National Get Smart About Credit Day is Oct. 20
While the month of October may conjure images of little boos and ghouls trick-or-treating from door to door, here at the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance’s Securities Division, we’re conjuring several tips and tricks to improve your credit score in celebration of National Get Smart About Credit Day!
Tips to improve your credit score
- Check your credit score.
It is important to know your credit score for a variety of reasons. One of the benefits of a high credit score rating is being able to borrow money at a lower interest rate. It’s also just as important to review your information for any inaccuracies so they can be immediately disputed and/or corrected.
- Pay bills on time.
Past performance is a predictor of future performance so pay all bills off timely – rent, utilities, loans, and credit cards. If you have a bad habit of forgetting to pay bills in a timely fashion, consider setting up payment reminders in your favorite calendar system or enroll in auto-pay with your qualifying accounts to ensure you never miss a future payment.
- Keep debt to a minimum.
Understand your credit utilization ratio which is the amount of debt you carry (total amount of credit balances) compared to your combined credit limits; lenders like to see a credit utilization ratio of less than 30%.
- Stay focused.
The longer you can maintain a good credit rating, the better. Accounts that have been in good standing for a long time add to your credit score.
- Open new credit accounts only as needed.
Applying for credit results in a “hard inquiry” on your credit report which has a negative on your overall credit rating that can last for up to two years.
Why is credit education so important?
- It shows you how you measure up.
Credit scores can be confusing. The best way to understand your credit score is to see how your credit score compares on the spectrum. For instance, the national average personal credit score in the United States is 695. Determining whether your score is above or below might help you to decide how you want to manage your credit in the future.
- It teaches you how to build credit.
There are many different tactics you can use to build your credit and many institutions have starter programs for young adults and students who want to build their credit. This can include credit cards with a very small balance resulting in low payments or small personal loans. Talk to your credit union or financial institution on how you can start to build your credit today or visit aba.com to learn if your institution is participating in any of the National Get Smart About Credit community programs!
- It helps you improve your credit rating.
Your credit score can have a huge impact on your financial life. Good credit is essential for getting manageable interest rates on cars, credit cards, mortgages, and many other financial investments. Knowing how to improve your credit score will prove to be imperative, as a bad score can inhibit you from making many major financial decisions.
Questions about investments, investor education, or resources? Contact the Securities Division at tn.gov/securities or 800-863-9117.
Rachel Carden serves as the Director of Investor Education for the Securities Division of the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance.