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Credit Scores are super important. If you want to buy or rent a house, buy a car, or sometimes even when applying for jobs, people will want to check your credit score. A bad credit score can really limit you, while a good credit score will open amazing opportunities.
A higher credit score means lower payments, lower interest rates, and more opportunities. If you score is bad right now, there are some FREE tips and tricks you can use to raise it.
Check this out:
Two people want to buy a car. One has good credit and one has bad credit. The price they pay for the same car is totally different. The average interest rate for an auto loan with good credit is 4.5% while a person with bad credit has to pay a 19% interest rate.
What does that mean if they both buy the same car for $19,000 at 60 months?
- Good Credit person’s payment is: $354
- Bad Credit person’s payment is: $493
FOR THE SAME CAR! All because of their credit!
It is totally in your best interest to IMPROVE your credit score. As you can see from the illustration above. IT MATTERS.
STEP ONE – GET YOUR SCORE and Report
First things first. You need to know what your score is right now. Pull your credit score and report to see where you are, and how much fixing you need to do.
There are dozens of websites that you can use to get your score, but to get your reports Annual Credit Report one of my personal favorites. It’s totally free You DON’T need a credit card. You can access it once per year and you can access all 3 credit reports from TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. This let’s you see ALL your reports so you can check if any info is wrong on one or more of them.
You can also check out my post “5 ways to get your credit score – no credit cards needed” to get your actual number SCORE.
STEP TWO – IDENTIFY THE NEGATIVES
So now you’ve got your report and score. You now need to identify the negative accounts that are bringing down your score. Go through and highlight any accounts with a negative status.
You will also need to highlight any LATE payments and credit inquiries. Also, make sure your personal information is correct, including your address, employer and phone number.
How to Boost Your Credit Score
Now that we have the bad figured out, we can start figuring out what we need to do to raise our scores. Sometimes just a few little things can give you a big jump in your numbers. Now remember, companies usually report to the credit bureaus on a monthly basis. Make sure to check your updated scores monthly.
Pay Down Debt
Your credit utilization ratio is the amount of credit you have available compared to the amount your using. It has a 30% impact on your score so it is important to figure it out and understand it. Here’s how to calculate it:
Credit utilization ratio = (Total balances on all credit cards / Total of credit limits on all cards) X 100
So for example: Let’s say your credit card balance is $600 and your credit limit is $1,000. You would divide 600 by 1,000 to get .60. Then multiply .60 by 100 to get 60%. (Nerd wallet has a calculator for this ???? )
You want to aim for your ratio to be under 15%! Pay your credit card balances down as close to zero as you can the have your credit utilization ratio as low as possible to maximize your FICO score. If your ratio is really high, start working towards 30% first, and then get it down to 15%.
Never Be Late
Did you know that just ONE late payment can drop your score by 60 to 100 points! Make sure you always pay your bills on time. You can do things like sign up for auto-pay or set up reminders.
If you do have a late payment on your account here’s a tip: You can call the original creditor and ask for a goodwill adjustment. Some will help you out if your account is in okay standing. If they say no, you can try to negotiate the removal of the late payment by agreeing to sign up for automatic payments.
Collections can be a pain… but if you get nothing else from this section always remember:
Having a collections completely removed from your credit report is the ONLY way to improve your score.
If you have bills that have gone to collections with small balances, or balances you want to pay… you should call the collection agency. Tell them you want to do a pay for delete. A pay for delete, is just what it sounds like, you pay the amount owed and they delete the negative account from your credit report.
Make sure you write down the person’s name and extension or ID that you spoke to regarding this. You also need to get “pay for delete” letters in writing from the collection agency showing they agreed to delete the account from your report. Sometimes, you can settle the account for less than you owe, but most will want you to pay in full if they are deleting it from your credit history.
If the collection agency will not agree to a “pay for delete” then DO NOT PAY. If a creditor says they will report it as paid but can’t remove it, don’t pay it because it WILL NOT improve your credit score. Beware, these collection agencies can be deceptive with their wording. They may tell you the account will now show paid as agreed, or it will help your credit to pay it. Do not listen!
If you noticed any errors on your credit report you will want to dispute them. A an error would be something like a payment that has been marked late, or a balance that has been paid that is still being shown as past due.
Credit bureaus must respond to disputes within 30 business days. Once incorrect negative information comes off your reports, your scores should benefit.
Get a CREDIT Card
You need one! You need credit accounts to be reporting to your credit report monthly if you want to improve your credit score.
If your credit is pretty bad, your best option to to apply for a secured credit card. With a secured credit card you pay a security deposit which reduces the risk on the issuer. If you don’t pay your bill, they take it out your security deposit which makes it less risky for them. After a period of on time payments, they will usually refund your deposit or upgrade your card to an unsecured card.
This type of card is one of the easiest to get, but not guaranteed. You will want to make sure the card you apply for reports the all 3 credit bureaus monthly.
PRO TIP: Always make sure you read the fine print. Many secured and unsecured cards that target people with bad credit are very shady and have super high fees and annual fees. I would recommend the ones listed here.
Also, remember to keep your balance below the 15% ratio. Buy something each month and pay it off to show a positive credit history.
Once you start using the ideas above to boost your score you want to keep an eye on it. You can sign up for a site like Credit Sesame to get a monthly score update. If you employ one of all of these tips, you can really see a great boost in your score. It won’t happen instantly, but there is no reason not to expect to see improvement in a month or two using these methods.
Got any tips or tricks that helped you? Leave a comment below ????