How much is your credit score worth? Millions of people would say that it’s priceless, and they’re right.
With a good or bad credit score, you can be approved for loans or denied them. A low credit score will make it difficult to get a mortgage on a new house, and might even cost you more money in interest rates when taking out other types of loans.
If you want to take control over your finances and ensure that you have the best chance possible at getting approved for loans with lower interest rates, then read this article from start to finish.
We’ll talk about the different factors that go into determining your credit score and how they can be improved. You’ll also learn what it means if your credit score is good or bad and how to get one of each!
With these tips, tricks, and strategies in hand, there’s no reason why anyone should have a low credit score. Your financial future will thank you for reading this article today.
Factors that affect your credit scores
Length of credit history (15% of FICO credit scores) The longer your credit history, the better. If you’ve had a credit card since college and keep it open with little activity on it, then that would be good for your credit score. On the other hand, if you opened several new lines of credit recently, then your score would likely take a bit of a ding.
Amount of debt (30% of FICO credit scores) This ties in with the previous point about having different types of credit. Having several open lines of credit will help you build a good score. If you have too much debt, though, then you will hurt your credit score. The ideal amount of debt is up to 30% of the total credit available; if you spend half or more than that on outstanding debt, then it’s likely to be bad for your score.
History of applying for new credit (10 % of FICO credit scores) If you only apply for credit when it’s absolutely necessary, then you won’t damage your score. However, if you open several new lines of credit over several months, then that will hurt your credit score.
Paying bills on time (35% of FICO credit scores) This is pretty self-explanatory; if you don’t pay your bills on time, then you will have a low credit score. The best way to ensure that your bills are paid on time is to set up automatic bill pay with your bank or loan provider. Not only will that help you avoid late fees and other problems, but it will also improve your credit score every month.
Type of credit (10% of FICO credit scores) There are various types of credit such as car loans, mortgages, student loans, etc. Having several different kinds will help your credit score because it shows lenders that you’re willing to take on more than one type of debt obligation. If you only have a couple of open lines of credit or you only have one type, then it will hurt your credit score since you’re not willing to take on any more debt.
Credit scores are based on information from your credit report, which can be obtained for free once a year at AnnualCreditReport.com.
You cannot get the same score that lenders use to assess you; what you will get is an approximation of your credit score that uses the same scoring model as the one used by employers and other organizations.
What is a credit score?
Your credit score represents the level of risk that a bank or financial institution takes by giving you money.
It’s determined by factors such as if and how much you’ve borrowed and, most importantly to many people, your repayment history.
That means whether or not you make regular repayments on time every month/year, and whether or not you default on any loans.
There are several different types of credit scores, but the three most common ones are FICO, VantageScore 3.0, and FAKO (fake) scores.
FICO is considered to be one of the most accurate and widely-used models; it’s used by lenders such as banks and credit card companies to determine your risk as a borrower.
VantageScore 3.0 is used by specific lenders such as non-bank financial institutions, credit unions, etc., and is also good for predicting whether or not you’ll be approved for loans.
FAKO scores are the least accurate of the three but are usually pretty close to your actual score.
Car loans are considered separately from other types of loans
Your car loan is usually seen as separate from your main type of borrowing by financial institutions. That means it won’t have much of an impact on the key factors that determine your credit score (and vice versa) as long as you make repayments on time.
The higher your credit score, the better it is.
The higher your credit score, the less likely you are to default and the lower the interest rate you’ll get on loans. If your credit score is very bad, it will be hard to convince lenders to give you any money at all.
A low-quality credit score might even result in higher interest rates than normal even for people who have a better than average credit score.
Important facts about credit scores
Spending too much will lead to a low credit score.
Taking on more debt than you can afford to repay is likely to result in a lower credit score. For instance, if you spend more money than you make on your credit card, you’ll likely end up with a lower credit score. Make sure to keep track of all the debt you’re taking on and repay it as soon as possible.
Closing accounts before applying for a loan is not recommended.
Most financial institutions will look at the average age of your accounts, so closing old unused credit cards before you apply for a loan won’t necessarily help.
Close accounts only after you’ve paid off all of the debt that was on them.
Late repayment is the worst thing about credit scores.
Payment history (repayments) accounts for a full 35% of your credit score. That means that it’s very important to make sure you always repay your loans on time if you want a good credit score. If you pay off a loan in installments, check that your bank or other institution sends their payment on time – if they don’t, it could ruin your credit score.
