Unless you’ve already got a very high credit score, one in the 800 range or better, you need to know how to fix it. Your credit score follows you around like a lost dog looking for a home, and can not only get you the financing you need for a home or car, but can get you the best rates too. To top it off, your credit score helps control how much you pay on everything from credit to life and car insurance. As such, your credit score is one of the most important numbers in your life except for maybe your blood pressure and cholesterol, and a low credit score can raise your blood pressure to unhealthy levels.
These days your credit score is vitally important. That’s true not just when trying to get credit, as in the past, but for many more mundane parts of your daily life. One are where credit scores are used extensively is in the insurance industry. Many service providers, such as insurance companies have found they can correlate risk to your credit score with a fairly high degree of accuracy. You know what that means; as your credit score falls, your insurance rates rise.
Another area that you may be aware of where your credit score can make a big difference is the rental market. You may find yourself hard pressed to rent an apartment with an abysmal credit score. In some tight rental markets, your score doesn’t even have to be all that bad. If the market is tight, landlords can afford to be more selective, and one of the criteria they’ll use to help select renters is their credit score. Experience has shown that, as with insurance, there is a correlation between the reliability of a renter and their credit score. The lower the credit score, the more the landlord has to worry about.
On top of all these other things, a low credit score will of course make it more expensive to get credit of all kinds; from auto loans to mortgages. With the recent shakeup in the sub prime mortgage market, prospective borrowers may find it difficult to secure a mortgage if their credit score strays too low.
Given the disaster that is a low credit score, if yours is low, you’ll probably be looking for ways to fix your credit score. It is possible to fix your credit score, and there are some basic techniques you can use to do the fixing. First and foremost you should order a copy of your credit report from one of the three major reporting agencies; TransUnion, Equifax, or Experian. You are able to order one report free of charge each year from each of the agencies. You should stagger them so one will arrive approximately every three months. You’ll use the first one as a baseline so you’ll be aware of any future changes.
Once you receive your free credit report, set about poring over it thoroughly so that you can determine if there are any errors. It’s not at all uncommon for credit reports to contain mistakes. In fact, according to recently published estimates, between 20 – 25% of credit reports have mistakes that can affect your credit score. Sadly, it’s usually for the worse. If you do find any mistakes, you’ll have to contact the creditor and the reporting agency to get them cleared from your report.
Once your credit report is accurate, you’ll want to raise your score as high as possible so you can get the best interest rates and other credit terms. First of all, there are some things you don’t want to do if you’re aiming to fix your credit score. The most important thing not to do is pay your bills late. Late payments, especially those over 90 days, are disastrous to your credit score, so avoid them at all costs. In fact, your credit history is the most influential component of your credit score. It should go without saying, but keep accounts out of collection. Collection actions can follow you around for 7 years, and obviously have a negative impact on your credit score.
Your credit score is views recent credit history more heavily than your activity farther in your past, so if you’ve had a few fairly recent late payments, simply waiting for a year or so while continuing to pay your bills on time will raise your score too. After the late payments are approximately 24 months behind you, they will not have the same impact on your score.
If your balances are high, simply paying them down can have a dramatic, positive effect on your credit score. Reducing high balances on revolving accounts will go a long way toward fixing a low score. This has an effect on 2 key components of your score; credit utilization percentage and total outstanding debt. Together, these 2 factors account for about 40% of your credit score, so you can see how optimizing them will help fix your credit score. The credit utilization score indicates someone’s available revolving credit as a percentage of their total revolving credit. For example, if you have 4 credit cards with limits totaling $20,000, and you owe $10,000 on them, you have a 50% credit utilization score.
Something else that is affected by high balances that’s not actually part of your credit score, but does affect you ability to get a mortgage is your debt to income ratio. Although your amount of total debt is a very large part of your credit score, the actual debt to income ratio isn’t. Typically, lenders want to see both a high credit score and a total debt to income ratio of less than 36%. They’ll use these when calculating how much home you’re able to afford, and if they’ll extend financing to you at all.. In the opinion of many financial advisors, 36% is way too high and leaves precious little room for error down the road. A figure of 20 – 22% is a more conservative number many experts are far more comfortable with.
Other things that are used to calculate your credit score are the length of your credit history and the number of recent credit inquires by prospective creditors. The length of your history can be fixed by simply waiting for a period of time after you have opened your first credit accounts. That will lengthen your credit history.
Credit inquires by creditors are known as “pulls” in the credit industry. There are 2 types; hard and soft. You need to be concerned only with hard pulls. They are generated when a prospective creditor checks your creditor. That happens every time you apply for credit, weather it’s for a store card, a major credit card or a car loan. Every one of these will lower your credit score by about 5 points for 6 months, so if you’re going to be financing a car or getting a mortgage in the near future, do not apply for other credit. The exception to this would be if you have no credit at all and are trying to establish a credit history before applying for your loan.
If you know you’ll be financing a vehicle or getting a mortgage in the near future, a little legwork on your credit score no could save you big money for years to come. So, stay away from late payments, but almost as important, you must keep you debt at manageable levels.
The average American has over $8,000 in credit card debt. In today’s society, it’s essential that your credit score is as high as possible. Not only will a high credit score allow you to get the financing your need such as mortgages and car loans, it will literally save you thousands of dollars doing so.