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Love and Debt: Why you need to talk about money

How to Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck

Where to go for mortgage and debt help

What You Should Know About Debt Settlement

Create a plan to deal with medical debt

Options for Higher Education

Will Changes in Credit Reporting Affect You?

What to do if your medical bills are turned over to collections

What to do if your spouse can't pay his or her bills

What to do when a family member ruins your credit

Homeownership is possible

What you need to know about the IRS and collection agencies

Will being turned down for a store credit card hurt my credit?

Beware of credit repair

Debt Management versus Debt Settlement

How to get ahead of late fees

Is There a Service That Helps You Not Pay Bills

Is a Debt Owed

Patience is the key to furnishing a new home

How to split expenses with your partner

Will my boyfriend's bad credit affect me?

What to do if your account is turned over to collections

Personal Credit and Starting a Business

Finding Money to Reduce Your Debt and Improve Your Credit

Simple Keys to Personal Finance

Be vigilant to avoid telephone and internet scams

Debt Settlement

Understanding credit utilization

The pros and cons of skipping a payment

Keep an open line of communication with parents about their finances.

Make a Choice to Get Ahead Financially

What to do when a relative asks you for money

Should You Buy a Home Now or Wait?

The difference between debt settlement and debt management

The negative impact of paying a payment 30 days late

Stressed by Finances

How to navigate two significant financial decisions: starting a family and buying a home

How to advise someone close to you who is coming into a significant amount of money

Make a Conscious Decision on How to Spend Your Money

How do you know if you have a good credit score?

Americans spend more money eating out than on groceries

Having Good Credit Saves You Money

Developing good money habits with your first job

How to save for a home

How to Know if you are Ready for Home Ownership

When is the right time to buy a home?

You can improve your credit to buy a home

Plan a Memorable Vacation Without Incurring Debt

The Hidden Costs of Payday Loans

Be Wary of Credit Repair Services

Use Caution when playing the credit card game

What does it mean to say bankruptcy gives you a clean slate?

How your credit is affected by various debt options

Be wary of predatory small business loans

What to do if you fall behind on mortgage payments

Financing a College Education

Money, Credit and Relationships

Should you be concerned with your date's credit scores?

Best options for a small, short-term loan

How to help a relative who is always borrowing money from you

Skipping a Payment over the Holidays

What to do if you are overwhelmed by medical bills

Make your financial intention a financial goal you can achieve

What to do when a collector calls you

The difference between paying bills and managing your money

My wife and I have gone through some tough financial times, which eventually led us to file for bankruptcy.  Following this experience, I don’t ever want to use credit again, but my wife

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What to do if you get an unsolicited credit card in the mail

What to do when moving in to share expenses doesn't work out

How do you know if you have a good credit score?

Q. If financing for a car, boat or home is based largely on my credit score, how do I know if my credit score is good, average, or poor?  How do I know if I’m getting the best financing available to me?

A. Since lenders base their financing offers on your credit score, consumers who buy the same new car with all the same features, at the same price, will not necessarily get the same offer from their bank or credit union. The offer, and ultimately the amount you will pay for the car, including interest, is based on your credit score. 

You need to know that there are a number of credit scores, and all lenders do not have the same cut-off for what determines if a score is excellent, very good, good, fair or poor. In addition, different products, such as cars, homes, and boats, may have different score requirements. This means you may need a higher credit score to qualify for the best interest rate for a mortgage, compared to what you would need to qualify for a car. 

If you have a lender or credit card company that offers you your credit score for free, then check out your score with them. The lender will often provide you with additional information about your score. For example, when they provide your score, they provide an explanation of your score and whether it is considered anywhere from excellent to poor.

If you cannot get your credit score for free from a prospective lender, you may opt to pay for your score. You can do this by going to any credit reporting agency. You can expect to pay about $16 for your credit score.

Some credit reporting agencies are offering a special with your credit report and score for $1 along with a 7 day trial of a credit monitoring service. Monitoring services can range from $20 to $40 a month. 

If you do pay for your score, I’d discourage you from enrolling in a credit monitoring service and paying a monthly fee. Rather, I suggest you pay one time for your credit score or make sure you cancel any trial membership. As part of your score, you should receive a detailed explanation that tells you where you fall among all other credit scores, or in other words, how good your score is.

If you are planning to purchase a car, and apply for a loan, your bank or credit union will pull your score. Ask them to explain your score to you. Is your score, according to them, excellent, very good, good, fair or poor? 

One young couple I know was interested in purchasing a new truck. I advised them to go to their local lender first to see how much they could borrow and at what interest rate.They also got their credit score in the process. When they went to the dealership and found the truck they wanted, the dealership offered them an interest rate that was 4% higher than their local lender. Because the couple knew they weren’t getting the best rate at the dealership, they opted to work with their bank instead.

They were thrilled to get the truck they wanted without having to pay more than necessary. As this example illustrates, it pays to know your credit score so that you can ensure you’re getting the best deal possible. If it’s been more than a year or two since you’ve gotten your score, I’d encourage you to take the time and effort to get it.

Bonnie Spain is the executive director of the American Center for Credit Education and Consumer Credit Counseling Service of the Black Hills. For more information, email

The material in this transmission is provided for personal, non-commercial, educational, and informational purposes only. ACCE makes no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this transmission and assumes no responsibility for errors, inaccuracies, omissions, or any inconsistency herein. You should consult a professional where appropriate.