Credit Score Quiz.  Will you pass?

By Andia Dinesen, AFC ®
Military Saves Coordinator

I had always considered myself fairly well-versed in financial matters, however when I began working toward my certification as a financial counselor two years ago, I really began to realize what I didn’t know.  Credit score and credit history were two areas that, I have to admit, I really didn’t understand.  I suppose I understood the basics.  I knew that if I missed a payment on a loan or had a huge amount of debt that it definitely affected my score; knowing more than that really didn’t seem to matter (at the time).  Then I learned more; and now I wish I knew long ago that it really does matter.  That is, if you like paying thousands of dollars less for a car, a home, and insurance.  Or if you want to have an easier time getting a job, renting an apartment or hooking up your utilities.  That is what I love about www.CreditScoreQuiz.org.  I wish I could go back in time and take the Quiz two years ago and compare my scores.  Today, I rocked it. Okay, to be honest I still missed two questions, which only proves I have more to learn!

In this press release the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) and VantageScore Solutions released a few days ago gives results of the Second Annual Consumer Knowledge of Credit Scores survey.  The survey shows a trend that consumers are overall understanding more about the importance of their credit scores.  The survey contains consumer’s reactions to the same questions asked in the Quiz.  The survey also shows that consumers still have challenges when it comes to how scoring actually works, what adversely affects your score, and the actual “dollar” cost of having a lower score.

Taking the right steps to improving your score can be confusing.  And how do you even check your score?  I can’t even count how many times I have seen those free credit report commercials- that are really NOT free at all.  You can access your credit reports (from all three reporting agencies) once per year for free through this website -- www.annualcreditreport.com -- or by calling 877-322-8228.  Checking your credit reports to make sure they are error-free is an important first step in educating yourself on your own credit history and how to start improving your score, if needed of course.

Another issue that used to trip me up was the ability to understand the difference between a credit score and a credit report.  Your report shows your credit history (up to and at least ten years of information, more if it is positive and your history is that long) and other personal information (check out the quiz to learn what personal information is on your report and more importantly what isn’t!).  Your score is just a number; a very important number, but still just a number.

Luckily, if you are a military member or a spouse, you can also receive your credit score for free.  Which is something that www.annualcreditreport.com does not offer.  Military Saves has teamed up with FINRA Investor Education Foundation (sponsor of Military Saves) to provide a myFICO credit score to servicemembers and spouses who Take the Military Saves Pledge in 2012.  Already taken the pledge?  Then look for the special code in your monthly Military Saves Newsletter.

A couple of other quick tips to remember about raising your credit score.

  • Consistently pay your bills on time every month – this is the biggest component of your score.
  • Do not max out or even come close to maxing out, your credit cards or other revolving credit accounts
  • Pay down debt rather than just moving it around
  • Do not open many new accounts rapidly
  • Don’t close too many accounts quickly, especially if they are your older accounts

Take the Quiz today and let us know how you did -- facebook.com/MilitarySaves

Like this Blog?  Check these out these other Military Saves blogs:
Murphy’s Law and Emergency Savings
Lost? Check your GPS. Need Financial Direction? Set a Goal, Make a Plan, Save Automatically!

Tip of the Day

  • Written by Guest Blogger | May 12, 2014

    When opening an account with a bank or credit union ask about overdraft, ATM & other fees that may be in fine print. http://bit.ly/2IoelBh

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