When establishing financial fitness goals, the Independent Community Bankers of America and Marine Bank want to remind customers: it’s easier to build a credit score than to repair a bad one.
ICBA and Marine Bank offer the following tips to help build and maintain good credit.
- If you are just beginning to establish your credit history, open a checking account and keep careful track of your balance.
- Use debit and credit cards for convenience and safety, but not to overspend. Missed or late payments damage your credit and hurt your credit score.
- A good mix of credit (i.e., a revolving credit line and an installment loan) also boosts your credit score and further demonstrates that you can manage different types of credit.
- Demonstrate stability in the three to six months before a major purchase. Avoid opening or closing accounts or moving large amounts of money around.
- Build an emergency fund equal to at least six months of living expenses. If the unexpected happens, you will still be able to pay fixed expenses instead of falling behind.
- Alter your credit focus as you approach lifecycle stages. As you near retirement, for example, start paying down major purchases (such as a mortgage).
- Monitor your credit regularly so you can correct any errors and detect any potential signs of identity theft. Order a copy of your credit report annually from annualcreditreport.com.
The Independent Community Bankers of America®, the nation’s voice for more than 5,700 community banks of all sizes and charter types, is dedicated exclusively to representing the interests of the community banking industry and its membership through effective advocacy, best-in-class education and high-quality products and services. For more information, visit ICBA’s website at www.icba.org.