When you apply for credit, lenders determine your credit risk by examining your credit scores, also known as FICO® scores because they are calculated with software developed by Fair Issac and Company. The two main credit bureaus – TransUnion and Equifax - keep credit information about you that is used to calculate your FICO scores. Such information includes your payment history, the amount of money you owe, the length of your credit history, and the number of recently opened credit accounts.
Your FICO scores guide lenders as to what your credit risk is. Scores range from 300 to 850. The higher your score, the lower your perceived risk to a lender.
To get a free estimate of your credit score, visit www.whatsmyscore.org/estimator.
Keep Your Credit Score Strong
Without a credit rating, it is unlikely that a financial institution will lend you money. Building a good credit rating is not rocket science.
Take a step in the right direction by:
- Complete credit applications carefully and accurately.
- Use your credit cards responsibly and don�t let them reach their limit or spend beyond your means.
- Attempt to pay your credit card balance in full each month, but at least make the minimum payment by the due date.
- Always pay bills on time. Paying your bills and loans on time, and as promptly as possible. Only borrowing what you need and what you can afford to pay back. Avoiding prolonged "easy terms" and having to refinance at higher interest rates. (from section 5.2b)
- If you have problems paying your bills, contact your creditors. In many cases, they will work with you to figure out a payment plan.
- If you move, let your creditors know your new address as soon as possible to avoid losing bills or receiving them late.
- If your credit card is lost or stolen, report it immediately.
- Review your credit reports periodically for accuracy and report any errors immediately.
- Establish a consistent work history.
- Never sign a blank form. Remember, a contract is a legal document. Always read and understand the fine print.