This Valentine’s Day, a very important part of your life is waiting for a date with you. Light the candles, buy the chocolates and display the roses at the table if you must. After all, you don’t want to disappoint this special date because it’s just you and … your credit report.
Introductions: Credit report, tell me about yourself
If you’re single this holiday, a date with your credit report can be a golden opportunity. After all, this report reveals your credit score. In addition to earning you more favorable loan rates and credit card offers, a high credit score can be an attractive asset to a potential love interest. Yes, financial responsibility can be sexy. So use these tips to ensure that your date goes well, and take notes on how to improve—your credit score—for next time.
1. Always check in
Like with any date, checking in is crucial to make sure there’s no trouble. If you turn a blind eye or ignore red flags, it won’t end well. So when you’re ready, simply go to annualcreditreport.com to receive your report from one of three nationwide credit reporting agencies: TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. Unless you’re taking out a mortgage or some other major loan, request only one report. As mandated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you are allowed a free report from each agency every year, so you don’t want to use up your three free “dates” all at once.
2. Don’t be late!
Now that you’ve assessed what your credit report looks like, you want to improve how you are doing. Approximately 35% of your credit score is payment history, which includes timeliness. Being late leaves a bad impression on real dates, and the same applies to your payments and credit. The big difference being, your report will reflect any tardiness with a lower score. You can correct this by setting up payment reminders for yourself. From scheduling phone alarms to bank email reminders, there are many ways to help you be on time—all the time.
3. Know your limits
Taking risks can be exciting, but being a credit risk is not. The amounts owed on your credit cards (and other loans) constitute another major portion of your credit score. You want to avoid being close to your credit limits, so as to pose of a less risk to overextend. Remember: The maxim to “test your limits” should never apply to credit.
4. Lessen your baggage
We all carry baggage, but financial ones can be remedied. To reduce any lingering balances from month to month, let your credit report help you identify and list all your credit accounts. Then run through recent bank statements for each one to check for current interest rates and outstanding balances. Now that you have a good overview of where you stand, you can plan appropriately to finally be debt-free.
Post-date advice: Take it slow
Hopefully, the date with your credit report goes well, but if any surprises or problems arise, let it serve as a wake-up call to change your financial behavior. Unlike other date partners, this one will not leave you, so it’s best to be honest and come up long-term goals to improve that credit score and make your credit report look even better. The road to change is not the fast lane—it’s the gradual process of being on time for bills, staying well within credit limits and lessening any outstanding balances. If you learn to treat your date well—especially if it’s your credit report—you might be surprised by how well they’ll treat you back.
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