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The Latino Task Force emerges to take on COVID-19



In a neighborhood that quickly boarded up and felt abandoned by the end of March, it was hard not to wonder what would happen to the Mission District’s large immigrant population. Nannies, construction workers, and small business operators were either unemployed or venturing out to grocery stores,  construction sites, or gig economy jobs, praying that they did not bring the virus home.

The Mission District’s social service agencies went into action, calling their clients to check-in, but their physical storefronts shuttered. One morning I watched a couple knocking on the door of one of the agencies. I explained that the social workers had to take calls from home, that they should use the number posted prominently on the front door. But we want to see someone, one of them said. I explained again why that was impossible. When I left, they were still standing outside, peering in, waiting.

That image stayed with me. I wondered what would happen to so many people in need.  And then walking one day on 20th Street, I followed a line of immigrants with shopping carts to a truck on Alabama Street. Boxes of food were being loaded off to hand out to the people in line. I asked who was in charge. The Latino Task ForceIn the weeks that followed, that was a name I would run into everywhere – not in constant press releases, as they had no time for that – but in the street. Working.

I continued to see its workers at the Alabama Food Hub where the line grew week by week.  I ran into its volunteers going door to door in mid-April to talk to Mission residents about participating in a COVID-testing study with UCSF. I met them later at the testing sites. In mid-June, a wide-open door at 701 Alabama St. led to a large airy room where experts in housing, medicine, and other resources met clients “cara a cara” to fill out applications for unemployment claims, housing, food stamps, and other benefits. And by the second week in July, the Latino Task Force had convinced the city to add a mobile testing site at the Resource Hub – a testing site that opened Thursday to some 200 people waiting to be tested.  

The line on Wednesday morning, July 8, 2020. Photo by Lydia Chávez

The city’s Latinos, it turned out, had not been abandoned. Instead, at a time when gentrification seemed to blunt the power of Latino activists, the Latino Task Force is demonstrating how years of training, deep roots, and savvy leadership can muster a force that has been more visible than any city agency. It is a child of the pandemic, but the task force is led by people who have been activists since the 1970s. It’s clear now that all of their life experience — even their early years as low-riders and dirt bike enthusiasts, as parents raising families in the Mission and especially as political hellraisers — prepared them for precisely this moment in time. And they’ve found they are up to it, to a degree that has surprised even them.

“It’s hard to explain how this happened so quickly,” said Valerie Tulier-Laiwa, who now works with the Public Utilities Commission, and is one of six members — one man and five women – on the task force’s executive committee. “There is a Mission way of doing things,” she says and pauses, trying to explain what that means before she finally concludes, “We get things done.” 

Tulier-Laiwa and her colleagues ought to know about the Mission way. Over the past four decades and change, most have alighted at all the signposts on that route: San Francisco State University, the Mission mural programs for youth in the 1980s, RAP (an alternative high school of the 1990s), Loco Bloco, Carnaval, the Beacon After School program, Mission Girls, and the Mission Peace Collaborative. And while some of those efforts are ancient history, the time spent at each formed values and friendships that endure. The elders have perpetuated their legacy by mentoring a younger generation, some of whom have joined the task force today. What’s more, many of these longtime Latinx activists now hold government posts. They are no longer on the outside looking in, but making a difference from the inside.

An email grows to a group text and the Latino Task Force emerges

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly how the Latino Task Force first emerged in March, but several members say it began with an early email Veronica Garcia, a policy analyst at the Human Rights Commission, sent Tulier-Laiwa, her one-time mentor. Garcia, 35, was seeing the crisis unfold firsthand as her father, a dishwasher, got laid off. That email quickly morphed into a text message chain and conversation with others: Roberto Hernandez, known unofficially as the Mayor of the Mission, who is generally working on Carnaval at this time of the year; Tracy Gallardo, now a legislative aide to District 10 Supervisor Shamann Walton; and Gloria Romero, who now works at Instituto Familiar de la Raza.

