Updated post: 9/5/23
Original post: 9/27/22
Michael and Ashley have chaotic lives, and there never seems to be enough time in the day to get everything done. They spend any free time they have carting kids around or doing chores. And their credit scores are not where they would like them to be.
Michael and Ashley are in their late thirties and have realized that their financial lives cannot improve unless they invest time into improving them. They are looking for the simplest way to build credit.
To begin with, marriage has no impact on your credit report or credit score. None. The financial relationships that can impact your credit are any joint accounts, and marriage is not a requirement to have a joint account, and it is not required that married couples apply for a loan together.
Keep in mind that any authorized user has the power to impact an account holder's credit score by using the account in ways that hurt the account, such as spending too much and pushing up utilization rates.
Here are the simple steps to use to build your credit score.
Check your credit reports
You and your spouse should go to annualcreditreport.com to order a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each credit reporting company: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. You should each review your own credit reports and check them for accuracy.
A 2021 survey conducted by Consumer Reports found that 34% of Americans found at least one error on their credit report.
Graphic via Consumer Reports
Errors on a credit report can have an adverse affect on your credit score or chances of getting a loan. It is essential to address the errors promptly. Once submitting the dispute, the credit reporting company has 45 days to investigate the error.
Be on guard when visiting each credit reporting company. In the spring of 2022, CFPB charged TransUnion with violating a law enforcement order. This was the result of ongoing issues with dark patterns, which are hidden tricks or trapdoors companies build into their websites to get consumers to inadvertently click links, sign up for subscriptions, or purchase products or services.
Keep in mind that you can monitor your credit for free by checking your credit report regularly.
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Learn the Basics: Credit Reports vs. Credit Scores
Explanation provided by Rod Griffin, Senior Director of Education and Advocacy at Experian
The Primary Factors of a Credit Score
Explanation provided by Rod Griffin, Senior Director of Education and Advocacy at Experian.
Related: The Modern Husband Podcast hosts national experts, such as Rod Griffin, to discuss ideas to manage money and the home as a team. Subscribe to the Modern Husbands Podcast.
Credit Building Hacks
Manage Debts Late or in Collection
Debts in collection have a significant impact on your credit score. Prioritize any debts that include the risk of a charge off. According to Experian, a charge-off is an entry on your credit report that indicates a creditor, after trying and failing to get you to make good on a debt, has given up hope of getting payment and closed your account. Contact the lender or collection agency and attempt to negotiate a settlement or payment plan, which will likely impact your credit score less than a charge-off.
Catch up with any other late payments as quickly as you can. Late payments hit your credit score hard. A matter of fact, it is 35% of your overall score. How late the payment is will also affect your score.
Maintain a Credit Utilization Rate Close to 0%
Your utilization rate is the amount available compared to how much has been used. The lower the utilization rate, the better. Consider paying your balance in full weekly, or even daily.
Explore Alternative Programs
Programs like Experian boost award credit for the bills you already pay with Experian Boost®, like utilities, video streaming services and now rent.
Request a Higher Credit Limit Without Spending More
Maintain current levels of credit card spending, or reduce spending, but request a higher credit limit. The higher the credit limit, the easier it is to maintain low credit card utilization rates.
Keep Credit Cards Open
Maintain active accounts by using them every few months. Closing accounts can hurt your credit score by reducing your overall length of credit history and overall utilization rate.
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