Think of the last time you bought a cell phone. In today’s technology climate, it probably wasn’t long ago. Before they handed you that shiny new device, chances are they ran a check on your credit history before the sale was approved.
This is just one example of how credit plays an important role in everyday life. But how do you learn how to manage credit?
At a young age, I learned from my mom when I should borrow and when I shouldn’t. I also learned about the consequences when I couldn’t pay bills on time. These include 10 simple tips to manage credit and get smarter about credit management no matter what stage of life you’re in.
Here are 10 things you can do to manage credit:
1. Monitor your credit regularly
Make sure you stay on top of your credit history and check all three credit bureaus annually.
2. Know your credit limits
Avoid being close to or maxing out your credit limits, which may negatively affect your credit score.
3. Know that good scores equal good rates
Remember: Better credit scores may get you better credit interest rates.
4. Don’t make late payments
Pay on time. The first missed payment has the largest impact on a credit score, so don’t miss payments. If you are late, don’t be 30 days late, and if you have difficulty, call your lender.
5. Know your debt-to-income ratio
Since lenders look at the amount of debt you have compared to your monthly income, try to keep your debt-to-income ratio under 35 percent.
6. Start with a college or secured credit card
If you need to establish credit, consider a secured credit card or a college credit card, which may be a good way to start.
7. Pay down highest interest rates first
When trying to pay down your debt, pay down your debt with the highest interest rate first.
8. Live within your means
Set a budget and live within your means to avoid using credit and overextending yourself financially.
9. Pay more than the minimum
As much as you can, pay more than the minimum due on your credit card, which helps you pay down debt faster and can improve your credit score.
10. Set up account and autopay alerts
Set up email and text alerts, as well as autopay, to help ensure that you pay your bills on time and help build a positive credit history.
For more information about ways to establish or improve credit – or better manage debt – visit Wells Fargo’s Smarter Credit™ Center.
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