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Get Aggressive With Paying Off Debt
Sometimes, you just have to get in and tackle a problem in order to solve it. Take debt, for instance. You can slowly chip away at it until itâs paid off, and thatâs fine â but to really make a significant improvement in your credit score, youâll need to bite off a big portion of it to reduce your debt load. It could be credit card debt, student loan debt, or any type of debt you have an outstanding balance for. Not only should you have a budget, but you should be adhering to it, and that means not going over budget just to pay off your debt. That could create other financial troubles where there were none before. Think of creative ways to free up more money to pay down your debt. You could set up a side hustle. You may want to sell off some of your old belongings, or if youâre artsy and crafty, sell what new things youâve created. Airbnb your pad if youâre ever out of town. And you can always shop on sale, use coupons and negotiate prices, rates and fees as often as you can. Using the extra money towards existing debt reduces the amount you owe, which also counts for 30% of your credit score.
Review Your Credit Reports
To improve your credit, it helps to know what might be working in your favor . Thats where checking your credit history comes in.
Pull a copy of your from each of the three major national credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You can do that for free once a year through the official AnnualCreditReport.com website. Then, review each report to see whats helping or hurting your score.
Factors that contribute to a higher credit score include a history of on-time payments, low balances on your credit cards, a mix of different credit card and loan accounts, older credit accounts, and minimal inquiries for new credit. Late or missed payments, high credit card balances, collections, and judgments are major credit score detractors.
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Use A Secured Credit Card
Another way to build or rebuild your credit is with a secured credit card. This type of card is backed by a cash deposit you pay it upfront and the deposit amount is usually the same as your credit limit. You use it like a normal credit card, and your on-time payments help build your credit.
Impact: Varies. This is likeliest to help someone new to credit with accounts or someone with dented credit wanting a way to add more positive credit history and dilute past missteps.
Time commitment: Medium. Look for a secured card that reports your credit activity to all three major credit bureaus. You may also consider looking into alternative credit cards that don’t require a security deposit.
How fast it could work: Several months. The goal here is not just having another card, although that can help your score a bit by improving your depth of credit. Rather, your aim is to build a record of keeping balances low and paying on time.
Some Defaults Or Missed Payments & Declined Applications
Defaults or missed payments will usually stay on your report for six years. If you close an account, the missed payments could stay on the account for six years after the closure, so keep that in mind. Bankruptcy is wiped six years from the date you’re declared bankrupt, provided it’s been discharged.
And when it comes to declined applications, lenders can only see whether you’ve applied for credit elsewhere, not whether you’ve been accepted or declined. However, they may be able to guess by examining the credit accounts you have open and when they were opened.
If you’ve attempted to, or have successfully reclaimed PPI or bank charges, it won’t appear on your credit files. If you’ve had bank charges, the penalties will show on your records.
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What Is A Bad Credit Score
A bad credit score means you might find it more difficult to get credit. Thats because its an indication to lenders of problematic financial behaviour, such as a history of being late with, or entirely missing repayments.
The three CRAs each have a different number that they consider to be a bad credit score:
Experian below 721
0 to 560 is considered very poor
561 to 720, poor
TransUnion below 566
0 to 550 is considered very poor
551 to 565, poor
604 to 627, good
628 to 710, excellent
The key thing to remember is your credit score is a constantly changing thing that can modify with certain types of financial behaviour and can be improved.
If you’re in a lot of debt
If youre in real financial difficulty and in serious debt, improving your score should not be your priority – first you should get out of debt.
There is plenty of free, impartial help available to you from debt charities like StepChange. Theres no need to go it alone.
What Is A Credit Score
A credit score is a numeric summary of your credit history, a commonly used method for lenders to predict the likelihood that you will repay any loans they make to you.
There are no exact cutoffs for good scores or bad scores, but there are guidelines for each. Most lenders view scores above 720 as ideal and scores below 630 as problematic.
Consumers are becoming more aware of how raising their credit score improves their financial outlook and Homonoffs study has evidence of it. She found consumer behavior improved dramatically when people were aware of their credit score.
Many people thought they had a great score, but then found out they overestimated it, she said. They realized they had to start changing credit behaviors, so they stopped making late payments, they paid off cards with a balance and their scores improved.
The FICO credit score is used by 90% of the businesses in the U.S. to determine how much credit to offer a consumer and what interest rate to charge them for that credit.
