What Is Credit History and How Is It Used?

July 8, 2020 | by Jacob Hamilton

sitting and on laptop

Your credit history is a record of your credit usage, including your bill repayment habits, the number of credit cards and loans you have and the age of your credit. It’s a track record of everything you’ve ever done with credit, and lenders use it to understand what kind of borrower you’ll be.

Your credit history lives on your credit report, and it’s your best reference point when it comes to stepping up your credit game. Let’s go over what’s on your credit history, what it means and how it can improve your credit health.

What’s in Your Credit History?

Just like your internet history keeps track of all the websites you visit (we’re looking at you, online shopping and cat videos), your credit history is a map of everywhere you’ve been with your credit. From your first credit card to big money moves like an auto loan or a mortgage, your credit history is a walk down financial memory lane.

what is on your credit history

Why Is Credit History Important?

Your credit history and credit score are directly related: A healthy, diverse credit history translates to a higher credit score, and a less-than-stellar history makes it harder to get that score up. Your credit report is a summary of your credit history and showcases your personal information, credit cards, loans, any debt you owe and your record of paying bills on time (or not). You want to ensure your credit history is in top shape so your credit report has a better chance of glowing.

Imagine you’re planning to buy your first home. You have cash saved up for the down payment, you have a neighborhood picked out and your real estate agent is ready to show you around. Then you talk to your bank about getting a mortgage—unfortunately, your credit history doesn’t support your big plans, and you get strapped with a high interest rate.

You credit history impacts

Maybe you’ve been late on one too many credit card bill payments over the years or you have a lot of unpaid debt. No matter the circumstances, items like these on your credit history show your bank that you won’t be a responsible borrower, and they aren’t confident in your ability to pay back your loan.

Beyond scenarios like this, your credit history impacts your credit card choices, job eligibility and insurance options. Many future employers and insurance agencies take a look at your credit report (known as a hard inquiry) to see what kind of employee you’ll be and your eligibility for certain insurance premiums.

How to Check Your Credit History

Checking your credit history is straightforward—if you already know how to read your credit report, you know what to do here!

Your credit history lives on your credit report, which you can get for free annually from each of the three major credit bureaus (Experian®, Equifax® and TransUnion®). We suggest spacing them out throughout the year so you can get one every four months—this is just another good way to keep an eye on your credit health. (Through April 2021, you can actually get free reports weekly, so make sure to take advantage of this!)

Once you have your credit report, you’ll be able to look at your entire history, including credit cards opened and closed, loans, debts and collections. This is the best way to see the evolution of your credit health, as you’ll be able to look back to day one and see how far you’ve come.

Building Credit History

The length of your credit history is an important consideration as well—even if you have a stellar credit score, if you haven’t been in the game for very long, banks and lenders are less keen to loan to you or give you a good rate. Not only do they need to see that you can keep your score up with responsible practices, but they also need to see that you have a long enough track record of doing so.

The length of time can vary, but in general, the more years of healthy credit usage you have under your belt, the better. Building credit isn’t a one-time thing, however, as it takes responsible habits to maintain. Continue paying bills on time and expanding your credit diversity wisely.

build your credit history

How to Build Credit With No Credit History

You have to start somewhere! Whether you’ve always opted for cash or you’re just heading off to college, there are a few simple ways to start boosting your score and building credit history.

  • Become an authorized user on a parent’s credit card account. As long as they’re financially responsible, having your name on their account will help build your score, and you won’t be responsible for the bill.
  • Take out a small loan and make your monthly payments on time. A credit builder loan is a good option that’s made especially for consumers in this situation.
  • Open a credit card and pay it off every month. Getting approved for a secured or student credit card is the easiest option when you don’t have any credit history. Plus, they give you room to learn the ropes before you take on larger credit limits or obligations.

Remember to always pay your bills on time and check your credit score frequently. This will help you stay on top of your credit health and make strategic moves to boost your credit even more. If you’re careful, you can establish credit wisely and get plenty of valuable financial experience.

Understanding Your Credit Report

Understanding your credit report can be tricky, especially if you’re new to the game or your credit history has been a roller-coaster. Knowing when to step back and bring in a professional can help you level up and continue your journey of financial health.

Credit repair services can help you get back in the game if you’ve suffered some major financial blows and set your credit on the right path. If you need to review and possibly modify your credit history on your report, our team of professionals can help you move forward.

Jacob Hamilton Headshot

Jacob Hamilton

GM of CreditRepair.com

With his master's degree from the University of Phoenix, Jacob has been working as the General Manager for CreditRepair.com for 2 years. Jacob is passionate about consumer finances and doing everything he can to make credit repair accessible....

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