Credit score is an integral part of qualifying for a home loan and typically the most critical. So, here are 10 simple ways to improve your credit over the next 6 months.
But before getting into the the 10 ways, let's look at factors that impact a credit score. According to the Experian app.:
- Payment History: 35% of your FICO score is based on payment history.
- Types of Credit Used: 10% of your FICO Score is based on the different types of credit you have.
- Pursuit of New Credit: 10% of your FICO Score is based on recent inquiries and recently opened accounts.
- Length of Credit: 15% of your FICO Score is based on how long you've had your credit.
- Outstanding Debt: 30% of your FICO Score is based on your outstanding debt.
Over the years, I've spoken with many folks who think their credit is in such dire shape that there is little hope of fixing it. Since they think there's no hope, they usually do nothing and the credit problem persists. However, it is very important to know that there is hope, credit can be fixed, and it won't take the rest of your life to do.
These recommendations are not something dreamed up, these are strategies to improve your credit score.
10 Simple Ways to Improve Your Credit Score
1. Subscribe to Credit Monitoring Service
Don't wing it! There are free and paid services and both have advantages and disadvantages. CreditKarma.com is free and Experian.com is a paid service. Having an app or website that allows users to monitor credit, pursuit of new credit, active credit use, and payment history is invaluable.
2. Use a Credit Report to Evaluate Debts
Receiving and using credit for the first time never came with education, the do's and don'ts, how to use it wisely, what is it used for, and how it can positively, or negatively, impact future finances. If you've never looked at a full credit report, the time is now.
Using the chosen website or app, obtain a complete credit report and it may cost some money. With that said, it is worth the money to receive complete information. With the credit report in hand, use it to evaluate current debts and possible collections; who are they owed too and how much are they.
3. Prioritize Payoff of Collections & Debts
Start with collections, as those are negative credit factors, and create a list starting with the lowest dollar amount collect and going to to highest dollar amount. In a separate column, do the same with debts. With the collections and debts prioritized in lists, you'll be able see easily see them and a starting point.
4. Start the Payoff Process
Using the prioritized list, start with collections and call the first company or agency. See if the creditor will take a payment over the phone. Or, if the debt is to much to pay in one payment, either ask to make a partial payment or if they'll settle-for-less.
As each collection is paid then removed from the credit report, the credit score will improve. Repeat this process until all the collections are paid off because doing nothing is far worse.
5. Set up Automatic Payments on Debts
This step can be started earlier.
On current debts, like credit cards, auto and student loans, set up automatic payments as to never be late again. Being that Payment History makes up 35% of a credit score, it is imperative to start showing positive Payment History as one late payment can linger on a credit report for 7 years.
*This may require an adjustment in spending habits and daily bank accounts logins to make sure no NSF's charges are incurred.
6. Decrease the Amount of Credit Used to Credit Available
Step 1: Revisit the current debt list made in item #3, see which debt(s) have the highest interest rate(s) and pay off that debt first. Just making the minimum payment is not making headway. Make at least double the minimum payment.
Step 2: Out of these accounts, review which accounts have an opportunity to increase there credit availability, or spending limit. This does two things: by having at least 1 credit card, or tradelines as loan officers call them, with an available credit line of $5,000, or more, will positively impact a credit score since more credit is available while simultaneously decreasing the credit used to credit available ratio.
*Do not to spend the new credit availability. Just because more credit is available doesn't mean it needs to be used.
7. Do NOT Close Credit Cards or Accounts
Credit bureaus want to see a person is responsible with credit and how long they've had access to it. Length of Credit is 15% of a credit score and keeping those accounts active builds length of credit and that desired history. Credit history is not a quick way to improve score though starting sooner than later will help.
8. Add Additional Credit Lines
Building credit and rebuilding credit requires access to credit. Start by applying for a credit card through an existing bank where a checking account is already open. This way, paying attention to the card doesn't require an additional step to monitor.
Also, don't go spend on the additional credit lines since that will impact Step 6.
9. Continue to Monitor Credit
Logging into accounts monthly will help you stay on top of any changes, possible fraudulent inquires, and watch the improvements made towards improving the credit score. It feels really good to see positive changes after all the hard work that has been put into personal credit repair.
10. Stay Positive through This Process
Being that the starting point can look bleak and it seem as if this process will take forever, stay positive since you're taking a huge step to becoming financial healthy. It is quite rewarding to see the positive impact these steps can have on one's finances and you'll learn a lot as well.
Well, these are tips I've employed when learning about credit, fixing credit, and understanding how important credit is to a person when making large purchases, like a home.
Have any tips of you're own regarding simple ways to improve credit, repair credit, or staying on top of credit? Please share them in the comments below.