Make credit work for you

July 1, 2006

Like fire, credit can be a valuable friend or a dreadful foe. Used sensibly, credit can be a major asset in your business and personal life. Use it carelessly and it can become your worst enemy.

Like fire, credit can be a valuable friend or a dreadful foe. Used sensibly, credit can be a major asset in your business and personal life. Use it carelessly and it can become your worst enemy. Here are 10 ways to help you put credit to work for you and not against you:

To learn more about how your credit score is calculated, see the Federal Trade Commission's information site at: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/credit/scoring.htm.

The CRAs are required by law to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months. You can order your free report online at http://annualcreditreport.com/, or by calling 877-322-8228.

A good score will make it easier for you to obtain credit and to qualify for loans at advantageous interest rates. You can improve your score by:

If you make only the minimum payments on a significant balance, it can take years, sometimes decades, to pay off the full debt.

Once you fall into the "minimum payment trap," it can be difficult if not impossible to dig your way out. For a look at how minimum payments might work in your situation, log onto http:// http://www.online-loan-calculator.com/.