Ten Tips for Improving Your Credit Score
Want to improve your credit score? We’ve got you covered!
Simply put, a credit score is a summary of your credit history that creditors use to assess your risk. It’s made up of five different factors; payment history, total available credit, age of credit history, type of credit and credit inquiries. A bad credit score may not only prevent you from getting that shiny new high limit credit card, but it may also prevent you from renting an apartment or even buying your first home. If you focus now, you can build and maintain a positive score. If you’ve happened to find yourself with a less than stellar credit score, here are some tips to help you improve it.
1. Monitor your credit reports
Federal law enables you to get a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each of the three credit nationwide credit reporting companies. Your free credit report from TransUnion, Equifax and Experian can be requested easily online at AnnualCreditReport.com. Once you receive your reports, it’s important to check them closely to make sure that all of the information is correct and up to date. Surprisingly, inaccuracies on credit reports can be quite common. You can then dispute any errors you find. A good look at your reports will also help you to determine what needs to be improved. Are you behind on payments every month? Carrying too high of a balance on credit cards? Maybe you’re just new to credit and borrowing and don’t have much of a history. Monitoring your report will also help you to detect identity fraud.
2. Make it a point to pay all bills on time every month
Find yourself forgetting? Everyone does at times. That’s what things like automatic bill pay and calendar reminders are for. Although you can’t do anything about your past payment history, you can make a commitment to paying all bills on time from here forward. Consistently paying all of your bills on time can be a strong contributor to increasing your credit score.
3. Pay down your debt
Debt contributes about 30% to your overall credit score. If you have big loans and maxed out credit cards, creditors may feel you are at your limit. It’s important to pay off your credit cards and loans, before borrowing or charging more. It’s always best to keep your balances low. If you are charging up a high balance on a rewards card to get those air miles, you may want to consider paying down the balance twice a month to keep your utilization lower. Debt to credit ratio is another important factor in determining credit. Finally, if you have several credit cards with small balances, pay them all off. You’re better off using one card rather than carrying small balances on many credit cards.
4. Open a credit card if you don’t have one
Perhaps you just don’t have much of a history. Open a credit card, make a few purchases each month and pay off the balance each month. This will help you to build a credit history. You can check out the Spirit Financial Credit Union VISA Classic and Platinum options.
5. Have a diverse credit mix
Creditors like to see a nice account mix. For instance, possibly an auto loan, a student loan and a couple of credit cards. Even if you’re young, you can begin to build a credit history. Apply for a student credit card or a secured credit card and then take a car loan when you need it. Just be sure that you don’t take on any debt that doesn’t fit in your budget.
6. Don’t apply for too much credit
All of that shows up on your credit report as well. It’s not a good idea to apply for numerous credit cards in one month, so avoid the temptation when you’re out shopping and retailers are offering attractive perks for applying for their cards. It can hurt your credit score, especially if you’re applying for too much credit too quickly.
7. Leave old debt on your report
If it’s good that is! Say you paid off your car loan last year and you always made your payments on time. You happen to be checking your report and see that its still showing up. It’s paid off so don’t fret about it. You don’t need to have it removed, as it can actually help when creditors are looking at your repayment history. This goes for credit cards as well. Don’t close unused cards, as a longer credit history is better for you.
8. Speak to your creditors
Find yourself in a jam and way behind on many bills. Contact your creditors sooner, rather than later, to set up a payment plan you can afford. You want to proactively address the problem before it has a negative effect on your credit score.
9. Become an authorized user
On someone else’s account that is. But be sure it’s someone who manages his or her money wisely and has an excellent credit score. This is ideal for a young person starting out and trying to build a credit history. Become a user on mom or dad’s card. It’s a great way to helping to build your credit. As an authorized user, the account will show up on your credit report and should give you a boost.
10. Request a credit limit increase on existing accounts
This is a good option to improve your credit utilization. It only works if you don’t charge up to the new limit. With a higher limit, your utilization will be lower on your existing balance. This is not an option if the temptation to charge up your account will be too great.
To wrap things up, with a strong focus on improving your credit score, you can probably see a positive change within six months. It pays to be patient and keep your focus. Remember, change doesn’t happen overnight. If you’re just starting out on the road to building credit, you have a great opportunity to start off on the right path. It’s important to understand that it takes more time to fix a bad credit score than it does to build and maintain a good score. Building and maintaining a strong credit history can help you now and throughout your future. Follow Spirit Financial Credit Union on social media to read more helpful tips each week. The financial well-being of our members is always our top concern.