What is a credit rating?
It measures the ability of a borrower to repay money. A high rating means that there is a lower risk of the borrower defaulting (being unable to make the required payments) on his or her debt and is therefore good while a low rating means the opposite – there is a higher risk of defaulting.
How is the rating expressed?
For individuals, the rating is usually expressed as a range of numbers – this is called a score. A score is derived from a person’s history maintained by reporting agencies such as Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
For businesses and the government, ratings are expressed as letters. Since different agencies can assign ratings, there is not a set range. For example, Standard & Poor’s (S&P) rating ranges from AAA (great) to C (poor). On the other hand, Moody’s rating ranges from Aaa to D.
Why is your rating important?
Your rating can affect everything from approval for a loan to the amount of interest charged. It’s important to make sure that your rating is the best that it can be.
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|Helps Your Credit Rating||Hurts Your Credit Rating|
|Paying bills on time||Missing or late payments|
|Making monthly payments in full||Not making the minimum monthly payments|
|Checking your credit report and score for accuracy||Applying for numerous credit cards|
|Keeping account balance below 30% of limit||Exceeding account limits|
|Taking out a loan for a major purchase||Defaulting on a loan|
|Ask for a credit increase||Closing older credit card accounts|
|Consolidating all credit card debt under a personal installment loan||Having an account sent to collections|
|Asking the collector to erase the account from your credit file when you pay it off||Filing for Bankruptcy|
Tips for building a good credit rating
- Open a bank account. Lenders may want to see evidence of consistent savings.
- Only apply for new credit cards when you need them. Credit scores go down every time you open a new credit card.
- Pay all your bills on time.
- Keep the balances on your credit cards low.
- Apply for small or incremental loans and repay them on time.
- Consider asking for a cosigner with an established credit history to get lower rates on large loans.
- Secure a steady job. Lenders may ask for employment information.
- Be vigilant about payments. Careless mistakes can affect your score for a long time.