Do you know your credit score? It turns out a lot of people don't. A survey by CouponCabin.com finds 47 percent of U.S. adults don't have a clue what their credit score is.
It's an important number to know since it can affect the interest rate you get on a home mortgage or a new car loan. In fact, it can determine whether you get the loan or not, since lenders have become more choosy about their customers. It can also affect your insurance premium and even determine whether you get that job you've been angling for.
The survey found that 60 percent of young U.S. adults ages 18-34 were unaware of their credit scores. At the same time, only 42 percent of those ages 35 and up were unaware of their score.
A credit score is determined by a consumer's debt load and payment habits. Paying your bills on time is the best way to raise your credit score. Having high credit limits and low balances also helps.
To check your credit report, go to the government-affiliated site www.annualcreditreport.com. It is completely free and you are not asked for a credit card number.
While credit score knowledge is lacking among consumers, many are mindful of how much debt they're carrying on their plastic. Ninety percent of consumers with credit card debt said they are aware of how much total credit card debt the have. One-in-ten said they didn't know how much credit card debt they had.
Credit card debt has fallen
Since the beginning of the Great Recession, consumers have significantly reduced their credit card debt. Thirty-eight percent report they have less than $1,000 in debt. At the same time, 21 percent say they are carrying a balance of at least $5,000.
Here's a breakdown of current credit card debt, as measured by the survey:
- $1,000 or less – 38 percent
- $1,001 - $2,000 – 10 percent
- $2,001 - $5,000 – 11 percent
- $5,001 - $10,000 – 9 percent
- $10,001 or more – 12 percent
"While some credit card users report they are keeping their debt in check, others struggle with high interest payments and looming deadlines," said Jackie Warrick, President and Chief Savings Officer at CouponCabin.com. "In fact, more than one-third of people we surveyed said they are concerned about how long it will take to pay off their cards. Keep your swiping in check and always have a grasp on the number of cards you have and how you're using them."
How many credit cards do you carry? If you are typical, you make have at least two cards in your wallet. Thirty-five percent of respondents said they have three or more.
Having cards is not a problem but using them without paying off the balances each month is. While credit cards make everyday purchases like groceries and gasoline convenient, make sure your have the money to pay off the balance each month. It is those increasing balances that get you in trouble.