Credit and Credit Cards

Your credit score should be looked at as your money management skills “Grade” and your credit report as your “Financial Resume”. What does yours say about you?

Developing a good credit history at a young age can improve your options for getting a car, home, or business financing at the best rates. Your credit can also impact whether you get an apartment or even a job. If you manage your money wisely, credit cards can be a great way to get a jump start on establishing a good credit history. When not used wisely, credit cards can add debt, hurt your credit, and increase stress levels.

To get more information on how to manage your credit wisely, save money, and reduce financial stress, attend one of our Value of Credit Money Talks and keep the following tips in mind: 

  • Debit cards won’t help your credit score, but they are a great tool to learn to spend within your limits before getting a credit card.
  • Only use credit cards for an amount you can pay back in full at the end of your billing cycle to avoid high interest on charges that roll over to the next cycle. Keep in mind that carrying more than 30% of your credit limit from month-to-month hurts your credit score, even if you are making your minimum payments on time. This percentage is called your credit utilization rate and the credit agencies combine all of your cards when looking at this.
  • Only apply for credit cards that you need to support your credit development, business plans or travels. Each application for a credit card can reduce your credit score. The extra 10% initial discount you get at a retail store is not worth potentially decreasing your credit score.
  • To develop credit, you can start with one credit card, yet it makes sense to have up to 3 cards over time. If the cards are used wisely, this will help you keep your overall credit utilization rate low.
  • Monitor your credit report regularly to ensure there are no accounts or transactions that do not belong to you and to keep track of outstanding debts.
  • Learn more about protecting yourself from identity theft.
  • Annual Credit Report allows you to check your credit report for free once a year from all three credit reporting agencies: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. Keep in mind that you checking your credit report does NOT hurt your credit score, but not checking it could.