By: Bryan Lee, UHEAA
Credit scores are essential when determining if you qualify for a credit card, loan, or even a mortgage. Our credit scores also impact the interest we pay on loans and whether the loan is approved or denied.
Did you know that apartment rentals, cell phone companies, and insurance companies may offer a lower security deposit if you have good credit? Good credit indicates that you take your financial responsibilities seriously. Here are four simple tips to help you grow your credit score.
1. Get Your Credit Report.
Every 12 months you are entitled to one free copy of your credit report from each of the major credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You can order yours at www.annualcreditreport.com.
While these free reports do not show you your credit score, they do contain detailed information about your bill payments, loans, current debt, previous debt, income, employer, location and more. It is wise to keep a close eye on your credit score to decrease the potential for identity fraud, theft, and additional errors in your financial life.
What if my credit report is inaccurate?
Don’t panic – A company may have incorrectly reported information to the credit bureau or someone with your same name might have ended up
on your report. You can dispute errors and have the incorrect information removed by contacting the credit bureau.
2. Pay Your Bills on Time.
Paying bills on time is something you may or may not have an issue with, however this is proven to help your credit score exponentially. Creditors like seeing that you are low-risk and prefer to see positive payment behaviors over a period of time. Set a plan to pay bills on time and stick with it.
3. Manage Your Debit and Credit Cards Wisely.
Tips for Managing Your Cards:
- Keep a low balance. Credit card balances should be within 30% of the credit limit to maintain good credit.
- Do not “max out” your credit card.
- Set up auto pay and pay your credit card bill on time.
- Set up bank alerts or overdraft protection to avoid additional fees and financial hardships.
4. Seek a Financial Mentor
Do you have someone who you often turn to for guidance and advice? They also might be helpful for giving some personal oversight to building your credit. Whether it’s your parents, a professor, friend or school counselor— you have mentors waiting, eager to help you – you just need to be willing to ask.
Part of financial responsibility is being actively aware and knowledgeable about your finances. You’re never too late to start building your credit and working to achieve your financial goals.