Credit truly does make the world go round. From loan approvals to job offers, to interest rates on credit cards to insurance premiums, almost every single financial decision in life is based on how well you manage your money and how that is reflected in your credit score (also known as your FICO score). The better your score, the easier it will be to get approved for loans, obtain premium interest rates, lower your insurance, and even find a job (more and more employers are checking credit before hiring, making it even more important to manage your credit well!)
So how exactly do credit/credit scores work? There are 5 factors that go into your credit history, and there are three credit bueraus that monitor and distribute these scores:
It is your individual right to view the contents of these reports to ensure that all information is accurate, and to ensure that you are aware of every account that is in your name. You are entitled to receive one free credit report per year from each of the three credit bueraus by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com. Please note: this provides a credit report only, and not a credit score. You can view your credit score by paying an additional fee at this site, or you can view your credit score for free at www.creditkarma.com. **Tip: instead of ordering all three credit reports at once, order just one to start with. In 4 months, order the second, and in 8 months order the third. By doing this, you can monitor your credit for free all year long.
Having trouble understanding how to read your credit report? Here’s a handy tutorial that explains each section of the report, and shows an interactive credit report example.
Managing your credit and knowing your rights is hard, but well worth it to build a good credit history. Learn more by visiting the Financial Literacy Now website.
And remember, student loans are DEFINITELY part of your credit report. By paying your student loans, you are helping to increase your credit score, one monthly on-time payment at a time! If you are experiencing trouble paying your student loans, find out what options are available to you.