A good credit score is key to financial freedom and flexibility. Check out our tips on how to build and maintain a strong score in our latest blog.
A credit score is a piece of data that plays a crucial role in a lender’s decision to extend a credit offer. There are many different factors that go into one, but overall, your credit score is based on your creditworthiness. Scores range in numbers from 300 to 800, with anything between 670 and 740 considered “good” and anything under 669 considered “poor.” A poor credit score can be limiting in many ways; you may not qualify for certain loans and, even if you do, the lender can charge a higher interest rate for a less-than-stellar score. When it comes to credit, it is important to start building early and working toward maintaining a credit score that can act as a financial asset for years to come. We’ve outlined a few of our guidelines on how to get started below.
1. Start Small
The minimum age to open a credit card is 18. While you can be added as an authorized user to other accounts before 18, you must be 18 or older to be the primary user of a credit card. The age of 18 may seem very young, but it’s never too early to start building a strong credit score. Consider credit options like student cards or loans, secured cards that require a deposit to open, or ask someone to be a cosigner to increase your trustworthiness. And try to keep it simple; we recommend opening just one credit card to start.
2. On-Time Payments
This may seem like a no-brainer, but submitting your payment on time, and in full, is the best way to build and maintain a strong score. We recommend taking it a step further and setting up payment reminders or automatic payment options to ensure you don’t miss any deadlines. Beware to only borrow what you can afford to avoid falling behind on payments or racking up high card balances, as late payment reports can stay on your credit history for up to seven years.
3. Keep Unused Accounts Open
Did you know closing unused accounts can actually hurt your credit score? Keeping unused accounts open with a zero balance from month to month is an indicator that you are capable of paying back what you borrow, and you are not over borrowing. It also helps by balancing your ratio of unused vs. used credit, as well as extending your credit history. If you find yourself in a position where you must close accounts, consider closing cards with high annual fees or unfavorable terms and conditions.
The mantra “ignorance is bliss” does not apply to your credit score. Be diligent in keeping tabs on your score and check it annually, at least. Checking your score can help ensure that the information on your credit report is accurate and also give you an idea of the areas where you need to improve. The financial experts at Lake Shore Savings Bank are always here to help walk you through the credit and lending process. Stop in to one of our many branch locations to talk to a representative, or visit our website to learn more.