6 Essential Credit FAQs Answered - Genisys® Credit Union

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6 Essential Credit FAQs Answered

on 3/27/2024

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Building and maintaining an excellent credit score should be a top financial priority for every adult. Your credit score plays a significant role in how much interest you pay on loans, whether you’ll be approved for financing, and it can even impact whether you can rent an apartment or land specific jobs.

However, the world of credit reports and scores can be a bit confusing – and overwhelming. Not to worry. We’re here to help answer some of the more common questions about credit to ensure you’re on the right path to locking in an exceptional score.

#1: What is a Credit Score?   

Your credit score is a metric used by lenders to indicate your creditworthiness. This three-digit number reflects the likelihood that you will repay your financial obligations responsibly. Credit scores typically range between 300 and 850. 

A lower score indicates you’ve had some financial hiccups in your past and might be a risk to lenders. A higher score demonstrates that you can handle credit responsibly and repay your debts on time – traits that improve your likelihood of being approved for future loans or credit. 

#2: What is a Credit Report?   

While most people focus on their credit score, your credit report is just as important. Your credit report is a detailed summary of your entire credit history, including current and past credit cards and loans, account status, repayment history, and any negative marks. 

Lenders review your credit report to better understand your habits regarding repaying loans and managing credit. They can also see outstanding balances to determine if you’re financially able to take on more debt.

You can obtain a free copy of your credit report at www.AnnualCreditReport.com. It’s wise to review your report periodically to ensure there are no errors or fraud present.

#3: How is My Credit Score Determined?  

Your credit score is calculated based on a formula developed by credit reporting agencies. Two of the most popular methods are the FICO® Score and VantageScore. While each calculation varies slightly, they have similar characteristics. For example, FICO® Scores are based on five main categories: 

Payment History (35%): Whether you pay your accounts consistently and on time. 

Credit Utilization (30%): The amount you owe compared to your total credit limit. 

Length of Credit History (15%): The length of time you’ve been a credit user. 

Credit Mix (10%): The types of credit accounts you have (e.g., credit cards, auto loans, mortgages). 

New Credit (10%): If you’ve recently opened any new credit accounts. 

#4: What is a Good Credit Score?   

Most credit scoring models range from 300 to 850, with scores ranked as poor, fair, good, very good, and excellent, depending on where they fall on the scale. A good score typically falls between the high 600s and the low 700s. A score in the mid-to-high 700s is considered very good, and anything exceeding 800 is considered excellent.

If your score is in the mid-600s or below, you should work on improving your credit before applying for a new loan or credit card. 

#5: How Do I Start Building Credit?   

If you're new to credit, knowing where to begin can be a bit overwhelming. It's important to understand that not all credit products are created equal, and you don't want to start with something too difficult to manage. 

There are credit products designed specifically for those just beginning their credit journey. These options can help you start building a positive credit history without much risk of mistakes or negative marks on your credit report.

A Credit Builder Loan is just what it sounds like – a loan designed to help those with little or no credit history build their credit. These loans can vary in format by institution but operate similarly. The lender secures or holds a set amount of your money for a term, usually between six and twelve months. Then, with each monthly payment you make, those funds are released to you. The lender reports every on-time payment to the credit bureaus, helping you to build your credit score. 

A Secured Credit Card is another excellent option to help you build credit. It functions like a traditional credit card; however, you put a deposit down with the lender – for example, $500. Then, you use the card as normal. If you cannot repay your balance, the lender uses your deposit to secure the balance up to the credit the limit. In the event you fail to make payments, the lender may decide to liquidate all or some of those funds to pay down the account. Keep in mind, it is still the responsibility of the borrower to make on time payments.

Become an authorized user on someone else’s credit card with good credit. You can use their credit card in your name, but they are still the primary account holder responsible for making payments. While this measure won’t have the same impact as building up your own credit history, it can still be a beneficial tactic to help boost your credit when you are just starting on the path to building your score. This method is common with parents and young adult children. 

#6: How Can I Improve My Credit?   

Improving your credit score requires patience and discipline, but the benefits will be worth it. Here are some essential steps to take to see a positive change in your credit:

Pay on time: Making consistent, on-time payments is the best place to start on your journey to better credit. Set up automatic payments to ensure you never miss a due date or encounter any late fees. 

Keep your balances low: Low overall credit utilization is key. Financial experts recommend keeping your credit usage under 30% of your available credit limits. For example, if your credit card has a credit limit of $1,000, you should aim to keep your balance below $300. If your balances are higher, commit to paying them down by creating a manageable repayment plan.  

Review your credit report: Regularly check your report for errors and fraud - and dispute them immediately if you see any. Removing incorrect information from your report can significantly increase your credit. 

An exceptional credit score can unlock a slew of financial perks. Knowing you’ll be approved for a loan, when necessary, provides peace of mind, and an excellent score can significantly reduce the amount of interest you pay. While building or improving your score takes time, it’s well worth the investment.

If you want to learn more, check out our webinar: Credit Report and Scores: Frequently Asked Questions or if you’re interested in learning more about a credit builder loan or how a secured credit card can improve your score, we’re here to help. Please stop by any of our convenient branch locations or call 248-322-9800 extension 5 to speak with a team member today. 


© Genisys Credit Union and www.genisyscu.org, 2024. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.  Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Genisys Credit Union and www.genisyscu.org with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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