Your Credit Report and Score
There can be a lot of uncertainty when it comes to understanding your debt and your credit. What’s the difference between a credit score and a credit report? Is one more important than the other?
Things you should know:
- Your payment history: A record of whether you pay your bills on time or are frequently late.
- Your debt-to-credit ratio: The number of debts you have and where you are at in repaying them.
- Your length of credit history: The longer your credit history is, the better.
- The type of credit you have: Whether you’re paying in installments or revolving payments, like a credit card.
- The amount of credit inquiries you have: Credit inquiries occur when you are seeking new credit (e.g. buying a new car or house, or opening a new credit card account).
Your credit report
While your credit score is one number that represents your different credit and debts, the credit report will tell you what activities you took part in that led to the credit score. Think of your credit score as your weight (a number that represents your health) and your credit report as your actual health.
If you have a bad credit score, the reasons why will be in your report. You’ll be able to see a detailed listing of your debts over your entire lifetime, and can determine areas for improvement. Use your report to determine what steps you need to make toward better financial health.
Improve your credit score
- Pay your bills consistently and on time.
- If you must use credit cards, always try to keep the balance low. A good rule of thumb is to keep them below 35% of their limit.
- Don’t close your credit card accounts. If you don’t use them, simply pay the balance off in full and then leave the account alone.
- Check your credit report frequently.
Credit check! It’s good practice to check your credit report at least once a year—it helps fight identity theft and ensures that your debts are tallied correctly. You can get a free credit report online at AnnualCreditReport.com.