Good vs. bad credit: Why is this important?
By Ben Woolsey
Credit, especially good credit, is very important. It affects almost every major buying decision. Good credit can help us get a good rate on a credit card, car loan or home mortgage. It can also help us when it comes time to sign an apartment lease agreement or maybe even get a new job. But how do you get good credit?
- Getting good credit - To get good credit, you have to have credit. Good credit ratings are gained when you borrow money and pay it back on time and for the full amount. Let's say you have a credit card from a gas station that you use only for gas because you don't carry a lot of cash around. Each time you go to the station, you use your card to fill up your car. In so doing, you are promising to pay the credit card company back when you get its statement. When the statement arrives, you pay off the amount owed on time. The gas company that issued your card then reports to a credit bureau that you have paid on time and for the right amount. The more good reports that go to the credit bureau, the better your credit.
- Benefits of good credit - Having a good credit report enables you to borrow more money at better interest rates. Why? Because the banks know that based on your credit history you are a responsible person. Many potential employers also look at credit reports as a way to judge a person’s responsibility. Hence, your good credit may even help you land a new job.
There is nothing good about bad credit. It is the exact opposite of good credit. While good credit helps you qualify for car and home mortgage loans, bad credit could keep you from being able to buy these large-dollar items. It will also keep you from qualifying for credit cards and may possibly hinder your ability to rent a house or apartment.
- Getting bad credit - It is very easy to get bad credit. Bad credit ratings happen when a person does not pay back money borrowed on time or when that person simply doesn’t pay it back at all. There are varying degrees of bad credit. A person is not automatically given a bad credit rating if he misses a payment or is late a time or two. However, if a person is continually late or he does not make a payment for several months, his credit rating will be affected and could possible hurt him in the future.
- Fixing bad credit - Credit ratings, even bad ones, can be improved and fixed. Depending on the situation, with responsible credit usage and prompt payments, bad credit can turn into good credit over time. The first step is to understand what your credit rating is by pulling your credit report. Credit reports are available through one of the three major U.S. credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Because of a change of law in 2005, each of the credit bureaus must provide you with a free credit report once a year, through www.annualcreditreport.com.
Understanding your credit report will help you determine if there are errors. It will also make you aware of what steps you need to take to improve your credit.
Published: August 20, 2005