7 Tips for Improving Your Credit Score
Do you want to buy a home, but don't have the credit to get a mortgage? Follow these 7 tips to boost your credit, so you can buy the home of your dreams!
Your credit score is a number based on several factors including outstanding debt, debt utilization, whether you make payments on time consistently, and the amount of time you have had credit accounts or loans. Credit scores are a major tool used by lenders to decided on whether or not to give a person a loan and how much their interest rate will be. To obtain a mortgage to buy a home, you usually need a credit score over 620. Follow these easy steps to boost your credit score, so you can purchase a home today!
Tip #1 Make Frequent Payments
One of the major factors that goes into your credit score is your overall credit utilization. Credit utilization is the amount of debt you carry compared to the overall credit limit you have available to you. So for instance, if you carry $200 of debt with a $1000 credit limit, you debt utilization is better than if you carried $400 of debt with the same $1000 credit limit. One way to reduce your debt utilization is to pay your credit card off or pay it down as much as possible BEFORE your monthly bill posts. This will lower the amount of debt you are carrying. For me, I pay by credit cards off a few days before the bill posts each month, so that I do not carry any debt and my debt utilization is lower. Making frequent payments decreases debt utilization, which increases credit score.
Tip #2 Apply for Higher Credit Limits
If you have had a credit card for a while, you may be eligible to increase the available credit you have to use. If you are granted an increased credit limit, this will automatically decrease your debt utilization, which will increase your credit score. However, you must be careful to not increase the debt you carry with the increased credit limit. Continue to pay you debts off monthly to decrease your credit utilization.
Tip #3 Dispute Credit Report Errors
You should monitor your credit report! Most credit card companies provide you with a free monthly credit score report. If you noticed your score is falling and you have no reason to think it should be falling, you should look into your credit report in more detail to look for reasons why it is falling. If you credit report from your credit card does not give you any details, you can always obtain a free credit report at freecreditreport.com. If you notice any errors on your report, you should immediately report them to the credit reporting agency (e.g. Experian). This is important for a couple reasons. First, this could be negatively affecting your credit score. Second, you may have had your identity or personal information stolen and you may need to take legal or criminal action to prevent further theft or damage to your credit score. If your dispute is found to be valid, your credit score will automatically improve! Keep an eye on your credit score!
Tip #4 Become an Authorized User
If you know a family member or really close friend that has good credit, you may want to ask if you can become an authorized user on their account. When you are an authorized user, your credit is now tied to that account. This means your credit limit will be higher and your overall credit utilization can decrease (as long as you're not carrying more debt). Now, if you do become an authorized user, be sure to not add to the debt you carry because this will lower your credit score AND the person whose account you are on.
Tip #5 Keep Unused Credit Cards
If you have unused credit cards either for a store or just general credit cards, do NOT get rid or them or cancel your accounts. Make sure they are paid off and then just keep the accounts. This will keep your credit utilization higher because you will have a credit limit with zero debt on those accounts. You may have to use them every once in a while to keep them active, so check with your credit card company to be sure you do not violate any terms. Remember, the higher your credit limit, the better!
Tip #6 Maintain Different Debt Types
Credit scores are not only determined by credit card debt, but other types of debt such as car loans or home loans. If you only have one type of debt, this can negatively impact your credit score. Therefore, if you only have one debt type, apply for another one! You want to remember to be smart and to not take debt on that you cannot pay off. For me, I have multiple credit cards, a home loan, and a student loans, but I always make my monthly payments and never carry any credit card debt.
Tip #7 Pay ALL Your Bills on Time
One final aspect that you can control to improve your credit score is paying your non-credit bills on time every time. You should pay your phone bill, electric bill, heat bill, and any other bills you may have. If you do not pay your bills on time, companies can report you to credit monitoring companies, which will lower your credit score. If you rent and miss payments, landlords can also report this to credit report companies, so make sure to pay your rent on time!
Tim Walsh, REALTOR® is a licensed (#9557151) Massachusetts real estate agent with Century 21 The Real Estate Group. Tim primarily works in Central Massachusetts including the following towns: Milford, Hopedale, Mendon, Upton, Medway, Bellingham, Hopkinton, Holliston, Franklin, Uxbridge, Northbridge, and Blackstone. If you have any questions or need help buying, selling, or investing in real estate, call (508-494-9634) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) Tim today!