Checking your credit score is free.
You can order a copy of your credit report and score for free once per year from the website AnnualCreditReport.com. This website has been created by the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union) to help Americans access records about their credit reports. It’s always a good idea to order one report every 4 months so that you can keep track of your credit score!
Credit scores are not the same everywhere.
Different countries have different versions of credit reporting agencies, which means that they also have different credit scoring systems.
Americans, for instance, have a relatively simple FICO score, but there are many different scores available in the UK as well! In most countries around the world, however, your credit history can’t positively or negatively affect your salary. It’s still good to keep it in mind though – you never know when a job might require you to have a good credit score.
Your employer doesn’t see your credit score.
Unless you are applying for a job that requires its employees to have excellent financial reputations, your potential employer will not be able to access your credit report or score when trying to hire you. This is because the Fair Credit Reporting Act states that employers must receive your written permission if they want to access records about you.
Your credit reports are not always correct.
Unfortunately, some minor details on your report might be incorrect or incomplete, but there’s, fortunately, a lot you can do to fix them. If you spot any errors, contact the reporting agency immediately (Equifax, Experian, or Trans Union) and explain the problem.
They will usually send you a free copy of your report so that you can check it again. Representatives should immediately remove any errors if they are reported within 30 days.
You need to check for errors regularly.
It’s not enough to just spot an error and fix it once. You should keep checking your report for any errors every 3 months to prevent them from accumulating and ruining your credit score.
Your age does not affect your credit score.
While many people believe that the older you are, the better your credit score is, this is simply not true! Your age does not matter when determining if you have a good or bad credit score, so start building your financial health early and don’t worry about it later.
How do late payments affect my credit score?
Late payments are reported to the credit bureaus instantly, causing your score to drop right away. Once the late payment is sent over, it can take between 30 and 60 days before it shows up on your credit report.
When it comes to late payments, time is of the essence. If you’re over 30 days late with your payment, then your creditor will generally report that to all 3 credit bureaus and it can also show up on your credit report as a public record (which is basically like putting a big red flag next to your name). After reporting it as a public record, the creditor has two options:
They can either let the public record sit on your credit report for 7 years, or they can delete it after 4.5 years if it’s paid (although some creditors might choose to keep it for 7 years).
When attempting to go through the process of buying a house or car, most lenders will want to see that you’ve paid off any public records that appear on your credit reports. At this point, it’s important to determine whether or not the late payment will still be on your report after 7 years (to make sure it doesn’t affect your ability to get a loan).
Even if you pay off the balance and attempt to avoid any further damage, it can take up to 30 days for the credit bureaus to update your report.
What if my payment’s late because I don’t have enough money?
If this is the case, then you can request an extension on your payment. The creditor will either say yes or no, but it never hurts to try! For creditors that allow an extension, they’ll typically extend your due date by a few days and charge a late fee.
The late fee is often waived if you pay off your account before the extension date (because your payment will still be on time). If you’re going to request an extension, then we would recommend doing so a few days before your due date to have some cushion room in case they say no. At this point, it might even be worth it to call the creditor and ask if there’s anything they can do to work with you.
What about going over my credit limit?
The most important thing about going over your credit limit is that it decreases your available credit, which is a huge factor in determining your score. If you’re really close to your limit, we would recommend asking your creditor if they can increase it. If not, then you should try to stay below your limit until you can get it increased.
If this is always happening to you, your best option might be to open up a second credit card account and transfer some of the balance from your first card. You should have no problem getting approved for a second card if you haven’t been late on any payments (and don’t plan to be).
What about canceling my credit card?
It’s important to keep in mind that not all cards behave the same way, and some will report your balance as soon as you stop making payments. If you’re planning on canceling your card, then we recommend waiting until you’ve paid off your balance before doing so.
What about closing an old account?
Closing an older credit card can seem like a smart move at first – because it will lower your debt-to-limit ratio. Unfortunately, the creditor will report this to the credit bureaus and it can decrease your credit score (because it will look like you’re carrying more debt).
If you want to cancel an old account, We would recommend paying off the balance before doing so. This will decrease your debt-to-limit ratio and it won’t hurt as much when the creditor reports this to the credit bureaus.
What about canceling my store credit card?
