Free Resources to Help Improve Your Credit
Establishing and maintaining good credit is an important part of any financial plan, but it can be hard to strike a balance between building credit and building debt. With a steady stream of credit card offers arriving in your mailbox or popping up online, it’s easy to obtain new credit – but how do you build up your credit score without risking too much debt?
If you’re looking for a new credit card, take advantage of the wealth of free online resources to explore your options, understand the fine print and find the right card for you:
OptOutPrescreen.com: First, if you’re tired of the deluge of credit card offers, take advantage of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act, which will help you put a stop to unsolicited credit card mail. Visit the website or call 1-888-5OPTOUT to remove your name from prescreened mailing lists. You will need to provide your name, address, Social Security number and date of birth in order to confirm your identity.
AnnualCreditReport.com: If you’re unsure of your credit score, take advantage of the opportunity to get a free annual credit report from each of the three credit bureaus –Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. But tread lightly here, and be sure to type the URL into your browser window rather than clicking on a free credit report offer from another website. There are many companies that offer a free report, only to hook you with a monthly fee for ongoing credit auditing that you may not want or need.
Credit.com: This website is a one-stop resource for tips, tools and a comprehensive learning center that teaches you how to build and manage your credit. In addition to providing a solid financial foundation, good credit will help you secure better terms on credit cards as well as mortgage, auto and all other types of loans.
ConsumerFinance.gov: The federal Consumer Finance Protection Bureau has created a website to help people make sense of common credit terms. This helpful resource shows you how to avoid penalty rates and fees, spells out the terms of introductory APRs and balance transfer offers, and even maintains a database of credit card complaints.
CreditCards.com: The site allows you to search and compare credit cards to find the best card for your personal financial situation. You can find cards with low interest rates, balance transfer offers, travel rewards and numerous other perks.
ResponsibleLending.org: Tips, articles and a credit card repayment calculator spell out the hidden costs of credit cards and empower consumers with the information they need to build good credit and avoid deep debt.