NEW YORK (12/3/2013)--Between juggling student loan payments, rent, and other bills, you might be tempted to skip a credit card payment. Don't do it. Missing a payment can lower your credit score, which can lead to difficulty getting a loan or even a job (nytimes.com Nov. 20).
Millennials, young adults ages 19 to 29, actually have the fewest number of credit cards and the lowest average balance on them, according to Experian's annual state of credit report. But, they also have the lowest credit scores and frequently make late payments on their cards.
The average overall credit score in Experian's report is 681; the average for millennials is 628. Shorter credit histories and high utilization rates are two factors that account for the low scores.
To learn more about your credit score and give it a boost, understand:
What makes up a credit score--Payment history, amounts owed (especially as a percentage of credit available--the utilization factor), length of credit history, new credit, and types of credit in use determine your credit score.
How to improve your credit score--Pay all bills on time, every time. Also consider using a secured credit card. A secured card trades access to credit for your commitment to keep a certain amount of money in a savings account. The professionals at your credit union can set you up with a secured card.
How to get your credit report--You can request one free credit report a year from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus by visiting annualcreditreport.com, the only website authorized to provide these free reports. You also can call 877-322-8228 or complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA, 30348-5281.
For more information about cleaning up your credit, read "Six Slam-Dunk Ways to Trash Your Credit Score" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.