Except for Garcia, they were all elders with years of experience in community-based organizations and city government. Seeking a voice on education, they reached out to Gabriela López, the vice president of the school board — and, at 30, less than half the age of some of the founding board members. López had never worked in a community-based organization (CBO), an experience that Tulier-Laiwa and Gallardo view as foundational. But Gallardo had worked on López’s campaign for the school board and had a hunch she would be effective. “She didn’t come from a Mission CBO,” says Gallardo, “but she has been kicking ass and doing super amazing incredible work.”

 Early on, the group found ready backing from Garcia’s boss Sheryl Davis, the executive director of the Human Rights Commission, a Black leader who has a strong belief in grass-roots enterprises. You need staffing? Check. Fliers? Check. Relief from your regular duties? Let me call your boss. “She leveraged her position to help us,” said Garcia. And Davis, who is delighted with the results, plans to continue. She has her eye on the city’s August budget process and has already asked the mayor to think about funding from-the-ground-up community partnerships. She is preparing to go into the budget negotiations armed with input from multiple town halls on how the city should spend the money it plans to re-allocate from the SFPD.

Walton, who along with District 9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen has worked closely with the task force noted another reason for the task force’s early and continued visibility. “They came together to respond without relying on philanthropy or waiting for the government to come in,” Walton said. In other words, they took the lead.

And many followed. The task force has ultimately spun off 13 committees and various subcommittees, many of them staffed with people who work for community-based organizations. It’s a bench deep with talent ready to jump in and play, but the executive board is picky. “We don’t have time for people to be on a committee so they can put it on their resume,” said Tulier-Laiwa, a one-time lowrider with multiple degrees who others talk about with a mix of respect and just a little bit of fear. “We ask, ‘what can you bring in?’ We’re very action-oriented.”

Added Romero, who once rode a dirt bike, and also accumulated degrees and experience: “We’re Latina women — community workers. We are essential. We have been, throughout history. We get things done.”

That is clear during the hour-long Monday morning calls the executive committee has with its committees, more than 30 community-based organizations and a cadre of local elected officials. What could easily have been a case of too many well-meaning people running in too many directions, is instead a well-oiled machine under Tulier-Laiwa’s control. Each speaker gets one minute.

“Do not mess with Valeria and talk over your time limit,” says Ronen, who often participates and has watched the force take charge. “It is truly not an exaggeration to say that their work is extraordinary.”

For Ruth Barajas, who is on the labor committee, runs the Resource Hub, and is also director of workforce and education programs for the Bay Area Community Resources, the task force works because of what she witnesses on those Monday morning calls. “It doesn’t matter if it is an organization, an elected official or someone who works for a state officeholder,” she says. “We’re all held to the same standard of accountability.”

It’s on the Monday calls and on other committee Zooms that ideas become reality. Early on in the crisis, for example, monolingual Spanish speakers lacked information about COVID. Some kept their stores open because public service announcements were often only in English. Some parents wondered how their children would attend school online when they had no internet connection. Susana Rojas, the president of Calle24 Cultural District, and Oscar Grande, who works for Mission Housing, staffed the task force communication committee. They put out Spanish language ads on local radio and volunteers went out to talk to residents. But they had a problem: Information changed so fast that ads and fliers became outdated in hours. Grande talked to Julio Lara, his colleague at Mission Housing.

What would you do, he asked?

 Lara understood the problem because he too was having trouble updating Mission Housing’s one-page resource page. Lara suggested a website. Suddenly, he and others became the Latino Task Force’s website subcommittee. Five weeks later in mid-May the website launched with oversight by Grande, Rojas, Tulier-Laiwa and Gallardo (the latter two may not be techies, but they know what it is like to be “linked to death”). When Lara’s work popped up on Mission Local’s social media stream, it was a gift – comprehensive and easy to use. At Mission Local, we understood the difficulty of the task – our own resource page had become unwieldy.

 Food came first 

 Early on, as the task force heard from community-based organizations and Hernandez fielded calls from people in need, it became clear that the weekly deliveries from the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank would not be enough to meet the demand. Hernandez first started handing out food from his garage, but “word got out,” he says, and more people showed up, so he moved to the Food Hub on Alabama Street. By the second week the numbers jumped to 1,000 and by late April the Latino Task Force was handing out 7,000 boxes of food week, working Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays with 113 volunteers. Hernandez spent hours between pantry days making calls to find new donations, but often food – steaks, bread, milk – arrived unbidden.

