I’ve been dealing with people’s credit my whole life. I helped people with car loans first, then dealt with mobile home repossessions for banks, owned a mortgage banking firm underwriting and servicing home loans, and did credit counseling for individuals in trouble for the Veterans Administration. Credit has been my life and I get great satisfaction helping people achieve their credit goals.
But just this last week I got a huge awakening to the younger generations feelings and fears around credit. I sat with three 20-somethings that work for Internet Brands (owners of Flyertalk) and we talked about their credit and applying for credit cards.
These youngsters were paralyzed with fear regarding their credit. The fear was so great that I had a hard time convincing one of them to even check her credit score. The whole experience led me to believe that I’ve done a less than stellar job convincing people that this is a game they can, and in many cases, should actually play. Let me try again to dispel some of the misstatements and facts regarding applying for credit cards.
1. Checking your credit score will not impact that score. I recommend CreditSesame as it is quick, easy, free and gives you a starting point to determine where you actually stand in the eyes of potential creditors. To alleviate the fear, YOU are the one ultimately that controls your credit file… YOU determine what things you are willing to try, how many applications you may make if any, and if this game is even something you should consider.
The starting point is knowing your credit score. Free, quick, easy, and painless. If nothing more comes of this post than you at least check your credit score, we both have made great strides in personal responsibility. Everybody should know their credit score. It can open up a world of possibilities for you from owning a home, buying a car, getting a student loan, or travelling the world for free. Fear of the unknown actually prevented one of my California friends from checking the score. She was afraid of knowing.
Keep in mind, you have THREE credit scores. The score CreditSesame provides is a representation of your score from Experian. Don’t forget about Equifax or TransUnion. While in most cases you’ll likely see similar scores across all three bureaus, they’re not identical but will be similar for most of us.
2. If you are a responsible individual, creditors want you to take advantage of their services. There are few of us that can pay cash for a car, a home, college education, or extensive travel. If we want these things in life, we need to step into the world of credit. Many are afraid because it is an unknown, unfamiliar area. I will help you through it and help you make the correct moves. I am a fiscal conservative, own my home free and clear, autos as well and live a frugal life other than free travel.
That is who I am, and how I help those that ask. If you are afraid I’ll tell you the game is not for you, I’m telling you for your own good. It is not a death sentence just a wake up call. People can improve their credit scores and credit files by making the right moves and intelligent credit decisions.
Your next step after getting your credit score is getting a copy of your credit report. It is free, easy and mandated by the government that you have access to your credit report free at least once per year. Go to AnnualCreditReport.com and follow the prompts. You are entitled to see how creditors look at your credit history and should do the personally responsible thing and check that report for accuracy Credit reports have errors; the numbers are anywhere from 10% to 80% … I think we’re somewhere in middle. Make sure you review your report for accuracy. It could mean the difference between getting a car loan, student loan, or dream come true trip.
Now, armed with these two free essential pieces of information that all of us should have, we can map out a strategy to help you improve your score if need be, or take advantage of the free travel options out there just waiting for you. The cost is free, the time involved in minimal and there really is no logical reason to not arm yourself with information that others already have about your credit. You are not alone.
“You have nothing to fear but fear itself” -FDR
Deal of the Day
For today’s Deal of the Day American Airlines AAdvantage® has provided 2500 AAdvantage® miles for the best deals, fares, promotions, anything related to American Airlines, their oneworld partners or AAdvantage® partners. Add it to the comments section of this post or this afternoon’s Deal of the Day post (with your first name, last initial, and home airport) to be eligible to win.