When you establish and maintain good credit, you are building character.
My first credit card was obtained from a department store that I worked for. Even though I was employed by this well-known store, I was denied a credit card twice before I was finally approved. Both times the reason was that I did not have any credit history. Not only was I disappointed, but I was confused. In my mind, if I worked for the company, I should be trusted to have a credit card from them. What I did not realize at the time was, in order to obtain credit the borrower needs to have a credit history to prove that he or she can be trusted to pay back the debt. If there is no proof in your credit report to ensure that you can be trusted, it is unlikely that credit will be extended to you.
When I was approved for my first credit card, I was very excited. Not so much because I had resources for shopping, but because that credit approval represented a trust. I am proud to say, I never took that trust for granted. In fact, the approval for my first credit card was the foundation that inspired me to establish and maintain an excellent credit status. Even during difficult times, I was driven by that trust. I realized that good credit and good character go hand-in-hand.
I was prompted to write this post because I thought about a time in my life when I went through a difficult period. Fortunately for me, I met a business owner who trusted me based on my word. He ran a service station which also did automobile repairs. I took my car to him for service. The repairs I needed were extensive—more than I could afford at the time. I explained to him that I would not be able to pay for the repairs that day. He said I could bring the money to him the following week. The only information he had for me was my unpublished phone number and my word. Because of his trust, I felt empowered. That situation proved to be a great character builder for me; I realized the value of my word. I felt as though I had received an approval letter from a major lender.
Prior to settling the debt, various individuals told me I shouldn’t bother to pay for the repairs. One even said, “Why should you pay the guy? He doesn’t even know where you live.” Another friend said, “You could have gotten the repairs cheaper someplace else.” No matter what those individuals said, the only thing that mattered to me was the fact that I had given my word. I did not let those comments influence my actions.
On the day I settled my debt for the repairs, I arrived a little late. The shop had closed, but the owner was sitting outside in his car waiting for me. He knew I would not go back on my word. Because of that experience, I learned that my word is the part of my credit status that really matters.
I still am overwhelmed with pride in myself any time I recall that situation. The experience effected the way I view credit and trust. Credit standing begins with the first time you establish trust. It doesn’t matter if it involves money or merely a commitment, your word is your most solid collateral. Trust does build character—but at the foundation of that character is your word.