FICO uses five major components in the equation that produces your credit score. Those five include:
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What My Improved Credit Score Allowed Me To Do
In August of 2011, I had to purchase a car so I could switch jobs.
When I filled out the credit application to see if I qualified for lower financing rates, my credit score came back as 731.
In other words, I raised my credit score from 621 to 731 in just five months!
This is a very big deal because, at 621, I would have been denied a loan for the car, or would have had an interest rate that exceeded 9% on the auto loan.
Since I chose to get a secured credit card, I was able to take the car loan on my own and qualify for the low rate of 3.99% financing.
The difference in the loan between the two interest rates would be $750 over the life of the loan, far surpassing the cards annual fee, and the opportunity cost of my secured credit card holding my $1,100 for five months.
Be Wary Of New Credit
Opening several credit accounts in a short period of time can cause you to appear risky to lenders and, in turn, negatively impact your credit scores. Before you take out a loan or open a new credit card account, consider the effects it could have on your credit.
Note, however, that when you’re buying a car or looking around for the best mortgage rates, your inquiries may be grouped together and counted as only one inquiry for the purpose of credit scoring. In many commonly used scoring models, recent inquiries have a greater effect than older inquiries, and they only appear on your credit report for 24 months.
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Review Your Credit Report
You are entitled to one free a year from each of the three reporting agencies and requesting one has no impact on your credit score. Review each report closely. Dispute any errors that you find. This is the closest you can get to a quick credit fix.
A government study found that 26% of consumers have at least one potentially material error. Some are simple mistakes like a misspelled name, address, or accounts belonging to someone else with the same name. Other errors are costlier, such as accounts that incorrectly are reported late or delinquent debts listed twice closed accounts that are reported as still open accounts with an incorrect balance or credit limit.
Notifying the credit reporting agency of wrong or outdated information will improve your score as soon as the false information is removed. About 20% of consumers who identified mistakes saw their credit score increase.
Check Your Credit Report For Errors
One way to quickly increase your credit score is to review your credit report for any errors that could be negatively impacting you. Your score may increase if you are able to dispute them and have them removed.
About 25% of Americans have an error on their credit reports, so it’s important to take the time to review. Some common errors to look out for include fraudulent or duplicated accounts, as well as misreported payments.
“Most of the clients we meet with have not reviewed their report within the past year, and are often surprised by what we find to discuss with them,” says Thomas Nitzsche, a financial educator at MMI.
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Do Not Pay Your Accounts In Collections
If a collection agency will not remove the account from your credit report, dont pay it! Dispute it! A collection is a collection. It doesnt help your score AT ALL to have a bunch of collections on your report with a zero balance. The only way your credit score will improve is by getting the collection accounts removed from your report entirelly.
Dont pay collection accounts without a pay for delete letter. A pay for delete is an agreement that you will pay the outstanding debt if the collection company deletes the account from your report. You may be able to settle the balance for less than you owe, but many will want you to pay in full if they are deleting it from your report.
Implement Several Strategies For The Fastest Results
For maximum impact, exercise several of our recommended fastest ways to raise your credit score so they occur at the same time. Some strategies require positive action, while others would have you refrain from harmful behaviors.
You dont necessarily need excellent credit. With a little time and effort, you can once again enjoy the fruits of a good credit score, including a nicer lifestyle and increased financial security.
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How Can I Improve My Credit Score
Qualifying for a mortgage was the first sign youre on the right path. But as you continue to strive to build your credit score, you might be wondering what factors impact it the most. Here is a breakdown FICO® shares of the model it uses to determine your credit score:
- Payment history : Never miss a payment to receive the full effect of this hefty percentage.
- Keep your revolving credit under 30% for the best results. Remember that this number doesnt take into account your installment credit, like your mortgage or a personal loan, as those will have set repayment terms.
- Length of credit history : Keep those older accounts open, even if youre not using them regularly.
- This refers to the different types of revolving and installment credit you have, including credit cards, vehicle loans, student loans, and now, your mortgage. Lenders like to see that you can manage different types of credit responsibly.
- New credit : Lenders will take into account if youre applying for new cards, which could signal that youre planning a spending spree.