May 28, 2020 in front of the Food Hub.  Photo by Lydia Chávez

The Food Hub solved problems as they came up. Workers discovered that Latinos were coming from across the city and many were too old to haul their bags back home. For the elderly who lived nearby, the task force could buy carts, but some came from as far away as Bayview and Richmond. At last count, the Food Hub delivers 300 boxes of food a week packed into the back of someone’s truck.

This week, more than 10 volunteers sacked beans, while others packed milk into the boxes and moved pallets stacked with other donations.  A group of Ambassadors on loan from the city helped organize the line at the front. That line was actually several. One line doubled around Alabama to 20th, and down Florida to 19th to swing back up Alabama where the boxes would be handed out. A separate line formed on the west side of 19th Street and could be followed west on 19th to then swing north on Harrison Street all the way past Mission Cliffs to 18th Street.

Sacking beans at the Food Hub. July 8, 2020 Photo by Lydia Chávez

The line on Wednesday, July 8, spilled over onto Harrison Street. Photo by Lydia Chávez

 Cara a Cara at The Hub

 Early on, it became clear that those on the line had other needs. Where could they get financial help? Did they qualify for food stamps? Unemployment? And if they qualified, how did they fill in the forms without a computer? The pandemic required the staff of community-based organizations to shelter in place. How could the task force safely offer what Barajas calls cara a cara attention – the face to face assistance that the couple I had seen standing outside of the social service agency in March so wanted?

Enter the Mission Vocational School, a grand beast of a building at Alabama and 19th Streets where the task force was already handing out food.  More than 100 years old, the building nearly slipped away from the community after its board of directors entered into an option-to-buy agreement in 2013 to sell part of its 35,000 square feet. At considerable expense, Gallardo, Tulier-Laiwa and others managed to save it in 2017. “The soul of this building belongs to the community,” Tulier-Laiwa told Mission Local at the time.

Today, it’s called the Hub – a beehive of frantic yet controlled activity where Mission residents can safely get the personal attention they need. 

The section that would have been sold now houses an 18-foot refrigeration unit that stores all of the food pantry’s provisions. Even better, up a flight of stairs is a huge open room with large windows where people pour in for help—and get it. On a Thursday in mid-June, when Barajas showed me around, her staff had already registered more than 1,000 people on the food line who needed more than sustenance. 

The Resource Hub tables set up to help residents enroll for different services. Photo by Lydia Chávez

 She pointed at the phalanx of tables: Medical’s back there, housing there, Cal Fresh (food stamps) there, unemployment there and so on. At each table a city worker, a staff member of a community social agency or a paid volunteer sat across from their clients, getting them into the programs they desperately need.

Edgar Gonzalez, an immigrant from El Salvador, had always managed to support himself and his family, but when the pandemic hit, he lost his job with the Yellow Cab Company and was at a loss. Word of mouth led him from the Bayview to the line on Alabama Street and soon workers got him signed up for family relief, a debit card, and food stamps. “We’re generally pretty okay, maybe not doing well by other people’s standards, but successful,” said his son Zair who pre-pandemic worked for a company cleaning the tech buses that shuttle people from the city to Silicon Valley and is now a paid volunteer at the Hub. This was another discovery at the Hub – many residents had never used social services. With the pandemic, they needed them.  

The operation runs with borrowed staff from the city, community-based organizations, and newbies. Thanks again to Davis at the Human Rights Commission, the Latino Task Force hired 25 workers to help at the Resource Hub, the Food Hub, and elsewhere. 

