Everybody has a credit score—several, in fact. These scores derive from your credit history, which is the full account of your borrowing habits. In most cases, the score is a three-digit number between 300 and 850. But what does that number mean? If you’re considering borrowing money or refinancing, it’s important to learn more about credit scores before you compare loans.

The information on your credit report plays a major role in obtaining a loan, insurance rates, the ability to rent an apartment, and a number of other aspects of your life. As such, it’s important to know what’s on the report. If something is inaccurately reported or someone has accessed and used your personal information fraudulently, you want to alert the credit bureau right away. Fortunately, you don’t have to pay to access this information. You can request one free credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies every 12 months. Use these steps to get yours.

New homeowners and those investigating refinance rates may find themselves confused by two terms that seem very similar but are actually quite different. The terms “refi rates” and “APR” are not interchangeable. Still, both terms are important to understand so you can determine which mortgage is best for your situation.

Welcome to the modern digital age! Things have certainly changed since your parents applied for a mortgage, perhaps even since the first time you applied yourself. Just a few short years ago, it was still necessary to pack up all your paperwork and head to the local branch of a nearby bank. Perhaps you worked with a mortgage broker, who would invite you into an office to collect piles of information. It was time consuming and usually confusing.

There are times when opening a new credit card can be quite beneficial to your overall credit score. If you have a mortgage or car loan, but no credit card, applying for a new card will help to diversify your credit history, which is a good thing. Or, if you have been dutifully paying off a high-interest card, opening a new card after a year is also a great way to build credit. But there are times when you should avoid applying for credit. Here are four to consider.

It can be stressful when you fall behind on your credit card payments because money was tight. But when your credit score drops as a result, you need to take action. FICO uses your payment history as part of how they determine your credit score. In fact, whether you pay your bills on time accounts for 35 percent of that number. While there isn’t an overnight solution, there are ways to fix your credit score.

If you’re up to your eyeballs in credit card debt, you might feel like there’s no way out. You’ve probably heard a lot of advice about all the things you’re supposed to do, but what about tips for things to avoid? Here are some of the things you should not do if you have credit card debt.