Submitted by BECU.
With Financial Literacy Month in April, it’s the perfect time for people to discover ways to improve their financial health. As Washington’s largest credit union, BECU is committed to improving the financial well-being of its members and communities in a variety of ways, offering free financial education articles and webinars, courses at your pace and member-exclusive resources like its Financial Health Check program. .
Another crucial piece of the financial health puzzle is learning how to establish or maintain good credit. Here’s some advice from BECU’s Senior Financial Educator, Stacey Black:
- Use your credit card responsibly. If possible, try to avoid accumulating additional debt on your credit card or opening new cards to pay for necessities. Turning to credit cards might seem like the easiest solution, especially in tough times, but in the long run, you could end up paying thousands of dollars in interest — and your credit score will suffer, too.
- Explore your credit options. If you’ve exhausted all other options and need to open a new credit card, look for low interest rates, low fees, and favorable terms. Also be sure to consider the new monthly payment and its impact on your current and future budget.
- Consider a secured credit card. A secured credit card offers the opportunity to start building credit responsibly and offers all the benefits of a credit card, but usually with lower spending limits. The difference is that a secured card requires you to make a security deposit, which is used as collateral in case you default on the loan, and can help people feel more invested in making payments.
- Make payments on time. When your payment is over 30 days late, it can have a significant impact on your credit score – in fact, late payments can stay on your credit report for up to seven years. Signing up for automatic payments eliminates the need to “remember” to pay the bill each month, and you can easily change the amount as needed.
- Choose the right financial institution. When choosing a financial institution, it’s important to consider all of the services you might need from an institution (now and in the future) to help you find the one that’s right for you. For example, consider potential fees, interest rates, convenience, and online banking capabilities.
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