Credit


Borrowing money is not always a bad thing. If the money is used for an investment in something that will increase in value like a house, business or education then it might be worth it. However, if you borrow money with an interest rate of 6% and you only earn 4% on your investments then net-net you are losing money.


Your Credit Score is determined by three main credit bureaus. The score is a picture of what your credit looks like. They issue reports that show how you handle your debt, if you pay on time, and how much debt you carry. They also collect information such as your job history and if you own your home. You are entitled to one free copy of your credit report from each of the three credit bureaus once a year: www.annualcreditreport.com. Your credit score can determine if you are able to buy a home and the interest rate that you will be offered. It is also important to look at your credit reports to check for identity theft.


How to improve your credit score: 1. get a copy of your credit report, 2. dispute any errors (which are common), 3. avoid new credit card purchases, 4. pay off past due balances, 5. don’t do anything that will initiate a credit inquiry, 6. leave accounts open.


Things you may not know that hurt your credit score: Overdue library books, requesting a credit limit increase, unpaid medical bills or parking tickets, anything that causes a credit check, like getting new cell phone contract, cosigning a loan, renting a car without a credit card or applying for new credit cards.


How to establish a new credit history: Open a checking account, have an steady job, live in one place, and have some utilities in your name. Ask your bank for a credit card. Consider a department store credit card. Use your new credit card to purchase only what you can pay off. If that fails, then try a secured credit card.


Credit Cards are not free money. Keep track of what you charge just as you would a checking account. Pay credit card bills as soon as they arrive. Always pay more than the minimum. Best practice is to pay off the balance each month. The interest that you pay is money thrown away.


Secured Credit Cards require that you put money in an account in advance and you can only charge up to the amount that is in the account. This can be a great way to impose self-restraint. These cards can help improve your credit history if you have bad credit.


If you are having problems with your credit, you can contact the National Foundation for Credit Counseling at www.nfcc.org.

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