Many are likely the next generation of community activists. Take Jacky Carrillo, a 20-year-old who started at the food pantry and now helps people get financial support. “This has given me a great, great opportunity to be there for my people,” she says. When she was 13, her mother was deported to Guatemala, but this isn’t a fact she divulges to plead hardship. Instead, because she sees her mother during the summers in Guatemala, “my Spanish is pretty fluent.” She credits that skill for moving her quickly from lifting food boxes into training. What kind of problems do people come in with? “Workers haven’t even been given termination letters,” she says with the outraged tone of a 50-year-old. Workers need that document to get certain benefits, so Carrillo has figured out how to get around that by drafting her own letter explaining the person’s predicament.

Jacky Carrillo, trainer for the Latino Task Force Photo by Lydia Chávez

 A collaboration with UCSF researchers and doctors

 In early April, UCSF researchers and doctors at San Francisco General Hospital watched aghast as the Latinx population, generally, 40 percent of its patients, climbed to 80 percent – nearly all with COVID-19. UCSF researcher Dr. Diane Havlir, wrote in an email that they wanted a study “to understand COVID-19 transmission at the community level, in an affected community (in the backyard of where I work at SFGH)  and to use the information to both help the community and to advance the science.” 

 The question was, how to pull it off. One of Havlir’s first calls was to Diane Jones, a retired HIV nurse she knew well and someone with deep roots in the community including a long-time friendship with Gallardo. They knew one another through LocoBloco, a drumming and arts group that has been around for more than 26 years and has turned many a Mission youth into a drummer. It wasn’t long before UCSF was talking to Supervisor Ronen and the Latino Task Force. 

The idea met with some resistance. Would this be top-down? Why only one Census Tract? Why a study and not just testing? Trust – the community’s trust in Gallardo and Gallardo’s faith in Jones – won out, and the Latino Task Force jumped on board. “Everyone switched into emergency mode, thinking we have to get this done now,” said Jon Jacobo, head of the task force’s health committee, who marshaled more than 300 recruits to distribute fliers and go door to door in the district to talk to residents. At Mission Local, we too had heard resistance from residents, so getting a visit from locals who spoke Spanish and could answer questions meant that more people were likely to show up for tests that would then be used to measure indicators such as the prevalence of COVID-19 in the Mission, the population most impacted and the strains of the virus.

Marta Sanchez and her daughter Ciara. going door-to-door for the Mission’s testing campaign.  Photo by Lydia Chávez

Lopez, the 30-year-old from the Board of Education, cut through the school district’s bureaucracy to use school sites. “It was probably the most persistent I’ve ever been with the superintendent,” said Lopez. “We had to get legal involved, contracts set and then the same department on” UCSF’s side. How did she manage it? “Non-stop calls.”

Jones thinks she may have gotten the first call from Havlir as early as April 1. By April 25 the testing had begun. Over four days, nearly 4,000 residents and workers lined up to get tested for COVID and antibodies. The UCSF and Latino Task Force collaboration was prepared to support those who tested positive with care and financial support to quarantine. Still, they were surprised by the demographics of the 83 who tested positive: 95 percent were Latinx, 30 percent of those lived with more than five people, and 89 percent earned less than $50,000 a year. Many had no primary doctor.  Only one of the 83 was white and two were Asian.

“If you work at San Francisco General Hospital,” said Dr. Carina Marquez, also from UCSF, “you know about all of the health inequalities, but still the disparity was surprising.” Each person, she said, had a unique but similar story – challenges in following through with a quarantine, crowded households, no financial safety net, limited English.

By dint of its own work, the Latino Task Force also had a new ally – researchers and doctors at UCSF and General Hospital. The results could not be ignored and new policies followed.  The city opened up unused hotel rooms to those who tested positive.  The test results – that 53 percent of those who were COVID positive had no symptoms – indicated a need for more low-barrier testing to prevent the spread.  To get more people to test, the study demonstrated that the city would have to assure them that they would have financial and medical support.

The data gave Supervisor Ronen what she needed to get the city on board with her Right to Recover safety net. By late June, Ronen’s program had $2 million to offer up to four weeks of financial support for residents and workers without a safety net. That is enough to help some 1.500 families, but everyone knows the need is likely to be much greater – the research made that clear because it defined who was most impacted by the virus.

