Respect Your Credit
Often while in college you’ll have your first experience with credit as you apply for your first credit card, student loan or auto loan. So you’ll want to know the ins and outs of credit and how it impacts your ability to access these loans and more in a responsible way.
Read more to understand the importance and role of your credit score and report, the difference between good and bad debt and how to borrow smarter.
What is Credit and why do I need it?
Credit gauges how responsible you are with your money and how likely you are to make healthy financial choices. For many who may never meet you face to face, it tells a story on your behalf that could lead to you getting access to (or being denied) things such as loans, jobs or even insurance!
The Report and the Score – let’s go to school!
Your credit picture is painted through two main areas – the credit report and the score. Credit Reports are much like a school report card. They share your history of your financial and debt activity, public records and places of employment. You can check your three most commonly used reports – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – annually, for free at www.annualcreditreport.com. This site is authorized by the Federal law as the source for your free credit report.
If your credit history is like a report card, your credit scores are like the GPA – it’s a number calculated by credit reporting companies, like Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO®) using several factors, like when you open a credit account/loan or pay off credit accounts.
Your credit report and score are used to by lenders, employers and other businesses to determine your credit risk and determine if and at what rate you may receive services. And just like your GPA and any test, the higher your score the better!
Need more help understanding your credit? Contact Wright-Patt Credit Union. We have a free service for members through our trusted partner, Greenpath, that can help pull your report and walk you through what is included. You can contact Greenpath to sit down one-on-one, or to just speak to a certified counselor 24 hours a day at (888) 893-2713.
The Basics of Building Credit
You don’t just wake up one day with a perfect credit score. Building credit takes a little time and effort. When you turn 18, you’re assigned a credit score that’s around 500-600. But remember, credit scores are based on things like your credit activity, so if you’d like to build it may be a good idea to get a first-time user or secure credit card from your financial institution. Charge something small on it each month, wait to receive the monthly bill and pay it off before it’s due. This will not only help increase your score, but will also help you avoid large interest rates and additional charges on your account.
This is just one of several ways you can improve your score. It’s a good idea to sit down your credit union or bank to find out other options and what’s best for you.