Be Patient And Persistent
Patience isn’t a factor that’s used to calculate your credit score, but it’s something you need to have while you’re repairing your credit. Your credit wasn’t damaged overnight, so don’t expect it to improve in that amount of time. Continue monitoring your credit, keeping your spending in check, and paying your debts on time each month, and over time you will see a boost in your credit score.
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Financial Information In Your Credit Report
Your credit report may contain:
- non-sufficient funds payments, or bad cheques
- chequing and savings accounts closed for cause due to money owing or fraud committed
- bankruptcy or a court decision against you that relates to credit
- debts sent to collection agencies
- inquiries from lenders and others who have requested your credit report in the past three years
- registered items, such as a car lien, that allows the lender to seize it if you don’t pay
- remarks including consumer statements, fraud alerts and identity verification alerts
Your credit report contains factual information about your credit cards and loans, such as:
- when you opened your account
- how much you owe
- if your debt has been transferred to a collection agency
- if you go over your credit limit
- personal information that is available in public records, such as a bankruptcy
Your credit report can also include chequing and savings accounts that are closed for cause. These include accounts closed due to money owing or fraud committed by the account holder.
Tips To Increase Your Credit Score
If you are like many consumers and dont know your credit score, there are several free places you can find it. The Discover Card is one of several credit card sources that offer free credit scores. Discover provides your FICO score, the one used by 90% of businesses that do lending. Most other credit cards like Capital One and Chase give you a Vantage Score, which is similar, but not identical. Same goes for online sites like Credit Karma, Credit Sesame and Quizzle.
The Vantage Score comes from the same place that FICO gets its information the three major credit reporting bureaus, Experian, TransUnion and Equifax but it weighs elements differently and there could be a slight difference in the two scores.
Once you get your score, as Homonoff suggested, you might be surprised if its not as high as you expected. These are ways to improve the score.
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It’s As Much About ‘will You Make The Lender Money’ As It Is About Risk
Many people write to us incensed after rejection “I’ve a perfect credit score, I’ve never missed a payment, why on earth did they reject me?” This is based on a misunderstanding lenders are credit scoring to see if you match up to their wish list of what makes a profitable customer.
Of course, someone who is a bad risk is likely to be scored out as unprofitable by most companies. But the risk of not repaying isn’t the be-all and end-all.
Imagine a bank wants new mortgage customers. That’s a costly sell. Instead, it offers a current account paying a high rate of interest on a small amount kept in it. Yet when you apply, rather than scoring you as a bank account customer, it could actually be scoring to see if you’re likely to be a profitable mortgage borrower in future you might face rejection if you aren’t.
The secretive nature of credit scoring makes this difficult to ever truly know. Here are some other things to look out for:
Register To Vote Or It’s Much Harder To Get Credit
If you’re not on the electoral roll, it’s much harder to get accepted for credit, so sign up immediately. Don’t wait for the annual reminder or for the elections to roll around, apply at any time on Gov.uk.
Simply follow the instructions online it’ll ask you a series of questions aimed at identifying you, and the local electoral borough you need to register with. Note that you’ll need your national insurance number to hand.
Many worry some councils sell on the data. But you can opt out of the open electoral register which can be used for marketing.
Credit reference agencies are allowed to use the full register which you can’t opt out of and that you should, by law, be on. The electoral roll can be a factor in scoring, but even where it isn’t, not being on it can lead to delays as lenders also use it to check your address and ID.
It’s worth noting the credit scores sold to you by credit reference agencies may show you’ve a perfect score without being on the electoral roll. Don’t let that fool you into thinking not being registered won’t affect your ability to get credit. It will, because lenders also need to be sure you are who you say you are.
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Never Miss Or Be Late On Any Credit Repayments It Can Have A Disproportionate Impact
Sounds obvious? Well, it is. Even if you’re struggling, try not to default or miss payments because it can have a disproportionate impact. Doing this once or twice could cause problems that can cost you for years. Defaults in the previous 12 months will hurt you the most.
The easy solution is to pay everything by direct debit, then you’ll never miss or be late. While we normally caution against only making minimum repayments on debts one technique is to set up a direct debit to just repay the minimum, purely as a vehicle to ensure you’re never late. Then manually pay more each month on top.
If you are in difficulties, the cliché “contact your lender” is a good one. Hopefully it will try to help. Changing your repayment schedule is preferable to you defaulting and though it will hit your credit score, it’s better than a county court judgment or decree against you.