National Credit Education Month

March is National Credit Education Month! This means that there is no better time to learn a bit about your credit score. While credit scores can be confusing, improving your score (or maintaining a good one) doesn’t have to be. Good credit has a large impact on your future financial state, as a higher score can allow for better interest rates on mortgages, cars, and credit cards. By using the resources and tips below, you will learn how to build and improve your credit.

  1. Check your credit score. Even though it may seem daunting or depressing to take a look at that number, it is important to know what your credit score is. Even if you think you are good to go, fluctuations can happen quickly and it is important to monitor it regularly. Importantly, know that you do not need to pay to check your credit score! Legally you are allowed to request a free copy of your credit report from the big three reporting agencies, TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax every year. Again, you do not need to sign up for the paid services to see your report. Additionally, make sure to check these reports for any errors.

  2. Use an app such as NerdWallet (available on iOS and Android) to monitor your credit and receive tips on how to improve your score.

  3. If you are just starting out you might not have a credit score at all. In this case, you will want to find a starter program for students or young adults who want to build their credit. Wallethub has a list of credit cards for people with no credit history, many of which do not require a co-signer. Consider using your card to make small purchases and pay them off every month, without fail. Check out this NerdWallet article to find out some key information that everyone should know about their first credit card.

  4. Focus on making timely payments. One of the best ways to improve your credit is by paying your bills on time. If this is an area where you struggle, check out Mint. Mint is a bill tracking, budgeting, and credit check app by the makers of TurboTax. Late payments can quickly knock points off of your score, and are an even bigger issue if they get sent to collections.

  5. Reduce your overall debt. While this may not always be possible, paying off debt will improve your credit score. Use to create a plan to help minimize your interest and get out of debt quicker.
Credit doesn’t have to be something big and scary. Even if you are in debt, there are tools to help you recover. Remember, in the case of your credit, ignorance isn’t bliss.

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