Understanding your credit score is extremely important, especially when looking to make major purchases such as a house, a car, or student loans. Knowing what your score is, what makes up your score, and what influences your score negatively and/or positively will enable you show financial responsibility and build a better score.
Your credit score represents a snapshot of your financial history in order to provide lenders an idea of the risk you pose to them if they were to lend you money or extend credit. Your score determines the amount of credit available, the terms you are able to obtain (interest rate, fees, etc.), and what programs you are able to qualify when looking at purchasing a house.
Credit scores range from 300-850. The higher the score, the less risk you pose to lenders. The lower the score, the more risk you pose to lenders.
Credit Score Breakdown
Your credit score is influenced by five factors. Click on each box below to learn more:
Improve Your Score
Pay your bills on time, especially your mortgage, which weighs heavier than car loans. Car loans and student loans weigh heavier than credit cards. Payments to utilities do not count unless you are sent a collection for nonpayment. That said, pay all your bills! No one likes to sit in a cold, dark room.
If you missed a payment and it is your first for the account, call the company and ask that they do not report the late payment. Many times the company will take this into consideration if it is your first late payment. If they are unwilling to accommodate you, get current and stay there. The longer you pay your bills on time, the better your score.
If you are unable to pay your bills on time, seeking the help of a legitimate credit counseling organization will not hurt your score. This service will enable you to better manage your credit and help you pay your bills on time to begin increasing your score.
Keep your credit card balances below 30% of your max limit (ex: $1,000 max limit, keep your balance below $300)
Pay off your debt rather than move it around to other credit cards with higher max limits.
Do not open up more credit card accounts to increase your available credit. This can cause many problems in the future and negatively impact your score.
Do not close unused credit cards for a quick bump in your score. You will still owe the balance that was on the card and you have just eliminated an open account that could have reported positively. Now you are adding to your outstanding debt and eliminating your available credit.
Do not close unused credit cards with a zero balance, unless you cannot use it responsibly. Again, this eliminates positive aspects of your credit report and prevents them from reflecting in your credit score.
Avoid looking for a quick fix to increase your credit score, especially through credit repair agencies that charge a fee to improve your score by removing negative information, even if it is accurate. While most of these efforts fail to see results, those that do see this negative information reappearing in the future, causing their credit scores to fall again. Time, paying off debts and responsibility are the best remedies for low credit scores.
If you have a short credit history, do not open accounts in a short period of time. These new accounts will lower the average age of all your accounts and can decrease your score. It is best to open only what you need, focus on making on-time payments, and keeping your balances low.
If you are going to shop for a mortgage or auto loan, do it within a short period of time to avoid adding additional inquiries that will hurt your credit score.
Be careful about attempting to open many accounts at once. Even if you do not open an account, the inquiry will report that you did open an account so it will negatively impact your credit score.
Your score will not be impacted if you request your credit report from a credit reporting bureau.
Apply and open new accounts only if you need them or to build a better credit report if you lack specific account types.
It is okay to have credit cards, as long as you manage them responsibly. People with no credit cards are viewed as higher risk than people with credit cards that are able to make their payments and keep their balances low.
Again, closing an account can upset your credit mixture and doesn’t make the history go away.
If you would like us to review your credit report to help you increase your credit score, we are more than happy to do so. As certified credit counselors, we take an approach that will teach you the best methods to increase your score so you are able to purchase your dream home.
Contact us today to set up an appointment with a certified credit counselor.