This week, the task force opened a new mobile testing site at Alabama Street – exactly where workers and residents now go and can also be connected to services.  Marquez and Jacobo agree that the city still has a long way to go in getting essential workers to take the COVID test. Something, they predict, will have to be worked out with employers so that workers know they will have financial support and a job after they recover. 

Volunteers at one of the testing sites. Photo by Lydia Chávez

Preparing for the long term

Just as the coronavirus shows no sign of abating, the Latino Task Force is gaining steam. On a recent Monday morning call with more than 30 community-based organizations, legislative aides and someone listening in from Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s office, Tulier-Laiwa allowed a quick “Las mañanitas” to Hernandez, who would soon celebrate his 64th birthday, and then reminded speakers they had one minute to present.

A dizzying number of projects are underway in housing, worker protection, possibly a second Hub site, and gathering parent input in how schools should operate in the fall. Already this summer the Latino Task Force and community-based organizations such as Dolores Street Community Services and the Day Labor Program helped to revamp the way the city conducted a block-by-block needs assessment of the Mission District. At their behest – and unlike the earlier study done in the Tenderloin – the SFPD was not invited to walk along to do the assessment, more community-based groups were present, and the assessors engaged with the homeless population to ask homeless residents what they needed. That report will be out as soon as this month. 

Gallardo, meanwhile, had recently gotten the results of the city’s affordable housing lottery and she didn’t like them. After winning the lottery, too few Latinos cleared the approval process, she said. “Is it a requirement or a removable impediment that applicants are disqualified for bad credit?” she wondered. She was ready to dig into the details and find out. 

In many ways, what is happening in the Mission is a reminder of what John Barry, the best-selling author of The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History, said about the San Francisco of 1918.“Trust in San Francisco did not disintegrate in the community function,” Barry said in a recent interview on UCSF’s Grand Rounds. “It met the challenge as a community trying to come together.” 

In 2020, history is repeating itself, for worse but also for far better, right here in the Mission District.

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Bad Credit

Loans for Bad Credit: Alternatives to High-Interest Loans



In the face of unexpected events, most Americans don’t have enough cash to cover their needs. Statistics estimate that more than half of all Americans have less than $1,000 in a savings account.

It’s challenging to get through everyday life without expecting anything to go wrong. Any emergency — be it a car accident, a hospital visit, or even a broken refrigerator — will put Americans in trouble.

To add insult to injury, poor credit can make an emergency even more challenging. That’s where installment loans come in.

For consumers that have a bad credit score (below 630), installment loans can be the best option to get quick money. Installment loan funds are distributed all at once. Afterward, the repayment of the installment loan follows either a fixed monthly payment.

Online installment loans are ideal for emergencies as access to fast cash. Here’s everything you need to know before taking out an installment loan.

Online Installment Loan Basics

Installment loans are actually a broad category that includes many different kinds of loans, such as mortgage loans, car loans, and other personal loans. They tend to be long-term loans that require credit checks.

Payday loans are another type of installment loan. However, its structure is different. They must be repaid over a shorter period, have higher interest rates, but require no credit checks.

Installment Loans

As stated above:

  • Installment loans deliver quick cash in one lump sum

  • Installment loans require a credit check

  • Installment loans describe many different loan types

Furthermore, installment loan terms depend on the type of loan and can range from 3 years for car loans to 30 years for mortgage loans. In contrast, a personal installment loan lasts for approximately 12 months.

To get approval for any of the above loans, the individual will be subject to a credit check (more to know on that here: ) and a fairly long application process.

Installment loans offer an APR of 36% or below, and user payments can be made online, over the phone, or by check.

Another advantage of installment loans is that they help borrowers improve their credit rating — as long as they pay on-time. It provides immediate access to cash, while at the same time, it’s a means to an end toward recovering a bad credit score.

How well individuals can do often depends on the terms of the installment loan that they receive. Keep reading to get more advice on how to choose an installment loan that is right for you.

Choosing an Online Lender

Like any other loan, picking a lender requires a fair amount of research and work. It’s not going to be a simple task, and there are several factors that individuals need to look out for when picking the right loans.

