About six months into the coronavirus pandemic, young consumers in the U.S. are paying attention to their financial wellness more than ever before.
According to the latest Amex Trendex, a monthly trend report from American Express, more than half (64%) of millennials are looking for ways to improve their credit score and over a fourth (30%) say they are more likely to check their credit score since the beginning of the pandemic. The online poll conducted by Morning Consult surveyed 2,000 adult consumers (18+) in the U.S. between August 18 to 20, 2020. Respondents had a household income of at least $70,000.
"The survey shows that now more than ever, consumers are focused on their overall financial health," Kunal Madhok, VP of U.S. consumer lending at American Express, tells CNBC Select. "This is exactly why we recently launched Score Goals, to give consumers a personalized playbook to help get them one step closer to achieving their financial goals."
Credit scores range from 300 (very poor) to 850 (excellent), and while they may seem like an arbitrary number, their 3-digit makeup has a lot to do with qualifying for the best credit cards and lowest interest rates on loans or mortgages.
If you're concerned about a bad credit score, the first step is knowing what makes it low. Free-to-use tools like Score Goals, part of Amex's MyCredit Guide, allow users to set their desired credit score as a goal. It then provides personalized recommendations, such as paying down a specific dollar amount of debt, to help them reach their target score over a suggested time frame: six, 12, 18 or 24 months. The Amex feature is available to everyone, not just Amex cardholders.
Although paying your credit card bills on time and lowering your balances are two ways to raise your credit score, you can likely see a quick result by also using Experian Boost. The free service provided by Experian, one of the three main credit bureaus, lets you get credit for on-time utility (gas, electricity, water), telecom (cell phone) and Netflix bills that you are already paying. According to the website, Experian Boost users see an average increase of 13 points in their credit score.
As you work on improving your credit score, make a habit of tracking it as well. Credit monitoring can help you do so by notifying you of changes made to your credit reports in real-time. Some enhanced services come with a cost, but they offer the most extensive security features.
For example, IdentityForce® monitors your information on a variety of sites and services, including the dark web, court records and even social media. It checks if your accounts on sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have inappropriate activity that may be perceived as profane or discriminatory.
2 months free on all annual plans UltraSecure: $8.99/mo, $89.90/yr UltraSecure+Credit: $19.99/mo, $199.90/yr
Experian, Equifax and TransUnion
Yes, up to $1 million
Terms apply. To learn more about IdentityForce®, visit their website or call 855-979-1118.
CreditWise is open to anyone, even if you aren't a Capital One customer, and has its own credit score simulator tool. And while it may not offer as thorough surveillance as IdentityForce, CreditWise stands out by offering dark web scanning and social security number tracking (unlike other free services).
TransUnion and Experian
Amex's recent insights into how millennials are actively looking for ways to better their overall financial health highlights just how consumers' financial behaviors continue to evolve — in a good way.
As the pandemic continues on, consider tapping into the free financial resources that are available to you. Amex's Score Goals and Experian Boost are just two that can help you on your path to a higher credit score.
To learn more about IdentityForce®, visit their website or call 855-979-1118.