With so many things to consider these days, including a global pandemic, many of us forget to check our credit scores. However, if you plan to buy or refinance a property soon, it’s wise to make sure you have the highest rating possible. That way, financial institutions will view your application more favorably. It might seem daunting to start with, but you can improve your credit score in the next 12 months sooner than you might think.
What is a Credit Score?
Your credit score is what lenders use to judge your credit-worthiness to get an idea if you’re likely to pay back debts when they’re due. This score affects loan approval chances and can influence the rates offered to you and other terms and conditions.
To improve your credit score, check out your rating information carefully. Look out for any errors on your file that could be negatively influencing your score. Don’t just assume that everything is correct, as mistakes happen. Contact one of America’s credit agencies to request a copy of your personal credit report.
You’re entitled to receive a free document once a year, and the Federal Trade Commission has information on where you can obtain one. In particular, though, see if you can spot any record of late payments that you know you paid on time, collection items that have been accidentally assigned to your name rather than someone else’s, or incorrect credit limit listings.
Pay Down Debt and Pay Bills on Time
You can also get your credit score up by paying off as many debts as possible. You might have multiple credit cards with balances owing that you could pay off and then close, or student debt, a car loan, or personal loan you could finalize. Even if you don’t close out accounts, it’s vital to make timely payments on them all.
By doing this month after month, you show banks and other financial institutions that you’re a reliable payer and a safety risk for them. If, however, you often fall behind on payments, even if it’s a few days here and there, this can have an unwanted effect on your score. If you tend to forget dates or lose paperwork, it helps to set up automatic withdrawals through your bank to pay your bills.
Plus, if your home loan is considerable, look into refinancing. Check out rates in your region by searching online for “Mt. Pleasant refinance” or the like. If you can get a better deal and have less to pay off each period, you’re less likely to default on payments, and your credit score will improve.
Be Careful When Applying for Credit
Another tip is not to take applying for more credit cards or other loans lightly. Every time you apply for credit, the issuer examines your credit report, and you get an inquiry on your credit rating. Anyone applying for many different cards or loans will typically have their score lowered because it appears lenders knock you back continually or you’re desperate for funds.
Do yourself a favor and minimize the number of applications you put in annually, especially those done within a short amount of time. Plus, don’t apply for loans when you’re not very confident you’ll be approved, as this will give you a knockback on your account for no gain. Remember, too, that banks aren’t the only organizations that generate inquiries. These can also stem from any place that allows you to set up a monthly credit account, such as telecommunication firms and rental companies.
Focus on Credit Utilization
Something people don’t often do when it comes to their credit score is find out and improve their debt-to-credit ratio. Around a third of your rating gets determined by how much of your available credit you’re utilizing at one time. The lower your rate of debt to credit (worked out as a percentage), the better your score should be.
Keeping this percentage at less than 20 is the best option, although the lower it is, the better. You can boost your ratio by paying off your credit cards or asking for higher limits on them. Plus, stop charging new things to cards and accounts for a while until you can reduce your utilization level.
The idea of working on a credit score can seem overwhelming at first if you don’t have much experience in the area, but as you can see, there are plenty of straightforward steps you can take to make a positive difference to your number.