Get Smart About Credit Day 10.20.2016
Today is “Get Smart About Credit Day”, a special day every year where bankers set time aside to teach the public and the youth about credit, financing, and the importance of having good credit. However, just because it happens once a year (October 20th, for 2016) doesn’t mean this precious information is locked up somewhere. You can learn about credit (and how important it is for buying a car) anytime!
Credit and Building It
Did you know you might have a credit score and not even know it? That sweet phone you’re financing? Credit. That auto loan you recently received? Credit.
Unless you’ve never owned a credit card or borrowed money before, then you probably have credit. Which means you have a credit score. If you don’t know yours, you can always check online for free at a site like CreditKarma.com, and you’ll see a number from 300 to 850. The higher it is, the better your score.
So what to do if your credit score is low, or if you don’t have any at all.
- Have a job with steady income so you can keep up with bills and start a budget.
- Get yourself a secured credit card. This works the same as any other credit card, except instead of borrowing money and having to pay it back, it’s more like a pre-paid card you have to replenish every month. It’s your money you’re spending, not the bank’s. Plus, you can start at a low limit of $500, which will raise as your credit does.
- Don’t sit on a credit card. You need to use it and show you’re responsible, so start by only charging small things like gas, or a one-time prescription.
- Pay your bills on time. Every time you pay your bills on time, that’s another gold star for your credit report, and eventually they’ll add up. Most organizations also have a grace period to give you some wiggle room, so there’s no reason to pay late.
- Don’t go crazy with opening accounts. That’s the trick creditors love to use. If you can borrow $2000, who’s to say you can’t borrow $5000? Or $10,000? Next thing you know, you’re in debt. Keep your cards limited to two for now, and as your credit score gets better and you can handle more accounts, think about opening another. Just don’t get too many. Also, the more credit you have available on open credit cards, the more a creditor will view you as a liability. Example: If you have 5 credit cards, each with a credit limit of $5,000 provides you with $25,000 and creditors may look at that as a potential of $25,00 of debt.
- Check your credit score online every so often, or contact a union. You can contact Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion once a year, giving you three chances to check your score.
- After handling credit for a year, apply for a real credit card. Then, follow steps 3 through 6, and you’re good to go.
Credit can stay in the way of a lot of things, but it can also help. Who knows? Good credit might be your helping hand in getting a new car.