I recently came across “The 10 ‘Never-Break’ Rules of Good Credit” in the Kane County Chronicle, which listed how to maintain good credit, derived from the formula that credit bureaus and lenders use to calculate your lending score. Some of the tips are not new, but I found it a great reminder worth sharing, plus some “In My Opinion” reactions.
The 10 rules of good credit.
10. Create a budget and stick to it. Your budget should cover everyday expenses and allow for the smart use of the plastic. IMO: My husband and I give ourselves a cash allowance every pay period for “extras” like going out to lunch or new clothes. Once the cash runs out, we can only buy essentials.
9. Use wisely. Smart use of revolving credit – not carrying a balance, paying the full balance immediately – is an important component of a healthy credit score. Unwise use, such as running up debt, can lower your score. IMO: When I want to make a purchase on my card, I ensure I have the cash in our checking or savings first. That way, I’m able to pay off my balance at the end of the month. I most cases, if I don’t have the cash, I don’t need the purchase.
8. Always pay more than the minimum balance on your credit cards. Ideally, you would pay off the entire balance right away, but it that’s not possible, pay more than the minimum – as much as you can afford.
7. When applying for a loan and new cards, do so wisely. Comparison shop and make your applications in a short amount of time, so those credit inquiries will only count against your credit score once. IMO: Saving 10% at the register by signing up for another department store card isn’t worth the headache of mounds of debt later. Just say ‘no thanks’!
6. Your credit ratio – the amount you owe compared to the amount of credit you have available – is a key factor in determining your credit score. Avoid maxing out. At any given time, try to keep three quarters to two thirds of your total available credit free for use.
5. Don’t immediately close a credit card account just because it’s paid off. Doing so can skew your credit utilization ratio. Before you close an account, be sure you understand what impact – if any – the action will have on your score. IMO: Here’s a great article on how to cancel a credit card without it hurting your score.
4. Practice identity theft protection measures. From shredding sensitive paper documents before trashing them, to keeping your PC’s virus protection software up to date, it’s important to take steps to protect your credit from identity theft and fraud. IMO: I never swipe my card at the pump. I take the extra few minutes to run inside and sign for gas – making it hard for thieves to steal my identity. Freeze your credit for real protection.
3. If you’re in financial trouble, don’t practice avoidance. If you can’t pay your bills, contact your creditors to work out a payment plan, but know that not making minimum payments may negatively impact your credit score. Being proactive may not solve your financial woes but it can help minimize the negative impact on your credit.
2. Keep an eye on your credit score. It’s important to stay on top of your lending score all the time. The Internet has made it easy to monitor your credit report and score. Enrolling in membership can help you understand your credit. Get your credit report free once a year.
1. Pay your bills on time. A consistent, long-term history of timely bill paying goes a long way. In fact, a solid payment history can pull up your score even if there are other negatives on your report. Not paying your bills on time – or at all – is a surefire recipe for bad credit. IMO: This is part of being a grown up. It’s something we all dislike, but just have to do. Set calendar reminders or write yourself notes – whatever it takes to remember.
Did you know that besides making it easier for you to get a loan, having a high credit score can make it easier for you to get a date? That makes it all worth it!
Why is having good credit important to you?