Below are the most important features that individuals need to keep in mind when choosing an online installment loan.

Compare Rates

All the different installment loan options out there are going to offer different percentage rates. These range from 6% to 36%, and you should sift through all possible options to get the most favorable rates.

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Ideally, individuals should opt for the lowest rates to ensure that the monthly payments are as low as possible.

Online lenders can offer potential borrowers their interest rates ahead of time. This usually requires a soft credit check, which does not impact a borrower’s credit score.

However, applicants need to be careful, as different vendors have different requirements. Understanding these requirements will help avoid any mishaps.

Understand All Fees

Every vendor has different fees, these fees might have different names like an “organization fee” or a “service fee,” but they generally range from 1% to 6%.

In contrast, other vendors might charge a prepayment fee for early repayment. Under no circumstances should a borrower agree to a loan deal before the lender discloses all fees.

It’s up to the individual to be as vigilant as possible because certain vendors will keep some fees to themselves, and may not disclose them until the last minute.

To avoid any excess costs in the future, make sure to go over the contract in its entirety.

Choosing Manageable Terms

Installment loans offer a lot of advantages for needy consumers:

But, one thing to remember is this: the longer the loan term, the higher the interest individuals will pay. Taking longer terms might give borrowers more time to pay, but it also means that borrowers will have to pay more interest.

In contrast, shorter terms are harder to manage, but it means paying a lower interest rate. When choosing the right installment loan, individuals should calculate the monthly payment based on the term length.

Many online vendors offer software that automatically calculates the amount. Everyone should employ a strategy to assess different term lengths to see what monthly payments are the most manageable.

Vendor Perks

Not all vendors are the same, and it’s already established that they offer different rates for different prices. However, while already offering different rates, vendors also offer different perks — specific features tailored to the individual.

If the individual is consolidating debt, certain lenders will send loan money to creditors on behalf of the loanee. Other vendors offer the ability to change due dates or provide hardship plans if the borrower encounters any financial difficulties.

It’s crucial to consider all these factors before taking out an installment loan. It’s best to have everything working to your advantage with an already poor credit history before taking out an installment loan.

Our Top Picks for Online Installment Loans

There are hundreds of online installment loan options out there, and looking through all of them can be a hassle. Furthermore, those new to the industry won’t be able to identify scams or loans meant to exploit.


Upgrade is one of the best installment loan vendors for those with a bad credit score. They accept a minimum score of 600 and will provide potential applicants with an offer in minutes. Their APR rates range from 7.99-35.97% depending on the amount, duration, and purpose of the loan. Users can easily apply for loans and get ideas on rates using the company’s website.

Simple Fast Loans

Simple Fast Loans is also among the best installment loan vendors for individuals that have a bad credit score. They offer loans ranging from $200-$3,000. These loans have terms up to 5 years.There’s no prepayment penalty, and applicants will also get next day funding. To get an idea of the rates, users can easily apply using their website.


For users that have a credit score below 600, a great option to choose is LendingPoint. They accept a minimum credit score of 585 and offer loans for $2,000-$25,000. The APR rates for these loans are on the higher side ranging from 9.99-35.99%. Money becomes available to the applicant the next day, and there’s no prepayment penalty on the loan.


Another installment loan vendor for users that don’t have a good credit score is Avant. They require a minimum credit score of 580 and offer loans for $2,000-$35,000. The APR rate is between 9.95-35.99%, and they offer the ability to change payment dates. However, applicants will have to pay a loan origination fee, and there’s no option to include a co-signer on the loan.

Online Financing Options to Avoid

Online installment loans are a great option for individuals with bad credit scores, and, if used correctly, are a way to improve credit scores.

However, the same can’t be said for all online financing options, and certain ones are important to avoid.

Payday Loans

Payday loans function similarly to installment loans. In addition, they have recently been rebranded as short-term installment loans.

The loans are usually under $1,000 and are due on the next payday. With payday loans, an individual will have to either submit a post-dated check or provide access to the bank account.

