Managing Your Credit Rating or Credit Score

Do you know what your credit score is? Have you ever seen a copy of your credit report? Your credit score is a very important number and can be a deciding factor when you are approaching the bank for a loan or even for a checking account. It is important to be familiar with your credit rating.

There are unscrupulous lenders out there who will try to take advantage of Army families. They will exaggerate your credit rating or charge you enormous amounts of interest due to your credit history. By knowing about your credit score, you can be prepared for these scams and know how to spot it.

Paying bills on time can sometimes be difficult for the Army family. More times than not, this responsibility falls to the Army wife since the husband is gone so much. It is important than you know about all of the bills – amounts, due dates, who they’re payable to, etc. regardless of who pays the bills. Another downside to paying bills in the Army family is the constant moving from base to base. It can sometimes be difficult to keep up with final bills, etc. when a move is happening. But even one missed or late payment can have an adverse effect on your credit rating.

Three credit reporting agencies

There are three credit companies – Experian, Trans Union and Equifax. Most lenders use one company. All three companies should have the same information on you but this is not always the case. That’s why it is very important to check with all three companies.

Request a free report once a year

Each credit reporting agency will give you a free copy of your credit report once a year. Take advantage of this and call for your report. You will need to check it for any discrepancies. If you find mistakes, call them immediately to get the ball rolling in getting them corrected. It can take a considerable amount of time but it is well worth the effort.

Keep your report clean

Your report lists everyone you have an account with, the amount of your payment and if you have made late payments or missed payments. Always make your payments on time! It is much harder to improve your credit rating than it is to keep an excellent one. If your credit is less than perfect, make a commitment now to begin paying bills on time. Once you have 12 months of consistent on-time payments, many lenders will cut you some slack.

It’s there for 7-10 years

Once an item appears on your credit report, it is there for seven to ten years. For instance, if you file for bankruptcy, it will show on your credit report for this amount of time. So each time you go to buy a new car, rent an apartment, buy a house, turn on your electricity, open a bank account, open a new credit card, etc. the business will see that you have filed for bankruptcy. This can hurt your chances of being approved and at the very least you will most likely pay a much higher rate. Think long and hard before you take an action that will show on your credit report.

In a nutshell….

Protect your credit rating – pay on time!

Request a copy of your report once a year.

Clean up mistakes ASAP!

author avatar
Stacey Abler
Stacey's husband joined the Army in 2003 and was medically retired after four deployments. She enjoys sharing her experiences and expertise around Army life while continuing to support Army spouses and families in their military journey.

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