The world today revolves on credit and there cannot be very many people who do not have some form of credit from a simple to credit card to a mortgage. Getting credit has never been easier for people who already have a credit record, but if you do not have a credit record then it can be surprisingly difficult, if not just about impossible, to get credit. So just how does the credit system work?
The moment you take out your first credit in the United States, perhaps as a teenager taking out a loan to buy a car, details of this credit agreement will be recorded by a number of credit agencies including the three major agencies which operate in the States. Similar systems operate in other countries around the world. These agencies will then track that credit agreement and show for example whether or not payments are being made on time and how much you have outstanding on the loan. Based on the information contained in your credit record the credit agencies will calculate a credit score for you and it is this credit score which will be used by future lenders to decide whether or not to extend you further credit.
Now this is a slightly simplistic view of your credit history which looks at a wide range of information, but for our purposes here there are two things which are particularly important when it comes to your credit history and to building your credit score so that you can ensure that credit will be made available to you should you need it in the future.
The first important factor is your record of existing and past credit. Most credit agreements once entered into your credit record will remain there for 7 to 10 years from the date of the last entry, depending on the type of agreement and where you live. For example, if you have a credit card then details of that credit card will remain on your record for as long as you continue to use the card. If, however, you pay the card off and close your account then this card account will remain on your credit history for a further 7 to 10 years. If you have several credit agreements recorded on your record and have maintained these satisfactorily then this will help to build your credit score and lenders will be happy to extend further credit to you because you have shown yourself to be a good credit risk.
However, if you start to run into trouble repaying your loans, and your credit history starts to show such things as late payments or missed payments, then this will begin to impact your credit score and, while the odd late payment once in a blue moon will not hurt you too badly, a picture of frequent late or missed payments will quickly cause your credit score to drop to the point at which future lenders will consider you to be a poor or bad credit risk and start to turn down applications for further credit.
The second important factor in your credit equation is the type of credit you have on your record and the number of credit agreements. Most people will have a few credit agreements for perhaps a mortgage, a car loan and a couple of credit cards and this is fine. However, if your record starts to show too many credit agreements then this can again affect your credit score as lenders will begin to be concerned about whether or not you are overstretching yourself. This will also be the case if they see too many recently opened credit accounts or too many applications being made for credit.
So, if you wish to ensure that credit will be available to you when you need it you should start building a credit history today but should do so by entering into only a small number of credit agreements and ensuring that you maintain a good credit record by meeting all of the payments due on these agreements on time.
Even if you do not need a credit card today it can be a good idea to open a credit card account and use it for your weekly shopping or buying gas and then pay off the full amount each month so that you do not have to pay any interest on the card. That way the card is costing you nothing but is helping you to build a credit score which you might need later on.