Your Questions, Answered: What you need to know,
to get you where you want to go
- What's the difference between a credit and a debit card?
- Debit cards immediately deduct the price of a purchase from a bank account. Credit cards let you purchase goods through your card issuer, and then pay back your card issuer at a later date. Credit card data is used in determining a cardholder's credit score, while debit card data is not.
- Why is it so important to use credit responsibly?
- Everyone—from landlords to future employers—wants to see how you look on paper. A good credit history means you could get better rates on loans for things like a car and even an apartment. And that can wind up saving you money.
- How can I fast track my credit score?
- Excellent credit scores can only be built over a period of years, so it pays to start early. Paying all your credit card bills (and all your other bills) on time is the single biggest thing you can do to build a good score. Don't take on more credit than you can afford and avoid maxing out your cards.
- What happens when I miss a payment?
- You may be charged a late payment fee. Your lender may report this to the credit bureaus. This will be visible to anyone who checks your credit record, and may hurt your overall score.
- How often can I check my score?
- There are services like www.annualcreditreport.com where you can check your credit report once per year without charge.
- What's included in my score?
- Information used to calculate your credit score may include: length of credit history, types of credit lines, payment history on those credit lines, amounts owed on those credit lines, and new credit lines — how many and over what period of time.
- Who sees my score?
- During applications for employment, rental accommodation, and all types of credit (car loans, student loans, etc…), you may be asked for permission to conduct a credit search. Whenever you give an organization permission to conduct a credit search on you, they will see your credit history going back several years.
- Why shouldn't I pay only the minimum each month?
- Paying the minimum on time each month will help you avoid late fees and late payments on your record. However, paying off your balance by making only minimum payments can take a very long time and incur a lot of interest. You can see the effect for yourself using this this repayment calculator.
- What can a good credit standing enable me to do?
- A good credit history can positively affect your ability to get a job, rent an apartment, get a cell phone, and even find affordable car insurance.
- What can hurt my score?
- Paying bills late — your card bill, and many other bills — is the largest single factor that can hurt your score. Any bill that is referred to a collections agency can decrease your score by up to 100 points! Another way you can negatively affect your score is by using all of your available credit, or "maxing out" your cards.
- What can I do now to make sure I have a good score in the future?
- The first step to good credit is planning. To help you out, here is some helpful information about budgeting for college, considering renting an apartment, or buying a car.
- Where can I learn more about credit cards and how they influence my score?
- You can watch these videos to learn about credit card basics, some credit warning signs, and credit score factors you may not know.
- How can I get help planning my finances?
- There are plenty of tools out there to help you on your credit journey. Online calculators can help you repay student loans, budget for travel, improve your savings, and even help you find out what college actually costs..
- Heading to College
Renting an Apartment
Buying a Car
- Repaying Student Loans
- Credit Card Basics
Spotting Credit Problems