For store credit cards, which are often issued by a third-party company rather than your bank or financial institution, the damage is often quite minimal. If you’re planning to cancel your account, then we recommend doing so after you’ve paid off the balance.
What about decreasing my debt-to-limit ratio?
Your debt-to-credit ratio is one of the most important factors in determining your credit score – and every point counts! If this number is high (i.e., you owe a lot of money), then this is often an area where people see great improvements. If you pay off a credit card account, the creditor will report your balance to the credit bureaus and it will decrease your debt-to-limit ratio (and thus increase your score).
What about a balance transfer?
A balance transfer is an act of moving outstanding credit card balances from one account to another (typically with no interest for 12 months). You can either look for an offer online or ask your creditor if they’ll do it – but beware! There are often transfer fees involved.
What about a credit limit increase?
A credit limit increase is exactly what it sounds like – the creditor agrees to let you borrow more money! That said, there will be a fee involved.
What about a secured credit card?
With a secured credit card you put up some money to guarantee that your creditor will pay if you don’t. That said, you’ll have to fight with your creditor if you want a high limit – but it’s worth it.
The most important thing to remember is that there will be fees involved. Just make sure that the company offering the credit card isn’t charging an arm and a leg (literally) because there are companies out there that will charge you an annual fee just for being eligible to have a card.
What’s the cost of having a low credit score?
Having a low credit score goes far beyond just the interest rate of the loan. If you have a credit card, you might find that your monthly bills are more expensive if your score is lower because companies can charge higher fees to customers with lower scores.
If you’re looking to buy a car, insurance rates are based on your credit score – which means that they’ll be higher if your score is lower.
If you miss a payment or have a late fee, then it will be reported to the credit bureaus and thus damage your credit score. This means that even if you pay it off in full, there’s no guarantee that the creditor won’t report it (and thus damage your credit score).
When your home is under foreclosure, it brings down both your credit scores and the value of your house. If you are unable or unwilling to get back on track with your mortgage loans and you owe more than what your home is worth, it might be time to talk to a real estate attorney.
Having a high credit score can save you thousands of dollars in interest charges and make it easier to get approved for loans. Even if your credit score isn’t great, making changes or putting some precautions into place can help you improve it.
How can I raise my credit score in 30 days?
It’s a question that many people have, and it’s a valid concern.
It can take years to repair poor credit, but if you’re in a bind because your credit score is too low for a loan, then you want to know how you can quickly and easily raise it so that you can get the money you need. The following tips will help:
- First of all, make sure that your payment history is correct on your credit report. Negative accounts could be still listed on your record even if you’ve already settled the debt or you’ve paid off your accounts. If this is the case, make sure to contact the credit bureaus and ask them to remove these records.
- You can also negotiate for lower interest rates with your lenders. This way, you’ll be able to pay back your loans faster and improve your credit score.
- Visit your bank and ask for a loan modification program – signing up for one of these programs will allow you to reduce the interest rates on your existing loans.
- Contact your lenders and see if they’re willing to lower the interest rates on your accounts. This way, you’ll be able to pay back all of your debts faster and improve your credit score.
- Pay down your revolving balances to increase your score. Paying off debt is important, but if you want to give your credit score a boost fast, then try paying down your revolving credit card balances. Credit cards are one of the biggest factors in determining credit scores, so decreasing what you owe even slightly will up your score by several points.
- Address outstanding debts. Review your budget and find out where you can cut back. One priority should be getting rid of any credit card or other debts that are hurting your score. Make a plan to pay them down as quickly as possible, and stick with it! If necessary, sell some items to gather the cash you need.
- Increase your available credit. You may want to consider increasing your available credit — just make sure that you aren’t charging more than you can pay off in a month or two. If this isn’t possible and you really need to increase your credit limit, ask a family member or friend if you can use their address as an alternate. This will leave your actual credit score untouched, but it’ll give you more available credit that can help increase your score during the time that you need it.
- Pay on time. If you’ve missed payments in the past, don’t worry! Being consistent with payments is just as important as making them in the first place. Just make sure you don’t miss anymore, and try to pay earlier rather than later.
- Take advantage of credit card benefits. Look into your credit card’s benefits for additional things that can help raise your score in 30 days. Many offer balance transfer offers with 0% interest rates (with a fee), which can allow you to transfer your existing debt onto a card with a lower interest rate. Other cards offer point systems, which could result in perks like air miles or other rewards that you can use.
