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Keep Your Credit Score at the Head of the Class

Credit Score

As kids go back to school, they're encouraged to get good grades. But did you know that you're "graded" as an adult?

Credit bureaus give you a grade - a credit score. Your credit score is a number that lenders look at when judging your credit worthiness. It can affect whether you are approved for the credit you want and the rates you'll pay.

Auto insurers, landlords, and employers may also use your credit score to determine your insurance premiums, or whether they will offer insurance to you, whether you'll be a reliable renter, and if you are a responsible person to hire.

Your Score Depends on You

The way you manage money and debt plays an important role in forming your credit score. The three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) calculate your credit score based on the information they collect about you from financial institutions and credit card companies, including payment histories and how much money you owe. They also look at public records such as bankruptcy filings and tax liens.

Your credit score, which is based on your credit report, constantly changes and can go up or down based on your spending and ability to make payments on time.

Credit scores fall between 300 and 850, and people who score 720 or higher will typically qualify for the lowest interest rates when they apply for loans. People with low scores typically pay much higher rates if they can get approved at all.

Smart Credit Management

Federal law allows you a free, once-a-year look at your credit report.

You can order your free report from the Annual Credit Report Request Service. Simply go to, a web site sponsored by all three major credit reporting agencies.

You can also call 877.322.8228 to request your free report. If you would like assistance reading your report, DCU offers BALANCE counseling. For a additional fee, you can order your credit score.

To keep your credit score worthy of an A+, apply for new credit cards sparingly and make payments on time. DCU's Bill Payer can help you make payments on time, online! You can even set up automatic payments from your savings and checking account. Just be sure to balance your checking account too.

Another great way to start learning more about what shape your personal credit is in is by signing up for DCU's FREE FICO Credit Score Service.

Free for DCU Members: BALANCE Financial Fitness Program

Managing money is a serious task. Just about everyone could benefit from knowing more about handling income, using a budget, and reading a credit report. As a DCU member, you have access to BALANCE, a financial education and counseling service dedicated to helping you achieve your goals. BALANCE offers unbiased, general advice as well as in-depth financial counseling. Here are some of the ways BALANCE can assist you:

  • Teaching skills for balancing your checkbook, buying a home, and setting goals.
  • Reviewing your credit report.
  • Negotiating with creditors and creating a debt management plan.
  • Preventing bankruptcy.

BALANCE also has a financial education resource center, where you can access information about housing, credit and debt management, investing, taxes, and more. It may help you find answers to some immediate financial questions.

For Personal Assistance

It's never too late to develop smart financial habits. To speak with a BALANCE counselor, call 888.456.2227. Counselors are available Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. (ET), Friday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.