The ABC’s of Credit Scores – 5 Tips to Improve Your Mark
With credit playing “hard to get” during this most recent economic downturn and lenders raising their standards for doling out cash, it’s more important than ever to boost your odds of getting a loan with a good credit score. Here are five tips to help improve your score and give you a greater chance of getting that cash you may need.
A. Annual Check Up
Getting an idea of what your credit score is has become so much easier now with government legislation that gives everyone the right to request one free credit report each year. I highly suggest visiting annualcreditreport.com to request your free copy. Knowing where you are will help determine your next steps.
B. Be Punctual
This is so simple, yet it’s amazing that many folks think being a couple weeks late on their payment is no big deal as long as they are paying something. According to CNN Money, “someone with an average credit rating of 707 can raise their score by as much as 20 points by paying all their bills on time for one month.”
C. Clean Up Errors and Old Information
Check you report carefully to see if there is any outstanding information that shouldn’t be showing up. Perhaps an old doctor bill or credit card still shows a balance. You’ll want to check for accurate credit limits from your card issuers as well. These things can typically be taken care of with a phone call to one or more of the reporting agencies.
D. Don’t Close Old Accounts
This may seem counterintuitive, but closing old accounts will actually hurt your score. This is because the reporting agencies want to see a nice long history of using credit. According to Fool.com, “lenders take a hard look at the ratio between the balances on your revolving accounts and your total available credit. If you do have debt, try to keep it to less than 30% of your available credit.” If you start closing your accounts, your debt-to-available-credit ratio goes up and impedes your score.
E. Eliminate Debt
As mentioned, lenders typically like to see a debt ratio of 30% or less. No debt would be ideal! Get serious about improving your credit score by getting serious about eliminating debt, especially paying down those credit cards. Managing your debt responsibly will help boost your score tremendously.
Breakdown of How Credit Scores Are Calculated:
Improving your credit score won’t happen over night, but with simple discipline and some practical steps you can start seeing improvement in a very short time.