There’s a three-digit number connected to you that wields a significant amount of power in your life—your credit score. It’s used to determine whether you’ll qualify for loans and at what interest rate. Prospective employers may also access your credit history to get a glimpse of your financial management habits. Building up a good score takes discipline and commitment, but the rewards are tangible when you start saving money because of your smart choices.

Credit Score Basics

What Does Your Score Mean?

When you need to borrow money, your credit score is considered the most influential factor in a lender’s decision to grant you credit and at what interest rate. Borrowers with low scores may be turned down for loans and credit or will pay a higher interest rate than borrowers with high scores.

Your credit score indicates your trustworthiness in paying debt and gives a glimpse into your spending habits. Every time you apply for a new credit card, mortgage, insurance policy and sometimes a job, your application is judged in part on your credit score.

What Composes A Credit Score?

Fair Isaac & Co. of Minneapolis created the widely-used credit score model, which is why you’ll hear “FICO credit score” used to describe that magical three-digit number.

FICO considers these elements when calculating your score:

  • Payment history
  • Length of history
  • Amount owed
  • New credit
  • Amount of available credit
  • Types of credit used

You can monitor your credit history by requesting a free credit report every 12 months at www.annualcreditreport.com or by calling (877) 322-8228. Reports are available from the three credit reporting agencies: TransUnion, Experian and Equifax.

Debt in Focus

Control Your Debt, Control Your Life

You’ve made some financial choices that are costing you a lot of money right now. Those credit card purchases that seemed like a good idea at the time are less attractive because it’s taken a long time to pay them off in full. Interest has accrued and maybe some late fees have been tacked on.

It’s time to rein in your credit card use so your money is building toward your future, not your past. PrimeWay Federal Credit Union offers Debt In Focus, a free and anonymous service that will provide you an analysis of your financial standing and personal strategies to tackle your debt and move forward.

Reduce Your Debt

Reaching out for help with your debt is a brave move. Even after using the Debt In Focus tools, there are some debt-reduction tips to consider:

  • Leave your credit card at home.
  • Direct deposit your paycheck and autopay a set amount to your credit card.
  • Celebrate your success with weekly, inexpensive rewards.

Improve Your Credit Score

How To Earn High Marks

You know a credit score is important in determining how much you’ll pay for credit. But what’s considered a good score?

In general, a score above 700 indicates good credit management, according to Experian, one of the three main credit reporting agencies. Most credit scores fall between 600 and 750. Of course, the higher your score, the better rates you can secure from lenders.

A range of credit accounts with a record of timely payments (car loan, credit cards, mortgages, etc.) generally benefits people. A high debt-to-available-credit ratio (meaning your credit is close to maxing out) on credit cards and installment loans usually works against an individual.

Strategies For Achieving A Higher Credit Score

  • Make timely payments. It’s the best way to improve your score because payment history accounts for 35 percent of your FICO credit score. 
  • Only seek new credit when you need it. Numerous inquiries on your credit file for new credit could make you appear risky to lenders.
  • Elect automated payment to ensure timely payments. Credit reports track every payment that is 30 days or more past due.
  • Dispute in writing any errors that appear on your credit report.
  • Ignore advertisements promising to remove bad credit. These services charge a fee for something only you can do yourself—commit to a personal debt payment plan.

If you need professional help with debt management, please call PrimeWay Federal Credit Union at (713) 799-6200 to schedule an appointment with one of our certified financial counselors.