Tips for using credit wisely:
- Know your credit score(s). Being aware of your credit report and credit score helps you to understand how lenders see you. Knowing your score and becoming familiar with your credit history is the first step in understanding your credit.
- Limit the number of inquiries for new credit. Multiple inquiries for new credit can decrease your credit score.
- Take notice of interest rates. The interest rate of your debt can greatly affect the amount owed monthly and the time frame required to pay off your debt.
- Keep your balances low. Creditors look at the amount of debt you are carrying. Carrying high debt loads can impact your credit score negatively. If possible, pay all balances in full to avoid finance and interest charges.
- Pay your bills on time, all the time
Understanding your credit is an essential component of being financially fit. Credit worthiness is not only used to determine whether or not you can receive a loan from a lending institution and to determine interest rates for loans that are offered to you. Your credit standing can impact many factors of your life. Insurance agencies, utility companies and employers often review your credit. How well you manage your credit is viewed as a method to determine how well you manage other aspects of your life. The reality is… your credit score is often seen as a reflection of you.
It is important to review your credit periodically. There are three major credit reporting agencies in the United States: Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. Your credit report includes personal demographic information; information about your payment history; account types; account balances; credit inquiries; collection and public record (ex. Bankruptcy and/or lien) information. It is your responsibility to ensure information on your credit report is accurate. You are entitled to one free credit report from each agency annually. You may receive your free credit report(s) via www.annualcreditreport.com. Any incorrect information may be disputed with the appropriate credit agency.