By Patrick McCarran
Real Estate Broker
In todays world now more than ever a good credit score can make a real difference in your future and directly effect your wallet. Although no one except the credit reporting agency’s know exactly how the algorithm works I am listing ten general tips that are commonly acknowledged to help increase your credit score
- Always pay on time
This sounds like a no brainer but it isn’t. No lender likes to lend money to an individual who has a track record of missing their payments. This indicates a lack of discipline and poor financial management, and it translates to a lower score. On-time payments improve your credit score tremendously. It carries almost a 40 percent weight on your score. If you find it hard to keep track or forget to mail the payments try and epay option at your bank. Set up the minimum payment to go out preferably just before the due date and choose the recurring option so it pays every month. Just remember to check your statements in case the minimum payment changes. Because you are setting this up at your bank you can change it or cancel anytime with the click of a mouse.
- Keep your credit owed within limits
Keep your credit card balances within 40% of the allowed limit. If you have $5,000 as your limit, then keep your balance amount to $2,000. This applies even if you pay it off each month. The total balance at any time must stay under 40% to show that you are not pushing your limits, it is like the old saying they only give you money if you don’t need it. Also it is good practice not to have your total unsecured credit balance over 50 percent of your annual salary.
- Use two credit cards if you are a definite credit card spender
This is good and bad advice at the same time. FICO does not consider spending money on two credit cards as one. But if you have two credit cards, you can keep your usage percentage in control.
For example, if you have a credit card with a limit of $2,000, and you charge $1,500 on it, you’ve used 75 percent of your credit limit.
Now if you split your amount into two, and spend $750 each, then the percentage of usage will be around 37 percent. So it helps you in the eyes of FICO. Now, don’t go on a credit card shopping spree.
- Maintain a good mix of good and bad loans — AKA, a healthy credit mix
Home loans and business loans are considered good loans. Personal loans and private label credit cards are considered bad loans. This is why investing in a home loan if you are a spendthrift is a better decision. You will have a good credit mix and be building an asset.
- Pay high-interest loans and small loans first
It is a prudent decision to pay your home loans over longer periods. Pay off your personal loans, credit cards and private loans first, as they tend to have a higher interest (typically 15 percent to 36 percent) with no asset creation. Home loans, on the other hand, are just 4 percent to 5 percent, but they build an asset. This is one of the underutilized logical tips to improve credit score. Pick a loan and set a goal and then focus on paying that one off ( but don’t buy something to celebrate).
- Close your unwanted savings accounts
Many people tend to abandon their savings accounts without closing them. If you have less than your Minimum Average Balance (MAB), it will start to affect your credit score. Also, when you finish a loan, it’s imperative to get the loan closure certificate.
- Check your credit reports regularly
Credit reports can be accessed for free. You can obtain them from the official FICO site. Just go online and check your credit score at least once in a year, so that you can seek clarification on any mistake and have it sorted. There have been cases when banks report you to FICO by mistake. Keep in mind that free reports are a consumer product and the credit score will vary depending on the type of credit you are applying for.
- Monitor your co-signed joint accounts properly
In instances of co-signing a loan or maintaining a joint credit account, be careful when dealing with someone outside your close family. You need to monitor the statements closely to make sure everything is in order. There is no use complaining if you chose the wrong joint holder who was careless.
- Negotiate if you cannot pay on time
This is also one of best tips to improve credit score. People often know that they would not be able to pay their bills in advance. Regardless, they do not take any action.
If you know you will not be able to pay on time, negotiate with your bank. Banks will be willing to extend your loan period and reduce the EMI if they see a genuine customer.
It might hurt, but you will make a good impression, and the FICO will see you are proactive.
So these are some of the tips to keep your credit score in check and get a home loan easily. Feel free to contact me with any other questions or for more information.
Patrick McCarran is a local Realtor and Broker DRE# 01325072. He can be contact by phone or text at (925) 899-5536, firstname.lastname@example.org or www.CallPatrick.com. An independently owned and operated office. In association with Realty One Group Elite DRE# 0193160. Equal Housing Opportunity.