Pay All of Your Bills on Time, Every Month
This includes your utility bills, mortgage and auto payments, personal loans, insurance, and all of your revolving lines of credit like store credit cards. Check your credit report at least once a year for negative and inaccurate items.
Open a Checking and Savings Account
The first step in establishing good credit is to open a Checking Account. Chase is offering a bonus when you open a new checking account and set up a direct deposit with other qualifying activities..
College Students: Get $100.00 when you open a Chase College Checking Account with qualifying activities
This will enable you to establish your money-managing habits.
Your savings and checking account can also pave the way for a bank-issued credit card or personal loan.
Avoid overdraft fees and bounced check fees.
Not only does this cause you to incur unnecessary bank fees and lose a big chunk of spending money, but it will impact you negatively when you need to apply for a personal loan, auto loan, or mortgage loan with the bank or credit union.
Monitor Your Credit Card Activity
Follow these 5 credit card tips to protect yourself:
- PAY ON TIME. Companies are required to deliver your bill at least 21 days before your payment is due. Plan accordingly.
- STAY BELOW THE LIMIT. You will, however, be given the choice to “opt-in” to over-the-limit transactions.
- TRY TO MAKE MORE THAN THE MINIMUM PAYMENT. Even if it’s $10.00 extra, you will pay less interest in the long run.
- SHOP FOR THE BEST DEAL. Don’t forget to check your local banks or credit unions when you’re looking for a card with the best interest rate.
- INTEREST RATE CHANGES. Read your mail. They may give you 45 days notice on a rate change. But, you won’t know if you don’t open the envelope if it looks like junk mail.
Credit Card Interest Rates and Other Fees
Your credit card company has to tell you when they’re increasing your interest rate on an existing balance unless you’re more than 60 days late with a payment.
Also, they can’t increase your rate for the first 12 months after you open an account, with some exceptions.
Do Not Max Out Your Credit Card
Never charge more than 25-30% of the available balance on any of your credit cards.
If your credit card limit is $500.00, you should not charge more than $150.00, unless it is absolutely necessary.
Banks like to see a nice record of on-time payments, and credit cards that are not maxed-out.
If you are carrying high balances on your credit cards, then make paying them down below 30% a priority.
It is easy to get hit with over-limit fees.
Keep in mind that a credit card account close to its credit limit will cause a big drop in your credit score.
If you have late or missed payments in the past, this will negatively impact your credit history. During financially difficult times, at the very least, make the minimum payments.
Whenever possible, try to make payments above the minimum due amount. This way, you will lessen the amount of interest that you pay. Better yet, do not charge more than you can afford to pay off each month.
Avoid Late Payment Charges and Penalty Fees
Try to avoid late payment charges and penalty rates. Problems occur quickly when you have late fees and higher interest rates to pay, especially during a crisis period.
Setting Up Automatic Bill Payments Can Help
One good method for maintaining good credit is to run only your utility bills on your credit cards each month.
Set up automatic payments to your credit card, and then pay the balance in full before the due date.
This ensures that your utility bills get paid on time automatically.
How Long Does It Take to Pay Off Your Credit Card Balance?
It will say on your bill how long it will take if you only make minimum payments.
Your monthly statement should show how much you would need to pay each month to pay off your balance within a certain period.
Maintaining Good Credit Requires Discipline
As long as you keep the habit of paying off your credit card balance each month, you will develop a positive credit history and your score will continue to go up.
The length of time that each of your accounts has been active is a major factor in your credit history and your credit score.
Keep your aged accounts open as long as possible, even if you are no longer actively charging on the card.
Every few months, make a small purchase at a local store, online, or a gas station, then pay it off in full. Remember that this requires discipline.
Your Credit Reports and Credit Scores
You can obtain your 3 Credit Reports and 3 Credit Scores from the 3 major Credit Bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, Equifax),
Each of the bureaus’ credit report may contain different information (positive and negative items) and different scores.
Need to Re-Build Your Credit or Establish New Credit?
Start with a secured credit card with a $200.00 deposit with CreditBuilderCard.
Keep your balance low and make payments on time to build up a positive credit history.
Following these recommended steps consistently will help you build and maintain a positive credit history, increase your credit score, and allow you to qualify for better loans and lower interest rates.
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Keep up the momentum. Even if you have less-than-perfect credit, maintain a timely payment system and you will develop a positive credit history.
More Credit Card Resources: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
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