by Amy Cates, eHow contributor
Credit ratings aren’t awarded; they’re earned. A credit score, or credit rating, determnes whether you qualify for a loan, credit card or service, and often, the terms of that loan are based on your credit rating. Lenders use that number to estimate your ability to repay the debt. Maintaining a solid credit rating requires making regular payments, communicating with your creditors and checking your credit report annually.
Money Management Credit ratings aren’t based only on your credit card use, but also on your payment history with car loans, mortgages and even medical bills. But credit card usage and payments are most often associated with a credit rating.
Carrying too many credit cards, even if you don’t use them frequently, can damage your credit rating. It’s not always easy to turn down the almost-daily invitations you receive in the mail – low interest rate cards, free gifts, no-transfer fees- but try. As for the cards you already have, work to lower your credit card debt by making more than the minimum monthly payment. The interest on a $1,000 purchase, for example, takes more than seven years to pay off if you make only the minimum payment. That amounts to an additional $800 in interest. If possible, pay the entire balance each month.
You can also get your credit card usage under control by using them only in emergencies, as swiping a credit card is the equivalent of taking out a loan every time you use it. Besides credit cards, pay attention to monthly bills. Whether you use automatic draft or a detailed calendar, bills should be paid on time to avoid negative marks on your credit rating.
If you have loans, pay them first each month, avoiding unnecessary expenses like dining out. You’ll see the loan amounts decrease more quickly and your credit rating will remain intact.