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Good Consumer Credit Health for Women

You can’t have good credit history or a good credit score without having any credit history at all. While women can often be the primary spender and bill payer of the family, some women, independent of their spouses, have almost no credit record of their financial responsibilities. Credit history is reported separately for each debt holder, and if you are listed as an additional cardholder, and not an account owner, all of your hard work may not show up on your history. Frequently, women only discover this when they try to open up a credit card or obtain a loan and are denied credit on the basis of not having enough credit history.

Having little to no credit history can be a problem because lenders won’t have enough information to evaluate your credit worthiness. How will they know that you’ll pay back the loan on time if there’s no history showing that you’ve paid loans on time in the past? To get your own credit history, there are a few steps you can take:

  • Review all of your family’s accounts, including mortgages, loans, and credit cards. Check to see if you are listed on these accounts as an authorized user, or if it’s a joint account. 
  • Request a copy of your free annual credit reports from the three credit reporting bureaus to see if all of your accounts are listed. Any account where you are a joint account holder should be included on your credit reports.
  • If you are an authorized user, not a joint account holder on some accounts, ask the primary account holder to contact the creditors to see if you can be added as a joint account holder or a responsible party.
  • If you’ve ever had credit under a different name, such as a maiden or married name, send a letter to each credit agency explaining your name change. Then, request the free copies of your credit reports to make sure that your reports reflect all of your credit history, including everything under your prior name.
  • After taking these steps, if you are still light on credit history, consider applying for a secured credit card or a department store credit card with a low credit limit. Using credit and paying debts consistently will go a long way toward improving your credit history.