Now that the holidays have passed, it’s a great time to pay some attention on your credit. 

If you haven’t pulled your credit in some time, don’t know the importance of your credit score or what factors affect your credit, March is National Credit Education month and a good reminder to take a closer look!

Credit is basically an indication of financial trustworthiness.  Having “good” credit means your history of payments, employment, and salary, among other things, make you a good candidate for a loan. Having “bad” credit or no credit at all are both detrimental, but with attention and habit changes, can be fixed.  The key is to know the right steps to get back on track. 

Here are some tips to help improve your credit score:

  • Pay your bills on time – staying current with payments will show that you can be counted on to repay your debts.
  • Keep debt to a minimum – understand your credit utilization ratio, which is the amount of debt you carry compared to your available credit.  Lenders like to see that you aren’t maxing out your credit.
  • Once you start on the right track, keep going! – The longer you maintain a good credit rating, the better.  Accounts that have been in good standing for a long time are good for your credit score.
  • Open new credit accounts only as needed – Applying for credit cards is a “hard inquiry” on your credit report, and having too many hard inquiries can have an impact on your credit rating for several years.
  • Establish credit, even if it’s just a gas card! – Even if you don’t need credit right now, establishing a history of payments may help you down the line when you need to make a major purchase, such as a car or a house. Secured credit cards are a great way to establish or rebuild credit.
  • Check your credit reports – make sure to check your reports from all three nationwide credit bureaus (Experian, Transunion, Equifax) at least once a year to ensure that your information and credit history is accurate.

Did you know that one in five Americans find errors on their credit reports? Small errors now may mean big problems down the line.  Checking your credit report regularly will help to find those errors and enable you to resolve them. Plus, it is especially helpful to determine if you’ve become the unknowing victim of identity theft. You are entitled to one free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each of the three nationwide reporting companies. It’s easy to remember to do this if you make March of each year your designated month to check your credit.

Credit can be an especially complex topic to understand the ins-and-outs of, but there is no shortage of resources that can help navigate the maze.  Your bank, financial experts, and many reputable websites are available to help unravel the mystery that is credit.  If you are interested in more helpful information about building and maintaining credit, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s website is a good resource.

First Bank offers a variety of credit cards for consumers and businesses.  If you’re looking to build your credit or add a credit card to your wallet, visit our credit card information pages here: