Without access to affordable credit — your ability to borrow money or receive a bank or government loan — it will be difficult to meet your financial goals and manage your personal finances effectively. Your credit is more than just a piece of plastic in your wallet, conveniently allowing you to purchase goods and services without having to carry large amounts of cash. Good credit allows you to finance college or graduate school, buy a car or home, rent an apartment, or even get insurance and a job.

Your credit use — how consistently you pay back your credit card balances and loans over time — is reflected on your credit report. This report directly formulates your credit score, a key factor in determining how much lenders will charge you for a loan. These concepts are vital to understanding both the cost of credit, and if you can obtain credit at all. Poor credit might mean borrowing from family and friends (possibly straining relationships), or using the high cost informal sector including loan sharks and payday lenders, neither a responsible nor sustainable source of credit.

Irresponsible credit use will cause you to accumulate money owed to your lenders, or debt. Too much debt, if obtained from the wrong source or not paid back on time, can have severe negative consequences to you, your family, and your future. However, there is such a thing as good debt, which can help you build a positive credit history.

Section Topics

How to Speak Credit

Understand the costs and benefits of using credit.

Credit Cards

Credit cards offer consumers many advantages. But there also disadvantages. Learn about the costs and benefits of using a credit card.

Credit Reports

Learn how to read a credit report, who accesses this information, and how to prevent errors.

Credit Scores

Learn how your FICO score affects your ability to borrow money and what steps you can take to improve your score.

Consumer Debt

Debt is money you borrow from a financial institution that usually must be paid back with interest. Learn the difference between good and bad debt and what you can do to protect or repair your credit.


Bankruptcy is a legal proceeding in which a person who cannot pay their bills can get a fresh financial start. Learn how bankruptcy works and how it affects your life.

Debt Calculator

Enter your credit card balance to calculate how much interest you will pay.

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If you paid the minimum payment of $ every month, it would take you
months, to pay off your debt and you would pay $ in interest.

Use the controller below to see how much money
you can save by paying more than the minumum payment.

minimum payment payment in full

Monthly payment:

Months to pay off: 62

Total interest: $538.62

Amount saved by paying $0 more than the min. payment