Three Things You Need to Know About Your Credit Score
by Trish Townsend
If you have aspirations of one day owning a home, leasing a car or paying for college (either for you or your children) then you know the road to obtaining these goals leads directly through your credit score. Your credit score is the numerical evaluation of your lending history, and it is often the determining factor when lenders accept or deny your loan request. With a good credit score the sky is the limit; however, a poor score can make a task as simple as applying for a credit card become nearly impossible.
Considering how important a credit score is to an individual’s future, it’s surprising to discover that nearly 60 percent of adults haven’t checked their score within the last year. In the spirit of educating our account holders, here are three things you may not know about your credit score:
• Payment history: The largest chunk of your credit score—35 percent in fact—is based on your payment history. This should not be confused with your history of repaying loans, but rather it includes bill payments of any kind. That means if you still have that library book from high school in the back of your closet that’s rung up unimaginable late fees, it is possible that it could end up on your credit score and negatively affect it. Likewise, medical bills, parking tickets and even a late cable bill can be factored in to your credit score.
• Free reports: Your credit report—detailing your credit score and how it was calculated—can be freely obtained three times a year; one each from the three major credit-reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. While you can contact the credit-reporting agencies individually, they can more easily be obtained through annualcreditreport.com, the only website explicitly directed by Federal law to provide credit reports. Knowing your score is the first step to improving it, and it’s a great way to monitor against identity theft.
• Constant change: Your credit score is alive, and it’s changing almost every single day. Many people are unaware of how a change in their credit score actually occurs, so having this knowledge will be helpful when seeking loans. As a best practice, check your credit score by using one of your free reports as soon to applying for a loan as possible. Doing so will allow you to address any glaring inaccuracies, as well as will offer you a better picture of how much money you’ll be allowed to borrow.
Your credit score can be your best friend or your biggest foe, but you’ll never know until you find out more.