January is often a “holiday-hangover” month for many. February is a great time to take stock and move forward. This week, we will explore credit scores and reports and how they affect you.
What is a credit score and why is it important? Credit scores were initially set up as a way for large financial institutions to provide an algorithm for determining people’s credit worthiness. Most people have misconceptions about their credit and the credit scores. Credit scores are defined by a three digit number – although most Americans would prefer to see a grade: A, B, C, D and F for easier understanding.
• Excellent Credit: 750+
• Good Credit: 700-749
• Fair Credit: 650-699
• Poor Credit: 600-649
• Bad Credit: below 600
Will my credit go down if I keep checking it? How often should I check my credit reports or my score? No, checking your credit or applying to pre-approved offers will not impact your score. Multiple credit card inquiries or applying for a mortgage will show up as a “hard inquiry” and could lower your score a few points. You can check your credit every four months without repercussions, if you are monitoring to raise your numbers, but a good rule of thumb is to check it annually.
You can get your credit score free once a month at Credit.com.
Will my credit score affect getting a new job? No, when companies ask for permission to access your records, they are looking at your credit report to see your credit history.
How do I check my credit report? You can review your full credit report for free at AnnualCreditReport.com, which provides you with a free credit report once a year from each of the three credit bureaus. You want to confirm that all the details are correct. If you find outstanding loans that do not belong to you or see that an account is listed as unpaid- when that account is in good standing; you can make corrections or stop any fraudulent activities. Another free website for checking your credit is Credit Karma.
How can I build my credit? Paying utility bills on time, open a savings account and take out a small, secured loan (using the amount you have in the bank). You repay that loan from your savings account. Be sure to set up automatic payments, so you are never late. You can also get a secured credit card that is tied to a set amount you have in savings.
Have a diverse financial path that includes paying bills on time, a car note and a credit card, on which you make weekly or monthly payments. Late payments will ruin your credit report and your score.
If you own three credit cards, only use 1 or 2 of them & keep the 3rd in reserve so that your % of debt stays low.
Being conscious of your “numbers” can provide you with the ability to see where you are NOW, helps you set your financial GPS to set new goals and to gives you the opportunity to make proactive decisions for an abundant life!