What are the benefits of a good credit score?
Your credit score indicates your creditworthiness – your ability and willingness to pay back a loan – to banks and lenders. With a high credit score, you will receive lower interest rates when applying for a mortgage because you represent a smaller risk to lenders. Take a look at the image below:
On a $200,000 30 year mortgage, a higher credit score (> 760) could save you over $68,000! That $68,000 could be used for your retirement, a child’s college fund, investment or whatever else you wish.
How can you improve your credit score?
Hopefully, by now, you are motivated to improve your credit score, but before you can improve your credit score, be sure you understand the components of a credit score (link).
Now that you know what your credit score is composed of, let’s look at a few things you can do to improve your credit score.
1. Get a copy of your credit report from one of the three major reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion) and check for errors. You can get a free copy of your credit report once a year from www.AnnualCreditReport.com. If you know that you have no late payments but the credit report says you do, dispute it with the credit bureau. Other items to check for include incorrect debt limits and amounts owed.
2. Your payment history makes up 35% of your credit score, so it is important for you to make your payments on time. If you use online banking, you can set up payment reminders or even have the bank automatically withdraw funds from your account to pay your bills. An alternative is to set up a reminder on your computer or smart phone. You can also automate your credit card payments, though it usually only makes the minimum payment on your card.
3. Pay off your debt since 30% of your credit score is based on your current level of indebtedness. Don’t focus on transferring your balance from one card to another but direct your energy toward getting rid of your debt.
4. Keep your accounts open. Canceling a card can actually hurt your credit score because 15% of your credit score is based on the length of your credit history. Instead of closing an account, establish a good credit history by making small monthly charges (~ $5) to your card that you pay off on time.
Rome was not built in a day. Likewise, there is no magic bullet that will improve your credit score overnight. But if you work on the four things mentioned above, you will be able to improve your credit score.