I’ve had some questions lately about credit and some of my friends have had questions for me. I don’t (and will never) claim to be an expert, but I can say that I’ve been doing some research lately and so I thought I might share my findings.
The thing I keep reading – when I search for credit information online – can be conveyed by a simple formula: checking + savings = stability. If you have a checking account and a savings account – and you’re able to manage both accounts well – it’s going to show creditors that you are stable in your decisions and responsible with your finances.
After that, everyone seems to offer a slight variation on these 3 simple guidelines:
- Pay your bills ON TIME
- How much available credit do you use? Experts suggest that you never max out all of your credit options. It is recommended that you never charge more than 30% of the credit limit offered to you.
- Don’t charge more than you can pay off in a month. It’s a slippery slope. If you ever stop paying off your credit card balance at the end of every month then you will only get further behind each month after that. In fact, sometimes I make a payment each time I get paid – which means I make a credit card payment every two weeks – that way I have a better idea about how much money I can actually afford to spend.
Having bad credit, or no credit can be scary. Especially if you’re in college and haven’t ever had to think about it. I have read a few tips for getting better credit, once you’ve had problems or for building credit if you don’t have any:
- Piggyback on someone else’s credit – In other words, get added to another person’s credit card so you can build up your own. Just make certain that they are financially stable and have good credit themselves. It’s not going to be much help to piggyback off of someone owing $30,000 to various creditors. This option should be thought out very well before taking action because of the many risks involved.
- Get a store credit card – It’s usually much easier to get credit from a store, however you also must realize that it will be a slow process to build credit this way. They don’t help as much as some of the other options. Also, they tend to have higher interest rates, so when you aren’t able to pay the balance off in one month’s time then you end up having more problems than before you got one.
- Get a secured card from a bank – These usually require a security deposit or collateral of some kind. The only thing tricky about this suggestion that is hard is most people who need credit usually don’t have anything to put up for collateral. So unless they have a stack of cash sitting around and can put up the cash, it would be hard to secure this type of card.
So, one last thing that might help you out if you’re looking to get a credit card is to have a list of things you should look for. The top three I’ve heard about are:
- No application fee
- Low annual fee
- Credit will be reported to Equifax, TransUnion, & Experian – the three major U.S. credit bureaus
And finally, if you don’t know what your credit score looks like… then request a free report now via the Central National Bank website. Click the Credit Report button at the bottom, right of the home page.