Build Your Credit Know-How

Give Yourself Some Credit

As a SAFCO customer, you have a unique opportunity to change your credit situation for the better. The insights and resources on this page offer a great place to start. When you know the facts and use them to empower your decisions, you’ll be on your way to a healthier financial future. So, what are you waiting for? Read on!

Credit score chart
Let’s Start with the Basics

Credit is…
the ability to buy (or borrow) now and pay later. More

Your credit history is…
a record of how well you paid back what you owed. More

A credit report is…
a summary of your credit history over the past seven years that is organized and kept by three, main credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and Transunion. More

Your credit score is…
a three-digit number that a credit bureau assigns based on what’s in your credit report. More

Your FICO score is…
an independent score based on a variety of data from all three of your credit reports. FICO scores, along with other factors, are used by most lenders to determine your creditworthiness. More

A good FICO score is…
considered to be in the 670 to 739 range, which is slightly above the average for U.S. consumers. More

The benefits of a good FICO score are…
many, including lower interest rates on loans, lower monthly payments, you can borrow larger amounts, lenders compete for your business, better employment and promotion opportunities, and the ability to rent an apartment and set up utilities with ease. More

8 Ways to Improve Your FICO Score

1) Pay all your bills on time. The most important factor in any credit score is your payment history. To help boost your score, SAFCO reports back to the credit bureaus. The easiest way to prevent late and missed payments is to set up AutoPay.

2) Pay down your credit card balances. When you apply for a loan, the second most important factor lenders look at is how much debt you owe compared to your credit limit. That percentage or credit utilization rate can impact up to 30% of your credit score.

3) Monitor your credit report. Every year, you can request a free credit report from each of the three credit bureaus. If you see something you know is wrong, dispute it with the appropriate credit bureau. Correcting a mistake can impact your credit score.

4) Apply for credit only when it’s necessary. Every time you apply for credit, a hard inquiry appears on your credit report. It just means that organization has asked to look at your report to see your track record as a borrower. Hard inquiries have a negative impact on your credit score, but only for a few months. Also, too many hard inquiries in a short amount of time can look like you’re looking for quick money that you can’t pay back.

5) Protect your personal information from fraud. Identity theft can impact your credit score. Fraudsters can use your information to open accounts in your name. To help keep your data safe, create unique passwords for all your accounts and never make online financial transactions on public Wi-Fi connections.

6) Create a budget and stick with it. When you see what you’re actually paying in bills and other expenses each month, it can be a wake-up call. A budget can help you successfully manage what you spend in relation to what you make, and keep you on track to your financial goals and better credit.

7) Avoid credit repair scams. No company can legally remove information in a credit report if it’s accurate. Instead of paying money to a company to do something it can’t, use your money to pay your bills on time, pay down your credit card balances, and seek credit help in other ways.

8) Add information to your credit report. You can’t directly add information to your credit report, but you can take advantage of free and fee-based programs that will report your payment history on things, like rent and utilities. Adding good payment histories from bills can impact your credit scores by showing you’re responsible. This is particularly helpful when you’re just starting out and you don’t have a credit history.

Other Helpful Resources

MoneySKILL®, by the American Financial Services Association Education Foundation, is a special curriculum used by schools and colleges around the country to help teach the fundamentals of money management. They also offer several online resource guides, covering everything from vehicle financing to budget planners. You can find and download them here. English and Spanish versions are available.

Buying and Owning a Car and Credit and Loans, from the Federal Trade Commission, offer a comprehensive look at your consumer rights and much more.

Simple Interest Loans, on our Customer FAQs page, is a series of questions and answers that help to explain how interest is calculated on your loan, how your payments are applied each month, and how late payments and fees affect what you owe.

If you have any questions, please contact one of our friendly Credit Advisors at 800-599-8858.