There are many reasons why having a strong credit history is important. It can affect everything from your ability to rent an apartment to getting a good job.
Payment history and credit score are two of the most important factors contributing to a positive, healthy credit record. Individuals who demonstrate personal responsibility by paying back the money they borrow — on time, every time — are typically rewarded with higher credit scores. A high credit score, in turn, shows lenders that you are worthy of trust for even more credit. (Scores range from 300 to 850, the higher the better.) And, utilizing credit wisely opens the door to meeting your financial goals — both short- and long-term.
If you are just beginning to utilize credit, here are some tips for starting off on the right foot:
Use your credit card(s) wisely.
It’s true that you need to use credit to build credit and having a credit card is one way to start. But rather than using a credit card sporadically, consider charging small amounts regularly that you can afford to pay off every month. Also limit how many credit cards you apply for — two is a good number — with one of the cards being a VISA® from Navigator Credit Union.
Avoid using all your available credit.
Each credit card comes with a pre-established credit limit. Don’t top out your card by using all your available credit. It’s too easy to go over your credit limit and potential lenders don’t like to see maxed-out cards. Instead, use 10 percent to 30 percent of what’s available to you.
Apply for a car loan.
Making affordable, monthly car payments is an excellent way to build a healthy payment history. A car loan represents a different type of loan than a credit card. You are borrowing a fixed amount with a specific payment and repayment term. You may need a co-signer, such as a parent, for a car loan.
Keep track of your credit.
It’s a smart idea to check your credit report at least once a year for possible errors. There are three main credit-reporting companies: TransUnion, Equifax and Experian, and you are allowed a free credit report from each every 12 months. You can check your credit reports at www.annualcreditreport.com.
We Can Help
Whether it’s a credit card or an auto loan, Navigator Credit Union can help you on your way to building a strong credit history. Come in and meet with one of our representatives today.
While you can recover from credit missteps — such as missing a payment or going over your credit limit — it can take up to seven years for your credit score to recover after a significant drop.