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What is a Credit Report?

If you want to have a better chance of buying what you want and need on credit, and getting loans for bigger purchases, you need to know about credit reports. What’s in them, how that information got there, and how you can make sure your credit score stays high are all things to consider. Don’t let anyone tell you that credit reports aren’t important, because they contain information about your credit history, both good and bad. Most credit reports provide information for the last 10 years, and that’s a long way to go back.

Keeping Your Credit Report Safe

When it comes to taking care of your credit report, there are companies that can help you, or you can do it yourself. Either way, you need to keep your personal information to yourself, only give it out when absolutely necessary, and check your credit report at least once a year to make sure there aren’t any mistakes on it. If you see a mistake, contact the credit bureau you got the report from and have them investigate. If they can’t verify that the account or information is yours, they have to remove it.

Raising Your Credit Score

Another thing cleaning up your credit report does is raise your actual credit score. That’s the FICO score that is used to determine your creditworthiness. It not only helps a lender determine whether you’ll pay back money you want to borrow, but it can also help a lender decide what interest rate to charge you. The higher the FICO score, the lower the interest rate, all other factors being equal. To raise your credit score, do the following:

  • Check your credit reports and get mistakes corrected.
  • Pay your bills on time, every time.
  • Don’t max out your credit cards – keep what you owe on them 30% or less of what you’re allowed to borrow.
  • Have a good mix of credit – mortgage, credit cards, car loans, etc.
  • Don’t close accounts for credit cards, because that can actually hurt your score.

‘Free’ Credit Report Companies

Getting your free credit report can be done without signing up for any kind of credit monitoring service. If you go to many of the Websites offering free credit reports, though, you’ll find that the reports are only free if you sign up for a monitoring service that can cost quite a bit in some cases. You don’t need to do that.

You can go through the government’s Website and truly get your credit report from all three bureaus free, once each year. Make sure you do that, because something might show up on there that could be harmful to you. If you don’t know about it, you can’t get it corrected or removed from your report. Having credit is a big responsibility, and the more seriously you take it the better chances you’ll have of keeping your credit report looking great. That will help ensure you can borrow when you need to – and get great interest rates, as well.

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