March is National Credit Education Month!
March is National Credit Education Month, which means there’s no better time than the present to educate (or re-educate) yourself on your credit score!
One of the key factors in understanding your credit score is also understanding how to read your credit report. Your credit report contains all of the information that's ultimately reflected in your credit score. Reading your report and ensuring the information in it is accurate will help you better manage your credit health. We've broken down the main sections of a credit report for you below.
Here you’ll find a snapshot of the companies that have issued you credit, such as a mortgage or credit cards, and further details such as current balances, payments, and opened and closed accounts.
This section will display identifying information including, Social Security Number, name, birthdate, and previously recorded addresses and phone numbers. These details are noted and updated whenever you apply for credit. It’s important to review this segment to ensure that it’s accurate. Another person’s personal information may indicate that someone else’s credit history is being linked to your report.
When you apply for credit, an inquiry or “hard inquiry” will appear. Every company that has ever requested your report will show up in this section, along with their contact information and the dates of the request. If you notice an unfamiliar inquiry, it’s important to reach out to the lender directly. It’s also vital to know that too many hard inquiries at one time can negatively impact your credit score, so it’s wise to keep these limited.
Credit Cards/Revolving Accounts
Revolving accounts allow you borrow money up to a set limit, pay it off, and borrow it again. One of the most popular revolving accounts are credit cards. In this section, you’ll be able to review the statuses and balances of your active and closed accounts. It’s recommended to review for any missed payments or accounts you don’t recognize.
Installment accounts allow you to borrow a lump sum of money at once and repay in scheduled payments, usually on a monthly basis. One of the most popular types of installment accounts are mortgages and other loans. Here you’ll verify your loan status, term duration, and payments.
This section will list public bankruptcy records or foreclosures. These can have a very negative impact on your credit score and can stay on your credit report for several years. If you're trying to create healthy money habits for yourself, we're here for you! Check out our tips on how to rebuild your credit score.
Learning how to read your credit report will help you better understand your credit score. Both of these things are critical in improving your overall financial wellness.