Seven Must Know Credit Tips

Kathy Boudin
Feb 26, 2007
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There is a lot of misinformation about credit. This article will disprove many of the common credit card myths and provide some tips on increasing your credit score. There is no arguing that a better credit score means better interest rates for your mortgage, auto, and all other areas where credit is used. By implementing these tips you could save hundred of dollars in interest in the long run and put cash back in your pocket in the short term.

1) Avoid using cash and borrowing from family for all your purchases. In the eyes of creditors no credit history is the same as a bad credit history. You may get away with paying cash for your car but when you buy your first home it will come back to haunt you. Even if you can afford to borrow or pay cash try opening an account to buy your furniture, automobiles, or home improvements. A diverse credit background will help with your credit score.

2) Your credit report tells all. Do not lie or stretch the truth to lenders, banks, or employers. They will easily catch you and the consequences are not worth it.

3) Do not cancel credit card accounts to improve your credit. The intended affect may be the opposite of what you expect. You can hurt your credit by canceling your credit cards; especially if you have a long history with the account. Losing a ten or twenty year credit history isn't worth it. If you absolutely must stop using a card, try shredding it. An open account that doesn't have a balance looks far better then no credit account at all.

4) Starting early is always better when establishing credit history. Getting a teenager or college student a credit card is a great way to get their history started. For those who don't trust their child's judgment yet there are many prepaid cards that report to credit bureaus.

5) Past due debts that are over 30 days late will demolish your credit score. That aspect alone makes up a third of your credit score. To be safe never go passed the 30 days late period with any late payment. One payment made passed the 30 day mark will stay on your report for a very long time. When a creditor pulls your credit they won't care what the reason was so don't let this happen.

6) There is such a thing as a free credit report. Remember that this is a report and not a score. It gives you all the accounts you have and all the activity related to your credit. It does not give you a number (your score). The government sponsored site is: annualcreditreport.com

7) Avoid too applying for too many credit cards all at once. When ever you check your credit score it leaves a mark. If you have too many marks too fast lenders thing you've hit a financial wall and are headed for trouble. One case that comes to mind is about a first time home buyer. They were approved for the home loan but it hadn't been finalized. The buyer thinking he was getting a home applied for a credit card to buy furniture. Because the loan had not closed the new credit card application caused the loan to be rejected at the last minute. This one application caused his credit score to drop to an unacceptable level and he lost the house. The moral: be careful with the timing of your credit card applications.

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