The Best Credit Strategy for Your Family

Credit Cards Woman doing homework and using a laptop with her son. She is taking notes with a red pen while the boy is looking at laptop screen

When it comes to doing the best for your family, your credit score is unlikely to spring straight to your mind. Although it doesn’t sound the most important or exciting thing, it’s pretty important. Especially if you are looking to buy a house or a new car any time soon! 

Why Credit Scores Are Important

As mentioned, you may not even realize how important credit scores are until you need to use them!

The last thing that you want to happen is to go to apply for something that you need good credit for and find that your credit score is poor. Lenders use your credit score to determine whether or not they should lend any money to you. They want to know that if they give you some money that you will pay them back – and on time. The best way for them to do this is to look at your past history with credit companies to see how you have been in terms of paying it back. This is what they get from your credit score.

Housing

If you are looking to move house, this is a biggie. When you are either buying or renting, you will need to impress your mortgage lender or landlord. In terms of your mortgage lender, they are going to want to know for sure (or as sure as they can be) that you are going to pay back the mortgage that they are loaning you. If you are renting, your landlord is going to want to know for sure if you are going to be able to pay them their rent each month. When you apply for a house to buy or rent, your credit score is an important factor. Chances are that you don’t want to lose your dream home because of a low credit score!

Loans

Do you need to take out a loan? Similar to the housing situation, the lender is going to look at whether you are going to be able to pay them back, which involves looking at your credit score. This could be a loan for something like a new car,  a pretty normal expense these days (not that we are recommending them!). You could also seek a loan for something like a wedding. Whenever you are getting a loan, it’s usually because you don’t have the money there and then to pay for what you need.

How to Evaluate Your Credit Score?

If you want to evaluate your credit score, there are several ways to see your score including in the Turbo app as well as other sites that show your credit report. Your credit score is determined by formulas that look at your creditworthiness. In addition to seeing your credit score, look for the breakdown of why it is that score, and what you can do to improve it.

How Many Credit Cards Should You Have?

There is no ‘perfect’ amount of credit cards that you have. It’s not quantity, but quality. The number of credit cards that a person has doesn’t affect their credit score as much as other factors. The most important factor is how well you are managing your credit account. You need to make sure that you are paying your bills on time and are keeping your balance to credit ratio low. When it comes to types of credit cards, there are many different types that are available to you. It’s good practice to look into which ones would work best for you.

There are some credit cards out there that allow you to earn cashback when you are using the card. Cashback cards are great because you can get rewarded for the spending that you are going to be doing anyway!

Travel

Have you heard about travel hacking? This is a popular method of getting free travel e.g. flights, hotels, through credit card rewards. Yep, you can get yourself some free trips just from spending your money as you usually would! There are some credit cards that point a point scheme for every dollar that you spend. Travel rewards cards reward your spending with what they call ‘miles’. You can use this towards your airline tickets.

Credit Building

The problem is if you want to get a loan, you need to show that you have good credit. But if you’ve never taken out credit before, you won’t have anything on your credit report. Lenders want to see that you are capable of paying back the money that you owe so that they can trust you’ll pay back the loan you take out as well. If you’ve never had any form of credit before, they won’t know if you are a good person to lend to or not.

When Should My Children Start Building Credit?

To get a credit card you have to be over the age of 18 (and that’s only with some companies). However, if your child wants to start building credit before that then you can add them as an authorized user on your credit card. The most effective way for this to work is for the main account holder to be someone who has good credit and will make all of the payments on time. If your child is added as an authorized user on your card, they won’t actually receive their own card. This is perfect if you want to keep them away from the temptation to go and spend it all! The bottom line is that the sooner you are able to start building credit, the better. When your credit score is being calculated, 50% of that comes from how long you’ve had credit for and if it’s been paid off on time. Therefore, the benefits of adding your children to your credit cards as authorized users are huge!

Most families are looking to get a mortgage or credit in other forms at some point e.g. car loans. If this sounds like you, it makes sense to make sure that your credit is as good as it can possibly be. When you have connected finances with a partner, they will be linked to your credit report with you. It’s important that you all are paying your debt off on time, and don’t take out too much credit.

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