- Monitor your credit score. Monitoring your credit score is another way to catch mistakes and keep track of changes over time, particularly negative ones. Start by pulling your credit score every 30 days. This way, you’ll know if there are any major changes right away.
Remember that there is no way to build up your credit overnight. It will take time and patience to reach your goal, but you’ll get there if you stick with it. But we know sometimes you don´t have the time or are looking for quicker results if that´s your case we advise you to look for help from an experienced and trusted credit repair company.
What is the fastest possible way to improve your credit score?
If you want to improve your credit score as quickly as possible while assuming it is financially viable for you, then this is the fastest approach to raise your credit rating.
Paying down the balance with the highest interest rate first.
Not all debt is created equal. Most credit cards don’t have the same interest rate, so pay off the card with the highest interest rate before anything else.
Paying more than the monthly minimum payment.
Some people only pay the minimum when they could be paying down their balance faster by adding more to their payments. A little bit can make a big difference.
Cleaning up your credit history.
If you have a spotty financial history, it may be difficult to raise your score quickly. Make an effort to pay off old accounts (especially those that are closed) and remove any negative entries like late payments.
Borrow money from friends or family.
If you have good relationships with people who can lend you money, it’s possible to improve your credit rating quickly using this money to make timely payments. Just make sure you repay the loan promptly!
Sign up for a credit card with an introductory offer or reduced interest rate.
Some credit cards will let you transfer your balance onto them with 0% interest, allowing you to pay down the debt faster. Just be careful not to overspend on your new credit card, or you can fall into more debt.
Negotiate for more favorable terms with your creditors.
If you are having trouble making on-time payments, talk with your credit card companies and creditors about changing payment schedules. Also, ask if they would be willing to waive late fees.
Reduce the total amount owed on all of your credit cards.
Decrease the balance on your revolving accounts (credit cards or store credit) and pay them down to as close to $0 as possible. This reduces the overall debt that you owe and lessens how much you need to keep on hand at any given time, which can help with your credit score.
How to keep your credit score healthy.
Here are some suggestions for maintaining a healthy credit score once your credit score has improved.
Carry only the essentials in your wallet.
If you have several credit cards consider taking some out of your wallet and stashing them in a safe place. Having too many cards could make it look like you’re over-extending yourself, which can lower your credit score.
Do not be late on credit card payments.
Your payment history is another big factor in determining your credit score. Late payments can indicate that you’re unable to follow through on financial promises, so avoid making them at all costs. If you need extra time to pay something off, it’s better to tell the lender than let them think you can’t handle your money.
Try not to apply for new loans often.
Getting multiple loans at once is the quickest way to drop your credit score. Even if you’re approved, applying for too many can show lenders that you’re desperate for their approval and money, which isn’t a good thing in most cases.
Be aware of new accounts on your credit report.
If you see a positive change on your credit reports, such as an account being added or a balance going down, see if you can find out why. Sometimes creditors will report to the bureaus when they think your payment habits have changed for the better.
Use credit wisely.
The best way to improve your credit score is to show that you can handle it. Grow your available credit and keep the debt – especially the high balances – to a minimum. If you can do all of those things, then your creditors will be more likely to say yes and give you better interest rates, and your score will increase over time and improve as well.
Get on a budget and stick to it.
A consistent, reliable plan of creating and sticking with a realistic budget is the number one way people can use to clean up their credit fast. This can help someone raise their score by as much as 100 points over time.
Closing thoughts about improving your credit score.
Having a healthy credit history is more than just being able to increase the chances of getting approved for loans with lower interest rates.
There’s little doubt that a bad credit score can destroy your mental health and overall well-being also. Financial issues can lead to stress, anxiety, and depression. It can also affect you in more ways than you think, like not being able to find a job, rent an apartment or even get into college.
Adding up, relationships with loved ones and friends suffer as well to the point where it might ruin your life.
A bad credit score can make you feel hopeless and powerless, especially if you aren’t sure how to raise your score.
The best thing that you can do for yourself financially and personally is to get a handle on your credit score today.
We hope this article helped shed some light on the situation, but it’s important that you do something about your credit before it gets any worse. If you some help.
Lineup Credit Repair is a Fort Lauderdale-based credit repair company that offers personalized credit repair options for any situation. Our credit repair service is backed by the laws that protect you and are based on results. We create custom and flexible payments options according to your needs. Schedule a FREE consultation here