We all want to be a little better at managing our money, so this week I'm talking with Damian Woodall, KeyBank's East Delavan Branch manager, about that scary number ´— our credit score.

We often hear about someone's credit score. What is that number and what does it say about you?

Credit scores are taken by taking information from credit reports and analyzing that data to forecast how likely someone is to behave in the future. That credit score is determined by factors like how much debt you carry and whether you've paid your bills on time. The highest score you can have is 850 and anything above 750 is considered average.

Why is it important to have good credit?

Mortgages and car loans require credit but you may not know how to start building your credit. You need access to credit lines to build good credit but a credit line can be hard to get if you don't already have good credit.

If you don't have a credit card, what is a good option that can help you start?

At KeyBank, we offer a secure credit card, which is a good option for people looking to build or rebuild their credit score. With a secure card, you put down the sum deposit at the issuing bank, either a percentage or the equivalent of the credit line. For example, a credit card issuer might request a $250 security deposit for a $250 credit line. This way the bank has the money for the balance of your charges on deposit at all times, making you a less risky person for you to issue a credit card to.

What are some easy things to do to improve your credit score?

The most important thing to do is to pay your bills on time. A single payment made 30 days late can have a significant impact on your credit score. Set reminders on your calendar for five days before any payment is due so you can schedule the payment online.

If you are having trouble paying your bills, there are steps you can take to soften the blow to your credit score and buy some time to get your money management back on track. Most credit card issuers offer a hardship program that will cut customers a break, usually in the form of adjusted due dates, reduced interest rates or waived fees when they lose a job, incur unexpected medical expenses or encounter other unexpected financial challenges. But you need to contact them early in order to request this help.

KeyBank is here to help you on your financial journey. Click here to learn more about their credit card options, including secured credit cards, and click here for more tips on saving and budgeting.

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