It’s the end of the month, the bills are in and you realize how busy you’ve been. Whether it was a last minute getaway with your friends or a few exciting splurges during the post-holiday sales, you should make sure any hits to your credit are fixed as soon as possible.
Even when we know our credit scores can impact everything from mortgage applications to turning on utilities, sometimes we don’t take as much care as we should to protect them.
A new study shows that a third of Americans are not happy with their credit scores, and 28% are not confident that their current score can help them reach their goals.
If you’re ready to make a change and want to improve your credit score, here are three things you must do:
#1 Don’t Miss Payments
Your payment history is the biggest and most emphasized component of your credit score. Lenders want to know that you can meet your monthly payment obligation. Credit scores give them an indication of how financially responsible you are and whether or not you can handle more debt.
Credit scoring companies look at the percentage of your monthly bills that have been paid on time over the past 24+ months for each of your accounts. Late payments, particularly those that are long past due or delinquent, can cause damage to your score.
What to do:
- Eliminate delinquent accounts by paying the past due amount or call and negotiate a payment plan with the creditor.
- Consider setting up automatic payments for your bills to ensure you are not making late payments.
- Add bill due dates to your calendar and set up reminders to keep you on track.
#2 Keep Balances Low
Your credit card balances have a direct impact on your credit score. In fact, the amount owed on your accounts—or your credit utilization—can make up roughly 30% of your total credit score. Those who keep a low credit utilization (most experts suggest under 30% of your credit limit), tend to have higher credit scores.
How to do it…
- Whenever possible, pay off your balance each month. Keeping a balance is not only expensive because of the interest you’re paying, but it also prevents you from keeping ongoing balances low.
- Find out when the creditor reports to the credit bureaus. If your payment is due on the 5th, but your credit card company reports on the 1st, your credit utilization may not reflect your payments.
- Lastly, consider asking for a credit increase. Keep in mind that this will likely result in a hard pull of your credit, but over the long-haul it could have a positive impact on your credit score.
#3 Be Patient
Repairing your credit and waiting for your FICO score to bounce back can take time. If you’re planning on getting a new mortgage or are considering refinancing your existing mortgage, it’s a good idea to review your credit report and check your FICO score at least 6-12 months prior to applying, make the appropriate efforts to improve the score.
How to do it…
- Check your credit score by requesting a free copy of your report. Look for any mistakes or misrepresentations. If you find mistakes, here’s how you can fix them.
- Don’t make any big changes like adding a new credit card, purchasing a car or closing any long-standing accounts.
- Check your score again in 6-8 months or sign up for ongoing credit monitoring to keep watch on your score. Sites like MyFICO.com provide monthly credit score monitoring and can be a great option for staying on top of your score.
Putting the Power Back in Your Hands
Taking charge of your credit —deciding to make improvements, focusing on the plan and sticking with it— puts the power back in your hands. Don’t leave your credit score to fate!
When your credit score is on track and you’re ready to shop for a mortgage or a refinance, SindeoOne allows you to shop more than 1,000 loan programs by filling out a single application that can take less than 5 minutes. A qualified Sindeo mortgage advisor can help you explore your options.
Don’t settle for a low credit score. Don’t settle for the old way of finding a mortgage. SindeoOne can help you find the right program for your homeownership goals.