Understanding Your Credit History
By: Philip Nicosia
Very few people actually understand their credit score or how it affects their ability to get future credit. They fall behind on their credit card payments, max out their cards, get even more credit cards to pay off another, and then think, “as long as I’m making the minimum payments, I’m okay.”
However, even if you’ve not quite fallen into bankruptcy, your credit score has taken a sore beating. You may not be able to get a good interest rate on your cards, the interest rates of your mortgage (you may not even be eligible for a mortgage), and even your insurance premiums. There are even some employers who see credit scores as a sign of your responsibility and dependability, and they won’t hire you once they find out that you’re barely skirting above the minimum.
Not knowing your credit score, and not taking active steps to improve it, can be literally an expensive mistake to make.
The first thing you need to know is what makes up your score. Only 10% of the total actually comes from the type of loans you make: credit cards, payday loans, utility bill payments. Thus, if you’ve had no credit history, your credit score is actually very low. That’s why teens or fresh graduates are encouraged to get a gas card or a low-limit card just to build a good score. You can also open bank accounts, or get a store card. Small things such as furniture rentals and car loans are also part of your credit history.
Around 35% percent of your credit score is derived from your payment history. Do you pay on time, or do you skip payments and only make the minimum every time? Any missed payments pull down your score, as well as any liens, bankruptcies, or country court judgments (CCJ’s).
Another factor in your credit score is the total amount you owe. It hurts your credit history when you have several cards and max each one out, on top of other loans such as payday loans or secured loans. Take out a calculator and compute exactly how deep in debt you are, as well as the percentage of that amount you pay off every month. Are you actually whittling down your debt or are you just paying off interest?
It is also important to look at how long you’ve built your credit history. All things being equal, a twenty two year old has less leverage than a thirty two year old who’s proven his ability to have good credit over several years. About 15% of your score is derived from this figure.
Other actors include the number of new loans you have made in the recent past, which is about 10% of your score. This also includes the loans you’ve attempted to make. Yes, mass-application for loans and credit cards (even those that turned you down) can lower your score.
So how bad is your score? You can get your credit report from the major credit agencies. If your score is very low, do contact a credit repair agency or make a personal financial plan that will let you pay off your debts-even if it means taking a weekend job. Your credit history is too important to neglect.
Philip Nicosia is the webmaster of Resources.eu.com an online resource centre covering many topics including credit repair.
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