Credit 101

Few people understand the impact a good credit score can have on their life. Perhaps your credit isn't where you want it to be right now, but it's never too late to begin working to build your credit score back. 

What is credit and why does it matter?

Before you dig in and begin working to strengthen your credit, you may wonder why credit even matters?

When we say your "credit," we mean your credit history. Your credit history is a record of how you have used money in the past. That includes things like how many credit cards you have, how many loans you have, and whether you pay your bills on time.

Credit bureaus - like Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion - compile this information into your credit report. Then, they sell the information in your report to creditors, insurers, and other businesses that use it to evaluate your applications for credit, insurance, or renting a home. How you handled your money and bills in the past will help companies decide if they want to do business with you.

That's why your credit history can make a big difference when you apply for a loan or credit card, try to rent an apartment, attempt to buy or lease a car, or shop for rental or home insurance. Because lenders, landlords, and others care how you handle your credit, you should care too.

How to get your credit report

You can request a free copy at annualcreditreport.com or by calling 1-877-322-8228. Other sites may charge money or may be set up to steal your personal information.

You're entitled to a free report each year from each of the nationwide credit bureaus - Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion - and at annualcreditreport.com you can choose which reports you want to receive. Sometimes one bureau will have slightly different information than the others, so you'll probably want to check all three to make sure they are all accurate. 

What is a credit report?

Your credit report is a summary of your credit history. It lists personal information (name, address, Social Security number), payment history on credit accounts (like mortgages, student loans, credit cards), and public records (like if you've filed bankruptcy). Read your report carefully and make sure the following information is correct:

  • Personal information - Are the name and addresses correct?
  • Accounts - Do you recognize them? Is the information correct? 
  • Negative information - Do you recognize the accounts here? Is the information correct? 
  • Inquiries - Do you recognize the places you applied for credit?

What is a credit, or FICO, score?

Watch as CB&T's Codi Horacek explains credit scores, or keep reading to learn more!

What if you don't have a credit report or your report is blank?

You might not have a credit history if you haven't had a credit card or taken out a loan. To build credit history, you'll need to open accounts that are included in a credit report. For example, you could apply for a secured card, where you pay a security deposit to show you're committed to paying back what you borrowed. It's very important to pay these off on time though, or it could end up hurting your credit.

Questions?

Community Bank & Trust Loan Officers are always available to answer questions about your credit score, credit report, or any of your loan needs. Give us a call today at 753-1521 and let us put our financial expertise to work for you.