The Art Of Getting A Great Credit Score In The Military

Military Benefits
U.S. Air Force photo by Lan Kim

The basics of military life can give any service member or military spouse plenty of right here, right now things to worry about. One common result is that less-than-urgent personal finance chores, like checking your credit score, can easily end up at the bottom of your priorities list.


That’s a problem, because unlike your PT gear, your credit score stays with you even after you leave the military. Your actions today are actively impacting that score.

Fortunately, if you follow these three tips early, you’ll be ready when it’s time to get a loan, rent an apartment, or apply for a better auto insurance rate.

Related: The 5 Biggest Mistakes Service Members Make With Their Money »

Try to build positive credit history.

Many people don’t think about their credit until it’s time to apply for a major loan. And when they get denied, they realize they should have been working to establish positive credit history long before the rejection notice arrived.

Getting started on the path to good credit isn’t that hard to do. You can apply for a low or no fee credit card, get a retail store credit card, choose a secured credit card or loan, or even ask family members if you can be an authorized user on their credit card account.

The goal is to only take on debt you know you can pay back. Don’t open too many accounts at once. Don’t max out your credit. Be selective, take it slow and manage credit responsibly, or you could actually end up worse off than you were before.

Be aware of where you stand.

One key to successfully building a positive credit history is being aware of where you stand. Your credit history is a formal record of how you’ve handled the money that’s been lent to you. Positive credit history gives you a better credit score.

The three major credit bureaus — Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax — use data from lenders and a few other sources to create your credit report and resulting credit scorePotential lenders then look at these records to see if you’re a good credit risk.

That’s why having no credit history is a problem, and having negative credit history is even worse. Find out what’s recorded in your history and learn your current score. Then be sure to act in ways that help improve your credit score rather than hurt it.

Pay your bills on time.

It’s no secret that timeliness is important to your career in the military. The same goes for your credit lenders: Never pay late if you don’t want to end up doing the financial equivalent of KP duty.  

Thirty-five percent of your FICO credit score — the one most lenders look at — is based on your payment history. That’s why it’s a good idea to automate bill payments, and when possible, set them up to be paid early. Don’t leave something so important to chance.

Maintaining a good payment history is one reason why learning to stick to a spending plan is so critical. With a solid spending plan, you should never wind up short or late to pay a bill. A budget helps you spend without stress and skip the hassles that money problems bring. If you have a smart plan, and you execute on it, you should not have to worry about your credit score.

Casperassets.rbl.ms

Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.

Take $75 off a Casper Mattress and $150 off a Wave Mattress with code TASKANDPURPOSE

And no one knows that better than military service members and we have the pictures to prove it.

Read More Show Less
A Coalition convoy stops to test fire their M2 machine guns and MK19 Grenade Launcher in the Middle Euphrates River Valley in the Deir ez-Zor province, Syria, Nov. 22, 2018 (U.S. Army/Sgt. Matthew Crane)

BEIRUT (Reuters) - A suicide bomber drove his car into a checkpoint in northeastern Syria on Monday, injuring several soldiers of Kurdish-led forces during a joint convoy with U.S. allies, locals said.

Read More Show Less

Video game company Blizzard Entertainment, which creates blockbuster franchises like World of Warcraft and Overwatch, has stood behind veteran employment for years. On top of hiring veterans, they support many related programs, including Activision Blizzard's Call of Duty Endowment. Blizzard's goal there is to help veterans find careers by supporting organizations that prepare veterans for the job market.

Read More Show Less
A combat patrol advanced three miles north of Lucca (furthermost point occupied by American troops) to contact an enemy machine gun nest in September 1944 as part of the Italian Campaign (DoD/National Archives and Records Administration)

World War II Army veteran Milton Miller says he has never forgotten an act of cowardice by his platoon leader.

It happened in the Alban Hills south of Rome following the Allied Forces' amphibious invasion on the Italian beaches of Anzio in January 1944.

Read More Show Less

The Israeli military followed up on its weekend strikes in Syria the same way that any modern military might: By taunting its regional foe Iran with a silly-ass tweet.

Read More Show Less