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BUILDING YOUR CREDIT

What Is "Good Credit"?

Having good credit is of critical importance. It’s a way for lenders to assess how responsible you are financially and determine whether or not to give you a credit card or loan, rent you an apartment or even establish cable, telephone or water service in a new home.

Virtually every credit card and loan you take out during your lifetime will be recorded by the three main credit bureaus in the United States. Even a simple mistake — like paying a credit card bill late one time — will stay on your credit report for seven years, and could possibly impair your ability to get additional credit or a lower interest rate in the future.

The best thing to do? Everything in your power to maintain good credit. It’s as simple as living within your means, using credit wisely and always paying your bills on time.

Smart ways to build and maintain good credit

Pay the entire balance on your credit card every month.

And no matter what, always pay your credit card bill on time.

Use credit cards responsibly.

Consider applying for two types of cards — a credit card at a local department store or a gasoline company, and a major credit card, like a Visa® card. Make sure the credit limit you receive does not exceed the money in your savings account. Use those cards to make small purchases and pay the balance in full every month.

Resolve to eliminate your debt.

If you have a balance on a credit card that you can’t pay off in one month, make every effort to pay it off quickly.

Review your credit reports every year.

If you find a mistake, contact the credit-reporting agency and discuss it with them.

Pay off loans early.

This will increase your credit standing. For example, if you’re in a position to pay off a car loan early, it’s an opportunity to strengthen your credit.

To learn more about building and maintaining good credit, visit our Credit Wellness Center.

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