It may not seem like a big deal to make a late payment here or there, but since your payment history is a main driver of your credit score, it could hurt your overall financial health. Make sure to pay your bills on-time, every time. Consider setting up automatic payments, or electronic reminders, to make sure your payments are on time.
If possible, pay off your credit card bill in full each month. The higher the balance you carry from month to month, the more interest you pay, and that’s money you could be using for other things, including paying off the debt. Unless your financial situation leaves you no choice but to only pay the minimum, pay your entire balance each month or as much of the balance as you can, before the payment due date, to avoid or minimize interest charges.
Shopping for credit is a great way to make sure you’re getting the best possible offer. Better loan terms can save you money. Even a small difference between interest rate offers can mean major savings in the long run.
Your free credit reports give you a snapshot of your credit history, including your open lines of credit, whether you’ve made your payments on time, and the status of your credit accounts. You should review your credit reports regularly, to make sure the information is correct. Errors on your credit reports can hurt your score. This could mean a higher interest rate and less money in your pocket – so it’s important to check your credit reports and dispute any errors well before you apply for a loan. Each of the three major credit reporting companies gives you a free credit report every 12 months if you request it. You can request a copy from Equifax, TransUnion and Experian at AnnualCreditReport.com .
Sharing financial information and responsibility with your spouse is important for your joint financial well-being. Discuss credit goals so you can work towards them together. Individual financial decisions often affect family financial matters, so it’s important to be on the same page. Learning about each other’s financial behaviors, debt levels, and spending habits can help minimize conflicts and confusion over financial decisions. Being prepared and well-informed will help you overcome any setbacks or unexpected financial crises that may arise.
Many financial companies have begun to offer free credit scores to their customers. Remember, you have more than one credit score. It’s normal for your credit scores to vary based on the time it was calculated and the formula used. Checking your credit scores regularly helps to quickly identify any credit issues you may need to address and track how your financial decisions affect your scores.