It might sound relatively okay, but the issue with payday loans is that it’s nearly impossible to pay them back. Lenders will let individuals roll over the loans with more interest to pay the next day. Interest rates are typically 400% APR on these loans, and individuals get caught in the payday loan debt cycle.

No Credit Check Loans

These loans might seem like a good idea for those with bad credit scores, but they’re essentially just a debt cycle. The combination of high-interest rates, short terms, and lump sum repayment means that borrowers are stuck in a cycle of ever-increasing debt. It’s best to find loans that offer some sort of credit check and security to get the best terms.

Upfront fees

While certain loans might require a small percentage to process the application, some can be a complete red flag. There are plenty of up-front loan scams, and there are several signs that borrowers need to address. If a vendor asks for money upfront, then there’s a good chance it’s a scam.

Additionally, these issues tend to arise the most with vendors that don’t offer credit checks. Lastly, do enough research to recognize an offer that seems too good to be true.


Keeping all these things in mind, online installment loans are the best option for borrowers with a bad credit score. They are a useful resource and, if managed correctly, are a path to recovering a good credit score.

This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or management of EconoTimes

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Bad Credit

Build Mastercard Credit Card Review



When you have bad credit, it can be extremely hard to build it back up. To rebuild your credit, you need to open a new credit account, pay your bills on-time and keep it in good standing. But when your credit is bad, there are very few companies that are willing to approve you for a new credit card account. However, the Build Mastercard is specifically designed for people with bad credit. Let’s take a look at this card and see how it works.

How the Build Mastercard Works

This card is designed for people who have had serious credit problems, and it charges setup and maintenance fees to offset that risk. It is marketed as an affordable alternative to payday loans for customers who are trying to establish, strengthen or rebuild their credit history. It promises customers clear upfront pricing, no hidden fees, and tools that help them use and build credit wisely.

To open a new account, you will have to pay a one-time account setup fee of $53 and a membership fee of $72 annually. These set-up and maintenance fees will be charged to your account before you begin using your card, and will reduce the amount of credit that will be initially available. For example, if you receive a $500 line of credit, then your initial available credit will be $375, which is $500 minus the $72 membership fee and the $53 account setup fee.

Top Features:

Reports to major credit bureaus; initial credit limit of $400; fast application process with results in seconds

The late payment and returned payment fees are each $35, but thankfully, there are no over-the-limit fees or foreign transaction fees imposed on charges processed outside of the United States.

Another important aspect of the Build Mastercard is that it has no grace period. With most credit cards, you can avoid interest charges by paying your monthly statement balance in full. The period between the statement closing date and the payment due date is known as the card’s grace period. Since the Build Mastercard has no grace period, it will begin charging interest on purchases and cash advances on the date of the transaction. The standard interest rate for purchases and cash advances is 29.9% APR, which is a variable interest rate that can rise or fall with the Prime Rate.

As a Mastercard, this card is accepted worldwide at millions of merchants in nearly every country. Mastercard also offers a Zero Liability Protection policy. This means that even though the Fair Credit Billing Act allows card issuers to hold customers liable for a maximum of $50 in the event of fraud, you’ll never be responsible for any amount in the event of an unauthorized transaction. To utilize this policy, just take reasonable care to protect your card from loss or theft and promptly report any loss, theft or unauthorized charges to your card issuer.

Build Mastercard Advantages

This card is designed for applicants with bad credit. If you’ve had credit problems, then you will be far more likely to be approved for this card than you would for a card that wasn’t meant for those with bad credit. Unlike secured cards, the Build Mastercard doesn’t require that you pay a deposit and it will start off most accounts with a $500 line of credit (which will be reduced to $375 until you’ve paid the $72 membership fee and the $53 account setup fee).

The Build Mastercard is also a full fledged credit card, which will make it easier to rent a car or check into a hotel room. In contrast, those who have debit or prepaid cards can have difficulties when traveling and may have to submit a cash deposit to rent a car or check into a hotel.

