Credit score is like health - most people don't think about it until it becomes a problem. Just as the current state of your health mirrors the health habits you have followed over a longer period of time, so your credit score reflects your credit history. It means that building a high credit score takes time (although there are some shortcuts) and maintaining it is a continuous process. In this article, you'll find 5 ways to increase credit score and ensure you get good interest rates whenever you need credit.
Before talking about the details on how to increase credit score, there are some basics you need to know. Credit score, or FICO score (the most commonly used credit score, created by the Fair Isaac Corp. ), is a number ranging from 300 to 850 which is calculated with a mathematical model, using the information in your credit report. The number shows the lender the likelihood of you paying back the loan on time. The higher the score, the less risky it is for the lender to give you a loan and the better interest rate you are offered. If your credit score is 700 and above, you’re likely to get the best interest rates available. A bad credit score not only may cost you thousands of dollars in high interest rates – if your credit score is in a really bad shape (e. g.below 500), you may not qualify for a loan at all.
To sum up – in order to get credit and good interest rates, you need to have a high credit score! Below you can read 5 important tips on how to increase credit score and keep it high.
1. Pay your bills on time. That’s the first advice you’ll get when you’re looking for ways to increase credit score. This tip seems really simple and obvious, but still many people underestimate its importance. What lenders want to know the most is if and how timely you have paid your bills in the past. That’s why 35% of the credit score is based on your credit history. Delinquent payments and collections can severely damage your score. The more recent your payment problems are, the worse. So, in order to increase your credit score, start paying bills on time right now, and your score may already be higher after a month.
2. Keep your credit card balances low. High outstanding debt may reduce your score. If you max out your credit cards, your score may be lowered even by 70 points. Instead of having one card close to being maxed out, transfer the balance from this card to a few other cards, so you can keep your credit card balances at or below 25% of your credit limits. Paying off debt is even a better way to increase credit score, so if possible, do this, but…
3. Don’t close paid-off accounts! Closing old accounts reduces your total available credit, which in turn changes your utilization ratio (the amount of your total debt divided by your total available credit). This may lower your score. Shutting down your oldest credit accounts shortens your credit history, which also makes you seem less credit worthy, therefore your score can drop.
4. Get a small loan. In order to qualify for a bigger loan (e. g. mortgage loan) in the future, you have to establish a credit history. If you have little or no credit score, and you prefer to avoid credit cards, acquiring debt is a quick way to start raising your credit score. After all – if you have no debt, how can you show the potential lenders that you are a good borrower, who pays the bills on time? Of course, you have to use this method of building credit score wisely – excessive debt load and a bunch of small loans may backfire.
5. Do your interest shopping within two-week periods. Each time you apply for a loan and the lender accesses your credit report, your credit score is lowered by 3 points. When trying to find the best interest rate for a loan, keep your loan processes within a focused period of time. This way, all your credit report inquiries are accumulated and will be treated as one single request, when your credit score is calculated.
These are five important things you have to consider if you want to increase credit score and maintain it. Although these methods are substantial in helping to achieve your goal, there are lots of additional tricks to discover…
The author of this article, Terry Pice is a financial expert and business consultant.
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