“Don’t get a credit card, it will just ruin your life.”
I’ve heard that line, or something like it, since I was a teenager. I never was interested in credit cards, probably because of the scary stories I’d heard about them.
It’s probably that way for a lot of people. Either that, or they love the idea of spending money that they don’t even have (yet!) and just rack up so much debt they can literally feel it crushing down on them in later years. (And by literally, I mean figuratively).
I never really had a great understanding of it, but I’m learning a lot more about it these days. Mostly because it’s needed for just about anything you do.
Trying to get an apartment? Gotta pass a credit check (even if you offer to pay the entire lease upfront, in cash).
It’s ridiculous. But it’s how the system works, and when/if you can accept that, then you can start to understand their rules and play by them. Fortunately it’s not too difficult.
This is the American system anyway. I have no idea how it works in other countries.
How to Manage Your Credit Score
1. If you’ve never done this, go to MyFICO.com and purchase the 3-score report. This will pull your credit score info from the 3 major Credit Reporting Bureaus, which are TransUnion, Equifax and Experian.
Go to “reports -> printable” and save the report in PDF format on your computer or the cloud somewhere. Basically, you want to be able to access this months later if needed, and MyFICO doesn’t allow you to access it after one month. What a ridiculous shenanigan.
This will basically tell you everything about your credit history and how to fix and improve your credit score. Read over it thoroughly, because getting your credit in order is time well spent.
2. If you don’t currently have any credit, you: a) won’t be able to get a report from MyFICO, and b) need to work on building a credit score. One way to build a credit score is to get a secured credit card. Which basically means, you’re extending credit to yourself, but choosing to include a bank so that you can build a credit score. I recommend the US Bank Harley Davidson Visa card as a form of building credit if you have none. Just Google it and get started. It will require a minimum of $300 deposit. You can get this back when you cancel your account, and after you’ve built a credit score and opened up a normal (not-secured) credit card.
3. I would recommend ordering a single MyFICO credit report every 6 months, just to make sure you’re on the right track and not doing anything stupid to destroy your credit.