20 percent of your credit line on each card and all of them combined.

So, if you had access to $100,000 in credit, you want to keep your balance below $20,000.