Having good credit is essential in today’s world. Acceptable credit will generally get you what you want, but bad credit can be the kiss of death. If you want a house, you need a mortgage. If you want a car, you’re likely going to take out a loan. Anytime you apply for credit, the lender is going to pull your credit report to determine whether or not you are a good credit risk. Not everyone is a good credit risk—but there is something you can do to make sure you become one.
Millions of Americans have poor credit, and many are in debt because of high interest credit cards. Credit card companies often target low-income families by providing them with high interest credit cards, but they aren’t the only ones to fall in debt’s trap. In fact, one million Americans file for bankruptcy each year. Bankruptcy isn’t the answer for everyone, but there are several things you can do to get your credit healthy again.
First, make a budget and stick to it. Save money by clipping coupons, buying items on sale and not eating out as much. Don’t buy something on a whim. Go home and think about it first. Chances are you’ll never go back. Remember, buy only what you need.
The money you save can be used to pay back debts. If you have problems paying your bills, you should call the creditor immediately. If you ignore your mortgage bills, you can face foreclosure and the loss of your home. Most lenders will work with you to help you get caught up on your bills and allow you to keep your home. However, if you default on your car payment loan—even if it’s late on a given month—the lender has the option to just repossess the car. Staying on top of your debts will help you on the path to good credit.
You also want to get a copy of your credit report from one of the three major credit bureaus: TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. Your credit report includes your personal information, your accounts, your credit history and whether or not you’ve defaulted on an account. Review the credit report carefully, looking for any errors pertaining to your personal information. Also, look at each of the financial statements to determine if there’s a credit card you’ve already closed, a debt that shouldn’t be there or any other mistake. Contact the credit bureau immediately if you do spot any errors.
A lender determines if you’re a good credit risk by looking at your credit report and analyzing your credit score. Most people have a credit score anywhere from 300 to 750. Anything 650 and higher is considered good credit. Anything below means you’re on shaky ground.
Remember the key to creating and maintaining good credit is to pay your bills on time, and always call the creditor if you find yourself unable to pay the total bill to see if they can help you work out a plan to help you get back on track.