March is National Credit Education Month which means there is no better time to educate yourself and others on the importance of understanding the ins and outs of your credit score. Did you know that one in five Americans find errors on their credit reports and that more than 90% of home and auto insurers use credit ratings to decide who to cover and what premiums to charge? It’s for these reasons you should actively monitor your credit score as well as educate yourself on how to properly manage it. Let’s get started.
History of National Credit Education Month
There’s a lot to learn about credit during National Credit Education Month. While it’s a complex topic, there are some key concepts you should understand and there is no shortage of resources you can turn to for help this month. Your bank, your employer, financial experts, and the internet can help you learn how to manage, build, and improve your credit score.
As you explore the resources and events available to you this month, keep a few things in mind. Credit is an indication of your financial trustworthiness. Having “good credit” means your history of payments, employment and salary make you a good candidate for a loan, and creditors – those who lend money or services – will be more willing to work with you. While bad credit can follow you for quite a while (as much as seven years), it is fixable. The key is to know the right steps to take to get your credit back on track.
Not every source is credible. Some credit card companies will present themselves as a great deal but upon closer inspection, the fees, interest rates, and other terms are not in your best interest. So, dedicate the necessary time to educate yourself on credit and your current credit situation. It will benefit you in the long run.
National Credit Education Month timeline
Credit Card Act of 2009
Also known as Credit C.A.R.D., the Credit Card Act of 2009 shut down some malicious practices in the credit card industry and also required credit card companies to be more clear in their communications to consumers.
Institution of the Consumer Credit Protection Act
An important governmental regulation was introduced in 1968 that helped protect consumers from unethical credit practices.
Invention of the Term "Credit Rating"
Financial experts invent the concept of "Credit Ratings."
Appearance of the Term "Credit"
In 14th-century London, bankers and financial experts began to utilize the term "credit" to describe loan reliability.
National Credit Education Month FAQs
Where do I get my credit score?
There are three major credit reporting bureaus – Equifax, TransUnion and Experian – and, by law, you are entitled to one free report from each agency per year. You should get one report from each bureau because the information contained in the individual reports may not be consistent and you will want to confirm the accuracy of each.
When is National Credit Education Month?
How much do Americans owe in credit card debt?
The total amount of credit card debt in the United States passed the $1 trillion (with a T!) in 2019. The average American household with a credit card owes $8,398.
HOW TO OBSERVE NATIONAL CREDIT EDUCATION MONTH
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. When you need to purchase a new car, for example, they will check your credit rating to determine the interest rate of your car loan. Even when you believe your credit score to be in order, it can change very quickly so be sure to check it out this month!
Focus on meeting payment deadlines
One of the best ways to maintain or build a good credit rating is to make all your payments on time. If you have a bad habit of forgetting to pay bills timely, set up payment reminders through your personal calendar system. Even better, you can enroll in auto-withdraw with many of your accounts ensuring you never miss a payment.
Teach your children about debt
Yes, debt is a four-letter word but do your children a favor and teach them good overall money habits early. Did you know more young adults aged 20 – 24 declare bankruptcy than graduate from college? Credit cards are the biggest contributor to this. Teach them about saving money, wise spending, and how to build good credit sooner rather than later.
5 Tips To Improve Your Credit Score
Pay bills on time
Past performance is a predictor of future performance so pay all bills off timely – rent, utilities, loans, and credit cards.
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%.
Keep up the good work
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.
Check your credit reports
If you find inaccurate information on any credit report, you can dispute the information to have it corrected.
WHY NATIONAL CREDIT EDUCATION MONTH IS 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
If you are just starting out and are new to the credit game, National Credit Education Month is the perfect time to start building your 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.
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.
National Credit Education Month dates