Top Features:

Reports to major credit bureaus; initial credit limit of $400; fast application process with results in seconds

And although this card has numerous fees to open an account, it has no foreign transaction fees. Most credit cards, and even some premium reward cards, still charge a 3% foreign transaction fee on all charges processed outside of the United States. So whether you are making a quick trip across the border, or taking a vacation overseas, you can use this card anywhere without being assessed an additional fee for each transaction.

Finally, the Zero Liability policy is one of the best protections offered by a credit card. This allows you to use your card with the confidence that you won’t have to pay any of the cost of fraudulent transactions.

Build Mastercard Disadvantages

The $72 membership fee and the $53 account setup fee are expensive, and some applicants may want to consider a secured card instead. There are plenty of good secured cards listed here. While you may have to pay an even higher deposit to open a secured card account, that money is refundable when you close your account in good standing. The 29.9% APR interest rate is high, but not out of line for a card marketed to those with bad credit. Finally, the lack of a grace period means you will always have to pay some interest on your charges, even when you pay your statement balance in full.

Bottom Line

The Build Mastercard is specially designed for people with bad credit, and it has its own distinct advantages and drawbacks. By carefully understanding how this card works, you can decide if it is right for your needs.

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Bad Credit

Are There Mileage Limits on Rent to Own Cars?



Rent to own cars, also called lease to own vehicles, don’t come with mileage restrictions. They can be a good option for bad credit borrowers who need a car fast. We cover how these agreements work, and how they’re different from other vehicle buying options.

Rent to Own Cars and Mileage Limits

Are There Mileage Limits on Rent to Own Cars?Traditional leased cars come with mileage limits, but rent to own vehicles don’t come with this restriction. Traditional leasing companies place mileage limits on their cars to preserve their value, typically so that they can be sold at a later date as pre-owned vehicles.

Many people think that leasing and rent to own cars are similar, but the truth is that they’re very different. Leasing involves making payments on a vehicle for around two to three years, and then returning it at the end of the lease. With rent to own cars, the main goal once you make all the payments is ownership.

Another large difference between leasing and rent to own vehicles is that leased cars are almost always brand-new vehicles. Rent to own cars are always used.

How Rent to Own Vehicles Work

To get into a rent to own vehicle, you need to find a dealership that offers in-house financing, also called buy here pay here (BHPH) used car lots. These dealers are also lenders, so they don’t rely on third-party lenders for financing. This also means that you usually get to skip the credit check.

Since there typically isn’t a credit pull, borrowers with poor credit may have a better chance of qualifying for a rent to own vehicle than a traditional auto loan or lease. The biggest factor that determines your eligibility for these agreements is your income. Some rent to own cars don’t require a down payment, but the payments are likely to be higher than an auto loan in the long run.

You also don’t have to worry about interest charges because rent to own agreements aren’t loans. You’re not borrowing an amount from a lender to pay for a vehicle – you’re making payments on the car to the dealership until you’ve paid what you owe.

Bad Credit Auto Loans vs. Rent to Own Cars

A big downside to rent to own vehicles is that there sometimes isn’t a chance for credit repair. If the dealer didn’t check your credit reports to determine your eligibility for the car, then they may not report your on-time payments. Anything that isn’t reported on your credit reports doesn’t impact your credit score, so it doesn’t help improve it.

Bad credit auto loans from subprime lenders, however, are always reported. These lenders do check your credit reports, but they consider more than that. Sometimes, credit reports can’t tell the whole story, so subprime lenders use other facets of your situation to determine your ability to repay a car loan. They examine your income and residence history, require a down payment, ask for personal references, and more.

Subprime auto loans are crafted for bad credit borrowers who want to get on the road to credit repair. While rent to own vehicles are a good short-term solution, it doesn’t usually solve the bigger issue: bad credit.

Repair the Root of the Problem With a Car Loan

When you’re struggling with poor credit, it’s tempting to go for a quick solution like a rent to own car. But if you want to repair your bad credit, consider subprime financing. These lenders are signed up with special finance dealerships, and we can help you find one in your local area.

Here at Auto Credit Express, we have a network of special finance dealers all over the country. Get matched to one near you by filling out our auto loan request form. There’s never an obligation, and we’ll get right to work!

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