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Exploring the Top 12 Credit Questions

Top Credit Questions

Whether you’re looking to build credit or improve your credit score, it’s crucial to understand how credit works and what affects it. Let’s delve into the top 12 credit questions and demystify the world of credit reports and scores. 

1. What Is a Credit Report?

Your credit report is a statement detailing your complete credit history of current and past credit accounts. This includes your loan payment history and credit account status. Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian are the three major credit bureaus responsible for collecting and storing this data.

2. What’s Inside a Credit Report?

Credit reports contain your personal information, such as your name, past names, current and former addresses, date of birth, phone numbers, and social security number. Credit reports also contain your credit account history such as balances, credit limits, payment records, and public records such as bankruptcies, foreclosures, civil suits, and judgments. The frequency of updates of information to the credit bureaus depends on how often your creditors submit updates of the latest information.

3. What Is a Credit Score?

A credit score, typically ranging from 300 to 850, assesses the likelihood of repayment based on past account management. A higher score indicates lower risk for creditors. Your credit history forms the basis for this score calculation. It is possible to have a score of 0 if you have never had credit or an open or active credit account for an extended period.

4. Credit Report vs. Credit Score: What’s the Difference?

Your credit report is the statement that has information about your past and current credit history. Your credit score is then calculated based on the information in your credit report. Think of your credit report as your homework and your credit score as the grade. The report contains the details, while the score is calculated using a mathematical formula based on that information.

5. Can I Have Multiple Credit Scores?

Yes, variations are common due to different scoring models and the source data used by each model. Lenders may also report to different credit bureaus, leading to disparities in scores.

6. What Impacts Your Credit Score and How Is It Calculated?

A credit score is calculated using a mathematical formula, or scoring model, but generally speaking, your credit score is influenced by five main factors: payment history, total amounts owed (including your utilization of revolving credit), the length of your credit history, new credit and inquiries, and your credit mix, which refers to the various types of credit accounts you possess.

7. How Can I Get My Credit Report?

Visit, where you’re entitled to a free copy from each of the three credit bureaus annually. Remember, this provides your report, not your score. You can request all three of them at once or stagger them throughout the year.

8. How Can I Check My Credit Score Without Impacting It?

Many financial institutions provide credit score monitoring as a perk, and there are also dedicated websites offering it as a service. In either scenario, it’s crucial to be mindful of potential fees and to take note of which scoring model and credit bureau used by the monitoring service.  

Service Credit Union offers credit score monitoring via My FICO Score, which is calculated using the FICO Score 10 model and Experian data.

9. What If I Find Errors on My Credit Report?

Dispute inaccuracies by first contacting the creditor or collection agency. If unresolved, file a dispute with the credit bureaus, providing supporting documents. If you are still unsatisfied with the outcome of the dispute, you can file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. 

File a dispute: 

File a complaint:

10. Why Is Credit Important?

Good credit opens doors, impacting lending decisions, loan terms, rental opportunities, and job prospects. Poor credit can limit your options and affect your ability to secure a home or job. 

Understanding these credit fundamentals empowers you to make informed financial decisions and build a secure future.

11. How Can I Improve My Credit?

Improving your credit is a gradual process. A good place to start is with consistent, timely payments on your existing loans. If you’ve missed payments in the past, commit to staying current moving forward. Consider setting up autopay or reminders to ensure on-time payments. Keeping balances low is also key. If balances are high, work on paying them down. For revolving credit lines such as credit cards, aim to use no more than 30% of your revolving credit. Try to avoid taking out new loans or making unnecessary inquiries, as these can impact your credit score. Regularly check your credit report on for collection items or errors. If you find any, file a dispute to get them resolved promptly. For collection items or past-due amounts, prioritize resolving and paying them off as soon as possible.

12. How Can I Build Credit?

If you’re new to credit, getting a secured credit card can be a great starting point. It requires an initial deposit, and you use and pay it off like a traditional credit card. Another option is becoming an authorized user on someone else’s credit card. Alternatively, adding a co-signer or co-borrower to a loan can help if you lack sufficient credit history for approval. Each option has pros and cons, so research thoroughly to determine the best fit for you. Take special care and consideration to any instance where you’re involved in someone else’s credit account or adding someone to yours. In these cases, a clear understanding of responsibilities and trust is essential to uphold all necessary payments.